An Atheist Group Responds to Campus Preachers November 15, 2010

An Atheist Group Responds to Campus Preachers

Texas A&M just had anti-abortion protesters come their way, followed by campus preachers. But members of the Agnostic and Atheist Student Group (AASG) were ready for them 🙂

The Rally to Restore Sanity mindset was clearly present. Keri Bean, the president of the secular student group, explained it this way (with pictures of group members interspersed):

… I got together about 10 of the students in AASG and decided to do some Pastafarian/atheist outreach on Thursday with the intention of saying “Hey, it’s ok to have a different view on campus!”

I showed up to the Academic Plaza (one of our free speech zones at the center of campus) with a few signs saying things like “I’m an atheist but religious people are cool too!” and “You’re not going to hell. However you’re not going to heaven either!” I wore a t-shirt that said “Smile! 🙂 You just met an atheist” and some of my group wore the AASG t-shirts that had arrived that day, conveniently enough! (Obviously the Flying Spaghetti Monster coordinated that one.)

It turned out some of the preachers were from Ray Comfort‘s ministry…

They had a lot of the standard Living Waters materials (including a sheet explaining the banana argument!)… One of them yelled out “There’s no such thing as an atheist! Atheists don’t exist!” I proceeded to poke myself and say “I’m pretty sure I exist, sir.”

He walked away for a little bit, but then came back, stood about 5 feet away from me, and VERY loudly yelled the same thing. I yelled back my same response. He then went into the questions routine (Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen something? etc.) and since I had heard that routine before, I had some pretty entertaining responses.

At this point a crowd really started to gather and some of the students passing by either joined our side or started yelling back things. At one point I’m pretty sure we had well over 100 people around us. I let the crowd heckle the preachers for awhile. We occasionally interjected with Pastafarian goodness, and at one time my boyfriend preached the “Eight I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts.” We also shouted “Have a great day!” as people walked by.

We found out they would be there the next day too, so we got back out there around noon, and this time we must’ve gotten our point across because after about 20 minutes of screaming, they quieted down and talked to people one-on-one, so no large crowd this time.

We had more signs this time, saying things like “Have a great day!” and “Atheists say howdy too!”

My boyfriend brought a whiteboard so we could post responses during the screaming. After they stopped screaming, we wrote things like “Free hugs!” on it. Their wives (in very Mennonite-type clothing) came up to us and tried to convert us. They left around 3, and as they walked away, they yelled “See you on judgement day!” and we yelled back “We love you too!” Shortly after they left, a few student preachers from Grace Bible Church (the church that [defeated member of the Texas state Board of Education] Don McLeroy attends) talked to us and tried to convert us, but we shut them down pretty quickly.

We had a LOT of students come up and try to convert us or pray over us. However, for about every conversion attempt, we had at least two people, religious or not, come up and say they really appreciated what we were doing. We had at least three Christians actually join us in our protest. We had an AASG meeting that night and had at least 10 new faces. I’m hoping we even get more!

Thankfully, we live in a time when, if you know the campus preacher is coming out, you show up with a video camera 🙂

This is a sampling of what went down:

It’s amazing how ineffective this guy is at converting people, isn’t it? There’s a circle of people mocking him — something I’m sure he takes pride at — but I don’t see anyone running up to him to be saved… or even to join him. And I doubt anyone’s going to change their mind in the future, unless they begin to think even less of Christians than they do now.


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  • I love this. keeping in mind… I’m going to make some placards in case any zealots decide to wander onto my campus.

  • Matt Peters

    What kind of responses did you give to the questions routine?

  • stevesie

    I’d love to hear what their interesting responses were to the questions routine. There should be a campus preacher resource center, if there isn’t one already.

  • Greg

    Their god must be really incompetent if it can’t scrounge up some more persuasive preachers…

  • This is just begging for a background re-enactment of “Blessed are the Cheesemakers”.

  • When they say there’s no such thing as an Atheist, I always offer to prove that I do indeed exist. My method of proving that involves a little physical pain on their part, so they rarely agree to the demonstration.

  • ihedenius

    OFF TOPIC tip for Hemant
    ========================

    Video


    Fourteen-Year-Old Michigan Student Awesomely Stands Up for Suspended, Gay-Defending Teacher

    Jay McDowell, a teacher in Howell, Michigan, was temporarily suspended without pay earlier this month after telling a student wearing a Confederate flag and a student making anti-gay remarks to get out of his class. At a school-board meeting on Friday, openly gay 14-year-old high-school student Graeme Taylor came to McDowell’s defense, thanking the teacher for doing “an amazing thing” in a town home to the KKK, and urging the school board to give McDowell his pay and reverse the disciplinary actions. The inspiring video has made its way around the Internet, because how cool is this kid?

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/11/fourteen_year-old_michigan_stu.html

  • As he’s going through the list of sins that God hates, notice how stirred up the crowd gets when he mentions masturbation at 11:22.
    Hilarious.

