Thursday 22nd February 2018,
The Transcript

Freethinkers discuss what separation of church and state means for the holidays

By Liza Bennett
Transcript Reporter

Ohio Wesleyan’s Freethinkers focus on religious, secular and human based ethics as they discuss winter holiday displays in relation to the separation of church and state.
The discussion was held in the Beeghly Library Café where nine students discussed their opinions of religious displays on public and governmental property.

While the discussion varied in views, the majority of students discussed the need to be inclusive, not exclusive, in regards to holiday displays.

All of the students also agreed that placement of religious displays should be placed in the hands of citizens and not the government.

Sophomore Avery Winston, co-president of Freethinkers, said he felt government employees specifically should not set up religious displays or have the power to decide whether or not to do so.

“I believe that religious displays can be on government property but only placed there by a non-government employee and they have to allow anyone to put up their display whether it be a menorah, kinara, happy human, or even the flying spaghetti monster,” Winston said.

Senior Adam Coles, co-president of Freethinkers, said the decision to display holiday signage should be placed in the hands of citizens.

“Personally, I think that we should keep them off of government property. This sort of thing belongs to private citizens, not the government,” Coles said.

The Freethinkers is a group that discusses religious and philosophical topics through the lens of reason and promotes secularism and human based ethics.

The purpose statement of the Free Thinkers is “an organization dedicated to the discussion of religious topics through the lens of logic and reason.

We take ourselves and our prejudices out of the equation and talk about these important topics without coloring them with our personal opinions.”

Senior Amanda Boehme joined the Freethinkers because as a member of the Inter-Faith House.

She wanted to begin attending the meetings because the discussions are relevant to her house’s mission.

Boehme said the discussion was good and explored both the political and social side of the issue.

Coles said although the discussion was a little more chaotic than usual, overall it went well, and he hopes more members of the OWU community will become involved in the discussion of faith and ethics.

“Honestly, all I want to say is that we have a fairly pervasive reputation as ‘those wacky atheists’ and I just want it to be known that we aren’t all atheists and that we aren’t faith haters,” Coles said.

“Give us a chance, and we’re decent folks, just trying to understand the world we’ve been given.”

Freethinkers next event is Dec. 3 in Bishop Café with OWU Better Together as a forum for members to share their stories of discrimination, marginalization and the misunderstanding as members of this social group.

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