Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hit the Beck - Photos from Stewart & Colbert's Fake Political Rally

We aren't political. ISSA, that is, has no particular political stance. In fact even on a personal level I would never describe myself as an acolyte of the Republicans, Democrats or any other organized party. If I vote I will be better aided by a coin than a dossier. Jon Stewart would probably be matched with liberal mates were he to submit to the questionnaires of an OKCupid.com but it's clear he finds at least as much fault with elected democrats as with anyone else. The rally isn't against Glenn Beck as a conservative/Tea Bagger as much as it is against Glenn Beck the imbecile selling equal loads of overpriced gold and overhyped fear from his Chalkboards & Teardrops TV pulpit.

Easier to racially profile than the average bear.

The rally-goers seem a predictable group of well-hearted people. They make a virtue of sanity, human rights, and self-effacing comedy. So do we. So here are just a few great images of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

eey trrkk rrrr jrrrrs!

... I got better.



(More pics after the jump)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ISSA Bus Ads Champion Atheist Philanthropy

Look out for our shiny new ads on MTD buses next Monday!! Kudos to everyone who helped, especially Mathew Rayman and Emelyn Baker. ISSA is proud of you guys! This was also possible thanks to support from the SSA, CUFree, and other contributors.

Also, if you have some extra cash to spare and would like to support the ISSA bus ad campaign, please click DONATE. We could use additional funds to cover even more buses. Help spread the word that atheists can be Good Without God!

Click for larger images.

Free-Thought of the Day

Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence.

– Anonymous

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dr. Ken re-hired for Spring Semester

According to today's The Daily Illini, friend of ISSA Dr. Kenneth Howell will remain an instructor at UI this spring. This is welcome news if not terribly surprising. We hope this is a sign of confidence in the adjunct professor and that the controversy is resolved.

Dr. Howell, forced to teach students on the street after being fired last
 summer for telling students Jesus "not just like Chief Illiniwek but for Catholics"

According to the DI,

The [University] report also indicates that it became clear the University wanted to terminate Howell in fear that his continued employment might label the University as hostile to the LGBT community.
Howell said it is not his job to not offend students, but rather to create discussion.
It sure isn't, Ken.

Fight Every Battle

The battle for individual rights as a secular citizen is an ongoing, continuous struggle. It’s important never to let your guard down against the imposition of religious beliefs on your identity, as a matter of principle. As Becca points out in her post, the lone atheist may sometimes be tempted to let religious transgressions on one’s individual liberty slide by. After all, what does it matter to utter ‘So Help Me God’ during an oath of office, even if you don’t believe in it? Don’t we all utter nonsense every so often, and doesn’t this piece of nonsense just grant us reprieve against the questioning and social stigma that may follow?
My contention is that it always matters. The infamous adage ‘pick your battles’ does not apply – when it comes to fighting for one’s rights, pick every battle. No overreach of religious dogma is small or insignificant enough.
Working for the federal government in DC over the summer was quite a sweet gig, but the pre-employment paperwork and security clearances were inundating, to say the least. It was still all manageable – however I quickly noticed that I was required to take the Oath of Office during our orientation, and sign a paper containing the oath on it. The last phrase immediately stuck out to me – “So help me God”?? . I immediately realized that this was going to be tricky. I’d never really had to stand up for my rights since I became an atheist, though I did get a brutish thrill out of confronting authority. This, however, was confronting Uncle Sam, so to speak. Do I jeopardize my relationship with my employer, which happened to be the U.S. Federal Government, before I even start my internship? Wouldn’t it just be easy to let this one slip by, and everyone is jolly at the end? My conscience, however, is a feisty thing that speaks up when I might be reluctant to. And thank the Lord for it.
I did end up talking to a legal representative, and had the phrase “So Help Me God” struck out of my oath before signing it. Was it worth it? Definitely. The perplexed HR rep learned something new that day – atheists don’t just take it. We are a confident demographic, and we are intelligent. We know what the First Amendment stands for, and we aren’t scared that you might be offended or ostracize us (or give us the quizzical look before running to your supervisor). It is always worth fighting against implicit or outright discrimination rampant in the system – makes you look pretty sexy in that mirror of yours.

