Finally, a chaplain for students who… don’t believe in religion. Wait, what?

Julianne Stanford of the College Fix reports.

Tufts Puts ‘Humanist’ Chaplain On Its Own Payroll, First In America

In the midst of a hiring spell this summer for its University Chaplaincy, Tufts University added its first non-religious chaplain: a “humanist in residence.”

That’s not what makes the position at Tufts unique, though. It’s the first university-funded humanist chaplain in the country.

The appointment of Walker Bristol, a Harvard Divinity School master’s student who only graduated from Tufts in May, ends a five-year campaign by the Tufts Freethought Society to add a humanist chaplain. Bristol himself was a leader in the society.

The new hires all have connections to Harvard Divinity School and similar interfaith backgrounds, as noted in Tufts’ announcement last week.

The chaplaincy poached Zachary Cole from Harvard’s Humanist Community for its outreach specialist. New Muslim chaplain Celene Ibrahim-Lizzio taught at Episcopal Divinity School and lectures on interfaith relations and “gender and sexuality studies.” Chanta Bhan, the new Protestant chaplain, leads a “multicultural consulting firm.” The chaplaincy already has Catholic and Jewish chaplains and a Buddhist chaplain intern.

But in contrast to the other hires, Bristol’s position is only a two-year pilot “designed to assess the desires for and benefits of designated chaplaincy support” for non-religious groups, Tufts said.

The role of the humanist chaplain is to “serve any students who are atheist or agnostic or humanist, but also who are not traditionally religious, or are searching, or are spiritual but not religious, really anyone who does not fall into the normal traditional boundary lines we draw when we think of religion,” Bristol said in an interview with The College Fix.

Humanism differs from most established religions because there is no unifying dogma or a set of regulations, according to Bristol, who studied religion and philosophy at Tufts.

It comprises “a wide stance for atheists or people who don’t identify with organized religion to affirm that they have values and moral commitments towards serving humanity with what we have at our disposal here on earth … rather than elsewhere and kind of living in the present in that sense,” Bristol said of humanism.