In case you’re curious what Humanist Chaplains are all about, where you can find some, and how you can start a chaplaincy at your school, the American Humanist Association has just launched a new website to answer those questions:
Religious chaplaincies are a staple at any university. Often catered to specific religious traditions, they offer advice, counsel, and community. As nonbelievers, atheist students usually do not have access to this type of community, and humanist chaplaincies offer an alternative.
Many see the university chaplaincy as an essential part of the larger humanist movement. At the 2011 AHA conference, in a breakout session entitled “The Future of Humanism,” many of the panelists agreed that the university chaplaincy was essential to the movement’s future: it not only provides support for humanist students, but offers a humanist viewpoint in religious discussions, has the potential to influence policies, and are able to connect alumni to humanist communities after graduation — aiding the transition from humanist student to the post-college adult.
As Rutgers University Humanist Chaplain Barry Klassel put it, “Chaplaincies have a distinct and complementary function. Chaplaincies can provide a permanent humanist presence and can help student groups stay strong as their leadership changes with graduation. We can maintain contact with students beyond their graduations and help them find groups to join when they settle down with jobs and families.”
There are only four Humanist Chaplains at universities right now, but more may be in the works.
I hear a lot of complaining from people who don’t like the terminology they use (which isn’t a big deal) or the notion that they’re advocating traditions/ceremonies/things-that-churches-do (which are neither bad nor mandatory).
Regardless, it’s hard to argue against the services they provide. Someone to preside over my wedding? Act as a counselor when I need one? Give me an opportunity to connect and network with other like-minded people after I graduate? Those are privileges usually reserved for the religious.
We deserve the same.