Humanist Perspectives: The Humanist Obligation to Serve


This is the first post in our new series, Humanist Perspectives. We’ll be sharing posts from guest contributors who explore active humanism and what it means to be a thoughtful, engaged member of society. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

The Humanist Obligation to Serve: Being “Good without God” Requires Action
by Chris Stedman

“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion — and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.” — Ram Dass

Ten years ago, in the summer before my freshman year of high school, I went with my church to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to do home repairs and work with at-risk youth. We stayed and worked in what was then the poorest county in the United States of America, and it was a hugely educational and personally transformative experience.

Though the last ten years have seen me change my philosophy in several dramatic ways — from born-again Christian to rejectionist atheist to my current work as a Secular Humanist and interfaith activist — reservations in South Dakota continue to face similar challenges to those I encountered in my youth. Today, the poorest county in the U.S. has shifted a bit north: Ziebach County, home to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, hub of the Cheyenne River Reservation. Located approximately 200 miles northeast of Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte is geographically and economically isolated, enabling devastating poverty and social difficulties for its residents — particularly for its children.

Read the rest of this post at Huffington Post.

Chris Stedman serves on Foundation Beyond Belief’s Challenge the Gap Advisory Board. He has seen the secular/religious divide from both sides and now devotes his energy to challenging the gap itself. An atheist with advanced degrees in religion, Chris is outreach coordinator of the Common Ground Campaign and Managing Director of State of Formation, a new initiative of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. He is also one of several secular humanists to have worked on the staff of Interfaith Youth Core and recently took the position of Interfaith and Community Service Fellow with the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.