The University of Westminster in London (founded in 1838) has just hired Isabel Millar as the first “Secular Advisor” in Britain: Independent.
“”Universities have been known to employ chaplains and multifaith advisors to provide like-minded emotional and spiritual support to students and employees with a religious background.
Millar explains her role in clear terms:
“I will be advising from a secular humanist perspective in the context of a multi-faith and culturally diverse institution, and providing a non-religious ethical reference point with regard to moral, social, and cultural issues arising in the university.
“Non-religious students and staff will have the option of choosing to speak to someone who shares their common outlook on life in a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment.”
As the article states, two-thirds of university students say they have no religion (perhaps proportionally similar to the high percentage of “nones” in the U.S.*), so this seems a natural step forward to addressing their personal concerns.
Congratulations to Isabel Millar. She serves to inspire many of us within the secular community to present innovative models of “chaplaincy beyond (traditional) chaplaincy.”
In January, Jane Flint became the first Humanist hospital chaplain in England.
Let’s not merely hope for it, but work toward more institutions (including businesses) catching the “secular spark” to offer viable, rational alternatives to religious chaplaincies across the world.
*”A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the “nones”) now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007.”