The Course of Reason

Not Yet Out as an Atheist, But Still Organizing On Campus

August 19, 2013

leaving churchAt least one of the students who attended the CFI Student Leadership Conference in July is not yet out as an atheist in their community. The following post is about how they came to CFI headquarters for the first time and finally felt free to express their non-religious identity. This individual's name has not been included in the post so as to protect their anonymity. 

Every Sunday morning I attend church with my family. I put on my Sunday best, grab my bible, and sit through two hours of worship, all in dutiful silence. Despite being a nonbeliever, this tradition has not changed because I have yet to reveal to my devoutly religious family that I no longer share their beliefs. Instead, I channel my frustrations by being the president of the Free Thinking Society at my college. 

Running any club is challenging. Running a club while not letting on to the family members you live with what that club is becomes nearly impossible. Generating support for the Free Thinking Society proved to be almost too much for me while lying to my family where I might go off to and fighting for support against the six religious clubs. The only reason I did not give up on maintaining the organization was the support I received from the Center For Inquiry.

It is not an overstatement to say that at times they seemed like the only people who were on my side. Through lengthy emails we discussed promotional flyers, meeting ideas, and other suggestions that left me inspired and ready to face any challenge. So when I found out there would be a Student Leadership Conference held by CFI in Buffalo, I submitted my application in a matter of minutes. I am not ashamed to admit that I danced with joy when that application was approved and travel arrangements had been confirmed.

It was four days chock full of the most motivating speakers, new friends, and good food a person could ask for. Student speakers spurred enthusiasm for the work everyone was doing back on our campuses. Michael De Dora, Eddie Tabash, and Zach Kopplin demonstrated the places in our government where religion was forcibly introduced and required activism. James Croft and Desiree Schell conducted workshops that had philosophical questions that left every person in the room eager for more.

From the moment I arrived at the Center for Inquiry headquarters I was filled with bliss. For the first time I could wear my "Science, Reason, and Secular Values" pin with pride, discuss a darkmatter2525 video and have people understand the reference, and not have to filter my words for the crowd I was in. The conference allowed me to express a side of me that I can't always convey. Although I will be in church this Sunday, instead of becoming frustrated that the pastor is using logical fallacies to make a point, I will reflect on the CFI Student Leadership Conference and be inspired all over again.


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.




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