Christian Group Urges Members to Complain to the White House About Inviting Atheist Group to Interfaith Gathering

It was only two weeks ago when the Obama administration extended an invitation to the Secular Student Alliance to an upcoming “Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge” planning meeting:

There was a little bit of grumbling from the atheist side, saying that the SSA should have rejected the offer because it would lend respect to the White House’s Interfaith outreach. By and large, though, I saw a lot of positive feedback from people excited that atheists were finally being offered a seat at the table, even if they believed the table shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Makes sense. Who wouldn’t be in favor of more inclusion, right? And having a group that represents some of those 30% of Millennials who aren’t religious seems like a very logical move.

That is, unless you’re the Faith & Freedom Coalition. The group, founded by the Christian Coalition’s Ralph Reed, sent out an email blast to members Thursday night encouraging them to call the White House to complain about their outreach to atheists:

President Obama has included the Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a nonprofit organization that helps organize students of no faith, in his Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. The interfaith session also includes many faith based organizations and other non-religious charitable groups. The inclusion of the SSA leaves many scratching their heads as to why an organization that renounces any type of faith would be included in an interfaith meeting.

Contact the Obama Administration and let them know you disapprove of including an atheist group in the InterFaith Challenge! Call: (202)-456-1111.

YEAH! How dare the Muslim president invite atheists to our gathering?!

I would say call that number and let the White House know how much you support the Secular Student Alliance and the SSA’s inclusion in the interfaith gathering, but, you know… who’s gonna pick up?

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.

  • m6wg4bxw

    I can hear the minds of some atheists changing to support the inclusion of the SSA in the upcoming interfaith meeting.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    So they only care about the freedoms of people that agree with them.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I thought we established that long ago.

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Well being they are for freedom I thought that would apply to everyone. I know, silly me.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s just like the Catholic Church talking about Freedom of religion. What they really mean is the right to jam Catholic doctrine down other peoples throats whether they like it or not.

          • Derrik Pates

            Freedom for me, not for thee.

            • Kevin_Of_Bangor

              Stealing that one.

              • Derrik Pates

                I didn’t originate it, so feel free. :)

        • Renshia

          Depends on your definition of freedom.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Theirs is the kind found primarily in Oceania.

  • baal

    If the religoius are meeting with the political power, it directly concerns us. There are zero-sum edges to many faith issues. Your ‘religous right’ to deny an abortion need to save the life of the woman directly conflicts with her right to be free from your religion in making her health care decisions, for example.

  • James Stevenson

    Eh from the same email complaining about a secular group at the table… ‘the interfaith sessions also includes many faith based organisations and other NON-RELIGIOUS charitable groups’.
    Perhaps a peg-leg should be fashioned for them so they have something to stand on?

  • John Brockman

    This really supports the argument against calling it “interfaith”. I prefer “interpath”.

  • Pluralistic Paula

    I think it is about time to replace “FAITH or INTERFAITH” to a name including “CONSCIENCE.” Much more inclusive– for religious and nonreligious alike!

    • WallofSleep

      Okay, but “INTERCONSCIENCE” sounds a bit too much like something that requires hallucinogens to participate in. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, mind you.

      • wmdkitty

        That would make for an interesting event.

      • Pluralistic Paula

        I agree with the interpretation you made, but surely there is an alternative to “faith” that would be more inclusive. “Conscience” might not fit– but an alternative that captures the broader, moral meaning of “following one’s conscience?”

        • 3lemenope

          I like “Intertribal”. What are these groups, really, but tribes of folk who cluster around certain beliefs or their conspicuous absence?

  • Richard Wade

    The inclusion of the SSA leaves many scratching their heads… … Contact the Obama Administration and let them know you disapprove of including an atheist group in the InterFaith Challenge!

    “Scratching their heads” is an expression meaning they don’t understand something. Their immediate reaction to something they don’t understand is to disapprove of it and try to ban it.

    This is why it is imperative that we be included in this and other interfaith groups around the country. We need to patiently explain and explain, educate and educate who we really are and what we really want, rather than their misinformed beliefs about us.

    I find most religionist’s beliefs about atheists to be far more ridiculous than their beliefs about their gods and their gods’ magical abilities. We really should concentrate on continuously, diligently, respectfully, and patiently correcting their misconceptions, myths, and lies about atheists.

