“(The club) has meetings of like- minded people to discuss issues relevant to today’s society,” said Jonathan Armbruster, adviser of AAA.
The group meets regularly and holds small-group discussions, lectures and film screenings about the role religion plays in society and how different people have come to different conclusions about their religion.
Armbruster said he has given a talk to the group on evolution, a frequent topic of conversation.
“Evolution is often spoken of negatively by some theists, but the fact is that evolution is science, and science and religion are two different ways of looking at life,” Armbruster said.
The ways people perceive life interest the AAA. They are not hostile to a person’s religious beliefs, but they do seek to ask questions about those religions and point out possible shortcomings in a greater effort to open a meaningful dialogue about religion.
“Speakers have led discussions on topics such as the psychology of religion, evolution, religious history and various other views,” said Rebecca Cook, graduate student in biology and AAA secretary. “We discuss social topics, such as what it’s like living and going to school in a predominantly Christian campus and region, our personal experience and history, really anything that is of concern to the members.”
Cook said the group wants to be a support system for those just coming to the conclusion they are atheist or agnostic.
“I encourage people to do what makes them happy and what makes them comfortable,” said Cassandra Jorgensen, sophomore in zoology and AAA communications director. “Always be proud of who you are. If the person wants to be up front with people and needs support, then I’m there, but never would I just encourage someone to do it.”
Cook said she rarely brings up her beliefs in casual conversation.
“Fortunately, being a graduate student in the biology department, religion is not a common topic of discussion,” Cook said. “While beliefs among people in our department vary, and some people have very strong beliefs, there is rarely any type of confrontational discomfort.”
Christopher Chabot, AAA treasurer, said he has experienced some backlash on Auburn’s predominantly Christian campus.
“I still get a lot of genuine smiles, and some people couldn’t care less, but every once in a while, I get the occasional religious person who says that they will pray for me or they give that awkward, ‘Oh, really? Well then,’ kind of response,” Chabot said. “That is usually the point that you know that they have judged you to be a bad person, only because you do not believe in a god.”
The organization is affiliated with the Secular Alliance and American Atheists. Through these national organizations, they keep their members informed on the latest issues surrounding religion and atheism.
Armbruster said students feeling insecure or out of place was the exact reason he became faculty adviser for the organization. He said he believes it’s easier to come out as a homosexual than to be an atheist in America.