Campus News

Former Saturday Night Live cast member, speakers reflect on decision to become atheists

Former Saturday Night Live writer and cast member Julia Sweeney shared pieces from her monologue, “Letting Go of God,” that details her decision to become an atheist.

Image By: Caitlin Rowe

UW-Madison Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics teamed up with the Center for Inquiry and Secular Student Alliance to host “Openly Secular Day” Tuesday.

Speakers shared their experiences about being openly secular in today’s society. Each speaker offered stories of personal experiences that portrayed how secularism has played a role in their own life.

Julia Sweeney, a former Saturday Night Live writer and cast member, read excerpts from her monologue about being atheist called “Letting Go of God,” which traced her decision to become an open atheist. After sharing stories about her Catholic upbringing, Sweeney dove into her journey to secularism that began with a tough breakup in her 30s.

“I had spent so much time thinking what God meant, I realized I hadn’t spent any time thinking about what not God meant,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney explained her personal experience with coming to terms with her late-set beliefs and how they have shaped who she is today.

After Sweeney shared her individual journey, Rebecca Markert, a worker and advocate for Freedom From Religion Foundation, shared stories and advice on being a “champion for the First Amendment.”

Market said individuals can advocate for the First Amendment by writing a letter, calling offices, making connections with representatives’ staff members and showing up at a town hall or city council meeting.

“You can make a difference simply by engaging locally,” Markert said.

UPDATE 11/17/16 12:49 p.m.: This story was updated with the correct spelling of Rebecca Markert's last name.

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