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Interview with Humanists of Linn County


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/03/30

Here we talk with the Humanists of Linn County.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: For the humanists in Linn County, why was the organization originally founded? 

Humanists of Linn County:  Although there were other secular social groups (i.e. atheist, agnostic), there wasn’t a secular/non-religious community that was focused on doing positive good in our community and promoting the tenants of humanism.

Jacobsen: Who were integral to its formation in the first place?

Humanists of Linn County: There were several charter members. The key person that lifted the organization off the ground was Roxanne Gissler.

Jacobsen: How has the organization developed over time?

Humanists of Linn County: We formed a 501c3, developed by-laws, created a Meetup and Facebook page. We met every weekend at a local coffee shop where we provided members and guests with updatesto our groups activities and also discussed religion, politics, etc.

Jacobsen: What are some of the more prominent and enjoyed social and communal activities of the Humanists of Linn County?

Humanists of Linn County: We enjoy the weekend coffees. We also host “Skeptics in the Pub” on a monthly basis which attracts a different demographic of people.

We also organize road-side cleanups and other volunteer activities throughout the year. We also completed our second celebration of Carl Sagan’s birthday party at our local planetarium.

Jacobsen: What are the demographics of the Humanists of Linn County? Does this, in any way, affect the provisions of the organizations?

Humanists of Linn County: The demographics of our group skews older. Although we do have an affiliate group, Freethinking Families of Linn County, that has catered to families the last couple years.

That said, we are beginning to discuss ways to better accommodate families with children as this, I believe, is the key to the growth of our community.

Jacobsen: In terms of the important activism of the Linn County humanist community in the past and right into the present, what have they been?

Humanists of Linn County: We have participated in Reason on the Hill at our state capital where we have given a secular invocation at the opening of the House and Senate legislative sessions.

We have promoted humanism at various local venues as well as partnering with our local Inter-Religious Council on many social justice issues. We also do an annual Science in Schools fundraiser where we raise money for a local middle school science or math department.

This has caught the attention of local news organization and has given us positive publicity.   

Jacobsen: What have been the real successes and honest failures?

Humanists of Linn County: Each year we host an Annual Symposium on a particular topic. Our last symposium was on Parenting Beyond Belief. We held it at our local nature center and found it to be well-attended and a real success.

As far as failures, we have had difficulty growing the organization due primarily to limited options for a meeting space and also making it somewhat difficult for potential members to get information about our group. That has been solved with the recent launch of our new website.   

Jacobsen: How can others build on those successes and learn from those failures?

Humanists of Linn County: Recognize the importance of making it easy for people to connect with your organization and more importantly understand what humanism is and why they should care.

Jacobsen: How can other become involved in the organization with donations, volunteering, membership, or alliance building with their own organization based on common causes and concerns?

Humanists of Linn County: They can visit our website at

Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

Humanists of Linn County: I think with a growing secular demographic in our country people our looking for a sense of purpose, a moral foundation, and feeling of community outside of organized religion. I believe secular humanism can provide all three.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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