The initiative by the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist, and Secular Students, which represents 17 existing student groups of non-believers, is part of a program of debates, social events, and sporting events in which their religious counterparts will be invited to participate.
“Why is belief in a higher power an indication of greater moral fortitude, character, and acumen? On the contrary, beliefs that are unsupported, bigoted, or demand special privileges should always be challenged,” Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University, told the federation’s inaugural meeting on February 19.
Philosophy professor A. C. Grayling of London University, another supporter, said the federation would make stand up against religious privilege and discrimination.
To counter what some students are saying is the “anti-God” squad, Christian unions at some British universities are giving away hundreds of thousands of copies of the Gospel of Mark.
Chloe Clifford-Frith, the atheist federation’s spokesperson, told Ecumenical News International the secular campaign is intended to expand on events organized by student atheist societies, such as panel debates, socials, and sports events.
Another set of events would offer faith group leaders a possibility to state their case and take questions. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science would sponsor specific projects and has made a donation, as have members of parliaments and scientists.
“We live in a world where religious governments execute adulterers and homosexuals, deny women and minority groups basic freedoms, circulate fraudulent claims about contraception and scientific research and create laws that protect them from criticism,” Clifford-Frith said in a statement.
“We are privileged, in such a world, to live in a country where we can even have this debate, and as such we have a duty to bring it into our universities and beyond.”
In London and in Barcelona, Spain, advertisement campaigns supporting atheism have been conducted on recently on public buses and there is a similar initiative in Toronto, Canada.
In Italy, however, atheists who had booked bus advertisements were blocked due to political opposition, and authorities said they would not allow the bus posters in the Swiss financial capital of Zurich.
In London, the Christian Party recently launched advertisements on buses in the British capital declaring, “There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”