- Located in St. Louis, MO
- Outreach Director, Ethical Society of St. Louis
- Vice-Chair of the Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard
- Assistant Editor of The New Humanism
- Founder of Temple of the Future
- Humanist Celebrant
James Croft is the Outreach Director at the Ethical Society of St. Louis – one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. A graduate of Cambridge and Harvard Universities, James is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book "The Godless Congregation", co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster. His talks have been called "enchanting", "outstanding", "inspiring", "amazing", "enlivening", "entertaining", "eloquent", and "passionate".
He blogs at Temple of the Future on the Patheos network.
James is available to speak to your group on the following topics:
- Humanism: Creed of the 21st Century
In this talk James will trace the proud history of freethought and Humanism, particularly as it flourished in the United States, and argue that Humanism is the Creed of the 21st Century: an ethical philosophy of life that has repeatedly led the way on moral issues of the day, and can continue to do so if we push hard and act smart.
- The Symbolic Poverty and Potential of Humanism
Art. Ritual. Narrative. Music. Organized religion harnesses all these symbolic resources in order to build strong communities, persuade others, and encourage congregations to act on their values. Organized Humanism and Secularism, in contrast, too often shies away from these powerful mechanisms, even viewing appeals to the emotions as morally suspect. In a lively and challenging presentation, James will demonstrate the importance of symbolism and argue that Humanism, despite it's current symbolic poverty, has great potential to become a more effective social movement by harnessing the symbolic power of the arts.
- Carl Sagan’s Scientific Spirituality
Carl Sagan - one of the best-loved Humanist figures ever - had an intriguing approach to the subject of “spirituality”: Sagan believed science was an inherently spiritual enterprise. What did he mean by this, what can we learn from it, and how can we explore spirituality without succumbing to nonsense?
- Raison d’Etre: Meaning and Purpose in a Godless World
It is often claimed that if God does not exist there can be no purpose or meaning. In this talk James tackles that claim head-on, arguing that reserves of meaning and purpose are available to everyone, religious or not. We all can find a Raison d’Etre.
- The Godless Congregation
Some consider “church without god” to be a contradictions in terms. Others consider it a waste of time. Yet others, a dangerous development which threatens to make atheist groups into dastardly cults. But what’s the truth behind the “Godless Congregation”? Why might atheists and Humanists wish to come together with each other in ways similar to how religions congregate? James reveals all.
- Coming Out, Coming Home
For many LGBTQ people, the process of “coming out” is a profound moment. For some it results in heartache and suffering, as they lose friends, family, perhaps even their home or livelihood. For others it is a joyous, liberating experience - and sometimes it can be both. In this highly personal account of his own coming out, James will explore identity, sexuality, and personality - all within a nonreligious framework.
James is a former Cambridge Union debater and high school debate coach. He will take on anyone, on any topic, anywhere.
James is an experienced teacher and has trained with many of the greatest thinkers in education alive today. He is happy to provide training in Public Narrative, Storytelling, Public Speaking or Persuasion for groups who want an intense hands-on learning experience.
To see videos of some of James' talks, follow the links below.
James asks for a $500 honorarium but is more than happy to negotiate it with interested groups.
If you're interested in having this speaker come to your school and give a presentation, click here to fill out our online Speaker Request form.