• Zachary McKenzie

A Snapshot of My Journey to Humanism

I am often asked how I left Christianity and belief in God behind. That journey is quite long, but I thought I would give a brief snapshot of how I ended up becoming a secular humanist.

I grew up in a Christian family. My Christian education began in the Salvation Army Church located in Sheboygan, WI. While many know of Salvation Army bell ringers, shelters, and community centers, it is my experience that most are shocked to learn the Salvation Army is a Christian denomination. I think this speaks to their focus on certain social justice issues. Social Justice was even taught to me in my youth and left a lasting impact on how I see the world.

My mom later transitioned our family to the EV-Free church in Sheboygan, WI which was an EFCA denomination. I remember pretty clearly the difference between the two Churchs. The Salvation was focused on the community outside the building whereas EV-Free seemed entirely focused on those in their building or getting people into their building. That said, like all kids, I was greatly influenced by what was being taught at the pulpit and in Sunday School. We were taught what made a True Christian . This was in conflict with what I learned in the Salvation Army.

My eyes were opened in Highschool after taking two philosophy courses and one comparative religion course. I was both amazed and terrified by what I had learned and found myself asking questions I never dared ask before, but my evangelical identity was still strong. The church encouraged me to pursue pastoral studies at a Christian college. I found myself at Cedarville University. It was here that I realized I was not the conservative evangelical I thought I was. I didn’t even last a full semester. I transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where I studied Philosophy with an emphasis in comparative religions. I began to see how similar many religions were, just with different cultural influences. That being said, I was still very much tied to my Christian upbringing.

By the time I began working on my masters of divinity at Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS), I found myself leaning towards a Unitarian and Universalism theology. I recall sharing this with a close friend who warned I was one step away from not believing in God. I shrugged this off as paranoia. Belief in God was part of my whole life and I did not see how that would change. However, as I continued to work on my M.Div. the more I saw the story of God as a human construct. By the time I reached my final semester of seminary, I was ready to let go of my belief in God. I graduated from CBTS in May of 2016.

I joined the Clergy Project in July of 2016 and was endorsed as a Secular Humanist Chaplain and Celebrant shortly after that.

If you would like more details on this Journey leave a comment below with your post suggestions.

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Zachary McKenzie is a secular Celebrant and Chaplain endorsed by the Humanist Society.  Zachary McKenzie is a full-time Prison Chaplain.  Zachary McKenzie crafts and conducts secular weddings, memorials, vow renewals, and baby welcoming ceremonies in Wisconsin.  Zachary McKenzie is based out of Fond du Lac, WI.