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In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent

by Samuel G. Freedman
Posted: December 29, 2012.
Published: December 28, 2012.

Print: The New York Times

At a time when the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation is growing rapidly, why have the “nones” seemed so absent?

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Comments (6)

Why do you think they seem absent?

posted on December 29, 2012
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Humanists are decent and don’t blabber about their beliefs when they do good stuff. Quite possibly some of the officers, doctors, psychologists, teachers etc. involved in alleviating the situation were atheists.

But the religious are expert in claiming credit and using every tragedy as an opportunity for the promotion of their ideology.

Some kids just died? Hell yeah, let’s get on a bus and sing to their parents about how great Jesus is.

posted on December 29, 2012
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Humanists, atheists, agnostics, non-believers, religiously unaffiliated, rationalists, nones, brights, secularists —the names all mean different things, and their only common denominator is they all are religiously unaffiliated . No wonder we don’t have a community yet!

posted on December 29, 2012
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Unfortunately, although the “nones” are on the rise, a promising accomplishment for our side (pat yourself on the back), I think within that fact itself lies the answer to our absence, or our palpable absence, in Newtown, Connecticut and similar locations of despair.

This obviously shouldn’t be taken as an excuse, but rather as a possible explanation as to why, in the middle of “clergy members from Bahai, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and both mainline and evangelical Protestant congregations,” groups that make up the other eighty or so percent of the polling, our Humanistic heads aren’t seen poking out of the crowds. Furthermore, religious institutions are massive organizations with deep roots in American society (an obvious fact to us all), so for a movement barley in the prenatal stages such as the one we’re taking part in to not be easily seen or heard only makes sense.

As was made clear in this article, there were many non-religious affiliated groups who reached out with philanthropic arms to these grieving families. But, as was also mentioned and could have easily been assumed, all these families fell within that 80% I mentioned.

Although the implications behind this article are said not to expose us in a “gotcha” moment, it can be seen, I believe, as one of the few times religion is actually showing us what we should be doing. Human beings are vulnerable to misfortune, and until only recently religion has been the outlet to alleviate such misfortune.

I know I haven’t proposed anything we could do, besides from saying continue what we’ve been doing, perhaps with even more zeal and philanthropy,but this is a start. We go by many different names and titles or none whatsoever, but we all converge at a basic ideology, if we didn’t we couldn’t have made it from 16% to the current 20%. Acknowledging our weaknesses in appealing to the masses is a good way to erase those blemishes, which we were bound to have at the start of something bordering on a new Enlightenment.

-Nick Stiles

posted on December 29, 2012
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5. Blanca Ramirez

I audibly groaned when I read the title of this article, and its content just upset me more.  The author’s argument is so flawed, it’s hard to know where to begin.  What I will say is this: I would never (ever, ever in a million years) show up to an event in support of those in crisis wearing my proverbial secular humanist hat.  Why?  Because in said times of crisis, I feel as though it would be almost… offensive to those who are grieving and in pain, who instinctively seek out a higher power to cope.  If I ever had the opportunity, time and resources to travel to Connecticut (or any other place where tragedy strikes), I would gladly go, though I would do so as a human being with a sense of compassion as developed as that of any clergyman; I would not go as a representative of my humanist worldview. 

I think it’s pathologically cynical and just plain silly to declare that religious leaders in attendance were there to actively promote their belief system.  Per Occam’s Razor (I definitely had to look up the spelling on that one), every single clergyman in attendance was likely there because they were shocked and horrified and wanted to help in some small way - just like everyone else. 

Oh, and it’s their job to do so.  Literally.  These men and women came from organizations that probably provided the resources for them to attend and lead these services.  By definition, well, “nones” (excepting reporters and celebrities, of course) don’t have the kind of organization-backed resources to make the trek to Connecticut… or Haiti… or New York… or wherever there is tragedy to provide support. 

That said, where were the Hindu representatives?

posted on December 30, 2012
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