According to an article in The Daily Utah Chronicle, some students at Brigham Young University are meeting in secret to talk about their lack of faith:
Andrew Johnson, a junior in biotechnology at Utah Valley University, founded The Group in October 2010 as a safe place for secular humanists, agnostics and freethinkers in Utah County. Johnson started the group after returning from a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Indiana, disenchanted with the faith.
“I ended up finishing my mission, but I tried to teach as little as possible and instead do service whenever possible,” Johnson said. “When I returned home, I felt like I was the only non-theist within Utah County as there were no gatherings of people like me.”
Johnson’s from UVU, but BYU students are attending the meetings as well. If they’re discovered, they risk being expelled from the school.
“The risks are few, but significant,” Johnson said, adding that no one from The Group has been removed from the university.
The BYU student found The Group during some “rebellious Google searches late one night,” which led her to a blog written by one of the members of The Group, who encouraged his readers to contact him.
She soon became a full-time, active member of The Group, though completely in secret. Although she was raised LDS, she said she slowly became disillusioned with the faith, leading her to look for a different organization more in line with her views.
“I just kind of realized that it didn’t make sense. It just wasn’t logical,” she said. “There is so much going on in the world that you can’t just call pure good and pure evil.”
She also said the LDS Church’s stances on issues such as gender, race and homosexuality caused her to question her faith.
“She” says in the article that she found the group due to some late-night Google searches that led her to a blog run by a Group member.
The group meets more than once a month, officially, and basically cliques in the group have events every day. Also at the time of the article it was getting close to 190 ppl, though some have left to avoid being caught…
When I got in touch with him via email, he added that he’s done a lot more vetting of members lately (out of concern they might not actually be atheists) and has even rejected a handful from the group as a result.
I know there’ll be some backlash against members of this group. Most notably: Why do they stay at BYU when they’re not religious?
As much as you’d like to see these students just leave the school, it’s never easy. Especially if your family is paying tuition, or BYU is the only college “home” you know, or you started college believing in a god but changed your mind along the way. The prospect of leaving school and starting over somewhere else is daunting. I understand why they stay at BYU but meet in secret. It’s a necessary outlet for them and we should all be thrilled about how they know they’re not alone.
Jdog added a little more to that list:
For most of the BYU students they feel pressured to lie to continue their education. if they are truthful on this one thing it means losing a lot of credits that don’t transfer, like the religion classes (New Testament, LDS church history, Book of Mormon, etc), having questions from family and friends, losing friends who do not wish to associate with former Mormons, having college put on hold while they transfer, and all the wasted time and money. Also, if employed at BYU then you’d also lose your job and most likely you’d be moving away from Provo. It’s a lot to lose so some just lie about their belief to avoid all the drama, wasted time and money, and the massive life change that would occur. Some people in the group have told their parents and some parents have said they are thinking of disowning them, disowned them, or disowned them for a little while before coming around and loving their child again. It’s a really sick atmosphere to live in.
(Thanks to Ted for the link!)