This week’s guest is Evan Clark. Evan is the Executive Director of Atheists United. Evan grew up in a partially religious home, but at six years old, the idea of a god didn’t make sense to him.
He attended a Christian liberal arts college and was able to start its first atheist group. Since then, he’s gone on to create many humanist communities.
In this episode, Evan explains why atheist spaces in the US differ from spaces in other more progressive countries, why community is not the only thing people need, and he shares some of Atheists United’s upcoming projects.
“‘Why do you need an atheist community?’ It’s not about atheism; it’s about atheists. Atheists are people, and people need community.”
“In the US, we don’t fix homelessness with our government. We don’t fix hunger with our government. We don’t provide healthcare to all of our citizens, and so what is the most powerful, most well-funded institution, outside of government, that then steps up?…religion.”
“There’s something unique about the humanist perspective that we can offer the world.”
“To be a ‘Philosophy Bro’ is abnormal. To sit and ponder literally everything while things burn around me? That is a privilege upon a privilege.”
“There’s so much more value from what I can do…getting atheists together and doing good work and providing transformational spaces for them; rather than being the one who fixes bad ideas of other people.”
“You stay in an organization, and you become active in an organization…when it transforms you, when it’s something that helps you grow as a human being.”
“Humanism starts from the idea that magic isn’t real. It’s a naturalist world…God and gods aren’t things that matter to our universe. We are these small little homo sapiens on a small planet, in a small galaxy, in an unbelievably massive universe.”
“The story of the universe and the idea that you can solve problems…and understand your place in [your community] and figure out moral and ethical problems. I think that’s more beautiful [than religion] because it’ll always improve based on new evidence and experience.”
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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats
NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (otter.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.
David Ames 0:11 This is the graceful atheist podcast. It's part of the atheists United studios podcast. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. My name is David, and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Welcome back. As you heard in the new intro, the podcast is now a part of the atheist United studios Podcast Network. As we begin the new year, I want to remind you that we have the deconversion anonymous Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/deconversion. Please consider joining and become a part of the community. I want to thank all the patrons on patreon.com Thank you so much for supporting the podcast. Thank you to Sharon Joel, Lars Ray, Rob, Peter, Tracy, Jimmy and Jason. Your support is much appreciated. If you would like an ad free experience of the podcast, become a patron at any level at patreon.com/graceful atheist. You will also get the podcast early ish on most weeks. You'll get it a few hours early on occasion. You'll get it a couple of days early. Hang on until the end for the final thoughts section. I'll talk a bit more about some of the plans for 2023 including what the community will be doing. As always special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show. My guest today is Evan Clark. Evans bio says he is a humanist entrepreneur, a political consultant and a public speaker with over 14 years experience tinkering with secular communities. In 2019, Evan was hired as atheists United's first executive director, atheists United's mission statement is our mission is to build thriving atheist communities empower people to express their secular values and promote separation of government and religion. But much more than that, Evan is a secular Grace kind of humanist and you're going to hear that in the interview. Evan reached out to me in the fall of 2022, and asked if the graceful atheist podcast was interested in becoming a part of the atheist United studios Podcast Network. And I am very excited to say that as of you hearing this, we are now a part of that podcast network and I am excited about my sibling podcasts, and the work that Evan myself and the sibling podcasts will do together over the next and following years. Here is Evan Clark to tell his story. Evan Clark, welcome to the graceful atheist podcast. Evan Clark 2:51 Thanks for having me, David Ames 2:52 Evan, you're currently the Executive Director of atheists united and I'd love your bio on on the site. It says evidence a humanist entrepreneur, political consultant and public speaker with over 14 years experience tinkering with secular communities. So my first question to you is did you start at 12? Evan Clark 3:10 No, no, no. Oh, man, I'm glad I still look that young. No, I started in college. I attended California Lutheran University and I started their atheist club. Okay, I cold emailed the Secular Student Alliance and immediately got a group started by the end of my freshman year, and it was wild. It's a really unique experience starting a Secular Student Alliance. There's only maybe three or 400 of us in the world that have done that before. And then of those, I'm one of like, 10, that did it at a religious University. So we had kind of a unique experience. And I will say Cal Lutheran is not your Bible thumping. Liberty University or Azusa Pacific or something. It is. It is a open liberal arts college. And we had a really great experience. But yeah, I think it is a unique experience being in a religious space. I mean, most of us are in a religious culture, and we deal with religious politics, but then having your college environment have prayers in weird places, and pastors that are on the payroll in a church that, you know, they they closed down classes for an hour each day so people can go, Oh, wow. But luckily, it wasn't forced. So we there were plenty of secular students on campus. And we we built a really unique community. And that was my first that's what really kind of got me excited about this whole thing. I remember our last our last meeting in college I the last one for me, after three years, four years running this group, I challenged everyone like Do you think there's a need for spaces like this after college? And I had already made up my mind by then, but I was trying to see, you know, where everyone was at and what they thought of it. And yeah, I mean, to really think that 1011 years later that I could get paid to be an atheist organizer is just mind blowing dreams do come Um, true for privileged white guy. David Ames 5:04 I think we're gonna circle back to some of your like, you know, your growing up years. But I want to talk really quick about Cal Lutheran. So my understanding is that you also became student body president there. Yeah, that's right. How does that work and atheists that at a Christian university? Yeah. Evan Clark 5:17 So I mean, it's funny to think back. We were celebrating its 50th year as a university when I was student body president. And I imagine there were probably at least one or two other non theists. But yeah, but there's a difference between being a public non theist, right, like we know, we've had many elected officials in Congress that are non theists, but they won't allow themselves to be that publicly, on all surveys, they identify as Jewish or Christian or Muslim. And I think that's what's unique. So I was the first out public atheist in that position. And yeah, honestly, it really wasn't that big a deal. When I ran for student body president, it was more controversial that I was running against a former roommate than it was that I was running, you know, as a leader of the Secular Student Group. Yeah. So while I do know, some people it probably frustrated or gave them a bad taste in their mouth. And I do know, the like, local press decided to run with it here and there. Overall, the campus was very supportive and never really thought twice. And I remember by the time I was getting out of college, the university was bragging about our secular student group as another form of diversity on campus. Look, we have these atheists, then look at religious diversity. And I do think that helps kickstart kind of an interfaith era for Cal Lutheran, and they've been really active with interfaith work ever since. And I like to think that we helped nudge that along. David Ames 6:48 That's awesome. That's actually I think, a positive impact. We say sometimes that there are better and worse versions of religion, and one that's more ecumenical is definitely better. And so it sounds like you had that kind of impact on the university. Evan Clark 7:02 Yeah, yeah, I think, I don't know. It's, it's really interesting, building a secular space, and then thinking about how that relates to the rest of the community and culture that you exist in. So, you know, atheists United was