Kelly is the Community Clusers (BBCs) Coordinator of The Brights Net. Here we talk about her life, views, and work.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was early life like for you, e.g., geography, culture, language, religion or lack thereof, education, and family structure and dynamics?
Kelly: I was born and raised in Sacramento, CA., the first child of three. My parents, as adults, immigrated from Greece to the United States. We had a rather traditional Greek home, whereby, the language, foods, art, music, customs, faith, and friends, were predominately Greek.
I’d like to point out that as with many people who immigrate to a foreign land, it is only natural to seek out people, community, interests, etc., which are similar to your own.
It’s a matter of social survival, I suppose. In our case, the Greek community, at that time, was centered around the only Greek Orthodox Church in the area.
This is where we met other Greeks who became part of our “family”. I can’t begin to tell you how many “Aunts and Uncles” I have. Not biological, of course, but through the “extended” family, which came about through the relationships formed in the Greek community.
As a child, I didn’t feel “different” about my family being from Europe, as most of my friends had the same experiences. I suppose the only time I did feel different, was when I was surrounded by people who did not have a “direct” link to their heritage.
Jacobsen: What levels of formal education have been part of life for you? How have you informally self-educated?
Kelly: As for my formal education, even though I was brought up Greek Orthodox, I attended Catholic schools for the majority of my life. I even attended an all girl’s Catholic high school, in Sacramento, considered at the time, to offer a higher standard of education.
(Little did I know, it was an environment which encouraged mind control, submission and intellectual deficiency.) From there, I went on to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
To this day, I have little, if any fondness, of my experiences attending Catholic schools. In particular, I recall the sinister weapon of “control and obedience” – Physical, as well as mental.
Upon reflection, everything was deemed sinful/destructive – Especially, knowledge. As an individual, you were always set up for failure. Even the most innocent and natural of thoughts/ideas, was considered to be shameful and abhorrent.
It would have been bad enough to teach and threaten adults with these preposterous ideas/views, but to do this to children is unforgiveable, in my opinion.
That said, I do, however, consider myself one of the lucky ones. Albeit later in life, I was introduced to the concept of the “naturalistic” worldview. I found this outlook refreshing, as well as inviting.
For once, I was encouraged to be “curious”, something I NEVER experienced in Catholic schools or the Greek Orthodox Church. Suddenly, I could ask questions, read, and learn, without having anyone of self-appointed authority prohibiting me.
Once I learned that living without the supernatural was a viable option, I felt an extraordinary sensation of freedom. I found myself discussing and sharing ideas, with others, topics of immense interest.
This may sound trivial to some, but until that time, I accepted the notion of not questioning certain ideas. In fact, the thing that I have found most difficult to forgive concerning supernatural indoctrination, is that it literally “robbed” me of knowledge and curiosity. I was told “what” to think, rather than “how” to think.
Jacobsen: Like the Brights Community Clusters (BCCs) Coordinator, what tasks and responsibilities come with the position?
Kelly: Brights Community Clusters (BBC’s) are active groups of Brights throughout the world. People who register as “Brights” can meet other Brights in their communities. Last count, I believe there are roughly 130,000 registered Brights.
In fact, one of the most successful BCC’s is the Russian Brights. They have an online community which you can view at the following link: https://brights-russia.org/ Currently, I’ve been more active in the distribution of the evolution poster, “Earth and Life: changes over time”.
Thanks to our extremely generous donors, we are able to send high school science educators (for free), a resource tool, vital to the teaching of evolution and “sound science”. To date, we have sent out several hundred posters to high school instructors across the globe.
Jacobsen: As the Brights emphasize the lack of any supernaturalism in the universe, how does this differ from some more standard non-religious viewpoints?
Kelly: I think there is a great deal of confusion concerning the term Bright. Let me clarify: The term “Bright” is a noun, not an adjective. The actual term, “Bright” comes from the Enlightenment period of history.
In 2003, co.founders Dr. Futrell and Dr. Geisert, decided to begin and promote The Brights’ Net. As a registered Bright, one identifies as an individual who lives their life without “ALL” supernatural – not just god.
Many individuals have confused the term as another way of defining yourself as an atheist. Atheism only describes one’s view about god. Being an atheist says nothing about one’s notions concerning other supernatural: Psychics, astrology, superstitions, numerology, spirits, etc.
I have met several individuals who will openly dismiss the notion of god, only to admit that they believe in other supernatural phenomena/entities. As a Bright, one is identifying themselves to be free of any and all supernatural.
Jacobsen: With a focus on individuals, how does the Brights movement differ from others in terms of the non-supernaturalist movements with individualism?
Kelly: Our focus is not on religion or god. We have no dogma. Individuals are encouraged to act within their own spheres of influence. We intend to work to grow a constituency of Brights able to exercise social and political influence in a constructive fashion.
The Brights movement is not by design, an anti-religious force in society. The overall aim is civic fairness for all, which necessitates there being a place in politics and society for persons who hold a naturalistic outlook.
Jacobsen: Why does naturalism form a foundational basis of the Brights movement? What does this mean in practical terms for the interpretation of events presented to members?
Kelly: The Brights movement offers a different narrative. We aim to have people accept us as “full” participants in civil society.
Unfortunately, in many cultures, when one is identified as a person without supernatural beliefs, they are automatically perceived in a negative light – We want to change that perception.
Jacobsen: What are the community clusters and meetups? What are some examples of the happenings in these provisions for the Brights community?
Kelly: Community clusters and Meetups allow for fellow Brights to meet one another in their communities. Each group meets on their own volition, and they decide what they’d like to do, discuss, etc.
You can find out more by going to our website, www.the-brights.net and click on the “Community” tab. If your area does not have a BCC, you can always start one on your own.
Jacobsen: Who have been the more integral members, writers, and thinkers of the Brights international movement? Can you recommend any books by them?
Kelly: We have several well known Brights, who we refer to as “Enthusiastic Brights”. You can view them on our website under the “People” tab.
Some included are Daniel Dennett, Susan Blackmore, Richard Dawkins and Leo Igwe. Many have written books and are on the speaking/lecture circuit. As for reading material, I highly recommend “The God Delusion”, by Dr. Dawkins.
That particular book changed my life, for the better, might I add! I’m also rather fond of Dr. Dennett’s, “Breaking the Spell”, as it is extremely well done and certainly thought provoking. These individuals are Brights because they registered their approval with the stated aims of the movement.
Jacobsen: How can people become involved through the donation of time, the addition of membership, links to professional and personal networks, giving monetarily, exposure in interviews or writing articles, and so on?
Kelly: Thought you’d never ask. J First and foremost, go to our website, www.the-brights.net and register as a Bright – It’s free. Next, get involved in your community and tell people you are a Bright.
I have found that through discussion and visibility, people become more aware of our constituency and inevitably, this is how we grow. You’d be surprised as to how many people have the same views concerning the supernatural.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts based on the conversation today?
Kelly: I think it’s important for individuals to realize just how vital it is to have a voice in the promotion of a naturalistic worldview. I hope that your readers will visit our website, www.the-brights.net and decide as to whether they identify as a Bright.
As participants in the movement, we strive to be accepted as full participants in society. With openness and visibility, we can strive to change the narrative!
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Kelly.
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.
Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.