Fort Worth, Texas — An atheist group that recently formed at a Christian university in Texas has filed an application to obtain official recognition on campus.
“Freethinking Frogs” was formed at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth by 32-year-old transfer student Alexis Lohse, and is named after the university’s mascot, the horned frog. Lohse said that she wanted to create a club that was agnostic and secular, where students could have a place to challenge religion.
“I saw that there wasn’t any support system for students who don’t have a particular faith,” she told Fort Forth Weekly. “And that’s in stark contrast to the vast number of religiously affiliated organizations available to students. So I thought it might be a good group to set up.”
Texas Christian University has approximately 20 groups on campus, which range from Protestant and Catholic clubs, to a Jewish and Muslim organization. Reports also outline that “each year TCU Housing and Residential Life allows students to apply to live in the Interfaith Living Learning Community (LLC), in which the residents spend the year living alongside neighbors of various religious beliefs.”
“I think this is another option for those students who may be exploring,” Lohse told reporters. “We want to encourage debate.”
So far, the group has over 30 members according to its Facebook page, and has held a couple of meetings for students.
“The mission of the Freethinking Frogs is to organize, unite, educate, and serve students and student communities that promote the ideals of scientific and critical inquiry, democracy, secularism, and human-based ethics,” its Facebook page outlines. “We envision a future in which nontheistic students are respected voices in public discourse and vital partners in the secular movement’s charge against irrationality and dogma.”
University officials have acknowledged receipt of Freethinking Frogs’ application for official recognition, and state that they will soon make a decision on the matter.
“This group has submitted paperwork and it is in the process of being reviewed,” the school states.
Hemant Mehta of Patheos notes that not all students at Christian universities are professing Christians.
“There are a lot of secular students who attend religious-in-name-only colleges for all sorts of reasons. Good programs, good professors, etc.,” he writes. “At most of those kinds of schools, they welcome a diverse student body and encourage groups that may not fall in line theologically with them but still adhere to whatever the school’s mission is. That’s why you’ll see Muslim groups or gay-straight alliance groups form there.”
Texas Christian University is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, and was founded in the late 1800’s by preachers Addison and Randolph Clark of the Restoration Movement. It now operates a number of institutions, including the Brite Divinity School, the Schieffer School of Journalism, the Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the AddRan College of Liberal Arts and others.
A number of well-known celebrities are alumni of the university, including Bob Schieffer of CBS News, author Sue Monk Kidd, Heismann Trophy finalist LaDainian Tomlinson and John Davis, the founder of 1-800-FLOWERS.