Category Archives: Articles Archive

WARM UNIVERSE, COLD UNIVERSE: GRIEF, CONSOLATION & THE ATHEIST/RELIGIOUS DIVIDE

Barry Klassel
Humanist Chaplain at Rutgers University

It’s almost midnight.  Two friends in their twenties walk down the beach toward the water.  Behind them, the lights of the city glow in the distance.

Earlier in the day the two attended the funeral of a third friend.  His family seemed devastated, but one by one various speakers did their best to talk about the life of the deceased and his last days in pain as they tried to deal with the difficulty of accepting his death.

The two friends sit silently on the sand.   (more…)

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ATHEIST & GAY: DOUBLE JEOPARDY… OR OPPORTUNITY?

By David Madison
PhD., Biblical Studies

Two Weddings

David and David, 1992

The message on our placard was straightforward: “It’s Not Complicated: I Want to Marry the Man I Love. Case Closed.” My husband and I carried that sign for many years in the New York Gay Pride Parades—long before we had legal married status.

A few months after our 30th living-together anniversary, we were finally married in California in 2008. A few weeks later, voters passed the mean-spirited Proposition 8, which halted marriage equality in that state. A court subsequently ruled that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that had been performed were not nullified by the vote. We breathed an enormous sigh of relief. It had been a wonderful wedding on a riverboat in the Sacramento River, with our daughter Deb Sweeney co-officiating, a…

This post has been republished
here on our new blog Applied Sentience.

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PATHFINDERS PROJECT: RESEARCH TRIP FOR HUMANIST SERVICE CORPS

By Conor Robinson
Director, Pathfinders Project

Are you interested in travel, service, Humanist leadership and community-building?

Then consider applying to Pathfinders Project, a yearlong international service trip with clean water, education, sustainability, and advocacy projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The trip is sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief, a non-profit organization created to focus, encourage, and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of secular humanists.

Aims of the Program

Pathfinders Project has three primary aims

  • To provide humanitarian service and address specific regional needs in the respective countries visited,
  • To foster dialogue across religious, cultural, and ethnic boundaries, and
  • To evaluate and compare countries and partner organizations for consideration as the launch site of the Humanist Service Corps as an ongoing program of Foundation Beyond Belief. (more…)
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CNN, MSNBC, NPR, WHITE HOUSE & MORE: HUMANIST CHAPLAINCIES IN RECENT NEWS

The past few weeks have seen a huge increase in visibility of Humanist Chaplaincies, and Humanism in general.  Here’s some links to recent highlights:

  • In a recent post on the CNN Belief Blog, Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, was featured as a voice for building bridges and focusing on community during the holiday season; a counterpoint to more aggressive tactics in the atheist movement.
  • Boston’s NPR News Station (more…)
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RUTGERS HUMANIST CHAPLAINCY, THOUGHTS ON RECENT TRAGEDIES

By Barry Klassel
Humanist Chaplain at Rutgers University 

The school killings on December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut, brought representatives of various belief traditions together for a Memorial Service in a Somerset County (NJ) Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) a week later.

I went to express compassion for the survivors and to share some humanist thoughts.  The event was sponsored by the Somerset County Cultural Diversity Coalition.  The following is from a short few words I was able to offer while there.

The Human Community

Good evening.  I’m an atheist and a humanist.  You probably don’t have many people like me here with your group so thank you for inviting me to speak to you good people.

Joyful events bring good people together, like (more…)

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WHAT I GOT AWAY WITH ON MY WAY TO ATHEISM

By David Madison
PhD Biblical Studies, Boston University

It was about 1970, when I was studying for the ministry at Boston University School of Theology, that I wrote an essay entitled On the Improbability of God. Many years later I found out that Percy Bysshe Shelley had been expelled from Oxford in 1811 for writing his essay, The Necessity of Atheism. Well, 1970 wasn’t 1811, and I survived my blatant cheekiness. Since I never went to chapel while I attended seminary, I was considered the class eccentric, the contrarian seminarian.

I wasn’t kicked out, and I finally managed to write a statement of personal theology that was given the imprimatur by that liberal Methodist institution. I leaned heavily on the obtuse theology of Paul Tillich, who called God the Ground of All Being—and said that God didn’t exist because existence would be a limiting concept.

So I survived to (more…)

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A HUMANIST GRACE: THOUGHTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

By Barry Klassel
Humanist Chaplain at Rutgers University

A couple of years ago I performed a humanist civil union ceremony in the beautiful formal gardens that adjoined a mansion on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University.  The elegant building was designed in the 1890s by famed architect Stanford White.  After the ceremony I enjoyed a bit of wine at the reception inside one of the fine halls and, as I was gathering my stuff to leave, the couple asked me if I would stay and say Grace for the meal that would follow.  

I knew I had been working on a version of a humanist Grace and I hurriedly tried to remember what I’d written (more…)

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AMERICAN SECULARISTS CAN AND SHOULD FIGHT GLOBAL BLASPHEMY LAWS

By Michael De Dora
Director of the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy
CFI Representative to the United Nations

A young person, after being raised within a traditionally religious and authoritative family, begins to question the veracity of the religious beliefs he or she has held for their entire life. Having no one else to confer with on this important issue, this person turns to their computer for local secularist groups. After a quick search, he or she has found a blog, an online discussion forum, and perhaps even a Facebook page for a group where non-religious people meet and share their experiences. Or, if there are no nearby groups, this person starts up a new one. Soon enough, he or she becomes part of a community of people sharing their doubts regarding and even criticisms of religious belief.

