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St Paul Interfaith Network "Stakeholders Meeting": Dialoguing with Atheists

Secular Bible Study, due to its ongoing joint meetups with St. Paul Interfaith Network's (SPIN's) "Interfaith Conversation Cafe (ICC)" and due to ICC's request to broaden its name to "Interbelief Conversation Cafe" to be more welcoming to atheists without faith but with ethics beliefs or worldviews, is being invited to SPIN's next "Stakeholder Meeting" to speak our minds in a "Respectful Conversations"-format dialogue:

A Respectful Conversation About Dialogue Between Religious

                     & Non-Religious Beliefs & Worldviews

Time, Place & Locale: Monday, June 2, 7:00 PM, SPACC (St. Paul Area Council of Churches) HQ, 1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN (on the corner of Summit and Pierce, North side of Summit, just west of Snelling. Parking is available on the street and the small parking lot behind SPACC).

Event Format: "Respectful Conversations" style -- structured-then-open dialogue, with emphasis on listening, and on reasoning rather than emotional communication, to listen to and share our individual worldviews.


Event Purpose:

1. Should SPIN welcome the requested broadening of ICC's name to "Interbelief" Conversation Cafe, in the hope that such a name change (which would be the first such initiative for an interfaith group in the U.S.) would increase its attractiveness to and involvement from atheists, humanists, and other secular community folks?

2. Should SPIN ask its affiliates like ICC, and its events, to stick with the name "Interfaith" but nevertheless invite & welcome members of our local secular communities, in the hope that they will still participate?

3. Should SPIN and its affiliates stick with inviting inter-religious dialogue only, and leave the secular community out of the dialogues?

4. Should secular folks shun interfaith dialogues (or interbelief, transbelief, or intercultural dialogue) as a "lost cause" and instead focus on ending religion or deconverting the religious, or on campaigning for their civil rights and church/state separation?

5. How do secular folks feel about the above alternatives? How do they feel about the word "Interfaith" vs. "Interbelief?"

6. How do religious folks feel about the above alternatives? How do they feel about the word "Interfaith" vs. "Interbelief?"

Why our Religious + Non-Religious SBS Members Should Attend:

"Interfaith" has for years been a club in which the secular community was neither invited nor welcome. Whether or not you're religious or non-religious; whether or not you want to see the exclusion of atheists change to inclusion; whether or not you feel today that you're standing before a closed door, or that you're being interrupted by an unwanted knock on that door; please make your voice heard now, to the leaders of SPIN, the St. Paul Interfaith Network -- because they have an important choice to make about the future of the Twin Cities' mutual outreach and civility between the religious & non-religious:

                                             SPIN, 2014:

               SPIN, 2015? ("Imagine all the people." -- John Lennon)

And why are we Secular Bible Study members being especially invited? Apparently, we're the experts!    :)

SBS was designed, from its inception as a collaboration between Trinity United Methodist Church and MN Atheists, to be a transbelief dialogue between all religious and non-religious people. SBS's mission and outreach is so rare that it's been highlighted by the Harvard Pluralism Project as a "promising new practice." That kind of rarity is too rare: Dialogue between the religious and the non-religious is here -- and "interfaith" groups such as SPIN must now decide how, or even if, they want to participate in it and aid it.

Mohandas Gandhi said, "Be the change you seek in the world."

But what Gandhi DIDN'T say is no less important:

"If you don't do it, the world will never change." 

So come on over to SPACC HQ and dialogue with the leadership of SPIN! The principles of open mindedness, acceptance, discovery, sincerity, curiosity, and brevity will guide our reasoning conversation, seeking to bring as much light and as little heat as possible. All are welcome!

RSVP "YES" today, & make YOUR opinion known, about the right course of action for interfaith groups regarding the non-religious!

Join or login to comment.

  • Frank B.

    Members of our local Twin Cities plurationalist dialogue groups, Secular Bible Study (SBS) and First Minneapolis Circle of Reason (FMCOR), have successfully lobbied the religious leaders of St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) to approve broadening the name of its "Interfaith Conversation Cafe" to "Inter-belief Conversation Cafe," to reflect a broadened mission for SPIN -- to invite for reasoning dialogue not only theists with different religious beliefs, but also atheists and secular humanists with different ethics and philosophy beliefs. ICC is now the first former interfaith group in the United States to broaden its name to "interbelief" in order to become more welcoming to the secular community -- thanks to SBS's and FMCOR's plurationalists (both religious and Nones) who have regularly attended past meetings of ICC, and to members of Minnesota Atheists and Humanists of Minnesota who were invited by SPIN to give their views, all of whom helped ICC and SPIN see the light.

    July 8, 2014

  • Frank B.

    The questions formulated tonight by SPIN dialogue moderators were more personal than about what SPIN should specifically do (i.e., we were asked to share our past experiences and worldviews influencing our attitudes about theist+non-theist dialogue, and our hopes and fears for the future of such dialogue). But the SPIN leadership was at each table and it seems the secular attendees' opinions about the value of broader inclusion and reasoning dialogue were heard. Here's hoping SPIN leads the nation in institutionalizing open "interbelief" outreach to those with moral rather than religious beliefs.

    1 · June 3, 2014

  • Frank B.

    SBS meetup with SPIN will be later tonight -- religious and non-religious members of SBS are welcome!

    June 2, 2014

  • Frank B.

    All attendees RSVPing from MN Atheists and Humanists of MN are included here, within the running total of attendees, as the number of "guests" listed with my RSVP. The SPACC HQ building probably has sufficient seating in connected main room(s) for up to 40; so there are about 20 slots left with 1 week to go.

    May 27, 2014

  • Frank B.

    This "Stakeholders Meeting" dialogue will be seeking the input of SBS's religious membership, too; so we want to see our Christian and other religious members voice their opinion about past and future dialogue with the non-religious. Please join us.

    1 · May 27, 2014

  • Frank B.

    The leaders of half the "interfaith" infrastructure of the Twin Cities metro area want to hear from YOU about including atheists in their dialogues. Feeling disrespected or left out of the conversation by the religious? Feeling like your religious friends need a wake-up call when they proclaim their religious diversity but exclude the non-religious? Want to change that? Now is the time, and here is the place. RSVP now and, just maybe, change everything.

    May 21, 2014

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