The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Atheists and agnostics administer insight on different faiths

Photo by Photo by Brandon Holmes
Send an Athiest to Church

By sending an atheist to church, the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) hopes to spark a conversation about student’s beliefs, or lack thereof.
On Friday, March 2 in Rudder Plaza, SSA members set out several different mason jars, each representing a denomination of faith. Participants were encouraged to donate funds by placing money in the jar of their preferred denomination marked by a specific place of worship. At the end of the day, SSA organization officers attended a service at the place of worship that received the most money.
By the end of the day, SSA raised $315.05 in total and Antioch Ministries, a non-denominational church in Bryan, received the most money. Arthur Johnson, sociology junior, participated in the fundraiser.
“I feel like faith has been a thing that divides people a lot throughout modern history, but it definitely doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be,” Johnson said. “I [am] hoping for people to be honest about what they think so they can feel like they are known and loved and are accepted-not rejected.”
Opening a dialogue was the main goal for Sean Shamgar general engineering freshman and the founder and president of the Texas A&M SSA chapter.
“I want to understand what other people believe, that’s the most important thing in my opinion,” Shamgar said. “I thought it was the perfect way to both raise a little money for our organization as well as just getting a better and deeper understanding of the beliefs here.”
The Secular Student Alliance meets weekly as a community interested in free thought to discuss atheism, agnosticism and philosophy. At their meetings, the group hosts guest speakers such as Brother Jeb and the Latter-Day Saints Foundation on campus.
“People like us can be misrepresented and have our beliefs misconstrued and people like us can misconstrue others pretty heavily,” statistics freshman and SSA events coordinator Alex Peters said. “It is pretty incredible to do things like actively reaching out and understanding what people believe and also actively putting ourselves out there.”
SSA offers an open forum of discussion for students of all faiths to present and discuss their beliefs. According to their Facebook page, the organization aspires to the truth focusing on religion, culture, science and philosophy.
“I definitely don’t have a clear understanding of all the ideas that are represented here on campus,” Shamgar said. “I personally don’t like that. How can I have a productive conversation with someone who has beliefs that I just have no idea where they are coming from and I don’t know what practicing their religion really means for them or looks like.”
SSA at A&M is less than a year old and is part of a chapter of the national Secular Student Alliance organization. The chapter helps connect leaders all over the country to share ideas.
“We’re not just here to be insular and [say] ‘This is only for nonbelievers,’” Shamgar said. “That’s not what we are about at all. We’re just here to represent as many backgrounds as possible.”

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