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Smith Freethinkers think freely

A Report by Sofia Walker '11

Some might be surprised to learn that amongst Smith's spiritual groups is one that explicitly rejects religion: the Smith Freethinkers. The group, which has been around for a year and is soon to be chartered, adheres to the Freethought tradition of basing belief on reason and evidence, and rejecting supernatural phenomena. Most group members identify as atheist or agnostic.

Kate Thorp '12, one of the group's leaders, explained that they get together for support in navigating the world as nonreligious people and to discuss the relationship between secularity and religion. "But we don't want to create more divisions," she said, "which is why we like the idea of coexisting with religious life. " The group participates in the Multi Faith Council and undertakes community service together. "We especially like banding together for community service without religion, because so much of it happens through religious communities." The Freethinkers are also co-hosting an upcoming talk with the organization Queers and Allies about sexuality and religion.

According to Kate, the group has created strong connections. "It's been said that getting atheists together is like herding cats, but I think we've got a minority bond. Nonreligious people are one of the most feared segments of society." But a rejection of religion does not imply a lack of spirituality. "A lot of us are English majors -- we like to find spirituality in things like literature and nature."

The group, whose members come from mixed religious backgrounds and have mostly come to Freethought on their own, is described by Kate as individualistic, passionate, and intellectual. "But now that I think of it, those are the adjectives I would apply to all of Smith."