Atheist Gets His Own Newspaper Column at Louisiana College

At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the school newspaper The Vermilion recently gave a column to the priest of the school’s on-campus Catholic Church.

Scott C. Broussard helps run the Secular Student Alliance group at the school and he requested — and received! — the chance to write his own column in the paper. Call it a reasonable counterweight to the priest’s drivel.

His first column appeared this past week and focuses on the false notion that atheists are evil:

Being an open atheist in this country is an invitation for ostracism. We aren’t wanted. I’ve heard how we worship Satan, we’re idiots, we deserve to be killed, etc. Watch the YouTube video “Anything but an Atheist” and see how despised and misunderstood we are. Google “Jessica Ahlquist” or “Damon Fowler” — they’re teenage atheists who have been threatened by their communities.

Quarterback Tim Tebow is praised for Bible verses on his uniform — how much outrage would there be if he had written “No God?” It’s that double standard I want to fight.

My purpose is to discuss secular issues (in science, politics and society) and reach out to others who maybe don’t feel as comfortable being an atheist. To them: it’s OK. Admit that you’re a non-believer! Email me! You’re in the company of Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Radcliffe, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Brad Pitt, Pat Tillman, Roger Ebert and even the Mythbusters. The more of us who speak up, the stronger we’ll be together.

Scott tells me he’s already “received several emails from closeted atheists” in response to the first column.

This is how you do it. You go public with your own atheism and then you help others build up the confidence to do the same. That’s tough to do anywhere, but especially at a Catholic-heavy campus. So hats off to Scott for taking a leadership role at his school!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://cuterus.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    You’re in the company of so many white men. Apart from that, this is fantastic.

    • fifilafoo

      That’s not very nice and just diverts the attention from the subject at hand. It’s hard enough to get atheists to agree on anything as we are all very independent thinkers so forget about introducing divisions within our body. Getting atheists to agree on anything is like trying to herd cats; that’s why we’re atheists!

      • http://cuterus.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

        Wow, I’ve never heard that thing about cats before. That’s clever. You want to talk about “nice?” It would be nice if atheists, as a marginalized group, showed a little more respect to its members who are marginalized in other ways as well. We will not be quietly ignored.

        As I said, this was absolutely wonderful. But appreciating something good doesn’t mean you can’t constructively criticize. 

    • Michael

      It does seem very much like an off-the-top-of-my-head list.

      Have a better one. http://www.alexgabriel.co.uk/post/14931219622/100-interesting-atheists-in-britain-who-arent-old

  • Melissa Fancher

    I completed my bachelors degree at a Catholic college in the bible belt. I never openly discussed my beliefs (or lack of). I remember telling the psychology professor and asking him not to “out me” and he kept to his word. Living in the bible belt holds it own issues. At this point in my life I have only told my family members. It was really hard for my mom to accept. I have 3 children and two are Christians. I believe that is their choice. I raised them to make their own decisions about their lives and beliefs. It was by chance I found this blog. I will be checking it daily now. Keep on blogging.

  • Steve Bowen

    Have you tried reading the pseudo-psychological Freudian drivel the priest has published? Apparently all atheists have father issues. Sheeesh!

    • fifilafoo

      Everyone has father issues if he didn’t buy you a lollipop when you wanted one.

  • Anonymous

    This is wonderful :)  This is exactly the kind of thing that will (over time) dismantle soooo many of the misconceptions surrounding atheism.  Just as with homosexuality, the more  publicly-identified atheists there are, and the more nice/normal/ethical atheists people meet, the harder it will be to sell the ‘they’re all evil‘ idea.

  • Anonymous

    I was taught psychology by a religious man and he didn’t try teaching me the flawed pro-theism argument in the the column to the right.  In fact, many of the facts that I learned there had a part in letting go of religion, because it showed flaws in our mental structures that wouldn’t be designed in by a competent creator.

    And no, I was not neglected by my father.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

    This is great :) When I wrote an article about being an atheist on campus for my Southern Baptist college newspaper, I received similar emails/Facebook messages from a couple of people on campus who are also nonbelievers. It was nice to see that I’m not the only one. I also received one crazy letter from someone telling me that I’m going to hell. He wanted it published in the paper as a response. Luckily, our editor said that we don’t have to publish crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

    That’s news? I had my own atheist column in my campus newspaper 10 years ago. My friend ShaunPhilly also had an atheist column. There was one religious column, but the guy didn’t write as regularly as we did. I should add that our columns were generally well received. 

