By Chris Highland
As a former “person of faith” who no longer has a “faith tradition” I am sensitive to the divisiveness of labels–they don’t stick to me very well any more. Usually when people ask if I’m an Atheist I reply that I’m a Freethinker. I am not Anti-Faith or Anti-God. I’m Pro-Good and Pro-Reason. I have friends, family and colleagues who are people of faith. I’ve devoted most of my life to helping others as a chaplain, a teacher, a writer, a social worker, doing what is needed, alongside others who think compassion and justice require secular collaboration rather than sectarian toleration. To be a Freethinker is to simply conclude that there is a point when one’s beliefs are irrelevant–how we live is important.
I was raised on “The Scriptures,” then discovered there are many Scriptures, the greatest of which is Nature. John Muir, one of our Secular Chaplains, knew this trail well. Why make up a Super-natural when Nature is completely enough? When the great sanctuary becomes the limitless classroom, the mind is set free to explore, to delight, to wonder. I never “lost” my faith; I dropped it out of my pack.