Rose Hulman was awesome!

The talk at Rose Hulman was, admittedly, not my strongest talk ever, but the Q&A was lengthy and fun.  One of Jen McCreight’s haters had said they were going to show up and pin me down during the Q&A, but they either didn’t show up or lost their nerve.

After the talk, one of the teachers overheard a student in the hall say “I was always on the fence about this, but now I can say I’m not religious.”  Right on.  I repeatedly make the point that talking about religion does change people’s minds.  It might not do it in one sitting, but it does work over time.  Whenever I hear an atheist say we shouldn’t bother because we never get anywhere I just want to throttle them.  Take some responsibility!  Ask yourself what you could’ve done better to get them to listen.  Saying we’ll never change anybody’s mind is just an excuse to not improve.

The event was to kick off the formation of a secular club (soon to be SSA affiliate) at Rose Hulman.  Well over a whole notebook page of people signed up!  Their group is enthusiastic, fun, and has a tremendous amount of potential.

One of the parts of my talk dealt with how powerful it can be to come out of the closet.  It’s scary, sure, but it has a tremendous power to change the societal rubric that even I don’t have.  During the Q&A, one of the atheist teachers came out of the closet.

At one point, one of the students looked at me, shook her head, and said it was so surreal to be hanging out with me.  Hearing stuff like that is surreal to me, and I hope that never changes.  I never want to feel like there’s a disconnect between me on stage and people in the audience.  I want everything I do to convey that we’re all goofballs, all activists, all on the same team, and, most importantly, all equals on that team.  I hope by the end of the weekend she saw me as a friend, not as anything else.

After the talk we went and got sushi.  Now, I’ve had sushi all across the US of A, and everywhere they tell me that the sushi in their town is some of the best sushi around.  Most of the time they’re wrong (but I still appreciate the sushi!).  The group at Rose Hulman was not wrong.  Umi Sushi Bar and Grill in Terre Haute is top class.  Certainly one of the best.

Afterward, they gave me a clock which now proudly resides on my treadmill desk.  They also gave me a bag of red skittles.  They’re about the 6th or 7th group to do that at one of my talks.  Turns out, adding that line to my speaker page at the SSA (which seriously needs to get updated) was a totally profitable joke.  I rule.

Here I am with Bobby, one of the upcoming leaders of the RHIT secular club, as he conveyed red skittles upon me.

Afterward, we all went out to a go-kart and putt-putt establishment to have fun together as atheists.  Thanks to Tanner, Lauren, Kimberly, Bobby, Alex, Katie, Tanner, Dr. Coppinger, Leah, Rick, Carley, Caleb, and everybody else for an absolutely wonderful time.  Good luck with the future of your club and let me know if there’s any way I can help.

And I’ll hopefully see a lot of you at Skepticon:)

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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