Atheists Are Organizing High School ClubsPosted by Phil Ferguson on July 10th, 2012 – Comments Off – Posted in Uncategorized
I am a little late on this story but, I have been so busy.
It is a perfect time for it because, I just spent the weekend at the annual SSA Leadership Conference.
via The Washington Post.
High school kids can join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Jewish Student Union, the Muslim Students Association and, in some schools, a Hindu or a Buddhist club.
Now they can join the young atheists club, too.
In another sign of the emergence of nonbelievers in American society, the Secular Student Alliance, a national organization of more than 300 college-based clubs for atheists, humanists, agnostics and other “freethinkers,” is helping to establish clubs for high school students to hang out with other teens who share their skepticism about the supernatural.
“I am hoping that atheist students having their clubs and religious students having their clubs will promote dialogue,” said JT Eberhard, director of SSA’s high school program. “I also hope it will let the atheist students know that you can be an atheist and its okay. You are still a good person. We want to say: Here is a place where you can feel that.”
There were about a dozen such clubs at the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic school year, a figure that rose to 39 in 17 states by summer break. The clubs are student-led, with SSA providing information and guidance only upon a student’s request.
Some clubs are in states with high levels of “nones” — people who claim no religious affiliation — such as New York, Washington and California. But some are in the buckle of the Bible Belt: North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas all have at least one high school with a club for atheists.
And more are forming. Students at 73 different high schools have requested “starter kits” since January of this year, according to SSA.
Eberhard attributes the growing interest in atheism among high school students to several factors, including disenchantment with organized religion amid recent scandals and the rise of the Internet, which gives young doubters a safe forum to ask questions.
Two recent studies show religious doubt rising among “Millennials,” those Americans born after 1980. In April, the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life reported 68 percent of Millennials “never doubt the existence of God,” down 15 points since 2007. And in June, the Public Religion Research Institute found that one in four Millennials report no religious affiliation.
Still, launching an atheist club is not always a smooth process. Some sail through a school’s approval process once they have met the school’s criteria, which usually means obtaining a faculty sponsor and demonstrating student interest.
Trevor Lynn, 17, said he faced no administrative resistance when he started an atheist club at his Eureka, Calif., high school in 2010.
“The administration of our school really prides itself on being able to have a club for everybody,” Lynn said. “They saw no reason to stop us.”
Now, his group — about seven members — meets to discuss philosophy and ethics and stage special events. In September, the club will host joint lectures on evolution and creationism by a prominent freethought author and a local pastor.