Ecocide and PTSD by Sara Wright

The fierce light of the white star pierced her thick white fur as the mother froze. She was trying to imagine how her cubs could make the jump from one jagged ice flow to another in the cracked deep blue waters.

Just a few months ago she had birthed them on solid well frozen ice – cubs who knew nothing but nurture – feelings of safety, love, rich abundant milk   – trusting their mother implicitly – the solid blue ice that supported them was home. Now her children faced the threat of death by drowning… A mountain of despair flooded the bear’s mind and body. Blind fear slammed through her young. To lose her cubs was more than the mother could bear. All the accumulated bear wisdom – 50 million years of bear knowing – could not help her now. Her children were helpless. Continue reading “Ecocide and PTSD by Sara Wright”

Lessons Learned from the Atheist Alliance of America Convention by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismThe Atheist Alliance of America National Convention 2014 held earlier this month in Seattle, Washington granted me the opportunity to interview, converse with, and listen to renowned speakers, comedians, and influential figures in the atheist movement including the likes of David Fitzgerald, Dr. Steven Pinker, Dr. Rebecca Goldstein, Richard Haynes, and Dr. Richard Carrier.

This year’s convention drew in approximately 100 attendees throughout the weekend, according to Amy Monsky, Executive Director of Atheist Alliance of America (AAA). Monsky states that the AAA National Convention has several primary goals including: to bring atheists together; to hear great speakers; to network and socialize; and to raise awareness through education.

The family-friendly event was comprised of educational and activist-oriented sessions, debate, a comedy show, VIP non-prayer breakfast, film by Jeremiah Camara, “2014 Richard Dawkins Award” banquet, and a Sunday outing to Snoqualmie Falls and Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.

Below is an overview of the sessions I attended, the conversations I had with presenters and experts, and the interviews I conducted. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from the Atheist Alliance of America Convention by Andreea Nica”

Women at the Secular Student Alliance Conference by Kile Jones

KileA few days ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Secular Student Alliance Conference on how non-believing persons can work with Churches.  Amidst the chaos of conferences–managing your time, deciding which talks to attend, and making sure you have enough water (it was a Burning Ring of Fire outside in Tempe, AZ)–I got to meet some pretty incredible secular women.

One of them was Heina Dadabhoy.

Heina speaking at SSA
Heina speaking at SSA.

Former Muslim, blogger at Freethought Blogs, and overall bad-ass, Heina spoke about ways in which secular groups can create a more welcoming environment for ex-Muslims and Muslims beginning to doubt.  Her talk, “Of Murtids and Muslims,” (a “murtid” is a public apostate) was not only about her experiences coming out as a secular humanist, but considered some of the absurd questions people ask her (and other ex-Muslims) about leaving Islam.  “So did your parents try to honor kill you?”  “Have you gone through FGM?”  It was disturbingly humorous.

What I considered to be Heina’s main point, was that we should respect each others’ individual differences and not generalize and caricature all Muslims with the depictions of some.  “Just because you read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book,” Heina notes, “does not make you an expert on Islam.”  Heina made sure to emphasize the radical diversity that exists in Islam.  She also spoke of the some of the issues that people go through when they leave Islam: How do I create a new identity when my old one was intricately tied up in my Muslim community, family, and culture?  How do I navigate popular culture when I have missed a bunch of it?  How do I find myself in this new secular world?  Heina’s answers were refreshingly honest and insightful.

P.S. Aisha (one of Muhammed’s wives) should not simply be reduced to the young person Muhammed married; she was also a war leader, influential Muslim thinker, and someone who contributed greatly to early Islam.  This is, of course, Heina’s insight.

Me and Heina at SSA
Me and Heina at SSA

Another awesome secular woman I met, was Sarah Morehead.

Sarah. Photo from Apostacon.
Sarah. Photo from Apostacon.

