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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Meet a member: I’m masking for a friend (and others)

Shirley McClellan shows off some of the masks she has made for family and friends.
Shirley McClellan

Name: Shirley McClellan.

Where I live: Morgantown, N.C.

Where and when I was born: Morgantown, 1957.

Family: My husband Mike, daughters Jennifer and Leslie, dog Maddie, and cats Lenney, Huck Finn and Hank Jr.

Education: I have an associate’s degree in recreational therapy. I’ve educated myself since childhood about history and religion.

Occupation: Disabled due to two previous back surgeries that left me with chronic back pain and weak/painful legs.

How I got where I am today: Curiosity. I was raised with liberal political views and conservative Baptist religious views. I kept the political views but rejected the religious ones. Curiosity caused me to look at other religions. 

Life experiences change people, too. In 1979, my daughter was born with a type of limb deficiency called phocomelia. I was heart-broken and afraid for her future. But she has done well. She has a bachelor’s degree, has been married to her husband for 18 years and works at a battered women’s shelter.

Where I’m headed: I hope I’m always learning and growing and helping others. I am now a caregiver for my husband of 45 years who had two strokes in 2019. His ability to remember was affected and has worsened.

Person in history I admire and why: I admire Robert Ingersoll for his character, compassion for others, his loving demeanor, his open heart, the way other people’s suffering pained him so much, the beautiful way he saw the world, and his unbelievable writing and speaking skills.

A quotation I like: This quote was in Oprah magazine: “Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles and see that the world is moving.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Things I like: Time with family, reading, dogs and cats, sunsets, nature, the Beatles, John Lennon, chocolate, Italian food, kind and friendly people.

Things I smite: Mean people, bullying, violence, cruelty and suffering.

My doubts about religion started: As a child, I always questioned what I was taught in Sunday school and bible school. I knew these characters weren’t nice people and I couldn’t be nicer than God (the “good Lord”)! Around age 16, I began reading about religion on my own. The more I read the bible, the more I saw it as unreasonable.

Before I die: I want to continue to learn, grow and try to be open-minded. I want to practice being tolerant and kind. And to enjoy the simple things: family, good food, good music, good weather and the love of our pets.

Ways I promote freethought: By speaking of it and sharing my opinions. I think sharing the concept with others, when appropriate, is the most important. But it’s also important to show compassion and understanding of people’s beliefs. Also, by being a proud member of FFRF since May 1990!

I wish you’d asked me about: My masks. I have made 445 masks since February 2020. I’ve been trying to keep my family, friends and community safer. I’ve also mailed them to family and friends in other states. My daughters and I love to give them away!