Atheism grows on campus

Just a quick but heartening note from the airport: a new article in Religion Dispatches, “Are atheists the new campus crusaders?”, discusses the growing influence of the secular movement on American college campuses. It highlights the Secular Student Alliance, but also mentions the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the Center for Inquiry, and the Secular Coalition for America.

Secular groups on college campuses are proliferating. The Ohio-based Secular Student Alliance, which a USA Today writer once called a “Godless Campus Crusade for Christ,” incorporated as a nonprofit in 2001. By 2007, 80 campus groups had affiliated with them, 100 by 2008, 174 by 2009, and today, there are 394 SSA student groups on campuses across the country. “We have been seeing rapid growth in the past couple of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down,” says Jesse Galef, communications director at SSA. “It used to be that we would go to campuses and encourage students to pass out flyers. Now, the students are coming to us almost faster than we can keep up with.”

Many of these organizations seem to engage in interfaith activities, which can be okay, I guess, but one is described which seems a bit, well, unseemly:

“We really encourage interfaith activities,” says Sarah Kaiser, field organizer at the Center For Inquiry, an international organization that promotes “science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.” As a student, Kaiser was member of the Secular Alliance at the University of Indiana. Her group raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through a “Send An Atheist To Church” tabling event. The atheists put out cups for each of the campus’ religious groups, and whichever cup raised the most money determined which church the atheists would attend as an interfaith educational activity.

The Muslim Student Union’s cup received the most donations, so the atheists attended mosque.

Now what is the point of that beyond agreeing to compromise your values to make money? Surely it won’t turn atheists towards Islam, and I’m not sure what kind of atheism/Muslim comity could result.

And the faithful are eager to argue that atheist organizations engage in some kind of “faith”:

At Stanford University, the Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics (AHA!) register with the Office For Religious Life, just like Cru  [JAC: the new name of the Campus Crusade for Christ, obviously coined to make it less scary], and are a member of Stanford Associated Religions.

“There are a lot of parallels with religious groups on campus,” says Ron Sanders, Cru’s missional team leader at Stanford.

“They have weekly meetings similar to ours, and give one another support, and they do social justice projects on campus and in the communities… I don’t know that they aren’t a faith group. They don’t have a faith in God, or in revelation or something like that, but they have faith in reason and in science, as I understand it, as a guide for human flourishing.”

No we dont have faith in reason and science in the same way as “Cru” members have faith in God. I see “faith” according to Walter Kaufmann’s definition: strong belief in propositions for which there is insufficient evidence to command the assent of every reasonable person. We have confidence in science because it has led us to provisional truths—it works. Cru doesn’t even know if there’s any God, or, if there is a divine presence, that it’s the Abrahamic god rather than the Hindu god, Yahweh, or Wotan.  And we use reason in the same way: it leads us to truth.  Revelation, dogma, and authority do not, for if they did there would be only one religion rather than thousands with their disparate and often conflicting doctrines.

I’m curious to see how readers feel about interfaith activities. I wouldn’t mind partnering with a liberal religious group to, say, rebuild homes for the poor, but I’d rather do it with fellow nonbelievers, for I see interfaith activities as giving some kind of credibility to the faithful, but not so much to us. It’s not going to change anybody’s minds, and we already know that some religious people can be nice. If you want to help people, there are plenty of secular organizations you can work or partner with.

The view of at least one student network seems at least a tad less compromising:

The Skeptics and Atheists Network at East Tennessee State University rather pointedly calls itself S.A.N.E.

“We do a lot of interfaith activities if they align with our humanist values, but the one thing we never compromise on is our right and responsibility to criticize bad ideas,” says Miller at ISSA. “When you assume a supernatural world, that is a train of thought that does not have a basis. When you start from that, you will automatically lead yourself to a bad idea.”

