OCCC’s Agnostic, Atheist and Freethinkers Club welcomes new members with open arms, said Club President Benjamin Mowbray.
Mowbray said the goal of the club is stated in its purpose statement: “We bring together and support non-believing and religiously questioning members of the OCCC and local community, and provide a safe and welcoming environment to engage in open dialogue, skepticism, and critical thinking of secular issues. …Our goal is to provide a support system for people who don’t believe or are on the path of doubt and question religion.”
Mowbray said a few of their events will include a weekly Socrates Cafe where they will discuss various philosophical topics, fundraising for charity and a Star Wars day on May 4.
“We are also doing a monthly movie night where we’re going to watch a movie and talk about it,” Mowbray said. “It’ll be covering either a philosophical, secular or religious related topic.
“We’ll also be going over the book ‘The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten’ by Julian Baggini.”
Mowbray said with the tension that typically surrounds religious issues, the word atheist is often taken out of context and misunderstood.
“Our goal is not to bash religion,” he said. “Our group will not engage in hostility towards individuals, but we will openly question any idea.”
Mowbray said critical thinking is important when discussing religion, as well as being open to questioning everything about the topic.
“You have to be open to saying ‘is this true, is this the correct thing that I’m looking at?’ So people who say that atheism is all about bashing religion are people who haven’t had a chance to experience all of what the secular community is about.”
Mowbray said that 16 percent of Americans are either atheist, agnostic, or secular non-religious, according to Pew Poll research.
“Every poll that I’ve seen beyond that one show people under 30 are even more likely to be non-religious,” he said.
“OCCC up until now has not had any sort of support system directly aimed at those students, so we’re really happy the club is around and able to provide that community for them.”
Mowbray said AAF has just become affiliated with the Secular Student Alliance, an affiliation of more than 300 clubs across the country at multiple universities.
Charlie Mowbray, a member of the AAF club and Benjamin Mowbray’s wife, said atheists are “just like everyone else. We just don’t believe in a god.”
For more information, contact Benjamin Mowbray at AAF@my.occc.edu or at the club’s facebook page at facebook.com/AAFATOCCC.
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