Freethought Group Direction
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22-11-2013, 01:26 AM
Freethought Group Direction
Hello All,

I am part of the only Freethinking Group at a major state university.

We currently are having something of a schism about the future direction of the group. About half want the group to move in a more outspoken, "militant" way, and the others want the group to be more accepting and soft-spoken.

Personally, I think the group should move in a more accepting route - try not to antagonize believers as much and work more towards common goals (partner in service projects, host common events, etc). This way the firebrands and the diplomats alike can work towards common social acceptance in a positive way, while the "antagonizers" can be as outspoken as they want, just not as representatives of the group.

For example, we had a street preacher come to campus earlier this semester. He likes to direct hatred towards specifically LGBT individuals and women, so as a group we set up a table next to him collecting money for an LGBT rights group and a women's reproductive rights group. At the table, we said that no one was allowed to engage him at all, but away from the table people could do whatever they want, as they weren't representing the organization at that point. This seemed to work well, as the firebrands had fun questioning him and doing antagonizing stunts, while we won a lot of respect as a group for out silent protest (and collected $300).

What are your thoughts?
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22-11-2013, 07:55 AM
RE: Freethought Group Direction
Good on you, I don't really buy into the "militant atheist" act being effective at all, and I don't think that's the intent. I think an open discussion opens minds.

I am an atheist at a very conservative school (USNA), so our atheist group doesn't have much choice but to be soft-spoken, but it's been very effective because as the voice of reason, we have the biggest stick (and a real stick). I've had numerous conversations with people on my deck about philosophy and religion and they listen and respond in a reasonable manner (and eventually concede the statement that brought on the conversation as being "out-of-line" which is usually what somebody calls them out on).
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22-11-2013, 08:56 AM
RE: Freethought Group Direction
(22-11-2013 07:55 AM)TheKetola Wrote:  Good on you, I don't really buy into the "militant atheist" act being effective at all, and I don't think that's the intent. I think an open discussion opens minds.

I am an atheist at a very conservative school (USNA), so our atheist group doesn't have much choice but to be soft-spoken, but it's been very effective because as the voice of reason, we have the biggest stick (and a real stick). I've had numerous conversations with people on my deck about philosophy and religion and they listen and respond in a reasonable manner (and eventually concede the statement that brought on the conversation as being "out-of-line" which is usually what somebody calls them out on).

Hey, Ketola, where ya been?

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-11-2013, 09:20 AM
RE: Freethought Group Direction
Hey Chas! I didn't think anybody would remember me.

I went off to the Naval Academy and got really caught up in life that I disappeared from the net for a while, but now that things have calmed down, I've decided it's time to return to my favorite group of people.
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22-11-2013, 09:28 AM
RE: Freethought Group Direction
Being antagonizing and militant is a terrible concept, IMO.

So much more can be accomplished with civil discussion. If you approach someone who differs from your beliefs with your sword drawn, there is automatically going to be conflict, people being on the defensive, people putting up walls, and the automatic rejection of anything the opposite camps tries to propose.

If someone is being hostile to your position, one should always remain calm and try to get them to explain why they are so hostile.

Being a Christian, I have built a bridge with this atheist community through calm conversation and mutual respect. It can be done. And it's worth the effort.

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22-11-2013, 09:49 AM
RE: Freethought Group Direction
The Irish had a solution:
Two wings... Sinn Féin and the IRA.

That'll work.

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