Sarah is a former evangelical Southern Baptist, Executive Director of the “Recovering From Religion” project, and another overall bad-ass.  She spoke on how to start up a Recovering From Religion group on your campus.  Here is a blurb about Recovering From Religion,

“If you are one of the many people who have determined that religion no longer has a place in their life, but are still dealing with the after-effects in some way or another, Recovering From Religion (RR) may be just the right spot for you. Many people come to a point that they no longer accept the supernatural explanations for the world around them, or they realize just how much conflict religious belief creates. It can be difficult to leave religion because family and culture put so much pressure on us to stay and pretend to believe the unbelievable. If this is you, we want to help you find your way out. Don’t let people convince you that you just didn’t have ‘enough’ faith, or that you just haven’t found the “right” religion.”

Sarah and I chatted (and often laughed) about our old experiences as conservative Christians.  We discussed some of the funny language (Christian-eze) we used to use, the various levels of guilt and shame that were cast upon us, and how science helps explain some of the interesting displays of piety often seen at Pentecostal services.  Sarah’s jovial and welcoming demeanor was calming, and as an Executive Director for a project aimed at helping people “recover” from religion, I cannot think of a better person for the job.

Lyz.  Photo by SSA.
Lyz. Photo by SSA.

The last woman I have in mind is Lyz Liddell.

Lyz is the Director of Campus Organizing for the Secular Student Alliance.  I have an interview I did with her a while back, on this very blog!  Besides running around with her headset on, standing on chairs for announcements, and generally keeping the world of SSA from not crumbling into oblivion, Lyz is a great motivation and example.  If you are ever interested in starting a SSA group on your campus, talk to her.

To all those who attended this years SSA West, or who are involved with helping secular students: Unite!

Kile Jones holds a Bachelors of Theology (B.Th.) from Faith Seminary, a Masters of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) and a Masters of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) from Boston University, and is a current Ph.D. in Religion student at Claremont Lincoln University.  He also holds a Certificate in Science and Religion from the Boston Theological Institute.  Mr. Jones has been published in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Philosophy Now, Free Inquiry, World Futures, Human Affairs, and the Secular Web.  He is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Claremont Journal of Religion (, and is the Founder/Director of Interview an Atheist at Church Day (

5 Interesting Facts about Religion and Modern Society by Kile Jones


Following up on an older (and my most popular) post, 5 Interesting Facts about Women and Religion, I am going to draw your attention to 5 other telling facts.

1: Women clergy are blowing up in the Anglican Church!

In U.K. Church Statistics, 2005-2015, Dr. Peter Brierly shows that out of 9,615 Anglican ministers, 1,928 are women.  This is a radical spike since 2005.  That is 20.05% of all Anglican ministers.  This is about double compared to lead pastoral roles in U.S. Protestant Churches (see here).  The year of 2010 showed the first time women outnumbered men in Anglican ordination, and it continues to rise up to the present day.  And although they are growing as ministers, they are still blocked from becoming Bishops.  The vote for allowing female bishops at a General Synod in 2012 failed to get the 2/3 support BY 6 VOTES! Continue reading “5 Interesting Facts about Religion and Modern Society by Kile Jones”

Can Secular Immigrant Assimilation Promote Equality? Pt. 2

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismI often wonder how my life would have been different if I had undergone a secular immigrant assimilation process. My former faith within Pentecostalism not only shaped my identity, but augmented my ability to assimilate into the American culture. Subsequently, this led me to explore how nonreligious narratives help immigrants better acculturate to western society. Despite my interests originating in personal exploration, emergent studies within religion and sociology show that there are many factors that come into play when considering social and cultural assimilation.

Following up on my most recent post, Liberations of Immigrant Women in Western Religious Conversion, I will draw on a comparative analysis to consider secular immigrant assimilation processes. Women’s experiences during their migration process contribute to their cultural and social identity formation. Many studies point to the established idea that religion is a key variable in influencing immigrant assimilation, particularly among the Latino community. “Faith plays an important role in their lives: 74 percent of Latinos say religion provides a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’ of guidance for them” (Philanthropy Roundtable). Continue reading “Can Secular Immigrant Assimilation Promote Equality? Pt. 2”

An Interview with Lyz Liddell from the Secular Student Alliance by Kile Jones

KileIn this post I interview Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance.  I first got in contact with Lyz about the idea of building a Humanist Center at my school, Claremont Lincoln University.  She was very helpful and inspiring.  I then had the pleasure of meeting her face-to-face when I gave a presentation on “Atheism and Interfaith” at the Secular Student Alliance’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas.  So once again, I give you an interview with a strong female non-believer:

Lyz Liddell of the SSA
Lyz Liddell of the SSA

Can you give us a little background to how you became interested in secular activism and how you became the Director of Campus Organizing for the Secular Student Alliance?