    • RTH

      Where was your school? The location of ULL in one of the less-friendly-to-atheists states is what makes this news.

      • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

        West Chester University in Pennsylvania. When I was there, it wasn’t a very friendly place for atheists. But I helped make it one. Just within the last month, an atheist group has started there. When I was there, I flirted with the idea but it was before the SSA was around. As president of the Philosophy Club, I pretty much turned that group into the atheist group on campus. At the time, I had a campus talk radio show which was atheist themed called, Dangerous Talk. I kept that name for my blog. My newspaper column was also atheist themed. It was call, Common Sense. My friend ShaunPhilly also had a newspaper column and there was a woman who wrote a column about spirituality but she was mostly secular and critical of religion. She is an atheist now though.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TLHIXVS2CHDJNWYPZJIZ5NNZ3A Robert

    “You’re in the company of …even the Mythbusters.”

    I want to see the Mythbusters episode that takes on Christianity or religion as a whole.  That would be one awesome show.

    • Bluebury

      I’ve heard they were talking about Busting creationism- not sure if that ever came to fruition.   

  • Joshua Rodriguez

    Tim Tebow was not necessarily praised for a Bible verse, but because in an amoral world he supports and upholds morality. To have put “No God?” would have certainly been an outrage because atheism is associated with the rejection of a moral system. Think about it. If there is no Creator who has given instructions for right and wrong; where have these higher ideals of love, peace, joy, happiness, gentleness, etc. come from? Certainly not from any of the renown atheists of the past or present. Certainly not from humanity who, when given an opportunity, is cruel and selfish. A Higher Being who understands social relationships and order has given us His word to govern life peaceably. Oh, but some will say what about the wars associated with religion. To that I say, to some extent justice and discipline is necessary when pain is inflicted (like the police), but corrupt men have abused these truths as satisfaction for their desire of violence. Quit villainizing those who want morality, when that is exactly what you want but without any moral system. It simply will not happen. Atheism is chaos.

    • Aurelia

      So the only thing stopping you from murdering and raping innocent people is your belief in a God?  I find that hard to believe . . . but if it’s true, I’m glad your belief is saving the lives of everyone around you.  

      Sarcasm aside, morality and religion are two VERY different things.  Ask anybody who has been on the rough end of a holy war or vendetta against the non (insert particular sect or religion here).    Humans are social animals, and as such altruism and happiness help everybody.  No God necessary.

    • JoshDCarp

      Your Higher Being is OK with slavery and commands the stoning of people to death based on their sexual orientation. Our morals come from the fact that we are social animals who have to depend on each other to survive.  You don’t need a god to tell you not to kill or steal – all you need are two people who both agree that they’d rather not be killed or stolen from, and agree to defend each other from others who would kill or steal. Check out the Euthryphro dilemma, which shows some of the inherent problems involved in morality from divine command. 

      • Joshua Rodriguez

        God is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and immutable. He knows all things, which includes the consequences of every action. Therefore, He is able to make a perfect moral system. He is the Creator of the system, and is Himself bound to the system. He is Love (selfless concern for well-being of others), He is Truth (reality of all things). The moral system He has given is for our well-being. The stoning of people based upon their sexual orientation was necessary for the time the command was given. It was meant to control the progress of degeneration. However now under the law of Christ, God’s punishment is reserved for the final day of judgment. Why, you may ask, do individuals who violate the moral code need to be punished? Let’s take for instance, homosexuality. The homosexual demonstrates a lack of restraint for their sexual desires. Much like the fornicator who can not keep themselves until marriage, or the adulterer who can not remain faithful to their spouse. If left unchecked, these sexually immoral acts will quickly degenerate into worse situations. These acts cause emotional pain, as well as being against the natural use of the body. Homosexuality is against the natural use of the body. Fornication can cause disease, unwanted pregnancy, children without proper love, etc. Adultery causes broken homes, impacting society for the worse. These acts, if left unchecked, and are allowed to grow in their corruption will cause and has caused society to be chaotic. The moral system of God commands us not to engage in such acts, not to make us unhappy, but to keep us from (pain) harming ourselves and others. If you hold the history of the Bible to be true, consider what Sodom and Gomorrah had degenerated into (Genesis 19). Or the Canaanite nations (Leviticus 18).

