Affiliate Group of the Week #11: University of Saskatchewan Freethought Alliance
February 7, 2013
We had the pleasure of sitting down electronically (aka via email) with Brandon Gerbig, active member of both the University of Saskatchewan Freethought Alliance and CFI Saskatoon, to ask him few questions about the student group on his campus for our Affilate Group of the Week series.
First, please introduce yourself. Where you go to school, graduation year, your background. What’s your “atheist/secular conversion story,” if you have one?
I go to school at the University of Saskatchewan, I graduated high school in 2008. I was a born, raised, and indoctrinated as a Christian—raised to feel guilty if I did not feel the holy spirit inside of me. My school, relatives, and the summer camps I went to were all heavily Christian. Try as I might to feel the holy spirit inside of me (I never would), this produced a burning guilt that motivated me to heavily read the Bible and seek out Christ. Eventually, after many readings, I saw the Bible for what it was, and doubt sprouted in my mind. All it took from there was an interest in science, along with a few helpful books (God is Not Great, along with The God Delusion) and I became a young, late teen atheist. From there I discovered the skeptical movement through a few podcasts, and became the secular humanist/skeptic you see today.
How did your group get started? What year was it founded? Was there a specific event or incident that motivated you to create the organization?
It has existed off and on for the past 5 or so years. I’m not sure of the exact year it was founded. I was involved in the city group, and the leader of CFI Saskatoon, Kendra Getty, told me the job was open, and I jumped on the opportunity. The group had been mostly inactive for a year, so I helped bring it back into action and relevance.
What is your group’s name? How did you decide on that name?
The University of Saskatchewan Freethought Alliance. That name was passed down from the people who first created the group, and it seems to fit. It captures the spirit and seriousness of our group. Alliance implies a cooperative effort of freethinkers towards a common goal. Our common goal is to provide a safe space for skeptics and atheists alike.
How many members does your group have? What kinds of events do you hold?
128, about 30 of them active and participating. We hold yearly events, including Blasphemy Day in September, Hug an Atheist Day, Darwin Day, Carl Sagan Day, and various pub nights and get togethers.
As an example, could you share one thing your group accomplished that you’re most proud of in the past year?
We raised $1,200.00 for Doctors without Borders, we sold hugs for donations! We also received some media attention for our Blasphemy Day event!
How did you hear about CFI On Campus? How have you worked with CFI On Campus in the past, and how do you hope to work with us in the future?
Sarah Kaiser contacted me after an event we held in October. I hope to become more involved in the skeptical movement, having a job at CFI would be a major dream for me. Either that or becoming an influential blogger or speaker, a voice of sorts for the skeptical movement.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add? What is your vision for the secular movement?
I hope the movement grows and grows. I hope more people see the inherent truth and logic in the way skeptics view the world.
About the Author: Cody HashmanCody Hashman is a Campus and Community Organizer at the Center for Inquiry. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, with a degree in Psychology, where he was the co-founder and president of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers.
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