I first became interested in secular activism via our Executive Director August Brunsman, close to ten years ago.  The editor of our newsletter had recently acquired some fame (that was Hemant Mehta, with the fame from his experience of selling his soul on eBay) and was no longer able to commit to the regular editorial schedule; I was asked to step up, and since I had some editing experience, I took it on.  Up until that point, I had been a “layman,” if you will – secular for sure, but not really an activist.  Through several years of editing that newsletter, I learned what secular student groups were doing, and what was happening in the secular movement at large.  The more I encountered, the more enthusiastic about it I was.  I started going to conferences to get more information and news for the newsletter, and got more involved with the organization’s staff and volunteers and affiliates.  When the campus organizer position opened up in late 2008, I stepped up into that position, and we’ve grown it from there (2 full time staff and some volunteers, a board of mostly college students) to the professional organization we are today (9 full time staff, 4 part-timers, a professionalized board and dozens of dedicated volunteers; we’ve grown from ~100 affiliates in 2008 to over 400 today).

Cultural conditions and Spiritual Subtleties by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaI am very grateful to Carol P. Christ and other contributors for their insightful comments and thoughtful questions to my post “Blindness of the Gals”. As I promised to Carol, here is my post that starts answering some of the issues raised in the comments.

I cannot say that it was giving birth to my daughter that first made me question my blindness to patriarchy in religion and culture. Rather, it was a gradual process of educating myself by reading works by feminist thinkers, and learning about the brave women and men who have been fighting and are still fighting for women’s rights.

Continue reading “Cultural conditions and Spiritual Subtleties by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Grief Beyond Belief and Rebecca Hensler by Kile Jones

Kile Jones, atheistIn my last post, “A Pro-Science, Skeptical Woman Speaks” I interviewed a woman with whom I share many views in common.  One of my goals here at Feminism and Religion is to introduce different secular, atheistic, liberal feminists who share many of the same ethical views as regular contributors and readers, but not the same “religious” or “spiritual” ideas.  In this post I examine an online support network for unbelievers, Grief Beyond Belief, and ask a few questions to its founder, Rebecca Hensler.

I met Rebecca in February in San Francisco while on a visit I made to meet with the Unitarian Universalist Association in regards to my ordination.  My girlfriend and I met Rebecca in North Beach, San Francisco for dinner and drinks.  I experienced her as a compassionate, friendly, and genuine person.  Her experiences and insights inspired me to think more about the role of grief and pain among unbelievers.  I mean, atheists cry, agnostics experience loss, skeptics lose family members, and we do it all without a “God” or “spirit” to help us.  And if we were to meet C.S. Lewis, we would make

sure to exclaim, “No…pain is not some megaphone for God to rouse a deaf world.”

R Hensler

Why did you start Grief Beyond Belief?

The original idea was born of my own grief.  After my son died, I found a group in which to share comfort and compassion with other grieving parents: The Compassionate Friends, a mainstream parental grief support organization with a strong online presence.  It was so close to exactly what I needed, but I frequently felt alienated by the religious and spiritual content — not just the offers of comfort that depended on beliefs I do not hold, but the assumption that everyone there held some sort of belief in life after death. And the assumption, so common in mainstream grief support, that even if I am not the same religion as you are, I have a religion, and I believe in some sort of afterlife was equally alienating and hurtful. Continue reading “Grief Beyond Belief and Rebecca Hensler by Kile Jones”


Taoism is a philosophy that, for me, has been around so long because it is meant to move and change with society…

Acupuncturist, healer and friend, Elisa Fon and I began a discussion of Taoism and feminism in Part 1 of this interview.  Elisa defined her vision of feminism and Taoism, explained Taoism’s relational and yet, individual emphasis on what is particular in each of our experiences and considered the basic relationship of yang and yin.  Part 2 picks up where she and I left off, returning to the discussion of yin, yang and supposed dualisms.

