Promoting free speech
Olentangy Orange High School is home to various different clubs, some more well known, and others still on the rise, such as the Freethinkers club.
Meeting every other Monday, the club is a community for agnostic and atheist students who want a safe space to discuss their beliefs. Supervised by English teacher Laurie Repko, the membership is constantly growing.
On Monday, March 18, the topic of discussion was life after death. A subject encountered by many people, both in a religious and non-religious context, members discussed possible answers to the age-old question. Perhaps one of the more well-known beliefs is the concept of Heaven. But that doesn’t always make sense, for example, to people who don’t follow a particular religion. During this meeting, students got to theorize and share their ideas on this topic.
“We are all going to die. It is maybe the second question in life that people would like the answer to but there’s no way of being able to tell. We won’t have the answers, but it’s fun to theorize about the answer,” Repko said.
This type of controversial conversation is sometimes intimidating for students to have, which is a truth the club’s president, senior Arman Lopeman, knows very well. At first, it seemed like the club would not happen, but Lopeman was determined to allow students that wanted and needed to contemplate these controversial topics the time and space to do so.
“There was a period where we were convinced it wasn’t going to happen anymore and I came in and said ‘No, I want this to be a thing,’’’ Lopeman said.
It is important to note that this club welcomes anyone to come and just listen or contribute to the conversations. Anybody from any religion is welcome to come and learn something new or share their experiences and beliefs.
“Originally it was going to be a space for non-religious folks to come in and sit together and share experiences and have a community. When I came in later on I was more open to the idea of inviting anyone,” Lopeman said.
At this week's meeting many people from all religious backgrounds were there to talk. Within the discussion of the concept of after death the group analyzed related song lyrics, contemplated the idea of ghosts and learned about how multiple religions view life after death. Junior Griffin Decker had ideas of his own to add.
“I really like thinking. [This club] is just a lot of how people view the world and it’s just a nice calm environment. Just deep thinking without actually arguing,” Decker said.
If a student is interested in joining this club, they can see Mrs. Repko with any questions or attend any of their biweekly meetings.