For the nonce, the value of secular student organizations is best construed not as a way to show the faithful that we are as nice and helpful as they are, but to give isolated secular people a community of support.  As I commented when arguing for people to use their real names when commenting on this site, it is often scary to “come out” as an atheist, but the more people who do it, the more closeted nonbelievers will emerge from the woodwork.

[Cody] Hashman at the Center For Inquiry says that some students come from homes and communities where they have to hide their secular identity, and secular student groups become an important community for them. “It has now become more acceptable for people to state that they are questioning or no longer religious” says Hashman. “We are dedicated to free inquiry and freedom of expression, and that can come off as abrasive, but we believe it necessary for a free and democratic society.”

Indeed. As I’ve found during this brief trip through the South, there are tons of atheists hidden among the faithful, like raisins of reason in a religious pudding.  Many atheists were once deeply religious and have had horrendous struggles, both with their families and friends and within their own heads, to reject God. (In contrast, atheists from the north more often seem to have been brought up in nonreligious homes, and haven’t had such a struggle.) Admitting your nonbelief, rejecting superstition and embracing reason, is like a nuclear chain reaction, and one day, when I’m no longer around, it will go critical—and America will no longer be held in the grip of faith.

53 Comments

  1. wildhog
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    “and one day, when I’m no longer around, it will go critical and America will no longer be in the grip of faith.”

    I’m rarely accused of optimism, but I’m a bit more optimistic than that. It may well be within your lifetime, in my opinion.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I would agree, sometimes the public zeitgeist can shift quickly and dramatically. Witness the radical change on views of gay marriage over the last few years. I am starting to wonder if we are reaching a tipping point on this in the US (although here in TN it’s often hard to see – but, as Jerry notes, the raisins are all around us, even here.)

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

        I’m Jerry’s age. How much do you two wanna bet?

        • Simon Hayward
          Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

          Somehow gambling on the good Dr. Coyne’s longevity seems, at best, tasteless. A substantial bet would incentivize “wildhog” and I to keep him alive (a chore I can live without given his diet!) and would give you the opposite inclination ;)

          Let’s just hope he doesn’t have to wait until his dotage to see this outcome realized. I’m a few, but not many, years younger and I’m hopeful.

  2. Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    “raisins of reason in a religious pudding”:)

    • still learning
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      “raisins of reason”…even more fun, knowing that “raison” in French means reason. Just a vowel and slight pronounciation change. Nice word play.

      • Occam
        Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        Moreover, “les raisins de la raison” would echo “les raisins de la colère”, the French title of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.

  3. wads42
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Efforts to make atheists take part in “interfaith” activities are just part of the assumption that they can seduce atheists into agreeing that atheism is a “religion”, so that the Christians can own us and incorporate us into their “Faith”.
    Either that, or they are so cognitively dissonant that they cannot comprehend that atheism is not a “Faith”; afterall, they are Fools for Christ are they not? ie stupid.

  4. Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Always nice to hear about harmony in human relations.Nevertheless the cynic inside me questions the motives of all when the parties have been hitherto so divergent. In reality Religious people cannot join hands with Atheists for the religious group see us as a common enemy to all faith groups. Such a bad influence are we that we are percieved as the very worst kind of associate for the youth of religious families. We’ll have to wait and see how long the religious experiment with atheism lasts.

  5. Sastra
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    The biggest problem with atheists going into “interfaith” groups has to do with the name. It implies that atheists are following a religious faith. And if atheists are accepted into an open discussion only with the stipulation that NOT be open — that they respect faith as a signifier of morality and identity — then imo their inclusion is a contradiction and self-destructive.

    But assuming that the name is not at issue nor the stipulation made — then bringing atheism to the table as a valid viewpoint worthy of discussion, consideration, and debate is a plus. It would be ideal, in fact.

    Now what is the point of that beyond agreeing to compromise your values to make money? Surely it won’t turn atheists towards Islam, and I’m not sure what kind of atheism/Muslim comity could result.

