As K-State students walk to class, they step on both Biblical verses and non-religious claims chalked on the sidewalk. On a campus where Christians seem to be in the majority, it’s the statements questioning religion that receive the most scorn and disdain.
Individuals for Freethought was originally created more than four years ago on the K-State campus, but Jessica Ice, senior in anthropology, restarted the group last November.
“People think we are the ones with something to prove, but we have nothing to claim,” Ice said. “I was looking for an atheist organization, and this one had kind of disappeared, so I brought it back to life.”
Though the organization is rebuilding, students have found refuge in the ideals of the Freethought group. Ice said there are more than 25 members who come to every meeting.
“Freethought offers a place for non-religious individuals, such as free-thinkers, agnostics and non-theists. Our principles are based on science, philosophy and logic,” Ice said. “Members don’t have to be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe.'”
Ice said Individuals for Freethought has encouraged students to ask questions and given them the opportunity to meet others with the same ideals.
“It is comforting to know the belief in asking questions is a lot wider, and more people believe what I believe,” said Donavan Grady, sophomore in information systems and Freethought member. “I have learned a lot.”
Some Freethought members said they are discouraged by the common misconceptions associated with their beliefs, and want to be accepted by other students.
“All of us have good morals, but many think atheists have none, because all morals exist within God,” Grady said.
Besides attending weekly meetings, members of Freethought participate in many different events throughout the year, including Relay for Life, potluck dinners and social gatherings.
“We recently just had a very successful spaghetti dinner fundraiser, and we are bringing a keynote speaker to campus on April 27,” Ice said.
In a traditionally Christian community, Freethought members said they want others to accept their differences and take notice of changing demographics.
“Sixteen percent of the [U.S.] population is non-religious,” said Jessica Cuppy, senior in business administration. “Our goal is acceptance, since we are [Christians’] classmates, teammates and friends. We are people, too.”