    Leave the arguments about their gods alone for a couple of decades. We will never change their minds about their gods. That has to happen inside them, one person at a time. But we can certainly change their minds about us.

    • Mackinz

      Funny how you don’t see Joe Klein going to interfaith meetings at the White House.

  • Bart Meltzer

    There should be no “interfaith” government meetings. That creates a supporting relationship between government and faith groups which is in violation of the US Constitution. That needs to end.

    Now a meeting between government and community groups would be very appropriate. Community groups can include faith groups but not limit the category to faith. That opens the doors to all groups.

    I have attended government interfaith meetings in the past as an Atheist representative, but now see that as a mistake. It actually gives a secular endorsement to government support of faith groups and we don’t want that. It hurts us in the end because it allows government to keep violating the constitution and give faith groups government support that we will not get.

    I would urge all secular groups to petition government to change any interfaith meetings to inter-community meetings with what ever name they choose.

  • Dwayne Walker

    It’s funny, Atheism is a ‘religion’ until they’re invited to the White House. Then, they go out of their way to show how Atheism is not a faith. Gotta love accidental reverse psychology!

    • martinrc

      Yes, and I wouldn’t bet money against the probability that whoever wrote that email at one point or another used the completely insane saying “it takes more faith to be an atheist.. blah blah blah” and actually believes it, (except when it means that atheists would be given a voice somewhere that theists expect their usual privilege.

    • Amor DeCosmos


    • Itarion

      Well… It’s whichever story works the best. See, atheism while not a faith per se, requires faith. And so, while it is a faith based position, doesn’t belong in the interfaith community. Or something like that.

      Or maybe these are different people making these different arguments. Has the FFC made any official statements to the effect that atheism is a faith, requires faith, the like?

      • mom

        Atheism does not require faith.

        • John

          But in Christian Land, God’s presence is obvious in everything around us, so not noticing it requires just as much faith as they need to see it back in reality.

          • Anna

            I think they genuinely believe this, which makes it all the more puzzling. Where are these signs they’re talking about? They filter everything though a supernatural lens, not seeming to realize that other people don’t have that lens.

          • mom

            That may be the case if you pre-suppose that a god exists. Otherwise, it is not only not obvious, it is a far-fetched idea. Faith is a belief in that for which there is no evidence. There is no aspect of life, other than maintaining an unsubstantiated belief, that faith is even necessary or useful. Faith is not a virtue.

            • John

              Er, that first part is pretty much the exact same thing I said, and I never claimed that faith is a good thing.

        • Joe Walsh

          I have 100% faith that any gods who may (or may not) exist would have made themselves known in verifiable ways if they cared about us in the slightest… as they haven’t, they either do not exist or are not worth worrying about.

          do you think that’s the kind of faith they’re talking about?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          I think Itarion is referring to the Christian group’s argument there.

      • Itarion

        That would mean that you are on to something. Show them to me.

        Forgive me for my ignorance. My point – that there are a whole lot of books which name gods – stands.

        • Spuddie

          In other words nothing from your own thoughts. Just taking credit for other people’s work. Do you have any original thoughts, no.

          Why should anyone bother to respond to a lazy-ass link dump?

        • Itarion

          Due to the sheer volume of stuff to rifle through, I will be responding to this in piecemeal. Look for my responses in the upcoming week or so.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Oh, don´t worry – Joseph Copypasta Polanco will ignore your responses and proceed to copypaste the same BS into fresh threads until he gets banned (after which he will try to impress a new blog with his mad Ctrl+C – Ctrl+V skillz). He merely tries to cheat for his proselytization report with the Jehovah´s Witnesses because copypasting is easier than handing out copies of the Watchtower.

            • Itarion

              Dude. His middle name starts with an “O”. It would need to be something like O’Copypasta. Geez, man.

      • Itarion

        Forced to continue here? Why is that?

