Representatives from an atheist organization have been invited to participate in an interfaith and community-service conference sponsored by the Education Department later this month.
According to The Washington Times,
five members of the Secular Student Alliance were invited, despite past criticism of the Obama administration for including secular students in previous interfaith discussions.
A spokesperson for the alliance said the group was pleased to accept the invitation because its members are interested in working to help others.
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"We may not believe in religious services, but we sure believe in community service," said spokesperson Jesse Galef. "Atheists absolutely want to do their part to improve the world . . . There are thousands of nonreligious students eager to work alongside their religious friends to make the world a better place."
Others invited to the Sept. 24 meeting include the Jewish group Hillel, the Hindu Seva Charities, and Campus Compacts, a group promoting community service at college campuses.
The Department of Education conference comes at a time when more young adults are declaring no religious affiliation. A 2012 Pew Survey
, for example, revealed that one-third of people under 30 — or about 20 percent of all Americans — are unaffiliated with any particular religion.
The poll also found that more than 13 million U.S. adults describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, and another 33 million say they have no particular religious affiliation.
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