You may not have heard a lot about secularism, but that's likely to change. There is a growing sense of discontent in America with the divisive and even hateful sectarianism that has infiltrated our political system. Americans are beginning to remember why the country was founded as a secular nation in the first place. Secularism is the best way for everyone -- believers and nonbelievers alike -- to be free to address the "big questions" in their own way.
Be Secular is a grassroots organization whose mission is to spread the word and get people of all faith and no faith on board with the secular movement. (Read more about their organization in this article I wrote back in June of this year.) It's a relatively new organization, but it's already starting to make waves. On January 11th of next year, Be Secular will be sponsoring "Common Ground Activism," in which an atheist and a minister will discuss interfaith partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. (For information or to purchase tickets, follow this link.)
The speakers are about as big name as it gets in the secular community right now. Mark Sandlin is a progressive minister, a widely read Huffington Post blogger, and co-founder of The Christian Left, in addition to being pastor of Vandalia Presbyterian Church, in Greensboro, NC. Jerry DeWitt is "an American author and public speaker, and a prominent member of the American atheism movement. He is a former pastor of two Pentecostal churches, who publicly deconverted to atheism in 2011."
Mark Nebo, one of the co-founders of Be Secular, had this to say about this first of its kind event. "The most exciting thing for us is the idea of working toward a common goal instead of focusing on what divides us. There are many compassionate and reasonable people all along the theist/atheist spectrum and allowing Jerry and Mark's messages to get to new people is exciting."
Indeed, religion has become one of the most polarizing features of American life in the past several decades, and at times the gap has seemed impossible to bridge. "The biggest challenge has been just making connections with theists," said Nebo. "Mark Sandlin is an awesome person and an excellent ambassador for Christianity."
If you can't make this event, or if you just want to do a little more between now and then, Mark has this advice: "I would encourage people to reach out to others that don't necessarily share their idea of where the earth came from or what happens when we die, and work on things we can agree on, like basic human rights and marriage equality."