        Is morality independent of God? No, you and others have simply come to terms with the social laws of life. Much like the philosophers came to terms with logic, astronomy, physics, etc. They did not create the system, but simply identified the system. Those laws were already in place. Your contemplation should lead you to ask, “by who?” That is a great question, and the purpose of our differences. If man is able to create a moral system, that is altruistic, independent of God, why have so many rulers, left to their own power become absolutely corrupt? The fact of the matter is, man can not be the measure of all things. By its very nature, what man? Who is better than others? Hitler would have chosen himself as the measure. Would you have agreed?

        So, God is capable of delivering a perfect moral system because He is all-knowing and eternal. The fact that He is all-powerful is kept in check with His unchangeable moral character. He created the world, and gave us laws to govern our relationships. Why? To teach us the beauties of morality, and true happiness.

        • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

          Well, here’s how all that really works:

          Nothing you said means anything at all, because there is nothing that I can possibly apply to my life to make it better, or to understand why things are the way they are. It is, instead, mere assertion, and to accept it, I have to actively ignore countless things that I deal with every day, including devout people who still do bad things.

          This means two things. One, that not even belief serves to make people better. And two, that you’re not interested in finding useful answers, only absolutes. No shades of grey, no real-world considerations.

          In short, your lengthy screed is aimed at morons, people with coin-toss mentality. I have no need for that.

          “Crumbly is blue; Crumbly is loud.” Is that something you can use? When you have the answer to that, you know why you’re just blowing smoke.

          I know, because I’m not an idiot, that slavery is bad, and beating children is small-minded and not useful. Your book does not, two among many things that cannot possibly fit into any definition of “good.”  That makes it pointless as a source of guidance.

          Now, I’m sure you believe you’re earning points by repeating all your mantras, like a good little robot. Eat your vegetables, too. But if you actually believe you’re reaching adults with this blather, you’re far too naive to bother with.

          • Joshua Rodriguez

            To make your life better you must apply the advice. Like exercising at the gym. Merely knowing the routines does not help you build muscle or become stronger, you must exercise. Knowing about good nutrition doesn’t make you healthier until you actually begin eating healthier. As far as assertion, there is none. The statistics and proofs are all around us. Homosexuals do lack restraint. Fornicators due contract diseases, have unwanted pregnancy, etc. Adultery does destroy emotions, homes, etc. That is what doing wrong (immorality) causes–pain. That’s black and white, no matter how you feel about it.

            As far as slavery goes, the Bible never teaches the abuse of slaves. Rather, the proper care and concern for people as human beings. The term is what you are hung up on, and how early America treated “slaves.” But in the Bible, they were more like employees under and employer. If the employer treated his employees improperly, it was a violation of morality. Even in that relationship, proper morals were upheld.

            Here’s an easy explanation as to how this applies to you. If you do not follow proper guidelines of morality you will become more and more corrupt. If you support immorality, you are only harming yourself and the society you are apart of. It may not be tomorrow that immorality comes to sting you, but rest assured degeneration will occur and chaos will ensue. God is trying to prevent that. His word is seeking to guide your attitude and actions for your own good. For our own good. Again, you can not be a law unto yourself. Your actions affect others, others actions affect you. Who can guide us in such a way that we do not harm each other when we do not see eye to eye. God and His word.

            • Anonymous

              Do you mean all homosexuals or some, or can I judge you on the basis of the restraint shown by heterosexuals (assuming you are one) like Newt Gingrich (assuming he is one). 

              I am not even sure what you mean as restraint as being in a long term monogamous relationship is not enough restraint for homosexuals according to some of your ilk.

              • Joshua Rodriguez

                Should we praise the criminal who is faithful in his criminality? The serial killer who is methodic in running amuck? Just because they show some faithfulness to their system does not mean their system is good. Just because homosexuals choose to be monogamous to their partner, does not make homosexuality good. The act of homosexuality is against morality to begin with. Homosexuality goes against the natural function of sexual organs. Eventually, their passion will degenerate into vile passions.

                • Anonymous

                  If you have a will to try it you will find same sex sex very natural – I do and my sexual organs function perfectly well in that regard – well suited to it actually (you would almost think designed for it if we didn’t already know we are not designed). Do tell me though why the interest in the functioning of my organs  - I don’t think I commented on yours.

