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The Interfaith Youth Core, a group that supports religious pluralism and promotes dialogue about faith and service projects on college campuses, has long had a reputation for being antagonistic to atheists. While their staff and membership always included some people without religious faith and there’s nothing wrong with promoting cooperation and dialogue and service, IFYC would ignore the simple fact that many religious beliefs are simply harmful — in addition to being just plain wrong. While everyone supports respecting religious people, many atheists cannot, for good reason, get behind respecting certain religious ideas. IFYC prefers singing “Kumbaya” than face the reality of what religion has wrought.
It didn’t help that IFYC’s founder, Eboo Patel, compared drawing stick figures of Muhammad (an act of free speech) to screaming “Nigger” in the middle of Harlem, or strawmanned the New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris by suggesting they were incapable of performing an “intimate act of mercy” for a dying religious person, or argued that Christopher Hitchens and Dawkins were primarily interested in “offending religious people” and not pointing out that religious beliefs often have no basis in evidence-based truth.
Despite the tone-deaf Patel’s obvious ignorance of the intentions of the atheist authors and his desire to slam notable atheists whenever he gets a chance (with the exception of the few he’s worked with on a regular basis, myself included), IFYC as an organization has done better in recent years with including atheists in their projects. They’ve even partnered with the Secular Student Alliance on occasion.
In a recent survey of its alumni — not a scientific poll, by any means, but a reflection of the people who graduated from their programs — IFYC revealed something astonishing: Nearly a quarter of the respondents were non-religious:
It just got a little more cluttered in the Wisconsin Capitol building.
There’s already a “natural nativity scene” there thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
And FFRF also put up a couple of signs in honor of the Winter Solstice:
That’s all in addition to the Festivus pole that’s also on display.
When Jessica Ahlquist filed a lawsuit against her high school, the backlash on Twitter was bad. The threats were worse. The same thing happened to Damon Fowler even though he never actually went to court.
But what if they didn’t have to come out? Couldn’t the cases just proceed based on their arguments without requiring their names to go in the public record? In some states, that’s not allowed. Filing a lawsuit requires initials for minors and names for adults, making them susceptible to threats and revenge from their enemies.
In a new paper published in The Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law, Professor Benjamin P. Edwards makes the case for why pseudonymous lawsuits should be allowed to proceed and he uses Ahlquist and Fowler to make his case:
Daily Free Press, the student newspaper at Boston University, recently ran an article about the religious diversity on campus with a spotlight on the Interfaith Council:
[University Chaplain for International Students Rev. Brittany] Longsdorf also explained that there are multiple resources available for students to explore their faith, learn about other faiths, or even just voice their opinions.
“Students are at a place where they’re okay to say, ‘I’m not sure if this religion is absolutely correct — I’m not sure if any religion is absolutely correct — but there are all of these options for me to explore right in front of me,’” she said.
Just one problem with that. When the Humanists of Boston University applied for inclusion in the Religious Life Council on campus, they were rejected. And can you really be interfaith when “none of the above” isn’t even an option on the menu?