Chicago Tribune Article on College Atheists April 10, 2010

Chicago Tribune Article on College Atheists

Chicago Tribune reporter Nara Schoenberg has a wonderful article about being “young and atheist” in today’s paper — she literally writes about “new atheists.”

It’s one of the most positive mainstream pieces I’ve read about the college atheism movement.

Twenty years ago a public meeting of atheists and their allies at a large public university — attended by a friendly Methodist pastor, no less — would have been almost unthinkable.

Even five years ago it would have been highly unlikely.

But emboldened, in part, by best-selling books such as “The God Delusion” (2006) by Richard Dawkins and “God is Not Great” (2007) by Christopher Hitchens, young atheists are stepping forward, bonding with their fellow skeptics and reaching out to the religious.

There were at least 195 secular student groups on college campuses in late 2009, up from only 42 in 2003, according to the Secular Student Alliance, a non-profit based in Columbus, Ohio. There are local affiliated groups at NIU in DeKalb, Elmhurst College, the Illinois Institute of Technology, DePaul University and Northwestern University.

I love the story of how the Northern Illinois University students got together for their first meeting 🙂

Five people showed up for the first meeting of the NIU atheists, held a month later at the campus library.

“We went to the area and we were all kind of looking at each other [nervously]. Nobody wanted to say, ‘Hey, are you here for the atheist group?’ ” [group founder Katie] Panger recalls.

“Finally, someone said it, and we were all like, ‘Yeah! Yeah!’ ”

It’s really amazing how all these college groups are popping up across the country. The SSA is at the point where we hear from students who expect there to be a group on campus and they’re surprised when there isn’t one.

(You can always help us create and support these groups by going here.)

If you like the article, please leave comments there as well, lest it get bombarded by people saying it’s crazy how all these atheists exist.


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  • Lisa

    One’s of them is my kid and I’m damn proud.

  • muggle

    Congratulations, Hemant. Good job.

    I’m liking the positive stories of Atheism that are starting to come out.

  • Jerad

    I ordered my startup kit from the SSA last week but have yet to do much starting up yet.

  • Isaac C.

    When I was looking for a graduate school, one of the things I checked was: Is there an Atheist group?

    Here in country Panama, it’s unthinkable to have an atheist group in a University. I’m very pleased that a lot of US institutions have Atheist groups and the first thing I’m going to do this fall at U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is to join the Atheist and Freethinkers group!

  • JJ

    NIU AAFTA! Wooooo!!!! *self-congratulatory pat on the back*

  • William R. Dickson

    The link appears to be broken, and I’m having trouble finding the story in the Trib archives. Anyone have a working link?