Tomorrow night, November 15, the Park 51 Islamic Center and the Center for Inquiry NYC will host A New Way to Be Nonreligious at Harvard and Beyond, and the launch of two new initiatives spearheaded by the Humanist Chaplaincy of Harvard University. The two initiatives seek to create stronger humanist communities as well as dialogue between non-religious and religious communities.
The Humanist Community Project aims to build strong local communities within the atheist and Humanist communities that mirror the cultural experience religious people find in local congregations and religious communities. According to a recent Pew study, one quarter of Americans born after 1980 identify as non-religious, but historical and sociological research, as well as personal experience, tell us that strong communities, like the ones people often experience through their religious congregations, are important in sustaining the Humanist movement.
Values in Action (VIA) seeks to create the first interfaith community service program based out of an atheist organization. VIA also encourages dialogue between non-religious and religious communities. According to Chris Stedman, HCH’s Interfaith and Community Service Fellow:
The word ‘via’ means ‘by way of’ or ‘through.’ This really gets at the heart of VIA at HCH’s three-fold goal: to better the conditions of life for others through service to humanity, build alliances between religious and nonreligious individuals and communities, and combat the misconception that the nonreligious do not contribute to society.
VIA currently sponsors one large-scale community service event each month. One of the areas on which they’ve chosen to focus is LGBT youth homelessness, an issue GLAAD has examined before. One of VIA’s upcoming events is a week-long service trip to Los Angeles over spring break to give students the opportunity to work with homeless LGBT youth.
GLAAD is honored to be one of the organizations sponsoring this event, especially as VIA and the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard have made equality for LGBT people a core component of their service. Other sponsoring organizations include Auburn Seminary and the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. Park51 is located at 51 Park Place, between Church Street and West Broadway in Manhattan. If you are interested in attending or supporting the event, please RSVP here.