Rochester in particular and southeast Minnesota is such a diverse melting pot of cultures, organizations and beliefs: each one unique, each one with their own mission.
Wednesday on FOX in the Morning, two members of the Rochester Area Free Thinkers, or R.A.F.T. spoke about their beliefs and contributions in and towards the community.
Jim Salutz, a longtime member, spoke about who they are and what R.A.F.T. does. “We've been around since 1997. And we are group of atheists, agnostics, humanists, free-thinkers,"said Salutz. "We are based here in Rochester. We have some various activities during the month. We have a book club. We have a meeting at the library, which is kind of a general discussion meeting. We have a happy hour, where we get together at a local establishment. We have coffee time for people who want to sit around and just have coffee. We are also involved in some community type activities. We are involved in the running start for schools. We make both a financial contribution and we help do some of the work for that organization," Salutz stated. "We pick up an intersection of I-90 for the Adopt a Highway program. We are also involved in the local science fair. We make a donation and we have a couple of young skeptics awards for middle school and high school students.
Another member of the group is Kathy Diedrich. Diedrich brings her job experience into the group's identity: she's a Humanist celebrant. What is humanism you may ask?
“Humanism is a philosophy based in rationality and the natural world. We don't have a belief in supernatural beings, or gods or goddesses,” explained Diedrich. “Rather, we look for ways that we can be positive influences in our world and really, leave the world a better place than we found it ourselves.
As a Humanist celebrant, what I do is I offer ceremonies for people who are like-minded, who don't have a belief in the supernatural but want to have the significant moments in their life honored in a meaningful way. So, the big three are births, weddings and funerals,” Diedrich said.
If you are looking to join or just are curious, Salutz says the invitation is always there. “We are inclusive. You don't have to be a non-believer to join our organization. We've had a number of members who are believers in deity. Those people are rare and the group isn't for everyone," Salutz said. "We're finding that especially with younger people that they don't necessarily don't want to join a group. And that's fine too. But, we're there for support of people if they find themselves alone. Maybe their family are all religious people or their neighbors are. We are there for them."
For more information on the Rochester Area Free Thinkers, click here.