Defending atheism and atheists in the Collegian

30Mar09

The Collegian has been giving the Penn State Atheist Agnostic Association lots of publicity lately, thanks to the community involvement they’ve had over the last couple semesters.  However, a recent article claimed that some residents of Penn State’s Pasquerilla Spiritual Center were upset about the PSAAA holding an office in that building.  Quite humorously, a later article basically retracted the first.  Apparently the Collegian’s “religion and morality reporter” (why the Collegian lumps those two is a discussion for another time) and the author of the original article was a member of the Catholic group whose advisor was one of the two individuals (out of everyone in the PSC) who opposed the PSAAA’s presence.  She has apparently been suspended indefinitely and removed from her “religion and morality” position thanks to this highly ironic conflict of interest.

The same day, they published a letter supporting the PSAAA’s presence from the spokesman for American Atheists and PSU alumnus Dave Silverman.  This letter had the unfortunate quality of being rather caustic, using language like “religionists” and an overall aggressive attitude.  While I am not opposed to the aggressiveness of the “New Atheists”, it has its place and I don’t think this was the right place.

Regardless, this letter stimulated two other people to write in in opposition of the PSAAA’s use of Pasquerilla and disparage atheists.  One of the PSAAA members wrote back the next day (Friday), and on the following Monday they published my response (yay!).  And this time, they didn’t eviscerate my argument (I asked them kindly to either publish my letter with only minor edits or not publish it at all).  Actually, humorously, their “editing” introduced the two errors in the letter, namely the uncapitalized “friday” and the mess that is “In his Mark Weaver letter (“Atheist student organization out of place in Pasquerilla”) questions the reason for atheist groups to exist.”  It was originally “Mark Weaver questions the reason for atheist groups to exist.”

I’m kinda proud of this one, I think I made a really strong argument.  Which is why I’m writing a lengthy ego-stroking blog post about it. =D

Oh and… the presence of a (brand new) “spiritual center” in place on a world-class research institution’s campus is also a discussion for a later time…

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