David Kelley is a Board Member At Large for Sunday Assembly Seacoast. Here we talk about godless assembling.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was personal and family background regarding culture, geography, language, and religion or lack thereof?
David Kelley: I grew up in a middle class neighborhood near Dayton, Ohio. My mother is an atheist and my father is a Christian. I consider myself fortunate that my father never tried to indoctrinate me. As a result, I grew up in a house without religion. Most of my extended family are Christian but they had no influence on me because I did not live near them.
Jacobsen: What were some of the pivotal moments or educational lessons in being guided to a more godless worldview?
Kelley: I have always been an atheist since religion was not present in my household and I was never interested in religion growing up. My current concerns about religion are based on the realization that religion and other forms of magical thinking cause suffering for many. In particular, I began listening to podcasts in which ex-Christians and ex-Muslims tell their stories. From hearing their struggles, I’ve come to believe that basing our beliefs on rationality gives us our best chance to prosper.
Jacobsen: How did you come to find the godless congregations and community?
Kelley: I first heard about Sunday Assembly from a podcast. I then found the local chapter by searching for Sunday Assembly online.
Jacobsen: When did the Sunday Assembly become an integrated part of communal life for you? How did this simply click more than others, e.g., traditional religious ones or the secular online sphere, for you?
Kelley: After moving to the Seacoast area I became interested in making some social connections. Among other things, I looked into a Unitarian Church since they accept atheists. While I found the Unitarian Church welcoming, it was clear that they embraced magical thinking. I also didn’t find the services to be very engaging since much of the time was spent sitting in the pews listening to people talk at me. By contrast, Sunday Assembly Seacoast is thoroughly reason-based and the services are interactive with a chance to express my opinion on the topic of the month.
Jacobsen: What can regular attendees of Sunday Assembly Seacoast expect on their delightfully godless Sunday congregation time?
Kelley: Sunday Assembly Seacoast shares much in common with church services in that we have a mixture of sing-along music and speakers. Speakers are typically chosen to give insights into what it means to live life well. What makes us a bit special is that our services are designed to be interactive so attendees have a chance to share. We also recognize that not everyone will want to share so we never pressure people to do so.
Jacobsen: What are the approximate demographics of Sunday Assembly Seacoast?
Kelley: Racially our demographics reflect the predominantly Caucasian makeup of our area. By gender we are about 50/50. For religious background, most members were Christian at some point in their lives.
Jacobsen: Who are some allies in building a successful secular and godless community?
Kelley: We are a non-profit organization run by volunteers, so our biggest allies are those volunteers. Without them we would not exist. The owner of Sanctuary Arts, where we have our meetings, is also a great ally for allowing us to use her space.
Jacobsen: How can people become involved in the Sunday Assembly Seacoast community?
Kelley: Sunday Assembly Seacoast has services every second Sunday of the month at Sanctuary Arts in Eliot, Maine. A great way to get involved is to show up and check out what we are doing. We can also be found online on Facebook and Meetup.
Jacobsen: What are some of the more recent updates happening for 2019 for Sunday Assembly Seacoast? What are some real threats to the safety and communal wellness of Sunday Assembly Seacoast if any?
Kelley: We have started to look into ways to grow our community. I’ve found that there are plenty of secular people in the area that haven’t heard of us. If we can correct that, we’ll be in a position to make great contributions to the community. As far a threats are concerned, I don’t believe we have anything to worry about. Our area is reasonably accepting of atheism.
Jacobsen: Any thoughts or feelings based on the interview today?
Kelley: I thank you for your interest in Sunday Assembly Seacoast. I hope more groups like ours form in the near future.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, David.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.