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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