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Atheists, Christians and Controversy (at CSU Monterey Bay)

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This story originally appeared in the Otter Realm on 11/1/07. The event covered was part of the Secular Student Alliance's Dan Barker California tour. The Secular Student Alliance is currently trying to start a group at CSUMB.

Noelle Blair,Staff Reporter

On October 22, Dan Barker, a former fundamentalist preacher turned atheist came to speak on campus at the University Center. The speech was sponsored by the Secular Student Association (sic) (SSA) with the goal of starting a club on campus.

There were about twenty people in attendance; however, the majority of the group was members of the Humanist Association of the Monterey Bay Area (HAMBA).

Barker, the author of "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist," spoke of his early life as a preacher.

"I accepted the call of ministry at 15 years old," said Barker. Rather than joining a seminary, he preached in his school.

"I knew Jesus was coming at any minute," Barker said as he smiled and looked over his shoulder. It was one thought that he had during his preaching days, and a phrase that he repeated several times throughout the speech.

He described that his move to atheism was not immediate; first he started questioning his thinking, beginning as a fundamentalist then to a liberal Christian and to an atheist.

"I didn't stop preaching then," he said. "I felt like a hypocrite." Barker, the author of several Christian children's musicals, described how the project he had been working on at the time was written half by a Christian and then half by an atheist.

After Barker's speech there was a question and answer session, which was interrupted midway through by a mother and daughter. The two entered the room and asked to address the crowd. After Barker agreed, the mother began to yell that he was a liar and God was the truth.

"That's exactly the kind of non-religious discrimination we face," someone in the crowd yelled out.

For about fifteen minutes the two women repeatedly yelled that God is the truth. The audience tried to speak to them about what they were doing, but both persisted in their efforts to sway the crowd. Security eventually was called in after the women were asked several times to leave.

One student said he came to the meeting to "discuss with atheists on a common ground. There are more atheists than I thought. (This meeting) showed religion's downfall." The student asked to be anonymous because he did not want his friends to know his true beliefs.

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