founded in 1982, over separation of church and state case in LA. It was a contentious existence, and to be an open atheists in 1982 was kind of a, you know, extremely intense experience. You're talking about maybe losing your job or having to confront family if it's public suddenly. And yeah, Cal Lutheran in 2012. Not as intense is 1982. Atheist organizing. But what I will say is, yeah, it brought the conservative Christians out a little bit more, it brought the other clubs that did interfaith work, a little bit more vocal, and it gave them I think, space for that. What was unique about our group as we explored religion, most secular student groups look like philosophy clubs, actually, it's because they recruit mostly from the philosophy clubs. That's why they looked at why there's a self selection bias there. Were at Cal Lutheran, we decided, because we are identifying publicly as non theists in an explicitly at least a name theistic space, we need to know what we don't believe if we're going to claim that publicly and organize around that. And so what we did is we did anthropological exploration of religion, we went to churches and synagogues and mosques and pagan rituals and Mormon temples. And we, we engaged, we sat through their ceremonies, and we got a crash course in experiential religious studies. I learned so much more through my club than I did through even the religion classes that I took. Because we had first hand experience. And yeah, I'll never forget how much we learned and how much empathy I built and how many patterns I noticed about religion, because we weren't afraid of it, we, you know, openly engaged it, David Ames 9:08 man. You know, that's incredible. Because one of the things that I think concerns me is, my point of view is very specifically having had belief, and then going through a deconversion process and being on the other side, some of my criticisms of the atheist community of you know, maybe the last 1520 years is kind of that hostility towards religious people. And I think that comes from a lack of understanding. There's no point of recognition of the humanity of what it is like to have believed and I think just taking a comparative religion class alone, but even going as far as you did to actually sit in on other religious ceremonies is like super valuable. And I think it also not just from the empathy point of view, but it also inoculates you event, right? Right. I think people can be susceptible to you know, if they have a particularly difficult moment in their lives, the love bombing effect of some religions and having an exposure to that could actually be an inoculation. Evan Clark 10:10 Yes, and it's such a complex topic talking about how people came to their non theism. So I there as a community organizer who grew up secular, which we can talk about in a second, and I went, I grew up in Massachusetts, I went to Catholic school in first grade and immediately said, this isn't working for me. Okay, all these. They start with stories of Genesis, and I was picking those apart one by one. Yeah, yeah. Nuns hated me. I was a little brat. I was asking questions about how Adam and Eve had two boys and populated the world. And like, I didn't even know what sex was. But I was like, giving them questions that made them have to, like, think or engage that topic. And so they just wouldn't. And that frustrated me more. And so yeah, I decided this God thing isn't working for me in first grade. I didn't find a word like atheist until sixth grade, super flipping through a dictionary, you know, trying to not read in one of my classes or something. And yeah, I found this word atheist. And I go, there's a word for me. I thought it was such a powerful like an identity moment. And then I started using it and realize not everyone liked the word. David Ames 11:18 Yeah. Had some connotations. Little baggage. Yeah. Can I ask real quick? Yeah. Was your family religious then? And did they? How did they respond to that? Evan Clark 11:36 Yeah, it was more, I'll call it a I'll call it split religious. My dad grew up, like secular San Diego household. My mom grew up in more of Roman Catholic Massachusetts household. So when we I was born in California, but at the age of two, we moved to Massachusetts. And so I think my mom just had this idea that if you can, if you have the money, you raise your kids in a nice Catholic private school. Yeah. Um, and that's why I went to the Catholic school that I did. But yeah, when it immediately wasn't working out, and we happen to be in the one town in America where the public school is better than the private school. I was able to transition to the public school. And though my mom tried to get us to go to church, and again, this is Catholic, Roman Catholic at that style of church. My dad didn't like he would do it for my mom, but it wasn't something he ever cared about. He clearly didn't believe in he chose to watch football on Sundays, rather than go to church half the time. And so very quickly, I wanted to go I want to watch football with Dad, I don't want to go to church I hate I hate this ritual. It's boring. It's, they make me sit and CCD, and it's all bullshit. Like I immediately just fought back so hard. Yeah. And my mom finally made a deal with me. She said, If you finish first communion, I'll let you decide if you ever want to go to church again. So I said, Sign me up. Let's do it. Awesome. I'm gonna win this. Yeah. And yeah, that's exactly what happened. I did it a year late, because I had complained so hard the year before about leaving the church. And yeah, I finished the first communion, I got my dumb little wafer, and I never went to church again, not till college, actually. And so I actually feel bad because I was so religiously uneducated, from when at that like fourth, fifth grade experience up until college, like I didn't know the difference between a Catholic and a Christian until I suddenly was in college and decided there should be a space for atheists. And then everybody wanted to talk about their religious traditions, and like, you know, Lutheran and Methodist and all these things I'd never heard before. I have to now really engage. Yeah, so it's, it's been a fascinating journey. But, you know, I identify more with the people who grew up without religion, I just have a little bit of more cultural baggage than those that grew up with atheist parents. David Ames 13:55 Right, right. Right. Okay. Yeah. And then Evan, I think something that you and I share is, and I think you're doing it better than I am, but is, is obsession with community. So from my perspective, it's that, you know, religion provides a really built in community and the platform for friendships and relationships and building a sense of belonging, and that on this side of deconversion, that that is much harder to facilitate in a secular environment. And yet, human beings need that. And so like I'm just obsessed with ways that we can bring each other together in a secular environment and you are out there on the front line doing that kind of thing. Why is community important to you? Like how did that be? Oh, Evan Clark 14:39 yeah. Yeah, well, you're gonna have to get me to stop talking to you. Once you get me wound up. It doesn't it doesn't stop but my my poor girlfriend's heard my rants on these 1000 times. But also to finish the last point. People come at their non theism from so many different perspectives where I come at it from more of I grew up most secular with a little bit of religious baggage you know if if you are traumatized by religion if you have sexual shame or if you spent 10s of 1000s of dollars, on superstitious things, if you have guilt still that is riddling, that is destroying your life then I understand why people have really intense negative responses to religion. And the institutional political side is we we see clear obvious dangers we see, you know, our our queer friends, we see our people with reproductive organs that are not like mine being legislated. We see immigration law, even being connected to religion, like we see oppression that people can draw direct lines to, and if they care about justice and social justice in those means, and they can suddenly see this as either a tool or an inspiration for those. Yeah, to me, it's an obvious, rational way that they got to that conclusion, even if I think some of their arguments might be broken, that lead to bad conclusions, like I don't think, like religion, for me is often more of a tool and a space than it is the actual oppression. You know, the reason people come to belief is that always inspired by the ideas they have, or did they already have those ideas, and then they used religious belief arguments to justify those and I think when you get more nuanced, and the deeper you study, philosophy, rational thought community organizing, I'm much more humbled about people. I just don't think we're the rational brained overmatched people think we are you know, like, I think we're very flawed and we're very biased and yeah, I just don't think the judgment of religious people or religious institutions, which