Tag Archives: diversity

New resource at UCF includes Humanism

May 26, 2017

voicePlease join BE. Orlando in thanking the University of Central Florida for their commitment to an inclusive community. Take a moment to sign the thank-you letter to UCF for enhancing inclusion for secular and religious minority individuals: https://srmaucf.wordpress.com/thank-you-ucf

Signing the letter will show UCF – and other institutions that might consider similar initiatives – that inclusion MATTERS.

martin-luther-king-jr-quote-anextraordinaryday-net_Faith-related discrimination is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time, and much effort needs to be focused on supporting people of non-faith,  one of the most hated and misunderstood marginalized populations in America.  We can work to change this through education to overcome misinformation; building bridges across our differences; and working together to make the world a better place for everyone.

There are shining examples in our own community of individuals, organizations, and institutions making inspiring efforts to ensure inclusion and equitable resources for people of all faith and non-faith perspectives.

In June 2016, the University of Central Florida revised its official non-discrimination statement; the changes included explicit recognition of non-religious identities as a protected class.  This month (May 2017), they have published a website providing both religious and non-religious resources for inner-life support of students, faculty, and staff.  You can view the site here: http://rnr.sdes.ucf.edu.

The University of Central Florida is an innovative, progressive national leader in diversity and inclusion. It is the second largest university in the nation, serving more than 65,000 students and employing more than 10,000 faculty and staff.  We should be proud of UCF for many things – and one is its clear commitment to ensuring an inclusive campus for everyone.

We hope you will join us in signing the thank you letter to UCF.

For more information, contact nonreligion@ucf.edu.



A day on, not a day off.

January 13, 20171

Monday is a national day of service – this weekend, seek out ways to make a difference in your communities.

On the third Monday in January, individuals across the nation rise together in service to our communities to honor civil rights activist and unity visionary, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Now more than ever, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder to support the vision of a united, inclusive, multiracial, diverse nation.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our organization has been criticized in the past for our celebration of this holiday by Humanists who disesteem King’s message because of his faith, which was an integral part of his identity. But divisiveness was not.

King came from perspective of Christianity and promoted ecumenical unity, an inherently divisive concept marginalizing non-christians.  However, if he were here today, in an openly perspective-diverse nation, wouldn’t he see beyond the barriers of his faith? King looked on the world through a lens of inclusion; rather than ecumenical unity, couldn’t he evolve to focus on human unity?  Some people are pent by their faith or non-faith and are not courageous or compassionate enough to truly value those of different perspectives.  Would King have been?  Are we?

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 King was a vehement advocate of equity for all races; would his vision have been mature enough to see the evidence of inequities, discrimination, bullying, and other unacceptable transgressions against people of non-faith and minority faiths?

How can we, in our small spheres of influence, both honor his work to overcome the sadly still-relevant racism in America and further celebrate and promote a message of inclusion for all?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

King made a famous, uneducated response to a youth who asked him for advice about his feelings of attraction to other boys (Ebony Magazine advice column, 1958).  The  response was misinformed, but it was not judgmental.  While it may lead some to believe he was blind to diversities beyond colour, he did not have the culturally facilitated opportunities for enlightenment that we are privileged to have today. That statement was made 11 years before the Stonewall riots that began the journey toward equality and brought the LGBTQ+ community into the national diversity conversation. Dr. King was tragically assassinated the year before Stonewall.

Subsequent to the riots, his wife, Coretta Scott King, joined the efforts to stand for LGBT equality, as she felt that her husband would have done the same. Mrs. King said: “I’m proud to stand with all of you, as your sister, in a great new American coalition for freedom and human rights.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Those  who value and speak for equality only for the demographics of which they are a member are brave self-advocates whose voices make a difference, but they are not true inclusion champions. When equality is one of our core personal values, we join the conversation to promote inclusion for other marginalized demographics when we learn about, and have compassion for, their challenges. We become an ally.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Uniting people through service

One of King’s core values was service, and he lived his life in service to others.  On the third Monday in January we strengthen our communities by joining with others – of all diversities, of all faiths and non-faith perspectives – to make a difference.  We make the world a better place through service; we are empowered to overcome challenges through service; we are connected to one another through service.

As Humanists, we value action-oriented, solution-focused answers to the needs in our communities.  Tomorrow, on MLK day, honor your lifestance of Humanism by putting your values into action and engaging in service.


