When I was in college, the Secular Student Alliance didn’t exist. If it did, I sure as hell didn’t know about it. I’d recently graduated from the Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, a private, non-sectarian K-12 school whose demographics were predominantly Jewish, then Christian, then Other. Because I was a deist in high school, I never felt left out, at least not in any religious/irreligious way. No one proselytized. No one made his religion an issue. In fact, religion barely, if ever, came up.
Things changed when I went to the politically liberal, liberal-arts Pitzer College in Claremont, California. I was losing my faith from the beginning of my time there, realizing I was an atheist the summer of my freshman year. Unfortunately, beyond the initial relief that such an experience brings, I found neither comfort nor solidarity on campus.
The fact is probably most people I knew at that time were also atheists, or in the very least didn’t care. But you wouldn’t have known it from the presence of groups like the Campus Crusade for Christ. I still clearly remember trotting off to the Gold Student Center for a veggie burger and hearing the circle-snging from upstairs. Sure, they had the right to gather and make merry, but I was irritated anyway. Why should the Crusaders have a place to go and not I?
I also clearly remember a less fortunate occasion in the dining hall. I was obnoxiously dressed in a sarape because I was still amid my Mexican-culture-co-opting phase. This girl dropped by my table, set a table tent in the middle, and went on her way. I’d been having a very bad day for reasons I don’t remember. With this bad day, I took a quick look at the table tent. It said some shit about Jesus and saving and who knows what else. In a burst of righteous indignation, I seized the table tent and tore it to pieces. I sighed with relief.
Then the girl returned.
Weeping, she quietly apologized, gathered the destroyed table-tent pieces, and ran away. Good one, Anton. Way to be a total fucking asshole.
But here’s the thing. Had there been a SSA on campus, an active SSA, I most likely would’ve let bygones be bygones, at least as far as table tent placement goes. Sure, I would’ve felt annoyed by the girl and her table tent, but I would’ve had a place to have taken my gripes. Or I would’ve had my own table tents to place!
I know. I could’ve found a secular group on-line. I could’ve formed my own. It never crossed my mind to do either. And for that, some poor table tent had to die.
Don’t let future Campus Crusade for Christ table tents suffer the same fate! Support the Secular Student Alliance!