can is one of the like hardest things to define in social science, sure. But yes, what is religion? Right, like, do we count? football stadiums, as you know, next to churches or phrases sorority or religion or is a Buddhist non theist organization or religion? Like these are really complicated questions that social scientists debate to this day. Moving to the community question, and away from the first one, we desperately need community, but it's going to look different for everyone. So if we start from just the research perspective, if I wasn't to make more personal arguments, research shows that when you participate, I should back up, the way the research was done is more fascinating. They actually found a discrepancy between atheists and theists, when they looked at quality of life, reported levels of happiness, life expectancy, how much you volunteer and how much you donate to charity. But when you dive into the study, and I should say the discrepancy was bad for the non theistic. But yeah, they live longer, they gave more or they reported higher levels of happiness, right? Like, it's just like, Wow, geez, I guess I'm supposed to be religious, if I want to live a good life. Yeah. But when you dive into the research, it has nothing to do with intensity of belief. So it didn't matter that you believe 10 times harder and God than someone lower on the spectrum, with the correlation and causation seem to be more attached to your participation in religious community. So basically, the more you went to a congregational model, the more you participated in pro social behavior, the more pro social benefits you got, you know, which, which matches suddenly, with all of the other social science research that says, When you hang out with people, you have less depression when you you know, when you volunteer more you like, feel happier, and you give more to charity. And so it's really cool when you look at research in that sense, that what I do as an atheist organizer, even if I took the non theism part out if I completely removed atheism and any mention of humanism and all of these recovering from religion thing even if I removed all of that and all we did was get together at a bar and like party once a month, I would be doing a social good that could be improving how much you volunteer how much you donate, how long you live, how happy you are, like, community in and of itself is a proven social good, and that is because we are hardwired social animals and we just this is this is a fact we like can't ignore it. And it exists in different ways for different people, like people are finding online community in ways today that just wasn't possible 25 years ago, we have you know, hybrid communities we have, you know, a lot of structural designs to our society like third places that no longer exist that make it harder for us to actually do this work. But yeah, I will always be an advocate for community because you know, for getting All of the other bigger political and philosophical arguments I could make. And they could make you a good person or society better place. Like I really just think at the end of the day like we improve people's lives by getting them together in community. And in a religious dominated society, where when they leave religion, there are often zero options for you to hang out with other people that share your values on Sunday, people that might visit you in the hospital, if you're sick people that you trust to help you raise your children, people that might be your dating network or your job network, like, we leave that to religion in our society. And beyond that, it turns into political organizing, and it turns into, you know, financial access, and it turns into all of these other forms of power. So yeah, this is why, you know, I get asked sometimes by atheists, like, why do you need an atheist community and like, it's not about atheism, it's about atheists. Atheists are people and people need community and people have needs, and they have goals and aspirations and cares, and that you can build a community around atheism gets really boring really quick. David Ames 21:09 Absolutely. And I mean, you've basically described the impetus for for this podcast is, you know, like, pick whatever term right humanism, what have you, we talked about secular grace, but like, it's acknowledging the humanity of, of each of us and our need for connection with each other. And that that doesn't go away when you walk away from religion. Evan Clark 21:31 And this is an evolution that's happening, you know, when I think about the secular movement, or the atheist movement, these are phrases you'll hear thrown around by organizers like me a lot, you need to consider that there's different types of movements that are happening simultaneously. So one is a political movement, where we are hiring lawyers and lobbyists, and we're building these institutions in DC that can represent us. And we're fighting cultural stigma and political stigma. And we are have some goals that we as atheist have all come around together for like separation of church and state, or I don't know, taxing churches or whatever it might be. We have a few aligned things that we in large masses have built political power for. But we also seem to have some cultural things we've organized around as well, we are trying to figure out how to build institutions that frankly, look a lot like classic religions. Yeah, and you see a way CES and Sunday Assembly and ethical culture society that have come up over the past 100 years that are building these spaces where secular people can have congregational models of gathering where we can maybe still sing together or or maybe, you know, checking in on each other if we're sick or builds, you know, food networks, in case anybody gets behind or loses a job. Like when I look at Norway, and I see a very secular country, and I see a Humanist Movement that doesn't talk about politics the way we do in the US and isn't building atheist organizations the way we do in the US. I've thought a lot about where the differences were, they looked at us and they go, why on earth would you need an atheist organization, we're gonna go play with some humanist models, we'll come up with like a, a youth coming of age ceremony, but like, that's all we need. And the deeper thing I've noticed is most of this comes back to politics in the US, we don't fix homelessness with our government, we don't fix hunger with our government, we don't provide health care to all of our citizens. And so what is the most powerful, most well funded institution outside of government that then steps up in those spaces and right now, in the United States today, that's religion. We just don't have giant secular NGOs that are in most hospitals and who provide most homeless care and provide food distributions like this is almost all being organized in religious spaces, which furthers religious privilege and gives religious power. Right, if I was to think like a religious authoritarian, the first thing you would do is try to claim government power, which we're seeing we this is the classic modern Christian nationalist religious right. But if you can't get that the second best you can do is limit government power, and and completely control all social and institutional spaces beyond that. And that's why, you know, creating secular education, creating public schools was probably one of the biggest secular achievement in world history for most countries. Yeah. Like, I don't think we stop and appreciate enough sometimes the secular public school movement and what that meant for separating religion and government. Right, and why religious institutions that are authoritarian all want private schools to take back over and they want to end public funding of education right now apply that to churches now apply that to food now apply that to housing, right? They get to preserve power in that way. And so, you know, yeah, we provide community with atheists united, but we also get to challenge that religious power by also doing our own food distribution by also getting involved in local advocacy by showing up at a bunch of events that we've never shown up for, for the past, you know, however old this country is now. So anyways, it's it's really interesting, there's so many dynamics for how you can come at it. And like you have a political movement with some very clear political goals, you can have a social movement that, you know, maybe has your media figures that are constantly in a cultural debate over theistic ideas. But then we also have, like, local power questions that are both cultural and political, that I think local institutions can solve and support, you know, and it's not just are we providing food for people, which is amazing, but it's how are we educating the youth that are going to take over our society? How are we building rituals that are not shamed base, but aspirational and critical and thought provoking and pluralistic? That's what's to me exciting about the potential of humanist communities and atheists, we're not, we don't have to just be reactionary. There's