Massachusetts State Senator William Brownsberger, a Candidate for Congress, Outs Himself as a Humanist

After Senator John Kerry became Secretary of State, Rep. Ed Markey ran for and won his Senate seat. That left an opening in the House, which will soon be filled in a special election this December.

The first stop to that seat is the primary, which will take place next Tuesday.

The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts and Secular Coalition for America have released a scorecard grading the candidates for the 5th Congressional District.

The overall grades aren’t all that newsworthy… one awful Republican candidate, a handful of good Democratic candidates, a smattering of candidates on both sides for whom we don’t have enough information about to see a grade.

But then we get one incredible response from William Brownsberger, a Democratic State Senator:

When asked whether he supported “a mutual separation between religion and government” Brownsberger responded in the affirmative (according to his website) and then added this in an email to the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts:

I do support a separation of church and state… I don’t feel strongly about prayers at public meetings — if that helps the people present get themselves in the right frame of mind, I don’t object (although I am personally a [Unitarian Universalist] humanist).”

Wait, what?!

He responded in another questionnaire for the group:

My politics are informed by my UU/Humanist values, which come out of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Okay, so Brownsberger is trying to play both sides here… he’s not personally religious but he respects people of faith and faith might even be okay at government meetings, and blah blah blah HE’S A HUMANIST?!

That’s not a label you see used by candidates for public office in America, but it’s certainly a welcome one.

Given his response, the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts is asking the other candidates if they, too, are willing to go on the record about their religious beliefs. I don’t know if anyone else will answer the question (and those who do will inevitably say “Christian”), or even if they have to, but this is exactly the sort of thing we need to be doing more of. It’s not the faith label that I care about so much, but their answers to questions about church/state separation. They won’t answer them if we don’t ask them, so hats off to the SCA and its Massachusetts chapter for doing their part.

Now, here’s the bad news.

Brownsberger is currently at 12% in the polls, a far cry from fellow Democrat State Sen. Katherine Clark at 27% and also lower than a few of his other opponents. While the district is a safe one for Democrats, Clark looks like the frontrunner for both the primary and the House seat.

But that doesn’t mean his revelation is meaningless. We need more non-religious candidates to come out and say so. Even if they don’t get elected, they will have made a tremendous contribution by just showing people that atheists are patriotic and care about the communities they represent. Eventually, they’ll become more electable, too, but we have to start somewhere.

The Freethought Equality Fund, a recently-launched political action committee dedicated to supporting candidates who “identify as humanist, atheist, agnostic, and who share our goals of protecting the separation of church and state,” is already urging viewers to send money on behalf of Brownsberger’s campaign:

Freethought Equality Fund is asking all of our supporters to help Senator Will Brownsberger in his election for US House, 5th District in Massachusetts… Sen. Brownsberger has a proven record of fighting for marriage and racial equality, while also working to improve science and technology in Massachusetts public schools. He will be a leader in Congress advocating for equal rights of all Americans, including nonbelievers, and will tirelessly fight to uphold the separation of church and state.

Brownsberger is the first candidate the PAC has supported this way. If you’d like to donate to his campaign directly, you can do so here.

He’ll need a lot of luck to eke out a victory, but he won’t be needing anyone’s prayers.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Art_Vandelay

    So how many other Humanists think that their values derive from the Judeo-Christian tradition? 3? 0?

    • Jim Charlotte

      Unitarian Universalists were originally Christian denominations so it makes sense. Now a large number of UUs self-identify as humanists and atheists and close to a third still identify as little-c christian. Unitarian Universalism is creedless (i.e. the focus isn’t on what you believe but on how you treat others).

      • Art_Vandelay

        Really? I thought that a humanist is someone who recognizes that secular morality is superior to religious morality and that our “values” derived from evolutionary processes.

        • Mackinz

          Simple question for you to ponder:

          In what way does belief in a god inhibit one’s ability to treat everyone the same and love everyone?

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            The Iraq War was lengthened and expanded partially by manipulating George Bush’s religiosity. Irrational beliefs are indicative of fragile decision-making processes. Outside of multigenerational fundamentalists, you won’t find an extremist who wasn’t lured into their belief system with positive- and moderate-sounding bait about things like “love”.

