Guest Post from the Humanist Action Group

At last year’s conference, Jeff McNair ran into Jim Mullin with the AAIDD Humanist Action Group and invited him to submit a post to share with all of you. Please take a moment to read what Jim has to say and feel free to leave a comment!


At last year’s conference, Jeff McNair ran into Jim Mullin with the AAIDD Humanist Action Group and invited him to submit a post to share with all of you. Please take a moment to read what Jim has to say and feel free to leave a comment!

I founded the Humanist Action Group in 2007. It is the smallest of the AAIDD groups . At an AAIDD annual meeting I meet some members of the Religion and Spirituality Division. We talked about letting my group be part of their division, their suggestion but something I had also thought about in the past. However, at this time, our goals as seen through our newsletters are too different. Group goals seem to drift over time and it is possible that in the future we will be similar enough to combine. We did agree to consider swapping articles for our respective newsletters of which this is the first. I will appreciate constructive criticism at webmaster@aaidd-humanists.org.

Forming a group like this had been in the back of my mind for a while. I work in an institution and, perhaps because there are so many employees, there are many who are open about their religious beliefs. Because of this openness and their efforts to work their beliefs into many activities, I feel real prodding at times to engage in religious activities. I never see any real purpose for these activities and try to avoid them if I can. I sometimes find them very annoying. However, to tell the truth, I have been at the same institution for 30 years and haven’t left early while loudly screaming even once. So this idea about a group always stayed at the back of my mind until one day and an interesting conversation.

I was talking to a Humanist colleague at work, a Social Worker, who told me a disheartening story. A client of hers had died. The client was profoundly intellectually impaired and non-verbal. She had never shown any interest in religion. Her family was non-religious and asked for a simple non-religious memorial service to be held for her at the institution. My colleague thought this would be fine and informed the clinical team. The team was anything but supportive for the most part. She needed a religious ending to her life for her salvation, they proclaimed. It was only after swallowing her pride and falsely arguing that her former client was saved automatically because of her condition did my friend prevail.

It bothers me that we have to argue for a basic level of respect about our lack of religious beliefs. That is something we should get without arguing. My first hope is that this group and website, www.aaidd-humanists.org (www.humidd.org works too), will give a little moral support to someone who feels pushed into religious activities that they wished to avoid. My second hope is that our website will be a quick, easy, and hopefully interesting reference for people who wish to find organizations to help them live a non-religious life. A newsletter will be an enjoyable way of discussing special issues or getting into routine issues in greater depth. I try to suggest ways these issues can be discussed with a person with ID. A final hope is that others will help in this endeavor. I know I am not always right and in many situations, more than one answer can be right. Having other voices in this effort will be a great help.

What do you think?

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