Happy HumanLight, Say Local Humanists
Group meets today to celebrate alternative to Christmas
No Santa Claus. No baby Jesus.
Nope, not even jingle bells.
Instead, dozens of local non-religious activists will meet today to celebrate HumanLight – an alternative to Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan – at a suburban Philadelphia restaurant.
Humanists follow an ethical philosophy rather than religious tradition. Some of them are atheists featured in what popular media has termed the "War on Christmas."
Lehigh Valley Humanists will join the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia for HumanLight at the Williamson Restaurant, 500 Blair Mill Road, Horsham. The event will feature a laser science show by Wondergy for kids and live music by Cantabile for adults. The keynote speaker will be Paul Kurtz, a philosophy professor and leader of "scientific skepticism."
The event follows a recent local speech on "The Trouble with Christmas" by Tom Flynn, an atheist who argues that Christmas in the United States should be downsized as a national holiday in recognition of the country's increasing diversity.
More than 50 people attended Flynn's Dec.5 talk in Bethlehem.
He promotes the humanist philosophy based on rationalism that credits the human capacity to lead responsible and ethical lives without a belief in a supernatural deity.
Agnostics, Atheists, Unitarians, Humanist Jews and other Liberal denominations embrace humanist ideals – but they don't all boycott Christmas.
Flynn's "Trouble with Christmas" arguments go far beyond his rejection of the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. He says holiday-related troubles include alcohol-fueled celebrations that lead to DUI deaths and a Santa myth that is destructive because it undermines the critical thinking skills and emotional development of children.
Beyond that, children from disadvantaged families may assume they are "naughty" because there are no presents under the tree.
Flynn asked the audience at his recent talk what they did to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. No one replied.
"The future I would like to work towards is the one where Christmas can be ignored with as much of a social ripple as when we ignore Ramadan," he said.
The HumanLight option to traditional holiday observations coincides with winter solstice and celebrates the human capacity to work together towards a happy, just and peaceful world.
Joe Fox, president of the Lehigh Valley Humanists, is a founder of HumanLight and says this is the second biggest event for Humanists. Fox is in the process of moving from the Philadelphia area to Bethlehem and hopes to start a Humanist church in the Lehigh Valley.
Raised Catholic, Fox, like many who come to Humanism, still enjoys the holiday season with family, gift exchanges and celebratory meals. HumanLight maintains the value of family gatherings around the holidays.