From the Corporation for National and Community Service:

After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off.” The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President’s national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”


Local Events & Info:


Our 5th Anniversary!

We celebrate this milestone with gratitude for each moment invested in volunteerism and for every person who puts caring into action to make a difference in our community. What you do MATTERS. Thank you to everyone who has supported and been a part of our efforts over the past five years!

BE. Orlando is about fostering a positive social network of diverse, service-engaged individuals ; but we are more than that.

220px-secularhumanismlogo3dpriderainbowcolorsFounded on September 2, 2011, by Atheists with a vision of community, service, and friendship, BE. Orlando has evolved into a resource for secular and Humanist individuals in central Florida, a place of building bridges across differences for people of all faith and non-faith worldviews, and an advocate for the truth that kindness and compassion are human potentials transcending faith and non-faith. Visible, active, contributing volunteers who live fulfilling lives of positive humanism negate harmful myths about morality and meaning being predicated on service to God.

As the secular demographic in America continues to rise, so does the need for relevant perspective-specific resources and communities to serve that population. One of the most-hated and misunderstood identities, those of non-faith face marginalization, discrimination, and bullying.  Sometimes subtle; often isolating, always harmful. Regional, state, and national resources are available to help.  And right here in Central Florida there are secular organizations providing support, hope, opportunity, and community for individuals of non-faith.  You are not alone.

 Join our journey.


The core values of Service, Gratitude, and Inclusiveness will guide BE. Orlando into the adventure of the next years.  We will continue to cultivate a connected community that fosters acceptance, inclusion, and positive living.   We hope to see you on the journey – join us!

  • Involvement opportunities – join us for volunteering, educational events, and partner events with other organizations in the secular network.
  • Leadership opportunities – BE part of the leadership team – host events, advise and steer our mission and services, or grow our partnerships.




World Humanist Day

World Humanist Day is celebrated every year on June 21 by declaration of the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist Ethical Union (IHEU).

It is an opportunity for humanists and humanist organizations to celebrate and inform communities about the positive values of Humanism and to share the global concerns of the Humanist movement.

On this day, consider engaging in service that impacts our fellow humans, celebrate your connection to others through unexpected acts of kindness, and join with other Humanists by seeking out and joining secular organizations in your community.  Read more about non-faith communities here.

Freedom of Thought Report

The IHEU continually researches the international discrimination against persons of non-faith and posts a Freedom of Thought Report.

“The rights of the non-religious, and the rights of religious minorities and non-conformists, are a touchstone for the freedoms of thought and expression at large…Silence the non-religious, and you silence some of the leading voices of responsible concern in society.” – Gulalai Ismail and Agnes Ojera

anti-atheist-billboardThere is a map showing the countries by how accepting they are of Humanist thought.  They rate America as “mostly satisfactory”; however, as a Secular American, my experiences lead me to wonder about that conclusion.  “Systemic discrimination” is a better descriptor for Christian faith advantage interwoven throughout our politics, laws, money, patriotism, social expectations, language, faith-biased human service resources, business and media markets proliferating and preying on faith-driven consumerism, etc.  Sometimes subtle, but always there. Many non-religious individuals live silently for fear of employment loss, social exclusion, familial rejection.

We are not “mostly satisfactory” when millions of Americans are marginalized.  Achievement of equitable treatment for all people, regardless of faith or non-faith perspective, should be our goal:  One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Amsterdam Declaration of 2002

Read on IHEU site here: Amsterdam Declaration 2002

From the site:

The 50th anniversary World Humanist Congress in 2002 unanimously passed a resolution known as “The Amsterdam Declaration 2002″. Following the Congress, this updated declaration was adopted unanimously by the IHEU General Assembly, and thus became the official defining statement of World Humanism.

Amsterdam Declaration 2002

Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists and gave rise to science itself.

The fundamentals of modern Humanism are as follows:

1. Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.

2. Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.

3. Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.

4. Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.

5. Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process. of observation, evaluation and revision.

6. Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.

7. Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.

Our primary task is to make human beings aware in the simplest terms of what Humanism can mean to them and what it commits them to. By utilising free inquiry, the power of science and creative imagination for the furtherance of peace and in the service of compassion, we have confidence that we have the means to solve the problems that confront us all. We call upon all who share this conviction to associate themselves with us in this endeavour.

