Evansville, Indiana: Hotbed of Atheism? January 11, 2010

Evansville, Indiana: Hotbed of Atheism?

Well, since the earlier story about a high school atheist group was a bit of a downer, this one should cheer you up.

Susan Caldwell is a North High School senior; she says she had “wanted to attend some sort of atheist youth group for a couple of years.”

She is disturbed, she says, by the discrimination people who do not hold traditional Christian beliefs receive at the hands of their peers “in this culture.”

Her North High School classmate and fellow skeptic, Spencer Mulesky, refers to it as “the ironic demonization of atheism.”

The pair organized the Agnostics and Atheists Club of North High School last fall. There are five similar student and community groups in Evansville, all of which started within the past year.

The high school’s group is attracting 15-20 students to each meeting.

It’s not surprising to me that so many atheist groups are forming (and appear to be strong) in an area that’s typically known for being religious and conservative.

It would be fantastic if all those local groups could get together for certain big events (like Darwin Day or even a Solstice celebration). When you’re in the minority, it’s reassuring to meet other like-minded people and know that they exist all around you.

Congratulations to Susan and Spencer on the success of their group!

(via Atheist Revolution)

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  • Go Hoosiers 😀

  • Trace

    Hemant: conservation/conservative?

    Way to go, Indiana!

  • Trace — Fixed! Thanks.

  • Yaeger

    A bit off topic, but what’s with the google advertisement for Dianetics?

  • Joffan

    I was going to ask with Susan Caldwell had any interest in robotics, but I thought I’d better check my memory of Asimov’s character – Dr Susan Calvin, as it turns out. Weirdly though it appears that the first-draft surname for the character was indeed Caldwell!

    Well done the North High School student atheists! I’m sure they can think up some reason to have a get-together with other groups – perhaps as simple as a higher-profile guest speaker and discussion?

  • I completely agree that these smaller non-theist and atheist groups should really work together.

    I hate to compare us to tea parties, but you can always learn things from crazy people. The tea party groups have become somewhat individual self-interested groups fighting different problems. This creates a problem in conveying a consistent message, which tea parties are having. When nontheist and atheist groups choose to work together it will be better for everybody who is nontheist or atheist.

  • I don’t understand why a solstice requires celebration. I don’t think celestial mechanics are flattered by it, since, you know it’s just an abstract scientific idea.

  • Siamang

    I don’t understand why a solstice requires celebration.

    Um. Duh. It’s not the solstice which requires celebration. It’s the PEOPLE!

    People like to celebrate stuff.

    “I don’t know why people throw tailgate parties for the Super Bowl. It’s not like your truck’s rear bumper even FOLLOWS the sport!”

    Gotta love them Spock-like atheists. Isn’t that the image we’re trying to get away from?

  • WayBeyondSoccerMom

    My son’s public high school tried to start an atheist club at the school. First, they needed to get 100+ students to sign a petition, stating there was a need at the school for that kind of club. In less than a week, there were enough signatures. However, the next requirement couldn’t be met: a faculty member to chaperone the meetings. None of the 100 plus faculty/administration members would sponsor the club.

    So, no official club at the school.

    Welcome to Charlotte, NC!

  • Where were these atheist groups in Indiana when I was growing up? Indiana needs some atheism up north too :P.

  • Gotta love them Spock-like atheists. Isn’t that the image we’re trying to get away from?

    Celebrating the solstice is stupid. The antecedent is supernatural-believing peoples praying to their gods to end winter. Not really my cup of tea. In addition 900 million years from now, as the Sun gets hotter and starts to expel our atmosphere into space, destroying all life on Earth and leaving it a barren molten wasteland, it will be this solstice you celebrate that will signal the beginning of the end for all life. And long after we’re gone that same solstice will arrive each year, mocking our celebration eons past as the sun punishes a dead landscape with searing rays of energy.

    Also not a fan of trailer parties. Heh. I don’t give a damn about stereotypes. I don’t celebrate events that will continue to occur even if we don’t celebrate. Why are you even an atheist?

  • monkeymind


    “Dost think, because thou art virtuous Spock-like, there shall be no more cakes and ale?”

    My birthday happens whether I celebrate it or not, but my birthday martinis don’t get drunk unless I drink them!

  • muggle

    Yay, kids!

    Bjorn, I don’t celebrate the solstice either but I do celebrate a secular holiday simply because, well, as Siamung said people need the celebration.

    We enjoy life; therefore, we celebrate it.

  • I don’t celebrate events that will continue to occur even if we don’t celebrate. Why are you even an atheist?

    … Because I don’t believe in God. What does wanting to celebrate have to do with anything? You’re being an atheist and a curmudgeon, not just an atheist.

  • I don’t mind being a curmudgeon. Someone needs to do it.

  • I really love the vocal atheists of this new generation. Today’s stories about high-school atheist groups have been so great to read. I think there is real hope for loosing the grip of religion in our society overtime.

    Nice work Susan and Spencer!

  • BKsea

    Regarding the getting together of atheists, I always thought it would be a good draw to try to put together a group to do charitable work on Sunday mornings. The symbolism of using Sunday morning to make the world a better place as opposed to just praying for it to be better strikes me as a great message for atheists. Anyone ever heard of something along these lines?

  • Erp

    I wonder if requiring a faculty sponsor, etc. violates the Federal Equal Access law. See Pope vs. East Brunswick Board of Education.

  • james812

    I’m from Evansville, a place that shoves its Christian beliefs in your face like a baby eating food. I’m so glad to hear things are looking better. When I went to high school you weren’t allowed to be anything other than a white christian, preferably catholic.

  • DSimon

    Gettingfree, you have no idea how happy it makes me to see somebody using the word “loosing” correctly on the Internet. Just thought you should know. 🙂

  • Mutter

    I visited Evansville for a few days not too many years ago and found it to be the most conservative place I have ever been. The route into town went past a field covered in thousands of small white crosses that were apparently some anti-abortion thing. After arriving at a local store we were confronted with a pair of military Hummvees that were fundraising for “the troops” in Iraq and were festooned with all sorts of “Go America!” and scriptural posters. Also it seemed like every third license plate had “In God we Trust” on it.

    I was rather disconcerted so kudos to these brave people for standing up to what I found to be an intimidating environment.

  • Jake Jackson

    Hello all,
    My name is Jake Jackson and I am the current president of the north high school atheists and agnostics club. I plan on making a short documentary on the “ironic demonization of atheism” this year. so please let me know if you are interested in helping.

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