            • Mackinz

              …Okay. What does any of that have to do with Unitarian Universalism?

              I’m a Gnostic Atheist and I can see your stupidity in conflating warmongers with pacifists.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                I’m a plain ol’ lower-case atheist and I can see that you’re thinking I responded to a different post than I did, probably because the embedding stops early. I don’t think I’ve ever said a word about UU, apart from mocking a blowhard Unitarian on another site who was using Karen Armstrong to try to attack atheists for existing.

                • Mackinz

                  You responded to my question of ‘How does belief in a god inhibit one’s ability to treat everyone the same and love everyone?”

                  I meant in general. What does a belief in a god have to do with it? It has far more to do with the corruptive influence of some religious viewpoints than the thought that there is some greater being somewhere.

                  Also, Unitarians can be of a plethora of viewpoints. Pagans, Christians, Atheists… if you want to deal with that guy, try telling him his congregation contains a number of people who don’t believe in his god.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Belief in a god is correlated with other irrational beliefs, and both it and those other beliefs make people more vulnerable to manipulation. Christianity was intended as an essentially pacifistic religion, and we can see how well that worked out in practice.

                  That is not to say that all people who believe in a god are easily manipulated. It is that religious belief is at heart designed to manipulate. There’s never *only* a belief in a god; there’s always something else tacked on. People like UUs and Humanists are less susceptible, but the very fact that they’re such a small minority, and how easily people are led into bad behavior, are testament to how good even simple religious belief is at coercion.

                  I may be rambling a bit (got two hours of sleep, then asked to come fill in at work). Let me try this: Belief in a god encourages people to abdicate personal responsibility, and many do. When they do that to any degree, they become vessels for whatever ideas the nearest, loudest sociopaths want to pour into them. Bush, as an example, had aides who put Bible verses in his briefings alongside pictures of war machines and talked him up with evangelistic language. And he’s not a stupid man; he’s an incurious and intellectually lazy man (arguably the same thing, but still.) On top of that, he was intellectually isolated by his handlers, which is highly comparable to the situation that many religious people find themselves in.

                  The problem is that belief in a god simply doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

                • Mackinz

                  Yes, I know this. I am a staunch atheist. Yes, there are some problems, but did I declare that a belief in a god made one infallible or not susceptible to manipulation? No, I did not. I did say, however, that there is a difference between believing in a super being of sorts and utilizing that belief in an effort to crown yourself king.

                  Character flaws are character flaws regardless of who has them. You really should not be comparing Southern Baptists to Universalist Unitarians if the main thing linking them is cognitive dissonance.

          • Art_Vandelay

            It doesn’t but adherence to unchanging divine mandates written by ancient, barbaric goat herders have proven to restrict some people’s moral barometer to adapt as society changes. Simply thinking that you’re the product of a supernatural creator is fairly harmless but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that “Judeo-Christian values” stop right there.

            • Mackinz

              Sorry, I thought we were talking about Unitarian Universalism and extremely liberal “christians”, not Southern Baptist Christians.

              Oh, wait. We were.

              What the heck does what you typed have to do with the topic, other than in a highly tangential way?

              • Art_Vandelay

                Okay, here’s the deal. You can call yourself whatever you want and you can be a UU or “extremely liberal Christian” and maybe just be one of those people that think Al Jeezis was just sort of a cool dude. But when you claim that your values derive from the Judeo-Christian tradition, you’re talking about a morality somehow inspired by a deity…even if it’s in the most indirect way imaginable. That, to me contradicts what I think of as a “humanist.” You’re also lending credence to a book that makes people do really bad shit to other people every day, all over the world even though you don’t even think their God was a god. Numbers help the true oppressors…even if the people representing the numbers disagree with them. They use that majority thing to their advantage. That’s why I think that if you’re an atheist, not only should you say it but you have a moral responsibility to say it. This UU just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m sure I’m in the minority but that’s the way I see it. Completely open to changing my mind though.