  • Eddie

    “Atheists don’t exist” is the most hilarious, incompetent and childish argument I’ve heard they have in their arsenal. For Earth’s sake don’t come to Europe, it’s full of us.

    They have that or the hurtful nasty “hell” and “judgement day” argument. I’d risk the idea of hell so I can be non-judgemental and see the glories in the world, rather than be in heaven and be fearful and anti-gay and see the world as not so wonderful because some omnipotent god created it, therefore no so impressive.

  • @Matt Peters & stevesie

    My responses were something like this:

    “There’s no such thing as an atheist! Atheists don’t exist!”
    (pokes self) “I’m pretty sure I exist, sir.”
    (repeat)
    “Can I ask you five questions?”
    “Go for it!”
    “Have you ever told a lie?”
    “Yes, I have told white lies. I think even Jesus would tell white lies. Would he tell an ugly woman who asked if she was pretty that yes, she was ugly? No, Jesus would lie.”
    “It’s still a sin!”
    “So something your Lord does is a sin? Ok, that’s new.”
    “Have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours?”
    “No.”
    “You’ve *never* taken anything without permission? You already admitted to being a liar!”
    “No, I have never taken anything without permission.”
    “Well I have, and that’s a sin!”
    “Ok, so that establishes that you’re going to Hell and I’m not. Continue.”
    (insert 10 seconds of being flabbergasted)
    “Have you ever looked upon someone you’re not married to with lust?”
    “Well yeah, my boyfriend is pretty damn sexy.”
    “That’s adultery!”
    “I’m pretty sure that definition wouldn’t be upheld in a court of law.”

    At this point, I was interrupted by someone trying to convert me, and he went into screaming/preaching. I wish I could’ve gotten further into the bantering!

  • S-Y

    @eddie: By subscribing to one religion, one is already risking going to over 9000 other forms of hell already anyways. (Including a very particular hell where all the strippers have STD’s) Rejecting Christianity just adds one more hell to that list lol.

    Consider you guys lucky. I don’t get this kind of entertaining drama on my campus. There’s the occassional guy from the Gideons passing out the New Testament (very convinient; saves paper and a whole lot of baggage) but nobody’s really preaching, and no non-religious people are having a completely friendly, civil, and mature discussion with them. We don’t even have a secular student group or anything of the sort. (On the other hand, the discussion of religion does not spread around campus as far as it does in other colleges.)

  • Dan

    I’ve always just assumed that men like this hope that at least one person takes away what he was saying seriously, even if the other 99% make fun. So, no matter what is said to him, he hopes there is one person, sitting silently somewhere in the crowd taking him seriously.

  • Ubi Dubium

    @Dan

    And for every person who takes him seriously, we can hope that there are several who will see how ridiculous his whole twisted logical mess is, and decide that they should re-examine their own beliefs. A win for us!

  • Dave

    @Keri:

    Word for word, almost exactly what I encountered a few weeks back from a group on a state university campus, including the order of those questions. First, the lie question… then the theft question. I answered almost exactly as you did, and the response I got was “You’ve already admitted to being a liar” and he continued with the assumption that I am a lying, thieving, adulterous dirtbag. All the time ignoring the arguments I was making against his reasoning. These folks must have some kind of training packet for these events.

    At any rate, the GLBTQ folks on campus are, with my support, preparing a counter-protest for our particular group’s return (they appear once a semester, apparently) and we’ll be borrowing from your material! Thanks and good show!

  • Inthewater

    Can someone either run down, or link to the “atheists don’t exist” theory?

    I must not get it. Of course, I don’t get most of the stuff Christian’s say / think.

  • Inthewater: Romans 1:20.
    “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…”

    Therefore, since we all know the Bible is true, God’s existence is clearly seen by all, and there are no atheists.

    Nice, tightly-wrapped little circular logic, innit?

  • Inthewater

    Ahh, I get it.

    I thought it was actually an argument, not just another “we’re right because our book says so” type thing.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • Well, honestly, unless you’re arguing for a generic deistic sort of god, there aren’t any arguments other than “we’re right because our book says so.” The books are the only source of knowledge they have about their specific flavor of deity; anything else necessarily has to be derived from there.

    Regarding the video, I feel nothing but pity for that young man. He has swallowed the Living Waters lie hook, line, and sinker. If he ever escapes from his delusion, it’ll be a long, hard process.

  • Cindy

    Gig ’em Ags! Good job. There was a noticeable lack of counterpoint to these clowns when I was on campus.

  • Lesilu

    Kudos to this group for providing such a positive and friendly contrast to the preachers on the campus.

    I wonder what goes through people’s minds when they spout such vile as “see you on Judgement Day” or “you’re going to hell”. Do they imagine themselves smugly watching those they condemned going down to a pit of fire and brimstone while they get to ascend to…what, sit on a cloud for the rest of eternity and drink tea?(I’m honestly not sure what people are supposed to do in Heaven, I’ve only heard the many horrors that are supposed to happen in Hell) It seems like they’re only trying to reassure themselves when they say that.

