Episode 237 – “What Robert Green Ingersoll Has to Offer Secular Young People Today”

This week on CenterStage, a talk by Center for Inquiry field organizer Cody Hashman.

On August 16th and 17th, 2014, the Center for Inquiry presented a conference entitled “Robert Green Ingersoll and the Reform Imperative” at its headquarters in Amherst, New York. This event celebrated Ingersoll, perhaps the best-known unbeliever of America’s Gilded Age. Ingersoll was born in 1833 in Dresden, a village in New York’s Finger Lakes district. The conference placed Ingersoll in context with other freethinking reformers with roots in west-central New York State, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

This week, Cody Hashman asks what nineteenth-century freethought orator Robert Ingersoll has to offer secular young people today.

Cody Hashman is a Field Organizer for the Center for Inquiry, where he works with campus and community groups.

To center stage, bringing you the best from the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster a secular society based on science reason. Freedom of inquiry and humanist values. 

Presenting lectures and events at its headquarters in Amita’s New York and in New York City, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere. There’s always something thought provoking and controversy along on stage at some center for inquiry. Join us now on center stage. 

Welcome to Center Stage. I’m Debbie Goddard director of outreach at the Center for Inquiry. Today on center stage, a talk by a center for inquiry field organizer Cody Harshman and Adam Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry magazine. 

On August 16th and 17th, 2014, the Center for Inquiry presented a conference entitled Robert Green, Ingersoll and the Reform Imperative at its headquarters in Amherst, New York. 

This event celebrated Ingersol. 

Perhaps the best known unbeliever of America’s Gilded Age, Ingersoll was born in 1833 in Dresden, a village in New York’s Finger Lakes district. 

The conference placed Ingersol in context with other freethinking reformers with roots in west central New York state, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass and Matilda Jocelyn Gage. 

Over our next five episodes, Center Stage will present key lectures from this one of a kind event. 

This week, Cody Hatchetman asks what 19th century Freethought order Robert Ingersoll has to offer secular young people today? 

Cody Harshman is a field organizer for the Center for Inquiry, where he works with campus and community groups. 

He is introduced to the Ingersol conference audience by my co-host, Tom Flynn. 

Well, moving right along with perhaps the most self-sufficient speaker we will hear today, he not only gives his talk, he sets up his own equipment, the fearless Cody Harshman of our outreach department, video producer extraordinaire. And by the way, let’s while we’re here and it’s convenient, let’s have a round of applause for our tech support staff and work Hard said. 

Now, this is all provisional and a picture showing up on the screen pretty soon. I understand that you well, turn me on. Monica. 

OK. Kirby is a member of the Center for Inquiry Outreach Department and a former student activist. 

He hails from the University of Iowa in northern Iowa. Northern Iowa. Pardon me. There we go. 

I knew him fighting the Panthers, as also does Stephanie MacGraw, who’s with us today in the back of the room. 

And Cody’s going to be speaking about what Ingersol has to offer young people. 

And I think the first thing is to offer is a technical conundrum. There are. There it goes. 

We will now have a moment of quiet contemplation as the projector warms up. 

Yeah, it’s going on. Yeah, I saw the light go on in there. OK. We’re ahead of time anyway, right? 

OK. And I saw it just start when you first. He’s the laser, is it? 

There you are. I won’t touch. I’m only this up here though. All right. Yes. There are truly moments when I envy Bob Ingersoll, his ability to fill for hours with nothing but a glass of water. 

Speaking of to grab some water. You mind if I wait for this to warm up? Eleven, ten, nine, eight, OK. 

So quick show of hands. Who is coming on the bus tour tomorrow? Very good. Great. 

Look forward to joining you all. Just as a reminder that we’ll be out in front of the Doubletree and we will be leaving at seven forty five. The bus should be there at seven thirty, but so you don’t come over here to the center. The bus is going to come to you with the deviltry and will probably have you back around 10:00 at night. So it should be a pretty full day. 

Well, then, I suppose if I weren’t standing in the way of Cody’s projection, he could start. So here we go. 

Hi, everyone. So Tom asked me to. 

