To: Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Melissa Rogers, Director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships,
Meet with the Humanist and nontheistic community to discuss how to ensure that future gatherings like the Interfaith Healing Service after the Boston Marathon bombing include ALL Americans.
Why is this important?
Last week, President Obama and Governor Patrick attended "Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service," where religious words of comfort were offered to a wounded city.
However, Boston has an extremely active Humanist/secular/nontheistic community that was also directly affected by the attacks. Our community, comprised of thousands of women and men of different backgrounds and ages, had friends and volunteers who were severely injured and nearly killed. We had runners in the Marathon and community leaders who narrowly escaped harm. By Thursday, we were in shock and pain along with the rest of our city.
So we worked all week with our national lobbying office, the Secular Coalition for America, to request some form of public recognition that the interfaith healing event—the de facto "official" such event due to the President's and Governor's participation—was inclusive of nonreligious as well as religious Bostonians. We made clear that even one seat among the 1000+ reserved places within the Cathedral of the Holy Cross would have been sufficient.
Despite numerous conversations and requests with your offices, we were denied even a single seat in the Cathedral. This added confusion and pain to the grief of secular Americans in Boston and beyond.
Governor Patrick and Ms. Rogers, our community is neither small nor antireligious. Every week in Boston, Humanists and nontheists gather to serve, to help one another raise good kids, to celebrate life, and to mourn death. We hold leadership positions in major interfaith coalitions. And we have prominent religious allies who are aware that Gallup lists Boston among the top ten least religious metro areas in the United States.
Therefore, we are calling upon you to meet with us in the coming weeks, to hear our stories, and to ensure that, in the future, healing and unity will include everyone. We would also like the opportunity to tell you about our efforts to support the inclusion of members of other groups. For example, we seek to ensure that Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian communities are not singled out or intimidated. And we stand vigilant against security measures or other moves to curtail civil liberties and cast suspicion around these attacks while our nation considers immigration reform.
President Obama's call to "stay true to the unity and diversity that makes us strong" represents a promise we cannot afford to break. To keep it we must bring religious and nonreligious neighbors together, against prejudice, and for the full inclusion of all in acts of healing.
As religious and nonreligious people, we call on you to meet with the secular community by June 15th to right this wrong.
For more info: www.harvardhumanist.org/boston-marathon
Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University
The Reverend Scott Campbell, President, Harvard Chaplains
The Reverend Brian McLaren, Author
Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology
Reza Aslan, Author
Edwina Rogers, Executive Director, The Secular Coalition for America
Rebecca Hale, President, the American Humanist Association
August Brunsman, Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance
David Silverman, President, American Atheists
James Randi, Founder, the James Randi Educational Foundation
The Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs, Executive Director, the United Religions Initiative
Hemant Mehta, Blogger, FriendlyAtheist.com
Ellery Schempp, Co-Chair, Secular Coalition for Massachusetts
Zachary Bos, Co-Chair, Secular Coalition for MA
Chris D. Stedman, Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard
Dr. Rebecca Goldstein, Harvard University
Todd Stiefel, President, Stiefel Freethought Foundation
Amanda Metskas, Executive Director, Camp Quest
Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, Director, Harvard Hillel
Reverend Luther Ziegler, Episcopal Chaplain at Harvard
Nuri Friedlander, Associate Chaplain for the Harvard Islamic Society
Lama Migmar, Buddhist Chaplain at Harvard
Daryush Mehta, Zoroastrian Chaplain at Harvard
Mary Johnson, Author
Fred Edwords, National Director, United Coalition of Reason
Ronald Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
Kim Rippere, President, Secular Woman
Ayanna Watson, President, Black Atheists of America
Emma Bates, Director of Outreach, American Humanist Association
Frank Fredericks, Executive Director, World Faith
D.J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation
Nathan Lean, Editor-in-Chief, Aslan Media
Greg Langer, Chair, Humanist Community at Harvard
Evan Clark, Chair, Secular Student Alliance
Mary Ellen Sikes, President, American Secular Census
James Croft, Research and Education Fellow, Humanist Community Project
John Hooper, President, Unitarian Universalist Humanists Association
John Bach, Friend in Residence, Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quaker)
Sarah Chandonnet, Outreach Manager, Humanist Community at Harvard
Jason Torpy, President, Military Assn of Atheists and Freethinkers
How it will be delivered
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