CARLSBAD, CA — It’s just before 4 p.m. at La Costa Glen retirement community in Carlsbad, and a group of residents are gathering in one of the meeting rooms. But these seniors aren’t here to play Bingo.
As Brigit Clarke-Smith takes the microphone, it quickly becomes clear that this is not your usual retirement center activity.
“Gay marriage and marijuana have been OK’d in a couple of the states now,” she tells the crowd. “So Leviticus, 20th chapter, 13th verse says when two men lay together, they should be stoned. We’ve just all misinterpreted it before.”
Clarke-Smith, 84, is a La Costa Glen resident who started a group called Atheists Anonymous two years ago. Clarke-Smith was raised as a Christian, but said she quickly decided it wasn’t for her.
“When I was 8 years of age, I used to play the piano for the Sunday school,” she said. “I’d play ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, he is weak and I am strong.’ And this poet who was the superintendent of the Sunday School would come over and say, that isn’t how you sing it, and then she’d tell me how to sing it. So when I’d get to that part again, I would just go ‘hmmm hmmm hmm’ because I said, ‘I’m not weak, I’m strong. And I don’t even know who He is!’ ”
Clarke-Smith started Atheists Anonymous after a fellow La Costa resident asked if she was a Christian.
“I thought, that’s a strange thing to say, and I said, ‘no,’ just like that,” Clarke-Smith said. “And she said, ‘well, what are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m an atheist!’ And she was angry, and she walked right out.”
A woman overheard Clarke-Smith and shared some advice.
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