Well, originally, Tom asked me just to videotape things. And then when we were setting up thing, setting up the the conference. He asked me to talk a little bit about young people. And I suppose because I’m maybe because I’m a little bit younger and younger than Tom. 

Yeah, I’m younger than many. 

And so I’m I might I might be the youngest person in the room other than stuff. Now I see. 

But yeah, predominantly. So anyway, the time all my talk is young people in grand temples of the future. Who here is about the gods. Oh no. Really. Well this should be interesting for you then. I’m very surprised because actually the first bit of Freethought literature that I ever read was a Ingersoll’s lecture on the Gods. I mean, talk about that a little bit. In fact, that’s going to kind of be an underlying theme for the rest of the talk. 

And at the end of the gods, he talks about building Grant in the Grand Temple of the future. And I actually think that that’s what a lot of young people are doing these days. And so I’m going to talk a little bit about what Ingersol has to offer and what Ingersoll did offer to me as a young Freethought activist. So here we go. First, we should talk a little bit about who young people are, who these young seculars are. There’s been a lot of news coverage recently about the nuns, right. And their prime. Primarily the younger people like this bump in this rise in the amount of unaffiliated people in the US is primarily driven by the younger generation. We have people 18 to 29, which is my where I fit only for maybe about a year or more. Almost a third unaffiliated. And this becomes even greater on campuses. In fact, there’s two articles that I implore you to read. There’s one and free inquiry about the secular student movement. And there’s one in a skeptical inquire about how these nuns are actually skeptics as well. And as you see them, the proportion of people that are unaffiliated with any particular religion actually decreases. And yet these numbers have stayed fairly steady over the past couple of years. So you see the age range from basically late 20s, mid to late 20s. You sitting around 30 percent. You see a slight increase. I suspect this is because a lot of people are actually going to college where their minds are liberated. I think what I want to say. And we even see this this indication that the younger, even younger generations are actually even less religious than people of my age. So what that’s really that’s really just yes. They’re getting closer to that to Cernik to a certain extent. That is true. But it’s not predominantly the reason why we see this this large increase in the number of non-religious people. This is actually a trend that has happened over the last 50 or 60 years where you see the younger generations and they start off non-religious and they maintain their religiosity over the years. Yes, I I’m going to argue that if we build communities that they will actually maintain it throughout their whole life. So I think this is a great and I think that we need to pay attention to young people. I think that. Basically, my thesis is that Ingersol can teach these young generations a little bit about the history of the Freethought movement. Some issues that they should pay attention to, some ways that they should act. But also, I think that if Ingersol was here today, that he could actually learn something from young people. 

So, yes. 

So what Canning Ingersol teach us, other than how to look like a badass while balding and an inability to grow a beard? 

I know. That’s what I’m getting at. Right. 

So, so, so, so I think that there’s a lot of anger Ingersol can teach young people, in fact, Ingersol did teach me a lot of stuff. So I actually I’m going to tell a story about a handsome young man who was introduced to Ingersol at the beginning of his college career. And then, yes, that’s me. So a little bit about myself. I’m from a small, somewhat small town in the Midwest called Cedar Falls, Iowa. 

Predominately, mostly Christian, fairly conservative, though, if you guys have been paying attention to politics, Iowa’s fairly purple. There’s a lot of political engagement in Iowa. 

But anyway, so I went to Iowa State for my first year and throughout high school, I began to lose my religion. In fact, I was fairly religious in high school. I, in fact, started a youth group called Twilight Resurrection, which so so I was quite religious, quite evangelical, but started to lose my religion predominantly because I saw a lot of problems, as we all have. So I went to Iowa State and they had a club there called the Iowa State Agnostics and Atheists, I believe. And there was a talk there and this was me just entering into college. And I felt somewhat alone in the sense that, like most of my friends were religious. 

And but there was this this group there and they brought in Dan Barker from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, gave a talk and it was great. I felt not as alone at that point in my you really religiosity. And I ended up actually going back to I left Iowa State and went back to to you and I University in northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, my hometown. 

And I met some friends who also were not religious. 

One of them, one of their names was Nick. I actually don’t feel comfortable saying his last name because he’s actually a school teacher now. And I guess it speaks to the progress that still needs to be made is that he has actually had to remove himself from the Internet in many ways because he’s a school teacher now and can’t be open about his non religion. 

