Campus Atheist Group in Canada Grows in Popularity March 21, 2008

Campus Atheist Group in Canada Grows in Popularity

The University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics and its president Ian Bushfield (also a commenter on this site) were featured in a fantastic article for the Edmonton Journal.

Like many atheist groups, the regular members who attend meetings are small in number, but the support for the club is mindblowing (especially when you consider it didn’t even exist a year ago).

Also note why the club began in the first place:

Officially founded last summer when Bushfield and some of his god-optional friends grew frustrated with the “overbearing” religious groups on campus, the Atheists and Agnostic group took off like wildfire as soon as it was officially unveiled at the September 2007 Club Fair held at the U of A Butterdome.

“We collected over 300 signatures (from students interested in membership and/or looking for more information about the club), which was one of the highest number of the clubs that participated,” says Bushfield, the founding club president.

“We now have probably about 130 members, and have 10 to 12 people show up to our regular meetings.” Not bad, given that Bushfield, 24, says he wouldn’t likely have formed the club at all if there had been “no other religious clubs on campus.”

Speaking of how popular the club is, here’s the funniest excerpt in the piece:

… at a recent event hosted by the U of A Chaplains, Lutheran Chaplain Richard Reimer remarked that he was “really bummed” during the club fair when he dropped by the atheists’ booth and discovered that they had already collected 75 names when the Lutherans had managed to collect four.


Along with that piece came a brief article (also by reporter Gilbert A. Bouchard) teaching folks unfamiliar with the New Atheism movement a bit of Atheism 101:

… According to the 2001 Canadian Census, folks stating they have “no religious affiliation” (about 16 per cent of the population) are the country’s second largest religious affiliation after the Roman Catholic Church! More so, a few commentators note that this already larger-than-expected figure is likely lower than lived reality for a couple of reasons, including the fact that 16,000 largely atheist and humanist Unitarians (not to mention 5,500 “Pagans” and the 20,000 folks who listed Jedi worship as their faith of choice) are listed as “believers,” as well as the fact that many non-believers will still list themselves under the religion of their ancestors when polled…

Not only is the number of Canadian non-believers impressive in and of itself, it’s all the more fascinating given that the 1971 Census reported that only ONE PER CENT of Canadians reported that they had no religion. Factoring in the decline and aging demographics of contemporary church attenders (i.e., Canada’s Protestant church attendance dropped from 9.4 to 8.6 million people from 1991 to 2001), and the relatively young average age of the non-believer segment, the number of religiously non-affiliated Canadians seems poised to continue growing at a quick pace.

Congratulations to Ian on the positive press!

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Ian

    Thanks Hemant!

    We’ll keep up the good work.

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