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Teenagers Speak Up for Lack of Faith

Last fall, Breane Lyga joined both the atheist club and a Christian group. “I wanted to get both points of view,” she said. She stopped attending the Christian meetings around Christmas.
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Every other Wednesday, right after school at 2:45, the newest club at Rutherford High, the atheist club, meets in Room 13-211.

Last Wednesday, Jim Dickey, the president, started out by asking his fellow student atheists (there are a few agnostics, too) whether they wanted to put together an all-atheist Ultimate Frisbee team for a charity event.

“We can pay the entry fee from the club treasury,” said Michael Creamer, the atheists’ faculty adviser, who urged them to take part.

Club members discussed what to do about Faith Week. Rutherford High’s two Christian clubs will be sponsoring a series of before-school prayer circles around the flagpole this week, and several of the atheists felt a need to respond in some way. “We can set up informational tables near the flagpole and do our own speeches,” said Mr. Creamer, who suggested waiting a few weeks. “Remember, we’re not trying to be confrontational; this will be a counterpoint.”

Mr. Creamer, 47, an English teacher and longtime atheist who grew up in a family of Free Will Baptists, is constantly urging club members to “be friendly, put on those smiles — people don’t expect that from atheists.”

The Christians and atheists at Rutherford High get along better than some might expect. Joshua Mercer, a senior, who is president of Ignite, a Christian club, and Jim, the atheist president, are close friends. They love comparing philosophies, and giving each other a hard time. “We like to go to Taco Bell together,” Joshua said.

Still, he worries about Jim and the other atheists. “If they don’t accept Jesus Christ as a savior, they will definitely go to hell,” said Joshua, who rises at 4:30 each morning to read the Bible with his grandmother.

Joshua believes there is still time for Jim. “Jim could change,” he said. “If he will accept Jesus in his heart, he has a free ride to heaven.”

Published: April 3, 2011

To read the rest of the article, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/education/04winerip.html?scp=2&sq=atheism&st=cse


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