Got God? No Way

November 11, 2006

Author: Brad A. Greenberg

Source: Los Angeles Daily News

With tattooed arms and dressed like Johnny Cash, Ryan Langley stood in UCLA's Bruin Plaza and shared his faith with all who inquired.

Earth below - certainly. Heavens above - he doesn't think so. Langley may be an evangelical, but he's not the typical kind. He's an evangelical atheist.

"We're all about promoting critical reasoning, scientific inquiry, human-based ethics," Langley told a woman from the Student Coalition for Marriage Equality. "While we understand religion has a place in society, we'd like to keep it in private life and out of politics."

Newly hired by the Secular Student Alliance to do outreach at Southern California colleges, Langley is part of a push by agnostics, brights, free-thinkers, humanists and skeptics - a group commonly referred to as atheists - to increase visibility and improve public relations.

Talking about "coming out of the closet" and drawing parallels to the fight for gay rights, atheists are going mainstream. Last month, two books attacking belief in God spent a week among the top 10 nonfiction books on the New York Times best-sellers list.

On the political front, atheists last year sent their first lobbyist to Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, the Center for Inquiry will open a public policy office in the capital to act as a secular-minded think tank.