Atheist Groups in the News September 9, 2008

Atheist Groups in the News

There are atheists in Idaho!

The Boise State Secular Student Alliance is now open for business. (All they need is approval from the university… which should simply be a formality.)

[President Lloyd] Lowe posted flyers around campus and found agnostic and atheist Boise State students on Facebook two weeks before the fall semester started. The BSSSA attended the Student Organizations Extravaganza Aug. 24 and held a booth on the first day of school with a sign that asked “Outgrown Your Imaginary Friend?”

This was not meant to be controversial, but to gain attention and acknowledge the presence of non-religious students on campus. More than 50 students showed interest during these campaigns.

“Our group’s main goals are to bring together secular students of all types in order to support each other and present a positive view of non-belief to the community. We intend to promote and practice the open, rational and scientific examination of the universe and our place in it, while offering plenty of social gatherings for BSU students and the community,” Lowe said.

Best of luck to them; congratulations are certainly in order for getting an article in their campus newspaper (by reporter Mat La Rue).

If you’re in the area, join their Facebook group and attend future meetings!

Meanwhile, in Fresno, California, atheists held a “Heretics Barbecue.”

In other news, three babies are missing.

The barbecue was thrown by the Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics.

Mark Boyd helped found the group and he spoke to The Fresno Bee‘s John Ellis:

“It’s a conservative city,” Boyd said of Fresno metropolitan area. “It’s good to have a way to find each other.”

On Sunday, about 30 people — some card-carrying members of the group, some simply curious — gathered at Letterman Park in Clovis for discussion, some debate and even a bit of chess.

Many Christians might well have been shocked by the conversation. But know this, too: believers in Bigfoot, homeopathic medicine, unidentified flying objects, ghosts and male enhancement drugs would likely have been offended as well.

That’s because it wasn’t simply a religion-bashing contest. Other areas some dubbed “pseudo-science” also were bashed.

My favorite paragraph was this one:

That includes people like Fresno writer Nick Lewis, who won a Bible at his church as a youngster and was turned off by the words inside. “I was born an atheist,” he said. “No one’s going to change that.”

Beautiful irony: A Church-sponsored Win-a-Bible contest that turned the winner into an atheist.

The CVAAS group was also handing out lovely “Get Out of Hell Free” cards, which are fantastic handouts if you are ever tabling on a campus.

(You can get those cards here.)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Dylan Armitage

    Alright! I read the article in the Fresno Bee the other day and was just about to send it to you. I’m glad someone did. 🙂

    Now I have a way to meet more people.

  • Ravelyn

    hey – see also that phoenix, AZ has put up *five* ffrf billboards – woohoo!
    story here

    photos here

  • We stamp the back of the cards with our name and website, and we happily give out multiple cards to each person who wants one. People are always saying, “Gee, I know someone who would love one of these!” Word of mouth advertising.

    So far, we’ve got no complaints that these cards DON’T work, so we have to assume they work just fine.


  • I’m as enthusiastic a rationalist and agnostic atheist as anyone, and I have no shortage of contempt for dogmatism, but I get peeved when I see an nontheist group make an offensive statement and then claim that they weren’t intending to be offensive or controversial.

    The President of the Boise State group, Lloyd Lowe, was being transparently ridiculous and disingenuous in his comments on the group’s banner statement “Outgrown Your Imaginary Friend?”, where he said that this was not meant to be controversial and merely intended to draw attention to the fact that there are non-religious people on campus. If you’re going to make a big statement that religious people’s deities are delusions, and are going to phrase the assertion in a clearly pejorative fashion, at the very least, don’t lie to everyone and say that there was no intention to be controversial. When you say that people’s and communities’ and societies’ most cherished beliefs are on par with the the imaginary friends of young children, you are knowingly being offensive. How about being honest enough to admit it? Maybe this group’s primary intention was not to speak derisively to the religious, but to speak to rationalists in a way that says “yes, you and I are reasonable and honest enough to acknowledge that certain ideas of our peers are patently irrational – but the religious clearly are not”. But this intention is still clearly offensive.

    If your intention is to simply draw attention to the existence of the nonreligious on your campus, I have a suggestion that is both incredibly simple and incredibly effective: Have a sign that simply says something like “Boise State Atheists and Agnostics”. If anything, this is more effective for drawing attention to the existence of nontheists than the slightly ambiguous imaginary friend statement, and it doesn’t involve slapping the religious in the face and then having to deny it because “you’re trying to create a positive image for nontheists”. And any people who didn’t sign up because your slogan wasn’t funny or witty enough weren’t going to be active members anyway, whereas some of those who were put-off by an offensive statement with an accompanying denial of intended offense might have been.

    If you’re going to be a group that does not give religious beliefs and believers special treatment and shows the same derision for these beliefs and for the acts of irrationality that goes into holding them as you would for any number of other brands of irrationality, fine. Whether that is the best thing for whatever your goals is, whatever. But at least have the honesty to admit that you were knowingly making a statement that would be deemed controversial.

  • Ryan

    All right! Boise State is my alma mater, so I’m very happy to see that group being formed.

  • Calladus Says: “So far, we’ve got no complaints that these cards DON’T work, so we have to assume they work just fine.”

    I’m the one who created the cards, and I’ve sold more than 1.25 million of them, including to various non-theist/free-thinking/etc. groups. And I’m happy to say they work; not one customer has gone to hell and then complained the card didn’t get them out. So I’m quite confident in their power. Hence my secondary slogan, “Don’t leave this earthly plane without one.” (The primary slogan is “Sin all you want — we’ll print more.”)

    My GOOHF web site (linked under my name, above) has the story of why I created the card, and what happened next….

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