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HELP With Starting A New Student Organization.

Hello Everyone,

Three of my colleagues and I are wanting to start a new student organization for reason and science at our university. We are only in the early stages of development but I come to the wonderful people of the RDFRS for some much needed advice.

First, let's start with our mission statement. After many long hours of trying to word it perfectly, we got the bright idea of using the same mission statement as the RDFRS! I mean, why not? It is very thorough and very well-worded. So, we adopted it and plan on using it. (I hope this is ok with the RDFRS officials. If there is a problem, please let me know.) Here is the mission statement should anyone not know what it is:

The mission of the (University Name) Student Organization for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering.

However, some of the wording has since come into controversy by one of our members. We live in Western Kentucky, the heart of the Bible Belt. It has been suggested that having the words "overcome religious fundamentalism," is a mistake for this group due to our location. The member has argued that it will cause the group to fail due to the fact that stating such a thing alienates all religious people which is the vast majority of people on campus and that no one will want to join due to social repercussions. While I agree that it will cause controversy, I don't see why it might make our group unsuccessful. I know of many other university organizations that use similar statements about religion in their mission statements. So, this member is suggesting removing the "to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance" part in the mission statement.

Also, he suggests removing the "human suffering" part due to the same reasons of controversy and also because he does not believe science can say anything about human suffering or human values. (He has not, obviously, read Sam Harris.) This member is a biology major with four years of study under his belt and suggest we remove this or he is for sure that the organization will completely fail.

I am asking for other's opinions and suggestions on these issues and for advice on starting such a organization. I know there are many students, teachers and professors on this discussion board and I would highly value your input. Also, should Richard himself wish to give some advice, I would be greatly honored and GREATLY appreciative of his input as well.

Thank you all!




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