                • Mackinz

                  Unitarian Universalists can be anything, ranging from flat out atheistic to deep Christian. UU is little more than a get together that emphasizes a personal search for personal truth. If you had any clue what it was, you wouldn’t be making all these asinine assumptions.

                  I’m a Gnostic Atheist and I’ve seriously been considering going to a Universalist church I have found because it sounds so awesome.

                • Art_Vandelay

                  Honestly…I can’t for the life of me understand how that label tells me anything about you then. As far as your definition goes…all you have to be is a homo-sapien.

                • Mackinz

                  Think Sunday Assembly with more than just pure atheists. Literally any religious belief. Pagans, Christians, Atheists, what have you. That’s UU.

                • Mackinz

                  Also, what the fuck? You went so far off on a tangent that I can’t even accurately respond to half your post.

                  Nothing you said has anything to do with UU. Save the rhetoric for fundies like South Bapists.

          • Stev84

            Because religious texts are usually exclusionary and foster division and hatred for people not belonging to the group or for the many groups condemned in those texts.

            The ones who manage to be kind and decent are that way in spite of what their holy books (and frequently their leaders) teach. Not because of it.

            • Mackinz

              Yeah, none of that applies to UU so there is still no point.

        • Zachary_Bos

          There’s a distinction in usage between “humanist” (defined as you are using it) and “Humanist” (defined as the self-labeling adherent wishes to, but usually meaning affiliated either with UU-Humanism, or with the institutional tradition founded on the Humanist Manifesto).

          In this case, we’re looking at a person who identifies as a UU-Humanist and a nontheist. Perhaps he also identifies as a humanist, but he was mum on that point.

    • momtarkle

      Maybe more, Art. This is from Wickipedia:

      Six Sources (of UUH beliefs)

      Unitarian Universalists place emphasis on spiritual growth and
      development. The official statement of Unitarian Universalist principles
      describes the “sources” upon which current practice is based:[35]

      Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed
      in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an
      openness to the forces which create and uphold life;

      Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to
      confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the
      transforming power of love;

      Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

      Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

      Humanist
      teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the
      results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and
      spirit.

      Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

      • Art_Vandelay

        Yeah, I’m completely unfamiliar with this UUH. They don’t have a lot of this in New England. It sounds like they want their woo but don’t want to own any of the baggage that comes with it. Fairly innocuous I suppose.

    • sunya

      In his case, it’s likely because he also identifies with Unitarian Universalism. I’ve found that it’s mostly for relatively well-off whites holding to the last vestiges of their Christian faith or trying to maintain some kind of tie with “Judeo-Christian” tradition or identity, as this State Senator mentions. I turned to them briefly simply seeking community after becoming atheist, but found that I still preferred the Hindu temples of my youth for that purpose. I’ll take that old time polytheism and idolatry over supposedly non-creedal, vaguely “Judeo-Christian” monotheism any day.

  • http://ashcraftgirl.deviantart.com Zomberina Contagion

    It seems kind of hypocritical to demand belief information of candidates if one like myself is an atheist. I don’t give a crap since it isn’t my business. By vetting folks on their religious beliefs, we are keeping religion in politics. Best to teach them to keep that crap private. People are less likely to flaunt their piousness if the general public doesn’t give a squat about it.

    • C Peterson

      I disagree. Knowing the religious beliefs of political candidates is fundamental to understanding their personal philosophy, and therefore to understanding how they might or might not represent me. It is fundamental to understanding their intelligence, education, and upbringing. Any politician who keeps their religious viewpoint private is extremely unlikely to get my vote.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        This is especially true since we routinely see politicians lie about their very intentions in order to get elected (cough cough Scott Walker cough), and this tactic overwhelmingly appears in the playbook of a certain political party known for its religiosity.

        Not lying by promising too much, mind you. Lying about their actual intentions.

    • Zachary_Bos

      Co-chair of the Massachusetts SCA chapter here.

      “People are less likely to flaunt their piousness if the general public doesn’t give a squat about it.”

      I for one do care if my elected officials believe in supernatural powers; that seems relevant to me. That said, the idea of there never being a religious test for office is a good and constitutional one.

