Dogma-Free Society welcomes nonreligious and religious students

Pope Benedict XVI meets Romanian president Traian Basescu at Vatican City, February 15, 2013. With his pending resignation, Benedict XVI will be known as the best-dressed pope. (Evandro Inetti/Zuma Press/MCT)

The main goal of Dogma-Free Society is to give atheist and agnostic students a place to speak freely without fear of being judged, co-founder of Dogma-Free Society Dylan Clauson said.

“We try to provide a safe haven for nonreligious students to come and express their views,” the Holt senior said.

Meetings typically begin with screenings of speeches by prominent atheist and agnostic figures, such as Richard Dawkins. Afterward, members talk about their opinion of the videos and debate topics such as organized religion, science, politics and current events dealing with faith.

Though there are not currently any religious members who attend regularly, the group invites religious students to participate in their meetings as well.

“It helps give another perspective to our discussions,” Clauson said. “It’s nice to hear the other side of the story, because that’s how you make progress intellectually.”

The society was originally founded as the Nonreligious, Atheist, Freethinker and Agnostic Alliance in 2009 by President Cory Kinne and Clauson. It is an affiliate of the national Secular Students Alliance, which advocates the development of nonreligious groups on college campuses.

The society also works to disprove the misconception that morality comes from religious belief. The society is taking part in the upcoming Relay for Life in April, and they volunteer regularly at local soup kitchens.

Fowlerville junior Chelsea Shreve joined the group this semester. She said she was not able to speak her mind in her conservative hometown when she started to identify as an atheist three years ago.

“I thought it was a big enough part of my life that I wanted to talk to other people about it,” Shreve said. “I wanted to expand my views and get different viewpoints. DFS was the place to do that.”

According to a poll from Pew Forum, a project of the Pew Research Center, about 20 percent of Americans say they are nonreligious. Six percent of Americans call themselves atheists or agnostics, while 14 percent are unaffiliated.

The society has invited Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to speak at the Charles V. Park Library on March 10. He will be speaking about his conversion from Evangelical Christianity to atheism.

They will also be hosting the second-annual Dogma-Free Society Debate sometime in April. This year’s topic will be “Is religion a force for good in the world?” More than 150 spectators attended last year’s debate, which asked “Does God exist, and does it matter?”

Dogma-Free Society meetings are held at 7 p.m. every Thursday in Anspach 169. The group welcomes anyone who is interested in intelligent conversation about religion and science in today’s world.


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