But Nick helped me. 

I didn’t really I was kind of like participating in online forums. I let a few people know I wasn’t religious. And he handed me this book. And this book was called On the Gods and Other Lectures. And it was basically transcription of Robert Ingersoll’s lecture on the Gods. 

And it changed my life. And so that’s what I want to talk about. 

So who here remembers, I guess, were very few people that actually read the gods. But this is the first line. An honest God is the noblest work of man. 

And I was, like, blown away. I was like, this is crazy talk. Like, what are you talk? What are you talking about? But I came to appreciate this in a profound way once I got to the end of this, because the God that he wished for. Was was was encapsulated or at least he outlined it here at the end. We are looking for a time when the useful shall be honorable. And one reason thrown upon the world’s brain shall be the king of kings and gods of the gods. 

So this is the God that he wished for. This is the noblest God. 

And so this is actually the last paragraph of the gods. And so what I want to talk about is we are laying the foundations of the Grand Temple of the future. 

And so I set a part. I set upon a journey to lay a temple of the future. And and. Ingersoll changed the course of what I envisioned this temple to be in the sense that I originally like, OK, I’m going to start a campus group on my campus where we’re gonna be atheists and out in the open. But after reading the Gods, I realized that we needed to be much more than that. And so Ingersoll embodied this idea of free thought and how it’s so much more than than just being not religious. It’s about us promoting skepticism, political action. Speaking for those who can’t speak themselves. And so, along with my friend Nick, we started a campus group called Unify the U.N., a free thinkers and Enquirers. So what I want to say is that even from the get go, Ingersol changed how I viewed the movement in the sense that we weren’t the you and I. Atheists weren’t the you and I agnostics. We weren’t the U.N. I seculars. We were the free thinkers and enquirers. And and I continued to read the guys I wrote. Read a lot about about the free thought movement, the history of the free thought movement. And it made me feel not alone, not only in my community, because I finally had a group of people that were with me. But I also, in reading about the rich Freethought history, I read about how I wasn’t alone in a historical perspective. So we started to unify. And in fact, I decided that I was not only going to promote Athie ism and Freethought, our Athie ism and agnosticism on campus. 

But this is actually one of the first tabouli experiences. 

And actually this is this is a Ingersol right here where I thought to do is important that we put Ingersol on our table and say this is what we about. This is what you should read if you want to learn about what our group is about. So we established this group on campus. The name inspired by the Freethought movement and inspired by Ingersol. And we struggled a little bit from the get go. We had some meetings where we got around with people that felt similarly to us. But we weren’t really gaining traction. And so I went back to Ingersol and went back to Ingersol. And I was like he was getting the attention of lots of people. He was getting the attention of religious believers, of nonbelievers, of skeptics, of the general population. And I looked to this for inspiration because I wanted to reach out. Part of being part of this movement isn’t just finding community and finding people that believe the same things is you, but also spreading the gospel of free thought, I suppose. So I actually set up a monthly event where I was able to do what I thought Ingersoll was doing back then, talking to people that were religious that he disagreed with. 

And it was actually called Grab a Brew, Share Your View. And so I actually worked with a campus group with a with a a local church. And again, this this idea of wanting to speak with religious people on in continent, a common context where there was no hostility actually helped form. Grab a brew, share your view where you can disagree profoundly with the people that you’re talking to. But ultimately, at the end of the day, they appreciated you as well. So we had we had one rule. You don’t have to you don’t have to respect the idea, but you have to respect the person and the format of God. Rucho, your view was you’ve got to stand up and you’ve got to speak your mind about some topic for the week. What’s wrong with Christianity? And so just go back. Here’s another here’s this this picture of Ingersol where he’s talking about about Thomas Paine and in killing monarchy. 

And I thought that’s what I was doing. And so I was doing that on my campus. Half of these people in here are religious. The other half aren’t religious. And we built community and we reached out to religious believers and people just walking by. And it was great. And it was one of the most important things to the improvement of my campus group. And and I have to look back and reflect and say that I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t see Ingersol doing it, if I didn’t see pictures of him doing it, if I didn’t see him reaching out to religious people. Traveling around the world, immersing himself in his community and and and so that was the origins of of Grabow Brew. Share your view. Right. 