      The idea of asking this question is that it challenges the implicit assumption that qualified candidates are theists. If more good people, of whatever party, say, yes, I’m a nontheist, what of it?, that rather puts the lie to the latent prejudice that only theists are suitably ethical for audience.

      • http://ashcraftgirl.deviantart.com Zomberina Contagion

        I guess I will clarify further my personal view point. It does not matter to me how religious a candidate is. If they eat dust bunnies as sacrifice before nailing his wife…not my business so long as nailing his wife isn’t a pre-requisite to doing his job we elected him to do.

        As long as one keeps their religious beliefs out of state legislation on all levels, he can snort dust bunnies in his private life all he wants.

        It is not important what they hold as faith, but to what extent that person believesto government should be able to enforce their personal doctrine or not. If they say hey, I have a personal faith, but it is not in my politics…and their record proves that. I will not go nosing and demanding more information.

        • Zachary_Bos

          “As long as one keeps their religious beliefs out of state legislation on all levels, he can snort dust bunnies in his private life all he wants.”
          I’d like to live in a world where this belief was widely held — but I don’t. You don’t. Truth is, it is taken as a point advantage if a candidate is a theist. By asking the questions we are, we’re challenging a latent form of prejudice, and helping to strip away the unearned privilege a candidate enjoys by advertising his status as a theist.

          The point isn’t to gain an advantage for atheism. It’s to deny an advantage to religious bias.

          Apart from this understanding of the strategic way to move forward, I’d say you and I are on largely the same page, Zomb.

          • http://ashcraftgirl.deviantart.com Zomberina Contagion

            I agree, we are mostly on tha same page, but I would say there is more than one way to skin this proverbial cat. Encouraging voters to make religious preference not part of the equation would help stifle special interests group lobbying our candidates for doctrine charged legislature. If the candidates understand their base does not hold them accountable to such lobbies, they might quit such religiously motivated whoring out for votes.

            • Zachary_Bos

              “Encouraging voters to make religious preference not part of the equation… ”

              I’m totally on board with that; it just happens not to be the kind of activism I’m involved with. There are others — AU, FFRF, and other orgs — working diligently toward that end. I like to think we’re working on parallel tracks, toward the same goal.

        • C Peterson

          As long as one keeps their religious beliefs out of state legislation on all levels, he can snort dust bunnies in his private life all he wants.

          That may be sufficient for you, but it isn’t for me. In my world view, theism (and even more, religious belief) is a marker of foolishness, stupidity, irrationality, lack of education, and other components I prefer not to see in my elected representative. Obviously, I expect my Congressman to keep his religion out of his governance. But more than that, I judge his character and skills, at a basic level, on things like his religious beliefs. Knowing them are important to me, even if he is 100% secular in office.

  • Sven2547

    Small problem: Brownsberger supports the Citizens United decision. Humanist or not, I can’t support such a guy.

    One of his opponents in the Democratic Primary, Carl Sciortino, released this funny ad (fear not: it’s not an attack ad)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3S1zcbWkoM

    • Itarion

      That is an amazing ad. I want to see a ton more of political ads like this.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Brownsberger’s support of Citizen’s United would be a deal-breaker for me too. That’s disappointing. It would be interesting to hear if and how his humanist values tell him that a corporation is a human being.

      Sciortino’s ad is excellent. He even treats his dad as a human being. :)

      • Peter

        Why do you care whether he supports Citizens United? He’s not running for the Supreme Court. He’s running for the House, which isn’t even involved in the Supreme Court confirmation process. It seems strange to make his position over an issue he has no control over a “deal-breaker.”

        • C Peterson

          So you’d vote for somebody who believes that society should kill everybody when they reach the age of 30, even if they have no way of putting that into practice?

          A rational person chooses his political representatives based on their beliefs, regardless of the degree to which they can or cannot act on those beliefs. I want my Congressman to share my personal views as much as possible. It’s why I care about their religious views, their social views, their political philosophy, the books and movies they like, the clubs they join. And the court decisions they do or do not support.

          • Peter

            A rational person does not equate Citizens United with killing everyone over 30 years of age.