        The anthropic principle makes no assumptions. The universe is very very large. So large, in fact, that the universal constants upon which we rely might vary across incredibly large distances.

        indeed, the word “constant” may be a misnomer. Our constants could vary both in time and in space. If the extra dimensions of space were to change in size, the “constants” in our three-dimensional world would change with them. If we looked far enough out in space, we might begin to see regions where the “constants” have settled into different values. Ever since the 1930s researchers have speculated that the constants may not be constant. String theory gives this idea a theoretical plausibility and makes it all the more important for observers to search for deviations from constancy.

        This, of course would allow just one universe, in which any possible constants are the constants, and so we inhabit, and therefore see, a region in which the constants are amenable to human life, in much the same way that we inhabit, and therefor see, a world amenable to human life.

        While you contend that the Anthropic Principle merely pushes the question back, postulating the existence of a god does precisely the same thing. If a god existed eternally, why did he just recently – relatively speaking – create the universe? And further, why is the Universe itself not eternal? The creation of an eternal entity should be eternal as well. If your god is perfect – complete within himself – why would he need to create something outside of himself, as doing so would mar his perfection.

        1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence.
        2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
        3. The universe exists.
        And we saw that from the premises it follows that:
        4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.
        5. That explanation is God.

        If you proceed from false premises, you can derive anything. I will agree with point 3, and tentatively point 1. God is not the only possible explanation of the universe, or even the most useful, because the Theory of God cannot be used to explain more fully natural phenomena.

        It exists, inexplicably, is a poor argument for anything. I do not say that there is no explanation for the universe. I’m saying that yours is wrong, according to what I have observed.

        Clearly, you misunderstand a great deal about myself. When you understand why, at the very least, I dismiss your god, you may begin to attempt to dissuade me from my lack of belief.

    • mom

      Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.

  • PsiCop

    Sorry but I have a hard time taking “the Faith and Freedom Coalition” seriously about anything. They may all have “faith,” but they certainly do NOT want any “freedom.” What they want is for their own dour version of militant Christianity to be forced on everyone in the country.

    I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t mind everyone being forced to convert, outright, but so far as I know, they haven’t advocated that. What I do know they advocate, is that their unrelenting Christianism be made the law of the land; they demand that every American be forced to abide by its strictures, without regard to whether or not s/he actually believes in it. That, my friends, is the very opposite of “freedom.”

    Let the little crybabies whine and cry and stamp their feet about the presence of those hated “atheists” in their precious religionists’ conclave. Who really cares what they think? They’re simply showing themselves to be juvenile and petulant (not that we needed any proof of that, but more evidence to heap on the pile can’t hurt).

  • Harrison McPherson

    This is a terrible idea. Then, you give way to Atheism as a religion or “faith”. That defeats the whole mission statement of SSA. To get people to understand people of NON-RELIGION. If Atheism is classified as a religion, Christian groups will use that to their advantage. Already in both Texas’ and Kansas’ courts, they are trying to remove certain parts of Evolution from textbooks because they believe it promotes the “Atheist” religious view. We are NOT a religion. If anything we are the anti-religion. We are not people of FAITH. So, how can we be included in interFAITH? This is not a good idea.

  • Mario Strada

    The bottom line for me is that if policy either comes out or is at least influenced by these gatherings, then I want a secular humanist perspective among the sea of gods and myths.

    Doesn’t mean I personally would participate or that I accept that atheism is my “faith”. My take is that the name of the gathering is wrong not the spirit in which they gather, which should be inclusiveness.

  • Renshia

    This seems a lot like digging for pearls with the swine.

  • Jeff

    It says “Community Service” challenge. So, is this a punctuation issue? I see two different ideas. Those of Faith, and those of Community Service. Guess Ralph Reed has that typical XTian bias about only those of faith can perform service. He must talk to….what’s his name….Joe something?

    • Richard Wade

      HAHAHA! Good one!

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        *facepalm* That would have gone completely over my head if not for your response.

  • Hermann o

    Well, you do always point out that you DON´T have faith … ;-)

  • John Gills

    I’m not a telephone person, but here’s a way to get in touch with the White House – although with a caveat that the govt. shutdown may impede contact.

  • Carpinions

    I like how it goes from a “head scratcher” to so-nefarious-it-demands-a-loud-response” within a sentence fragment.

  • SeekerLancer

    Atheists getting a seat at the table has to be positively terrifying to some of these people.

    • momtarkle

      Because, some of those people WILL get atheist cooties!