MU skeptics group brings big-name atheists to campus

Mar 17, 2014
Heather Adams,

A conference this weekend -- the first conference ever hosted by the student skeptics organization at MU -- brought in well-known atheist speakers from around the country.

The conference, SashaCon, had been in-the-works since summer. It all started when MU SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists and Agnostics) heard the story of Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar, an up-and-coming atheist speaker who first came to the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq. 

Watch the show and join the conversation on the Intersection website.

The number of people who say they affiliate with religion is at its lowest point in our nation’s history. Now only one in five Americans are "Nones" or people with no religious affiliation. 

Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

A group gathered in MU’s speaker’s circle Thursday to speak out against the Bangladeshi government and advocate for freedom of expression. 

Nearly 15 atheists participated in the Defend Dissent protest.  The demonstration was inspired by the arrest of several bloggers in Bangladesh who spoke out against the government and against Islam.  Columbia is one of several cities across the globe participating in Defend Dissent.   

Kellie Kotraba\ColumbiaFAVS / KBIA

Atheism is not usually considered a faith -- so why has our faith and values desk covered it? In this week's update, we bring you an answer.

Greg Lammers, the atheist writer for Columbia Faith & Values and the organizer for Columbia Atheists, sat down with Kellie Kotraba to talk about atheism, values and the relationship between the two. 

You can also listen to the full 10-minute interview below:

Kellie Kotraba/ColumbiaFAVS

The role of religious affiliation in the United States is changing.

According to a recent survey from the Pew Forum, one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion

A small part of this growing group is made up of atheists.

Last weekend, hundreds of atheists gathered in the Bible Belt – Springfield, to be exact – for Skepticon, a national skeptics convention. Not all skeptics are atheists, but many of them are.

Kellie Kotraba/ColumbiaFAVS / KBIA

Religion was one of those things Cliff Cain's mother raised him not to talk about in public – that, along with politics and sex.

With religion alone, he's breaking that rule – in his words, "Religion is as polarizing as politics and as passionate as sex."

Cain is a religious studies professor at Westminster College in Fulton, and he was the chair of the committee for the school's annual symposium. This year, the topic was religion, and more than 40 experts came to give lectures and facilitate discussions. 

Kellie Kotraba/ColumbiaFAVS / KBIA

For 19 years, Dan Barker preached from a Christian pulpit. Now, he’s co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and is an atheist activist. He said he outgrew his religious beliefs. These days, that’s not unusual.

“Agree with it or not, atheism is really growing," he said. "Millions and millions of good Americans don’t believe in a God.”