Atheist group has foothold in S. Carolina

April 28, 2009 at 12:59 AM
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CHARLESTON, S.C., April 28 (UPI) -- Atheists and agnostics in South Carolina say they have met a friendlier reception than they expected in the heart of the Southern Bible Belt.

In January, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry put up a billboard outside Charleston that included an e-mail address and Web site, The New York Times reported. Members expected to be barraged with e-mails denouncing them.

"But most of the e-mails were grateful," said Laura Kasman, who teaches at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Herb Silverman, a math professor at the College of Charleston, founded the group and is now president of the Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella organization formed to counter the religious right. In the past he has had experiences like having half the Charleston city council walk out when he gave the invocation at their meeting.

"It's not about carrying banners or protesting," Silverman said. "The most important thing is coming out of the closet."

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