            Sure, if you have two choices, which are exactly the same, but one happens to agree with you better on things that they have no control over, sure go with the one that agrees with you better on those issues. But most likely you have to choose between candidates who have significantly different pluses and minuses. Their disagreement with you over a single issue that they have no control over should be a pretty small minus, not a deal-breaker.

            • C Peterson

              I didn’t equate killing everybody over the age of 30 with Citizens United.

              In choosing a candidate in a general election, you’re right: the choices are often very limited. But that isn’t the case in a primary, where you are likely to have the opportunity to evaluate them on much finer points. The situation here isn’t a choice between Brownsberger and some batshit crazy Republican- in that case I almost certainly would vote for Brownsberger, despite his support for Citizens United. What we have here is a choice between Brownsberger and somebody like Sciortino or Clark. In that decision, support for Citizens United may be more than enough to disqualify a candidate.

              • Peter

                I’m not familiar with this race, but I’m betting that Brownsberger, Sciortino and Clark disagree on issues that they actually have some control over.

                • C Peterson

                  Look at it this way. Congress can undo the effects of Citizens United. The Supreme Court didn’t make any law, it simply provided an interpretation of laws already produced by Congress. It is entirely within the power of Congress to completely redefine the rights and powers of a corporation. That is something defined by the legislative, not the judicial branch. So if you are concerned about issues of corporate law, looking at your Congressman’s views about Citizens United makes great sense. It has nothing to do with whether that Congressman can directly influence a court decision.

                  Congress writes law, influenced by court interpretations. I can’t really think of a better way of assessing a candidate’s views about the very things that he will have profound control over than by reviewing his support for previous court decisions.

        • Sven2547

          Why do you care whether he supports Citizens United?

          Because it has far-reaching implications on the nature of protected speech, campaign finance, and the fairness of elections. All of these things are major issues that he, as a member of Congress, would likely need to consider in the years ahead.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Absolutely gorgeous.

  • DougI

    When I sober up I’ll have to drop a donation for his campaign. Gotta support our people.

  • primenumbers

    I’m not convinced that someone who believes “which come out of the Judeo-Christian tradition.” is one of us actually. Either he’s not being honest and trying not to scare away religious voters, or he’s never actually looked at the bible, read what these J-C values, or he has looked at these J-C values and I’m flabbergasted that anyone who thinks they’re a humanist would support them. Perhaps he’s a “cherry-picker” but again, that’s not what he’s saying, and such “cherry-picking” is hardly an honest way to deal with this issue.

    • Zachary_Bos

      It’s my view that this is a way of countering the impression that he’s some kind of anti-religious radical. It’s a dog-whistle. “I’m a Humanist” is addressed to us; we know what the means. “Judeo-Christian tradition” on the other hand is addressed to voters who would otherwise be spooked by the idea of voting for someone who is off the reservation. The two labels aren’t contradictory, so there’s nothing deceptive afoot.

      • primenumbers

        I don’t really like it when politicians try to be all things to all people. If your values are humanist, they are not from J-C and J-C values don’t come from humanist principles. The values may in places coincide, but really it’s not so much what your values are but how you figure them out that’s really important.

        • Zachary_Bos

          That happens not to be true. Brownsberger was clear in our exchange about this: He is a UU-Humanist, a tradition that comes out of the Judeo-Christian context, certainly, but which differs from Christian belief proper by not requiring belief in Christ.

          He also answered the question unambiguously: he is a nontheist.

          • primenumbers

            So we’re back to my point about cherry-picking on J-C values, because J-C values include belief in only the one correct God, and don’t include freedom of religion or freedom of speech.

            • Zachary_Bos

              Setting aside the point that there is no monolithic value system of “Judeo-Christian values” (meaning that the question of what freedoms are supported in that system, depends on which system you’re looking at), he didn’t say anything about Judeo-Christian values.

              The candidate told us about his UU-Humanist values. There’s no ambiguity about that.

              • primenumbers

                So why the mention of J-C then?

                • Zachary_Bos

                  You call it pandering; I call it a way of informing voters of a true fact (the Judeo-Christian roots of UU and UU-Humanism) to assuage their possible concerns that a “nontheist” might hew to a values system entirely unlike their own.