    An atheist going to church (or mosque) by invitation as an atheist is not compromising values. It’s showing that we don’t think there is anything to fear about learning what they believe because we are not going to convert. And they will discover this.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      This is pretty much how I see it. Perhaps the solution is to participate in such events with the stipulation that doing so does not imply that non-belief is a faith.

    • Victor
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      The problem with going to their worship services is that it’s seen by the members of that group as a victory for them as they have coerced you into listening to their “message”. They see it as “a foot in the door” for them to be able to then unload any kind of dogmatic baggage on you they choose. I am the son of a Southern Baptist minister and have learned this the hard way.

      Once you give in to their demands (going to their church) that leads them to believe that you are “open” to their beliefs. I prefer to keep that door closed and refuse to step foot in their churches so that there is no misinterpretation of what I don’t believe.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I don’t see any problem with ‘interfaith’ activities as long as we’re careful to call them extrafaith activities.

  6. Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    The East Tennessee State group seems to have the right outlook to me.

    The interaction might help because it will bring some religious people into direct contact with atheists when often they are told horrendous lies about atheists.

    I don’t think it’s as much letting them know how warm and cuddly we are, but an opportunity to set records straight by mixing with individuals and informing them directly, rather than then relying on what their preachers say.

    I don’t think it matters that the faithful might want to win us over, since that’s unlikely. If we trust (rather than have faith in) reason and evidence, and that human brains can be won over to ideas, then I would expect conversions our way than the other, if indeed that is a goal.

    Sticking with the dessert metaphor, the proof will be in the eating.

  7. Explicit Atheist
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    The primary potential problem with interfaith activities is concluding that it is best, or even necessary, to self-censor and avoid public criticisms of theistic beliefs to avoid offending our theistic allies or the potential converts from theism. Provided that they commit to not watering down or self-censoring their public advocacy, an interfaith focus shouldn’t be a problem. The guy from the SANE group gets this. We can, and should, associate and cooperate with our opponents, provided that they do not insist that we compromise our advocacy as a pre-condition. If they tell us to shut up then we should refuse and we should make it clear that they are the ones refusing to associate and cooperate with us when they try to impose such a pre-condition. And we need to accept that they also don’t need to compromise thir advocacy as a pre-condition.

  8. marycanada FCD
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I have absolutely no interest in having an interfaith dialogue with any religious faction. It’s a form of accommodationism and legitimizes faith. They have poisoned humanity with their lies. They righteously engaged in atrocities that produced immense misery and suffering. Not to mention the HUGE monetary profits they have gained and horded over the years. Horded to use for the main purpose of wielding political power throughout the world and to enslave billions. Making nice is not an option.

  9. Barbara
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I think members of an atheist group going as identified atheists to church or mosque can have a good effect on the younger church or mosque members, by letting them know that atheism is an option. I also think having polite but firm (and therefore probably annoying) atheists in an interfaith group could have good on the believers, too.

    And the fund raising shouldn’t be knocked, either.

    The one downside, and it is large, is that this participation seems to justify the “atheism is a religion just like Christianity is a religion” meme.

  10. Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    My talent lies in my being a ‘strident’ atheist, in the sense, I have no tolerance for accommodation, except in specific and well defined instances. However, unlike the critics of my kind of atheist, I have no problem with others wanting to tone it down and work in an interfaith manner, (as the Overton window require many talents to pry it open) as the benefits listed by some of the commenters here are valuable, but make sure you put on your tee shirt with this emblazoned across it before leaving home:

    ‘Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby’. (Penn Jillette)

  11. Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    There seem to be a lot of TV ads which are called Christian Mingle. It’s like ‘they’ are afraid luke-warm Xians will ‘lose’ whatever ‘faith’ they have in whichever variety of it. . :-)

