Meet Brian Magee, the American Humanist Association’s new communications associate! Brian hosted an atheist radio show in Fargo, North Dakota (where he was also a member of the Red River Freethinkers) and worked as a reporter and editor for a local newspaper in Ocean City, Maryland.
HNN: What is your educational and work background?
Brian: Eclectic, to say the least. I have a B.S. degree from the University of Maryland – College Park in Transportation Management. I have also obtained various certificates and certifications through my life, such as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (plus other very specific computer-related stuff), as well as from a bar tending school and a radio broadcasting outfit. In addition, I self-teach things I wish to learn and read all kinds of non-fiction to keep me going.
Starting from when I was in college, I worked various jobs in trucking/warehousing through school. I took a few bartender jobs here and there and then got a job as a radio station news director in Southern Maryland. I also held an editor’s post at a newspaper in Ocean City, Md. before getting into the Information Technology arena. For about 15 years I traveled North America on various projects. I’ve mainly worked with what’s known as public safety (911, police, fire, rescue, etc.), hotels, and retail point of sale systems.
HNN: How did you first learn about humanism?
Brian: I’m not really sure, actually. It was probably close to 20 years ago as I started to read religious critiques here and there.
HNN: Did you grow up in a religious tradition?
Brian: I grew up in the World Wide Church of God, headed by Herbert W. Armstrong. Many people call it a cult, and I would agree. For those who don’t know, his take on things, sometimes called “Armstrongism,” tried to combine tenants from both the Old and New Testaments. In practice we exercised a combination of things common to Judaism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, among others. We left the church when I was 12 years old, right after another of Armstrong’s predictions about the end of the world failed.
HNN: Is there a single moment in your memory that helped you decide, “I’m a humanist”?
Brian: I’ve often looked for that moment, but it’s just not there. It snuck up on me. In general, I did make a conscious decision at one point nearly 15 years ago, I would guess, that all beliefs, no matter if they’re religious or not, are a serious problem. A belief can be held based on nothing but the belief. That can’t be good. I have worked purposely to rid myself of beliefs, starting with my use of language, opting for “think” or “know” instead of “believe.” I see my atheism as a subset of being a general non-believer. It has been tweaked and confirmed many times, but that’s the best memory I have of how it all happened.
HNN: What interested you most about working for the AHA?
Brian: Being able to do something that has meaning and is in line with who I am. I liked many aspects of my other work, but it was all just work.
HNN: What’s your favorite book?
Brian: I don’t have a favorite. I am generally reading 4-5 at any given moment, going back and forth between them. I read non-fiction that interests me. I just want to keep learning stuff–any stuff. The most interesting recent book I read was a 1990 autobiography by Miles Horton, The Long Haul. I buy a lot of used books. The progressive activist was famous during the Civil Right era, starting a school in the South to help train people to fight for their civil rights. It was amazing to re-learn many of the things I had learned before about the attitudes and conditions of the time.
HNN: If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be?
Brian: No fair! Only three? Okay, George Carlin, Anaïs Nin, and Julia Sweeney.