To the Editor:
I read Laurie Goodstein’s article, “More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops,” (4/27/09) with great interest. As an Ethical Humanist clergywoman and university Humanist chaplain, I often hear the refrain from wedding couples, families, and students: “We want something ‘spiritual,’ not ‘religious.’” Many people identifying themselves as “unaffiliated” and “non-believers” in recent studies (including the excellent “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) are breaking with traditional theology because of the cognitive dissonance they experience as educated individuals and because they want to participate in communities that respect everyone’s unique path to a deep understanding of what it means to be human.
This is nothing new: Throughout American history, there have been intertwining waves of conservative theology and progressive free thought. At the edges of the religious spectrum, we will always have fundamentalists – both theist and atheist; in the center, is a growing move towards “humanistic” religion that reveres life, celebrates diversity, and holds the common ground for people of faith in people and their potential for goodness to make this world a better place.
Dr. Anne Klaeysen
Leader, New York Society for Ethical Culture
Chaplain, Adelphi University
2 West 64th Street
New York, NY 10023