  12. JeremyR
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    If being a humanist means, at least in part, trying to make the world a better place, then of course we should engage in “interfaith” (horrible name but…) activities. Here are some reasons:
    1. Like it or not, the fact is that we live in a plural world (and living in London), a plural society. The only way that’s going to work in the long term, even given the gradual decrease in religiosity, is if people who disagree about their beliefs and consequent actions, even profoundly, learn to live together peacefully and see each other as fellow human beings rather than “The Other”. It’s much easier to demonise people if you don’t know them, and that works in both directions. When you meet them, you often find that you’re own preconceptions are challenged, that the “religion & belief spectrum” is far less black and white than you thought (though there really is black and white at the extreme ends), and that there are people on the other side who you like, or dislike, as people, same as anywhere else. That doesn’t mean in any way compromising our beliefs as atheists. And it provides an opportunity to explain where we’re coming from and counter some of the propaganda that works against us (for example, that we’re lacking in any properly-based morality).

    I can’t see any problem in the idea of the atheist competition where they ended up going to the mosque. It was fun, charitable and may have broken down some barriers. Are we really so insecure that we’re afraid of talking to people or visiting their places of worship? Or do we really belief that, by doing so, we will in any way give their beliefs more credibility?

    2. There is common ground between people of goodwill in many religious people and and humanists/atheists. Why not work together if that’s the best way to help, say, homeless people? I care more about people’s words and actions than their beliefs. And I think it is a good thing for humanists to make, and be seen as making, a positive contribution to the wider community.

    3. It’s important to be a “player in the game” to ensure a non-religious voice is heard. For example, here in the UK, all government bodies are bound by an Equality Duty, which covers 10 “protected characteristics” including “religion or belief”, where belief includes lack of belief. Right now, there’s a lot of pressure on local authorities to contract out services, and religious groups sometimes bid for them. If, as is often the case, the local “interfaith forum” is one of the groups the local authority consults in pursuit of its Equality Duty, then sure as hell its better that that includes a non-religious voice along with the others (including minority religions).

    None of this means not pushing for what we think is right. It’s quite possible to maintain “interfaith” relations at the same time, provided that you argue in a rational, honest and “human” way. Of course, some people will get angry with you, but others will respect you, even if they strongly disagree.

  13. Roo
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I actually think “invite an atheist to church” (and the fact that it ended up being a mosque) is fantastic.

    For one (and I’m 50/50 on this argument), I think you want secularism to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. My first intuition is that it seems hypocritical to decry religions for being divisive, non-inclusive, and us-them, and then to be the only party in town who refuses to mingle with those ‘others’. On the other hand, if we were talking about, say, the KKK, I wouldn’t be for attending meetings because, hey, the whole problem is discrimination and isn’t it hypocritical to discriminate against them? So again, 50/50.

    The more major selling point for me, though, is simply that of exposure. College kids love stuff like that, I’m sure they thought it was hilarious in a good-natured way. Kind of like if you’re not Indian and you’ve ever had an Indian friend wrap you up in a sari and take you to a traditional event – in my experience, at least, they’re really tickled at seeing you step into their world, it’s a bonding moment – but they’re not expecting you to adopt the culture. To me, anything they’re doing to break down that sense of “otherness”, within reason, is a good thing.

    • Marta
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      I agree with you, especially your wider point about exposure–it’s not about making common cause with the faith community so much as it is normalizing atheism. Atheism is a continuing societal taboo. Kids who are publicly atheist and representing at faith events show atheism as a normal way to be (unless they wear their horns to the event. That’s always a non-starter.)

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Literally lol!

  14. EvAl
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Off topic I know but as a Brit the sentence:

    ‘For the nonce, the value of secular student organizations is best construed not as a way to show the faithful that we are as nice and helpful as they are, but to give isolated secular people a community of support.’

    Made me very confused. In British English ‘nonce’ is a sex offender, and in particular one convicted of child abuse.

    Still, nice to learn new meanings for words…

    • Nick
      Posted February 10, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Nonce has a long and valid history in England in exactly the context that Jerry used it. See for example, Henry the IV (Shakespeare) and Canterbury Tales (Chaucer).

