Tag Archives: Secular Humanism

9/11: Service and Community

The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance has been an inspiring tradition of engaging in volunteerism as a tribute to the 9/11 victims, survivors, and responders since 2002.  Americans are called to make a difference in their communities—to make our community stronger and to foster the vision of individuals standing together, working in unity  to make our world a better place.

Meetup.com was established after the 9/11 tragedy in an effort to use online tools to bring people together in real life to build community. From Scott Heiferman, Co-Founder of Meetup.com (in a 2010 Meetup Blog article): “A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet — and grow local communities? “  Scott lived just miles from the Towers at the time of the tragedy. Today, Meetup hosts more than 255,000 meetup groups and has more than 27 million members from 179 countries.  In Scott’s words, “It is a wonderful revolution in local community, and it’s thanks to everyone who shows up.”

In response to the national call to action, and to honor the mission and intent of the Meetup events forum on which we built this Humanist Community, BE. Orlando engages in an annual 9/11 service project.   It has more meaning for us now than it ever has.

With the Pulse Tragedy in our own back yard this past June,  we have been reminded of the importance of efforts to build community and foster supportive networks of compassionate, engaged groups and individuals.  Individuals like you  – giving your time and heart to make a difference—are needed.  Meetups and other efforts to bring people together are needed.

Thank you to every person in Central Florida and around the nation who served together today in honor of the 2016 Day of Service and Remembrance.  Your contribution uplifts others, builds community, creates hope, and makes a real difference in people’s lives.

How will you continue to make a difference and to build community? What is your next volunteer project? What meetup groups are in your local area?





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

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.




Reason Rally in 3 Weeks

Update 6/4/2016 – Thanks to everyone who is at Reason Rally today representing all secular Americans!

Reason Rally is only three weeks away! 

Those who support reason should plan to attend the 2016 Reason Rally in Washington D.C.  on June 4. Speakers, including leading scientists and well-known entertainers, will host the largest gathering of secular individuals in the nation to demonstrate the lobbying strength of those who support the separation of church and state, eradication of legislated faith-based discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ individuals, evidence-based educational curricula, and respect for the diversity of our American culture to include those of non-faith.

Want to go with a group? Members of our local Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) are attending together – join them!

What is it like?  This video from inspirational secular icon Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist is a must-see:



This initiative is a collaborative effort of major national secular organizations.  The Reason Rally gathering & celebration is on Saturday only, but there are activities over a four-day span to include door-to-door lobbying and a mini-conference if more involvement interests you.  Visit ReasonRally.org for more information.

Don’t wait for the 2020 Reason Rally – attend this one!

Get on the Bus!


Reason Rally Bus – Do you really want to try to park – and pay to park – near the Lincoln Memorial?  There is a national service collaborating with local operators and using technology (apps) to create a convenient and affordable way to attend the Rally. There are bus rally points all over the nation, and two in Florida – Orlando and Tampa. The bus will take you to Reason Rally and back.  Learn more about reserving your seat on the national Bus Rally site or on the Orlando/Tampa bus rally sign-up page.

The Orlando Rally Bus needs 39 more participants to confirm the bus – make your reservation today.  It leaves at 4:45  on June 3 from Festival Bay Mall and returns to the same place at 11:0o on Sunday, June 5th.  You would be at the rally from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on June 4th.  The cost is $235.00

Speakers & Entertainers Include…

Bill Nye, Carolyn Porco, Johnny Depp, Margaret Cho, Amber Heard, GZA, Raekwon, Method Man, Kappadonna, Mathematics, Killah Priest, Cara Santa Maria, Lawrence Krauss, Julia Sweeney, Penn Jillette, Shelley Segal, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Liz Winstead, Dr. Anthony Pinn, James Randi, Kelly Carlin, Mark White, Annabelle Gurwitch, John Davidson, Ian Harris, Annie Laurie Gaylor, The Fab Four, Paul Provenza, Kameron, Yvette d’Entremont, Jensen, Victor Harris, Eugene Scott, Dan Barker, Maryam Namazie, Baba Brinkman, John de Lancie, Leighann Lord, David Silverman, Dr. Andrés Roeme, JT Eberhard, Todd Stiefel, Eddie Tabash, Robyn Blumner, Lyz Liddell



May 5th: NDoR

Today, May 5th, 2016, BE. Orlando celebrates the National Day of Reason (NDoR).

This day inspires needed visibility of the secular community and promotes equality for all Americans, regardless of faith or non-faith perspective.  The human ability to think and reason forms a foundation for advancement and achievement. It is intentionally held on the National Day of Prayer to generate conversation about and awareness of the Separation of Church and State.

The goal of NDOR is “to celebrate reason—a concept all Americans can support—and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.”

Reason Rally on 6/4/2016 in Washington

Those who support reason should plan to attend the 2016 Reason Rally in Washington D.C.  on June 4. Speakers, including leading scientists and well-known entertainers, will host the largest gathering of secular individuals in the nation to demonstrate the lobbying strength of those who support the separation of church and state, eradication of legislated faith-based discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ individuals, evidence-based educational curricula, and respect for the diversity of our American culture to include those of non-faith.

reason-rally-header-logoThis initiative is a collaborative effort of major national secular organizations.  The Reason Rally gathering & celebration is on Saturday only, but there are activities over a four-day span to include door-to-door lobbying and a mini-conference if more involvement interests you.  Visit ReasonRally.org for more information.





PSA: Pay it Forward Day

The last Thursday of April, 4/28/26, is Pay it Forward Day.  At BE. Orlando, we take every opportunity to celebrate kindness and compassion – and today is one of our favorite days!  🙂

martin-luther-king-jr-quote-anextraordinaryday-net_At Central Florida Earth Day last weekend we had our Humanist “Good Without God” campaign messaging displayed at our vendor tent. Most people who came by thanked us for sharing the message that all humans have the potential for good, for creating intentional opportunity for secular individuals to gather in service, and for providing a voice to those feeling unfairly and negatively judged because they don’t share the Christian faith perspective.  One person had tears in her eyes: “I thought I was alone.” But some guests at our tent were angry, befuddled, sarcastic, and even mean.  All were great conversations, but those who were surprised by our existence or afraid of our message are the reason why it is essential that Secular Americans be vocal and visible – when safe to do so – in our commitment to integrity, ethics, compassion, and kindness.


According to the Pay it Forward site, people from 75 countries participated in Pay it Forward Day in 2015 with individuals working on proclamations in 42 states & 48 cities.

For the 2016 international Pay it Forward Day (PIFD) they are aiming to inspire over  10 million acts of kindness around the world. Imagine the difference that would make!

They suggest some options:

  • Collect smiles: How many people can you make smile today?
  • Pay for someone’s cup of coffee
  • Get the next person’s food, toll, petrol, etc.
  • Help someone out in need
  • Be creative!!!
  • Click here for more ideas from Pay it Forward Day
  • Click here for more ideas from BE’s Random Acts of Kindness Week post

While Pay it Forward Day focuses on marketing the concept of selfless giving for just one day a year to promote the concept,  everyday can be Pay it Forward Day.  Keep celebrating Kindness holidays (we post them on BE’s calendar) and intentionally seek opportunities to make a difference.