The New York Times is reporting it this morning: “More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops.”
We are making more progress in getting our message out than ever before.
There are several wonderful anecdotes in reporter Laurie Goodstein‘s article.
One is about the reaction to an atheist billboard in South Carolina:
Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.
The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.
The organization I chair, the Secular Student Alliance, is mentioned as well, as is one of our affiliate groups:
Part of what is giving the movement momentum is the proliferation of groups on college campuses. The Secular Student Alliance now has 146 chapters, up from 42 in 2003.
At the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, 19 students showed up for a recent evening meeting of the “Pastafarians,” named for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — a popular spoof on religion dreamed up by an opponent of intelligent design, the idea that living organisms are so complex that the best explanation is that a higher intelligence designed them.
Andrew Cederdahl, the group’s co-founder, asked for volunteers for the local food bank and for a coming debate with a nearby Christian college. Then Mr. Cederdahl opened the floor to members to tell their “coming out stories.”
Andrew Morency, who attended a Christian high school, said that when he got to college and studied evolutionary biology he decided that “creationists lie.”
Josh Streetman, who once attended the very Christian college that the Pastafarians were about to debate, said he knew the Bible too well to be sure that Scripture is true. Like Mr. Streetman, many of the other students at the meeting were highly literate in the Bible and religious history.
In keeping with the new generation of atheist evangelists, the Pastafarian leaders say that their goal is not confrontation, or even winning converts, but changing the public’s stereotype of atheists. A favorite Pastafarian activity is to gather at a busy crossroads on campus with a sign offering “Free Hugs” from “Your Friendly Neighborhood Atheist.”
What a fantastic, positive piece about atheism. (And kudos to the Pastafarian group for doing such great work.)
If you’re able, the Secular Student Alliance is still trying to raise money with our $5 fundraiser! The donation box is in the upper right part of this website. (Please help if you can — We’ve nearly hit the $2,000 mark, but you can help us top that!)