Duncan Henderson is the founder of the only high school atheist group in Alabama and local radio station WBHM recently aired a nice profile of him.
My favorite part has to be the comments from the group’s faculty sponsor… who also happens to be the school’s principal:
[Duncan is] now founder and president of the Auburn High School Freethinkers’ Club, the only such high school club in Alabama. Things have calmed down and the club is established, thanks partly to principal Dr. Todd Freeman, the club’s sponsor.
Freeman says, “Our kids have a right to meet. And they have a right to establish a club, and it’s not my prerogative to necessarily agree or disagree with positions of clubs, but it is my prerogative and responsibility to make sure they have the right to have the club. I could see where there would be resistance, but it’s not really a question because it’s law.”
Then Freeman, who happens to be a devout Christian, adds, “Duncan knows my particular spiritual beliefs as a Christian and so do his mom and dad, whom we have a great relationship with, and work very well with. They’re just very nice folks.”
That’s not a glowing endorsement of the club, but it doesn’t matter. Duncan managed to find a sponsor who supports his right to meet. That’s all it takes.
Principal Freeman doesn’t support the Freethinkers club just to follow the law. He says he’s been impressed with the club’s “intellectually stimulating conversations.” He adds, “One of things that was an affirmation to me is that it was not a club that had an intent to disparage or denigrate other groups, or Christians. If you really embrace whatever your belief systems are, there’s commonalities that we treat people respectfully. And I saw that in those meetings.“
There’s also a bit in the piece about how adults like me (including me, in fact) are pushing our agenda on kids like Duncan.
If I have any agenda with respect to young atheists at all, it’s that I want high school students who are questioning or who have decided they don’t believe in God to have the opportunity to talk about their beliefs in an open, safe way just like all the religious students can do.
Who knew that idea was so dangerous?