IHEU Congress 2002



Learn about the Solstice from SciJinks (NOAA & NASA joint initiative)

American Humanist Association

International Humanist Ethical Union

IHEU Freedom of Thought Report

Central Florida Freethought Community

BE. Orlando calendar of Positive Humanism events for members

Huffington Post article on Atheist Discrimination

Humanist Response: Blood Drive

Update 6/19/16: THANK YOU to everyone who came out to show support and give blood at the CFFC & BE. #OrlandoUnited Blood Drive at Target yesterday!

We are grateful for the partnership of Target in Oviedo, the support and professionalism of the OneBlood medical staff, the efforts of 15 volunteers, the members of the community who came out to show support, and the donors who gave 27 units of blood – potentially impacting more than 80 lives!

Volunteers joined us from BE. Orlando, Central Florida Freethought Community, and the Secular Student Alliance at UCF.  Special thanks to Target management and employees for their continued support throughout the day – and their blood, too!

We had an amazing day and it was truly a heartwarming experience to be among members and friends who want to make a difference for the victims and families of last weekend’s tragedy at Pulse Orlando. Thank you, everyone!


Post: 6/16/16

The secular community stands united with Orlando and with our LGBTQ+ members and friends, the Muslim community, and others impacted by the tragedy last weekend.

Please come out to Target in Oviedo this Saturday to support our blood drive.  We need volunteers and of course, blood donors.

GET INVOLVED: Please contact us at BEOrlando@live.com to volunteer or to donate drinks and snacks to support the individuals waiting to donate.

target_rainbow_logoThank you to Target for their partnership and compassion.  Their open commitment to inclusion of, and respect for, the LGBTQ+ community continues to inspire.

pulseThank you to everyone who has donated blood and supported blood drives around the region.  Your involvement makes a difference and shows that our community is connected, strong, and can stand together when needed.


RSVP and Details on Facebook

Contact us to volunteer or donate items

A Humanist Response to the Orlando Tragedy

World Blood Donor Day: Blood Connects Us All

Update: Blood Connects Us All.

Update 6/18/2016

Today is World Blood Donor Day, and the theme this year is Blood Connects Us All.

On this day, we reflect on the blood supply challenges faced around the globe. Sadly, this week in Orlando we are working to uplift a community impacted by a terror attack targeting our LGBT friends and neighbors.  In response, blood donors have flooded the donation centers and bloodmobiles in an outpouring of kindness and love. The response of central Floridians to this tragedy has been inspirational.  Our community’s response of blood donorship illustrates how Blood Connects Us All.

We thank our community for their involvement and response.  We thank every blood donor, everyone who brings refreshments and other supplies to support the blood drives, and the volunteers who have been working around the clock to help our community come together.

We thank people around the world for your support and compassion on this World Blood Donor Day.

Read More…


Community Without Religion

A church is a religious perspective-specific organization.  Nonreligious perspective-specific organizations exist as well and serve human needs similarly.

According to Church Angel, there are more than 400 Christian congregations in Orlando (only those self-registered through that site).  If you search Yelp for Orlando faith perspective-specific organizations, you get more than 1200 results for Christian and 155 additional non-Christian religious organizations.

Although recent Pew Research data indicates 24% of our central Florida population (445,367 individuals) is not affiliated with a religion and 6% identify clearly as Atheist/Agnostic (133,610 individuals)*, there are fewer than 20 local perspective-specific organizations and resources for people of non-faith in Central Florida, and few active leaders.

There is a significant gap in resources for secular American individuals and families. Many people of non-faith identify the concepts of congregation and fellowship with acknowledgement / worship of god(s) or other higher-power supernatural forces.

It has always seemed to me that the saying “Eagles don’t flock” applied to the strong, independent-minded, intelligent community of non-faith individuals. Yet as the most hated and misunderstood minority in America, the lack of visible, active non-religious leadership, congregation, and fellowship only feeds the myths and negative misconceptions about people of non-faith.

That is changing. A more positive, inclusive movement is developing. The growth trend of secularism continues to rise and the global secular community is becoming more diverse, rich, collaborative, and available. The sense of Humanism – our connectivity and responsibility to others and to our world – is increasing. Successful organizations such as the Sunday Assembly and Oasis, are gathering momentum and creating positive congregation and fellowship opportunities for secular communities.

