I’m sure that almost everyone has seen the flyers around campus featuring students of the Gustavus Secular Student Alliance voicing their reasons for being atheists. Some of the quotes include “I am an atheist because religious dogma is poisoning public discourse” and “I am an atheist because I believe in living a life without fear.”
The intention of the flyers as I understand it is to promote the group. As an agnostic student at a Lutheran college, I can appreciate the value of a group that offers secular students a chance to discuss their beliefs with those who share them. However, the way in which the group is promoting itself is disrespectful. They have every right to voice their opinions, but the posters attack religion.
They are rude, and I (as well as my agnostic friends) do not appreciate atheists and agnostics being portrayed in this way. I do not hate religion just because it is not a part of my life. Whether it is their intent or not, the Gustavus Secular Student Alliance is painting itself as an antitheist group.
Although I am not religious, some of my closest friends are devout Christians. Our differences in faith have never negatively impacted our friendship, and I know that things being said on these flyers hurt them. The attitude portrayed by some of the posters sends an ‘us vs. them’ message, and that’s not what the culture of Gustavus is about.
A group such as this has the opportunity to create understanding and acceptance between people of different faiths. I hope that they choose to take advantage of that opportunity in the future because we are not agnostics, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and atheists. We are Gusties.
Elizabeth Froden, ‘16