something unique about a secular perspective that we can offer the world. I think David Ames 26:11 you just said the magic word there to that pluralism, I think some people can be afraid of the word secularism, and yet, we are not trying to enforce unbelief. You know, on everyone else, it's just to make room for freedom of religion and freedom from religion. And that that actually has, as you've just eloquently enumerated massively positive impacts on society, including things like public education, and some Evan Clark 26:37 bros on the internet do want that, right. Like, I've actually started to use the phrase atheist supremacy that I think they're actually arguing for, they really believe that other people are broken, and they need to fix them with atheism. They, they they literally look at them as less than during the pandemic, there was some disgusting comments by a lot of atheists online, that I noticed on Twitter and Facebook around like, Well, Lisa killing off lots of Christians. And I just discussed it by comments like that. Because yeah, sure, if there's a Christian pastor who is getting on the errors, and saying, the vaccines are crap, ignore the science, you shouldn't do all of that. I think they are in positions of power, and they have more responsibility, and I care a lot less about if if they as hypocrites get hurt by that. But most religious people are followers, they are part of a community, they don't have the time to go think about vaccine efficacy, they don't have time. You know, they're in a crap economy with kids and a full life and trying to maintain friendships and keep out of depression during a closed society. And then the person you trust, trust most in the world tells you this is an unsafe vaccine, and you shouldn't go get them and then you get sick because of that, like, Are you a victim? Or did you bring that upon yourself? And I think a lot of atheists because we come to atheism through such individual means and because so much of our language comes from often libertarian Western, like culture. We treat everyone with this, like you are the only one that can answer any question and you have to use rationality and by rationality. I mean, like the Jefferson debate in the street with everyone, you know, philosophy, which doesn't recognize that that's not how most humans think that is not how we actually come to conclusions. In most cases, I can see very emotional journey for most people to have religion or to lose religion, as much as it is a rational decision. And rationality is informed by emotions, but that's a longer rant. David Ames 28:55 Again, Evan, I can't agree with you strongly enough. This is literally a conversation that's been going around our community because of I think genetically modified skeptic recently did a post about apologetics and counter apologetics are, are useful, which I tend to agree with. And there was a bunch of pushback from lots of people. And the point is that it's you know, it's the very, it's the philosophy people that you were just talking about, right? I love philosophy. It's like you know, it definitely affects me, but I don't represent everyone Yeah, I Evan Clark 29:25 can hang with philosophers as much as anyone and I love it and I love deep questions and I'm one of the few people that will spend hours and hours and hours in those discussions compared to my girlfriend for instance, because zero patients for them she's just like, does it impact my life? If it does, how does it hurt or not? And I want the side that improves doesn't hurt right? Like she there's no debating abortion access with her right there. The philosophy around that as a waste of her time she has finished with the debate and it is emotionally painful to continue to have and I think that's a wreck. cognition of how humans function right? Like, right to be a philosophy bro is abnormal it to sit and say I can ponder literally everything while things burn around me like that is a privilege on a privilege. And so anyways, what I do think, though is we need to recognize that there is some supremacist thought that comes from other places, right? White supremacy exists regardless of religion, we have other forms of supremacy, gender supremacy we have, we also have religious supremacy and some people I think, learn the wrong lessons, they still hold on to some cultural ideas that religion, mostly conservative religion has propagated, which is that, you know, you have to be right, and that you need to fix other people with the truth. And no, that's, that's not actually true. What we need is a society that functions well and prompts people up and helps them get through their lives. Right. And what I find when I look around right now is I see a lot of churches and synagogues and mosques and temples that are doing way more work than we are, when it comes to justice work when it comes to fighting climate change when it comes to science education, like literally the thing we speak most about. Yeah, I've met progressive churches talk more about science than I wouldn't say talk more about we talk a lot. Maybe organized more about, like, science based policy in some cases. And if I look at that, and I also look over here, and I see Richard Spencer, who's an open atheist organizing the Charlottesville rally with frickin Nazis. And I go, Well, should I stand with an atheist? Because they're an atheist? Or should I stand with these people who agree with 99.9%? On like, values, questions, and it's, it's obvious, it's so I've never met an atheist who were like, Yeah, let's go hang out with the Nazis. Right? which defeats the argument that belief is the most important thing. It just destroys that idea. It is actions, it has values it is what we organize around it is our humanity, not our beliefs. And when we recognize that, yeah, belief impacts that belief isn't completely meaningless, right? Like, philosophy is good, so that we keep growing as a species. But that's, that's a feature of a secular ideology. When you let go of Magical Thinking, then appeals to tradition is a logical fallacy. Well, what's the opposite of that? That means progress, we have to challenge our ideas, right? They have to use methods like scientific method for them to be more true. And we will, over time come to better conclusions, and and philosophies, one of the tools in that toolkit. But yeah, when that's all it is, and suddenly it allows you to hold what I would consider a supremacist belief over someone else. Like, I actually think you're more harmful than helpful. And we don't do that in my community. David Ames 32:56 I actually love that that verbiage. You know, recognizing the shared values, you may know my story that my wife is still a believer. And I talk a lot about with her, you know, that the shared values that we have that that that's what our marriage can can stand on. Evan Clark 33:11 People don't know this, there's actually a staffer for American atheists who is a Christian. Wow, okay. It's completely possible. You know, I have a one of my best friends from college, he joined my Secular Student Group, he was an agnostic at the time, he went to Europe for study abroad, he came back and he's like, I need to, I need to take you out to lunch. I got something to tell you. And I'm like, Oh, cool. He's gonna come out as gay or something. Yeah, I got pregnant. I have no idea what's gonna happen here. Yeah. And he's like, so the only book I took with me was the Koran and I'm a Muslim now. Oh, that's a cool. Coming to my Secular Student Group. He became the vice president of my student group in college and like, I still hang out with him to this day, I couldn't imagine, like losing that friendship over. You happen to go to a mosque, not an atheist group with your time. You know, he does more good work than most atheists. I know. Like, that's what Bond's us. Yeah, we disagree on a few things. Oh, boy. Sure. You know, like, it gets awkward when I talk about like, how he's going to teach his kids about religion, but that's part of society. I don't know, I'm okay with that. I'd rather have that conversation, then find out he's a Nazi. What happens to be an atheist or is like thinking it's okay, that Trump wants to end the Constitution. Like that's way more problematic to me David Ames 34:29 to kind of wrap this up. I often say that, again, this concept of secular Grace if you want to be good to people, and you justify that in a theistic way, and I want to be good to people, and I justify that in a humanistic way. Let's just go good. Be good to people, right? Like, we should be allies in that work, even though we disagree with each other's justifications. Evan Clark 34:50 And this can be hard like the I came into the atheist movement during the new Atheism era, like I ate up a lot of the talking points. around like beliefs leads to action. It's taken me a lot to try to deconstruct that and look at people more as a bunch of monkeys and shoes trying to figure out how to live lives. But, yeah, I think I think there are some interesting questions here that could be explored more, I'm probably going to leave them