A Battle Cry for secularism

This is a battle cry (no, not that Battle Cry). This is a cry for secularism at the University of Alberta.

There will be over 9,000 new undergraduate students starting orientation at the University next week, and they will notice a couple things.

First, like most universities, we still have a school of theology, and second, that we’re generally a open and secular school. Unfortunately, the second half of that is a lie.

When some of those undergrads finish their degree they will undergo the convocation ceremony. This ceremony contains an admission from the chancellor of the university which requires new graduates to use their degrees “for the glory of God.”

The University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics believes that this admission unfairly assumes belief in the supernatural, and forces that belief upon all graduates, many of whom resent being told what to do with their degrees. Furthermore, this “prayer” comes from the Christian origins of Oxford, and the link between it and the Judeo-Christian deity is undeniable.

There are members of our group who have boycotted their convocation once they learned this charge was in the proceedings (which isn’t general knowledge before-hand).

The UAAA brought this issue before the Office of the President during the summer, in hopes of a quick and quiet change in the wording. However, after some delay, we were informed that the “president did not wish to revisit the issue” as it had been recently discussed by the committee on convocation.

So now we issue the cry.

During September we will be circulating petitions to accumulate signatures of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and concerned members of the public (whose tax dollars support this institution) who believe that the most inclusive convocation that the University of Alberta can provide is a secular one.

This is not an issue of being anti-religious, this is an issue of being recognized and included in an institution I want to call my own. The president’s (in)action is that of intolerance, arrogance, and continued disconcern for the student body.

For more information:

  1. Download the petition
  2. Join the Facebook Group
  3. Read the original UAAA letter
  4. Read the response from the office of the president
  5. Write your own letter, address to uofapres@ualberta.ca (be sure to cc atheists@ualberta.ca so we can keep track of submitted letters – many voices are stronger than one)

[tags]convocation, secularism, university of alberta, god, discrimination, intolerance, Christian, university, petition[/tags]

8 thoughts on “A Battle Cry for secularism”

  1. (who’s tax dollars support this institution) -> should be (*whose* tax dollars support this institution)

  2. From the response:

    An objection to use of this phrase has already been recently considered by the President’s Standing Committee on Convocation. The majority of Committee members voted in favour of leaving the Admission as it presently reads.

    That’s pretty unsatisfying. Do you know what arguments they found particularly convincing or unconvincing? They should have explained why they made the decision they did. As it stands, it looks like the committee members just voted their personal religious beliefs rather than considering the larger issues.

    1. This was raised 3-4 years ago and the answer then is that they thought it was inclusive enough and didn’t care to mess with tradition.

  3. Please tell the McCain/Palin Campaign (preferrably politely) why teaching creationism in our public schools around America is superstitious and is not in our nation’s best interests. These are the feelers McCain has out there, the way in which Americans can have a voice and be heard by his campaign:

    Contact his campaign directly here:


    Or go to his blogs and leave a polite message about the subject matter wherever appropriate:


    Remember, McCain does a lot of things right and is a great heroic war veteran who genuinely puts his country first, but Creationism is one key area where he is completely wrong and could potentially create a major setback for American students and businesses. We can’t let America fall behind foriegn countries in the departments of Science and Technology because of his superstitious beliefs.

  4. Alright… let me try to make sense of this.

    Up to 1/3rd of people apparently question the existence of God, and therefore the university must cater to those people? What about the rest who honestly have no problem?

    If the thought or idea of God bothers you so much, you might want to identify exactly *why* it does, and take a long look inside of yourself. It’s really kind of disturbing for somebody to take religion and another’s belief so personally — not to mention, your pathetic causes and obnoxious and pretentious behaviour embarrass the rest of us who would otherwise like to identify as Atheists, but want nothing to do with the stereotype you morons perpetuate in freaking out over phrases that mean absolutely nothing.

    It sounds like nothing more than an ego trip of a typical university pseudo-intellect, sorry to say. Wish I could support it, but it is truly lame…

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