Categories: Local News

Atheist group extends olive branch

DISAGREE AGREEABLY – Baptist pastor Serge Poirier (left) and atheist Luke Fevin have a fine friendship despite their differing religious views. Fevin belongs to the Society of Edmonton Atheists

A local group of atheists wants to have some lively and friendly discussion about the existence or non-existence of God over omelettes and orange juice this Saturday morning.

St. Albert’s Luke Fevin represents the Society of Edmonton Atheists. He said there is neither a formal presentation nor agenda for the meal that’s planned for 10 a.m. at the St. Albert Inn, which the group has been advertising to the public.

Group members simply want to make themselves open to the community at large and show everyone that they are generally a friendly lot that just enjoys healthy discourse on the subject. They don’t preach, Fevin said.

“We, as a group, don’t really believe in proselytizing atheism,” he explained. “From our standpoint, we believe that the education in comparative religion is important and that scientific literacy is important. People can arrive at their own conclusions.”

Some of the conclusions that people have arrived at about him and other atheists, however, have not been flattering. The social stigma of atheism has resulted in people calling him a devil worshiper, he said. He hopes to dispel the rumours that atheists are anti-social and evil.

“There’s a grey scale of misunderstanding about what atheism is. It is simply a lack of belief in a theistic god. What I think a lot of people don’t realize is that you can be an atheist and actually believe in a god, although I don’t think most of us do.”

He added that the society is actively involved in numerous worthwhile charity and community projects. The public invitation to the brunch sends a signal to those who still remain private about their beliefs that they need not fear the stigma and that there is no shame in their beliefs.

To prove the point that he doesn’t have a problem with the devoutly religious members of the community, he explained that he has recently made the acquaintance of Serge Poirier, the associate pastor at the Sturgeon Valley Baptist Church.

Last year, the church held a presentation called Unpacking Atheism. Fevin and some of the society’s other members asked to attend and were welcomed with open arms. The dialogue was cordial and pleasant enough that the two men continued the discussion as peers and as friends.

“We get together about once a month for coffee or a bite to eat and debate our differences, discuss our similarities and perhaps most importantly, we laugh a lot,” he said.

In return, Poirier exclaimed that Fevin is a fine individual and a good example to the community, calling him sympathetic, friendly, approachable and cordial.

“I have a very positive opinion of him,” Poirier said.

He added that there is misrepresentation about Christianity too and the only way to get through all the rhetoric and live in harmony is for everyone to have a place at the table.

“Often people commit to atheism without giving proper consideration to the long tradition of strong arguments for Christian theism. Dialogue can only be healthy and good for both sides,” Poirier said.

The brunch starts at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 30 at the St. Albert Inn – 156 St. Albert Trail. The cost is $15 per person.

For more information, please visit www.edmontonatheists.ca or visit the group’s Facebook page.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.