Archive for the ‘Officers’ Category

New Reed Secular Alliance Signator, Elad Gilo, is passionate about the freethought movement.  Below is a complete biography of the Reed sophomore.

Reed Secular Alliance Signator, Elad Gilo

Name: Elad Gilo

Interests: I love to travel. Whenever I get the opportunity to travel the world and experience new cultures, geographies and people, I will take it. I enjoying backpacking and outdoor sports. Snowboarding is my sport of choice, as I used to partake in it competitively on a national level. Above all I like to hang out with friends and talk about whatever pops into our heads.

Major: Economics and Philosophy Interdisciplinary Major

Year: Sophomore, class of 2012

Passions: The topics I tend to be most passionate about usually surround religion (e.g. atheism, secularism, and the rise of evangelical Christianity). The other topic that I feel particularly connected to and passionate about is the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict. I am strongly committed to the establishment of a two-state solution and the pro-Israel, pro-Peace movement.

Secularism: Secularism has become an increasingly important topic for me. Since I began my journey from skeptical young boy to an atheist adult, I have taken it upon myself to engage any and all on the topic of religion and the existence of “god”. While I hope to have treated everyone with respect, I became very tired of a society that found it so difficult to a) address the issue of piety and religion, for fear it would offend someone’s personal beliefs, and b) that people would not use the consistent reasoning in their own daily life or regarding the existence of a deity.

As my own path has taken me to atheism (the negation of a world view, not a world view in itself), I understood very well that my goal could not be the abolition of religion (unrealistic/utopian) but rather the assurance of a secular society in which one’s individual rights and self be protected from the influence of religion. To this degree I find the issue of secularism something that can unite atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and even the religious.

With nearly 1 of 5 individuals not subscribing to a theological belief in the US, there is significant work that has to be done, in order to unify this voice and as a whole ensure the civil liberties of all (particularly in the face of rising evangelical political influence). This task is not an easy one. Trying to organize a population of non-theological individuals around a cause appears rather paradoxical to many. The same people who reject the organization of a belief also organizing themselves? To this I respond by saying a) the alternative is much worse, and b) so long as secularists remain non-dogmatic in their worldview, then the worry becomes unfounded.

As the Reed Secular Alliance signator, I hope to continue fostering debate and dialogue regarding secular issues on the Reed Campus. It would be my goal to continue educating the students at Reed about local and national issues regarding unconstitutional religious influence in civil society, and furthermore, mobilizing students for different secular campaigns. If nothing else, the RSA will provide a space for like-minded individuals to meet and discuss along with showing support for secularism on a state and national level.


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Chris Calton

Chris Calton

RSA:  When did you first realize you were an atheist/agnostic?

CC: I have a hard time pinning down exactly when I realized that I was agnostic.  I unequivocally accepted Jesus as my “savior” when I was about four.  I wish I could say that I didn’t realize what I was doing, but I think I understood the idea behind it.  Of course, at four, we all have a hard time using our capacities to accurately analyze our decisions.  So I, at the same time, deny the idea that we freely choose a religion at a young age.

My path towards agnosticism began at around eight, when I first heard the Noah’s Ark story.  Having feverishly read Ranger Rick magazines, I knew that the Kangaroo did not live in the Middle East, but rather inhabited Australia.  I brought this to my Sunday school teacher’s attention, whose response was “God can do anything.”  In which case, I didn’t see much purpose for a flood to wipe out humanity.

From then on, I still considered myself a Christian, but I never read the Bible. It brought up too many questions, and besides, I knew it had to have been edited at some point by someone who had an interest in doing so.  To make a long story short, I ended up removed from my Church around fifteen and had already begun exploring other religions at thirteen. Primarily religion from Ancient Greece, Far East and Gnosticism – yes, a broad selection of faiths.

