Rutgers: The Humanist Chaplaincy held their first meeting Monday night at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, featuring speeches by two distinguished leaders of the American Humanist Association.
AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and Director of Development Maggie Ardiente discussed future plans for the growing demographic of atheists, agnostics and humanists — who focus on human values and concerns — in the country in their presentation titled “2020 Humanism: Achieving a Vision that Matches Our Aspirations.”The two presenters said this demographic calls for unity, community and increased assertion among its members in order to create a powerful and legitimate movement.
“Humanists and other free thinkers can learn a great deal from the successes of other movements,” Speckhardt said. By referencing the gay rights movement of the 1970s, Speckhardt said he hopes one day there will be tolerance of their non-theistic perspective.
“We must all come out as humanists, saying ‘We do not need a higher power to govern our lives,’” he said. Speckhardt and Ardiente discussed other issues the AHA hopes to tackle in the coming decade, including the advancement of gay rights, scientific research and community involvement outside the influence of the church
Speckhardt and Ardiente said the AHA is already working with the gay and lesbian community, establishing a council for those humanists who belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. By doing so, they can organize the growing number of LGBT humanists within their cause and lend reciprocal support to the gay rights movement, whose support both say comes naturally in the AHA.
Working at the university level, the University Chaplaincy hopes to address similar issues this year, which the AHA is working toward both nationally and internationally. “[Humanists] look at this lifetime and at this world as a source of information and an idea of who we are,” University Humanist Chaplain Barry Klassel said.