Donations Against Damnations Recap February 3, 2011

Donations Against Damnations Recap

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that the Agnostic and Atheist Student Group at Texas A&M was conducting a fundraiser called Donations Against Damnations. The goal was to raise money for the groups that notorious campus preachers like Brother Jed speak out against.

(Jed’s the guy with the cane in the picture above.)

Keri Bean of the AAS tells me the fundraiser was a huge success — they raised $600 total, $150 for each of four groups.

  • The Texas A&M Women’s Resource Center will be purchasing more books for their library.
  • GLBT Aggies will be buying t-shirts reading “Gay? Fine By Me.” to distribute for free to students on campus.
  • Aggie Allies (a resource network of faculty and staff to provide support to GLBT students) will be able to fund more workshops.
  • And the Agnostic & Atheist Student Group will be bringing in a guest speaker later this semester.

So what happened on the days of the fundraiser? Keri tells the story:

Once [Jed] showed up, we went and held signs by him. On this day his particular focus was on women and their “place” in society, and he flat out said women are only meant to be kept in the bedroom and the kitchen. He also gave a few, um, graphic descriptions of how babies are made. He also said he respects prostitutes more than girls who sleep around because at least they put a price on their body! Lots of girls were quite frustrated as the day progressed, as you can probably imagine. He also attacked homosexuality, so some of the gay kids made out in front of him in response, freaking out Jed quite a bit.

Despite the rampant homophobia exhibited by Jed, there were a few positive things to note:

Keri mentioned that she had a chance to speak with Jed’s daughter Martha (“and she actually is a lot nicer and saner than her dad”).

At one point, Jed agreed to sing “The Gay Song” alongside a drag queen. You have to watch it. Though it’s a bit unsettling to see him make hand gestures for the words “homo” and “lesbo.” You’ve been warned:

Keri also told me that there was quite a bit of unity between different religious groups in response to Jed:

The Unitarian church, including the minister, came on Thursday and held signs for a few hours. Also on Thursday we were joined by some nice ladies from the Friends church who brought mini heart-shaped cakes to “fill us with love!” One of the ladies also handed Jed one one of the cakes and said “Jesus loves you too” and she was quite upset that he didn’t even say thank you.

We also had several students from the Aggie Lutherans join us, and even the Mormon missionaries came out and supported us. I jokingly say now that when the Mormons and the atheists are agreeing on religious issues, the other guy has serious issues!

We also had several Christians, not necessarily affiliated with any group, come and stand with us and hold signs or give money. There were also a few guys from the Jewish fraternity who joined us too.

All in all, it’s great to see students from various religious backgrounds come together to dismiss an agent of intolerance — though I wonder how many religious people would have shown up if the anti-gay bigot at the center of attention was someone more “respectable” like Rick Warren.

I love it when atheists lead the charge against intolerance using their intelligence and wit, and even raising money for good causes in the process, even if the school newspaper doesn’t seem to get that.

By the way, you can read Jed’s takes on the TAMU response here, here, and here.

Finally, one filmmaker, Robert Jacobson, was on hand to make a documentary about Brother Jed and released this trailer using the footage from his TAMU appearance:

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  • nathan

    Wow, this is interesting! In a way I almost feel sorry for him – you know, in a way. Maybe he just needs better material and a good role model?

  • mirele

    Raising money off Bro. Jed’s appearance is a lot smarter than what people used to do when they showed up at the University of Texas back in the early 1980s. People used to throw pennies at Jed and his wife, Cindy when they preached.

  • Erp

    I think they would have gotten the Unitarians on similar anti-gay protests against more respectable people. Friends Church is United Church of Christ (about the most liberal of Christian denominations) and their web page is ‘open and affirming’ in regards to LGBT; I suspect they would also show up.

  • Mike

    I found the statement in the school newspaper, “the sign with pictures of a nut and a case on one side and a screw and ball on the other was hardly more appropriate than Smock’s words,” offensive to Bugs Bunny…

  • Allyson

    He didn’t say thank you for the cakes? What a jerk!

  • BlueRidgeLady

    I’d take hell over being forever around someone like that, so telling me I’d go there would be more like a promise I hope is kept rather than a threat.

  • George

    If the atheists had truly used their intelligence, they would have stayed far away and encouraged everyone else to stay far away. This man is clearly mentally unstable, everyone agrees on that point. He thrives off of attention, and the more people who come to protest him the more he enjoys it and profits off it.

    Also, think about this for a moment: if a really nutty atheist were to come to A&M for some reason and students came out with signs mocking him like the ones in the video above, would you accuse them of being juvenile?

  • To the kid @4:05 – some people deserve to be mocked, not all ideas are equal.

  • Vas

    Really there is something wrong with brother Jed. It really is sad, poor old bugger. Just imagine the warped shit flying around inside his head, the awful scary things that compel him to speak out and crusade. This is a man living on the fringes. It’s nice that his daughter is there, my hope is that she is looking after the safety of her deranged father. The whole situation is unfortunate, for me it just feels wrong to mock and taunt people because they are crazy and I really believe Jed is sick. It feels like mocking someone with Tourette syndrome. On the other hand I’m so glad I’m not in his geographic area and I’m glad I don’t have him in my environment.

  • Steve

    Re: the person holding a sign that says he’s Christian but non-religious:

    What is a “non-religious Christian”?

    So, you really don’t believe any of the dogma yet you call yourself a Christian?

    You either do, or do not, believe in god and Jesus. If you don’t, then I don’t get why you’d call yourself a Christian?

    At that point it seems more like a “background” label, like Jewish people who are actually atheists?
    Any ideas, folks?

  • Don

    I remember this guy from when he was doing the University of Iowa campus back around 1980. Prize for best collective response goes to the people who staged a die-in at his feet, pretending to fall dead to dramatize his love for nuclear weapons (American ones that is). Best individual responder dressed up as a crazy biker and carried a sign with a swastika-and-cross logo, “Aryan Christians for White Womanhood,” and just wildly applauded at everything he said. Both images were front page in the student paper.

  • @Steve

    That sign says “I’m a Christian but nonreligious people are cool too.” It’s a counterpoint sign to the “I’m an atheist but religious people are cool too.” sign.

  • S-Y

    By the school newspaper’s standards, the Nazis’ views were also unique and worth hearing.

  • I just have to respond to the “when we agree with Mormons” thing.

    I remember spending a few hours protesting with a hateful creationist on my first college campus before we managed to get him removed from the premises. The man was yelling about homosexuality and how we were all sinners, but a big part of what stuck with me from that day was the guy who walked me back to my dorm.

    As I was headed off the lawn, a guy approached me, and asked if he could walk with me. I suspected he’d try to convert me, but he was being polite so far, so I said, “Okay.”

    Sure enough, he introduced himself as a Mormon missionary, and asked if I’d like to hear more about his church. I said, “No, thank you, I’m actually an atheist.”

    He said, “Oh, alright then,” and walked me back to my dorm, with never another word said about religion.

    I’m really no a big fan of evangelizing, but I’m perfectly fine with the approach that the second guy took, as opposed to the first.

  • Don

    S-Y, the school newspaper was in on the joke. Trust me (since I can’t provide a web link to the 30-year-old article).

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Excellent work, Texas A&M heathens. Keep it up, goddammit.
    We get Bro Jed at the UofA in Tucson for the next 8 (eight!) school days, huzzah!

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