Stacy Sellsted is a Member of the Central Ontario Humanists Association (located in Barrie), formerly known as the Barrie Humanists. Here we talk about Sellsted’s background, life, and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is family and personal background? What are some stories and narratives from life for you? How did this impact views?
Stacy Sellsted: For me, personally, I grew up in the United Church. Even then, it was pretty mild in terms of religion. When I got to a certain age, like when I wasn’t going to Sunday School anymore, my parents were not going to fight me on not wanting to go to church.
I drifted away. I considered myself Christian for many years. I got in a little bit of trouble in high school, nothing too significant, mostly with alcohol. I went intok the military and got into trouble, mostly with alcohol.
I got into 12-step. It was somewhat helpful as I have not had any trouble since. They are spiritual-based in it. They kept me in spirituality. There was a lot of God talk.
It was a left-leaning set of religious ideas. I still considered myself Christian. Over the years, I slowly fizzled out. I wasn’t praying as much. I wasn’t thinking about God as much.
It went into the background. Also during this time, in the military, I was an aircraft technician. I started to work on social work as a degree. I wanted to get into addictions counselling.
Partly going through university and learning from the anthropology courses, it was over the years. I was RINO or religious in name only.
Sellsted: If you asked me what I was, I would tell you that I was Christian, “Sure, I believe in God and Christ,” but if you followed me for a week. You would never see an indication of it.
I never considered myself a bad person. I was good to my fellow man. I donated to charity. If you asked anybody, they would generally have something positive to say about me. I was religious for many years.
I think it was never having a reason to talk about it, challenge it, and so on. It was just sort of there. I got to a point along the way. I started to search a little bit more.
I wanted an ethical philosophy. I talked to someone from the Atheist Experience. She started towards Paganism. She said it was a short time. I don’t know if she was kidding. She said, “Like two weeks.”
Sellsted: It totally related to that. I looked into a Norse Pagan religion for a little while. Because, again, I wanted an ethical philosophy; I would not have used those words at that time.
Christianity wasn’t with me anymore. What finally probably tipped me, I heard about this fringe Christian group who was this fringe group who thought the world was 6,000 years old.
I looked more into it. They wre politically powerful. It got me to read the Bible more. It goes to Dan Dennett saying that he told his daughter to read the Bible and decide for herself.
It was a clincher for me. It didn’t make sense. When I look at the naturalistic world, I thought, “This makes sense.” It is instilled in me now. It is humanism. I was watching foxes jump on a trampoline on the television.
Something about it. When I saw these wild animals having fun and enjoying life, just being silly, to me, there was a connection in my head. When you come from the religious tradition, we have dominion over animals.
They are a lesser creature than humans. I thought, “I can relate to that.” I made this connection with the natural world. I felt more connected to the natural world.
The first thing that I noticed more and more. If I went grocery shopping, I did a story on this for the little humanist group here. I see this person. I say, “You’re the person I saw at the grocery store. You’re the grocery store person.”
I see them. I somehow know them. I see them at work. It is nice. I see a person I saw in Winnipeg. I like these connections I have through the humanist group.
I have found a way to connect with other humans and found how we all belong together and how we’re all part of the same big structure. Again, I was coming through some of it.
When I looked into humanism more, it seemed like the right philosophy to me. It is partly this interconnectedness. But one of the things that I liked about it is the conversation that we can have.
I know I am broad-brushing Christians here. Take the stereotypical Christian here, “Is stealing wrong?” “Yes.” “Why?” “Well, it is in the Bible that it is wrong. It is a sin to steal.”
In humanism, we can explore why. We can both agree; both sides. Not simply because it it is a decree, but we can see how it harms other people. We can understand some of the degrees.
Even if you’re starving, it may be wrong to steal but okay to eat, because it is the only option for you. It is forgivable. It is similar with murder. I am stereotyping Christians. They may say that it is wrong because the Bible says so.
At the end of the day, we come up with it being wrong. But we can actually have the conversation and look into the nuances of it all. That is what I like about it. We can have the discussions.
I don’t know if you have any other questions.
Jacobsen: You just answered all of my questions in one response.
Sellsted: [Laughing] I guess I thought about before.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Stacy, and I hope you have a wonderful evening.
Sellsted: Thank you.
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.
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Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.