Atheism is neither a church nor a religion. Neither is Humanism, or any other label used by persons of non-faith to identify their perspective. But we need to shift our focus and understand that congregation (coming together) and fellowship (friendship) relate to humans.  Churches and religion own the perpetuation of belief in the supernatural; they do not own the concept of community.

happy-humanIn Central Florida, collaborative secular organizations like BE.(positive Humanism & volunteering), Black Nonbelievers of Metro Orlando, CFFC (secular political activism), F.A.C.T.S. (social and educational engagement), and Hispanic American Freethinkers each offer unique involvement opportunities and leaders who coordinate activities around around the group’s specific area(s) of focus and interest.

There are others, including collegiate organizations like the Secular Student Alliance and secular help organization such as parenting groups, addiction recovery, and Orlando’s chapter of  Recovering from Religion.  Each offers some combination of in-person meetings and activities, online communities and discussion forums, and information sharing.

Gathering with other humans and finding fellowship in the community is about more than religion, god(s), and faith in the supernatural. Here are some non-religious aspects of perspective-specific organization*:

  • SAO_2014Community
  • Joy
  • Sharing ideas
  • Promote community engagement / civic duty / volunteerism
  • Strength in numbers
  • Meeting new people who share our values
  • Learning
  • Guidance
  • Social activities
  • Safe place
  • Leadership
  • Connection to others
  • Something to look forward to
  • Celebrating special days
  • Contributing – being active and productive
  • Validation – others who share your views & values
  • Friendship & fellowship
  • Speakers, presenters, and other extended leaders who share and promote similar values
  • Youth programs
  • Employment assistance (referrals, networking, references, opportunities for professional development and involvement that can enhance a resume)
  • Finding mentors
  • Mentoring opportunities
  • Routines
  • Positive habits
  • Involvement
  • Support for other members who need help
  • Resources
  • A market / customers for your business
  • Contact with adults outside of the family
  • Youth programs and camps
  • Values education for youth
  • Groups – women’s groups, men’s groups, youth groups, volunteer groups, and other subgroups that bring individuals together around common causes
  • Advocacy for issues we support
  • Response to local and global disasters
  • Opportunities for leadership and personal advancement, accomplishment, and growth
  • Online communities and forums
  • To set a positive example of community engagement to our families and others in the community.
  • Being part of the community honors our human connectivity to others.
  • Helps you find ways to improve your life
  • To get out
  • To seek, develop, and pursue a life of purpose
  • To ask and seek answers to life’s questions
  • Community pot lucks & celebrations
  • To develop personal leadership
  • A local organization that does work in the local community we can donate to and know our dollars are helping that organization’s mission
  • To feel that you wisely invest your time
  • Supports a positive worldview
  • Officiants for (and guidance for) marriage, funerals, welcoming or naming ceremonies
  • It helps keep youth (and all of us) out of trouble
  • To help you understand your life story in the tapestry of human community and in the natural world
  • Encourages creativity
  • Provides hope and understanding
  • Gathering together strengthens your compassion and connection to others
  • To look outside of yourself and be part of something greater/larger/beyond yourself
  • Provides a larger community for your children and your family
  • To step outside of your comfort zone
  • To help you be a happier person
  • Teaching children about values, traditions, and community
  • To learn about others’ perspectives on life
  • To share your life story with others, and to hear theirs
  • To develop your children’s self-confidence
  • Acceptance
  • It gives you a sense of responsibility – it is a responsibility.
  • Conversations
  • Social activities
  • reminds you that you are not alone
  • To be informed about local events of interest to you
  • To be informed about great things that others are doing and that your organization is doing in the community.
  • Being part of the community, actively, is the right thing to do.
  • Debate important issues, philosophies, and viewpoints
  • Because you belong there.
  • Because you want to be there.
  • Provides an opportunity to give financially to those in need with others in your congregation
  • Institution recommends charities aligned with your personal values
  • Suggest others

The pretense of inclusion

Organizations specific to non-faith perspectives are essential resources.

The faith community often invites the secular demographic to “interfaith” activities, councils, organizations, and churches that claim to be open to all, but do not appeal to many nontheists.

