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Humanists & Yale religious group:
a match not made in heaven

Religion Without God. Faitheism. These notions of a credible, even comfortable, nexus between atheist and religious attitudes—notions that are alien to some believers and nonbelievers alike—are playing out on the Yale campus.

Last month the Yale Chaplain's Office turned down an application from the fledgling Yale Humanist Community for membership in Yale Religious Ministries. But that's not the end of the story, according to the group's newly hired coordinator of humanist life:

"While the Yale Chaplain’s Office did not accept our application, they have been very clear that this decision does not signify an end to our work together," writes the coordinator, Chris Stedman. "In fact, the opposite is true—the Yale Chaplain’s Office is already proactively seeking out additional ways to partner with us."

Nonetheless, Stedman acknowledges, "we are disappointed by this decision. We wanted very much to see the Humanist community recognized in the same way as many other moral communities at Yale, and to work with the YRM as a member organization. But we are also not entirely surprised. It is, after all, understandable that the idea of a Humanist group applying for membership in a collection of religious groups might seem to many odd at best, or wrongheaded at worst."

The humanist group, which formed last year, calls itself "a diverse community of Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the nonreligious at Yale." Its founders include alumnus and New Haven entrepreneur Miles Lasater ’01 and PhD student Paul Chiariello. Faculty advisors include psychologists Paul Bloom and Laurie Santos and evolutionary biologist Stephen Stearns. 

The request for membership in Yale Religious Ministries—and its denial—illustrate "a hot-button issue in the broader faith community," Religion News Service reports: "To what extent, if any, should groups that deny the existence of God be included in interfaith communities and efforts?"

As with evolution or a really great sermon, the ending is not yet known.

Filed under humanism, religion, chaplain
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