                • primenumbers

                  So he’s informing Christian voters that it’s fine to vote for a humanist because he has J-C values. He doesn’t object to prayers before public meetings.

                  He may be a non-theist, but he’s not my kind of non-theist. He may just be saying these things to be electable, and although I can understand that I don’t have to like it.

                • Zachary_Bos

                  “So he’s informing Christian voters that it’s fine to vote for a humanist because he has J-C values.”
                  Several errors here.

                  He doesn’t identify as a humanist, but as a UU-Humanist.
                  He didn’t tell the voters about his Judeo-Christian values, but about the relationship between UU-Humanism and the Judeo-Christian /tradition/. (The distinction mattering, because we know that as traditions undergo internal change, their values change.)

                  “He doesn’t object to prayers before public meetings.”
                  That’s your point to disagree with him, then. It’s a fair disagreement, since it depend on fact and not a misrepresentation of his statements.

                  “He may be a non-theist, but he’s not my kind of non-theist.”
                  That’s your perogative, but I hate to think that this attitude is widely held. We’re a pluralistic society; it foretells trouble if we begin asking that there be ideological tests for office.

                  “He may just be saying these things to be electable, and although I can understand that I don’t have to like it.”
                  These things that he’s said are true. The useful fact for the secular movement, whatever the candidate’s other qualifications, is that he was open and honest about his nontheism. Again, that’s the headline. Everything else is grist for the voters to grind.

                • primenumbers

                  Well either his mention of J-C means something, or it doesn’t. It’s not just a statement of fact that UU-H came out of a J-C tradition. That’s not the kind of historical fact you just insert into a response for no good reason. Although we cannot look into his mind to determine the reason he said it. I strongly suspect the mention of J-C tradition could be for the reasons I mention above.

                  I don’t want an ideological test for office. I want to know how people stand on issues, and if their response to questions appears to be a pandering to religious belief rather than a more direct answer, I’m at a loss to properly determine the stance on the issue. If the answer appears to be pandering rather open and frank, it causes me to think on how that person values truth and openness.

                  “s that he was open and honest about his nontheism.” – well that would be saying “I’m an atheist”, not, I’m a UU-Humanist and in case you didn’t know, that comes from J-C tradition so I’m not one of those mean atheists who is going to stop you praying before council meetings….

                • Zachary_Bos

                  “well that would be saying “I’m an atheist”
                  With respect, “says you.” I don’t think any of us are in a position to question the use of labels here. One can be a nontheist, and reject the label “atheist”; one can be a UU-Humanist, and not wish to identify as a “humanist.”

                  If you feel strongly that something dishonest or slimy was done, don’t bother trying to tell me, us — get on social media, and call the candidate out on it. Pick up the phone and call him, or send him an email. Let us know what he says.

                • primenumbers

                  Humanist, or even UU-Humanist is what atheists call themselves when they don’t want to be stigmatized with the word “atheist”.

                  I’m not saying this guy is slimy or that he’s dis-honest, but questioning your statement that he was open and honest.

                • Zachary_Bos

                  “Humanist, or even UU-Humanist is what atheists call themselves when they don’t want to be stigmatized with the word “atheist”.”
                  So you say. I don’t think it’s your prerogative to tell people what labels and traditions they can identify with, so there we part ways.

                  “I’m not saying this guy is slimy or that he’s dis-honest, but questioning your statement that he was open and honest.”
                  I stick by my facts.

                • toth

                  If you lack a belief in god(s), you are an atheist, whether or not you want to call yourself that. Words have meanings, whether you like them or not. It’s anybody’s prerogative to tell people what labels they identify with if those labels have meanings.

                • Zachary_Bos

                  The candidate identified himself as a nontheist… AS WELL AS a Humanist identifying with the UU tradition. All true facts here.

                • toth

                  I don’t see what your response has to do with my comment. I agree with that, my point is that it’s silly to say “You can’t call him an atheist because he doesn’t refer to himself as an atheist.” We can, because he is (assuming he’s telling the truth about being a nontheist, which I do).

                • Zachary_Bos

                  Indeed — we are on the same page. I wasn’t disagreeing with you. (Damn the absence of agreeable tone on the ‘net.)

