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Building Interfaith Bridges with Chris Highland

In this episode, we talk to Chris Highland a former Protestant minister for 14 years and an Interfaith chaplain for 25 years. We discuss his journey to Humanism, his efforts trying to build bridges between people of faith and freethinkers, and his writing about the topic including a weekly column in his local newspaper. We’ll also touch on his recent controversial remarks about “Angry, Anti-religious Atheists”.

Episode 28: Building Interfaith Bridges with Chris Highland

In this episode, we talk to Chris Highland a former Protestant minister for 14 years and an Interfaith chaplain for 25 years. We discuss his journey to Humanism, his efforts trying to build bridges between people of faith and freethinkers, and his writing about the topic including a weekly column in his local newspaper. We’ll also touch on his recent controversial remarks about “Angry, Anti-religious Atheists”.

01:09 Journey to Humanism: My Faith Evaporated
24:45 Angry Anti-religious Atheists
42:17 End Note: We Got A Grant

Our Guest: Chris Highland

Chris Highland was a Protestant minister and interfaith chaplain in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years. He “gave back” his ordination in 2001 when his first book, “Meditations of John Muir” was published.

Since that time he has worked as a “pathfinder” creating trails on an island in the Pacific NW, as a shelter director and senior housing manager before moving to Western North Carolina.

Now, as a freethinking secular humanist (and Humanist Celebrant) he continues to publish books (most recently “Friendly Freethinker,” “Simply Secular” and “Was Jesus a Humanist?”). He teaches courses on Freethought in the Reuter Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina Asheville.

He may be the only secular columnist in the country who writes a weekly column for the religion pages of a local newspaper (the Asheville Citizen-Times, an affiliate of USA Today).

Chris is married to Carol Hovis, a liberal, progressive Presbyterian minister who was active in interfaith work for many years. His website is “Friendly Freethinker”

Extras:

Friendly Freethinker

Was Jesus a Humanist?: and other questionable essays

Author page on Amazon

A-faith, not Anti-faith

Do We Have to Choose between Aggressive Religion or Aggravated Atheism?

Transcript:

Voice Over  00:02

This is Glass City Humanist, a show about humanism, humanist values by a humanist. Here is your host, Douglas Berger.

Doug Berger  00:12

In this episode we talked to Chris Highland, a former Protestant Minister for 14 years, and an interfaith chaplain for 25 years. We discuss his journey to humanism. His efforts trying to build bridges between people of faith and free thinkers and his various writings on the topic, including a weekly column in his local newspaper. We’ll also touch on his recent controversial remarks about angry anti-religious atheists.

Voice Over  00:38

Glass City Humanist is an outreach project of the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, building community through compassion and reason for a better tomorrow. If you live in the greater Toledo, Ohio area and are looking for a humanist community, then please check us out. You can reach our group at humanistswle.org, or from a link on our website, glasscityhumanist.show.

Doug Berger  01:07

With us today is Chris Highland. He was a Protestant Minister for over 14 years, and an interfaith chaplain for 25 years. He’s currently a humanist celebrant, and has a BA in Philosophy and Religion from Seattle Pacific University, and a Master’s of divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He’s a longtime writer, he pens a, weekly, Highland Views column for the Citizen Times I believe, that’s local paper for you. And he’s also written for the Friendly Free Thinker, Broken Bridges. And he’s also has a collection of essays out that’s available on Amazon. It’s called “Was Jesus a humanist?” And I appreciate your time with us today, Chris.

Chris Highland  01:56

It’s very good to be with you, Douglas. Thank you.

Doug Berger  01:59

And I was looking over your, your biography information. And it says that you’re married to a Presbyterian minister. That’s right. How does that work? How does that relationship work with you being a free thinker, secular and she being a minister?

Chris Highland  02:18

Well, I suppose it works like just about any marriage, you, you work on things, and you discuss things. You find ways of compromising. And it comes back to sharing life together, sharing love and respect. I was a Presbyterian minister. So that’s partly how we got together. And she was instrumental in the my exit from, from the Presbyterians and she she has been involved in interfaith work for many years as I was. So we had, we had intersectional places that we we met on and that continues, she’s very liberal and her thinking and likes a lot of my thought. And in fact, she’s involved in editing or helping me edit my weekly columns, and likes a lot of what I what I say what I think what I’ve what my journey has been.