to more philosophers and thought leaders than community organizers like me, but, you know, to some extent, belief obviously matters a little like, we know, it does impact actions a bit. We do know, it's attached to identity, it's attached to politics, it's attached to how you organize. So I don't want to be completely flippant about that, like, I do think, you know, the way I'm attacking Nazi ideas, like I think right need to be challenged beliefs have consequences. Yeah. But, you know, I just don't think they're as strong as people often talk about in atheists spaces, I really just don't think it's like I, you know, believe in insert, Evan Jellicle, like, interpretation of the Bible. And that means, like, I beat up gay people, like, we don't actually find those correlations. We do find the community organizations and institutions that organize around, like, oppressing gay people, like happen to be using religion as a tool, and there's some correlations there. But, um, but I don't know where the limits are on that. Because yeah, I think if you're talking to your toaster and your toasters telling you I need to go shoot up a school, like, we clearly care about that belief and want to intervene in our society. But yeah, like the local pastor that helps out with our atheist programs in LA here, like, he calls himself a Christian atheist, and I still don't know what that means. Yes, you know, do I need to try to challenge that and fix that, or, you know, when I was dating a lot, after college, and I would go on a date with somebody who believed in astrology, and I like 99 out of 100 times, that's like, it just means they believe in ghosts, like, it's very similar to like an impact or life zero, they like find movies a little bit more interesting if they believe in ghosts, but it always scares me a little bit. Because if you're willing to believe that some bullshit about the stars can impact like who your identity is, then couldn't it impact you thinking vaccines are bad, or something like, I worry about that. But I don't have good solutions around it. And I find, given our short time in the earth, given our limited resources giving, given the community I'm working on, and what we're prioritizing, there's so much more value I can do from a efficacy stance of getting atheists together and doing good work, and providing transformational spaces for them, rather than being the one that fixes bad ideas of other people. But, but I won't, I won't completely shut down the people that do that, like I do think education is important. It's just education rarely changes the world as much as mobilizing does. David Ames 38:17 So I want to key off of something that you just said there too. And this can sound religious, but providing the platform for good works, as it were, or however you define do define that, you know, giving people the opportunity to, you know, use what they are good at in their hobbies or what have you in some kind of way that impacts the community in a positive way. And I know that like you guys recently have done a project, atheist street pirates where you were cleaning out, like proselytizing signs and things of that nature. And you had a religious people along with you also doing that if you want to talk about that for a minute. Evan Clark 38:53 Yeah, so that programs called atheists, street pirates, we founded it. During the pandemic, we noticed a lot of illegal religious propaganda. Most cities probably have this and you just kind of forget that it's there. After a while, but maybe a highway overpass somebody put up a sign that said Ask Jesus for mercy or some random telephone pole by Library says, you know, Jesus is coming. Yeah, there's there's a bunch of random propaganda like that that essentially furthers Christian privilege. And normalizes this idea that everything is a Christian space, but they're often on public land, they're on, you know, highways, they're on bridges, they're on telephone poles. Well, that's illegal. That's, that's the shared land that has to be a secular space. They definitely didn't get permission from the city to put those up. But what we find is cities don't have the time and resources to always take those down. And so we started just by mapping them, we created this Google map and we started, you know, seeing how big the phenomenon was. And then one of them that was there for a while we decided, Okay, we're gonna go at like two in the morning and see if we can take this down. hopefully doesn't fall on the highway. Of course, it's la the highway doesn't slow down at two in the bazillion cars out there. And yeah, this kind of kicked off this really odd program that we get a ton of press for where we yeah, we directly map and take down these illegal religious propaganda and it's inspired, even religious people who believe in separation of church and state who believe that for this to be a pluralistic space, you have to also have freedom from religion. You know, freedom, freedom of religion is completely meaning I'm sure a million guests have said this. But it's completely meaningless without your ability to say no to any one religion that approaches you. So yeah, well, I have a I have a local pastor, I met at a local Pride event, and he came out with us. He loved it. He took one of the signs to his congregation and preached that that week about our program. Yeah, at the atheist street pirates were doing. So yeah, we've we've done some really cool things in that sense. And I think what you're getting at, though, as a question is, like, should we institutionalize? Should we build these things that should be there for 50 or 100 or 500 years? And this is the question I always think about, what are we building? And why and what is the like, long term goal of this? Because yeah, in some sense, most atheist organizations are reactionary, that God exists, they exist. They came into existence in the past 50 years. And it's because of the rise of the Religious Right. You know, if the country just turned into Norway, we'd be looking around, like, why on earth? Do you need an atheist community where you talk about atheism, and Christianity and blah, blah, blah, right? You will notice that if you go to Portugal, you go to Denmark, you go to Norway, like they just don't exist. Like, it's actually hard to find atheist communities, the way we have in the US, US we have one or two or three made, you know, atheist communities, for every major city, or hundreds and hundreds of groups you can join. And a lot of that politics, right, it's just obvious we have a religious political movement. And the first and most important group that they will oppress is the non religious, we are the canary in the coal mine for secular government, and for a pluralistic society. In some ways, this is my frustration with our religious allies, including the Satanic Temple and, you know, even Unitarian Universalist is because they think of religious pluralism in only a religious contexts. And they can't recognize that most atheists want to also be non religious, even if we join communities, the language is really important to us, the identity is really important to us. And the government interaction is really important to us. So yeah, it's really cool that the satanists can also give a prayer. But like, what about a group that doesn't pray? Right, that that is that is important. And like, we need to look at a future where most of us don't pray, it doesn't matter. Like now you're forcing us to come up with a prayer to be equal. That is not welcoming. That is not our idea of a secular government. And yeah, it's better than just one religion having access at least we have a seat at the table, the let us do something. But yeah, I like to call it one is the classic secular argument of like a pure secular state, where religion has zero power in religion. And then the other is like a secular light where all religions get equal power. Right. But what happens then is the religions with the most resources and the most organizing, they're the ones that get more time. You know, if I have to compete with the Evangelicals over who gets prayers at city council, like, I see the next 50 years, they're gonna add organizers. Yeah, yeah, not for lack of trying, but like, they just have so much more money. And so many more people that hang out in congregational models that Yeah, could take me 4050 years to like, match that. So that's my concern and why I really think like the secular government argument matters. This is why we don't put up our own signs with the atheists street pirates all the time. Why don't you just go put up atheist signs. I'm like, Well, I don't want to get into a religious arms race. Yeah. David Ames 44:10 You're gonna lose. But that's so telling of it. I mean, that's, that is so important. That exact statement that you are not putting up. You shouldn't believe science. You should become an atheist. You're just you're just saying, Hey, this is a secular space and so there should not be proselytizing here. Evan Clark 44:27 Yeah. And I think that's a really, you know, I posted recently on Instagram I did this