Sara: I was wondering if you could talk a little about the complementarity of yin and yang?

Elisa:  In Taoism any type of imbalance should be adjusted.  So any major abundance or deficiency of yin or yang would be considered unhealthy. Yin and yang are interrelated: without one aspect of this relationship the other couldn’t exist. Day comes and it brings certain dynamic energy with it: the light is transformed to energy for plants.  But night is equally valuable, the nurturing yin, where things fall asleep, heal themselves and prepare to go forward again in the morning.  They are considered mutually interchangeable too.  If you had an over excess of yin at some point it would actually become yang.  It’s a fluid cycle.  Like we see in the yin/yang Taiji symbol, there is yin found within yang and yang within yin at all times. Continue reading “A FEMINIST TAOIST VOICE PART 2: MY DIALOGUE WITH ELISA FON, ACUPUNCTURIST, TAOIST, FEMINIST AND FRIEND by Sara Frykenberg”


“So it all kind of depends… even in men compared to men, and women compared to women, you would have to have a counterpart to judge something as yin or yang—you are never statically just yin or just yang…”

Elisa Fon is a student of acupuncture, graduating this semester from Yo San University in Santa Monica, CA.  She also studies reiki, energy healing, meditation and yoga.  Elisa and I have known each other for most of our lives as friends, as one another’s support and as chosen family.  Over the last few years, however, we have more consciously fostered an intentional aspect of our intimacy: a challenge to each other to live more authentically, to walk counter-abusively and to live towards physical, spiritual and emotional empowerment.  One privilege of this relationship has been the opportunity to create a language together in order to speak across our differences and share our respective passions: feminist theo/alogies (mine) and Chinese medicine/ healing arts (Elisa’s).

Searching for a way to better understand and teach feminist Taoism, I reached out to Elisa for dialogue and language, which gave birth to the following interview about the relationship of one feminist to Taoism, or a Taoist to feminism. Continue reading “A FEMINIST TAOIST VOICE PART 1: MY DIALOGUE WITH ELISA FON, ACUPUNCTURIST, TAOIST, FEMINIST AND FRIEND by Sara Frykenberg”

Feminism and Religion: Where Do Nontheists Fit? By Bridget Ludwa

What is a woman to do when she no longer finds any type of theism relevant to her, but as a human being still needs community, ritual and sense of the sacred that theistic religion inherently provides?  The most vocal representatives of atheists are men, such as the voices of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.  I’m happy to have these voices, because they’re brilliant and well-spoken, but where are the women?  My partner shares the same belief system as I do, but he does not feel the same need for community as I do.  Is it gender?  What ratio of women to men do you observe when you look at who is spending their time and energy making sure your local Catholic Church functions?  In questioning if women are more spiritual than men, Caroline Kline observed that women outnumber men in religious observance.  For the sake of argument, let’s accept for a moment that women are more inclined than men to seek community, ritual and a sense of the sacred.  What is a nontheist woman to do?

I wanted to go through some articles posted on here before diving into this question, maybe I would find a satisfying answer and that would be the end of it.  Carol Christ consistently poses the divine gender question, and admittedly I’ve been very drawn to a feminine manifestation of the divine.  The idea of Mother resonates with me more than Father (a father whom many believe could only “save” humanity via human sacrifice).  Part of my rejection of theism does indeed stem from this issue of gender.  For many who find traditional theistic concepts unnerving, Christ’s reevaluation of the divine is gratifying and empowering.  As empowering as this reevaluation is, however, the concept of any deity, male or female, still did not settle with me.  Continue reading “Feminism and Religion: Where Do Nontheists Fit? By Bridget Ludwa”

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