Atheist Student Group Called “Dangerous”

At many college campuses, student groups receive money from their schools by submitting a grant proposal and/or making a presentation to a committee of students and staff.

The University of South Florida’s Atheist Student Alliance requested $1171.30 (for “food for meet-and-greets, Bull Market booths, meetings and guest lectures”). Those are typical needs for any campus group.

The bill for funding the group went to the Student Government Senate and was heavily debated.

Why?

Sen. Charles Sherrard, who is majoring in political science, voted against the bill.

“I disapprove. These kinds of organizations are dangerous for our society,” Sherrard said.

Others added that “the group was immoral.”

A few intelligent people on the committee, even if they disagreed with the group’s beliefs, knew better:

“Though I may not agree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it,” said Sen. Ryan Iacovacci, paraphrasing Voltaire.

“Tension is necessary, tension is what breeds creativity,” Iacovacci said. “If there is one side of the coin, then you get control. If there is tension, it breeds democracy.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Nicole Randazzo also supported the bill.

“This is the students’ money, so give it back to the students.”

Added Sen. Benjamin Brown: “Regardless whether you believe in their views, I still think it’s good to have a diversity of opinions.”

Some made the right move (supporting the bill), but for the wrong reasons:

Sen. Keenan Arodak said SG should approve the funding request because disapproving it because of the group’s beliefs is illegal.

Despite all this, the funding was approved in a 13-4-2 vote, which is terrific for the ASA.

But it’s appalling that any student in a position of leadership would be against funding the group for those reasons.

I can see an argument being made that the requested money was too high an amount (if that were the case)… but there was no evidence of the group being dangerous or immoral — only that they were atheists.

Imagine if a Jewish group was denied funding for those reasons.

There’d be an outcry.

(via Secular Student Alliance)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    On average, atheists are more moral than Christians. Their decisions don’t get distorted by dogma.

  • supermanchild

    As upsetting as news tidbits like this can be, I can’t say that I really find it that surprising. I think it would be best to take these events themselves in stride. Instead of becoming upset, we should take it as a challenge. Clearly there is a substantial portion of the population that views “atheists” or “secularists” with fear or even hatred. So how can we work to improve popular perception?

  • Aj

    …but there was no evidence of the group being dangerous or immoral — only that they were atheists.

    Oh Hemant, Hemant, my lovely but naive Hemant. Didn’t you read the first moral law? “I am the Lord your God”. Haven’t you heard what atheists would do if they were let loose into society? Womens rights, gay rights, free expression, and as you well know, hurricanes and terrorists God sends, if we were to allow that kind of behaviour.

  • Kathryn

    Pretty much the opposite happened at my school, the Roman Catholic Foundation was recently denied student funding… duh.
    (It wasn’t because of their beliefs, they just couldn’t prove their worth in terms of educating the community… beyond prayer and proselytizing, of course)

    Naturally, they’re claiming it’s religious discrimination.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    The real irony: This is FLORIDA!!! If you are concerned about immorality, why not try to stop all the people that flock there for spring break? (I know a student senate couldn’t do much about that, but still….the irony! I think some Christians go after gay people and atheists simply due to laziness. It’s easy to target the small groups.)

    Also: a political science major against atheism? Scary. I think people trying to control me based on their opinions that they cannot justify are dangerous.

    Also, I think to them “dangerous” means something that punctures their little bubble.

  • jdcollins

    I go to South Florida and upon passing by the newspaper stand was extremely excited to see “Atheist….” in a headline on the front page and so I picked up a copy. Upon reading it however, it got me thinking.

    At this same University, I was at one time a member of the Rugby Club, and when it comes to immorality, there is none worse than a college rugby team. However we were approved for our budget of approximately $6,000. Think of all the immoral things a group of drunk guys could have done with that kind of money!
    Anyway, my point is that it is still upsetting, although not shocking, that atheists are assumed to be immoral just because we believe there is no god.

  • Keenan Arodak

    If only the remainder of my quote was placed in the oracle’s write up where I finished with saying that all organizations regardless of ideology must be scrutinized on an individual basis and cannot be penalized for having an ideology against our own.

    It’s not the “wrong” reason, I was under the assumption that atheism condoned separating church and state and creating a true sense of secularity. The semantic value of “illegal” in this debacle was the essence of a secular government, so please make a true distinction here. My support was for the organization itself, to hell with ideologies.

  • Mriana

    Dangerous? How do they figure that? Those people are insane! People really do not make any sense sometimes. Make you wonder just how far we have really come, even in the area of academics.

  • Bdox

    Keenan Arodak:

    Are we talking about government or law or philosophy?

    In my lexicon, atheism takes no positions. It simply does not embrace mythology or superstition.

  • Keenan Arodak

    Bdox:

    Thanks for the reply. The lexical value assigned was incorrect and is understandable based on the little bit of information provided by The Oracle. In order to maintain a semblance of a true secular government I thought it best to maintain a focus on the issue of funding a properly established and active student organization here at the University of South Florida. It isn’t the wrong reason at all, in fact it’s the only reason we were able to move on.

    It’s quick to forget the role of government, even at the University level. As an aside, the student organization in question is now making shirts with the quote from Senator Sherrard and has agreed to put the “Funded by SG” logo on it. I love the sense of humor that they have been able to capitalize on based on the words of an ignorant Senator.

    Best,
    Keenan Arodak


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X