Mingling religion with politics may be dISSAvowed by every inhabitant of America - Thomas Paine

Hello secular students! This Thursday, October 28th at 7pm our very own Karthik will be leading a discussion on interacting and having discussions with the religious, and what kinds of strategies are appropriate (and not appropriate). We'll be exploring interactions between accommodationalist and confrontationalist strategies, and asking questions about broader issues as well. Afterward, we will be heading over to Murphy's, to confront drinks and Irish Nachos.

As always, we'll be in Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.

What say you? 
Feel like your views or certain topics are ignored? We want to hear about it. Get up on the soapbox... play devil's advocate or just share a great idea. Submit your ideas for an ISSA blog post, a suggested meeting topic, or even lead your own discussion at a weekly meeting. We're all ears. Just email us!

Upcoming Events:
Islam Awareness Week - All Week
Our friends at the Muslim Student Association have declared this week Islam Awareness Week. As such, they're putting on a variety of programs in order to educate the campus on Islam. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about one of the least understood but largest religions on our world.
 
  Wednesday...

1-2:30PM: Why did I become Muslim?: A panel of University of Illinois students will share their experiences in finding Islam, how it has changed them, and how being Muslim affects their daily lives. This event will offer very personal accounts from the perspective of our peers as to why they became Muslim and what attracted them to Islam. The event will take place in Bevier Hall 328.

7-9PM: Islam 101: A group of Muslim students will give a short presentation on the basics of Islam. This event is ideal for those who have a very limited knowledge of Islam and are interested in learning more. The presentation will be followed by an open Q&A session, so come prepared with any inquiries or issues you would like explained! The event will take place in Gregory Hall 223.

Thursday...
7-9PM: 1001 Inventions: Dr. Rizwan Uddin is an Associate Professor of Nuclear Plasma and Radiological Engineering here at the University of Illinois. He will be outlining the contributions that Islam and Muslims have given to our society. The presentation will include a short video demonstrating many of these inventions. This event will take place in Gregory Hall 223.

Friday...
1-2:30PM: Mosque Open House: Campus and community members are invited to visit the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center (CIMIC) on the east side of campus. Visitors can observe the Friday services and watch the congregational prayer. Lunch will be provided and attendees will have another opportunity to ask questions in a very informal setting. CIMIC is located at106 S. Lincoln Ave, Urbana.

7-9PM: Unveiled: We will finish off the week with a theatrical performance by Rohina Malik, a playwright and actress who specializes in solo performance. She is known for her critically acclaimed one-woman show, "Unveiled." The performance portrays five Muslim women in a post-9/11 world as Ms. Malik "uncovers what lies beneath the veil" [in a figurative sense of course =) ]. The location of the performance is Clements Auditorium in the ARC at 7pm. Che
ck back here or in the massmails!

Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
Come for brunch, coffee, and camaraderie at our favorite little diner, Merry Ann's. Every Sunday at 11AM. Merry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club. All the cool kids are doing it.

Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) Annual Convention -- Halloween Weekend October 29-31
This year's speakers include Dan BarkerJulia Sweeney and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In addition, this will be a chance to meet and socialize with our excellent friends from sister campus secular group AHA!  Conferences are awesome and always a lot of fun, guaranteed. 

Next Week and Beyond:
Skepticon III -- November 19-21
Skepticon is the the midwest's ONLY major secularist convention and is on track to be the largest in the country! This year's Skepticon will feature luminaries such as Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson, The Amazing James Randi and others. What would you pay for all this? Try FREE.  Register here to join us and put your name on the roster here:
 
See you Thursday!

 

XOXO

ISSA

 

_______________________________________________________

ISSA on the Web

ISSA Blog     http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com

Facebook    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2252245006

Flickr Photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/uiucatheists/

Email: UIUCAtheists@gmail.com

Monday, October 25, 2010

Free-Thought of the Day

Following the fiasco surrounding the 'Koran-burning incident' a couple of months ago, I found this quote from Sam Harris particularly on the mark.
"We are now in the 21st century: all books, including the Koran, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal."
- Sam Harris, Bombing Our Illusions (2005)

Pope Tries to Convert Bart and Homer Simpson


The Vatican declared last week, in its daily publication L'Osservatore Romano, that Simpsons characters Bart and Homer are Catholic.
"Few people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it, but it is true: Homer J Simpson is a Catholic," insists L'Osservatore Romano.

