JT in The Washington Post

Freethought Blogs’ own JT Eberhard was quoted in The Washington Post in an article on Secular Student Alliance groups in high schools:

“I am hoping that atheist students having their clubs and religious students having their clubs will promote dialogue,” said JT Eberhard, director of SSA’s high school program. “I also hope it will let the atheist students know that you can be an atheist and its okay. You are still a good person. We want to say: Here is a place where you can feel that.”

A major part of JT’s job involves knowing all the intricacies of the law related to the extents and limits of students’ and teachers’ rights to free religious expression while at school. In a fun and freewheeling interview of JT a couple of weeks ago (which was one of eighteen interviews I did that day), I ran a bunch of hypothetical scenarios by him to see what the law says. Many of the answers surprised me.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • John Morales

    “I also hope it will let the atheist students know that you can be an atheist and its okay.”

    They’re already atheists, whyever would they need reassurance that it’s okay?

    “You are still a good person.”

    Even though they’re atheists, they can still be a good person?

    (bah)

    PS You’ve misspelt his name.

    • skepticalmath

      They’re already atheists, whyever would they need reassurance that it’s okay?

      Ah, just like gay teens should be fine with being gay and require no reassurance that it’s okay, regardless of any internalized homophobia from our culture?

      I’ll be sure to tell my teenage self that, thanks!

    • John Morales

      If they’re not OK with being an atheist, then they don’t have to be one.

      (You’re sure you’re comparing apples with apples?)

    • Tyrant of Skepsis

      Are you being wilfully obtuse? Of course some kids simply doesnt believe in god and thats it, thats what you are in this moment. Yet, ie in the Us, theres a chance they live i an environment telling them every. Day that atheists are dangerous, evil, not to be trusted. You dont think a bit of support might be welcome in that situation?

    • John Morales

      Did you read that which I quoted?

      One only needs to be told it’s OK to be X if one is not sure that it’s OK to be X or that they’re Y if one is not sure that they’re Y.

      Yet, ie in the Us, theres a chance they live i an environment telling them every. Day that atheists are dangerous, evil, not to be trusted. You dont think a bit of support might be welcome in that situation?

      I suppose reassurance when needed is a type of support, but it’s otiose when not needed; I suggest to you that most atheists in such an anti-atheist milieu would hardly need such reassurance.

      Having clubs is one thing, claiming they function as counselling and support centres is another.

      (Clubs for needy people are for needy people)

  • Mary

    If they’re not OK with being an atheist, then they don’t have to be one.

    Are you suggesting that atheism is a choice? I could just choose to believe in God if I wanted to? If you think you choose your beliefs, choose to truly believe something that you don’t already believe. Try believing you can fly then go launch yourself off the roof of your building. You won’t be able to make yourself believe it. You won’t be able to do it.

    I would have the choice of pretending to believe–or trying to believe, “fake it til I make it,” as a minister seriously suggested once.

    • John Morales

      Are you suggesting that atheism is a choice?

      It apparently was for whatshername who recently converted to Catholicism. :)

      Are you suggesting young people who have no choice but to be atheists need reassurance that it’s OK?

  • Jamie

    This is all kind of ironic since Atheists do what they can to limit religious exprssion…they would shut down the religious clubs if the could. (And you know they have tried, so save the denials.)

    • Squishophrenic

      [citation needed]

  • had3

    The difference is, as an atheist, I would hope the religious clubs would shut down on their own due to lack of participation like an alchemy club would shut down. If religious clubs existed like a Dungeons and Dragons club did, that’s inconsequential and has little to no impact outside of the club. I don’t seek to legislate the religious clubs out of existence.

  • John W. Loftus

    Pretty cool!


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