      The word as you use it is a relatively recent, prison slang term.

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      As Nick says. I’m a Brit too and have never come across the slang meaning of “nonce” as a sex offender, guess I must lead too sheltered a life.

      I notice in Wikipedia it says: “Nonce (slang), a British and Australian slang term for a sex offender, usually a child sexual abuser” and wonder if this usage originated in Australia, certainly sounds like an Aussie insult :).

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        That can’t be right, ‘cos Australian slang doesn’t do insults, you pommy bastard.

        (It’s a term of matey endearment)

        None of the suggested etymologies at the wiki look at all convincing (nor does that page currently mention Australia). I don’t know if ‘nonce’ has ever been current in prison slang here, and only know it in that sense from Val McDermid.

  15. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    A couple of comments:
    One, love the line “there are tons of atheists hidden among the faithful, like raisins of reason in a religious pudding.”

    Two, renaming to try to disguise their less savory histories and reputations is, well, what you’d expect of religious institutions. The church I used to attend and the missions organization for which I once worked have each changed names *twice*, in an obvious effort to overcome the opprobrium attached to the words “unevangelized” and “baptist”. This bears obliquely on the recent discussion on this web site concerning pseudonymity, as well as my use of my real name.

    Three, I would personally have no problem going to a church service or interfaith meeting, so long as I were permitted to make it clear that I come as a non-believer (I approve of Michelle Beissel’s suggestion to wear some sort of identifying garment). It would show them that not all atheists eat babies for lunch, and more importantly, would be a silent data point–they have been praying for me to return to their religion, and it has not happened. Also, it would underline Ingersoll’s point (I’m almost through the first volume of his lectures on librivox.org) that we are against the religion, not the religionists.

  16. raven
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I could easily have an inter faith dialogue with myself.

    Like most atheists, I’m a former xian, for many decades before getting out.

    It would be boring though. Religion is boring.

  17. Gordon Hill
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The fundamental question for me is how we treat others. Eboo Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Corps founded by Eboo Patel, a Muslim, and a Jewish friend ten years ago… you can explore their mission at http://www.ifyc.org and decide their value for yourself… which is what their associates and detractors do… as do we all… ;-)

  18. Golkarian
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I think atheists should participate in “epi-faith” activities, not a bunch of groups of different faiths, but one group. Generosity is a universal virtue, faith groups steal it, as atheists grow, they shouldn’t do the same.

  19. Harbo
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Ecumenicals are just agnostics with no ticker.

    If one really believes that one’s particular “truth” is “the way” then all other variations are heretical, if one doesn’t believe this, then, you are well on the way to reason.

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of which, have you seen this piece of news, regarding the “interfaith” service held in Newtown after the massacre (that Obama attended)?

      excerpt: Earlier this month, the president of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Pastor Matthew Harrison, wrote a letter to church members saying he had requested an apology from Morris for his participation in “joint worship with other religions.” [Morris gave a short, final benediction]

      “There is sometimes a real tension between wanting to bear witness to Christ and at the same time avoiding situations which may give the impression that our differences with respect to who God is, who Jesus is, how he deals with us, and how we get to heaven, really don’t matter in the end,” Harrison wrote.

      In his own letter to his church, Morris wrote it was not his intent to endorse “false teaching” and apologized to those who believed he had.

      “I did not believe my participation to be an act of joint worship, but one of mercy and care to a community shocked and grieving an unspeakably horrific event,” he wrote. “I apologize where I have caused offense by pushing Christian freedom too far, and I request you charitably receive my apology.”

      Kind of gives me a warm fuzzy, all that nice, cheery interfaith dialogue.

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        Ooops. I didn’t mean Obama attended the massacre. Modifiers… how the &^%^ do they work?

      • Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        …something else bugs me. If a Rastafarian participates in “joint worship”, is that necessarily a bad thing?

