Exclusive: Eboo Patel, August Brunsman on the Importance of Secular Stories
April 1, 2010
Today we’re thrilled to share with you statements from two high profile folks. Speaking exclusively to NonProphet Status, Eboo Patel and August Brunsman explained why they think our ongoing Share Your Secular Story contest is so necessary as an avenue for secular folks to give voice to their experiences.
Founder / Executive Director
At the Interfaith Youth Core, we are building a world where people live together in equal dignity and mutual loyalty: this world includes people of every religion and no religion at all. It is my firm belief that non-religious communities — Agnostic / Atheist / Humanist / Non-Religious / Non-Theistic / Philosophical / Secular — have important stories to tell, and this story contest provides an important place for these communities to contribute to the world we are building.
We are so lucky to be living at a time when so many people see pluralism as an important value. However, when it comes to religious pluralism many people’s approach is to try to shoehorn everyone into the religion box. About a year ago I was invited to participate in a cable access show about religious diversity in Columbus, OH. One of the other panelists suggested that all of us can be considered religious inasmuch as we all have a source of our highest values. I thanked him for trying to be pluralist, but also explained atheists and other secularists feel excluded by such language and that the city’s efforts at pluralism were falling short if they expected everyone to fit inside of the religion box. By telling our secular stories, we let more people understand that their notion of pluralism isn’t big enough if it doesn’t include people who have a secular source for their values.
Stay tuned to NonProphet Status for more exclusive statements on the significance of sharing secular stories, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook, and don’t forget to make your secular story heard with our Share Your Secular Story contest!
Eboo Patel is the Founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core. Named one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009 by US News & World Report, he is the author of the award-winning book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation (available for purchase in our Amazon store). Eboo is a member of the Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar.
August Brunsman is the Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. The winner of the 2006 Apex Award for Distinguished Service, August is also the Director of Camp Quest Ohio and is a Humanist Celebrant.