Not just chess: Atheists are organizing high school clubs, too


High school kids can join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Jewish Student Union, the Muslim Students Association and, in some schools, a Hindu or a Buddhist club.

Now they can join the young atheists club, too.

In another sign of the emergence of nonbelievers in American society, the Secular Student Alliance, a national organization of more than 300 college-based clubs for atheists, humanists, agnostics and other “freethinkers,” is helping to establish clubs for high school students to hang out with other teens who share their skepticism about the supernatural.

“I am hoping that atheist students having their clubs and religious students having their clubs will promote dialogue,” said JT Eberhard, director of SSA’s high school program. “I also hope it will let the atheist students know that you can be an atheist and its okay. You are still a good person. We want to say: Here is a place where you can feel that.”

There were about a dozen such clubs at the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic school year, a figure that rose to 39 in 17 states by summer break. The clubs are student-led, with SSA providing information and guidance only upon a student’s request.

Some clubs are in states with high levels of “nones” — people who claim no religious affiliation — such as New York, Washington and California. But some are in the buckle of the Bible Belt: North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas all have at least one high school with a club for atheists.

And more are forming. Students at 73 different high schools have requested “starter kits” since January of this year, according to SSA.

Eberhard attributes the growing interest in atheism among high school students to several factors, including disenchantment with organized religion amid recent scandals and the rise of the Internet, which gives young doubters a safe forum to ask questions.

Written By: By Kimberly Winston| Religion News Service, AP
continue to source article at


  1. There would have been no discussion, let alone an atheist/secular club, when I went to HS. The times are a’changing! 

  2. This sounds like a brilliant idea, I just hope it comes to secondary schools here in the UK

  3. Don’t want to be a stick in the mud, but…This is the exact point where non-believing parents  have to get actively involved.  You, know.  That place where it all gets uncomfortable.  That place where you know other parents are gong to show up to meetings and push the ‘belief’ side of things.  This is where you should be exercising your voice.  Please don’t fall victim to the BS.  Being real has value.  It really does.  Don’t let them cast the scene in their own vision.  Please stand up and tell them ‘no’.

    Thank you.

  4. I hope these clubs catch on.

    I visited the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  They have a section where people can make virtual billboards with their faces on them and a slogan.  There are about 5000 billboards.  It is such a treat just to look at all the photos of all these sane people. It would be so easy in the USA thinking you were almost the only one.

    I grew up thinking I was the only gay in Canada.

    Chaz Bono grew up not even knowing there was such a thing as a transsexual.  

    It is so important not to let young atheists get ground down feeling they are utterly unique.

    One of my billboards says “Religion is how the herd instinct expresses in humans.”

  5. This is a whole new source of atheist thought. The world will soon have new articulations to come out of edenic innocence, a whole new flavor. Consider the ability of any young person today to refute racism versus the anti-racism activists of the Civil Rights. There’s no (less) inner-conflict. They don’t have to undergo so much unlearning and their intuition is better aligned, in an entirely new socialization process and I bet an interesting gathering of kids.

    This is huge step, a full nail in God’s coffin.

  6. This could be an antidote to the “Good News Clubs” proliferating in public grade schools

  7. to me it is a sad state of affairs that such clubs need to exist.
    I am not sure of williamraynors experiences but in the uk such a club is superfluous.
    your average street wise teen wouldn’t be seen dead in church, though of course they would happily count him as a convert if he were dropped dead on their doorstep.
    That said, in a seemingly infantile backwater that is the USA anything that fights those who portray fairy stories as reality has to be a good thing.
    (infantile backwater said tounge in cheek btw, great country, great people, thx for wwi and especially wwii)

  8. Took a peek at SSA’s “starter kit”, aka How to Successfully Herd Cats 😉

    It is deeply satisfying to watch the these clubs plant their flags at colleges and high schools, and at increasing numbers, too.

  9. To some extent I have to agree with the great teapot as to the necessity for these clubs. I’m lucky, –  I ‘ve never been religious. It’s difficult for me to imagine what happens at such a club, but I’ll give it a try.

    “Hi John. I don’t believe in God, especially Jesus”

    “Hi Susy. No nor do I. What did you think about last night’s ball game?”

  10. I fear that there is more to do in the UK than the US. Indeed one of our local schools still requires a letter from your priest to get into a predominantly state funded school. I think any kids there who want to think for themselves are is deep trouble. The situation is bad enough at the local primary schools, with god pushed in pupils faces at every opportunity, and guess which school a lot of them feed pupils to? None of this would be legal in the US.

  11. I don’t think these clubs should have to exist, but it IS good that they do. It would be a great world in which youth don’t have to huddle together with others who share their beliefs for support. But there I go, off on my dreamy little tangents about acceptance…

  12. First of all, Turkey is a very common position in Sharia, even the brains of babies washed three years. Fortunately, I went that route now liseliyim cheap, but a chance to convince people to become atheist has no reason for doubting religion teaches families is even a sin. Fortunately, my family life, I support you in everything I have supported me for interrogation. I do not think I could do something tangible to help, however, only one remote.

  13. Not sure about this one. After all atheism is something we share with such as Stalin and personally I’d rather be in a group with the Archbishop of Canterbury than with uncle Joe (if he were alive).

    Also it doesn’t seem appropriate to define one’s own position in a negative relation to other people’s irrational beliefs; and just because Jewish and Christian societies may be exclusive to persons who hold those beliefs, that doesn’t necessitate the formation of another exclusive society; after all surely one would want to attract the sheep that stray from the other flocks.

    So wouldn’t humanist or even secular societies be more appropriate?

  14. Reading the full article I was struck by:
    ‘Steve Gerali, dean of the theology department at Grand Canyon University… “to speak about no God is similar to speaking about a God. So it is, in fact, a religion even though it is anti-religion.”’

    Dean of a university theology department, and he comes out with that? Fail theology 101 dean! 

    Either GCU is setting it’s academic standards lower than that Pre-Cambian basement layer (in which case where’s my ticket for the tenured gravy-train?) or this ‘expert on ministry to youth’ is a bullshitter, and not even a good one.

    Incidentally, how tough is it for a person or an institution to gain academic accreditation in the US? Reading on topics like this one, I seem to see lots of degrees and universities that look as phoney as salesman’s smile.

Leave a Reply