Today’s ‘Interfaith’ Service in Boston Will Exclude Atheists

According to the program (PDF) for today’s “Interfaith Service” at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, which will be attended by the President and the Governor of Massachusetts, atheists will have no representation there.

Speakers include representatives from the Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. But no Mormons and no Humanists, surprising given the religious makeup of Boston.

I know some will argue atheists had no business being part of an interfaith service, but there’s plenty to say and plenty who need to mourn without necessarily invoking God. It’s especially disappointing knowing that members of the Humanist Community at Harvard were severely injured from the bombs.

The “interfaith” ceremony begins at 11:00a (ET).

***Update***: The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts just issued this press release:

“It won’t be for lack of trying that we aren’t represented in the collective response to this tragedy,” said Zachary Bos, co-chair of the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts, and State Director for American Atheists. “We know that historically it’s been a easier to engage with people who are religiously-identifying and more likely to be organized. That is why we’ve been pro-active in calling elected officials and reaching out to religious colleagues, to find a way to be involved. If anything, the events of the past week tell us that we should be cultivating these relationships anyway, so that when tragedy does strike we are ready to respond immediately, a community of different philosophies united in common cause.

“We’re telling them we’re here and available to stand beside religious leaders at any interfaith event, so that these public responses can be representative of Bostonians of all ethical traditions. We seek to stand with our neighbors in showing compassion and resolve in the face of terrorism.

“This bombing has affected people of many different faiths and none. We’re doing all we can to give civic leaders the chance to make sure any interfaith event is truly inclusive.”

The attitudes of these leaders are reflected by national secular organizations.

The Boston Atheists community group is a local affiliate of American Atheists, whose President David Silverman said, “These tragedies affect all citizens, including atheists — the fastest growing religious demographic in New England. We deserve not to be shut out of the mourning process. We deserve a place at the table, and at the ceremony.

The group added that a secular memorial service would take place in Boston this weekend. More information will be posted on their Facebook page (and on this site) when it becomes available.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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