Last week the Secular Human Alliance (SHA) hosted a conversation about faith as part of ETSU’s Civility Week in the Culp Audortorium.
SHA President Miles Mann believes that Civility Week is about bringing up controversial topics so that people can become more accepting and educated.
“Having the uncomfortable conversation means you can move the friendship towards unity despite the disagreements,” said Mann.
The event began with a film entitled “Leaving My Father’s Faith,” which stars Tony and Bart Campolo. Tony Campolo is a famous evangelical Christian minister and Bart Campolo is Tony’s son.
For around 30 years, Bart spread the word of God alongside his father, but that all came to an end after Bart had a bicycle accident. Bart suffered from a concussion, and when he recovered, he realized that his belief aligned more toward humanism than Christianity.
Alexis Petrak is an ETSU graduate student who joined the organization because she identifies with the group’s message.
“I was around when the angry atheist groups were around, and that’s not how I identify at all, so when Miles came and wanted to bring another group on campus that was positive and more service-based, I wanted to jump on board and help him as much as I could,” Petrak said.
ETSU sophomore Shawn Quilliams shares similar sentiments. When he arrived to ETSU, he searched for a place where he could feel safe and found comfort within this organization.
“This can be a great place for people who are questioning faith or have secularist view points to come and build a community,” said Quilliams.
ETSU sophomore Hannah Rauhuff thinks the community SHA creates is not one that focuses solely on how it’s members do not believe in God.
“Instead we come together and talk about how we can grow together as a community and help other people in a secular way,” said Rauhuff.
ETSU junior August Hyde believes that the fact that SHA is a group that doesn’t have a belief barrier is what attracted him to the organization.
“I feel like it’s good for nonreligious people to have a community,” Hyde said.
After the film, Bart Campolo rose from his seat in the audience to answer the crowd’s questions about faith.
“When people’s beliefs allow them to flourish, leave them alone,” said Bart Campolo.
“When it hurts them or others, that’s when you step in.”