The Course of Reason

Brazilian Students Organize to Preserve the Secular University and Promote Skepticism

November 21, 2012

The students of Aliança Estundatil Secular at UFPR, a secular student organization based in Curitiba, Brazil, currently have three main projects, which they began in 2012 and hope to continue and improve in 2013: their position in favor of a secular university, an International Amnesty letter writing marathon and a "homeopathic overdose." They share a little bit about the projects they are working on below.

Preserving a Secular University 

Regarding the history of the University (UFPR)—which is filled with secularism violations—the preservation of a secular university has become an important cause of the Alliance at UFPR. It is common to find banners advertizing "freshman masses" spread through the campus and signs saying "only Jesus saves" in the university restaurant. Also common are religious messages from the rector to the teachers and other faculty members, and not so long ago a Bible laid open at the entrance of the Library of Science and Technology for students to read.

This project is concerned with investigating the actions of the university regarding secularism, in order to verify that this constitutional guarantee is being fulfilled, repudiating or congratulating the university as is fitting. At first we started the debate about secularism, showing why it is important not only to atheists and agnostics, but to people from African religions, Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians and other faiths alike. We plan to make the preservation of a secular university a long-term project, given it's importance.

Amnesty International Letter Writing Marathon (Humans Rights axis)

We from Aliança Estudantil Secular de Curitiba (AES) are going to support the Amnesty International Letter Writing Marathon event locally, helping the Brazilian headquarters of Amnesty International. We are going to set up booths in the university campus during international human rights week, encouraging fellow students to participate in the activities and to learn a little more about the importance of the human rights for a more just society.

"Homeopathic Oversdose" (skepticism axis)

Along with Liga Humanista Secular do Brasil (LiHS, or Brazilian Secular Humanist League), we intend to organize locally an "homeopathic overdose", like the 10:23 project, where we will alert students and other people about homeopathy, it's historical origin, it's epistemological basis and why we are against it. The event will have an informative approach—we will distribute leaflets and explain the skeptical viewpoint.

A little bit about our group's history

In 2012, we participated in the first Brazilian Humanist Congress, organized by LiHS. In 2012, we organized locally the Walk for a Secular State, fighting for a a true secular nation, exposing recurrent violations. We intend to organize a bigger version of it in late 2013.

students in AES
Students at a meeting of Aliança Estudantil Secular de Curitiba.


About the Author: Sarah Kaiser

Sarah Kaiser's photo

Sarah Kaiser is a field organizer for CFI On Campus. Prior to her work at CFI, she got her start in the freethought movement as the co-founder and president of the Secular Alliance at Indiana University, where she helped organize a nationally recognized atheist bus ad campaign and large campus speaking events. As an atheist, a feminist, and a small part of the universe's way of understanding itself, she is thrilled at the chance to help advance CFI's mission. On Twitter: @sarahebkaiser.


#1 Norba on Friday November 23, 2012 at 3:35pm

It's good to know that people here in Brazil are organising and working to make it a true secular country.




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