                  The rest of your diatribe deserves only sympathy for the constraints and prejudices imposed on you by your delusions.

                • Joshua Rodriguez

                  The anus is not a sexual organ, its for defecation. Man in his corruption has made it so. The vagina is for procreation, not for the insertion of strange objects. 

                  The sexual organs are brought up to show how homosexuality is immoral, by going against the natural use of the body. But also, how these unrestrained passions, which have led you to do the unnatural, will lead you even further into bestiality, pedophilia, sadomasochism, transsexualism, etc. All these are actually associated with each other. They are a family of explicit sexual immoral acts.

                  God is wanting to save us from such pain and torment. Stay true to nature. Restrain your passions. Sex is allowed in marriage between man and woman. Love is demonstrated by both, and into child bearing. This is the natural order of things and will bring happiness.

                • Anonymous

                  It is not natural for your fingers to type on a keyboard – take note !!!

                • Joshua Rodriguez

                  Bottom line. Good without God is impossible. Every immoral act can be reduced to causing pain and creating a worse society.

                • TrollingForSouls

                  …so no heterosexual couple ever has ‘teh buttsecks’….?!? Or oral sex? And what about lesbians, who can have penetrative sex, if they want to, without using the anus?

                  Or is your entire argument “buttsecks is *icky*??”

            • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

              That is what doing wrong (immorality) causes–pain.

              There now, see? To explain yourself, you had to resort to actual value judgments, something measurable, rather than vague platitudes.

              Now, try to figure out how homosexuality causes pain – as opposed to persecuting homosexuals.

              The term is what you are hung up on, and how early America treated
              “slaves.” But in the Bible, they were more like employees under and
              employer.

              Unfortunately, history says otherwise. For 1800 years, give or take, nobody agreed with you on that interpretation. Not to mention that, if you were actually right, there would be no reason for the separate term of “slave.”

              And finally, regardless of treatment, denial of anyone’s freedom is still immoral. You see, I can say that because I use different measuring sticks, such as empathy and equality.

              Here’s an easy explanation as to how this applies to you. If you do not
              follow proper guidelines of morality you will become more and more
              corrupt.

              You need some help on reading comprehension. I never made any argument against morality. I pointed out that your standards of such are flawed.

              Again, you can not be a law unto yourself.

              Funny, it seems to be the religious that cannot grasp this concept. What makes you think god needs your help? Not to mention, how do you know that you’re right?

              Before you say it, everyone and their brother all have holy books and artifacts and traditions to claim the same divine right. Somebody, a lot of somebodies, are wrong. Insistence only leads to conflict – that’s also history. Try reading it without the self-serving attitude. Some of us can actually see bloodbaths, pograms, inquisitions, witch hunts, and various such persecutions as “pain.”

              Your actions affect others, others actions affect you. Who can guide us
              in such a way that we do not harm each other when we do not see eye to
              eye[?] God and His word.

              You started out well, except that, as pointed out above, it’s the gods (and the various claims of such authority) that you can’t see eye to eye about.

              Try this: Just don’t do harm. That’s your goal. Not authority, not ego, not elevating yourself as some special being with divine light. Just think of  others instead of yourself.

        • TrollingForSouls

          Joshua, you need to try the Unbeliever’s Test for your assertions. Imagine all your assertions are being made about some divine entity story that you don’t believe is true…say, ‘Allah’, or ‘Zeus’, or ‘Rama’, or how about ‘Thor’?

          Any of your own claims that you wouldn’t accept if they were attributed to this other divine entity idea…..well, that’s how we feel about *your* divine entity idea…

          to quote Jack Sparrow (hey, another deity idea!), “….savvy???….”‘

    • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

      Atheism is not connected to the rejection or acceptance of any ethical system: it’s just the nonbelief in god(s). Atheists are free to reject the ethics of Christianity, Judaism, etc., just as they are free to accept a different ethical position like humanism.

      I also second the recommendation for you to study the Euthryphro dilemma.

    • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

      Unfortunately, mankind is not omnipotent, so assertions don’t really lead anywhere – your word is not truth. While I find it amusing that you can claim that good and morality come from god but violence and hatred from, well, human nature it would seem, there’s not really anything backing you up. Are you sure it’s not the other way around? Our prisons have a disproportionate number of religious folk in them, while secular countries have much lower crime and violence rates. You get to see this when you bother to pay attention.