  • Man, love this. Keep these videos coming. I hate how they’re trying to target college campuses (is this a new thing or old as the hills, I never went to college so I don’t know, though I worked at one in high school and never saw such nonsense) but love how the students are countering it. They really are making these preachers look like the idiots they are. Who’s the fool now?

    Yeah, I did notice the laughter at the masturbation comment. It was so refreshing to hear. All these Christian crusaders should be laughed out of the arena.

  • Heidi

    @Muggle: We had the Boston Church of Christ cult on our campus in the late 80s. *shudder* They were all over Massachusetts at the time. The indoctrinated kids would try to recruit us all into going to their Bible study groups. These were people who weirded out the regular Christians. Our school’s Catholic priest gave a talk in the lobby of my dorm about scary cults.

  • PeteO

    You do not have any idea what a big deal this is. I live in College Station and love the town and the university. It is however a VERY conservative area. Even 10 years ago this would have been almost unthinkable.

    To now see that reason and critical thinking are now tolerated and even encouraged is awesome. If we can make headway in this environment, well, anything is possible!!

  • Holly

    Christian beliefs are definitely offensive, but it doesn’t mean Christians are encouraged or supposed to pass judgment on anyone. If and when they do, or when you hear about some supposedly ‘Christian’ leader or group doing some terrible hateful thing, in my opinion it actually supports the Christian faith, in that not even one of us is worthy or righteous or perfect, and that evil/sin is real, and dominates our world. I totally get that it’s offensive to say some people will go to hell if they don’t accept Christianity as truth, and those that do will get eternal life. But I say, good for this guy for sharing. If he actually believes everything in the Bible–the greatest message of which is God’s love and grace–he should sense the urgency of the message and want to share it with everyone he meets. And it looks like he’s trying–that takes a heck ton of guts and integrity if you ask me. If someone is not causing any harm, don’t mock or make light of what they believe–just keep walking. I think that’s the friendliest thing to do.

  • Adrian

    Wow. I’m so glad that up here in Canada I haven’t (yet) had the misfortune to have to listen to a lunatic like this dude. I mean, c’mon, there’s really nothing original here. He just goes on and on and on quoting the bible. Been there, done that. No grow up and get a life.

  • american xtians are such amateurs. seriously. in the Old Days, real worshippers used to cut off their junk and eat it, all warm and bloody to please the Goddess; and sacrifice the neighborhood virgins, live feed.

    step up to the plate, religious freaks.

  • Yakoi

    I go to a university that is part of the A&M system, but we have no secular student organization. I really wish we did because the zealots run a muck on campus … we even had a couple come to speech class freshmen year to show us “how to talk in public” aka try to convert… (I left class that day). Would be nice to have a student organization to combat the zealotry and hatred on my West Texas Campus…

    On topic… You guys did AMAZING! Made me proud just watching, but one of my favorite things to ask any Christian is “If the bible says that only 144,000 Jewish Male VIRGINS are going to heaven, what makes you think that your “god” is going to let you in?” That usually stops all conversation and they leave. lol

  • Will

    Gig’em Ags! Glad to see you guys out making the point that there is a different mindset at A&M.

  • Holly, he’s got every right to say it but they’ve also every right to mock it and he’s not exactly being friendly and respectful so why the fuck should they be? You’re asking the disbelieving students to turn the other cheek while he screams at the top of their lungs to try and force them to hear it whether they wish to or not. It’s not friendly to ignore it; it’s submissive. I’m glad they’re not being any more. You act like he’s quietly going around asking students if they’ve heard the word. He’s not. He’s shouting at the top of the lungs that they’re sinners who are going to burn in hell. Frankly, they were far, far politer and friendlier than he was. Admittedly, he probably needs mental help but still…

    Wow, Heidi. I worked on campus in the mid ’70’s. Maybe it’s because it was a State college in a small town in a farming community and pretty much the whole population was Christian with an occasional Jew. One librarian I worked with was Hindu but no one bothered her about it. They respected her because she was able and competent and friendly.

  • The preacher sounds like one of those crazies on the street corner shouting about the end of times. They don’t help their effort by screaming and shouting.

  • Matt Solano

    I would have loved to have been there to see this in person! I might have even joined in.

  • Jak

    Is it bad that, as a teacher, speaker and performer, I just want to ask who his voice coach is? 😉

    Seriously, though – luckily I don’t remember too much of this going on at my Uni (Melbourne, Aus), even though there were several Christian Fellowship groups on campus (I believe that since I left a Secular Society has started up). But every so often I’m walking through the centre of the city and I hear people preaching. I’d like to stop and talk to them, question them, one day; but I know I need to know a lot more before I start down that path…