video I observed some guys proselytizing they walked up to guys, old guys walked up to a young guy with his Kid in a Park. I have a minivan and I sometimes like work in the back of it random places around LA. So I observed this whole thing right up close. And they just immediately started talking to him about Jesus and you need to oh man, and you know, everyone's broken and Jesus is the only way to get saved. Can we pray for you? And like I just watched this like 25 minute interaction in the pork It was like trying to run around and like that was trapped. And I put up a video about how like atheist groups don't proselytize. Right. And I got a lot of pushback on that, both from atheists who some think we should, some from people who have experienced atheists who have pushed themselves into the lives to talk about belief. And yeah, I'm just I think it's really important that if we care about a pluralistic society, which is a place where all have equal access and all or treat each other equally, it doesn't mean I believe that they're right. I, you know, when I do interfaith work, the one thing we agree on is that we all disagree. I love interface work, because yeah, it's literally like, I can walk up to a Muslim and I go, like, I think you're nuts. And they look at me and they go, I think you're nuts. And I go, cool. Should we plant that tree now? And yeah. Like, that's okay. That's cool. That's a society. That's a functioning society. Yeah, we could debate that in our spare time. But proselytizing, to me my personal definition of it is going out of your way, and pushing yourself into other people's lives. You know, I've never ever ever met an atheist organizer who wants to go door to door to talk about atheism. Yeah, I will buy ads on Facebook to promote an event we're doing I will, you know, follow the laws and rules around like promoting ourselves, but I don't think we should have special privilege and access to your life, unconventionally, right, I respect your freedom to say no, and we will present our ideas in some places, but somebody responsibility to convince you. And, you know, again, if, if everyone was Nazis, you know, maybe that's what I would be doing, I'd be like, I want you to not be a Nazi. And we have that in different forms today. But I don't know, I think there's so much more work that needs to be done for the millions, literally millions of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other non religious identities in the US, who don't even have community right now. Right, don't even know that there's spaces they can gather, and you can meet other people like you. And you can raise kids in those spaces free of any dogma at any time, that cares about critical thinking the way you do, people that might be able to visit you in the hospital, if you get sick, or help you out. If you lose your job like, that is so much more valuable in most people's day to day life than your, you know, obvious argument, they could have Googled about the problem of evil. So I don't know. That's where my time and energy is these days. And I'm encouraged that there's a lot more people doing it, and there's a lot more resources for it. But we're so underfunded. I mean, like I ever drive by like a Methodist Church, and you're like, Oh, God, 200 year old building, I wonder what it would be like to do our work in something like that. And then you think about the budget, they probably have, you know, they probably spend more on upkeep of that building than like every atheist group in California put together, right. You know, let alone the pastor salary, the youth pastor, the Secretary, the contractors, the marketing budget, you know, they probably spend more on print materials than I have for 16 programs. David Ames 48:26 Atheists United is about and I'll just do your mission statement here. Our mission is to build thriving atheist communities, empower people to express their secular values, and promote separation of government and religion. The reason you and I are talking is that you have also started a podcast network and the aggressive atheist is going to become a part of that. So I want to talk about a little bit what that idea is what you're trying to accomplish there. And we've talked about the existing podcast there humanist experience, nomadic humanists, and the beyond atheism, guys that interviewed recently. Evan Clark 48:58 Awesome, ya know, I'm so excited that you're joining the network and that there's growth in this type of content. When I look around atheist media these days, I see a lot of I'll call it Christian talk radio for atheists. Yeah. You know, like, and it's not inherently bad. Like, again, I think there's a lot of people craving that content. If if I was just coming out of an evangelical tradition, and I need the language for some of these ideas I have if I need to, like, I'm thinking through a problem about God's existence, or whatever my pastor or priest told me about this topic, like, yeah, listening to some of these, these people who talk about those ideas is actually radically valuable. But there's a lot of questions that come after a secular identity as established that I really want to help promote the content creators that are working in that space. You know, I launched a podcast in 2015. And we traveled the country and we created the whole thing from scratch. Should we didn't have podcast backgrounds. And it was a beautiful experience. But what I quickly learned is, you know, creating contents one thing, getting anyone to listen to it is another. It's really hard to have a successful podcast. No matter how brilliant you are, or how beautiful your content is, you need access to an audience. And so the idea that I've been sitting on for years and finally was able to do this past year was let's take a bunch of awesome underfunded ragtag content creators, you know, atheist content creators who just need a little help. Let's throw them in a network together. And they can promote each other and share each other's audience because their shared values and identity here and the questions some of these shows, are asking overlap with other shows that are coming at them from different angles. And that's been the beauty so far. And we started with the beyond atheism, guys, which you had on your show a few weeks ago, who, who really asked my favorite question, which is Now what's cool, you're an atheist, like, Kay, you can go many different directions. Now, you know, how? What does that tell you about how to handle artificial intelligence taking our jobs? Or how does it handle raising a kid? Like, those are real questions like atheists? Yes. For me, who's been an atheist for 2030 years now? Like, I'm, frankly, bored by the atheism question, like, I haven't heard anything new in 25 years in that in that space. Exactly. Yeah. The interesting, juicy questions are like, how do you raise a kid ethically, like, oh, there's so much unknown in that space, and so much we need to learn and practice and figure out how do you? How do you ethically engage our economy? How do you build communities ethically, right, as a community organizer? Do I go fully egalitarian, like a lot of our socialist roots? Or do we use some of the hierarchies that exist in other organizations like churches? You know, do I, as the leader of the community get on stage and talk about our beliefs and values? Or do I avoid being the face in the center of it? And we kind of use a more equitable model like these are their ethical questions or organizing questions that are super juicy and fun? And I don't have you know, we're not going to find a perfect answer to anytime soon. Yeah. Yeah. So we have podcasts that explore that, or in some cases, we're finding, like in the Spanish speaking world, there aren't even shows that address the questions around theism and atheism, you know, like, the alternative. So we, you know, I wasn't expecting to do this, but we might be bringing on a show that goes at the arguments of God, but for our Spanish speaking audience, interesting. Okay. Yeah, underserved spaces. We have a Jewish humanist podcast launching next week called amusing Jews, like so a secular Jewish perspective, like so secular, they barely ever talk about religion. They're mostly just, you know, talking to Hollywood writers about the shows they work on and their hobbies and Festivus is nice. So anyway, it's like this has been the idea. But what's been really, really, really fascinating is trying to just figure out what programs we should do as a community organization. So most atheist groups, if you were to, you know, go pick a city, Houston, or New York or Miami or something and go to their local atheist group and local humanist group. Usually they have a speaker event, right, we do some type of educational program, they have a service program, usually some type of giving back to their local community. And if you're lucky, maybe like a recovering from religion subgroup that supports people with religious trauma. But one of the struggles you find when you talk to most organizers is people will check them out. Like atheism is still