By the Numbers—Nonbelievers in the U.S.

Dr. Judith Banister

November 12, 2017

What is the situation today regarding religious believers and nonbelievers in this country? For some people, the religious landscape is changing frightfully fast. But for many of us, progress toward Humanism and Atheism seems glacial.

The best source of reliable current data and insights on nonbelievers and believers in the U.S. is the surveys designed and carried out by the Pew Research Center. For decades, this unbiased research group has conducted large in-depth surveys to get at respondents’ actual religious or nonreligious beliefs, practices, and affiliations. Let us use Pew Research results to assess not only what recent trends have been, but also where we stand today as a nation.

Dr. Judith Banister is a local Ph.D.-level demographer (population specialist) and statistician. Raised Protestant, Judy became a strong Atheist and Humanist at age 18 when she took an eye-opening college course on the History of Religions. Judy will report and analyze for us the Pew Research Center’s surveys and resulting reports from the most recent decade. Then we will explore together what this reality means for us Humanists and how this knowledge can help guide us going forward.

Click here to see the slides that the speaker showed during her talk.

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Concentration Meditation

Beverly Kam

November 5, 2017

Meditation is an ancient art and science. Meditation teachers from years ago knew the benefits of meditation. Their students also knew or heard of the benefits and sought out the teachers. In our current day and age, with the use of technology, we can actually see for ourselves how practicing meditation is beneficial on many levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Come and hear a presentation on Concentration Meditation as well as have an opportunity to try it from the comfort of your own seat.

Beverly Kam is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 20 years of experience in the field of psychotherapy. She is also a certified meditation teacher. She is seeing more clients in her practice who are seeking the tool and technique of meditation as a modality to deal with workplace, relationship, and stress issues.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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The Kurdish Bike: Life in a Village in Kurdish Iraq

Alesa Lightbourne

October 22, 2017

“Courageous teachers wanted to help rebuild war-torn nation.” Alesa Lightbourne responded to an online ad, and ended up spending six months teaching in Kurdish Iraq in 2010. She spent every weekend in a local village, where she learned first-hand about honor killings, female genital mutilation, and age-old traditions that limit the lives of Kurdish women. Her recently published book, The Kurdish Bike, won the Gold Medal for Best Regional Fiction from the Independent Publishers Book Awards, an international prize. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__fw6OTpPBE for a short video about the book.)

The author shows slides of the real people featured in her novel, explains the political ambitions of Kurds, and shares the plight of village women today. She also shares village clothes in an engaging fashion show at the end, and signs copies of her book. The book is available on Amazon (paperback and e-book), through Barnes & Noble online, in many local independent book stores, and in libraries. (You may have to request it.)

Alesa has lived and taught in six countries in the Caribbean, Middle East and Asia, and was the dean of a university in Singapore. She holds a Ph.D. in communications, an MFA in creative writing, and a BA in cultural anthropology. She currently resides in Santa Cruz.

Humanist Community Forum (2017-10-22): The Kurdish Bike: Life in a Village in Kurdish Iraq (Alesa Lightbourne) from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.


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Humanist Heaven

Jim Barnett

October 15, 2017

For humanists, what would heaven look like? Clearly it would be here on earth and its inhabitants would use their reason, science and compassion to bring it about. Everyone would be equal and all their basic needs provided and they would live lives of meaning and fulfillment. It would be a happy place. Does Humanist Heaven exist here and now, anywhere? Well no, but there are countries that approach these ideals. Arguably the Scandinavian countries are about as close as it gets to Humanist Heaven… at least now.

Jim Barnett will describe Scandinavian Social Democracy, what are its defining characteristics and its historical development. Will these countries be able to weather the challenges of the modern world such as immigration and globalization and can the United States become more like a Social Democracy?

Jim Barnett is the organizer of the Bay Area Humanists Meetup group (see https://www.meetup.com/sfhumanists/).

Humanist Community Forum (2017-10-15): Humanist Heaven (Jim Barnett) from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.


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Pluralism in the Muslim Community

Maha ElGenaidi

October 8, 2017

Maha ElGenaidi, President and CEO of Islamic Networks Group (ING), will present the basic beliefs and practice of Muslims, and give a brief overview of their history and of notable Muslims today. She will address common misconceptions about Islam relating to extremism and women’s rights as well as Islam’s perspectives on pluralism and other faiths, including Judaism and Christianity.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, ING is a national educational outreach organization with affiliates and partners in 20 states, Canada and the United Kingdom. ING promotes interfaith dialogue and education about world religions and their contributions to civilization by annually delivering thousands of presentations and other educational programs in schools, universities, law enforcement agencies, corporations, healthcare facilities, and community centers. Reaching hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of individuals a year at the local, grassroots level, ING is building bridges among people of all faiths.

Ms. ElGenaidi, who has an MA in religious studies from Stanford University, has presented to hundreds of schools, churches, synagogues, police departments, corporations and other public agencies and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. She is the author of seven training handbooks on outreach for American Muslims as well as eight training modules for public institutions on “developing cultural competency with the American Muslim community”. Currently active with many state and federal governmental agencies, Ms. ElGenaidi was a commissioner on Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante’s Commission for One California and the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission. She also serves as an advisor to California’s Commission on Police Officers Standards and Training for cultural diversity and hate crimes. She is a recipient of numerous civil rights awards, including the “Citizen of the Year” Award from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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