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Culture Shock: Free Thinkers

ASU's Secular Free Thought Soceity isn't what you think

 by Sam Friedman
 published on Thursday, October 6, 2005


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When asked recently what sort of person they would be most reluctant to elect as president, most Americans didn't answer via race, gender or sexuality but rather on the basis of religion.

It was the thought of an atheist in the White House that appalled respondents the most, says Gerda De Klerk, founder of ASU's Secular Free Thought Society.

For De Klerk, a self-described atheist, such a finding isn't surprising.

"The level of religiosity in America is much higher than any other Western country and being an atheist here is somehow seen as amoral," she says.

SFS is a social organization, but De Klerk says it also aims to provide an "intellectual" network.

"We are interested in discussing a number of key topics such as the rise of fundamentalism and the wider impact of religion on society," she says.

De Klerk is particularly interested in "intelligent design," a Christian evolutionary theory that she says is being sold to American school kids as scientific.

"The president and other important people want 'intelligent design' to be taught in science classes even though it's totally outside the realm of science," she says.

Despite its secular title, De Klerk points out that SFS isn't anti-religion, and counts a number of Christians among its 92 members. She says the tremendous response she's received is evidence that there's a real need for somewhere non religious people can get together and exchange ideas.

Reach the reporter at sam.friedman@asu.edu.



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