New Club, Cal Poly Alliance of Happy Atheists To Replace Cal Poly Brights
September 7, 2011
SAN LUIS OBISPO, California – As part of a year long initiative to promote tolerance and awareness of the non-religious community, a secular student organization at California Polytechnic State University has announced a name change to the Cal Poly Alliance of Happy Atheists(AHA!).
The Alliance of Happy Atheists, formerly the Cal Poly Brights, will announce the name change on Friday, September 9th and the change will become official when the group recharters in the Fall. The name change was prompted by a desire by the group to improve the standing of the non-religious in the community, both at Cal Poly and at large. It was felt that the Brights name did not represent the needs faced by a secular student organization at a campus with large and active religious student organizations.
The Alliance of Happy Atheists will retain the same leadership and membership as the Cal Poly Brights, but will refocus on creating a sense of community for the non-religious and promoting skepticism at large. Along with the name change, the Alliance of Happy Atheists have issued a new mission statement that better reflects these new goals. Said group President Jake Tobin of the changes “Although we have changed our name we are the same great organization, just with a little tighter focus. We want to make it very clear we are here to help make atheists comfortable in the community and the community more comfortable with atheism, skepticism, and rationality”.
The changes could not come at a more urgent time. A 2003 Pew Research Center Poll found that 52% of Americans have a mostly or very unfavorable view of Atheists and 50% of Americans would not vote for an open Atheist, this compared to 8% for a Catholic, 15% for an Evangelical Christian or 34% for a Muslim. Among Born-again Christians, 92% felt that the impact of Atheism was negative, compared to 71% for Islam. This despite a 2011 Gallup poll finding that Atheists and Muslims were most likely to oppose violence of all kinds.
The new name reflects a response to criticism of Atheists as unhappy, pessimistic or immoral while seeking to encourage participation of the non-religious in improving the community. Tobin explained “The best way we can fight against the sea of misconceptions about atheists is to provide powerful visible counter-examples. We want to give back to our community however we can through donations, various drives, and volunteering, and we welcome anyone to join us”.
The Cal Poly Alliance of Happy Atheists can be reached through their website, www.ahaslo.org, where you can find their mission statement and more information about the group.