Brief Considerations for Meetup Leaders
Are you interested in welcoming Brights to your atheist/humanist/freethought Meetups? If you are, here is a bit of background that may be helpful in producing the most “Brights-friendly” of gatherings. Still, keep in mind that it’s not possible to generalize very far about Brights.
As you may already know, any person who has a naturalistic worldview (free of supernatural and mystical elements) fits the explicit definition of a bright. To date, over 50,000 such brights have registered as Brights (upper case) into The Brights’ Network, an international internet constituency with participants in over 180 nations and a communications hub in Sacramento, California, USA.
Brights themselves may individually employ any of various self-descriptive labels or perhaps shun labels. While many who self-identify as Brights will describe themselves as atheist (or agnostic) with respect to god-belief, there are Brights who keep at least a cultural connection to a familiar religion.
In Meetups that are customarily oriented toward freethought realms, there is a tendency to concentrate rather heavily, if not exclusively, on atheistic vs. theistic beliefs and on church/state separation matters. But it should be noted that a naturalistic worldview, as a type of outlook, is absent all forms of supernaturalism, not just deity-belief. Thus, the general interests and concerns of many Brights may be broader than is typical in Meetups oriented to aspects of religion or societal deity-belief. Many Brights have equal or greater interest in such concerns as youth education, science and pseudoscience, critical thinking and skepticism, and civics/pluralism.
The Brights’ Net organization maintains a civic justice focus, with intent on illuminating the naturalistic worldview and elevating its standing in society. A naturalistic stance should be acknowledged as civically equivalent to other sorts of worldviews. Those who are free of supernatural beliefs ought to gain parity of participation. No matter what their favored self-identity labels may be, their attitudes or connections regarding religion(s), Brights need to be active and involved where decisions are being made and societal problems addressed.
Example: One activity of Brights is working to gain increased social acceptance for people who have a supernatural-free outlook. Another aim is to seek more participation in civil society by the brights of many stripes.
As there’s lots of variability among Brights (it’s a very broad umbrella, after all), a Bright may tend to be more amenable to, and generally respectful of, fellow citizens who are religious than someone who self-defines in reference (or opposition) to religion.
The position of The Brights’ Net is neutrality toward religion. Consequently, Brights are probably more likely to view religious believers through a civic lens - as fellow citizens with whom they could (and should) make alliance on common causes. On concerns like expanding religion-free science education or preserving firm separation of religion and government, many Brights would want to be pragmatic. They might favor expanding influence on these matters by working along with religious people who also favor these positions. At the least, they’d be cautious about the religion/nonreligion divide that can so often devolve into us/them polar situations.
Those who favor the Bright identity may lack interest in religion(s) or exhibit little antipathy to it, being more apt to see some value in religious communities and less inclined to oppose religion per se. Nevertheless, Brights’ softer stance toward religion and religious people does not mean absence of opinion on crucial matters. Brights will still tend to frown on the privilege given religion in society and on religious intrusions into government.
Any Brights who are activist supporters of the Brights movement may want to focus strongly on getting more and more persons who have a naturalistic worldview (whatever their favored labels with respect to religion) concerned about their second-class status in society and more involved in some social and civic actions, in order to elevate civic participation by brights of all stripes.