Humanists in the News: Toledo Secular Humanists Aspire to Create Community

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Source: The Blade 

Shawn Meagley and Douglas Berger have co-organized an organization called Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, or SHoWLE. Berger brings years of experience in leadership within the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. Though there are currently organized groups for atheists and skeptics in the area, the region has yet to see a secular humanist organization.  

 

Meagley came to secular humanism after leaving the church she had grown up in. Though she disagreed with the tenants of the religion, she told The Blade, “The thing that I missed most—probably the only thing that I missed about anything to do with any kind of religious life—was having the camaraderie, the group gatherings, someplace to share as a family.” Her new organization, SHoWLE, operates under the phrase “good without god” and strives to lead a life shaped by ethics, morals, empathy, and compassion as divorced from religious dogma. 

 

The Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, as an organization, is intended to provide a community and educational resources to both its members and the public. According to the American Humanist Association, the ideology is a, “progressive lifestance that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.” 

 

Both co-founders believe their organization is positioned to reach out to a significant portion of the population. The country is statistically trending secular, but the recent surge in social justice action and interest has citizens striving to find meaning unassociated with traditional religion. According to Pew Research Center data, more than 20% of Americans identify as religious “nones.” This descriptor covers those who identify as atheist, agnostic, and those who do not have a particular affiliation.  

 

The questioning and reaching for morals and values that exist apart from theology sits at the heart of secular humanism. The American Humanist Association is seeing increasing interest as measured by its growing membership numbers and the establishment of new chapters. With 34,000 members and supporters in the United States, there may be an organization in your county. 

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