I’m sure many of you can identify with this story, as it is (more…)

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DISCUSSION: ATHEIST ORG SUES IRS OVER CHURCH POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

Beliefnet Asks: Was Jesus a Republican of a Democrat?The Freedom from Religion Foundation is a non-theistic organization devoted to the separation of church and state in the US.

Recently the FFRF filed to sue the IRS for not enforcing violations of the tax code committed by a number of religious organizations this past election cycle.  According to current US law: churches, mosques and so on are prohibited from making political statements, such as this one.

Clearly something needs to change.  Simply ignoring clear violations of the law is, and this is an understatement, a dangerous precedent to set.

 So what do you think??

1) Should the IRS enforce the law and fine/arrest priests, imams, etc who make political statements while in their religious roles??  Or

2) Should we simply abolish the law and just tax the Churches, Mosques and Temples??

 

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WHY PLURALISM SHOULD MATTER TO ATHEISTS

Vlad Chituc
Research Assistant in Social Neuroscience at Duke U.
Blogger at NonProphet Status

Three years ago, Chris Stedman, my good friend and author of Faitheist, started the blog NonProphet Status. There was no venue for atheists to join in interreligious dialogue, so Chris created a space where believers and atheists alike could share their stories, humanize one another, and promote pluralism among conflicting voices.

I write this as someone relatively new to the idea; when I first met Chris I thought he was completely wrong. Now I write for his blog.

So allow me to briefly make a case for why atheists should engage in cooperative dialogue and action with liberal believers. You can read some of Chris’s thoughts here (and in his book), but while Chris’s roots are in outreach and service work, mine are in arguing on the internet, so I think I can provide a subtly different perspective.

Religion isn’t going away any time soon.  

Despite the rise of the “nones”—about 1 in 5 adults is (more…)

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THE HUMANIST MOVEMENT & THE POLITICAL RIGHT

By Thomas O’Rourke
President of the Philosophy Club
Rutgers University Class of ’13 

I had intended to finish this article in the beginning of September, but my health took a turn for the worse and then midterms came and before I knew it September was October and three presidential debates had come and gone.

With the election days away, what I have to say is more pressing than ever.

I thought that for my first blog post, I would comment on an important issue facing the secular community, which I discussed with David Silverman during our last meeting in February. For those who don’t remember the feel of the community back then, politics came to the forefront with the rise of the Atheist Party. A cursory examination of their platform reveals them to be a (refreshingly) more honestly liberal version of the Democrats.

This prompted me to ask “What is the role of politically right-leaning nonbelievers in (more…)

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NEW RESEARCH, PEW – RISE OF ‘UNAFFILIATED’ & THE SECULAR MOVEMENT

By Daniel Schiff
Volunteer Network Coordinator 
Secular Student Alliance, Northeast Network

A new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released October 9, 2012 offers an intriguing look into generational religious change in the United States.

Central to the study is the growth of the percentage of Americans who self-identify as “unaffiliated” with a particular religion from 15.3% in 2007 to 19.6% in 2012. Meanwhile, the portion of self-defined atheists and agnostics has risen from 3.7% to 5.7% in the same time period.

For secular/atheist organizations like the American Humanist Association, the Center for Inquiry, American Atheists, and the Secular Coalition for America, this new research is an example of the turning tides of American religiosity.

Importantly, the shift in religious affiliation is primarily due to (more…)

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CONFESSIONS OF A PASTAFARIAN: MY RELIGIOUS JOURNEY

By Ben Davis
First Mate (VP) of RU Pastafarians

Rutgers University Engineering Student

My religious background was the best I could’ve asked for.  I am a proud Unitarian Universalist, and if you’ve ever heard of that, you are a rarity indeed.

Mine is a religion based not around deities, but around individual search for spiritual growth.

The Seven Principles we share revolve around the inherent worth and dignity of all people and more ideas of the like.  Yet while we discuss viewpoints that we all have in common, my congregation’s Bond of Union talks of “reserving to each individual the right to his or her own beliefs as to the nature of God and the universe.”

The quest for those beliefs can be a confusing one.  I never have and never will even consider renouncing Unitarian Universalism, but I’ve had dealings with other religious groups.

——-

In high school, my first girlfriend – Christian to the core – invited me to join her youth group’s activities.  She assured me that (more…)

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BLOGS, CHICKENS, A HUMANIST SCHOOL IN UGANDA

By Godless Poutine
Blogger at My Secret Atheist Blog 

The Situation in Uganda

According to the the United Nations World Food Programme, “Uganda was ranked 161 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index, with half the population living below the international poverty line.”

Uganda is also home to the notorious Kill the Gays bill and, according to the BBC, the most dangerous places to live if you are gay.  It’s a place where magazines can issue death sentences if you are outed as homosexual that are actually carried out.  Much of it is the result of a quickly growing fundamentalist Christian presence.

But there is at least one beacon of knowledge and hope in this darkness in the form of a most extraordinary school.

The Kasese Humanist Primary School

The Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS) was founded in 2010 by Secular Humanist Bwambale Robert.

This was just one year after he founded the Kasese United Humanist Association.  Since its inception the school has already made an enormous positive impact on students, parents and the community.

KHPS is a secular school offering Nursery and Primary education in the communities around Kasese Municipality.The education offered is (more…)

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