Why I Joined SOMA and How It Changed My Life
Posted by admin at August 11th, 2011
by Amanda Brown
I moved to Kansas when I was ~5 months pregnant with my daughter. I moved up here to get away from the crazy, stringent, uptight, conservative, church-going people of Springfield, Mo. I was ostracized in Springfield for being different and speaking my mind. Which wasn’t unusual for me but in this city it was nasty and downright mean. So, I made the decision to go back to my “home” in a way where I knew I would be accepted a little more easily if I lived in the right area. Well as it turns out neither Overland Park nor Shawnee KS are places where being an atheist is well received. So after finishing my gen eds at JCCC I headed off to KU.
Instead of just going through the motions and graduating I decided to get involved in Lawrence to try and do something to make my time in college worthwhile. So I thought, hey why not, maybe there is a secular or free thinking community on campus. I didn’t know about SSA or American Atheists, I didn’t know that there were any type of social groups or anything out there for atheists to get together but I did know that I couldn’t be the only atheist out there in the world that wanted a community again. One that was like the socializing that I was missing from the church scene. So I searched through the campus organizations and found SOMA.
I went to the first meeting and was immediately thrilled to be around like-minded people. Everyone was so easy to talk to and when the dirty words I was used to getting into long winded debates about (abortion, gay marriage, birth control, religion, politics etc) majority of the people either agreed with me or had educated answers for why they didn’t. It was like walking into a world of smart people that had been hiding. I was beginning to doubt that smart people actually made it into college. I hadn’t encountered any and was beginning to really think the American collegiate system was corrupt and a total lie. (Well… it is but that’s a different story).
Joining SOMA changed my life in a lot of different ways. Without SOMA I would have never met the amazing people who constantly question my reasoning, support my crazy ideas, and accept me for the person I am. I have amazing friends in SOMA and I love each and every one of them (including the ones who enjoy getting under my skin and me theirs). Without SOMA I would have never met Darrel Ray who allowed me to help him with this great project: Sex and Secularism Survey/Research Paper. He helped me dive right into the atheist community. After only a few months at SOMA I was diving in head first explaining this amazing research to different atheist groups around the area, on podcasts, and he even spoke at Reasonfest about the amazing research that we did. After that I realized I needed to do more. After speaking with many members of SOMA and members from around the KC Metro Area they all inspired me to continue to stand up and speak out for the marginalized. I decided to become a leader of SOMA and to do much more in the Atheist community to create change and build community.
Without SOMA my life would be dramatically different. I would just be a house-wife who went to college and became a sex therapist. Now with SOMA and the ability to live my life openly and honestly (again, thanks to SOMA) I am able to follow my ideal career path, lobby for change, and encourage more and more people to be ok with being atheist. Thank you SOMA for empowering me to want to lead and create change while offering the support to do this as well. I will never know how to repay this group for all that it has done for me. SOMA gave me a life worth living.