Saturday, November 3, 2007

What Columbia Atheists and Agnostics is for

Quoting our website:

Columbia Atheists and Agnostics has a double purpose. First, it provides a safe space for nontheists. Many atheists have had to contend with harassment and discrimination from judgmental friends or family members; our group satisfies their need to be able to profess their nonbelief without fear of ostracism. And second, it holds weekly discussion meetings about issues important to secularists as well as bigger, less frequent events. Our discussions run the gamut from hands-on political issues to general philosophy.

We're a safe space. We are also nondiscriminatory. Our goal is to let nontheists air their views, and to publicize secular thought. It's not to make as many religious groups as possible hate us; if they do, it will not be because we began with a flashy provocation. The only thing we will not tolerate is discrimination. When a public school engages in Christian rituals such as school-led prayer, that's discrimination. When fundamentalists say we have no morals because we don't believe as they do, that's bigotry.

If you're religious, and you're interested in any of our discussion topics, feel free to come and say what you think. Don't censor yourself. If Richard Dawkins says something wrong about religion or religious people, we will never know otherwise. We will ensure nobody discriminates against you. Just don't preach, and don't even think of preaching to the choir.

And if you're not, you're always welcome. There are twenty-five religious groups at Columbia; we intend to have broad appeal to all nontheists in our capacity as the only nonreligious group. Maybe at some later time we'll have a schism between liberals and libertarians, or hardliners and moderates. For now, we turn no secularist away.

- Alon Levy, GSAS '11, Secretary