Doug Berger  03:31

And speaking about your journey, what was it a long process where you moved from being a minister to being a humanist celebrant? Or was there like an incident that kind of flipped you to the dark side as it were?

Chris Highland  03:47

Or the lighter side or the light? Yeah, well, it there’s, I always I suppose my whole life is going to be coming up with new images, new ways of expressing and explaining and framing what, what my adventure with, with faith and without faith really what that is and what it has been. So I guess it was a long process of mostly finding that the church wasn’t that involved in a lot of the chaplaincy work that I was doing. I mean, they people were involved. But as I saw, they were more distracted by theology and doing church business than being actively working with people who are poor people who were in jail, people on the streets, you know, just basically those who are outcasts and cast offs from our communities. So that that disturbs me For a long time, but I kept doing the work. Some of the more liberal clergy people, and not just Christian, but Jewish tradition and Buddhist traditions and others, what kind of pat me on the back and work with me and, and say you’re doing the work, you’re doing the work, as long as you’re, you’re out there with people and helping them as best you can walk in with people sitting with people listening a lot, that kind of presence ministry that I did for many years, it just, you know, that whole theology thing really didn’t really fit anymore. So, I sometimes describe it as as a little bit like evaporated. It was, and I always tell people, you know, I didn’t lose my faith, it just sort of evaporated. And when I when I left my ordination, by 20 years ago, now, it was really, it was a reasonable decision. And to me, it was a logical, natural step for me to, in a sense, take that piece of paper I got, after all that education, all that seminary training, all those tests to make sure I was, you know, a good believer and giving that, giving it back, and like taking the paper off the wall that degree off the wall and handing it back and saying, thanks, but I don’t need this anymore, to do the work, to be the person I am. And to continue the the journey of free thinking so and then I kind of went through my transitional time of doing some more nonprofit work, I was directing a shelter for a little while, then I was a housing manager for a few years, then, you know, all the way through that just writing, writing my thoughts, writing essays, putting some books together, my very first book was on John Muir some of his naturalistic writings. And in some ways, he was a bridge, one of the bridges that helped me to cross over into the land of free thought, and said, Oh, and humanism just, once again, almost came naturally to me. looking around for what, you know, is there a philosophy is a way of life, a way of understanding the world that in that includes people it’s about justice, it’s about building bridges, instead of blowing them up. You know, humanism is, is a very creative, positive approach to life and just makes a lot of sense. So I’m with Thomas Paine on that one, I’m I’m into common sense.

Doug Berger  08:10

Do you consider yourself an atheist or an agnostic? Or how do you fit on the spectrum of belief?

Chris Highland  08:18

Well, I’ve never been a fitter. So I don’t go for that. I’m also I’ve never really been a negative of wanting to define my life by negatives. So I and I write on this on quite a few occasions and a lot of essays and various approaches to this, but, and some in the atheist community aren’t very happy with me because I tend to, I tend to push back when it comes to what I consider angry, rather evangelical atheists out there, I’m not in that community. But having said all that, I am not a theist. And I really focused on not being a super naturalist. You know, I’m focused on the natural world and natural universe. And why my favorite label if I’m ever going to use a label or fit anywhere, it’s in the Free Thought tradition. So I, I write about free thought and free thinking. I teach courses on free thought and some of the historic representatives of that tradition as secular tradition. So I’m definitely secular. I’m definitely humanist. Definitely a free thinker. And yeah, okay. I’m a I’m an atheist. Okay.

Doug Berger  09:45

Yeah. When I was involved with the humanist group down in Columbus, Ohio, for many years, we had a gentleman who was on our board of directors and really an active participant who was a deacon at a church in his hometown. But he was he really supported the secular humanism, and separation of church and state and things like that. But his family had a history at this church. So it was kind of like he inherited the position. Right. And so he went to church every Sunday. And he part, you know, did the whole church socials and things like that. But it was more out of a family obligation, rather than he actually believed all of it. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And then we had another gentleman, Bob, who was who is a Quaker. And he was part of our group for still was part of part of the group down in Columbus. So yeah, so I mean, it’s possible that you can be a believer and be a humanist. I, I fully agree with that, you know, as long as you know, that, that the supernatural part is not the main focus.

