Nonreligious seek comfort at UND

I am an atheist. It wouldn’t seem like it, but that little statement by itself can bring a world of hate onto a person.

A recent study by the University of Minnesota proved that almost 50 percent of Americans would disapprove if their child wanted to marry an atheist. Forty percent said that atheists didn’t agree with their vision of America.

Time and time again it has been proven that atheists are a distrusted group in America.

A study by the University of British Columbia showed that only 45 percent of Americans would vote for a qualified atheist candidate.

Another recent poll showed that many Americans would rather elect a pot smoking candidate — or even one who was cheating on his wife — than an atheist.

Most of this animosity is likely due to many common misconceptions about atheists. For example, some religious people often claim that atheists have no morals.

However, if you think about it, this says more about religious people than atheists. If the only thing keeping you from going around killing and torturing people is that a god told you not to, that’s a little disturbing.

Atheists get their morals from the same place everyone else does — empathy. You feel bad when other people are in pain because you are capable of thinking about it from their perspective.

I’m not a perfect person by any means. I have faults and plethora of them. I know there are people who have faith that are better people than I. But the moment you start claiming someone is a better person than me because they are religious, then we have a problem.

Of course, not all Christians are like this. Just like atheists, Christians are often mischaracterized in the media. The popularity of Fox News is probably the most damaging blow to the public image of Christians, which is unfortunate, since there are a ton of Christians who aren’t like that.

Even on this campus the people over at Christus Rex are some of the nicest people you could ever meet.

Also on this campus we’ve had people like Tom Short visit to tell everyone how awful they are for not agreeing with every single word he says. Or even last year, a lecture was held on campus called “Atheists: Put Up or Shut Up.”

I enjoy having my beliefs challenged, because if I am believing something that isn’t right, I would rather not believe that anymore. But there’s a difference between challenging someone’s beliefs and loudly insisting that your beliefs are the only correct ones.

It has been difficult being an atheist on a largely religious campus, but it became easier once I discovered the Freethinkers of UND, a group I’m president of now.

Still, I have nothing against religious people. The majority of my close friends are religious. However, it is nice to be able to meet more people who think like me.

Mike Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].