And so that was good. 

I got to talk about my frustrations with with religion in the public’s sphere. But I also like after a while, it got kind of monotonous. And I we we thought about what, you know, what is free thought. So I went back to Ingersol again, and he wasn’t just talking about religion. He was talking about science. He was talking about sexuality and skepticism and secularism and humanitarianism and doing political action. And so this is where we decided that we’re going to do more than just be an anti religious group on campus. We’re going to be a Freethought group like our names says. And so that was actually the origins in a way, for an event that has happened on my campus since I was there called Darrian Week. And yes, we it’s about. It was around Darwin’s birthday. But what downlinked did was celebrate Freethought. There was lectures on skepticism, sexuality, diversity, science, origins, all of these things. It was because we were free thinkers. It wasn’t just because we were anti religious. So these are the values that were instilled upon me in reading what Ingersol had to say. And we tried to embody that in Darwin week. And in fact, here’s a this is the program for last year’s down week where you see you have this skepticism day. You had Science Day, science and religion, feminism stuff. 

You had more feminism stuff, LGBT issues, sexuality. This is what Unify was about. And I think this is what Ingersol was about. 

One of the things that I don’t see in here that I think that we can all that young students can actually learn from is Ingersoll’s appreciation of art. 

And I know this because in reading, Ingersoll was surprised to realize that he wrote what, women’s eulogy? So, you know, here’s the beginnings of the tribute to women. 

And so organizing campus groups is actually a process. And so we started out being this anti religious group or pro Athie group. 

We moved into this Freethought area. And I think that we can move further into being part of the community in a way where we embody everything that the free that the free thought movement was about and what Ingersol was about, it was about promoting skepticism, science and art. Another thing that Ingersol did for me and my campus group was to realize the power and importance of blasphemy. So everyone who here knows about the C.V Reynolds trial. All right. Few people, the same people that wrote. So this is actually one thing I did when I got bored one day and I made this little meme about Ingersol and blasphemy. 

And Ingersoll’s emphasis on the importance of blasphemy actually spurred one of the events that my campus group did, which was actually participating in Blasphemy Day International. So what we did was to promote blasphemy. And I think in the spirit of Ingersol was to what we did is we shot around our campus. Blasphemous sayings and images is a little bit hard to see because of the lights. 

But but we did this because in reading Ingersol, we realized the importance of blasphemy. He was the biggest blasphemer at his time. He defended blasphemy. And we wanted to do the same thing. So there’s just more pictures. 

Actually, this is STF who’s in the back of the room talking about chocking on Blasphemy Day. So back to the gods. 

What Ingersoll’s did, the wedding herself says here about building temples of the future. 

And in Freethought, I thought he was missing something from here. And so this is where I think that the communities that that these campus groups can learn from. Can actually teach Ingersol something. And I think part of Freethought should be community. And so we have this group on our campus. And one of the reasons it six is it has succeeded in the way that it has. 

It has is because we were able to build community and we did this through a variety of different things. We have a unified brunch every Sunday where these are all young free thinkers on campuses. 

And we we did this because it was important for people to come in to school and have a community where they didn’t feel ostracized for their disbelief. 

And I think that’s important. And Unify has done this in a very profound way. This is them at a bowling night. This is at the Flying Spaghetti Monster dinner. So this is great. And on this campus, they have an extremely strong student group. And I think that their strength actually comes from their community. And I part of my work, I get to talk with students often. And I actually spoke with a young kid named German Beard. And I think that he summed what I’m trying to say up perfectly when he said this. People come for the ideal, but they stay for the people. And I think that there’s a very profound thing to say. And I think that there are many campus groups that are doing this. They have bar nights. They have social meetings. 

They have board game nights. 

And so I think that is important for us as a movement to foster campus groups and young people’s Freethought inclinations. And actually want to go back to an excerpt from the God where Ingersol says is the count. And given in Genesis is really true. Are we not, after after all, to think the serpent he’s talking about the devil. He was the first schoolmaster, the first advocate of learning. The first enemy of ignorance. The first to whisper in human years. The sacred word liberty. The creator of Ambition. The author of Modesty. Inquiry of Doubt, of investigation, of progress and of Civil Civilization. And I think that this is campuses. And I think that this this right here is why it’s important for us to invest in students, because this is the first time they’re leaving high school. They’re able to first. This is the first time they’re able to think freely for themselves. They’re taught interesting ideas. They’re taught about the efficacy of science. 

