Why are college atheist groups important?
Because their members will take a stand when no one else can/will.
Ashley Rose Mockett is the founder of the Free-Thinkers Club at Saddleback College (in California). She received a scholarship to attend the school and was surprised by what she found at the ceremony to honor scholarship recipients:
I was asked to stand for the invocation, followed by the pledge of allegiance. At first, I did not hear what it was I was asked to stand for; the room was filled with thousands of people talking. When I stood, I was met with a political tirade about how the speaker, Don Wager Pres. of our board of trustees, ought to be able to pray at any government event he chooses to pray at. Essentially what he said was that we were here today to recognize the students and also thank God for these achievements, and you could sit down if you did not agree with him! In a few sentences I had been both congratulated by Wagner and also and insulted by him.
You can even see this tirade in action:
This event prompted Ashley to form her atheist group. She wanted a way to fight back against this use of religion in the public square.
In short, with the help of her faculty sponsor (Karla Westphal) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Ashley was able to change how that ceremony worked.
No more invocations for them:
At an Associated Student Government meeting on Thursday, March 5, students passed a resolution regarding the removal of the invocation before the annual Scholarship Award Ceremony. As a result of its passing, the ASG will now plan the scholarship ceremony.
We need more students like Ashley. You can help the Secular Student Alliance form more groups and energize other students like Ashley — we need more activists on campus keeping an eye on church/state issues.
(via Secular Student Alliance)