Why Are Secular Stories Important?
May 12, 2010
Why are secular stories important? Because the secular community lacks an identity. Because surveys demonstrate that when people truly know others of diverse backgrounds, they are less likely to have bigoted opinions about one another. Because secularists shouldn’t just be defined by the things they don’t believe. Because the important topics discussed on this blog (Burkagate, Chalking Muhammad) are so much more powerful when there are stories of real people behind the controversial opinions. Because the non-religious should have a chance to be president, too. Because there is a growing population of secularists who deserve to have a voice.
All of these things point to one very important issue: Secular Humanists need to express themselves, and their deeply held personal beliefs, in a society marked by religious discourse. At the Interfaith Youth Core, we are building a movement of young people who are dedicated to religious pluralism — but that movement is not truly successful unless the secular community is involved as well. Secular stories can do so much for the secular community — all of the things I mentioned above — but in addition to all of that, secular stories can bring the secular community into conversation with religious community about the many things we can do together. Secular stories can serve the crucial function of a bridge — from the secular community to the rest of society — to begin to build relationships that will better society at large.
Mary Ellen Giess works for the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) in their Strategic Partnerships program, where she works on policy initiatives and is responsible for much of IFYC’s campus outreach. She graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a Master’s Degree in Religion, Ethics, and Politics in 2006. Studying the intersection of religion and government through a multidisciplinary lens, Mary Ellen took classes at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School while interning at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. Prior to attending HDS, Mary Ellen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Religious Studies and Italian.