The Alliance of Happy Atheists

A new atheist student group has formed at the University of Oregon. They have the most pleasant name I’ve heard in a long time: The Alliance of Happy Atheists.

Lucy Gubbins, the group’s recently elected president, says the group’s goal is not to be anti-religious. Instead, the group is focused on being courteous, tolerant, and supporting atheism and atheists.

“I think the Alliance of Happy Atheists creates a community for people to come to,” said Gubbins, a University freshman. “I think it’s a wonderful social atmosphere. I think people really feel that they can be honest, and they can really can talk about their struggles, and I think that’s the most important thing.”

Sounds like a very open, tolerant group that wants to provide a haven for atheist students. They’re going out of their way to say they’re not anti-religious.

Here’s where the story gets weird:

The group applied to be a recognized [Associated Students of the University of Oregon] group but was denied. The ASUO explained that the group must exist for six months before it can gain official recognition. “The ASUO hasn’t let us use any kinds of materials,” Gubbins said. “It’s like they don’t even want us to be a group.”

The article (and the subtitle of its headline) makes it sound like some anti-atheist conspiracy that angers group members.

It’s not. I spoke to the group’s Vice-President Greg Kirby and he said they know the six-month-rule very well. They should become an officially recognized group sometime this summer.

Not sure why the reporter chose to go with that angle…

Still, it’s great to see the group get some publicity. You can join their Facebook group here.

  • http://omega-geek.blogspot.com Spook

    I was involved in such a group for a bit over a year; we were never listed with the other groups in any context and our few events never seemed to get to the announcement paper. We were also told that we weren’t a real group even after being in operation for over a year.

    At my school, if your group doesn’t have “christ” or “cattle” in its name, you’re pretty much a nobody.

    This kind of thing isn’t uncommon, and the paranoia seems rather justified.

  • Richard Wade

    The article (and the subtitle of its headline) makes it sound like some anti-atheist conspiracy that angers group members…
    It’s not…
    Not sure why the reporter chose to go with that angle…

    Maybe the reporter is hoping to land a job at the Los Angeles Times.

  • Michael

    By comparison, are other atheist groups unhappy?

  • Jeremy

    Hemant, I know Lucy personally and she is just upset that the ASUO rules doen’t make any exceptions for groups that grow very quickly (as AHA! has). Most groups take 6 months just to figure out their by-laws and get 20 members. AHA has 200 people at it’s second meeting.

    Both Greg and Lucy know the 6 month rule, but it’s hard to work within beuarracry sometimes.

    Also, the reporter does like to exaggerate things sometimes. This certainly isn’t the first time he’s done that.

    Michael, I’m sure many people would say so. That’s why it is made explicit in the name. Most of my Christian friends jokingly say “isn’t the a contradiction?” when I tell them the name of the group.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant, I know Lucy personally and she is just upset that the ASUO rules doen’t make any exceptions for groups that grow very quickly (as AHA! has). Most groups take 6 months just to figure out their by-laws and get 20 members. AHA has 200 people at it’s second meeting.

    Jeremy — Thanks for that comment. I don’t doubt tht Lucy knows the rules. And the explanation you give makes sense.

    So the rules are not very helpful to popular groups like AHA. That’s a much different story than what the article is about. The blame here is on the reporter who did not mention this, not Lucy. When I read it, it sounded like the atheist group was whining about having to follow the rules everyone has to abide by. Had the reporter written you commented, it’s a much comprehensive and accurate article.

  • Anonymous

    Still, it’s great to see the group get some publicity.

    Isn’t that what it’s all about, really? I mean, without real or imagined oppression, what’s an atheist to do? As soon as atheists become as accepted as any other group, no one will pay any attention to them! So let’s keep these stories of oppression on the Internets, even if we have to invent them ourselves ;)

  • penguinsaur

    They’re going out of their way to say they’re not anti-religious.

    meanwhile the schools christian group continued telling every single person who doesnt agree with them that they deserve to be brutally tortured for eternity.

  • Richard Wade

    Anonymous, you said:

    Isn’t that what it’s all about, really? I mean, without real or imagined oppression, what’s an atheist to do? As soon as atheists become as accepted as any other group, no one will pay any attention to them! So let’s keep these stories of oppression on the Internets, even if we have to invent them ourselves ;)

    The reporter was responsible for the “oppression” angle, not the AHA, and this blog post and the comments have made that very clear. You’re talking as if the atheists in the AHA and here on this blog are trying hard to fabricate an oppression story. If you have a complaint about such stories being made up by atheists, please show us the documentation. I’m sure we would all like to debunk such stuff.

    The day I’m not given any special attention just because I’m an atheist but accepted just as any other person will be a very happy day for me ideed.

  • Richard Wade

    penguinsaur, to the italicized quote you replied:

    They’re going out of their way to say they’re not anti-religious.
    meanwhile the schools christian group continued telling every single person who doesnt agree with them that they deserve to be brutally tortured for eternity.

    Do you know that for a fact from direct observation of that particular school’s Christian group, or are you just spouting your own anti-religious bile? When we complain about bigotry, we should be sure we’re not practicing it ourselves even as we speak.

  • penguinsaur

    Considering that all non-believers burning is a tenet believed by a very large portion of American Christians it would be strange if they didn’t. This is like asking me to prove theirs catholics in the group, I dont personally know them but statistically their has to be.

  • Richard Wade

    penguinsaur, you are trying to justify your saying a specifically ugly thing about a specific, small group of people whom you apparently have never met nor have observed. You may be right about that particular group, but you don’t actually know, and saying “Well, they all think that way” is more of the same prejudice. Tossing around made-up statistics is not a very useful defense for slander.

    Neither accept justifications for bigotry when they are used against you, nor use them to justify your bigotry against others.

  • Cafeeine

    @Spook

    Are you subtly implying the next atheist group in your school should be called ‘Not Cattle for Christ’?

  • Greetings from Belgium

    Is it not beautiful? HAPPY Atheists …
    One day the USA will be free as a non-theocratic country.

  • Greg

    Notably, I’m not the Greg mentioned said article…

    As a member of AHA, we’ve been pretty surprised at the success we’ve had. Its formed into a mix of student politics, discussion and more importantly a social network, that’s given us an outlet to form a community. There’s quite a diversity of belief among our members from agnostics to hard atheist. Around Eugene we’ve received a mostly positive response. The Pacific Northwest used to be historically the least religious part of the US so its open. However, on Facebook (yes that facebook) we’ve clocked 205+ members in less than one term, and our meetings have roughly 50-60 person turnout

    Its been very cool and even cooler to see our group mentioned in a blog that some of us, like myself, read.

  • Bill Walker

    Pay no attention to my nom de plume. I’m god. I quit. Don’t ask for any more favors.Especially you earthlings. I have a whole cosmos to run & I don’t want to hear all these stupid pleas to heal someone’s diabetis. Just knock it off, or I’ll really smite ALL of you with H1V1


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