Interview with Board Member, Nancy Sneed

1. Are you an atheist, freethinker, or non-believer? Explain.

I am an atheist, since I have always thought of the supernatural as fantasy. Of course, being raised as a fundamentalist Christian it was difficult for me to come to terms with my non-belief and to accept the label for myself.

2. What led you to stop believing in and accepting religious claims about supernatural deities?

I always struggled to believe. I was raised in the Church of Christ, but as a child I viewed the Bible stories as just pretend, not real. This church takes the position that God and Jesus are real, but angels, demons, witches, warlocks, and modern day miracles do not exist. They also believe that all other churches have it wrong, and I figured out very early that this kind of thinking just doesn’t make sense. We weren’t allowed to attend school dances or have instrumental music in the church (not much fun), so myself and my three siblings left it as soon as we could.

3. What led you to become a part of the freethought community and what has been your experience as member of the community?

After my divorce, and being single for a few years, I wanted to be part of a community. I considered other options such as very liberal churches that don’t require a god belief, but nothing offered what I was looking for. Then one day I saw a billboard in Sacramento that said, “Good Without God? Millions are.” That was it!

I then realized there were local organizations of nonbelievers like me. It took awhile, but in 2011 when I found Sacramento Freethinkers and Nonbelievers meetup group, I attended my first meeting of atheists. It was a monthly lecture, this one by a neuroscientist talking about research regarding Out of Body experiences and the brain. I was very impressed, and I met some people there who were very easy to chat with and to join with in the many activities offered. I became excited and started reading everything I could find and going to meetings as often as I could. 

My experience as a member of freethought community has been more positive than any of my previous community experiences. I have made many friends and enjoyed making acquaintances in so many activities such as Freethought Day, Darwin Day, Sunday Assembly, and many other gatherings.

I even met with my brother from Philadelphia in Washington, D.C. in 2016 for the Reason Rally. On Thursday and Friday, through the efforts of Secular Coalition for America, we walked through the House and Senate offices advocating for sex education based on science. We asked our legislators to stop funding abstinence-only sex education. On Saturday we sat on the Capitol Mall and listened to speakers and musicians all day long, then attended an after-party at a hotel. That was a great experience.

Nancy, with her soldier son in Hawaii.

4. What led you to becoming a board member of the Reason Center?

When I was asked to serve as a Reason Center Board member, I felt it was a way I could give back to the community that has meant so much to me, and was honored to accept the position. It’s a two-year commitment, and I’m sure my term will be over before I know it.

5. What are your personal goals for the Reason Center?

My personal goals for Reason Center are to help the best way I can in achieving the Center’s goals. The goal has always been to provide a place for the community to gather and have a home. From the beginning, the establishment of the Center has been a collective effort by quite a few hardworking, dedicated individuals.

I am only beginning to be involved with the Board, and am only now realizing the importance of our responsibilities for maintaining the center and planning for its expansion. Ultimately, I would like us to have a center where people of all walks of life and all ages have access and activities that meet their needs for community, and that each member feels a part of the effort through participation in the various projects of the Center. As we work toward these goals, the hope is that the community at large will come to accept us in a more mainstream way.

6. What else do you do with your time?

I enjoy traveling and looking for interesting buildings. I am a modernist architecture fan, and am going back to school part-time this fall to learn architectural history. I volunteer once a month for Sunday Assembly Sacramento and enjoy spending some time with my two sons.

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