Chris Highland  11:02

Yes, yes. And I, and I find that a kind of a more constructive framework, to think of natural natural or supernatural, rather than to get into the god talk stuff, because everybody has, you know, I mean, it’s all over the map with the god stuff and, and spirituality, language. And I like to say, in my classes, and in some of my books, I like to just say, Well, you know, people use the word like spiritual and it has no content, there’s no meaning to it. But people keep using that. Then when you press them on it, they they say things that a humanist would say, or a naturalist would say, Oh, it was wonderful. I was awestruck. I had this good feeling. You know, I felt a part of everything. Okay. Good. Great. And, you know, if you want to call it spirituality, that’s fine. If you want to say that was a god experience. Okay. You know, I mean, why would I argue with that? But I would say, Well, for me, it’s just about the awe and wonder and the beauty. And, you know, I’m with John Muir, who said that the best synonym for God was beauty. capital B, you know, john Muir wrote that, and he was a person of faith. But I, you know, I think people like that are bridges, inviting some of us to come together? Over across the differences across the boundaries and the the divisions that are created, that are kind of artificial, and keep us apart? So, yeah, I agree. I mean, in terms of free thought, you know, obviously, a lot of free thinkers, you know, even Robert Ingersoll, you know, was an agnostic, he wasn’t an atheist. He probably was, but he called himself an agnostic. And, you know, a lot of the reformers, abolitionists, human rights folks, over the years have been people have some kind of faith of some kind. But, but to me, they’re all those different streams kind of converge into humanity, and what’s the best for us as a human community? So that’s kind of where I’m at.

Doug Berger  13:25

Right, and then you write a weekly column for your local paper. How did that come about? how did how did you get that gig?

Chris Highland  13:33

Well, I, I’m delighted that this all has happened, because for the last five years, I’ve written these columns every week for the, for the religion pages of our local paper, here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. So, you know, we’re kind of in a liberal bubble here. But in the south, as I’ve been learning more day by day about the south, since I’m originally a West Coast person, you know, you have to kind of look for those bubbles. And outside the bubbles are more bubbles. But they’re, you know, they’re waving other flags and claiming other realities that I don’t quite agree with. Anyway. So my wife and I, you know, came here from the San Francisco Bay Area. Well, you can’t get more kind of wide open and inclusive and everything in San Francisco. Maybe Toledo? I don’t know. But, you know, a little bit a little bit. Okay. Okay. Well, we, as I said, we were involved in interfaith work for so many years that we just built all kinds of bridges everywhere, to and made friendships with all kinds of clergy and and followers of all kinds of traditions. And our goal was to bring folks together in order not to just make a big mishmash or, you know, melt everything into one big ugly candle, but to to actually do things together, like, open a homeless shelter, or, you know, house people or, you know, find health care for people or do other good things. So in other words, we were in a real interfaith area where all religions were somewhat welcomed, while our local paperback in California had a religion section that was called sacred space, whatever, you know, that’s not a bad name really, for that. And I would write things sometimes my wife would write things, Buddhist priests, we knew Wiccan witches that we knew, you know, all kinds of people. Were Welcome to right for that those religions that religion page, those religion pages, which made all kinds of sense, it’s like, okay, it’s a religion page is not a Christian page. So I started reading, when we were still in California, I started reading our local paper here in Asheville. And their religion page was just, it was just all all Christian and, and almost, you know, 99%, conservative, Christian. And so I thought, well, we’ll see what happens when, when Carol and Chris moved into Asheville. So we came back here, I wrote to the paper, I wrote to the editor, and I said, you know, here’s who I am. And I have some experience with religion over the years, and I can be respectful. And I write so that people can understand each other not to throw rocks at each other.