      Personally, I use a different measuring stick: is some particular action good, or bad? What more is needed? Isn’t that the whole point of morality?

      Can someone be good without resorting to divine authority? Yep. Can they be bad while hewing to such? Yep. If you want to take it farther, are there any tendencies that can be seen within these demographics? Yep – see above.

      I won’t argue that many, many people might be so abysmally stupid that they need ultimate rules for them to function within society – but this is pretty derogatory about the brains that we possess, much less the “sophisticated” aspects of theology. Most people I know, however, learned how to wipe themselves without any scriptural guidance whatsoever, and can also figure out that being bad to someone means that antagonism will be returned in kind (I think I figured this out at the age of three, but maybe I was a gifted child.) Most of what I see from religion is claims of divine authority to be judgmental assholes, and I’m quite sure, without any tablets to tell me, that we don’t need that.

  • Michael

    So, I see there is a correlation between the type of people who get into government and the type of people who go to jail?

    • Joshua Rodriguez

      People who do not hold or keep themselves to a moral system are everywhere. Jail and government. The world is pretty much in a struggle for morality and immorality. Atheism fights against not just the hypocrites of religion, but the moral culture it stands for. How will their attitudes, emotions, perspectives, actions, etc. be changed without a moral code to persuade, teach, and guide them. This is where God and His word come in. The Bible is a series of moral arguments designed to teach us right from wrong and the pain associated with an immoral lifestyle.

      • Golfie98

        As you say it is “a” series of moral arguments – it just that it’s such a poor series. I am sure we can come up with something much better and leave all the burning in hell (or at the stake) out of it. 

      • Michael

        Seems like it’s not working, maybe we should try a different book.

  • Dbuer

    It’s heartening to know that an atheist can have his own newspaper column dedicated to his beliefs.  However, he does repeat many of the erroneous statements made about atheism.  For example, neither Thomas Jefferson nor Albert Einstein would have agreed with the claim that they were athests.  Thomas Jefferson was an active member of his Episcopal Church and a declared Christian.  Einstein, a Jew by birth, was educated in a Catholic school which he credits for inspiring in him a wonder for the universe.  Einstein also rejected atheism and declared science without religion to be lame.  Given these errors, his 10% estimate of the population being atheist is likely an over estimate as is the over worn statement that 90% of scientists are atheists There is no reliable or confirmed evidence to back up this estimate.   Historically, atheists have have a world wide presence of about 5%.  Still a sizable number.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47910251 Scott Broussard

      That’s why I said “non-believer”. Perhaps that still stretches it a bit, since deists are still believers of some stripe. Also, Jefferson denied the supernatural parts of the Bible, so that’s not a version of Christianity I’m familiar with. 

      There is also research indicating that the vast majority of scientists aren’t believers, either: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm & http://kspark.kaist.ac.kr/Jesus/Intelligence%20&%20religion.htm

      I was using Pew research for the number of atheists in America:  
      http://religions.pewforum.org/reports. 

      Thanks for the comments, though. I like being kept on my toes. Reminds me to watch that I’m not full of BS.

      • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

        I believe the term that is most accurate for Jefferson is “theistic rationalist,” which indicates that he did in fact believe in an intervening deity (unlike the non-interventionist deity of most deists) but denied the importance of revelation and emphasized reason. So “non-believer” is still probably not entirely accurate.

    • Anonymous

      Jefferson certainly didn’t call himself a Christian. In fact he refused to label himself in any way. His beliefs were light years removed from anything that can considered orthodox Christianity. He rejected the supernatural and the divinity of Jesus. What he was is a Deist. A deist god is simply a creator god that isn’t involved in human affairs. That’s why he used religious language without believing in Christianity.

      And Einstein was agnostic. He ridiculed the belief in a personal god and considered the Bible a collection of ancient myths. The reason he rejected the atheist label is because he considered it an expression of too much certainty and considered many of them too be too harsh and strident. That doesn’t make him a believer.

      Your world wide numbers are ridiculous. Not  every country is as superstitious as the US. It’s really an extreme outlier among western nations

  • Bluebass721

    I’m feel perfectly okay telling people I’m an atheist. The kind of mouth breathers that think only religious people can be moral are not people I have any interest in being around. They ignore not only history, but their own hypocritical religious texts… you know, it’s not even worth writing out a whole screed on the subject, so I won’t. To put it bluntly, they’re idiots that aren’t worth my time.


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