The Center for Freethought Equality (CFE), the 501(c)(4) lobbying organization of the American Humanist Association, is pleased to introduce its new PAC Coordinator, Ron Millar.
What is your educational and work background?
I’ve spent over thirty years in Washington, DC, working and volunteering for nonprofit organizations. I’ve worked to promote science education at the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and I have sometimes been employed, but mainly volunteered, to advance political issues such as DC statehood, enacting toxic waste right-to-know legislation, advocating for the homeless and affordable housing, promoting democratic socialism, demanding LGBTQ rights, advancing affirmative action programs, defending reproductive choice, and increasing the visibility of atheists and humanists. I have a BA in political science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in public policy and administration from Virginia Tech.
How did you first learn about humanism?
I don’t actually remember. I imagine I was first introduced to secular humanism as a slur used by evangelicals and therefore was positively inclined towards it.
Did you grow up in a traditional religious faith? How did it impact you?
I was raised in a fundamentalist congregation, Church of God. Because of the clear difference between reality and dogma, I was able to make a fairly early and complete break with religion. However, in my teens I played with Zen Buddhism and transcendental meditation. I’ve enjoyed my journey away from religion and meeting interesting characters, both real and mythical, from the various camps.
What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?
I’ve known of the good work of AHA for over ten years. I joined the staff of the Secular Coalition for America in 2005 when AHA kindly housed the SCA in its basement. When asked to join the staff of AHA’s Center for Freethought Equality, I quickly accepted because electing humanists and atheists to public office will change our nation (for the better, obviously).
What book has influenced you the most?
The Rebel by Albert Camus. I read it either late in high school or early in college, and it helped temper my impatience with the speed of social change and reassured me that it was okay to attempt to create communal meaning in a meaningless world. However, Camus was quick to warn me that I should not be too eager to create meaning because of the dangerous and destructive impulse to sacrifice yourself and others for the cause. The work of other authors like Kurt Vonnegut, Heinrich Böll, and Ignazio Silone were also helpful in this regard.
If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Albert Camus, Paul Robeson, and Emma Goldman. I’d like to dine with Albert—we’e on a first name basis—to thank him for his work and to hear him rant about the shortcomings of Sartre. Paul and Emma are dear to me because they were far ahead of their time on civil rights, social justice, and generally on challenging authority. A nice dinner with cocktails (perhaps even dancing) today might help alleviate the depression at the end of their lives to let them know that some progress, although not nearly enough, has been made on issues important to them.