February 28, 2017
For Release: Immediately Upon Receipt
Contact: Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard
RELEASE: First Atheist NFL Star Speaks at Harvard
Boston’s “Godless Congregation” Hosts 4 Time All Pro
CAMBRIDGE, MA: The first ever major American sports star to be an “Openly Secular” atheist and humanist will be honored at Harvard University, in April.
The Humanist Hub, in partnership with the Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics (HCHAA), will present recently retired 4-time NFL All-Pro player Arian Foster with their 11th Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, as part of a ceremony held on Harvard’s campus on Sunday April 23 at 1:30pm.
This award, created in 2007, honors an individual whose life and contributions to popular culture and society exemplify the values of Humanism, a nonreligious philosophy of life based on reason, compassion, integrity, and justice.
Foster, a former running back who holds Houston Texans franchise records for rushing yards and touchdowns, and who led the National Football League in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2010, publicly announced his atheism in a 2015 feature in ESPN Magazine.
In a 2011 cover story, The Sporting News called Foster “The Most Interesting Man in the NFL.”
First through ESPN and in subsequent activism for the “Openly Secular” campaign, an awareness-building effort of the organized humanist movement in the US, Foster acknowledged bias against atheism, but is embracing the award and its message.
“It’s an honor to be invited to talk about my values at a place with some of the brightest minds in the world,” Foster said.
“I want to help make a wider audience aware of the need for human progress.”
With countless millions of fans and sky high ratings, NFL Football provides a wide audience for athletes who use its platform to speak out about social issues.
“Talking about the ethics of football is more important than ever,“ said Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and the Humanist Hub’s Executive Director.
“The humanist community cares deeply that sports, as a part of our popular culture, are responsive to social justice and public health. Our students have held several high profile conversations on this topic in the past, and with the football community’s first-ever open humanist set to visit, the dialogue is sure to grow.”
“Faith isn’t enough for me,” Foster told ESPN in 2015. “For people who are struggling with that, they’re nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash … man, don’t be afraid to be you. I was, for years.”
The Humanist Hub, the US’s first “Center for Humanist Life” serving atheists and agnostics on and around a campus, has hosted similar award ceremonies with actress Carrie Fisher (2016) comedian Eddie Izzard (2013) author Mary Roach (2012) Seth MacFarlane (Fall 2011) Stephen Fry (Spring 2011) Discovery Chanel’s MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (2010) director Joss Whedon (2009) Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin (2008) and Sir Salman Rushdie (2007).