Please welcome the AHA’s new Communications Manager, David Reinbold!
What is your educational and work background?
I have a background in communications, marketing, and journalism and have worked for various nonprofits and media outlets, including the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, The Washington Post, and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Penn State University and then went on to earn a Master of Arts in International Media from American University in Washington, DC.
How did you first learn about humanism?
I began dipping a toe into the concept of humanism as a teenager after challenging my own belief systems. When I was fifteen, I participated in a documentary, Jim in Bold, that told the story of a gay teenager from my hometown, Jim Wheeler, who committed suicide after enduring years of bullying and religious therapy. The documentary tells Jim’s story juxtaposed against more positive stories of queer youth across the United States.
After completion of that project, the fundamentalist Christian group, the Westboro Baptist Church, regularly demonstrated at showings of the documentary. Witnessing this group in close proximity challenged my belief system to the core, and I began decoupling myself from the idea of organized religion shortly thereafter.
Did you grow up in a traditional religious faith? How did it impact you?
I was raised in a Moravian household and we regularly attended services when I was a child. We stopped attending services when I was about ten or eleven years old, and I don’t think that it impacted me beyond equipping me with a basic understanding of Protestant Christianity.
What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?
To me, nothing is more important than ensuring there is a strict firewall between religion and government. Growing up as a queer person, I have experienced how religion can be contorted to deny basic rights to certain groups of people, and when I see the fervor with which some groups seek to codify religion into law, that galvanizes me. I am so proud to join the team at the AHA to help bring awareness to these issues.
What book has influenced you the most?
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by sociologist Erving Goffman will always be one of my favorite books. Goffman was a prolific sociologist in the 20th Century whose writing helped me understand the intricacies of social interaction, including self-presentation theory, why folks behave and interact in certain ways, and the influence that rituals and groups can have on our understanding of human behavior.
If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Erving Goffman, because I would want to pick his brain about his theories. I think we would have such a great conversation around social structures, group theory, and how communications and social interactions have changed drastically since his passing in the early 80s. My second choice would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I would love to have a frank discussion about her time on the Supreme Court and hear her unfiltered views about democracy and law. My final choice would be a comedian to interject a tiny amount of chaos into the dinner to make it more memorable. I can’t decide if Margaret Cho, Nicole Byer, or Michelle Buteau would be more fitting, but one of them would make the night complete.