(Equivalent to Statutes or Constitutions in some jurisdictions)
Adopted November 17, 2012 at Mar Del Plata, Argentina
These bylaws are also available in a PDF document.
An International Association of the Free Thought is founded with all the groups and individuals who agree with the following Bylaws.
The duration of the Association is unlimited.
Its headquarter is at Paris, 10-12 Rue des Fossés-Saint-Jacques 75005 – France
The International Association of the Free Thought is a section of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). The functioning of IAFT within IHEU is ruled by a Convention signed between those two Organisations.
AIMS of the ASSOCIATION
The purpose of the International Association of Free Thought is to co-ordinate the work and the principles of Member Organizations at an international level, strictly respecting their independence and their own self-management.
It is entitled to take any initiative which it deems to be necessary in accordance with its principles and the decisions made by the International Committee.
DECLARATION of PRINCIPLES
Any organization, society and individual sincerely attached to secularism, democracy and freedom of thought and conscience guaranteed by the necessary separation of Churches, Religions and the States are entitled and invited to be part of IAFT.
At its founding Congress of August 2011, held at Oslo (Norway), the International Association of Free Thought adopts the three resolutions that were passed at the International Congress of Rome in 1904 that constitutes the Declaration of Principles of the IAFT, to be attached to the following Bylaws.
ADMISSION, CONTRIBUTION and DUTIES of MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
Application for membership to IAFT shall be decided by the International Committee by a majority vote, based on an explicit application form showing agreement with the Declaration of Principles in conformity with Article 4 of the Bylaws.
Any organization, society and individual who is a Member of IAFT has to pay their annual dues the amount of which is decided by the International Council.
Member Organizations or individuals that have not paid their annual dues for three consecutive years shall be considered as having resigned from IAFT membership, provided there is no reply to a notice in writing.
Any sum of money given to IAFT remains the property of IAFT.
A Member Organization can be expelled from IAFT by the International Committee for violating the principles or harming the organization of IAFT. The Member Organization concerned shall have the right to defend itself at the meeting of the International Committee which shall make a decision by a majority of votes.
The funding of IAFT includes:
- The dues from organizations, societies and individuals.
- Subventions or subsidies.
- Any other resource in conformity with the Law.
In order to spread the influence of IAFT, an Honorary Committee for patronage shall be set up by the International Committee, made up of honorary associates who share the aims enshrined in Article 5 of the bylaws and who are introduced by Member Organizations.
This Honorary Committee shall not have a vote in decision-making and management within IAFT.
The International Association of the Free Thought is organized by an International Committee made up of representatives of Member Organizations. There is one representative per association per 500 membership bracket provided their number does not exceed 10 representatives for one single organization. The International Committee can co-opt associates or individual members.
The International Committee shall meet at least once a year, usually on the occasion of IHEU General Assembly. The term in office for delegation of Member Organization representatives shall be one year.
The expenses for the delegates to attend the meetings of the International Committee are paid by Member Organizations.
The International Committee shall be able to make decisions through postal service or e-mail.
Every year, during the meeting of the International Committee, international spokespersons shall be appointed whose capacity shall be representative of the different components of IAFT. They are re-eligible.
The spokespersons shall report to the International Committee on their activity during their previous year in office and their proposals for the following year.
At every meeting of the International Committee, a secretary shall be appointed in charge of management and minutes as well as a treasurer in charge of collecting the dues from Member Organizations and individuals, management of funds and account for his or her management at the next meeting of the International Committee.
A Conciliatory Council shall be appointed, made up of 5 members who shall not be members of the same Member Organization; neither shall they be members of the International Committee. In case of problem, tension or internal conflict, the purpose of this Conciliatory Council is to propose solutions to the International Committee which shall make a final decision.
CHANGE BYLAWS and DISSOLUTION
The International Committee can change the Bylaws by a majority vote of two thirds. The issue shall be announced by a notice in writing in the beforehand announcement of the meeting of the International Committee.
