My Take: Godless in Boston mourn, too

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After two days of holding back my own feelings to focus on the needs of a community in mourning, what finally split my heart in two was scrolling through the list of donations to the fund-raising page for Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, a mother and daughter among the tragically injured at the Boston Marathon.


Celeste, the mother, has volunteered for my congregation. She’s basically an aunt to a senior member of our staff. So I cried for the two-sidedness: A member of our community lost her legs below the knees, and nearly lost her daughter. And, in one day, nearly 4,000 people donated more than $250,000 to support them. They seemed to be saying, through their gifts, “Please do this for me too if anything should ever happen to me or my family.”

As a chaplain, I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy just like any other member of the clergy. And like faith communities across the country, the thousands of people I work with are doing what needs to be done when tragedy strikes close to home. We’re offering one another comfort. We’re calling around to the point of exhaustion, trying to figure out who needs help and how we can provide it.

The only difference is, we are a community of atheists — a congregation of Humanists.

You’ve probably read the statistics: With 18% of the nation’s population now nonreligious, America is less religious today than ever before. This especially applies to young Americans, up to a third of whom now have no religion. That number may be closer to half on many of the college campuses throughout Boston, like the one where I work.

What you may not have noticed, however, is that in addition to the religiously unaffiliated, or “nones” as sociologists have taken to calling them, a new and very significant group of Americans has been emerging — the nonreligiously affiliated. Relatively quietly, many thousands of mostly young Americans who identify as atheists and agnostics have been coming together to form civically active, thoughtful secular community groups that now dot nearly our whole nation.

Written By: Greg Epstein
continue to source article at religion.blogs.cnn.com

11 COMMENTS

  1. And, in one day, nearly 4,000 people donated more than $250,000 to support them. They seemed to be saying, through their gifts, “Please do this for me too if anything should ever happen to me or my family.”

    Commendable as this is, just think what could be done if churches throughout the USA paid their taxes and the money was used to fund a proper public health service and system of disability support!

    (I see many of the secular athletic community are are wearing black arm-bands as a token of support, while running the London marathon)

  2. “As a chaplain, I’m struggling to make sense of this tragedy just like any other member of the clergy”

    But as an atheist chaplin, surely one just understands that someone bad did something bad
    (motives currently unknown).

    As a religious chaplin one has to accept that the all powerful invisibleness was happy with this act of violence. That has got to be harder to make sense of.

  3. Thank you, Greg, for writing this. This article is getting a tremendous reception on the CNN blog, where it currently has over 2,000 comments.

    I do hope that the humanist community is included in upcoming “interfaith” services for this and other events. I know you’ll be lobbying for it.

  4. Dear Bob,

    Don’t waste your time engaging in a debate with any of us. Simply contact the Nobel Prize Committee (http://www.nobelprize.org/contact/) and claim your $1M Nobel Prize each for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, Peace and Economics. This $6M is just the the start of the trillion dollar fortune and eternal fame that is awaiting you IF AND ONLY IF you can convince the Nobel Prize Committee that the verifiable and falsifiable evidence you present to them is 100% conclusive and 100% unchallengeable.

    Sincerely,

    EvidenceOnly

  5. Humanist chaplain? I didn’t think “The Brights” was a particularly bright idea. but this is even dimmer. Another strong indicator that not all on our side quite get it.

    As far as the mayhem in Boston – that is just a taste of what the US delivers thousandfold to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with its drone attacks terrorizing the population.

    • and less than a quarter of what their unregulated utopia gives then to allow greedy profiting from the poor.

      In reply to #15 by godsbuster:

      As far as the mayhem in Boston – that is just a taste of what the US delivers thousandfold to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with its drone attacks terrorizing the population.

  6. The useless and pathetic Jesus just provided more evidence of His non omnipotence, his non omni benevolence, and his non existence by His non intervention in a tragedy involving the death of an 8 year old human being, and others. What a sorry god the Christians worship. A completely useless bastard !

    Oh and elsewhere in the world another 30,000 children died of poverty related issues today, and Jesus did nothing. And to be fair, nor did Allah ! Useless the whole bloody lot of them, including Jehovah of course.

    Meanwhile we humans have to pick up the pieces and run with them. And we can do that !

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