I finally became a de-facto atheist after realizing the weight of scientific evidence against supernatural explanations.  This was, as irony would have it, brought to me by a Christian friend of mine with whom I was having a spirited discussion about the historicity of Jesus. He had mentioned a video of a famous atheist, whom I now know is Dawkins, unable to answer a question about giving an example for the increased information in the genome.  Naturally, this was a creationist ploy, and I quickly discovered as such.  Dawkins’s eloquence was attractive, that was the start of defining myself as Agnostic.

RSA:  What are your interests, academics-wise?

CC: Political Science and Psychology, interestingly enough.  Both fields offer a strong case for the idea that God was created by man, to control particular individuals and society at large.

RSA:  What do you envision as your eventual career?

CC: I will probably run for Senate sometime later in my life.  On the way, I plan on working in some capacity that satisfies my strong international curiosity and adventurous spirit.  To be more specific, I’m looking at the State Department.

RSA:  What are your hobbies?

CC: I absolutely love traveling, white water rafting, camping, and hiking.

RSA:  What are your favorite atheist/agnostic books?

CC: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali,

The Mind’s I by Daniel Dennett,

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins,

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

RSA:  What do you see as the greatest threat to secularism?

CC: The greatest threat to secularism is the near monopoly that religious organizations have on altruism and humanitarian work.  Interestingly enough, the atheist and agnostic demographic occupies the highest portion of society in income and education. Why Atheists and Agnostics cannot form equally powerful humanitarian organizations is beyond me.

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RSA members table for the election

RSA members table for the election

The Reed Secular Alliance is pleased to announce an addition to our 2009-10 executive board, Chris Calton.  Calton will serve as the External Vice President of the RSA this next year.

Calton’s duties will be varied, but will be mostly centered around public relations.  His tasks will include publicizing lectures, recruiting members, and doing limited fundraising.

“I think we should facilitate people to use secular philosophy to look at world problems,” Calton explained.  “A lot of people might be secular [at Reed], but in terms of the philosophy, few people have that down.”

We will enjoy working with Chris Calton this year!

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Leslie's favorite picture that she took of the Seder

Leslie's favorite picture that she took of the Seder

Pictures that Reed Secular Alliance President, Leslie Zukor, took at Kol Shalom’s Passover Seder were featured in the congregation’s May newsletter.  Kol Shalom, Portland’s Community for Humanistic Judaism, hosted a Passover Seder without the God element. 

About half the pictures in the Passover spread were taken by Zukor, and the other half were taken by the congregation’s official photographer.  “It was neat to get so many pictures in the newsletter,” Zukor said.  “Especially since it wasn’t an official assignment.”

Zukor, who will be a Anthropology Senior next fall, is an avid photographer.  She features a “Squirrel of the Week” every Wednesday, in the Quest, Reed’s student newspaper, and her work is forthcoming in Reed Magazine, the quarterly alumni magazine of Reed College.

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Meet the Officers ~ Anda Clark

Anda Clark

Anda Clark reads secular literature

 Anda is a sophomore political science major, who first gained an interest in secular issues after reading Darwin and Dawkins in high school. She is currently working with the Human Rights Campaign to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, and hopes in the future to work on women’s education in Afghanistan.  Her hobbies include hiking, cooking, and watching America’s Next Top Model.  Her favorite animal is the narwhal.

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Leslie Zukor
Leslie Zukor introduces Daniel Dennett
Leslie Zukor introduces Daniel Dennett

Leslie is a second semester sophomore who has a passion for social thought. She first started the Reed Secular Alliance under the name “Reed College Freethinkers,” as a way to promote critical thought about religion in times dominated by fundamentalist extremism.

Zukor plans to major in either anthropology or linguistics, with a focus on language ideologies and power politics. As a hobby, Zukor loves to congregate with the Reed College squirrel population, of whom she has taken several photos.

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New Officers

Congratulations to the new slate of Reed Secular Alliance officers.

President/Signator – Leslie Zukor, Reed ’08
Vice-President – Roy Staples, Reed ’09
Secretary – Meriam Pope, Reed, ’09
PR/Marketing – Leslie Loy, Reed ’09

If you would like to be involved, send us an email at rsa.secular@gmail.com.

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