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Students Fight for the Right to Unbelief

by Matt Cherry


The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 14, Number 3.


The Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA) has launched a "Bill of Rights for Unbelievers." The Bill calls for non-religious people to be granted the same rights and privileges as religious believers. It was released on July 17, 1998, to mark the 150th anniversary of the historic Declaration of Rights of Women at Seneca Falls, New York.

Pearl Chan, of the Harvard Secular Society, explained the need for the Bill of Rights for Unbelievers. "The U.S. Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state, but favoritism towards religion is quite evident," Chan said. "Why is `In God We Trust' stamped on our currency? Why was the phrase `One nation under God' added to our pledge of allegiance? Why do some states bar unbelievers from public office? Why are there blue laws? All of these things help to ostracize those of us without religious faith."

Explaining why the Bill was especially relevant to students, CFA vice-president Daniel Farkas, of the Yale College Humanist Society commented, "atheists, humanists, and other unbelievers often feel outcast in even the most secular of our institutions of higher learning. It is no longer acceptable to criticize religious dogma in public. Students need to know that their secular rights and freedom of inquiry are guaranteed."

The Bill was the highlight of a conference that brought over 60 humanist leaders to the Center for Inquiry (CFI) in Amherst, New York, from July 7-12. The conference included a CFI Institute course on "Reason in Ethics", as well as the CFA congress, and a leadership training seminar.


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