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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009

Breakneck:

"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Atheists' club finds surprisingly fertile ground at USU

By Andrea Romero

December 11, 2008 | "Atheism is the lack of belief in God or gods. It's not the rejection of God. It's a lack of belief."

That's how Jon Adams and Jordan Daines defined atheism. It was out of this belief that Adams, Daines and a few others started the Secular Humanists, Atheists, and Free Thinkers club in January 2008.

Daines said that it wasn't easy to start SHAFT. "It took a long time. We had to get a lot of stuff together. I doubted that it took other clubs this long. ASUSU had a debate whether there was a need for a club of this nature on campus because there was already a religious study club."

Adams was the vice president of the religious studies club but resigned because he thought that atheism needed its own voice. Adams and Daines have been surprised by the turnout. With or without university approval they were already holding meetings and had members on Facebook, said Daines.

Now as an official club, Adams said that they have 100 members on Facebook and over 200 people on the email list. Adams said that SHAFT started more as a social club among friends but now has expanded beyond just friends to new people looking for like-minded people. Kaari Rowberry, a junior in interior design, said that she joined SHAFT because she liked the idea that she would be around people who questioned the norm in Utah.

Adams said that Eli Brayley, the preacher on campus, started dialogue. "It was exciting. He provided a different view for the marketplace of ideas," said Adams. This was the kind of excitement that Adams said he wanted to provide for USU. SHAFT has given disconnected kids a community, it has helped promote diversity and started dialogue at USU, said Adams. Rowberry said, "It gives people an alternative." It brings awareness to the campus she said.

Adams and Daines said that SHAFT was created to not only give atheism a voice, but to confront misconception about atheism. "People think that we eat babies and we don't. Atheism can be moral," said Daines. Adams said that SHAFT is about doubt and being open to think critically. SHAFT is a response to how vocal people are about religion, Adams said.

"We are more moral than some people that believe in God. We are doing it for our own reasons. We are good for goodness sake and not for God. We don't do it to be rewarded," said Daines. Our mission is not take down the Latter-day Saints, said Adams. Adams said that they don't feel threatened by people with different opinions. He also said that SHAFT was not about not welcoming people that don't agree, it's about thinking critically and questioning because a "hard truth is better than an easy lie."

SHAFT has held debates and panel discussions. Daines said that he would like to talk more about science. SHAFT members would like to do a service project because it would be a good to give atheism a good name. Adams' long-term goal is to find a private donor or appeal to national organizations to be able to fund a scholarship. The student body will also be hearing about a bake sale in the spring semester in an effort to create funds for SHAFT.

Adams said that the best way to communicate with SHAFT is through Facebook. Adams and Daines also really recommend reading A Short Introduction to Atheism, which can be found at the Merrill-Cazier Library.

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