Members of the Central Florida Freethought Community have spent the past couple of days trying to figure out what they could do to help people affected by the recent mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. They knew they could make donations and give blood, but was there anything different they could bring to the table to help people?
Yes there was. While we’re all aware that the shooter was Muslim, we haven’t heard much about the religious beliefs of the 49 victims. Given that they were obviously LGBT individuals or allies, there’s reason to believe many of them were non-religious.
And that’s why CFFC will be offering free secular memorial services for their families:
“Our LGBT allied organizations are working hard to assist the families and the community, and we continue to support their efforts, “says David Williamson, Founder of CFFC. “We are proud to lend our support to fill this unique and important need for both secular and LGBT communities.”
Secular memorials services focus on the person, without mention of religion. They seek to celebrate, remember, and honor their life. They can include readings, poetry, music, including contributions by the person being honored, as well as stories shared by loved ones. “There are no words to say that will quell the sadness of this tragedy,” said Keith Becher, a local certified Humanist celebrant, “but those who turned to family and friends, but not religion or God, deserve the opportunity for remembrance as they lived.”
CFFC will cover the costs and fees of secular venues, provide certified Secular and Humanist Celebrants at no charge, including covering the travel and lodging costs of the celebrants. Families in need of secular memorial services can call 321-804-3373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s an incredibly generous offer for any family who feels a non-religious ceremony would be the best way to honor their lost loved one.
CFFC is raising money to cover their costs for this project and you can chip in to that fund — any cash that doesn’t go toward helping families with memorial services will be given to Equality Florida and the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida next month.
The group will also be sponsoring a blood drive this Saturday in the parking lot of a local Target store (of all places). So don’t make the mistake of calling this a publicity stunt with no action. They’re going to make a difference whether or not anyone takes them up on their offer.
Their actions remind us that atheists can offer something meaningful and productive in times of tragedy without resorting to thoughts or prayers.