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Interview with Carol Hope – Organizer & Member, Secular Humanists of Rochester


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/07/15

Carol Hope is an Organizer & Member of the Secular Humanists of Rochester.

Here we talk about her life, work, and views.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let’s start with some background, either family or personal, what are some salient details and stories? How did you become intrigued and involved in secular issues? 

Carol Hope:  I was raised in a family of non-believers, who attended a Universalist Church. My husband was also raised in a family of non-believers, who attended a Unitarian Church. The two churches, both in Rochester, had a joint youth group called Liberal Religious Youth. The two religions officially merged many years ago.

As a teenager, I attended a UU summer camp, and I lived for those two weeks every year. When our sons were young, my husband and I went with them to a Unitarian Church so that they could meet other children whose families shared our values.

That worked well, but, in the long run, we found that even the Unitarian Church was “too churchy” for our tastes. We’ve always been atheists, but I didn’t fully “come out” until about five years ago.  

Jacobsen: How did the Secular Humanists of Rochester start? 

Hope: For the past few years, I’ve been a member of the Atheist Community of Rochester. However, I knew that some non-believers didn’t feel comfortable calling themselves atheists.

For that reason, in December of 2017, I established the Secular Humanists of Rochester as an alternative. I’m pleased to report that it’s proved to be quite popular. It’s actually a “sister” group to the atheist organization, and many of us belong to both groups. 

Jacobsen: What have been important social and political activities of the Secular Humanists of Rochester? 

Hope: We aren’t politically active at all (although we all loathe Trump, of course). Our purely social activities consist of monthly dinners in restaurants.

In addition, we have a joint book group – shared with an atheist group – that meets once-a-month, and we meet monthly for discussions on various topics. We meet in libraries or in the community room of a local bank.  

Jacobsen: What are some new projects for the Secular Humanists of Rochester? 

Hope: We have two community service projects. Once each month, several of us volunteer at a warehouse that gathers and distributes food to hungry people in our community. We also have a highway-clean-up project in which we pick up litter along our assigned stretch of road.

This activity is sponsored by the State of New York, which rewards our efforts with signs that give our group credit for our labour. Our most recent project arose because, unfortunately, one of our suburban towns regularly opens its town board meetings with a prayer or invocation (usually Christian).

I recently gave a secular invocation to open one of their meetings. In addition, I recently gave a presentation on secular humanism to a group of high school students who were attending a day-long event at a local college about different religions. 

Jacobsen: Who is an important person for secular work in Rochester? 

Hope: Me! There are also the two UU churches, the atheist group, and a group

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Carol.


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


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