John Figdor

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Jonathan Figdor
ResidenceSan Francisco Bay Area
Alma materVassar College, Harvard Divinity School
OccupationHumanist Chaplain at Stanford University

John Figdor is a former Humanist Chaplain at Stanford University[1][2] where he organizes events and programs for both students and community members of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the first Humanist Chaplain on the West Coast serving a university community.[3] As a Humanist officiant he also oversees non-theistic weddings, funerals, and baby-naming ceremonies.[2][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Figdor received his B.A. with honors in Philosophy from Vassar College[2] and he holds a master's degree (MDiv) in Humanism and Interfaith Dialogue from Harvard Divinity School.[3][4]


Humanism at Stanford University[edit]

The Humanist Community at Stanford includes humanists, atheists, and agnostics, who believe in values such as reason, science, pluralism, compassion, empathy, and altruism.[5][6] The organization holds a variety of different events, from dinners, to public lectures, to art gallery tours, to pub nights, to discussions and debates, and game nights.[5] Previous notable speakers have included Richard Dawkins.[7]

The Stanford Humanist Community played an essential role in the creation of Darwin Day. The first celebration of the event took place on April 22, 1995, and included a lecture given by famed anthropologist Dr. Donald Johanson to over 600 attendees.[8]

Humanism at Harvard[edit]

Figdor was an Organizing Fellow of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University[4] and former Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard,[9] working with Greg Epstein.

In 2014, Figdor coauthored, together with Lex Bayer, the book Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments for the Twenty-First Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014)[10][11] and organized the Rethink Prize: a crowdsourcing competition to rethink the Ten Commandments. The contest drew more than 2,800 submissions from 18 countries and 27 U.S. states. Winners were selected by a panel of judges.[12][13]

Figdor is a former Board Member of the Secular Student Alliance.[4] Figdor and his work have been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle,[9] the Huffington Post,[1][14] the Washington Post.,[10][15] Salon,[16] CNN,[12] and TIME.[17]


  1. ^ a b Jones, Alan (28 December 2012). "John Figdor Appointed as Atheist Chaplain at Stanford". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Chaplain John Figdor develops humanist community on campus". Stanford Daily. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Stanford's New Humanist Chaplain: John Figdor". The Stanford Review. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Secular Student Alliance John Figdor". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Stanford Humanist Community Facebook Page". Stanford Humanist Community. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Stanford Humanist Community". Stanford Humanist Community. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Richard Dawkins @ Stanford Humanist Community 2012 10 11". YouTube. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  8. ^ "About the International Darwin Day Foundation (IDDF)". International Darwin Day Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  9. ^ a b Asimov, Nanette (22 December 2012). "Stanford gets a chaplain for atheists". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  10. ^ a b Kimberly Winston (November 20, 2014). "10 Commandments for atheists: a guide for nonbelievers who want to explore their values". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart". Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Daniel Burke (December 20, 2014). "Behold, atheists' new Ten Commandments". CNN. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "The Rethink Prize". Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  14. ^ "The Atheist Chaplain". Huffington Post Live. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  15. ^ Shulman, Robin (21 December 2008). "Humanist Parents Seek Communion Outside Church". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  16. ^ Michael Schulson (December 7, 2014). "Humanist chaplain John Figdor: "Religion introduces moral problems that wouldn't exist otherwise"". Salon. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  17. ^ "Here's a Secular Alternative to the Ten Commandments". TIME. December 21, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2015.