Organizing for unbelief  in Canton, NC

Brian Worley 

The Daily News had recently ran a story about my hometown high school’s refusal to permit or to cooperate with the start-up of a secular club. You may say, “wow” how could they do such a thing? 

Before we get into this, let me share some of my experiences of this small-town life.

A personal secular perspective of Canton, North Carolina 

Let me say that I love my little hometown of Canton, N.C., but many don’t love me for my secularism. I was in the 1981 graduating class from Pisgah High School. The winner of that senior superlative class for friendliness/courtesy was a very good friend of mine; Tim’s picture is in the yearbook. We used to go to church with each other, I helped disciple him. He even had a role in my wedding. That most courteous friend now refuses to speak with me or to return attempts to communicate. I guess friendliness and godliness aren’t on the same page in Canton despite Jesus’ reputation of being a friend to perceived sinners. Tim, why can’t Christians be more like Jesus? 

I’m not much on titles or self-promotion but until this story appeared, I can’t think of anyone else from Canton that spoke about secularism. A few years ago, Marc Grizzard  a preacher that had attended but not graduated from my alma mater, Tennessee Temple University (TTU), made national news when his Amazing Grace Baptist Church decided to have a book-burning event. They burned non-KJV Bibles and other Christian literature that didn’t meet their own ultra Christian standards.

The way I heard it, a TTU professor Fred Afman intimidated that preacher while he was a student.  Afman was a little intimidating for students that preferred the KJV, he would poke fun at the KJV Bible on textual grounds and a number of students couldn’t handle this. Rather than straightforwardly meeting the epistemological challenge Afman presented, nearly all KJV “preacher boys” at TTU kept silence because they couldn’t defend their cherished KJV dogma. Bye the way, I personally challenged Afman and gained his respect, but that story is for another time. 

I included this last paragraph because it demonstrates how devout believers handle threats they cannot conquer. They can’t win the rational epistemological battles of life and tend to turn to social networks, bullying and political tactics to get their way.  A number of these preachers quit, transfer away to another school or never quite forget the experience by suppressing it. Over time those that suppress these types of things inwardly seethe to such an extent that they later vent publicly with brazen events such as a book burning. Funny how devout cowards compensate their weaknesses with a public display of fundamentalist bravado for redemption? 

My own parents still live in Canton. Of all of the ex-ministers out there that write or speak out, I’m well overdue to give my own personal story but I’m reluctant to get into their betrayal and cruel attempts to sabotage my life over secularism. My daughter is seven years old now and hasn’t even been acknowledged by her aunts, uncle or grandparents on her father’s side of the family. I left Christianity fifteen years ago and needless to say, I can relate to what the Wilson’s are experiencing for their secularism in Canton, N.C.. I fully understand the urge to counter the toxicity of small-minded country bumpkins who start the fight. 

Begging the question: Should we organize for disbelief? 

 Earlier I stated that I love my little hometown. While some folks dislike contention, I for one am happy that it is Canton NC that forces the issue of organizing for disbelief to the forefront.

On one hand, if you have religious groups in a public school how can one legitimately deny a secular group from forming? 

This secular writer doesn’t agree with the line of thinking that once you allow a religious group to organize you must of necessity allow an atheist secular club. Let us clarify two distinctive terms (secular and atheist) that get thrown together. It is not necessarily secular clubs that are in question because secular groups like debating, foreign language, and musical club(s) abound everywhere in most public high schools. These groups are not religious (meaning secular) and are usually constructive in nature; at times they may be pretentious, vain or exude vanity. These groups are rarely denied organizing rights because they are constructive in nature. Atheist groups have proven themselves to be of a different breed. 

If we have learned anything over the last five years about the atheist secular movement as currently constructed…it is a toxic, selfish, small-minded community that gathers to bitch about religion. It doesn’t have to be this way…it just is. 

Allowing an atheist club to organize invites open rebellion towards constructive common good activities carried out by Christian participants. I have a minister friend that goes beyond his ministerial duties by organizing people to help tackle illiteracy. This work is often conducted in public schools and doesn’t have a religious string attached. Atheists fight against people like my friend’s good work because it is inspired by Christian motivations. If the atheists wanted, they could start their own illiteracy program….but they would rather gather to bitch about how bad Christians are. 

To me, the bottom line on whether to allow for organization is whether it is likely to produce a net societal gain or a net loss. Organizing for unbelief is a flawed concept. It just doesn’t work or produce a societal net gain. 

Liberals and those that lack principles will scream bloody murder over my last paragraph. The question to allow or to disallow is a question of discernment rather than discrimination. 

Richard Dawkins has popularized his unbelief in fairies. I share his disbelief. But you haven’t saw any atheists organize an a-fairy club have you? The reason why is that there isn’t a fight in that arrangement. Common good people and Christian Humanists populate churches and I see no net gain by joining an atheist bitch club to oppose the work that they do! Bad things usually follow people that are motivated by hate rather than love.


Brian Worley     March 17, 2014     All rights reserved!


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