Chris Highland  16:47

So the editor said, Okay, well, what’s right, go ahead, submit something, we’ll check it out. So they printed that, and then they said, Well, okay, what’s next? And I just kept going. And that was five years ago. So every week, and I, we decided, and I thought this was a great decision, we would call it “Highland Views”. Okay, we live here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. So Highland-views made sense. A lot of Scots Irish people, you know, originally came in here and got rid of the pesky the Native Americans and brought their slaves. In other words, there’s a dark side of that history, as we all know, so anyway, I thought, Well, okay, Highland views. And then I am Chris Highland. And I’m going to be presenting my viewpoints. These are not this traditions, viewpoints. I’m not speaking for all secular people, all atheists or humanists. I’m speaking from my point of view. And so far, you know, I mean, it seems to work. I hear from a lot of people. In fact, a lot of church goers contact me and say, Wow, this is great. I really like what you’re writing. If you ever look at my website, and you look at where I post the columns, I put little quotes in there from readers and I love it strokes, my ego anyway, I like to go back and you know, read that page and say, Wow, that’s cool that people are saying these things. And I know for a fact that some of them are secular Jews. Some of them are not atheists, some of them are evangelical Christians. And you know that that is pretty wild, but it does happen. And a lot of people in my former communities who are you know, Presbyterians tend to be pretty liberal. Methodists, you know, some Baptists, you know, it’s, um, it’s just a lot of fun because I try to engage people without what, like I said, without throwing stones or blowing up bridges.

Doug Berger  19:00

It does it generate quite a bit of hate mail too, or at least I wish, really,

Chris Highland  19:08

actually, I wish I did get more pushback on things because then it would show me that, okay, people are reading this even though they struggle with it. I do get some, some people that did push back on some of it. And, you know, I will engage that we talked a short time just before we started here about debating and I don’t I’m not interested in debating I never have been interested in debating not since I was an evangelical Christian back in high school and early college, you know that back and then I you know, back those times, I really wanted to force my point of view and others. Now if there’s any point of view that I want to push on people, it’s that this is my point of view, what’s your point of view? You know, let’s let’s talk about what’s happening. conversation, not a debate, you know, not an argument. So, so that’s kind of where I’m coming at. And I, so I, so I’m kind of serious that I wish I did hear more negative stuff, but I have a suspicion see my, my column is still in the midst of a lot of Christian stuff, almost all Christian stuff. And so not all of it’s not all of it’s terrible stuff. There’s some there’s some good stories in there. But but primarily it’s people who are saying, Well, here’s what Christians are doing. Here’s what Christians think here’s what Jesus wants you to do. And here’s the latest Bible study, you know, many sermon stuff. And I, that’s not me, that’s just not me and I so I, I hear from the people who appreciate that. And a lot of people who say, you know what, I really don’t read anything else on the religion page, but I do every Saturday morning, I sure look for your column.

Doug Berger  21:07

Now, the the collections of essays, those are the ones that from from the newspaper column that you put into book form. Correct? For the most, for the most part. Yeah. And the most, was it? Is it the most recent collection? The the one that has the “Was Jesus a Humanist?”

Chris Highland  21:28

Yep. The one that the one that has the question mark on the church, top of the church on the steeple. Yeah,

Doug Berger  21:34

that was the most recent one that came out in May?

Chris Highland  21:37

Yes. Okay. I’ve been cranking these out, Douglas, was because I, you know, I realized that I want I want my columns, what I’m talking about, I would kind of like to see it, you know, expand beyond the Asheville and western North Carolina bubble. So I like to try to publish things. And once I found that, that Amazon makes it super easy to publish now. And of course, there’s, you know, billions of people were publishing books now. So I’m just, I just, whenever I get to 25, 30, or 40, columns, I bring them together, collate them, and publish them, and go put it out there and see what happens. I, I’m not a best selling author. In fact, the funny thing is that my very first book, as I mentioned, meditations of John Muir, came out 20 years ago, and that’s continues to be my, my best selling book, because it gets in national parks. And you know, it’s in a lot of bookstores and national parks has been around for a while. my more recent ones. You know, I find people that appreciate them. But they’re, you know, they’re not flying off the Amazon shelves.

Doug Berger  22:56

Very, you’re not? You’re not in it for the money. put it that way.