Dissolution of International Association of the Free Thought may only be resolved by the International Committee, with a beforehand notice on the agenda and with a majority vote of two thirds. The International Committee determines the rules for liquidation of assets.
Internal Rules of Procedure shall be debated and adopted later on by the International Committee, to define the functioning of the International Association of the Free Thought and the contends of the different positions.
DECLARATION DE PRINCIPES
The International Congress of Free Thought, held in Rome on September 22, 1904, willing to prevent any misunderstanding by defining firstly the meaning of the word “Freethought”, and at the same time the scope of the demands that they are going to articulate, thinks it ought to preface its special deliberations with a Declaration of Principles enshrined in the three following resolutions:
I – First Resolution: Definition of Freethought in general
Freethought is not a doctrine but rather a method i.e. a way to conduct one’s thinking – and therefore one’s action – in every area of individual and social life. Instead of asserting specific truths, this method is characterized by a general commitment to seek truth in whatever field, by the sole natural resources of human understanding, by the sole means of reason and experience.
Freethought can be considered theoretically in the intellectual field or practically in the social field.
In both cases, it is determined by the two following rules:
II – Second Resolution: Two rules of Freethought in the intellectual or theoretical field.
- First Rule: As it is unable to recognize the right for any authority to oppose, or superimpose over, human reason, Freethought requires that its members should have clearly rejected not only the beliefs that are imposed but also any authority claiming to have the right to impose beliefs (whether this authority is based on a revelation, a philosophy, miracles, traditions on the infallibility of a man or a book, or whether it commends to yield to dogmas or a priori principles of a religion or a philosophy, to the decisions of public authorities or to the vote of a majority, or whether it appeals to whatever form of pressure, exerted from outside an individual in order to distract him or her from using his or her normal intellectual faculties under his or her own responsibility).
- Second Rule: As it cannot be limited to this negative expression towards any dogmas or creed, Freethought requires that its members make every active effort in order to achieve the human ideal through human means.
Moreover, Freethought refuses to establish an absolute and unchangeable characteristic for its own conception of this ideal which is the wrong claim of religions, whereas it is neither the claim of science or human conscience because both are forced to move in relativity and are submitted to the rule of progress.
Far from yielding to the temptation to prematurely build a definitive system, Freethought proposes, as it is the nature of things, to Humankind to seek indefinitely truth through science, good through ethics, and beauty through art. And at every moment of its development, it is ready to review the actual results of its researches and it is also ready to complete and rectify, adding tomorrow’s discoveries to yesterday’s discoveries.
III – Third Resolution: Two rules of Freethought in the practical and social field.
- First Rule: As Freethought is unable to content itself with purely speculative opinions which would only concern individual thinking; it is up to Freethought to provide individuals as well as society with a lifestyle.
Applied to society, it is a method which consists in accepting to submit the social organization itself to the rules of reason.
As long as it is inspired by this method, any social organization has a prior duty to remove any religious characteristic from all its public services (administration, justice, education, welfare, etc.), as it is clearly understood that it should make public services not only neutral but also exclusive of and closed to any religious influence, absolutely excluding any dogmatism whether implicit or explicit.
Complete secularism of the State is the genuine implementation of Freethought to Society’s collective life. It consists in separating Religions and the State, not under the form of the sharing of attributions between two equal powers dealing on equal footing, but granting to religious opinions the same equal freedom as all the opinions and at the same time denying Religions the right to interfere in public affairs.
- Second Rule: As Freethought is only complete when it starts achieving human ideal socially, it should try to establish a regime in which no human being is to be sacrificed or left behind by society and consequently no one should be made or left unable, directly or indirectly, to use their human rights or fulfill their human duties.
Therefore Freethought logically generates a social science, social ethics and social esthetics which, improving itself with the improvement of public conscience will establish a regime of justice: social justice is simply reason applied to its own government by Humankind.
In other words, Freethought is secular, democratic and social, i.e. in the name of human dignity it rejects this triple yoke: the excessive power of authority in matter of religion, privilege in matter of politics and Capital in matter of economy.