The importance of art. And so I think that it’s important for us as a movement to support these young communities on campus. These young students who are creating communities on their campuses are one a little aside. 

This is the paragraph right after that and says, give me the storm in the tempest of thought and action rather than dead calm of ignorance and faith. 

Banish me from Eden when you will. But first, let me eat of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge. Just an aside, I really want this to turn into a tattoo that I can get on my arm. So I think so. Just to hit the point home, when I read the Gods, I was like, this stuff is brutal. Like this is the most punk rock thing I’ve ever read. 

Anyway, so. So back to this. I think that it’s important for us as a movement to invest in young people. 

And I think it’s important for us to make sure that they understand the history of the free thought movement and build upon it. And I think that they are. And and so part of my job is to actually work with campus groups for the CFI campus program. 

And and what I’m what I’m trying to say is that there are temples of the future and they’re all over the US. They’re all over the world. 

This I mean, this looks like the U.S. has chickenpox right now. But these are these. Each one of these red dots are temples of the future, in my opinion. This is where Freethought is promoted on campuses we have in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho. And I don’t think that this this map is up to date right now. 

There are so many there’s over 300 campus groups that we know of right now that are promoting through free thought on their campuses and in their communities. And I think that is important for us to do that as a movement. Well, you know, some of the things that CFI on campus does, we provide tabling materials. Another thing we do is we do a summer leadership conference where we bring students. And this was a poster from this last year’s leadership conference. This is me giving a talk. 

But we bring. But we bring students. Yeah, I should probably talk about one of the things. Yes. One of the things that we find important is that that is that these communities that they build are important. 

And one of the things that we’re struggling with is longevity. Because on college campuses, there’s constant turnover rate. And so one of the things that we as a movement and by we I mean the outreach department here at CFI wants to instill in people, is that this isn’t about them. 

This is about a broader movement. This is about building a community and making people feel comfortable in their own skin and comfortable in their own free thought. And so, you know, part of the part of the training that we do is giving them instructions on how to make sure that the campus group survives beyond them. These are just some pictures over the last year or so. We have kids coming in from all over the US and Canada for a four day weekend workshop where we teach them free thought. We teach them how to do organizing. We teach them how to be better free thinkers and better organizers. This is from two years ago. This is actually from a couple of weeks ago. And that’s all. It’s always a profound life changing experience every time we see young free thinkers come in. I look at this growing population of young believer on unbelievers, and they’re so politically active. They vote. They care about social justice. They care about promoting science. They they care about promoting secularism. And this isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. In fact, this week we got an email from a freethinkers union in South Korea where they contacted CFI on campus and they’re called the Free Thinkers at KAIST. 

And so I think this is actually interesting because they’re called free thinkers and say that this is good. 

They actually wrote. What I want to say here is that they’re politically active and they’re socially active. 

This is actually a letter to the pope from the Free Thinkers Union at and of South Korea. And I think that it’s so great that they’re called the free thinkers and not the atheists, agnostics or whatever. 

And and so I think that, like, not only is this a US phenomenon among young people, I think that this is a global phenomenon among young people. We’re becoming less and less religious. And so we’re looking for things not only to be against obviously we’re against religious dogma, but we’re also promoting free thought. And that and that embodied that encapsulates site promotion of science, promotion of social justice and whatnot. And this is our Web site. As you see, we have a blog. You can find things you can actually donate to help our causes. And so I want to end with this because I think that I’m getting close to time and I know that there might be some questions. 

I was profoundly influenced by Ingersol. I think other students have been profoundly influenced by Ingersol and the Freethought movement, not just Dennett and Dawkins and Hitchens, but it’s important for us as a movement to understand our history and realize that we’re not we don’t need to reinvent the wheel and that the things that we want to promote, the things that we are for, are not new. And that’s really all I have. 

Other than this last thing, which I actually this is a picture of that I took this morning. This is, I guess, to kind of show you how important Ingersol is to me. This is actually in my kitchen. 

