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Our readers asked:

What’s the best way to combat atheism on a college campus?

Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D. Answers:

Militant atheism is one of the worst forms of proselytism. It is definitely a belief system which seeks to impose its will on those who might have differing opinions. To combat militant atheism on campus, do these four things:

1. Pray. Why? Because it works. Pray for the conversion of those who seek to impose a militant atheism on college campuses. Pray for the faculty and administration to be open to the initiatives of faith based organizations on campus. Pray, pray, pray.
2. Refuse to be irrelevant. A university environment is supposed to be one that welcomes the free exchange of ideas. In fact, your rights to this are guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States, as is your right to freely associate with other like-minded individuals.
3. Know your faith. As St. Peter says, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…” (1 Peter 3:15) A good starting point is Robert Schihl’s wonderful site: http://www.catholicapologetics.org/
4. Intentionally engage the administration of the university in a constructive and polite manner. Get to know the folks in charge. When you are a real person, they have to deal with you as a real person. Often you can achieve much by showing that you are willing to work with them to achieve mutual benefit for all involved.

The Author : Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D.
The Rev. Leo A. Walsh, S.T.D., formerly the Interreligious Affairs specialist at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is now pastor of St. Benedict's Parish in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo Credit: Bob Roller, Catholic News Service (CNS).
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Observer

    George Santayana, who, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” LOL OK?

    Using religious hero characters e.g. a “Messiah” in a self fulfilling prophecy is the very essence of ‘History Revisionism’. Therefore the unsuspecting fool who learned nothing from real history will be one of many that fill the seats in churches and temples getting fleeced while searching for salvation from charlatans wearing long robes; standing in front of religious Icons staring down upon them.

    Read: Origen and the Eusebian fiction postulate

    They knew it to be a work of FICTION

    Christianity was created to control Jewish Slaves; in Alexandria Egypt & Palestine. It gets revised by the Greeks and ends up becoming a reflection of Roman egos of the Roman Caesars. How else does one logically explain how Jewish Slaves of the Roman world loose a Jewish Messiah that becomes the church or Rome, Greece and the rest of the Roman known world?

    It’s FICTION!

  • Observer

    Religion is the best game in town. You don’t have to actually create or manufacture anything other than more fools that will give you their hard earned money.

    Religion is proof that fools are condemned to re-live history and the lack there of.

    The endless possibilities in an infinite universe is a whole lot bigger than any quaint notion of a Fatherly god in heaven in the feeble minds of man.

  • Vegas Virgo

    I swear to goodness ( notice I didn’t swear to God as I believe in Goodness ), when I was reading your comments I was literally laughing out loud. I really enjoy the wittiness and humor shared by the atheists. I was raised in a very religious environment and was told since I first questioned our pastor’s teachings at the age of 6 that nonbelievers are evil and devil worshippers. If I mention my lack of faith in God around my family it is guaranteed to turn into madness. This is the reason I was attracted to this story. I can completely understand why atheists want to join together. They need support as well. By the way. As I once told a Mormon Elder (missionary), if praying worked, I would be on my knees right now praying for babies that are being raped and beaten or starving to death as we speak. And why, in GOD’s name, are you NOT?!?!?! Complete insanity. Thank goodness people are questioning and leading their lives through intelligence and accountability rather than pawning everything off on an invisible man in the sky. All of you give me hope ( and laughter ). Thank Goodness :)

  • Steve

    Combat ‘militant atheism’ by continuing to live in your bubble – just as we atheists try to avoid the proselytization of various religious sects.

    1 Thessalonians 4:11
    and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

  • Mike Haubrich

    Okay, David, here is a measured response. It is more of a question: What is “militant” atheism? I don’t mean it rhetorically, either.

    Who is being targeted? What are the methods that the atheists use to target? What are the effects of atheists being on campus? Why should one have to “combat” the atheists?

    What is it that they are doing? Holding meetings or inviting speakers? Horrors!

  • David

    Wow, looks like this was linked at an atheist website or something, or else maybe you have a lot of atheist followers. I used to be an atheist so I guess that’s not too crazy. Very ironic that when you write a piece about standing up to militant atheism you get bombarded by…militant atheists insulting you. I can count a couple insults in each of their posts and not one measured response.

  • Secular Simian

    1. Do NOT take any science classes. Learning science will destroy your faith!
    2. Drop out of college, immediately! Learning about the world will destroy your faith! College is the last place you should be if you really want to keep believing in fairy tales.

  • eric collier

    Padre Walsh: I heartily endorse your advice to pray, pray, pray. In fact, I urge you and your flock to do it the way Jesus recommended in Matthew 6:6–go home,lock yourself in the closet & pray quietly. And I think you should stay in that closet, praying quietly, until you get everything you want. We’ll let you know.

  • Brent Loren Slensker

    Actually I DO have something else to add…To “combat” atheism you should use reason and logic to formulate ideas, INSTEAD of faith and dogma, so you can present such ideas, especially to internet savvy youth, with some sort of veracity. You should acknowledge the rights of others that don’t think the same way as you. Lastly, you should probably give up on the internet as the way to present your archaic Dark Age beliefs…

  • Chris Wattaker

    You say that a university environment is supposed to be one that welcomes the free exchange of ideas. Rights of speaking reality are also guaranteed, so why such concern for free thinkers if you are so solid in your faith? Live and let other live as well.

  • Brent Loren Slensker

    Militant atheism is one of the worst forms of proselytism. It is definitely a belief system which seeks to impose its will on those who might have differing opinions.
    Unlike YOU, I have NO inclination of imposing my will on anyone!…I do however not appreciate Straw Man attacks….
    As far as “belief systems” go I DO feel the need to SHOUT DOWN those that deny Science and abhor women’s rights especially when they themselves are unable to have healthy sexual relationships..What a HOOT! Other than what UNBOUND has provided for you, which you should print off and post on your fridge, I don’t have much to add!

  • unbound

    Is this serious?

    1 – Praying is all well and good. But it works? When? Outside of wishful thinking, when and how has it ever been proven to accomplish anything?

    2 – “…welcomes the free exchange of ideas.” Unless, of course, those ideas come from an atheist. Are you usually this much of a hypocrite?

    3 – Always good to have solid knowledge of what you support. BTW, does your faith encourage, or even allow, critical thought?

    4 – Wholeheartedly agree…except that you are encouraging people to work against other human beings per the starting paragraph.

    Reread your second sentence. Now read it again. Now look in the mirror. Take a long, hard look in that mirror. I sincerely hope you have enough objective thought to eventually understand.

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