Canadian University Faith Centre Recongizes Atheists, Promotes Doubt

June 6, 2010

Recently I picked up a copy of the pamphlet for the University of Toronto Multifaith Centre entitled "Spiritual Life on Campus".  As usual with such literature, I prepared for substantial eye rolling.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  The pamphlet included many statements that show that the involvement by CFI and the University of Toronto student group the Secular Alliance in the Multifaith Centre operations (we've had reps on their steering committee since our failed attempt to stop its construction 5 years ago) has had some positive and progressive effects.

For example, the cover of the pamphlet declares:

"The University of Toronto welcomes and includes students from a diverse range of communities and backgrounds.  The University recognizes that many of its students, staff, and faculty are engaged in a broad spectrum of spiritual traditions including atheists to Zoroastrians."

Yes, I realize atheism is not exactly a spirituality but I think they genuinely meant well in including us here.  Furthermore, inside the pamphlet it reads: 

"The Centre works in partnership with many University departments as well as faith based student clubs, individuals who would describe themselves as spiritual, but not religious, or people of no faith" 


"Before considering your own tradition, you have the option to look for groups that..."invite open and thoughtful investigation of beliefs"

And the back cover includes an entire section on "Aggressive religious recruiting", stating

"The following questions may be helpful in determining whether a group is right for you"
"Is it unacceptable to have doubts about what the group teaches or does?  Is doubt seen as a sign of weakness?"
"Does the group encourage you to put their meetings before all other commitments, including studying?"
"Is it proper to deceive people for the sake of the group?"

And finally, note that the U of T campus chaplaincy, which is associated with the Multifaith Centre, recently adopted a secular humanist councillor among their ranks, thanks to our three-year campaign. A great series of precedents for use in working to ameliorate the structure of other campus faith centres and policies with respect to faith groups at universities!