This is Ingersoll’s creed. I thought it was interesting. I was up this morning, had some coffee, and I was like, oh, my gosh, Ingersol is literally in my kitchen right now. So I think that Ingersol profoundly influenced me. 

I think that he can influence this growing number of nonreligious students. And so that’s all I have. Thank you. 

Well, Cody, I’m I’m not a young person. Yes, I was once. And when I was twenty five was when I had my first experience with Ingersol. 

Yes. After several years of searching again, patiently inquiring all pretty much alone, I’d finally not only come to the conclusion that I didn’t believe in God, but this came later come to the conclusion emotionally that I was comfortable with being an atheist. Yeah. At that point I was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I trooped down to the downtown public library in Milwaukee and looked up Athie ism in the card catalog. And this was about nineteen eighty. And at that point, they still had a complete Dresden edition of the works of Ingersol on the Open Stacks. I pulled down volume one, number one. 

And if you’re not placing the gods. That’s the very first lecture in volume one, number one. That’s the one with a little sketch of the crucified man for the glory of God. And then telephone call for that service man. And it’s a fabulous speech. It had the same effect on me that it did, Cody. It was like, holy crap, how could he be saying these things? This is amazing. Yeah. Punk rock wasn’t an adjective in my vocabulary back then. But I would’ve used it. 

Here’s the thing. Yeah. It’s like he said the harshest things. And to realize that that the Ingersol was saying these extremely harsh things and people still loves him are like at least like invited him to keep talking was weird to me because, like, he was he was ripping into him. And so it’s very interesting because I’m actually surprised that a lot of you haven’t read the gods. It’s it’s great. I don’t know what you have read. Maybe some mistakes of Moses if you haven’t read the gods like that’s like Ingersol one on one. I think he just he lays it out there and it’s great. And in the end, he doesn’t just talk about, you know, why there are problems with the religion. 

He talks about, you know, building this foundation for the future where humanity is, you know, reigns supreme. And reason is our is our only sovereign. Right. 

I have a question. And while I’m clearing my throat, if everyone here could sort of look briefly to the left, look to your right, and then I have a question for you and Dr. Cameron. You talked about reaching out to young people. Seems to me you’re reaching out to young white people. What is the story about reaching out and touching African-Americans who are so incredibly religious and involved in religious activities? 

I agree with you. I mean, as mostly white people. Right. This is a problem for many reasons. And these are actually things that we talk about our leadership conferences. How do we reach out to women? How do we reach out to minorities? It’s I think the first step is acknowledging the problem. Right. Actually, part of the Council for Secular Humanism, the director is her name is Debbie Goddard and she runs African-Americans for humanism. It’s part of the Council for Secular Humanism. She’s my boss. She has had a profound influence on my thoughts on this. And it’s why I think that community is important, because when you have other people who feel the same as you and you’re able to talk about these things and discuss them in a kind of a safe space, that you actually see that, you know, this is this is a social structure that’s preventing and preventing people. 

And I’m optimistic eventually there will be a breakthrough or I can’t and I don’t. 

I guess I don’t feel comfortable speaking for other people. 

But sure. Yes. Yes. I mean, like with. So here is some encouraging news. African-Americans for humanism has been around since eighty nine. I was going to say 80s, so I wasn’t wrong. 

And it started out. Did all right. In the past couple of years we’ve seen this massive explosion in the number of black and minority groups, communities around the US that are that are fostering a great Freethought community and a great, great social movement. 

I think that it’s encouraging. Yes, sure. 

My question is, how do you approach a campus as a free thing is a Freethought organization, particularly the state, for example, like North Carolina, where so many of the smaller colleges were or still are religiously affiliated? 

Right. Let’s go back to. Yes. 

I’m going to argue that that’s not a problem. If you look at this, if you look at these southern states here, these are the people that are most active. You have young freethinkers that are on campuses. And there’s there’s really there’s a lot of things working for them to be able to start these campus groups in the sense that, like the campuses, can’t discriminate based on, you know, your religious beliefs and how you start a campus group. 

And they’re the ones that are most passionate about it because they realize, you know, the dangers of religion in these in these Bible Belt states. And so you get on there, you see a lot of pushback, obviously, on a social level. 