Chris Highland  23:00

Yeah, I sure wish I was I might do a better job of doing something. But yeah, I, you know, in the past three years, I’ve probably published more books than ever. Over a dozen now, I don’t know what I’m up to now. But a couple of years ago, I did a collection that’s called a “Free Thinkers Gospel”. That was kind of kind of fun to do that’s got about 52 columns in it. And then I did one in the past few years, called Broken Bridges. And this one, I think, has about 22, or something in it. So it’s just, you know, publishing books is publishing books, and it’s getting ideas out there, that maybe some people might want to engage. And I really write for, for people on all sides of the spectrum. I don’t care who reads the books and who reads the columns. And and invite them to, to engage me and in conversation, but I you know, like I said, I’m not gonna I’m not gonna put up with someone trying to evangelize me. And as you know, people like to, you know, they send us Bible verses and they want to tell us things Excuse me, but I was, I went to seminary, I was in ministry. You know, you you want to tell me what the Bible says. Silly.

Voice Over  24:31

For more information about the topics in this episode, including links used, please visit the episode page at class city humanist dot show.

Doug Berger  24:45

I noticed when I was reading some of your your essays that there was, I guess you had a dust up with some angry atheists, about an essay that you wrote on your personal blog. It wasn’t one of your columns. Where you talked about that you were that you were complaining about? angry, anti religious atheists. I think that’s what you call them or, yeah, AAA AAA AAA is. And so you got a lot of pushback from atheists. And so you wrote this follow up? essay, it was posted on somebody else’s blog. Yeah, rational doubt that’s on passeios. Right. Right. National Diet. And were you clarify that you didn’t mean that all atheists are angry or like that? That that whole line of thought is, is kind of what kind of bothers me today, I’ve been in I’ve been in the humanist movement for 30 years, over 30 years, officially, I am an atheist. And, and I don’t want this to sound condescending, or anything. But I think that there is a problem with people that come from a liberal religious tradition, such as yourself, a liberal Western tradition, that has a real bad viewpoint of atheists in general, whether it comes out that you don’t mean all atheists are angry. But I’ve had personal experience, you know, Unitarian Church in Columbus, where they found out I was an atheist, and people rolled their eyes, and tisk tisk me because they assumed that that I bashed religion, that was the big thing that they used to talk about this that we bashed religion. And I think I think the issue that I have with the idea that there’s angry atheists bringing down humanism, or make given it a bad look, is the fact that there’s some things that the religious do, that need to be called out that need, you need to be angry for, such as going, removing women’s reproductive rights, you know, a lot of church and state stuff. I’m not saying that to everything. Dealing with extremist religious extremists in other parts of the world. And I get that, that you want to be a…

Chris Highland  27:36

Bridge builder, you know, I want to be a bridge builder,

Doug Berger  27:38

You want to be a you want to be a bridge builder. But to me, it just seems like it’s a one way bridge. And in my experience with other people from liberal religious traditions, it’s been a one way bridge in there, the atheist has to tone down their beliefs, or hide their beliefs at the risk of making the religious seem uncomfortable. That’s why we never get included with interfaith activities, because we’re not considered a faith. And I just think that that just it. It, it just makes me feel like a second class citizen, in my own movement. At times. Yeah. Yeah.

Doug Berger  28:24

I agree. And, and so when I was reading this about the angry atheist, I’ve heard that story so many times. And don’t get me wrong, there are some atheists that I know personally, that I would not want to be friends with. They are just very nasty people in general, but they’re nasty about everything, not just religion. And, and, and I, you know, I run a group humanists group, and one of the one of the rules we have is we don’t disparage religion, just for the sake of the of the laughs. You know, that’s not, that’s not what we’re about. We don’t throw stones just to throw stones. And we don’t make fun of the religious, we make fun of the ideas if we do make fun of anything. And we call out the ideas, because some of those ideas are toxic, and they hurt people, even if individual people don’t. The beliefs do. Yeah. And so what I guess what I would like to see more often is a two way bridge, where the religious and the believers, they get to know me, and are what we believe, well, to use the word belief, but what our values are, and try to try to find commonality that way where we don’t, as an atheist or non non believer, we don’t have to compromise our values, or hide our values in order to get along.

