This week we’re excited to highlight the Secular Student Alliance at George Mason University, home of former CFI Outreach intern Zach Ashton. However, in the spirit of successful leadership transitioning, Zach made sure the new group president, Michael Thompson, was able to talk with us. Read on to see what Michael has to say about why the group got started, his group’s most impressive activities, and where he sees the secular movement going in the future.
The following is a reflection about the Southeast Secular Student Regional Conference, a student-run event proudly sponsored by CFI On Campus!
On February 20th and 21st, the first ever Southeast Secular Student Regional Conference (S3RC) was held on Florida State University's Tallahassee campus. The event was hosted by the Secular Student Alliance at Florida State University, and cosponsored by the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Florida and the Secular Student Alliance at the University of West Florida. The primary focus of the conference was regional community-building among secular students and secularism-oriented groups, but the conference pleasantly marked a secondary accomplishment: the strengthening of diversity among the Southeast secular community. The conference was attended by people from all over the American South, including North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, and host state, Florida.
The following is a reflection about the University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers' annual Darwin Week lecture series. CFI On Campus was a proud sponsor of Darwin Week 2016!Student groups are fickle things. Many are ultimately temporary, due to either the graduation of founders and unsuccessful transitionary periods or simply the dropping off of a trend. Case in point, you won’t see many Students for Rand last until 2020. For older organizations like the UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers, events like Darwin Week show the changing perspectives and opinions of the members over time. Given that we are talking about an event that has to do with Darwin, it is apropos to say, “Evolution”, I suppose. I was not around to participate in the first Darwin Week, nor will I be around to participate in the last one. But I do know that Darwin Week will keep changing to fit the needs and goals of not only UNIFI, but the student body as a whole.
On February 8th, the Secular Student Alliance at UCF (SSAUCF), an affiliate of CFI On Campus, hosted Dr. Darrel Ray for a speaking engagement. Dr. Ray, who is well known for his work in psychology, gave a speech entitled “Sexy Evolution: What do ducks, chimps and humans have in common?”
Since adolescence I have been taught that I am held accountable for what I tell others. As a child, if I told my younger siblings that a boogie man was in the basement, my parents held me responsible for dealing with their night terrors or overly aggressive relationship with the basement staircase. Reasonable parents would address a fear-mongering child like me by telling me to verify my claims before they might scare others. As adults we are similarly expected to think before we preach; ironically, this type of accountability is rarely applied to the self-declared preachers of churches, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship. When faced with the problem of violent religious extremism, the institutions extremists claim to be part of often in turn claim those very groups to be non-representative outliers. In other words, they suggest that because hateful deviants fail to represent belief systems in a marketing-friendly manner, their association with the “peaceful” teachings of mainstream religions must be nullified and rejected. I find at least one viewpoint to be helpful in exploring such a problem: product liability law. This legal framework demonstrates how an undeniable contract, denoted in holy scripture and distributed by clergy as a divine bond between sinner and creator, exists between religious bodies and extremists committing horrific acts based on the doctrines and teachings of those religions. For success, eternal or otherwise, religions must be held responsible for the terrestrial results of any unclear or harmful orders found in said doctrines.