Hey guys, Becca here! This is a first, but we've got a guest blogger this evening! A few weeks back we got an email from an eager young atheist at a local high school asking how he could get involved. Franklin replied with information about the Secular Student Alliance and National Ask An Atheist Day, and these guys were all over it! Unfortunately, their event was not well received by at least one local parent... Without further ado, here's Joaquin from Larkin High School in Elgin, Illinois to describe his first "Ask An Atheist" experience!
When these people saw the tri-fold, some of their eyes widened. I could see the look on their faces. They wanted to ask if we ate babies. We read that across their faces and we clearly stated "We don't usually eat children."
I'm no athlete by any means, but I still am one of the most personable characters at my school, so when friends saw this booth up they were shocked.
"Joaquin!? Atheist!? But he's such a nice guy."
Alright, I may be gloating a bit but a lot of reactions leaned that way. At the end of the day, I was happy I could do something where the sociable me came out. I talked to people I've never meet before and I came out as an intellectual bad ass. As did my other friends that helped me. My parents, too. They're wonderful and I'm glad they could support me with or without seeing eye to eye. If I didn't have them with me this would have been a rough day for me.
I want to thank all my friends who came up to support us, atheistic or otherwise, I love you all.
Surprisingly, we had an overwhelmingly positive response by the kids of Larkin, and I was thinking about starting a club even if I could lay the foundation for it. Truth be told, I'm not offended by what the article reads. At first I told my friends that we wouldn't get a big response, I couldn't be more wrong. By 6th period I knew there'd be trouble afterwards.
So, here goes the story on how I found this out myself.
I was cruising through the atheism board on reddit, when I saw "Parent complains about high school students' "Ask an Atheist Day" booth because it opposes her beliefs. A Christian with no tolerance...imagine that!" I was interested and I clicked the link without reading it. I was just scrolling through when I read my Principle's last name. My jaw dropped and I gave out a "whaaaa?" quite loudly. I posted up my response on the same thread.
This was my orignial post I put on reddit:
This was MY high school, I started this. I wanted to do this for some time and finally did it. Let me tell you how it went.
We put the table up during the lunch periods. First let me say we did not want to troll people, we did all we could to let people know who we were and how we felt. We had candy, a bunch of quotes on a trifold, and willful ambition.
4th period lunch went by slowly, a few friends came up that had little to no knowledge of my spiritual beliefs, or lack off. It was a very nice conversation I' had with a few girls that were ignorant(not in any bad way) of our info. A few friends joked at us but that was really it.
5th period, some people came over and congratulated us on our efforts, we appreciated all the kind words they had. We talked to the school nurse and she gave us some insight about her thoughts, we thanked each other and we handed her a lollipop. She was a Christian woman and was very kind to us. Again, mainly friends came over. A lot of people were certain we just wanted to get out of our classes.
6th period. A bit more lively, more people started being skeptical of us, no problem, we talked a lot and people saw things our way. One of my friends during that lunch period said something about announcing what we were doing, I said they knew but they did little or nothing. He went up to the lunch lady. She talked to Tuin(our principle) and said he knew about it. She said there was a booth back there and people ran by after the announcement. People stopped asking questions and started watching me and my three friends debate. Another senior and us debated about the real life of Jesus. The wrestling Coach for our school came by and talked to us. I knew he was a very devout Christian, and I had no problem with him. He was pure bro actually. We talked a lot, he had the most intelligent argument we heard all day. However it still fell short we felt. His ideas went as follows: If we found a building, already made perfectly built wouldn't we think there would be a creator behind it? He then said the same thing about existence and the universe. Truly a good point I thought, but still had a misguided view on reality we felt.
7th period: This is when it flies. We have an Academy at our school, The Visual and Performing Arts Academy. Which holds a lot of Christian kids. One girl came up and we talked a little bit. She had a very misguided view on secular beliefs. She had a very ignorant view of how biology(especially Evolution) worked. One of her friends came by and she joined her side, it was literally trying to explain colors to a blind man. They couldn't believe anything other than the bible they were taught. One incident an African American Female came up and flatly said: "Thats bullshit! If God ain't real, how you breathin'?" I figured that was beyond repair. One of the girls even said to my good friend Clacos that he had no morals. Offensive, is it not?
I could not argue the morality of the Bible because they did not want to hear it. We tried, oh lord did we try. All attempts were shot down by other Bible passages. Take away ALL stereotypes, the most common people to be offended were African American Females. They were the most confrontational when we said we don't believe in any gods of any sort. Females too overall were the most angry about our stand. By the end of this period we were pushed back with our table a good foot.
Throughout the entire day, close Christian friends came by and gave us high fives, hugs, and bro fists. These were people we personally knew and had a much friendly relationship with. It was mainly people who did not know us ask us questions.
Most commonly asked questions:
Q: What do you think happens when you die?
A: I figure it's a lot like when before you were born, nothing. Less than closing your eyes and seeing black. It's scary to imagine I know.
Q: Why don't you believe in God?
A: The question is, why don't I believe in ANY gods? It varies from person to person. Mine evolves from family problems. Which then soon evolved into me thinking for myself. Which therein changed into digging for information. Once you start looking for yourself, you may get startled.
THE PROBLEMS WE FACED:
People took this as an exact threat to Christianity. We had no obligation to talk ONLY to Christians, but the lack of other faiths made it impossible for them to think that way.
Arguing Bible morality is almost impossible. Unless of course you know your Bible quotes that are either: Sexist, homophobic, irrational or violent. Read up on your Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
The majority of people believe that Atheism is a group of people that spend the day discussing immorality. People think that a pantheon of Atheists gather around the ye olde baby altar and after a sacrifice to our dark old gods we discuss our ideas. An outrageous claim no doubt, but one nonetheless. I explained there was no written document that all nontheists refer back to.
I said to a group of people: 'Open your minds, you live in a reality trapped in a box, imagine that you could see outside it. Literally, think OUTSIDE the box. Don't listen to what your parents say. Come up with your own conclusions." They took me saying this as "Rape, pillage, and be sure to loot on Sundays!"
To the point of the following: “They were here to talk about atheism,” said Shavon Stanback of Elgin. “That’s totally unacceptable to me.”
I would much rather talk about this in a video than write it out, I'm getting writer's cramp.
We would LOVE to thank our school for not stepping down for us, I doubt that they feel the same way we do but that was thrown out the window with this.