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Ask Rob 7 – Sunlight from the Cycles, or, How to Rebuild Communities with a Hammer


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/10/18

Rob Boston is the Editor of Church & State (Americans United for Separation of Church and State). Here we talk about passing the baton.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: As times move forward from the origins of the modern secular communities and movements, the founders and the lights continue to leave us, as the ineluctable dark decrees.

With the passing of values to new generations and of batons to new leadership, how can smaller communities of the secular honour the dead, properly pass values, and elect the most appropriate skills and talents and temperaments to leadership?

Rob Boston: I’ve been involved with a humanist group in the Washington, D.C., area since the late 1980s. The group has been around long enough that many of its founders have died.

We honoured them with secular memorial services and by sharing stories and memories of their good deeds, kindness and vision. Speakers told stories of how these leaders affected their lives and built our secular community.

The founders of our group were smart enough to realize that they wouldn’t be around forever, and they groomed new leaders to take their place. The baton has been passed.

But even as they honour the contribution of founders, new leaders of humanist groups must look honestly at what they can do better. Humanism in the 1980s was largely white, male and aged. New leaders need to work to forge a humanism that looks more like America – or humanism will not survive.

Today’s leaders need to create a welcoming space for everyone and embrace the rich diversity that is increasingly the hallmark of our society. I also believe that a commitment to social justice is essential.

Humanists must oppose racial discrimination, sex discrimination, LGBTQ discrimination and other forms of discrimination. To ignore these issues is to court irrelevance.

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


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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