Atheist activism as vital as ever

By Chris Calvey

In the Tuesday, March 4 edition of The Daily Illini, a letter to the editor entitled “Atheist activism as vital as ever” referenced a study by the University of Michigan. The study was done by the University of Minnesota. The Daily Illini regrets the error.

The following is the story as it originally ran.

This letter is in response to Ms. Fiddyment’s Wednesday, Feb. 27 column, “Activism for atheism is hypocritical.” First of all, her description of the American Atheists is at best misleading. The book section she alludes to contains a whopping … wait for it … one children’s book.

To imply that the American Atheists aim to coerce children into fighting their battles (or raise their children as atheists at all) is dishonest reporting. Nor does their mission statement give any indication of a motivation to convert, belittle, or scorn religious people. As for their scholarships, surely she can see the difference between commending students for standing up for their beliefs and encouraging them to proselytize others.

Ms. Fiddyment also seems to be confusing the distinction between activism and evangelism. The goal of organizations like my own is not to convert others to atheism, but rather to engage them in discussion so that we might all better understand one another.

The “point” then is to help correct the stereotypes and misconceptions that many people still hold about atheists. Take for example, the 2006 Michigan study which showed that atheists are by far the most distrusted minority in this country.

It’s no wonder that in our government, (with the exception of Pete Stark) not a single senator or congressmen is brave enough to come out as an atheist. It is statistically inconceivable that there are not more non-theistic members who hold office, but to admit it is political suicide.

This needs to change. Although we are (in most cases) free to express our civil liberties, atheists have a long way to go before we are truly seen and treated as equals.

I welcome Ms. Fiddyment to start coming to our weekly meetings any day now, and learn the true meaning of atheist activism.

Chris Calvey

President

Atheists, Agnostics, & Freethinkers

Senior in Engineering