a controversial idea. There's lots of new people identifying as atheists, so people will explore it, but they don't always stay. Right. We don't have a 2000 year tradition of like space you want to hang out in or have rituals that you know, like, make you feel good, like, like, Thanksgiving turkey or something. So how do we build spaces like that? And what is actually the goal of spaces like that? And one of the things I've learned recently, weirdly by reading church planning books, which I never thought, you know, I took this job and there's there's nobody that's had a job like this before me, so I have no one to like, I have no mentors to go ask for advice. You know, atheist community organizers, like a new job title in this world. There's like four of me in the world. David Ames 54:26 I know. Yeah. Not that many people do. Evan Clark 54:29 And one of the things I found in this, this book recently was about you know, it's about how to turn around failing churches and he talked a lot about how people think they come for belonging, right like you want to find other people like you who share your identity and you just want to like be among them. And that's nice and that's true a lot of people do want belonging that's language we all all use. Every religious and non religious community I know uses this language. But I find that's not why they stay, you know, like I find belonging in a political Oregon. zation, but I won't go to every event. You, you stay in an organization and you become active in an organization, you start donating to that community when it transforms you, when it's something that helps you grow as a human being. And this has been the most transformational idea for me, as an organizer, which is like we need to not just represent people, we need to help people. You know, I'm suddenly looking at things like recovering from religion, not as just a space people can belong together. But as like, truly trauma care. I'm looking at, you know, we added a Smart Recovery Program, which is a secular addiction recovery program, for any type of addiction. It's usually people who like really hated the higher power language in AAA, they want something that's more based on science, smart recovery is the place you should go or at least start. And yeah, like, we are literally helping people's lives. You know, if I can help you with addiction, yeah, of course, this is the community, you're gonna give your time and your money and raise your kids and the rest of your life. And that helped us launch a new program called atheist adventures. And we last year, we went to Death Valley and looked at the stars with an astronomer. And we were asking the question of like, how do we recreate religious experience in a secular sense, right? Like we know, we experience all we know, we feel meaning in certain moments. Well, you know, a lot of us it's been in nature and feeling small or large, based on the context of the experience, right? That's what most religious experiences are, right? Like the reason you walk into a giant chapel in Europe, and you just feel amazing is because you feel so small, suddenly, it's designed for you to feel small, right? And you have a weird moment in your brain where everything kind of fires Well, yeah, you can feel that in Death Valley on a moonless night with an astronomer doing a star talk David Ames 56:51 real quick, I have to tell this story, because as an atheist, I happen to be in London. And I went to St. Paul's Cathedral. Yeah. And I had that exact experience of just, you know, recognizing that. Oh, you know, it was it was the architecture, and the, the, you know, the brilliance of the stories, and yeah, and the the beauty of it, and the light filtering through the stained glass. And like, you know, the there was an experience, there were some legitimate experience as a, you know, straight up atheist, and let you know, we can definitely have, especially in nature, I think is a great way to experience that the experience of awe, and it'd be an entirely secular experience. Evan Clark 57:29 Yeah, Alain de bitone wrote a whole book on this about how we should be using architecture from a secular perspective to create memory and awe and like, celebrate secularism. And I completely agree. But yeah, what does that mean in different contexts? And how do we communally do that is, I think a really interesting question. Like we haven't figured out there are very few secular rituals that you'll find in most groups around the world. We have, you know, there's been different attempts there are, Norway has a coming of age ceremony that they do for like all 16 year olds, and they spend a year working on like, community service projects and kind of blueprints, and then they talk about it, and then the community recognize them as adults. And that's common, most religions have some form of coming of age ritual. But if you ask most atheist communities in the US, like, we'll get there like I can, I totally imagine that if we are committed to community, the way we're building, we're going to have some types of rituals that represent those. But yeah, what they look like might be different. And because we have no holy books, and we don't need to stick to a tradition, just because it's been tradition, it will look different in different places. But yeah, most most, organizers and scholars in the space talk a lot about birth, death, marriage, coming of age as like four of the biggest rituals we just have in our society. And we have secular versions of them. In most places, you know, I know not in Iran always but like, you can go to Vegas and get married. That's pretty secular experience nine times out of 10. Um, but yeah, like actually thinking about if we want to create our own unique cultural ritual or, or culture, right, like, Can atheist communities do culture making? I'm of the opinion yes. Like we didn't I've been looking through the history of atheists United since I took this job and I found that we did an arts festival 25 years ago in LA right like what is secular and atheist arts and you know, it is whatever we gather around it is not because some old dudes in Europe decided this is the only book that is true it's it's because we through basically a democratic process like decided this is our ritual and we can find value in it or we can let go of it and to me, that's beautiful. Like that's what informs humanism for me like humanism which I No, We're departing a little bit from atheism. But I think there's so tied and 90% of atheists wind up humanists in the US at least. David Ames 1:00:06 And that's this podcast it is about, humanism Evan Clark 1:00:10 Yeah. Humanism, starts from the idea that like magic isn't real, right? That it is a naturalist world that God and Gods aren't, aren't things that matter to our universe. And so we are these small little homosapiens on a small planet in a small galaxy in an unbelievably massive universe, right? Yeah. Okay, well, now we want to understand the world around us. How would we do that? Oh, well, we'd probably come up with some method to test our ideas and things like science suddenly become tools that we use for understanding the natural world, which is why science is so popular in human spaces. If we could find a better way to come to answers in science, we would use that, but it's the best method we've come up with yet. Well, you know, how do we think about morals and ethics? And answer these questions while using tools like science and recognizing that with no gods, and no magic, right? Like, we're the only ones that can solve the problems that matter to us. And we have to create or feel the meaning in those things, right? We can start thinking about moral responsibility, we can think about our interaction with everyone around us and somebody might go, Hey, but like, I'm a libertarian, I think I can go off into the woods and not impact anyone else. And it doesn't matter. Well, science, and the natural world tells us that we're all interconnected, right? Like the air I breathe is the air you breathe, right? The history of the universe all moved through time to where like, I'm made of the same Stardust that you're made of. And because there are interactions between those things, like why isn't there more responsibility between those right? Like, I live in an ecosystem, I don't live in a video game where I can exist separate from you. And with that knowledge that I live in an ecosystem, this is my one and only life. And we're using tools like compassion and reason to understand our place and how to be good in it. That's how we figure these things out. Right? Like, I think it's, it's so obvious and beautiful and exciting when we think about it that way. But, you know, we don't always get the narrative, you know, you you lose theism. And maybe you're biased by the idea that I must have come from something or that I must have a church that gives me the answers, but the story of the universe and the idea that you can solve problems, or you and your community can solve problems and understand your place in it and figure out how to solve moral and ethical