Saving Faith

By Bill Maher

A new poll found that Americans who describe themselves as "religious" has dropped from 73% to 60% over the past seven years. And in that same time, those who say they’re "atheist" has risen from 1% to 5%.  And polls show more and more high school kids don’t believe in God -- which makes you wonder what they shout out during sex with their teacher. Not only are some kids getting more comfortable with the idea that God is an ancient myth concocted to control the masses with promises of a blissful afterlife, they're beginning to start atheist clubs in their schools. Or at least trying.

A group called the Secular Student Alliance is starting to get requests from teens who want to start atheist clubs at their high schools. These are kids who happen to believe that life can be lived fully and ethically through reason, and that studying is much more effective than prayer for, say, preparing for an American History final.

There were only about a dozen atheist clubs at U.S. high schools at the beginning of last school year but now there are 39 in 17 states with lots more in the pipeline. Just this year, the Secular Student Alliance has gotten 73 additional requests for their club starter kits.

Now, to start a club in your high school, you basically have to get a faculty advisor to agree to sponsor you and prove that enough kids are interested in participating. But despite petitioners meeting these criteria, some high schools continue to resist atheist clubs. One Florida high school refused an atheist club, saying it would be "too controversial." A principal at a Houston high school would not allow the club to be called "atheist" because that name "could disrupt the educational process." By citing disruption and controversy, what these schools were basically saying is, "We don't just see your independent thinking as independent; we see it as a provocation, as an attack on the approved thinking of the majority."

The kicker is the Florida high school that refuses to approve an atheist club on the grounds that it doesn't allow any religious clubs. But an atheist club, by definition, is not a religious club. That's the whole point. Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position. Like not being hungry is a meal.  Like not believing in magic is a trick. What is it about non-belief that believers find so threatening?