His Parents Aren’t Thrilled, but This Atheist’s Making a Difference on Campus

The Park City Daily News in Kentucky has a really positive article about Walter Petit, the founder of the Western Kentucky University Secular Student Alliance. It also touches on the rise of non-religious attitudes in the country and the decline of organized religion:

Walter Petit (Miranda Pederson – Daily News)

At WKU, Petit’s secular group has blossomed since it was formed in October 2011. This time last year, about eight people were attending group meetings. Recently, nearly 50 students showed up for a video screening, Petit said.

He attributes that growth — and the rising number of people his age who are nonreligious — to better access to education and information, which shows that there are other ideas than what is preached in church or written in the Bible, he said.

More than a decade after Petit first told his mother he no longer wanted to attend church, she still asks him to go with her, Petit said, adding that in spite of his views, he has a good relationship with his mother.

“But she has told me before that me being an atheist is her biggest failing as a parent,” he said. “She’s not fond of it at all.”

Been there, my friend. They thought I was going through a phase. Actually, they were the ones dealing with the big change — I had already accepted it. What helped them get over it was the realization that I really wasn’t a different person as an atheist than I was as a Jain. Once that stereotype was upended, they didn’t make as big a deal of it.

The article notes that attendance in Petit’s group has skyrocketed over the past year. That sort of community makes it so much easier to talk about these issues. Even if your parents can’t handle your atheism, the other students in the group have your back and share your history.

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.