True, collaboration builds bridges across our differences and partnership is needed.  We should indeed work shoulder-to-shoulder with interfaith and faith-specific organizations for community impact.

While partnering is important and meaningful, joining such organizations can seem offensive to some:  One of the many reasons is that interfaith communities perpetuate the delusion that “at least they believe in something” means that persons of any faith are superior to persons of nonfaith.  If an interfaith is truly inclusive of secular constituents, they will need to change their name.

quotes-and-sayings-about-kindness-with-pictureOwning Human Concepts

Many words you see on church signs could also be used for secular organizations because they are words reflecting human concepts not dependent on faith:  Truth. Gratitude. Kindness. Answers. Meaning. Purpose. Positivism. Fellowship. Here are some church taglines that could apply to a secular organization:

  • Where people gather to share and learn
  • Serving our growing community
  • Everyday Matters
  • Building people through a loving, caring fellowship
  • Where Truth and Love Make difference
  • We Build Hope
  • The Journey Matters
  • Building Community, Empowering Leaders
  • Discover Life
  • Live for more
  • In the Heart of the City – With the City at Heart
  • Large enough to serve you, Small enough to know you
  • Transforming Lives and Building Dreams
  • A Place For You
  • Family Oriented Dynamic Fellowship
  • Living Hope For Real People
  • Proclaiming & Demonstrating Love
  • A Community Dedicated to Service
  • Start a New Way of Living!
  • Building a Community of Gratitude
  • Unique, Expressive & Powerful!
  • Building Healthy Lives
  • Growing Together
  • Proclaiming Good News

Not to mention quips like “Our members are like fudge: sweet with a few nuts!”

Here are a few traditionally faith-oriented terms and concepts re-branded for secular individuals:

  • Being saved in secularism is a self-actualization; realizing that every moment of this one life is precious, and how we choose to spend those moments is an investment that has an impact beyond ourselves. Seeing the error of wasting personal resources of time, money, and compassion on faith when this life is what we have.  Overcoming the solipsistic hubris of religion. Taking personal responsibility for actions. Finding an inner moral compass guided by compassion, integrity, and kindness.
  • Gratitude means mindful living through appreciation of the positive.  See Secular Gratitude for further discussion. 🙂
  • Truth is evidence-based.
  • Meaning and Purpose are elements of life identified through our talents and interests and the impact we have on others. Have you written your personal mission statement? What is your vision? What are your goals? Does your mission connect you to something greater than yourself (such as community, nature, impacting a focus area like hunger or homeless pets)? Can you identify things you intentionally do each day to work toward those goals?
  • Good News is the sharing of inspirational, positive current and historical events or views that promote positive human living and a positive outlook. (Check out The Daily Good and the Greater Good Science Center for real good news.)


From the Online Etymology Dictionary

congregation (n.)
mid-14c., “a gathering, assembly,” from Old French congregacion (12c., Modern French congrégation), from Latin congregationem (nominative congregatio), noun of action from congregare (see congregate).

Used by Tyndale to translate Greek ekklesia in New Testament and by some Old Testament translators in place of synagoge. (Vulgate uses a variety of words in these cases, including congregatio but also ecclesia, vulgus, synagoga, populus.) Protestant reformers in 16c. used it in place of church; hence the word’s main modern sense of “local society of believers” (1520s).

fellowship (n.)

c. 1200, feolahschipe “companionship,” from fellow + -ship. Sense of “a body of companions” is from late 13c. Meaning “spirit of comradeship, friendliness” is from late 14c.

 Call to Action

4c8e51a7650c6d7c24b7c4f5f6c90832Join local, state, and national secular organizations that align with your values and mission

Lead by finding ways within those organizations to make a difference.  Do you want to host events? Help with advocacy? Serve on a board?  If you don’t see an organization offering the opportunities that you think should be in your community, local and national support is available to help you start a new organization.

Serve others in the secular community and the greater community by being active and vocal.  Your involvement matters.


If there were a summit of all Central Florida faith leaders, including leadership of each individual congregation/fellowship/church/place-of-worship/spiritual-center, how many individuals do you think would be invited? 400? 1,000? What if we added faith-biased community assistance organizations?

If there were a summit of all non-faith leaders in Central Florida, how many do you think would be at that table? 5? 10?

Secular perspectives need leaders, representation, and participation. Join a local group, or get help starting one.