Friday, December 28, 2012

Atheist 'Chaplain' Hired at Stanford University

The arrival of atheist John Figdor, a 28-year-old Harvard divinity school graduate, as a part of Stanford's Office of Religious Life, is one in a trend among universities naming "faith-free chaplains," as the growing number of non-religious Americans yearn for a life of meaning, like that of Christian Americans, yet absent God.
"The Rev. Scotty McLennan, Stanford's dean for religious life, [advocated for atheism], largely because Stanford's Memorial Church, the centerpiece of the campus, had been founded on a principle of inclusion."
UPDATE 12/28/14: Stanford Hires Anti-Christian Lesbian Ordained Priest as Dean for Religious Life

For background, read Atheists Crave Church Fellowship, but Absent God and also read Atheists Find Agreeable Churches Good for Family as well as New Massachusetts 'Church' With No God

-- From "Stanford gets a chaplain for atheists" by Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle 12/22/12

Hired in July by the Humanist Community at Stanford, a nonprofit group independent of the university, Figdor is one of 18 "professional leaders" at the Office of Religious Life who typically work with sectarian student groups that pay their salaries. A graduate theological degree is required for the job, and the leader is entitled to office space on campus, a parking spot and a Stanford e-mail address. The leaders guide students in whatever way is needed, whether offering advice or organizing events.

"A lot of people go back to religious organizations when they start having children," whether or not they believe in God, because religion offers community, Figdor said. "What I really want to do is create a vibrant, humanist community here in Silicon Valley, where people can find babysitters for their kids and young people can meet each other."

In the suburbs north of Manhattan, Figdor's parents sent him to Sunday school- not for religion, but to gain a moral center, he said. Today, Figdor says that belief in a supreme being isn't a prerequisite to being a moral person.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Stanford Gets an Atheist ‘Chaplain’" by Wesley J. Smith, posted at National Review Online 12/22/12

The “atheist chaplain” is latest example of the ongoing postmodern assault on the meaning of language. When words and terms mean whatever people want, we lose common frames of reference.

Chaplains have always been associated with explicitly religious services or supporting the faith of those whom chaplains serve through prayer, scripture reading, etc. I mean, that function is inherent in the word’s definition. That doesn’t make it “better,” but it means that the counseling, listening, etc. comes from an explicitly religious core.

It is amusing how the irreligious so often seek to coopt religious terminology. But it can also be subversive because words and their accurate meaning are crucial to our ability to communicate.

To read the entire opinion column above, CLICK HERE.