  20. Tumara Baap
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    We’ve known for a while the younger generation in the U.S. is less devout. But I was not sure if this ever translated to a commitment to secular activism. Maybe it was just the culture shifted to be less church going and more toward getting to the next level of, um, Angry Bird. Whenever I’ve attended my local humanist meeting almost everyone looked like they were over 60. It’s rare to find someone in their 30’s or 40’s, much less a college student. I’m glad to hear of these stirrings on college campuses.

  21. Cremnomaniac
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    As a couple comments mentioned, the term “interfaith” is the wrong one to use in any alliance of secular/atheist groups with religious groups.

    Interfaith: of, operating, or occurring between persons belonging to different religions (dictionary.com).

    Religions, not secular groups.

    One of the primary goals of secular organizations should be to dispel erroneous ideas and conclusions based on myth or error of reason. Atheism is NOT a faith and neither is confidence in science. Any secular organization engaging with a religious one needs to stand by this and use anything but “interfaith” as the cooperative term.

    Unfortunately the only thing that seems to work for religious chowder-heads is dogma. “Atheism is not a faith,”, “evolution is not just a theory, it’s a fact”. Again!

    Fine, engage religious groups but do it with firm footing, and do not allow others to define what we think and who we are in the process.
    I’ll go to the mosque, but understand, “I think you’re all so deluded as to be a danger to the survival of humanity.”

    Religion may be around for a while longer, but it doesn’t mean we have to tolerate mind numbing ignorance in any form. Judging by the tone of some comments there seems to be a degree of accommodation right here in the ranks of WEIT!

    • Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      Interfaith is the perfect term, because, see, the SSA groups have weekly meetings.

      Atheism = religion

      QED

  22. @eightyc
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Interfaith activities can simply be a hobby. I readily enjoy attending church cuz it’s entertaining as hell. It’s like going to the movies or a play. Lol

  23. Diane G.
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Her group raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through a “Send An Atheist To Church” tabling event.

    I think that’s brilliant! Getting the faiths involved in a competition to see which can give the most money to an atheist group! Plus, drawing attention to an atheist-sponsored charity drive. Win-win.

  24. el_slapper
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Hi all, new here.

    It’s a little bit odd to read that, because “interfaith” meeting I do most sundays. My wife is, arrrrrm, very religious. Me not. Having a steady couple means to agree on disagreements. I go with her to the church, enjoy the (excellent)music, fake believing the sermon, & she fakes believing I’m believing. Works well. She just knows she shall not speak about creationnism when I’m present, & we happily live together(I avoid evolution for the same reason).

    Yesterday, next to my seat, were 2 young men in wheelchairs. Damn they had a lot of fun. I could see hope, life, fun, energu, reason to live in their eyes. Last week, there was also a guy whose lone daughter(17) was struck by a cancer, coming after other pathologies. His only hope, after doctor’s diagcnostic, was faith.

    I didn’t believe anything I heard from the sermon. The usual crap “Jesus saved my life”, “he took me out that crappy village from Africa to the light city”[Paris], “believe in him & you’ll be saved”[from what?], “it’s written in the Bible, therefore it’s true”[ah, and PI = 3?], etc….. Only smart thing : “God leaves us choice of our lives, event the choice of a partner or having kids”(i.e. he’s not against birth control)

    Yet, who am I to judge those people listening to him? Those people broken by life, with hopes broken by medicine, and finding a reason of living, finding energy within their(probably unjustified) faith?

    Some religious things have to be fought foot by foot. Creationism, especially, is rot to the mind. Lack of open-mindedness is a problem too(they know what god says, & don’t need to know more).

    But, just attending a ceremony that helsp them bearing their pain? Even based on a lie, I won’t say wrong things about this part.

    PS : sorry for crappy english, I’m french. And you all know we speak english as spanish cows.

