The Humanist Hour
Summary: A typical episode of the HH podcast features interviews, commentary, news, and music. Notable guests have included Sir Salman Rushdie, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, E.O. Wilson, Alan Dershowitz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Rooney, Greg Graffin of Bad Religion, Holly Near, Dar Williams and Julia Sweeney. The HH podcast is hosted and produced by Bo Bennett, PhD, from the American Humanist Association.
For religious believers who live in communities built around their religions, one of the hardest parts of losing their beliefs or admitting to their nonbelief is losing those communities. Former pastor Mike Aus started Houston Oasis to offer nonbelievers the kind of community he had known in the church but without the dogma. In 2014, Helen Stringer started Kansas City Oasis to meet the same needs, and together, they founded the Oasis Network to make it easier for other local groups to form. The Oasis Network now has eight locations, with more on the way. On this week's show, Peggy Knudtson talks with Mike and Helen about the impetus for the network and what people can expect to find at an Oasis. They also talk about what it takes to keep a group like Oasis running and what help people who want to start their own can expect from the network.
Any year in which we have the first female major party presumptive nominee for president is going to be a busy one in feminist politics. Beyond Hillary Clinton, however, there's still plenty going on in current political discourse that's of interest to feminists. From the misogyny of Donald Trump to the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion, we have a lot to talk about. To cover these topics—as well as Clinton's rise to nominee—Stephanie Zvan talks this week with Amanda Marcotte, a political writer for Salon with more than a decade of experience covering these kinds of topics. Listen and catch up on the presidential campaigns, online discourse, and the state of abortion rights. (Marcotte photo by Brian Engler)
This year, the American Humanist Association's Appignani Humanist Legal Center celebrates a decade of service. The center provides legal assistance to defend the constitutional rights of religious and secular minorities by directly challenging clear violations of the Establishment Clause and seeking equal rights for humanists, atheists and other freethinkers. Through a combination of staff and pro bono attorneys, the center engages in amicus activity, litigation, and other legal advocacy. This May, at the American Humanist Association's annual conference, David Niose, legal director for the center, and Monica Miller, senior counsel, spoke about the center. They talked about its victories and challenges, and the cases in front of it today. Their discussion is presented here for those interested in the mission of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. It has been modified slightly for this format, and the question and answer period has been truncated. To hear the full Q&A, please watch the panel video on the American Humanist Association's YouTube channel.
In spring of 2012, the secular movement was a different place for women. We were grossly underrepresented on stage, in print, and in the membership of our organizations. In a movement that prides itself on asking questions, the people asking why this under-representation was happening were being shouted down. The Center for Inquiry's (CFI) Women in Secularism conference in Washington, D.C. was created to address these problems. The brain child of Melody Hensley, the conference featured a weekend of only women speakers, and it changed the movement. This week, Stephanie Zvan talks to Debbie Goddard, Director of Outreach at CFI and Director of African Americans for Humanism, about the history of the conference and what people can look forward to this year. Debbie is organizing the fourth Women in Secularism conference, taking place September 23–25, 2016. Stephanie also talks with Monette Richards, president of CFI Northeast Ohio and co-president of Secular Woman, an organization that was born at the first Women in Secularism conference. We'll catch up on what it's been up to, as well as its hopes and plans for the future.
"So you're an atheist. Now what? The way we deal with life—with love and sex, pleasure and death, reality and making stuff up—can change dramatically when we stop believing in gods, souls, and afterlives. When we leave religion—or if we never had it in the first place—where do we go? With her unique blend of compassion and humor, thoughtfulness and snark, Greta Christina most emphatically does not propose a single path to a good atheist life. She offers questions to think about, ideas that may be useful, and encouragement to choose your own way. She addresses complex issues in an accessible, down-to-earth style, including: Why we're here, Sexual transcendence, How humanism helps with depression—except when it doesn’t, Stealing stuff from religion, and much more. Aimed at new and not-so-new atheists, questioning and curious believers, Christina shines a warm, fresh light on the only life we have." That's the publisher's blurb for Greta Christina's new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. This book is a distillation of more than a decade of thinking and writing about atheism. Greta joins us on this week's show to talk with Peggy Knudtson and Jenn Wilson about how the book came to be and why she's been wanting to write this particular one for so long.
Just before the American Humanist Association's 75th Anniversary Conference a couple of weeks ago, the organization announced that it was launching a new Black Humanist Alliance and the revamped and revitalized Feminist Humanist Alliance and LGBTQ Humanist Alliance. Stephanie Zvan caught up with several alliance advisory council members at and after the conference. In this show, we bring you the first of those interviews. Andy Semler is a trans nonbinary activist working in rural Indiana. They are a new member of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance with a special interest in homelessness in the trans community. Heina Dadabhoy is a nonbinary writer and speaker who is new to organizational secular activism. They are part of the Feminist Humanist Alliance, looking forward to broadening our ideas on reproductive justice. Diane Burkholder is an HIV and Black Lives Matter activist out of Kansas City. She's one of the new co-chairs of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance, working to get us looking past marriage equality.
