Some Kenyon students are good without God.
Kenyon’s Humanist Association, re-created this semester by co-chairs Emily Smith ’15 and Emily Margolin ’17 with guidance from Professor of Religious and Asian Studies Joseph Adler, aims to promote an open discussion of any and all topics from both a theistic and non-theistic point of view. The co-chairs said the only requirements for joining the group are an open mind and an ability to listen to the ideas of others.
Although Smith feels content at Kenyon, she sought an open dialogue concerning theology with members of the community. “I never really found what I wanted, which was discussion ﾗ open-minded discussion and community ﾗ until I discovered the Humanist Association,” Smith said.
Kenyon hosts various theistic groups geared to a single belief, be it Christianity, Judaism, Unitarianism or Islam. The Humanist Association, however, seeks to afford greater on-campus visibility to students who do not necessarily believe in God.
The term “humanism” has a long and varied use. Groups like the American Humanist Association and the Secular Student Alliance use it to refer to non-theistic worldviews. In other cases, “humanism” can also include religious worldviews.
“You can be a very normal person, from any background, and still identify as a humanist, and it’s not a big scary thing that it sometimes has a reputation for being,” Margolin said.
Smith said the old group fell apart because the co-chairs were too busy with coursework, and also because “discussions became insular, argumentative and alienating.” Nonetheless, the co-chairs are optimistic about the future of humanism at Kenyon.
The Humanist Association meets every other Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. in Ascension 220.