Secular Student Alliance Fundraises to End Religious Violence

Secular Student Alliance member Mars Hallman, being pelted with a water balloon – photo by Katherine Miller

By Rebecca Mackelprang

Too often does the far reach of religious violence go undiscussed. On Tuesday, September 13, the UGA Secular Student Alliance held a unique fundraiser outside the Tate Center to highlight the issue.

At the event, titled “Stone a Heathen,” donors could pay a dollar to throw a water balloon at a member of the Alliance. This playful form of pelting represented the very real violence still perpetrated against religious minorities around the world.

Past all the balloon-throwing, a poster board provided information about religious context for committing violence against nonbelievers. Among the texts featured were passages from both the Old Testament and Quran, as well as current news articles documenting the stories of victims of religious violence.

One such story was that of a 28-year-old Saudi Arabian man. After posting atheist tweets, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and 2,000 lashes, as well as a fine.

The president of the UGA Secular Student Alliance, Katherine Miller, a senior in psychology from Columbus, spoke ofthe reason to reference to such shocking stories.”Our goal is to raise awareness about religious violence in the world, and also to fundraise to help support the International Association for Religious Freedom,” said Miller.

The International Association for Religious Freedom organization, based in the United Kingdom, is over a hundred years old and works to promote tolerance and interfaith dialogue in 25 countries.

The UGA Secular Student Alliance is a chapter of a national organization that works to “to organize, unite, educate, and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics.” The club provides a safe environment for secular students to express themselves – whether they describe themselves as agnostic, deist, atheist or something else.

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