High School Atheist Gives TEDxYouth Talk About the Obstacles He Faced in Forming a Secular Student Group
Jordan Balderas just graduated from high school, and he spent his senior year trying to start a group for atheists and Agnostics at his school called “Youth for Truth.” (The name, he says, suggests that they’re searching for truth, not that they alone possess it.)
He was successful… but, in a talk for a TEDxYouth event, Jordan spoke about all the hoops he had to jump through to make that group a reality:
Earlier this year, Gideons International requested and received permission to leave Bibles at a Kentucky public elementary school in Casey County so that interested children could pick them up.
Since the Gideons group has reach beyond just that district, the Freethinkers made similar requests elsewhere — and they received permission from the Boone County school system to give away copies of a book that I wrote: The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide.
When I first become involved with the atheist movement, it was during college — the age when a lot of people I know first became activists. When I joined the board of the Secular Student Alliance, one of our main goals was to establish more groups on college campuses. We had fewer than 50 affiliated groups at the time.
While the organization’s mission has since changed (it’s now more focused on the quality of groups rather than merely quantity), that initial goal has been realized many times over. There are now more than 300 groups across the country:
It made perfect sense to want to create groups on college campuses. That was the age when students were more likely to want to meet/date/hang out with other atheists, they had the opportunity to get money from their school for their events, and they were really able to think critically about their own beliefs (without parental interference).
Brother Jed Smock, the notorious campus preacher who spouts fire and brimstone wherever he goes, made a visit to Boise State University in Idaho this week — and the campus’ Secular Student Alliance was ready for him.
They made their “Bigot Bingo!” cards (complete with a square marked “So-whore-ity sisters”):
They had a board where students could check whether they considered Smock’s diatribe hate speech or not: