Monday, March 28, 2011

Why Should New Atheists Engage in Interfaith Service?

As an avid reader of Pharyngula, Butterflies & Wheels, and, of course, The Friendly Atheist, I was surprised to see how much negative attention the idea of Interfaith Service generated last week. I’ve heard a lot of interesting reasons why Interfaith Service poses challenges to secular folks, but I wanted to share what I think are the overwhelming benefits of Interfaith Service. But instead of answering the relatively easy question of why Humanists ought to engage in interfaith service, I want to answer a more interesting question: Why should New Atheists engage in Interfaith Service?

1. It accomplishes service. Who cares if we have to hijack someone’s religious delusions to compel them to help us build a park or feed the homeless? The point is, we get a park built and the homeless fed.

2. Doing Interfaith Service lets people know about Atheism. A lot of people who might consider themselves Atheists don’t even know that we exist. This helps raise our profile...


  1. As someone utterly straddling the religious/humanist communities, of course I am in favor of this argument. What I especially respect here is what I see as your underlying desire to just be a good human, and 'get over' some divisions that are keeping us humans from joining together to do good (whose meaning, in the case of building parks etc., we seem to be able to agree on).

    Way to start a blog! I look forward to cross-posting someday.

  2. I've got a long response to this over on HM's blog -- well, really a long response to the apparent problem of "people without faith" operating under the banner OF "faith."

    As for getting over divisions, Matthew; I think it is good that we begin to treat our differences as distinctions and not obstacles. And to consider those who use differences as barries, as obstructive and antisocial.