Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, March 19, 2012

Atheism and Interfaith Cooperation

I was looking for things to talk about and generally just sort of browsing different religious news and such, and found this great article here.

It is about the struggle of some secular, humanist, and otherwise atheist groups to thrive on religious campuses and start student groups. It's interesting to me, in actuality many of the finest institutions of higher learning our country has to offer are religiously oriented, particularly some Catholic universities. But what I found really interesting about the article was that it mentions several times that many faith-based organizations on these campuses are wanting to get secular atheists involved in their efforts, but don't know how and sometimes there are awkward communication gaps.

It made me think of something Dr. Oliver said that he was asking the people being interviewed for the Religious Studies position, about what their place might be in an Atheism and Philosophy course. And I'd be really interested in hearing from the class, those of you who are atheists, do you believe that you should/can have a place in "inter-faith" efforts or perhaps religiously motivated and run social justice movements/organizations? Should we throw "no faith" in there with everyone else for those purposes?


  1. I raised the question of why "Inter-faith" gatherings typically exclude "No-faith," not because I personally would want a place at that table but because the secular view needs to be represented or at least acknowledged. It seems that if we don't do it, nobody else will. But I'm definitely not volunteering. In an odd way it might actually be seen as legitimating faith, or taking it more seriously than most atheists do. I just want the religious to admit that freedom of religion entails freedom from religious as well.

  2. I will be among the thousands at the Reason Rally this weekend demanding that secular views be acknowledged. Separation of church and state, at least.

  3. Right, I understand that point of view for both of you. I suppose it could be seeing as legitimating faith, or offering your tacit support to the belief structure. But if, for example, the Muslim Student Association were doing some kind of charity drive, or social justice work, or habitat for humanity build or something, and invited the atheist student group.... do you really think the atheist student group should turn that down?

  4. Of course not. Here is the mission statement for the struggling-to-be-born Secular Student Alliance here on campus. It is quite explicit about this subject.

    "The Secular Student Alliance is working with students and faculty at MTSU to start a campus group for atheists, agnostics, nontheists, humanists, skeptics, freethinkers, and other students who do not believe in a god or gods.

    Secular Student Alliance affiliates promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism and human-based ethics. We accomplish this through five areas of focus: education, service, activism, community and cooperation.

    Our goals are to:
    - Educate ourselves and our communities about religion and nontheism
    - Contribute to society through community service
    - Participate in our government through activism
    - Build a community for nontheists at MTSU
    - Cooperate with other groups of both similar and dissimilar viewpoints to foster understanding and communication."

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  6. Religious charity is proselytization parading as philanthropy.

    The adherents may not see this but there is a truth to "safety in numbers." Religions must grow the flock. This is the philosophy of holding your sandwich hostage in exchange for submission.

    Don't believe me: ask any religious leaders involved if they mind if the "interfaith" atheists pass out their own literature to try to win converts during the mission of helping the needy.

    In that, you will find the true essence of religious "charity."

    (Previous comment deleted due to syntax.) (sin tax?)