Thank you for a well thought out and heartfelt share. Thank you for reminding me there are legitimate reasons that many Atheists have for not attending these events. (Most religious people don't either.)
I will be attending the event tomorrow at Holy Cross Cathedral. I am not surprised it's being held there. The Martin family members u are committed Roman Catholics and their tragic story has gripped so many.
The Roman Catholic Church also has the institutional resources to organize the event quickly: It can mobilize a large turnout. It has the space to accommodate that turnout.
It has a history of organizing such events. Many who will attend are not Catholic but will see their attendance as a show of solidarity.
The points you raise and those by others in creating our own response raises several strategic questions: The difference between our organizing a separate, immediate event and planning for the long term.
Should we have our own separate vigil in few days? Why are we having it? Do we have the institutional resources to pull it off? How many do we realistically think will attend? Do we want the event covered in the media? What are the goals and objectives of such an event?
Will a poorly attended vigil that does receive publicity do us any good? How does it impact those goals and objectives? If one goal is to show that Atheists care about this tragedy, how is that goal helped if just a few people show up? Won 't it convey to the public that Atheists don't care? Undermining our credibility?
From what I've gathered over the past few years, BA members are conflicted about interfaith work. The Unitarian Universalists, including historic Arlington Street Church, has an organized atheist caucus. The Arlington St Church has a history and the institutional resources of organizing non-sectarian events. I've worked with them on many issues over the years.-
I know the Harvatd Humanist Community had an event. Now we're planning one. Should long term planning involve developing partnerships with similar organizations? Instead of duplicating efforts and resources?
There is a large humanistic Jewish community in Boston. Do we have any contacts there? Or with secular student organizations in the area?
As a growing organization whose members have various interests and priorities regarding this question, I think we are a body of untapped wealth.
We have members who might be interested in forging greater ties and developing an inclusive network with non-religious organizations.
We have others who are interested in developing similar relations with religious organizations when possible.
We don't have to reinvent the wheel. This work is already being done. We need to figure out what we want, who we're willing to work with and develop an infrastructure to do so.
I think Zach, Josiah and those who have contributed to these conversations have taken us forward in this direction. Thank you.
Sent from my iPhone
On Apr 17, 2013, at 8:25 AM, Rick Mueller <[address removed]> wrote:
Josiah, in the days ahead there will be vigils and memorials for the victims of the terrorist attack. Most of these ceremonies will include, if not be centered around, religious practices. The official city ceremony, which the President will attend, will be at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross and is certain to be religiously themed. I and other atheists will feel conflicted. I wish to join our greater community in expressing my sadness and offering support for the victims and their loved ones. I want to meditate on the impact of this tragedy and join with others to publicy pledge to promote compassion and peace. I will feel excluded and this will add to my and others' sadness.
In the immediate aftermath of a public tragedy these ceremonies are important. I think that part of the healing that happens is facilitated by the familiarity of the ceremony. We reenact what has helped before. Because our country has such a strong religious tradition it is what is familiar and reenacted. The activist secular community could begin a tradition of a purely secular public ceremony for these occasions. I don't have any well formulated ideas at this time of how this ceremony should be organized or conducted. My own preference would be to have no professional religious person featured in a leadership position. It should be open to all even those who wish to express a religious sentiment but not as the major theme. I'm sure there are folks within the secular community with knowledge and experience in public ceremony. I'd be interested in discussing this further and working to initiate a new tradition.
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