  25. Rain
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    “Cru” should change their name back to “Campus Crusade for Christ”. Someone needs to stand up for Jesus and not be afraid of having Jesus in their name. Maybe at least they should be the “Jesus Cru”. Yeah, that would be really hip and cool for the campuses.

  26. Christian
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    OT: Pope Benny wants to resign at end of Feb.

  27. Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    It is unfortunate that they didn’t interview me (Humanist Chaplain of the Humanist Community at Stanford) or anybody else associated with our organization. We actually aren’t really anything like Cru, except for the fact that both groups eat pizza.

  28. Rain
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    I don’t know that they aren’t a faith group.

    Ah yes the dreaded “nanner nanner boo boo” equivocation fallacy. Nanner nanner boo boo, what sticks on us sticks on you too. A very silly and childish fallacy.

    • wads42
      Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Tu quoque?

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Oh, nanner nanner boo boo is much more fun!

  29. jay
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    ” wouldn’t mind partnering with a liberal religious group to, say, rebuild homes for the poor, but I’d rather do it with fellow nonbelievers, ”

    Which is not interfaith, but simply cooperating with religious people for a secular cause.

    Interesting story: Some years ago after devastating floods, a friend went to volunteer in relief efforts. She first went to Red Cross, but was extremely bothered by the fact that they were demanding ID (there were lots of ‘undocumented’ people in the stricken area). She found this personally unacceptable. So she (a bisexual Jewish atheist–hardly SA material) went to work with the Salvation Army operation, who fed anybody without question. She made no secret of her position, and was actually accepted quite warmly into the task at hand. In fact quite a few open discussions resulted.

    Sometimes there are reasons that motivate our choices.

  30. Posted February 11, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I would agree that interfaith activities should only be undertaken if it is well-established that the other groups share core values, *particularly* secular governance. At this particular time in history, it seems to me that the wilful identification of oneself as an atheist is meant precisely to stand in opposition to religious influence, and the cultivation of interfaith activities without discrimination of insidious beliefs can only undermine this.

  31. DrBrydon
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Interfaith is inter faith. I would participate in a group that labeled itself clearly as something like “The Faith and Non-Faith Alliance”. It seems like being lumped under ‘faith’ as a descriptor not only obscures the message, but, as suggested, compromises it.

  32. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Now what is the point of that beyond agreeing to compromise your values to make money? Surely it won’t turn atheists towards Islam, and I’m not sure what kind of atheism/Muslim comity could result.

    It seems exceedingly likely to be ineffective, but I don’t see how it’s necessarily a compromise in values. For the Muslims or Christians, since the money is going to charity, with the added benefit of a (hypothetical) chance to try and make a convert, it seems in accord on that end. On the atheist side… while atheism per se doesn’t have “values”, it is usually associated with valuing critical inquiry. Going to a church/mosque to see if the pitch there is somehow persuasive seems in accord with the critical value of giving all arguments consideration before dismissal. This is particularly the case, as it’s unlikely most of those atheist students had attended Islamic services previously.

    I’m curious to see how readers feel about interfaith activities.

    It increases exposure of Christians to people who they know are Atheists, helping erode prejudices with direct experience. It also seems frequently to involve accomplishing some practical good. I don’t see much additional credibility accruing to the faithful for it, save what they’re actually earning: a reputation for tolerance of even those with extreme disagreement.

    As I’ve found during this brief trip through the South, there are tons of atheists hidden among the faithful, like raisins of reason in a religious pudding.

    Particularly among the college-aged, I’d expect. Looking at the GSS, college age crowd in the South Atlantic states are pretty close to the overall US par; East South Central is a bit behind, but still on the order of half as many. Call it maybe 2% and 1% atheist, with about ten times that level of the unaffiliated, and even more not particularly religious nominally affiliated.

  33. Fastlane
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have faith that religious groups will ever stop trying to project their worst ‘features’ onto us. i.e. ‘faith’. What does that make me? :p


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