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December 2008 NewsLetter

Humanists of West Suburban Chicagoland December 2008 NewsLetter [edited and published by Beth Staas]


December 10, 2008, 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Bob Bhaerman, director,

Kochhar Humanist Education Curriculum Center

Topic:  Promotion of Humanism through Education


As American Humanism has expanded and developed, members have expressed interest in creating youth programs, despite the limitation of resources.  Enter the Kochhar Humanist Education Center.  This arm of the American Humanist Association is designed to fulfill that need, drawing on the expertise of both existing and start-up youth programs to create a curriculum for humanist youth adding to its excellent adult program that includes church-state separation, rationally constructing morals, and fighting discrimination.  Just getting off the ground, the youth curriculum is now available to local chapters of the AHA.  Bob Bhaerman will be talking about how such a program can enhance and support parental teaching.  As we all know, it takes a village to raise a child.


Bob Bhaerman is the education coordinator for the Kochhar Humanist Education Center. He is a former elementary school teacher, college instructor and associate dean of research. >From 1998 to 2004, he served as coordinator of Learn and Serve America at the Corporation for National and Community Service and has developed four manuals relating to education.  He received his PhD in education from Rutgers University.





The buses driving along London streets carry a banner proclaiming, THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE.”  It’s a project promoted by a member organization of the British Humanist Association which initially set out to raise 5,000 dollars to run the ad outside of 30 buses for four weeks but quickly collected more than seven times as much.

Not to be outdone, a new ad from the American Humanist Association will take its holiday version, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake,” to Washington DC metro buses.  Already appearing in the New York Times and Washington Post, the ads will be both outside and inside the buses.  “Humanists have always understood that you don't need a god to be good,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA. “Morality doesn't come from [any supernatural source]*.  It’s a set of values embraced by individuals and society.”    *  jfs

“We expect these bus signs to generate a lot of public interest,” says Fred Edwords, director of communications for the AHA.  “Some folks may be offended but that isn’t our purpose. We just want to reach those open to this message but unaware how widespread their views are.”  If you care to contribute, call 1-800 837-3792 or click on


Well, here comes Christmas again, a holiday that forces humanists to struggle with ambivalent feelings of joy and unease, of sentiment versus intellectual honesty, of quasi-religious songs and improbable history.  Like us, many Jews solved the dilemma by celebrating their own winter holiday of Hanukah, and the black community celebrating Kwanzaa as more appropriate.  Humanists are now finding their own voice via HumanLight, a holiday that’s not about a heroic figure, but about all of us.

An article in Human Living (winter 2005) by Joseph Fox, describes the concept, pointing out that we need to celebrate the ideals and sentiments that can change the world for the better.  This celebration can be an opportunity to talk to children about Humanist ideals, to show them that there is a large and growing community of people who identify with all human beings and place their deepest trust in reason, evidence, and a scientific world view.  It provides an opportunity to talk to relatives and friends in a non-threatening, positive atmosphere. Then, “Happy Holidays!” can be said sincerely.  This year HumanLight falls on December 23rd.  It’s a celebration that’s our own but totally inclusive.

And by the way, if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, consider the AHA for cards, lapel pins, candles and other interesting gifts with a humanist perspective.  Go to then type HumanLight in the search box.


This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history.

--President-elect Obama, in his speech on race, March 2008
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