Chris Highland  29:56

Sure. Sure, no, well, well said. I mean, in some ways, what you were doing was kind of laying out what what my case is, which, which is that it’s all about experience and relationships. You know, you go to one Unitarian Church have a bad experience. I’ve, I’ve been invited to speak two or three times at Unitarian churches here. And I used to speak at a Unitarian Church out in, in the Bay Area, as well, as you know, I used to give sermons and speak and other other religious communities. And why was that? Was it because I was kind of on the edge, kind of liberal Christian at that point? Or was it because of the work I was doing? That’s what people were interested in, because I had built up relationships with them, what in whatever community and so they accepted me because I was oh, that’s chaplain Chris. And he’s doing that work. Right. So part of my contention with those, this some in the atheist community who were really agitated and worked up about, you know, kind of becoming, I don’t know, just assholes, I guess, you know about about things that, you know, it really irritated me because a lot of times I see these little cutesy, little memes posted, and, you know, silly little, little cuts or jabs or, or, you know, thrust the knife in ends and just saying religion, or Christopher Hitchens saying, All religion, it poisons everything. Religion poisons, everything. You know, and I know, I appreciate a lot of what the new atheists say, but you know, where I’m at right now, I’ve been reading Stephen Prothero, or Prothero’s book on “God is not one”. “God is not one”. And he’s a religion professor. He’s a non believing religion professor, but he teaches at Boston University. He’s the one that taught that published the book, like 10 years ago called religious literacy. And anyway, I like what he says he says, There needs to be, he says, a lot of the, you know, what we’ve heard of, from the so called New atheists are old, white male guys, who are agitated, you know, they’re all mad, and they’re going after religion and religion is delusion. All religion is delusional, religious people are delusional. It’s all bad, it’s all a poison. And he just Prothero, he says, He says, There needs to be a new, new atheism. And it needs to come from a wider community of people who have more experience and who actually are religiously literate. And that’s what really agitated I think, or bothered people the most at that, with that essay that I wrote, was that I was kind of, in my perspective, I was calling people on their ignorance. I think there are a lot of very ignorant people. You know, I’m ignorant about certain things, too. I know that. But when it comes to working with, you know, constructively working side by side, and building relationships with people of various faith perspectives, as well as people in the secular community, I’ve got some experience. And I’m going to talk about it. But when I and I’m also going to call out when people start coming up with these statements about all religion, all religious people, or all Christians are a certain way. All evangelicals are a certain way. That’s BS, and then somebody needs to call it out. So yeah, I do get, I get worked up to about it. And I want to say, Now, folks, you know, a lot of people that are coming out of religion are coming out of some very negative stuff, some sometimes very abusive kinds of things in religion, and all it as you say, I’m totally with you. We need to confront that and strongly confront it, you know, the power worshipers. We know we need we need to do something about Christian nationalists. So I’m a member of been member for quite some time of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I’m a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I suppose, support most of what they do. So I you know, I think there needs to be some strong pushback on on Christian nationalism and on any kind of

Chris Highland  34:54

religion that pushes itself into different levels. of our of our society, there needs to be voices of reason. But I’ll tell you what I learned as a chaplain many years ago and all the chat all the counseling I did with people, it’s like, you know, yes, you’re angry, a lot of us get angry about things, it’s what you do with it, you either do something positive, to possibly build a bridge, maybe where there wasn’t one before. But it does have to be two ways. Because if you’re opening up conversation or dialogue, or even want to work at all with anybody, you’re going to have to it’s going to have to be a little bit of a two way street, like you said, both ways. But I’m with you, Douglas, there are, there are people who are in the secular community or the spiritual community, who just, they’re too angry, they have too much agenda, they have a point to make, and they’re going to knock you over the head with it, whether it’s a Bible or you know, the latest, you know, or some some book from one of the, the new The so called New atheists.

Doug Berger  36:11

Okay, and as I’m going to move on to wrapping up our time, again, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to speak to me today. And what I like to do at the end is turn over the microphone to the guest, and give you the opportunity to promote your next project, your latest project, your website, however you want to do, whatever you whatever you think that our listeners should hear from you. Right now. So go ahead.

