CASH is no ‘unconventional’ catch-all

There exists a long tradition of non-theism in America.

by Clark Nguyen

This letter is in response to the Nov. 16 article in The Minnesota Daily, âÄúStudent groups host evolution debate.âÄù As a board member of Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists (CASH), I believe most of the article was balanced. I take issue with the characterization of CASH, however. The reporter writes that CASH âÄúfocuses on creating a community for students with unconventional beliefs.âÄù What does âÄúunconventional beliefsâÄù mean? Does she wish to classify our belief system to include all creeds outside âÄúconventionalâÄù norms? Is a lack of belief in god or no religion strange to her? The reporter also suggests that atheism, agnosticism, skepticism and secular humanism are not mainstream and are therefore âÄúunconventional.âÄù This depiction ignores the long history of non-theism, beginning with the Fifth-century B.C.E. Greek philosopher Diagoras, the secular legacy of church-state separation in this country and the current popularity of the New Atheism movement. The fact that in the 18-25 age group, 20 percent of Americans identify as atheist, agnostic or nonreligious indicates that non-belief is becoming commonplace. The âÄúunconventionalâÄù label strikes me as uninformed and biased and implies that deism is a natural societal gravitation. Unfortunately, the authorâÄôs poor diction obfuscates CASHâÄôs goals. We are not a âÄúcatch-allâÄù for ideas and sects outside of the âÄúordinary.âÄù We accept student members of all faiths and backgrounds; however, our purpose is clearly articulated to favor rational thought and scientific inquiry over dogma and religiosity. CASHâÄôs goals are to end the isolation of non-theists by building a strong community, help to contribute to the marketplace of ideas at the University of Minnesota, promote tolerance and understanding, and combat negative perceptions of non-theists. What the reporter does seem to thrust at is that we seek to provide an alternative voice for those disenfranchised or distrusted by the majority. However, she passes judgment on the significance and desirability of those voices in the community. Clark Nguyen Public Relations Director of CASH