Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


Catholic College Denies Atheist Club

An atheist club at the Catholic Marywood University in Pennsylvania was recently denied official status on campus, according to news reports. The Marywood University Secular Students Alliance (MUSSA) Facebook page states that the mission of the group is to "provide a community for secular individuals...foster discussion about topics relating to ethics, the separation of church and state, supernatural and paranormal beliefs; work with other local secular groups, and to present a positive and accurate view of secular individuals to the community at large." According to a local news report, the school declined official status to the group due to the University's "Catholic identity." "This is Marywood," said Carl Oliveri, director of student activities. "It's a private Catholic institution. It's a lot different than a public institution or a community college." The university's website defines its Catholic identity as "a commitment to spiritual, ethical and intellectual values in the context of a faith community." Justin Vacula, the graduate student behind the push for an atheist club, blogged about the issue and told the newspaper that he couldn't understand why a secularist club would be denied when the university had an ALLY club for homosexuals on campus. This is not an isolated story. In fact, in recent months the University of Notre Dame, Duquesne University, and Dayton University made headlines recently for their refusal to recognize “Freethinkers” or "Atheist" clubs on campus. Each cited the college's Catholic identity as the reason for the refusal. Vacula said he would continue attempting to tweak various aspects of the application to make it more palatable to the administration.

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