The Secular Student Alliance and Foundation Beyond Belief Comment on the Newtown Shootings

Yesterday, the Secular Student Alliance put out this statement in response to the tragedy:

Yesterday’s events were tragic, and our hearts go out to all of the people who were affected. However, some people have taken the opportunity to blame a “lack of god in schools” as the reason for it. We currently reach over 30,000 secular students, and comments like this make them “others” in society. Our students and our country don’t deserve that.

You don’t need religion to be a good person. The world isn’t divided into “good” and “bad” people. The world is full of people who do good and bad things. Every person has the capacity for both good and bad deeds, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Treat people with compassion, but also speak up when you see negative comments toward secular students. It’s more important now than ever before that we show people that secular students are just as good as religious students, because otherwise the stigma will continue.

The Foundation Beyond Belief issued a statement earlier today:

The humanist members and staff of Foundation Beyond Belief join with people around the world in grieving the tragic loss of life in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting on December 14. Our hearts go out to those whose lives will never be the same after this unimaginably cruel event.

Though never complete, the healing that takes place for the victims of this event will be made possible by the embrace of a compassionate human community. We hope that the pain and outrage of this moment will give rise to a reasoned, courageous, and long-overdue national conversation about how best to prevent the violent tragedies that have become so depressingly familiar in American life.

Because humanists believe that this is our one and only life, our commitment to protecting that life is among our most precious values. For this reason, we at FBB hope and expect that the humanist voice will be a prominent one in the difficult conversation ahead.


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.

  • f_galton

    Seize a tragedy and make it about yourselves, good job.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      Fuck off. That’s not what happened, and I suspect you know it.

      • f_galton

        Sure it is. Children are massacred, atheists use it as an excuse to whine about themselves.

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          Okay, maybe you lack that awareness, but it still isn’t what happened. Refer to my initial comment, SVP.

          • Barryhunt22

            It is what happened. Refer to my comment, which was directly in reply to yours.

        • Coyotenose

           See the numerous other posts preceding this one wherein Christians try to link the massacre to non-Christians. This is a response to those people.

          You’re either ignorant of that and too self-important to educate yourself before talking, or you’re lying about the issue. I’ll let you pick which one.

          Jesus must be so proud of you right now.

          • f_galton

            They have a point, while the atheist community is doing nothing more than whining.

        • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

          You missed a step, perhaps on purpose?

          Children are massacred, theists use it as an opportunity to evangelize about the need for god in public schools, the SSA responds by pointing out the wrongheadedness of the theists’ line of thought.
          Missed it because:A. Wanted to miss it to prove your own point… oh the irony!
          B. Actually missed it… ouch!

          • f_galton

            The SSA members are incapable of even considering the possibility the “theists” are right, all they do is whine about how they are victims.

            • Edmond

              Did you simply NOT READ the statement by the SSA?  It would explain a lot.

              There is no possibility that the theists are right, because God has NOT been “removed” from schools.  Students may pray all they like.  Even teachers and staff may do so.  The only thing that is prohibited is government workers (like school faculty) leading students in mandatory displays of worship.

              If that counts as keeping God “out” of schools, and this bothers Him so badly that he sends in people like Lanza to express His displeasure, then theists are wrong about God being worth worshipping.  Does God want children FORCED to adopt Christian worship practices, under penalty of execution?

              The SSA is not “whining” about being victims.  They are saying that talk like this turns non-religious students into outsiders.  This is deliberately divisive, and it places blame where it is not deserved.

              If people like Huckabee or Bryan Fischer were saying that this was caused by too many Muslims in our country, then you can bet your ass that Muslims would be decrying such an accusation, just as secularists are.  And they’d be just as right.

              • f_galton

                Get over yourselves.

                • Edmond

                  Oh, excellent reply.  Full of depth of thought, and logical too.  How could we have ever doubted such a rational, well-argued position?

      • Barryhunt22

        I’m an atheist myself, and I agree with f_galton, but only when it comes to the statement from the SSA. If you read it carefully, you’ll see less about the victims, or the tragedy itself than you will about the SSA and their views on religion and secularism. They should have dropped the “fight” for long enough to give a compassionate statement.

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          First, they did express their condolences for those involved. Second, it was in response to what people have been saying about secularists, and since that’s part of their mission, you would expect them to have something to say about it. But it’s asinine to suggest that SSA just made it all about them when they were reacting to bigoted attitudes from Christians.

    • amycas

       Seize a tragedy and make it about your perceived enemies forcing them to defend themselves, good job American religious leaders.

      • Barryhunt22

        They should respond to those accusations in the proper forum. They were supposed to be commenting on a massacre, not responding to the religious nutjobs.

        • Baal

           hrm, now that I’ve read your additional comments, I think you have a point but that you are wrong.  They did put support of the families first but also added additional assertions about compassion and violence.  Those additional messages are extremely mild and need re-iteration constantly (even though they are mild). 
          We’re also in a bit of a spot if we don’t bring up what secular values at the current time.  We were extremely angry at the xian politicing (anti-secularism message) and harshly (even violently, I bit my tongue though) against the xian messaging.  Being ‘negative’ is not enough.  You also need to assert a positive message of what you think people should focus on. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      Pointing out the ignorance of the faithful as they point to a lack of god in schools is a bad thing in your book eh?

      I think the SSA’s response to people like Huckabee is spot on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    I just can’t help but be blown away by the inextricable link between evangelical Christianity and pro-gun ownership. The self proclaimed followers of Christ (arguably the Prince Of Peace) can evidently see no conflict of interest in remaining beholden to an instrument who’s primary purpose is the injury or death of another living being. Indolent, hypocritical, mealy-mouthed, cowards. 

    • http://aeternum-somnium.blogspot.ca/ Tim Rosenfeldt

      I’ve been processing similar thoughts these past three days especially. Although Christians will insist that their god is their protector and prayer is a direct conduit to that protection, somehow they feel safer with a pistol – or another weapon even more powerful, and preferably automatic – near to hand.

  • Barryhunt22

    The SSA really should have worded that differently. 

    • Baal

       Could you be more specific on your objection?

  • the moother

    You don’t need to be a fucking genius to realise that all the stupid surrounding this tragedy has a religious bent.

    Further proof that people NEED religion to say immoral and disgusting things.

    Religion is NOT needed to be sane and rational and compassionate.


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