problems. Like, I think that's as beautiful, if not more beautiful, and I would argue more beautiful. I personally would argue more beautiful, because it will always improve based on new evidence and new experience, we will we won't just accept an answer, because it's been the answer before, if we can find a new way to improve upon it, we have to David Ames 1:03:00 man, I think that's got to be where we wrap because that was very well said. Like, it's amazing to meet you in that there are are very few of us, right? There aren't that many people who care about these things in the way that you've just expressed, right? And that's what we're trying to communicate here on this podcast. I want to thank you for being on the podcast. I want to also give you an opportunity to tell people how they can participate with atheists united, how can they find you? How can they interact? Evan Clark 1:03:28 Yeah, so atheist, united, we're based in Los Angeles, but we consider ourselves a California nonprofit. We have chapters in San Luis Obispo and Santa Clarita. And I would encourage people to become members, especially if you're in California. That's an ongoing monthly supporter of our organization. donation is always helpful. I'm a nonprofit, I have to ask. But you can follow us on social media. We are on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and probably going to move to Tik Tok soon you can find us on YouTube. Yeah, it's It's wild. We didn't even have time to get into this but like the growing spectrum of atheist experiences, right, like a third generation atheist family has a kid in LA and that kid goes to USC and only has atheist friends and then works at Netflix with other atheists like them trying to find community is so night and day different than third generation Evan Jellicle comes out as gay and atheist and Kentucky, rural Kentucky and like finding a community that's atheist is life or death for them, right? Yeah. And yet, Intel we have more atheist spaces they have to share community where one is desperate to talk about religion and its harm and how they interact with it where one is like, I don't understand why anyone talks about religion. Yeah, and right now they share spaces in LA. We have we're one of those unique cities where we have like people who came here from all over. We have religions like Scientology and Jehovah's witness that are a lot stronger here than other cities. And we also have like one of the most secular, you know, generations and multi generations here, and they're all trying to find community at the same time, and we're all trying to figure out, you know, yeah, we can politically organized together. But what is gathering look like? What does a party look like? What does care look like? So yeah, that's why supporting atheists United is so cool and critical is that we are incubating a lot of the programs that we hope other groups around the country will eventually take off with. We happen to be big, we happen to be really active. We're throwing a lot of spaghetti at the wall right now. And if something works, we're going to share it around the country around the world and hope more people do it. David Ames 1:05:40 Excellent. Fantastic. Well, we will have links in the show notes, of course, but I want to thank you, Evan, for being on the podcast. Evan Clark 1:05:46 Thank you for having me. David Ames 1:05:53 Final thoughts on the episode? Well, it's hard to overstate how good it is to find other people in the secular world who also have a secular Grace focus. Obviously, Evan wouldn't use that term per se, but the things that he does is secular Grace boots on the ground humanism, touching people's lives. I highly recommend that you listen to Evans original podcast that is the first podcast within the atheist United studios, podcast network called humanist experience. He did that with Serato, Blaine, Surat, like lived on the streets of LA with the homeless, trying to find practical ways of helping people. I couldn't think of a better description of what secular grace is, boots on the ground, blood, sweat and tears, humanism. That is the kind of humanism that Evan Clark and atheists United represents. As you can imagine, this is why I said yes. When Evan asked for this podcast to become a part of the Podcast Network. Evans work is really important. It is humane, it is loving. It is on the right side of history. And I'm just excited to be a tiny part of this. I'd like to mention the other sibling podcasts that are a part of the atheist United studios Podcast Network. You've already heard from Nathan Alexander and Troy tub heiress of the Beyond atheism podcast. I interviewed them back in November. I just mentioned the humanist experience that is with Evan Clark and Sarah Blaine. Very well worth your time to listen to it is kind of an NPR style, very highly produced beautiful podcast. And then the most recent podcast to join the network. Besides mine is the amusing Jews who Evan talked about in this interview. I know that Evan is working hard to bring other podcasts online. I anticipate having guest exchanges with those podcasts. And I'm looking forward to all the exciting things that we will do together in the next year. I want to thank Evan for being on the podcast for living secular Grace without knowing what that word is, for exemplifying it for us giving us a practical example to try to follow. Thank you, Evan, for being on the podcast and for inviting us to be a part of the podcast network. The secular Grace Thought of the Week is what obviously follows out of the conversation with Evan and that is about secular community, and how desperately we as human beings need that. It was incredibly insightful what Evan talked about that. The secular community has to hit this entire spectrum of people from people who have been abused and suffered at the hands of the church to people who are third generation atheists who have no experience with what faith feels like. And so the more communities that we have, the more opportunity there is to fill the niches or the specific needs of the people. I cannot say enough how important Arline's work as a community manager has been and will continue to be. I'm in continual gratitude for our LNS work. For those of you who have been a part of the deconversion anonymous Facebook group, you know how important Arline's work is. I want you to be asking yourself how you can participate in the community how you can lead in the community. Do you want to lead a group on a particular topic? Do you want to lead a book club? Anything that brings people together is vitally important. In 2023, as we watch COVID in the rearview mirror, I'm really interested in in person connectivity. If you'd be willing to host something in your local area and there are two or three or four other people in the area. That is the next step for us. And I'm very interested in seeing that happen. Another thing happening in 2023. We're going to have more blog posts from multiple people including Jimmy who's a part of the the deconversion anonymous Facebook group, Arline herself. If you are interested in writing on the topic of secular grace or deconversion, or related secular topics, I'd be willing to have you on the blog as well. If you are interested in doing social media outreach, or the YouTube channel or any other myriad of ways that you could participate, please get in touch with me graceful firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to Arline on Facebook. Coming up we have next week I was a teenage fundamentalists. Troy and Brian interviewed me and I interviewed them back in November. My episode on their podcast aired in late November. And I will be releasing my interview of Brian and Troy next show look forward to that. That is a great conversation. I love those guys. They are also a sibling podcast, whether or not they're a part of this podcast network. After that, I have Rachel Hunt of the recovering from Religion Foundation. And man, that's an amazing conversation. Absolutely loved Rachel. I've got a bunch of community members coming up who I will be doing interviews for but the thing I'm super excited about. I will be interviewing Jennifer Michael Hecht, who I have quoted 1000 times from her book doubt. Her new book is called The Wonder paradox. And it is about how poetry can impact our lives. And if you're thinking to yourself, Man, I'm not into poetry. trust me this is it's bigger than that. It is about the all that we experience as human beings from a very secular perspective agenda for Michael Hecht is amazing. Can't wait for that interview and can't wait to share that with you. That'll be in early March. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist join me and be graceful human beings. The beat is called waves by MCI beats that you want to get in touch with me to be a guest on the show. Email me at graceful email@example.com for blog posts, quotes, recommendations and full episode transcripts head over to graceful atheists.com This graceful atheist podcast part of the atheists United studios Podcast Network Transcribed by https://otter.ai