        • Zachary_Bos

          There’s a distinction in usage between “humanist” (defined as you are using it) and “Humanist” (defined as the self-labeling adherent wishes to, but usually meaning affiliated either with UU-Humanism, or with the institutional tradition founded on the Humanist Manifesto).

          I think it is bad business for us to be debating, as if we have knowledge about it, the principles and traditions that are the source of any other person’s worldview. ANY person’s lifestance is a unique invention, cobbled together from the received wisdom of one or many traditions, and shaped by influences with other cultures and people and ideas. In this case, the man himself told us: “I’m a UU-Humanist (that is, the branch of Humanism related to UU, which itself comes out of the Judeo-Christian tradition). I’m also a nontheist.”

          Let’s take that a face value and do something worth doing with the news that WE HAVE ANOTHER POLITICAL CANDIDATE WILLING TO BE OPEN AND EVEN NONCHALANT ABOUT HIS NONTHEISM. That’s the headline here, folks.

          • primenumbers

            THat would be the headline if he’d no pandered to the religious by mentioning J-C values, as most of those “values” are quite obnoxious.

            • Zachary_Bos

              He didn’t talk about Judeo-Christian values. He told us about his UU-Humanist values, and the Judeo-Christian tradition. The issue you’re looking for isn’t there this time, my friend.

              • primenumbers

                No, he didn’t say J-C values. He said his “My politics are informed by my UU/Humanist values, which come out of the Judeo-Christian tradition.” – the mention of J-C here is the problem. There’s no reason for it other than for pandering to the religious.

  • Rick Heller

    Will is my state senator and I know him a bit. He’s a good guy, great on environmental sustainability and walks the walk, rehabbing his home with an extraordinary investment on insulation and solar. Big on bicycling too.

    He’s not taking PAC money, and his support for Citizens United is, for better or worse, a principled stand for free speech and runs against his own political interests, as he’s not going to be the beneficiary of corporate expenditures.

    I knew he was a humanist but didn’t know if he’d be open about it. Kudos.

    To clarify about Unitarian Universalist Humanists, they are secular humanists who join in community with other who are liberal believers for a variety of practical reasons, including providing social groups for themselves and their children. My preference is to be part of a fully secular community, which I have found at the Harvard Humanists, but that is not an option for everyone.

  • Weston

    A true “humanist” would never run for office.

  • OrBrat

    Ok Hermet… Although the 8 reasons do provoke a thought process…it only provokes it for non-religious people which are mostly the younger generation. Most religious people ( which makes up about 93% of the world population…am I right?)
    will quote the bible (the end all explanation to anything which has different interpretations depending on who’s reading it). I am an Athiest… I hate the word… Because I just think I am normal. When 93% of the population believe in some sort of “God” I feel I am in the minority…people pray for me all the time! I tell them to quit wasting their time…then they become more horrified!
    Now lets talk about homosexuality….I have no problem with it at all… I am a straight female but I believe love is just love…trying to explain that to a catholic I work with was useless….I told her people are born that way…she said “Oh no they are not” so I asked her “Why do I love vanilla ice cream and not chocolate? There is no reason for it but the fact is I do!” Who the hell would WANT to be gay in a society that doesn’t allow homosexuality? It’s not a choice! Why would a god want his child to suffer? I am saying this to a woman whose husband died a long slow death in his 50s and a daughter that is 30 who has diabetes, on dialysis and close to death! I feel her religious beliefs have given her the “gift” of negativity and inability to experience joy of not having any prejudices and excepting life and people just the way they/life is…
    With that being said…I was never brought up with “faith”…so trying to conform to societies expectations I have “tried” several religions…I walked away feeling like I didn’t belong or I was just a bad seed! I just couldn’t do it…my cynical, critical scientific brain just couldn’t grasp the whole idea of faith….and trust me I tried! I never go around telling people how stupid I think they are for their beliefs BUT do I get the same respect? Nope! People are always praying for me…looking at me like I am a freak of nature….the fact is I don’t feel that way about religious people at all…life is about growing and learning…acceptance…something that religion doesn’t teach


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