In Jennifer Kline‘s article about college atheist groups, this passage is just incredible:
Ethan Conklin, director of outreach for the University of Central Florida’s Secular Student Alliance (SSA), has seen his share of “really messed-up situations,” he says. “We have members whose families don’t talk to them anymore, friends who isolated them. All because of that one word: ‘atheist.’”
Consequently, many students seeking like-minded friends are hesitant to openly reveal their involvement in SSA. The club has a public Facebook page but recently created a second group, which is private and visible only to approved members. Conklin explained that several members feel uncomfortable sharing their interest in a secular club with their families, friends or workplaces. The secret page allows those people to remain connected without the publicity of a “like.”
They have a second Facebook group just for the people who can’t publicly “like” something about atheism?!
How depressing is that. (Does the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ever have this problem?)
Maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised, though, since even the Secular Student Alliance makes it very clear in their national conference booklet that we should all be aware that there are students who may not wanted to be “outed”:
Not everyone at this conference is an “out” nontheist. Many students have friends or family members who don’t know about their worldview. Some are financially dependent on religious family members or scholarships. Don’t out them by carelessly posting photos!
Some students at this conference have RED name badge holders. These red lanyards indicate that the student does not want to appear in photos or videos online. Please respect their privacy — check your photos before you upload, and don’t post photos of anyone wearing a red lanyard.
I understand the concern. It’s just disappointing the lengths some students have to go to because they have this crazy belief that angels and demons and God and heaven are just figments of our imagination.