The meeting, which was jointly sponsored by the UUSS Public Forum, was held in the main UUSS auditorium. Mel Lipman's presentation was very informative and led to questions from a large proportion of the 36 people who were present.
Mel has agreed to provide a transcript of his speech. As soon as he does so, it will be available via a link, here.
Mel spoke about the increase of secularization in Europe and contrasted it with its retreat in the United States, contrary to the predictions of Thomas Jefferson. He discussed two threats to humanism in present day America, that of theocracy and that of overt discrimination against non-theists. He quoted recent inflammatory comments by Janice Rogers Brown, a federal appellate judge recently confirmed by the United States Senate.
To fight the threat of second-class citizenship or worse, we need to work from a humanist perspective and be a part of the national debate on the role of religion in American life and institutions. We will also have to spread our ideas to and gain support from people outside of the intellectual elite if we are to reach our goals. We must actively fight against those aspects of religion that negatively affect our rights as citizens.
Mel mentioned that the American Humanist Association is a member of the recently formed Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella organization that has maintenance of our rights and separation of church and state as its major goals. We should also emphasize the positive aspects of humanism and pay attention to the moral issues and charitable work often emphasized by churches, albeit from a humanist perspective.
Mel ended his talk with a question and an answer: "What is the future of humanism? We are."
Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Recorder