Affiliate Group of the Week #15: Titans for Reason
March 21, 2013
Fresh from the sunny campus of Cal State Fullerton, home of the Fightin’ Titans, Farah Faraday answered a few of our questions for our Affiliate Group of the Week series. Thanks, Farah!
First, please introduce yourself. Where you go to school, graduation year, your background. What’s your “atheist/secular conversion story,” if you have one?
Hi! My name is Farah and I’m one half of the awesome Persian Lady Duo® that makes up the head of Titans for Reason. We also have two absolutely amazing men who make up the other half of our founding board. Personally, I grew up going to church, mosque, and temple. My mom, like many Iranians, was only nominally Muslim. (We still celebrate springtime as our New Year (and if that isn’t a pagan tradition I don’t know what is!).) Plus, the area I grew up in was incredibly homogeneously Christian and white. I was always a bit of a skeptic, even as a child, but came to really fall off the train of spirituality around the age of 14. My utter disdain for organized religion came at the age of 19. My brother succumbed to a pretty aggressive battle with cancer after two years. But it wasn’t his passing that triggered it… It’s just hard to believe in a god when you see little kids, babies even, fighting for their lives against such ravaging diseases as cancers. I met a lot of people who had faith, but even more who lost their faith completely.
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?
We weren’t the first secular group on campus, but since the previous one was defunct, we are the only one. We’ve been around since fall of 2011, which, thinking back on it, is a long time for such a fringe group to exist on an Orange County public university commuter campus. Our president put the call out on our campus’ Reddit page, and I harassed her (I mean, got in touch) after that. There was a real lack of community for secular students on our campus, and that’s what we’ve tried to create. I mean, I think we’ve been successful. We have about 200 people on our Facebook group, another 250 on our mailing list, and our meetings and activities are pretty well attended. We never wanted to be an activist group, but rather a community where people could meet others who are “just like them”. Discussion gets pretty heated on our Facebook group, and I feel terrible for moderating sometimes, but we can get pretty off-topic. (I think some of our group members secretly hate me for putting the kibosh on super off-topic posts. But at the end of the day, we’re trying to make it welcoming for everyone. Some people may be a little more conservative, some way more liberal—it’s about finding the happy medium.)
What is your group’s name? How did you decide on that name?
Titans for Reason was decided upon since (1) it’s not alienating and (2) it clearly states who we are and what we do. Words like “atheist” and “agnostic” can scare some students away, and most people don’t understand what “skeptic” or “secular” stand for anyway.
How many members does your group have? What kinds of events do you hold?
We’ve had completely awesome turnouts to tabling events and guest lectures. We’re planning a bunch of stuff for this semester and the fall semester (a mini-Ted-esque talk, and potentially a really large speaker in the fall).
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?
I love CFI, specifically, Debbie. She’s amazing. Do you know her? Hug her for me. CFI’s conferences are incredible tools for networking and learning, despite the Buffalo heat. Ah, too Californian over here.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add? What is your vision for the secular movement?
Yes! Secular students do exist in Orange County, surprisingly enough. Even though our campus is full of religious organizations, we haven’t really seen any pushback from them yet… Except that one time where someone decided to leave us some helpful literature about Jesus in our shared office space. C’est la vie.