Meet Emma Bates, the American Humanist Association’s new Director of Outreach! Emma is a Los Angeles-based actress, having appeared in Crossing Jordan, Without a Trace, CSI:NY, and more. She will appear in an upcoming modern adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by humanist Joss Whedon.
HNN: How did you first learn about humanism?
Emma Bates: I started to read all of Richard Dawkins’ books. Then moved on to Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Then found PZ Meyer’s blog. I think I really learned about critical thinking from these people in a much deeper and specific way than I ever had prior to that.
HNN: Did you grow up in a religious tradition? What was that like?
Emma Bates: I grew up in a culturally Christian family in Lynchburg, Virginia, which is Jerry Falwell territory. Christianity was a blanket over everything. I never really understood the culture wars until much later though, or why they matter.
HNN: What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?
Emma Bates: Marriage equality was probably the single biggest factor in making me want to play an active role in this movement. I started to realize that the way people rationalize their belief system actually effects how policy is shaped. The injustice of watching friends of mine have their civil liberties stripped propelled me into action.
HNN: Have you read any good books lately? What’s your favorite book?
Emma Bates: Yes! I really enjoyed The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. Sean Carroll’s new book The Particle At the End of The Universe is next on my reading list. Picking a favorite is hard, but The Count of Monte Cristo is probably right up there with A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius.
HNN: If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be?
Emma Bates: These are all people I have had dinner and/or conversations with before, and that is why I would choose to again: Christopher Hitchens, my husband, Josh, and Gloria Steinem.