Obama Administration Invites Atheists to Interfaith Planning on Campus

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An unlikely party will be sitting at the table when the United States Department of Education hosts its interfaith initiative: atheists.  The Secular Student Alliance, a national nonprofit dedicated to organizing nonreligious students, announced today that they were invited to take part in a special planning session September 24th as part of the national gathering for the President's Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.  The planning session, which also includes organizations like Hillel, Campus Compacts, and the Hindu Seva Charities, aims to determine the best ways for campus service projects to include all worldviews.


"We're honored to be included in the President's call for interfaith and community service," said Jesse Galef, spokesperson for the Secular Student Alliance.  "There are thousands of nonreligious students eager to work alongside their religious friends to make the world a better place."

The Obama Administration has had a history of reaching out to secular students, a practice which has provoked some religious leaders.  When President Obama invited atheists to a White House interfaith discussion in 2010, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. accused him of widening the tent too much, saying "I think we're being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century."

Written By: Jesse Galef
continue to source article at secularstudents.org

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  1. “…to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century.”

    Believe me, I would never use such a term. I have far too much respect for our Neanderthal cousins!

  2. “I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century.”

    So by simply being associated with Atheists on a level playing field, he believes Christians are made to look like nuckle dragging neanderthals?

    If that’s what he thinks, if that’s his own interpretation of Christianity, why is he still a Christian?
    Being set up? Only by yourselves.

    • In reply to #2 by Seraphor:

      “I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century.”

      So by simply being associated with Atheists on a level playing field, he believes Christians are made to look like nuckle dragging neanderthals?

      If that’s what he thinks, if that’s his own interpretation of Christianity, why is he still a Christian? Being set up? Only by yourselves.

      ‘Zactly! If one finds themselves coming to that conclusion, that should tell one something. Also, he seems to have a lot of admiration for atheists.

  3. An unlikely party will be sitting at the table when the United States Department of Education hosts its interfaith initiative: atheists

    They’re bigger than many of the groups already present, presumably considered more likely. This isn’t to say the author is wrong; the system isn’t fair.

    I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century

    Atheists may think of Christians in such terms (or they may not), but a vocal minority or majority of every religious group traditionally present in interfaith meetings feels the same about all the other groups present. If Christians can handle Muslims disagreeing with them, they can handle atheists doing the same.

    polls like a 2012 Pew survey found that 20% of Americans are unaffiliated with religion, up 5% from 2007. Politically, NPR reported that President Obama lost the Protestant vote by 15% in the 2012 national presidential election but captured 70% of the “unaffiliated” vote.

    The demographic implications for the future electability of Republicans with the policies they currently support are mindboggling, in a good way.

    We may not believe in religious services, but we sure believe in community service.

    I wonder if that’ll be quoted out of context in such a way as to make Galef sound like he admits to being sentenced to community service.

    • In reply to #7 by Jos Gibbons:

      Atheists may think of Christians in such terms (or they may not), but a vocal minority or majority of every religious group traditionally present in interfaith meetings feels the same about all the other groups present. If Christians can handle Muslims disagreeing with them, they can handle atheists doing the same.

      “Feels the same” indeed! Considering that never before in history has atheism resembled religion as much as it does currently with all it’s schisms, internecine squabbles, groups forming and seceding (some of which simulating traditional religions complete with “chaplains” and “services”), hardliners (the strident, the fundamentalists) moderates (the accomodationists), youtubing/blogging cult-like leaders with followings and mutual fallings out, soap opera/reality TV style drama …

      Only things still missing now are misappropriation of funds and accusations of sexual improprieties. Oh, wait…

  4. Most of the other posters have picked on the same bit, – but I have hand it to the Bishop that he has a beautiful turn of phrase !

    When President Obama invited atheists to a White House interfaith discussion in 2010, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. accused him of widening the tent too much, saying “I think we’re being set up — for people of living faith who believe in a born-again experience who follow the Bible — to be seen as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who need to come into the 21st century.”

    I don’t think Shakespeare could have bettered that !

  5. It’s not such a bad thing. They could oversee the debate from a neutral, non-biased standpoint. That would be a good idea indeed, to have atheists and agnostics moderate religious debates.

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