Jesse Galef rocks it on CNN (and why I don't have his job)

The contents of this post are the opinions of JT Eberhard, not the Secular Student Alliance.

Here’s Jesse’s interview on CNN.  The anchor shoveled propaganda at him and he cut through it like a laid back chainsaw.  Good for him.

The man is a savant at his job.  He can hear questions like that, smile, and sincerely give a patient answer to someone who is obviously taking a negative position from the outset.   Jesse did a masterful job of not taking the bait.

I probably would’ve failed.  I probably would’ve said something like…

That doesn’t mean they won’t believe in god in the future.  When you’re young you do question things.

True.  But this generation is doing it more than the previous generation, which did it more than the generation before them, and so forth.

See how the previous generations didn’t have that lovely downward spike in their youth that the Millenials have?  That’s the difference.

Some Christians might argue that because these groups are in high schools, you’re indoctrinating them at a time when it’s not proper because they’re not old enough to handle questions like that.

Oh please.  Where is your outrage over Campus CRUSADE for Christ?  Where is the tantrum over BASIC, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or IGNITE?  These groups existed long before us with the expressly stated purpose of converting their peers.  There are certain laws like the Equal Access Act (which was passed 28 years ago, plenty long enough for you to unsheath your ire before now) that guarantee us an equal spot in public schools.  You know why those laws exist?  Because of Christians who wanted to get the bible into public schools.  Spare me your manufactured displeasure with indoctrination.  Don’t get pissed when we use those same laws to provide a safe haven for atheist students from the bullying they often experience at the hands of believers.

It’s unfortunate, because indoctrination is a thing to be really pissed about.  Vacation bible school when kids are 4 or 5 (too young to think critically)?  Please.  Even the Good News Clubs assert they want to get at kids between 4 and 14 years-old, and on public school grounds!  This is something to be pissed about.  The problem is that the people who shriek “indoctrination” when a group of atheists gets together for a pizza party aren’t pissed about real indoctrination.  In fact, it’s a cherished part of their culture.

Some people would accuse you of trying to shape the beliefs of young people and they say that’s dangerous.

You’ll note that the people saying that generally have no problem with all the above groups whose stated missions are to shape the beliefs of young people.

But we are trying to shape the beliefs of young people.  Admittedly so.  We’re trying to show them that atheism isn’t immoral.  We’re trying to show them that atheism is nothing to be ashamed of.  We’re trying to show them that there are other atheists out there, and that you don’t need god to be good or to have community.  Are we trying to tell people they’re bad for believing in god?  No.  Are we wanting to have the conversation about god’s existence?  Sure!  But so are they.

I’m sure that what we do is dangerous in the eyes of many believers, because it’s creating a more comfortable and accepting world for atheists.  Even if we’re not actively opposing faith, this has the effect of making it easier for people to walk away from faith.  This creates that downward spike on the above graph that means less money in the offering plate when this generation comes of age.  Of course, I don’t think that’s dangerous at all.

This is why Jesse is the Communications Director and I’m not.  :P

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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