On Saturday, Feb 9th SAIU President and Outreach Director attended Civic Day at the Indiana State House, put on by CFI Indiana. You can see an itinerary for the day here. We learned a lot throughout the day but I have three main takeaways.
1) The religious are our allies.
When we are fighting for the separation of church and state, it may not seem this way at first, but the religious really are our allies. Many American Christians have a very skewed idea of what religious liberty is. They seem to think it means that Christianity gets to be number one. Read more »
This past Sunday, the SAIU discussed evolution, misconceptions about evolution, and why some people do not accept the theory of evolution. We began with a presentation which focused on organizations that have anti-evolution goals, like the Institute for Creation Research. We defined “scientific theory” and “theory of evolution”. “Theory” in the science world is very different from the meaning we associate in our day-to-day lives. In science, a theory is a “well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.” Read more »
This is an opinion post and does not necessarily represent the views of the Secular Alliance at IU.
On Saturday, February 2nd, five Secular Alliance members travelled to Purdue University for a Christian Apologetic conference. Why the hell were a bunch of atheists going to a Christian apologetic conference? Not because we wanted to cause ourselves pain or anything like that. On Friday the conference hosted a debate titled “Is Faith in God Reasonable?” and it was telecasted here at IU by CRU and SAIU. We were going to travel to Purdue with CRU, however they cancelled for weather. Read more »
There are increasing efforts in the secular and freethought communities to reach out to diverse crowds. Of course, secular efforts do not include indoctrinating or converting people, but it does mean making the community open and available to everyone. You can see this past blog post to read about some of the ways that is happening.
The Secular Alliance at IU may be a small part of the overall community, but we also strive to embrace this diversity. In discussions, having people from a variety of religious, geographic, and ethnic backgrounds enriches the conversation. One of our focuses this semester is reaching out to the black community at IU. Read more »
This past Sunday, the SAIU got together to discuss the growth of newer religions, including the boom that Scientology and Mormonism have gotten since their inceptions. This brought up several questions about what the secular community can do to match this growth, with the most pressing issue appearing to be the possibility of a schism within the secular movement if there’s disagreement on how to proceed. Essentially, churches and organized religions offer something atheism doesn’t: infrastructure. Beyond simply acknowledging the lack of a god, how else is atheism a unified community?
Members argued that in order for atheism to grow, there would need to be a push for more resources, identifying features, and active participants. Should we strive for something akin to Unitarian Universalist infrastructure, or do we want to avoid replicating church settings (at least the communal, interconnectedness elements) altogether? If we choose to take this approach, how do we avoid establishing dogma? Some members are highly opposed to replicating a church setting, while others said that it would be something welcome and familiar to what they were raised with.
What, then, is our “goal,” so to speak? Structured religious institutions have lasted for thousands of years and can, at times, greatly provide for people. The secular movement has its own institutions, but should they all be brought under the umbrella of a single, uniform organization, or are we better off with them remaining relatively independent of each other?
If you have some answers for us, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email and we’ll see about posting your thoughts to this blog.
It’s been a great semester! Let’s look back at the awesomeness and think ahead to next semester too!
We invited August Berkshire to talk about Morality with and without God. The event was very successful, the room was packed an the Q & A session got everyone fired up. August was a fantastic speaker.
We commemorated Banned Books Week by collecting donations for the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project. We collected a box of pens and pencils, packing tape, and blank paper for the project.
On October 10th we celebrated Freethought Day (traditionally held on October 12th, but that fell during IU’s fall break). Brother Jed happened to be out that day so we also played Brother Jed Bingo! Here is an IDS story about it.
On October 20th several members went to a hell house in Ellettsvile. The experience reminded us all of how crazy religion can be, which is a good thing to remember when you’re usually surrounded by people who agree with you.
A couple SAIU members went to a conference at CFI Indy, you can read their summary: What can we reasonably concede to unreason?
We had our first ever female oriented event! Many secular student groups have been holding “ladies’ nights” to address women’s issues in the secular movement. It was very successful and it gave the women in the group a chance to air grievances without judgement and come up with a plan. We intend to have more “Sheathen Shenanigans” as well as gatherings to address other minorities in the secular movement.
We celebrated Carl Sagan Day by visiting the Kirkwood Observatory and watching Cosmos. Due to the time of year and other factors we had issues at the Kirkwood Observatory and unfortunately did not see anything. However, in the spring we will reschedule a trip when more is visible in the sky!
Our Ask an Atheist tabling went well, read about it here
And the most exciting part of the semester….
A 7th grade social studies teacher at Edgewood Jr. High invited members of SAIU to present atheism and nonbelief to his students for their world religions unit! You can read all about it here.
Exciting things are being planned for next semester. We have our second Blood Drive for Equality on January 23rd, Mandisa Thomas speaking on African American Humanism on February 18th, and the 2nd annual Flying Spaghetti Monster Feast on March 22nd! Keep an eye out on saiu.org and on our facebook page for information as these dates approach.
Meet your candidates for social director! Elections will take place on Sunday, Dec. 2nd at 7pm in Wylie 115. Elections are done by secret ballot and there is no absentee voting. Voting requires having attended one meeting during the academic year prior to the election.
I’m Brooke, and I’m a junior majoring in communications and culture with a certificate in journalism. I am running for social director so I can use my RA event planning skills to promote secularism, yay! I also need a new hobby besides sneaking out to fight crime every night.
In early November a 7th grade teacher in a neighboring town emailed SAIU asking if a representative would like to teach his class about atheism and nonreligious beliefs for the world religions unit of social studies. I wasn’t sure what I was reading at first. A 7th grade teacher, in Indiana (Southern Indiana even), wants to include atheism in their religion unit for social studies, and contacted a group of college students about it…! Read more »
On Tuesday SAIU had our first “Ask an Atheist” of the semester! While we normally would have this tabling event monthly, we wound up tabling for other things each month instead (Student Involvement Fair, Send an Atheist to Church, and Freethought Day). It went differently than usual.
At a typical ask an atheist a handful of visitors will argue for 15-20 minutes, a majority will ask one or two short questions and maybe pick up a few pamphlets, and a handful will say they’re interested in SAIU and sign up for the email list. This time, just about everyone fell into the last category. Why?
Does this mean there are more nonreligious folk on campus this year? Were people just shy? Maybe it was just too cold outside for anyone to engage in a longer conversation. While a bunch of us were standing around not answering questions we pondered having an “Answer an atheist’s question” table.
Whatever the reason, I look forward to more of these next semester to see if there is any trend at all.
Look out for a selected date for January if you would like to help man the table next time