So there’s a creationist twit in Texas whining about how the Houston Atheists will be demonstrating at a creationist home schooling convention and at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Continue reading
My meetup group, Capital Region Atheists & Agnostics, will be at this year’s Capital Pride Festival on June 9 at Washington Park in Albany. If you’re in the area, drop by and say hello! I’ve got a bunch of atheism and LGBT-related goodies to give away to people at the event.
Last year, we had a few delightful religious nutjobs protesting the Pride Parade. One of them was even someone I recognized from the Reason Rally! The kooks sure do get around.
P.S.: I’m still alive! I don’t update this nearly as much as I ought to because I’m getting most of my atheism-related frustration out on Reddit nowadays…
Last night at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, I carpooled over with a couple of friends from the Capital Region Atheists & Agnostics meetup to attend a debate between Matt Dillahunty, president of the Atheist Community of Austin and regular host/co-host of The Non-Prophets and The Atheist Experience, and Jay Lucas, an evangelical Christian apologist and director of The Isaac Backus Project, which is described as “an apologetics ministry dedicated to equipping and encouraging Christians to declare and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Over at Hemant Mehta’s blog Friendly Atheist, an interesting little storm has begun brewing. Back in August, the McElroy Road Church of Christ in Mansfield, Ohio put up a billboard with a surprisingly atheistic message:
Not shown: overwhelming sense of irony
Our local atheist meetup group has adopted a highway. More specifically, 2.6 miles of highway just outside of Cohoes, New York.
That’s me on the left there. (Many more photos here.) We just wrapped up our first highway cleanup event. Eight people showed up, and over the course of half the full route, we went through over a dozen trash bags. Lots of litter… mostly plastic cups, cigarette packs and butts, beer cans, energy drinks, and random bits of paper and foam packaging.
Things we learned today, as said on Facebook by Rick, the event’s organizer:
- Apparently, high proportions of the nation’s dwindling number of smokers are drawn, irresistibly, to Cohoes, NY, much in the way that visionaries flocked to Devil’s Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Litterers exhibit a strong preference for Budweiser, Red Bull, Five Hour Energy and Newports.
- Unlike love, Styrofoam is forever.
I got a nice sunburn, and I’m looking forward to doing this again – with a bigger group so we can split up and do the whole route.
Hemant Mehta, best known as The Friendly Atheist or The eBay Atheist, recently paid a visit to the Secular Student Alliance at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New Yok. Hemant’s original claim to fame was an eBay auction where he offered to go to the religious service of the buyer’s choice for one day per $10 spent. The media spun this as Hemant “selling his soul,” and after he tipped off a few key blogs and local media organizations, his auction quickly made the international news. Atheists and Christians squared off in a bidding war over the deal, and Hemant fielded dozens of questions in response, both off-the-wall and serious.
The winner of the auction, a former evangelical minister from Seattle named Jim Henderson, tweaked the deal a bit and offered to send Hemant to several different churches around the country, from tiny home churches to Ted Haggard‘s massive megachurch. Henderson runs an organization called Off the Map which (at the time – the focus has now changed) hired non-churchgoers to attend local churches and write up critiques of their experiences. Jim asked Hemant to do the same, and to post them online. The result surprised both Jim and Hemant: People from all along the religious/irreligious spectrum responded almost entirely positively, often finding common ground in their recognition of parts of what Hemant articulated.
In his talk at RPI, Hemant went into great detail about this project, its aftermath, and what he has been doing since then. Hemant is now chair of the Board of Directors for the SSA, a role which lets him play an active role in supporting secular student groups across the country. He is also a math teacher in the Chicago suburbs, a role which led to his coming under attack as a “dangerous influence” for kids from a extreme conservative Christian group called the Illinois Family Institute. Hemant described how that came about and how his life has changed (or not) as a result of it.