Monday, August 19, 2013

Why I Became a Humanist Minister

I would like to take a moment to share with all of you exactly why I became certified to officiate at Weddings and other life-passage events.

I became involved with Secular, Humanist, and Atheist causes in 2008, soon after resigning from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the age of 21. Many factors influenced my personal decision to resign from the faith tradition into which I was born and raised. But one thing remained strong in my life and personality . . . a deep desire to give back and to serve.

In 2006, I tallied up the number of hours I had been devoting weekly to "service" in my LDS community (12) and, not wishing these hours to go to waste now that I was no longer choosing to serve there, I became an AmeriCorps volunteer through the Thayne Center for Service & Learning at Salt Lake Community College. I became a youth mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, and began volunteering for fundraising events for local non-profits whose missions rang true to me - the ACLU of Utah, Equality Utah, the Utah Pride Center, and the Utah Food Bank.

Over the course of that first year of non-LDS-membership, I read every book on world religions and philosophy that I could find time to open from my local library in South Salt Lake. I tried to figure out what I did believe, as I was gaining ground learning what I did not believe. By 2008, I was an avowed American Humanist.

I began meeting with a small group of similarly-minded secular students at The University of Utah around that time, and on May 4, 2009, a group of us founded SHIFT - Secular Humanism, Inquiry and Freethought. This group has won Student Group of the Month awards on at least two occasions since then, and even won a national Best Educator award from the Secular Student Alliance in 2010, for their fabulous lecture series. The group has brought in speakers including Austin Dacey, Greta Christina, and PZ Myers. They've always had wonderful, strong student leadership and I've been so proud to see them grow and expand their reach to the hundreds of students they now serve.

As you can read about further in my first blog post on this site, I began my involvement with the Utah Coalition of Reason around January 2010, and worked with them for about two years as they began to build stronger community ties with all of the Secular, Non-Theistic groups throughout the State of Utah. Their website,, was a masterpiece of valuable contact information & resources for Utahans seeking communities beyond belief. The group is currently seeking new leadership, however, many resources may still be found at the United Coalition of Reason.

Myself personally, I am a Religious Humanist. I love sitting in pews, listening to inspirational, educational, philosophical sermons, and even standing next to "strangers" who share my beliefs, singing and at times holding hands or clapping in rhythm to stirring music. I'm an active member of First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City - I have been pledging to continue their mission and services since 2009, and signed the book to become an official member in May 2010. A few years ago, I began taught Religious Education to the 1st - 3rd grade students whose families attend services there. Reverend Tom Goldsmith has been an invaluable mentor, trusted community resource, and friend to me throughout my journey into Humanistic Activism.

So I'm "religious," but I don't believe in a god/gods. We're all Atheists when it comes to Zeus! I believe in Humanity - in being Good Without God, as one of my heroes, Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, wrote about in his book titled the same. And the main reason I chose to become a Certified Humanist Minister is that, yes, there are some non-religious people who know they can turn to liberal, progressive, open-minded church leaders like Reverend Goldsmith when they need wedding officiants or other "clergy" to guide them through such events as marriages, births/adoptions, deaths/funerals, etc. But there are countless others I have met who have no desire to step foot inside any church building - or to have any church leader represent them publicly at their event, regardless how "liberal" the congregation they lead.

These Humanists, who don't 'worship' in any traditional way, are the people I strive to serve. You are the people I write for. You who are different, who don't allow white-washed walls to encapsulate your belief (or non-belief). You who 'worship' in the mountains and red-rock deserts of our beautiful state. And you who never want to hear the words 'worship' or 'god' in any discussions of your life celebrations - yet who still do, and wish to publicly, celebrate all of life!

With your friends & family, you celebrate life as it is, here and now, as we are living it. Thank you for letting me write for you.

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