Monday, April 27, 2009

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops-link

The link is to an article in the N.Y. Times about the rise of interest in atheist organizations  nationwide  and in particular a group in South Carolina calling itself Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry.

According to a recent study (cited in the article), Americans who self-identify as nonreligious have increased to 15% nationwide, up from 8% less than 20 years ago. In S.C. that growth has tripled, up to 10% from only 3% in the same time. The article notes that while not all who say they're nonreligious can be called atheists, they may represent a pool of potential supporters.

As you might expect, an atheist organization centered in the midst of the Bible Belt, like this South Carolina group, might expect to encounter some local opposition. Indeed, some members relate fears of employment discrimination and some report being shunned in other ways;  Until recent years, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry were local pariahs. Mr. Silverman — whose specialty license plate, one of many offered by the state, says “In Reason We Trust” — was invited to give the invocation at the Charleston City Council once, but half the council members walked out. The local chapter of Habitat for Humanitywould not let the Secular Humanists volunteer to build houses wearing T-shirts that said “Non Prophet Organization,” he said.

The movement is fueled by it's popularity on college campuses, Bob Jones University excepted. Not surprisingly, some students take a light-hearted approach to atheism, claiming devotion to a new religion, the Pastafarians, who are followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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