AHA Field Coordinator Sadie Rothman interviews Jennifer Lovejoy, founder and president of the WNC Humanists in Asheville, North Carolina.
HNN: Where is your group located?
Lovejoy: WNC Humanists represent the area west of Gastonia and all the way to the Tennessee border. The majority of our activities and meetings are held centrally in Asheville, North Carolina.
HNN: Why did you decide to start the group? How did you decide to become a chapter?
Lovejoy: WNC Atheists had been a group for a decade. As amazing as this group is, the majority of the members did not want to instate a board or become an affiliate or chapter of a national organization. In addition, we had people that would only come to one meeting or would email asking about other non-theistic groups in the area, people who weren’t comfortable identifying as an “atheist” but wanted something more than the area had to offer.
After more than 6 years as a member of WNCA and 4 years of being their unofficial spokesperson I felt this area needed more. I was instantly attracted to the American Humanist Association. Although I identify as an atheist and have made it my life’s mission to take the negativity out of the word atheist, I love the title “humanist.” Being good without god really defines how I see myself and how I have raised my kids.
I decided my area needed a humanist group and so I recruited others in my area that had a similar vision and goal as myself. Together we made it happen. We went from nothing to a Chapter of the AHA in 6 weeks. Since doing so this past summer we have grown rapidly. We intentionally used the group name WNC Humanists and refer ourselves as the sister group of WNC Atheists to provide additional cohesion. I believe we have the best of both worlds. Those who want to be a part of an unofficial group can do so, those who refer to themselves as agnostic finally have a home, and some of us can have it all. Together we can have a serious impact in our area. And by the way, currently WNCH attendance outnumbers all other non-theist groups in the area. 🙂
HNN: What are some activities you do?
Lovejoy: The WNC Humanist organization has a charitable group, “Operation Humanity.” I’m really proud of this sub-group and the logo. The name and logo were created by the younger people within. Quite a few members of WNCH are/were military, married to, or children of. The name fits us. Besides, how can you not get on board with “Operation Humanity”? We have even attracted Christians who like our motto of giving without god. I’ve gotten a little flak about our obvious clip-art logo but the kids designed it on my computer. There is the humanist, whose parachute is rainbow colored (not specifically the LBGTQ rainbow but still a rainbow for all), whose head is the world (because humanists are concerned with the happenings of our world) dropping down to help mankind. The kids put a lot of thought into the logo and I believe it is the perfect representation of who we are and what we want to achieve.
Operation Humanity has a Relay for Life team, a Light the Night team, a Walk for Wishes team, and has a scholarship fund for Camp Quest. We are always looking for ways to give back to our community. We have been participating with the WNCA street clean up and soon WNCH will have their own road.
We have a youth group, “Generation Next.” With the support of the other non-theistic groups in the area Generation Next will be making a big splash on our county’s new “Freedom of Religion” day at the schools this January. We plan to give away t-shirts, bracelets, pamphlets, and anything else we can.
HNN: Any exciting events or speakers coming up?
Lovejoy: This fall our guest speakers have included Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club; Herb Silverman, political hopeful and author of Candidate without a Prayer; and David Niose, president of the AHA and author of Nonbeliever Nation.
Author of A Press Conference with God Jeffrey Hutchins, and atheist City Councilman Cecil Bothwell, and author of several books are members of WNCH and have happily given their time and words at functions.
We are currently on a holiday break from guest speakers but coming February we have Brother Sam Singleton, atheist evangelist and Luis Granados, author of Damned Good Company scheduled. Many more guest speakers coming this spring.
In addition to our charitable work and guest speakers we like to have fun. Sunday brunches, movie nights, and pub crawls to name a few. We had a costume party for Halloween and this past weekend a Holiday Open House.
To learn more about the WNC Humanists, visit www.wnchumanists.org. Interested in starting your own humanist chapter, or affiliating your humanist or atheist group with the American Humanist Association? Visit www.americanhumanist.org and click on “Get Local.”