But some of these southern schools have the best, most well running campus groups because they care more. You want to know why? Like, maybe I shouldn’t say this on camera, but the groups that have the hardest time staying around are in California. 

Why? Because the religious influence is is lower there. 

But what you do see and this is why I think that we can’t establish groups on campuses that are just dedicated to being anti religious or or against religion or at least, you know, just atheist agnostic groups is because in these places, the things that they usually care about are skeptic type stuff, you know, homoeopathy, you know, faith, healing type stuff. 

So I think that it no group on this map is the same. And they all have their individual struggles in Utah. 

They have to deal with more Mormons in Washington and Oregon, primarily Wu type stuff. Magic crystals and whatnot. 

So I think that is important for us to talk about the movement in terms of free thought and not just non religion. And so so, yeah, a lot of these campuses are. I haven’t. Oh. 

Another thing that I’ll say is that we actually have quite a few campuses that are actually on religious, religious at religious universities. They kind of have to be a little careful in their wooded wording. So they’re like philosophy clubs or whatever. But actually, one of our interns from last summer was actually from a Presbyterian college. So we haven’t seen the hardest place to start. A campus group is actually on a high school. 

Interestingly enough, because their parents still get as they are, the parents are still looking. Yeah. 

OK. Looking around at your audience, you see that most of us are not young people. But I think that we have an awful lot to offer. Two young people, we have a great deal of knowledge, we have a great deal of experience, and I’m wondering if young people. I think we have anything to offer them or if they’re interested in anything, we have to offer. 

Yeah, I will. I want to kind of put the question on you. Do you think that I think, too, to answer your question. I’ll say. Do you think that students have something to offer to you and. Yeah. Right. 

And so I think that that’s how you start the conversation with with young people and be like, look, you guys seem to be having you have your shit together. You heard the least religious generation so far. What are you doing? And I think that the answer to a certain extent is they they do a lot of social stuff. It becomes a community thing. They immerse themselves in their community. They create community. And and it’s and I think that that’s that’s so. To answer your question of like, how do you approach them? Ask them. Just be like, hey, what can we do for you? And you be surprised. Sometimes it’s like, hey, we need some people to drive us somewhere. Honestly. One last question, yes, sir. 

I have a statement and a personal question. Yes. And the statement is that it’s online. I carry it with you. Those few that haven’t read it. And you can just download it. I got. Yes. And personal question. How do your parents feel about all this? 

Yeah. Interesting. So it’s interesting. Last question very quickly. I talked a little bit about one of our events called Grab a Ruchira View. 

It got a lot of attention in the local media. 

And so they actually came to interview the local newspaper, came to interview me about, you know, me not being religious study and campus group, being part of this social commentary, this this event called Grab Ruscio, Your View. And so I thought there was going to be like a page six thing about me. In fact, it wasn’t a page six thing. It was a Sunday morning front page spread. And the first sentence of the article is Cody Harshman, 21 atheist. 

That that’s how I came out to my parents. And it’s been it’s been good. 

Yeah. I’m very fortunate. Some people aren’t. And I think that that’s why community is so important. You have a lot of people that are I know of people that have been kicked out of their houses and have found the only place where they can go is there their local Freethought community. It’s sad. It’s unfortunate. It’s also true. I’m fortunate. But not others. Not everyone else’s. And I think that’s why these campus groups are so important. Why community groups in general are so important. Thank you, everyone. 

Thank you, Tony. 

We have heard CFI field organizer Cody Harshman discuss what 19th century Freethought order Robert Ingersoll has to offer secular young people today. He spoke at the Ingersol conference held at Amherst, New York, in August of 2014. 

The original recording was engineered by Monica Harmsen. The music was by Adam Fields. Postproduction was by Inquiry Media Productions. 

This has been Episode 237. Visit us again on center stage. 

Center Stage is a production of the Center for Inquiry, a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster a secular society based on science reason. Freedom of inquiry and humanist values. 

To learn more, visit our Web site at w w w dot. Center for Inquiry, dot net tour. 

Visit our facilities and events. And Amherst, New York. Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and other cities. Join us next time on center stage.