Ahmad is among a small Muslim population in Kokomo, and very few of them are her age. Most are either small children or older adults, she said.
Ahmad doesn’t mind. She said she grew up in the Kokomo of Ohio. It was a mid-size city with a small Muslim population. She was the only Muslim in her high school class. She’s used to answering people’s questions, she said, and it’s actually served to strengthen her faith. Sometimes people ask her questions about Islam that she can’t answer, so she researches her own religion to find out for them. It has helped her grow closer to God, she said.
When she first moved here, her bosses worried that people would treat her poorly or unfairly because she’s Muslim, Ahmad said.
“Mostly I get a lot of smiles and questions,” she said.
Many people aren’t receptive to 34-year-old Marisa Mullett’s beliefs, or lack thereof. Mullett is a practicing atheist.
She’s a member of the Secular Student Alliance at IU Kokomo. The group recently handed out pamphlets explaining their beliefs.
One of those defined atheism, in its simplest form, as a view that there are no gods. An atheist’s philosophy of life is based on real-world experience and the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds, the pamphlet said.
“It’s all about personal accountability for me,” she said. “You don’t do something out of fear or reward of heaven. You do something to be a good person.”
Mullett said people often assume that if someone’s an atheist, they’re not a good person. Often atheists follow some of the same moral codes that religions preach, she said. The only difference is they don’t think their morality will lead to a life in heaven.