Chris Highland  36:46

Well, that’s very gracious of you to do that. Well, you know, I, as I say, I would love to have more engagement with my thoughts through the books. As well as through the website now. I call it friendly, free thinker. And I actually have a book out of collection called friendly, free thinker. And I’ve also enjoyed Hemant Mehta’s work with Friendly Atheist for for a long time. But I would have to say that, uh, that a lot of that is focused on the worst parts of the religious community, and there’s some really ugly stuff thing out there going on in the name of religion, so. So it does have to be brought out, somebody has to bring out those things, what I want to do is bring up not just the good side, for the most part of the secular community, but the good side of the religious community as well. And, you know, I, you know, I do hear from people who have, who are rather new to the secular community, who appreciate the fact that I take a certain, friendlier approach. So I, I want to encourage people, I want to encourage people who have left religion or thought about it, too, to not necessarily burn the bridges that didn’t and don’t necessarily miss some some of need to be burned, I agree. But to, to really take on and gauge discuss, think about build relationships with people who are, who maybe are still in the religious community, but have something to offer, or or, you know, join people in what they’re doing, whether they’re working with a shelter or food program, or whatever it might be in the community educational programs, tutoring, what kinds of things and I also I hope that what I do, encourages secular people in all kinds of communities and cities, that, you know, look at your look at your local papers, look at what’s being presented when it comes to religion or religious issues, and see if there might be a way you know, to to have your voice heard, contact the editors of papers, and say, you know, I have another voice. And and I would hope that it would be a voice that would be reasonable. It would be inviting to conversation rather than slamming doors and burning bridges. You know, so that so that people will understand exactly what you’ve been saying. Douglas, you know, we you know, we don’t want to we want to break through the the stereotypes about About non believing people, because we are, we’re growing horde in this country, you know, we’re, we’re, and I think the more we come out, and the more we come out as, as, as humanists, you know, people with a more humanist approach to things and humanistic approach, I think the more people will, will have to stop and think of, maybe this isn’t a good alternative. And maybe people who don’t believe in religion really do have something positive to and constructive to offer in our communities. So I would just, if if my writings on friendly, free thinker, or any of my books, raise these questions Help, help think through some of these things.

Chris Highland  40:58

I’d love to hear from people. And I’d love to, to be able to encourage folks to, to speak out, stand up, speak out. And let it be, let it be a friendlier voice. You know, I’m not the kind of person that you always do it. Some hard chaplaincy work for a long time, you can’t go into a jail and be there for 10 years, and working with people, or people working with people on the street for no 10 years, you know, and have, and get kind of namby pamby pollyannish about this stuff. You know, that’s, so I, you know, it’s hard thinking it’s hard thinking and it’s building relationships that are hard to do sometimes. But it’s worth it, to build those bridges. And that’s what I want to do, I’ve swapped my life seems to be kind of dedicated to now is, is writing and teaching to, to bring out the best of Free Thought is really about being a free person.

Voice Over  42:09

This is Glass City Humanist.

Doug Berger  42:17

Before I wrap up this episode completely, I just wanted to take a moment to mention that the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, who sponsors this program, and it’s an outreach for the group, we were awarded a grant from the American Humanist Association to help try to better this podcast and and we appreciate the the grant. And so going forward, we’re going to have these episodes are going to be sponsored in part by a grant from the American Humanist Association. And you can reach them on the Internet at American humanist.org. We will also accept donations from individual listeners to the program. And that is done through if you go to a show note for an episode, you’ll see a button they’ll say Ko-fi, I think it’s like c-k-o-hyphen-f-i. We go through Ko-fi.com and you can make a donation. You can even subscribe become a member of the show with that, and that would be a monthly donation. And we’ll accept that as well. And we appreciate any donations and grants given to this program. We appreciate it Thanks.

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Credits

Written, produced, and edited by Douglas Berger and he is entirely responsible for the content. Incidental voice overs by Shawn Meagley

The show is sponsored in part by a grant from the American Humanist Association

The GCH theme is “Glass City Jam” composed using Ampify Studio

This episode by Glass City Humanist is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

By Douglas

Host of the Glass City Humanist