Art has the potential to reach people in ways no simple argument can. As such, it's always been harnessed for activist pursuits. From design that adds impact to a message, to providing the sugar coating on an educational pill, to telling us stories we need to hear – activism needs art. Humanist activism is no exception. On this week's show, we talk to two artists whose art exists for far more than art's sake. Stephanie Zvan talks to Josiah Mannion about his photography and his motto, "I take pictures of humans. This is my Humanism." Later, Kim Ellington talks with Baba Brinkman about his album "The Rap Guide to Religion" and about having his work peer-reviewed by scientists. (Photo of Josiah courtesy of Lindsey Ford)
Of all the recent "religious freedom" legislation passed around the country, perhaps none is so restrictive as North Carolina's "Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies and to Create Statewide Consistency in Regulation of Employment and Public Accommodations". The short version of the bill's name is the "Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act," but it quickly became infamous as HB2. Passed as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance enacted by the city of Charlotte, HB2 removed the protections under that law and others like it, attempted to redefine "sex" under the law, and barred transgender people from using restrooms on state property that conform to their gender. The legal and economic consequences to North Carolina were swift, but so far, neither the legislature nor the governor shows any willingness to overturn the bill. On this week's show, Jenn Wilson and Peggy Knudtson talk to Chris Brook, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, about the ACLU's suit against the state. Peggy Knudtson and Stephanie Zvan also speak with Danielle White, a transgender activist engaging in civil disobedience against HB2.
David Cobb is a lawyer and co-founder of Move to Amend, a coalition dedicated to winning a constitutional amendment to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights. He has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for political office himself, and been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He believes we must use every tool available to effect the systemic social change we so desperately need. In 2002, David ran for Attorney General of Texas, pledging to use the office to revoke the charters of corporations that repeatedly violate health, safety, and environmental laws. In 2004, he ran for President of the United States on the Green Party ticket and successfully campaigned for the Ohio recount. At the AHA’s 2015 Annual Conference in Denver, David discussed the legal doctrine of "corporate constitutional rights" and the idea that money should be treated as speech. He contended that these illegitimate, irrational, court-created concepts have allowed a small ruling elite to hijack the social, political, and economic institutions of this country. He described the growing efforts of Move to Amend, a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, intergenerational mass movement demanding a constitutional amendment to abolish these doctrines. David also made the case that humanists are uniquely positioned to attack and discredit these concepts. He provided concrete ways members of the AHA might get involved as individuals or through their existing local chapters. In this week's show, we bring you the audio from David's speech to introduce him and his ideas to a broader audience.
This year is a special one for the American Humanist Association – it marks 75 years since our founding. To celebrate, our annual conference returns to the AHA's original home of Chicago this May 26–29 with lots to do for everyone. In addition to being AHA's Director of Development and Communications, Maggie Ardiente also organizes AHA's annual conference. She took time this week out of her busy schedule to talk to us about the history of the conference, what attendees can expect, how to make the most of your conference experience, and the kinds of political considerations that go into creating a conference like this.
"We show up so you don't have to." That's the tagline for the Oh No, Ross and Carrie podcast. If you've ever wanted to get out and experience all the world's weirdness for yourself, this podcast might not be for you. If, however, you've been dying to have other people put themselves through that and then tell you about it, you're in the right place. Skeptics Ross Blocher and Carrie Poppy are ready to experience it all (or almost all) for you and share all the best stories afterward. On this week's Humanist Hour, Carrie and Ross join us to talk about how they got started, the roles compassion and honesty play in their skepticism, and a few of their favorite episodes. They also tell us just what they are and aren't willing to do for an episode.
Gene Roddenberry was openly humanist, and his best-known creation, Star Trek, reflects his views in many ways. Our guests this week talk about how Star Trek informed their humanism and how they use the show to educate others about humanism. Susan Sackett became Roddenberry's executive assistant in the mid-1970s and a humanist shortly thereafter. She contributed story ideas for two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and worked with Roddenberry until his death. She joins us to talk about her career with Roddenberry, working with some of the Star Trek original series actors, and her career in humanism after Roddenberry's death. Sackett also serves on the AHA Board of Directors. Scott Lohman is the former president of the Humanists of Minnesota and a self-professed “serious geek.” He runs Diversicon, a science fiction convention in Minnesota, and gives presentations on humanist principles using examples from Star Trek. He joins us to talk about teaching Star Trek to children at Camp Quest.
Over the past year or so, the American Humanist Association has been making changes to reflect its commitment to social justice. These changes can be found in the pages of The Humanist magazine and the words of its leaders. Change can also be found more recently in the announcement that Sincere Kirabo would be stepping into the role of the AHA's social justice coordinator. This week, we welcome Sincere back to the show. He speaks with Peggy Knudtson and Jenn Wilson about his new role, what social justice and intersectionality mean, and the ways that social media can be used to further the cause of social justice.
On this week's show, Stephanie Zvan interviews Dr. Bethany "SciCurious" Brookshire about effective strategies for convincing people of scientific truths, the common mistakes we make when we set out to teach people about science. Brookshire recently co-edited Science Blogging: The Essential Guide. For nearly a decade, former neuroscientist Dr. Bethany Brookshire has been writing about science for online audiences. Best known to science-blogging fans as "SciCurious," Dr. Brookshire writes about – among other topics – neurotransmitters (the chemicals that make our brains run), evaluating scientific results in context, rats in tiny pants, and duck penises. You can't forget the duck penises.
In this week's show, Stephanie Zvan introduces interviewer Peggy Knudtson, and Peggy and Jenn Wilson talk to Justin Scott about his work to get politicians on record on the separation of church and state. As an Iowan, activist, and atheist, Justin Scott has had a unique opportunity to represent nontheists in the political process. The timing of the Iowa caucuses means that 2016 presidential candidates spend a lot of time answering questions from average citizens, and Scott has used this opportunity to press the candidates on church-state separation and issues of religious privilege. His YouTube videos of the candidate's answers have propelled the debate over religion in the public sphere into the headlines.