I don’t like the way it uses the term humanist much, since I’ve always considered myself very much a humanist — just not a secular one. (If you didn’t realize that humanists can be theists, you should know that Erasmus of Rotterdam, for instance, is often described as a “Renaissance humanist,” though he was anything but an atheist. And others — Sir Thomas More, for example [or, for Catholics, St. Thomas More] — are often also included in the ranks of “Renaissance humanists.”) But this New York Times article, brought to my attention by my friend Mike Parker, describes the seeming failure of secular humanists to provide much comfort for the families of the victims of the Newtown shootings.
The secularists in the article say it’s a failure of messaging. But my own sense is that it’s a matter of substance, or the lack thereof. Secular humanism just doesn’t have a lot to offer in such cases. Really, it’s a pretty thin gruel, at best. (Have you heard the one about the atheist’s funeral? “All dressed up, and nowhere to go.”)