Monday, September 21, 2009

Atheistic Expansion On Campuses

Study Finds Students Are Losing Religion
by Joe Borlik

The voices of America’s non-religious college students are being heard more than ever.

According to Secular Student Alliance, a national umbrella organization for the secular student movement, there are 159 campus groups affiliated with the nationwide organization as of Labor Day, up from 100 in 2008 and 80 in 2007.

Kirk Wilcox, president of the Non-Religious, Atheist, Free Thinker and Agnostic Alliance, a registered student organization he helped start last semester, said he is not surprised campuses across the county are seeing increasing numbers of non-religious students.

“Over the years, it’s become more acceptable — people should be proud of who they are,” the Royal Oak senior said. “If you want to be a Christian and go to church, that’s fine, but there should be institutions for people who aren’t religious.”

Wilcox said Christians also are becoming more accepting of non-religious individuals.

The reasons

Macomb senior Jake Barnett, NAFAA vice president, said there are various reasons for the increasing numbers of non-religious students, including education and the economy.

“When people are ethically and financially stable, it prevents them from exploring religious options and they tend to focus on themselves and others,” he said.

Barnett said he believes every minority in the county deserves to be represented, including those non-religious, such as atheists and agnostics.

“If we can influence elections, then we can show we have a voice,” he said. “Once we are visible, hopefully we can stop the negative stereotypes.”

The results of the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey parallel similar results regarding broader secular demographics.

Last year, 76 percent of American adults identified themselves as Christian, down from 86 percent in 1990, according to the study.

The study reports increases among the religiously unaffiliated especially prominent in people younger than 30.

A ‘belief around nothing’

Jeremy Priest, a pastoral associate at St. Mary’s University Parish, 1405 S. Washington St., finds it interesting that non-religious individuals are forming groups together.

“They’re forming a common belief around nothing,” Priest said. “I’d like to ask them what they’re community is founded upon. Christians get together to celebrate the Lord’s creation and resurrection on the eighth day. Why do atheists get together?”

Priest said the increasing numbers of people unaffiliated with religion could be partly to blame on Christians failing to live with a true spirit of joy and conviction.

The Non-Religious, Atheist, Free Thinker, and Agnostic Alliance meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in Moore Hall Room 116.