Harvard Secular Society (undergrads): Friday (4-5:30pm)
Humanist Graduate Community: Thursday (6-8:00pm)
All meetings at 12 Eliot St. Cambridge, Mass. 02138
Despite the university’s longstanding reputation as “Godless,” it isn’t always easy to be a Humanist, agnostic, atheist, or non-religious student at Harvard.
Thankfully there isn’t the intense pressure students from decades ago felt to stay “in the closet” as a Humanist. Once, students had to hide their lack of traditional faith out of dread that admitting to Humanism would cost them jobs, income, or social standing. Freedom of conscience only extended so far; and in fact many notable Harvard alumni to this day fear publicly coming out as Humanists or giving to the Humanist Chaplaincy because of what their more religious peers might think. On today’s Harvard campus, websites like “Facebook” allow us to let others know our religious preferences, proudly making it clear that there are as many or more open Humanists, agnostics and atheists at Harvard as there are members of just about any other religious group. What a difference a generation makes.
And yet, despite our numbers, things can be tough. Students from other more traditional faiths have a host of Churches, and other religious institutions to provide them with ready-made community. Undergraduates may have a wealth of clubs as alternatives, but non-religious grad students can end up feeling particularly isolated. And even for undergrads, one’s friends or clubs can’t always take the place of the experienced, caring and patient listener that ministers, rabbis, priests and other clergy are supposed to provide. Professors often don’t have the time or inclination to help us deal with private questions of life and death, love and relationships, ethics and meaning, illness or homesickness; and one doesn’t always want to go to a therapist or psychiatrist, either. And besides, just because we aren’t traditionally religious doesn’t mean we don’t want or need to feel part of a supportive community that (while not limiting itself to a certain cultural or ethnic group) upholds a common set of ethics, beliefs, and philosophical ideals.
These are some of the reasons for the founding of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard.
By getting involved with the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, with the Harvard Secular Society and the Harvard Graduate Community, you can get to know like-minded peers, fight for common causes, give back to the broader community together, and seek counseling from chaplains Greg Epstein and Jon Figdor in times of crisis (or just whenever philosophical questions are bugging you).
Get involved with one of the two Chaplaincy-sponsored student groups, and/or set up a meeting with the (very friendly and welcoming) Chaplains, today! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.