It quoted an analysis by a Jesuit priest, Father Francesco Occhetta, of a 2005 episode of The Simpsons, The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star, which revolved around Catholicism and was aired a few weeks after the death of Pope John Paul II.”
With their bleak luck in recruiting new members to their congregation, are they turning to animated characters now? Who's next – is Cartman from South Park a Presbyterian? Peter from Family Guy a Lutheran? Bigger question - is the Pope getting high at night watching cartoons with fellow priests?




Maybe they should have called the producers of the Simpsons, instead of relying on their divine revelations.
The producers of The Simpsons have contradicted the Pope's official newspaper by declaring that the animated family are not Catholic.
D'Oh!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Free-Thought of the Day

After a brief hiatus, we return with our series, Free Thought of the Day.

And to start off, let us poke at the 'good book'.

A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to atheism.

- Donald Morgan

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Separation of Church and WHAT?!

As everyone on the internet now knows, Christine O’Donnell is far worse than we thought she was. She apparently has no idea what the First Amendment stands for, incredulous at the possibility that the Constitution could call for a separation of Church and State. I personally love the way she keeps digging herself a deeper hole, even after Widener University law students break out into laughter over her ignorance.



What makes this worse is that she has been claiming to be a constitutional scholar throughout her campaign. Of course, prominent conservatives have been quick to defend O’Donnell, clarifying that the Constitution does lack the exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’. Obviously, they need everything spelled out to them – conceptual knowledge isn't something many Republicans care for.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Persecution ISS Always the strongly marked feature of religions established by law." -Thomas Paine

Hello secular students! This Thursday, October 21th at 7pm we will be hosting a special guest: Rob Sherman. Rob Sherman has been a stalwart against religious incursions into government in the state of Illinois for more than 20 years. Rob Sherman has fought against Illinois' mandatory "Moment of Silence" in public schools, as well as a 10-story Christian cross in Southern Illinois. Come hear him speak about his experiences and the vital importance of church state separation. Afterward, we will be heading over to Murphy's, as usual. 

As always, we'll be in Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.

What say you? 
Feel like your views or certain topics are ignored? We want to hear about it. Get up on the soapbox... play devil's advocate or just share a great idea. Submit your ideas for an ISSA blog post, a suggested meeting topic, or even lead your own discussion at a weekly meeting. We're all ears.

Upcoming Events:
 
Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
Come for brunch, coffee, and camaraderie at our favorite little diner, Merry Ann's. Every Sunday at 11AM. Merry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club.
  
Curtis Orchard Trip -- Sunday October 24
Don't stuff yourself at Merry Ann's, because you'll want to save room for the delicious apple donuts. Come for the hay rides, apple picking, and petting zoo, stay for the friendship. Look here for more information. Transportation will be provided.

Next Week and Beyond:
Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) Annual Convention -- Halloween Weekend October 29-31
This year's speakers include Dan BarkerJulia Sweeney and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In addition, this will be a chance to meet and socialize with our excellent friends from sister campus secular group AHA!  Conferences are awesome and always a lot of fun, guaranteed. Let us know ASAP if you would like to attend, costs will be minimal for the first 12 people. If you would like to attend, you must register here ASAP!

Skepticon III -- November 19-21
Skepticon is the the midwest's ONLY major secularist convention and is on track to be the largest in the country! This year's Skepticon will feature luminaries such as Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson, The Amazing James Randi and others. What would you pay for all this? Try FREE.  Register here to join us and put your name on the roster here:
 
See you Thursday!

 

XOXO

ISSA

 

_______________________________________________________

ISSA on the Web

ISSA Blog     http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com

Facebook    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2252245006

Flickr Photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/uiucatheists/

Email: UIUCAtheists@gmail.com

Friday, October 15, 2010

Childhood Indoctrination in Sri Lanka

Religions masquerading as pacifist philosophies, when rummaged through, are often revealed in their stark nakedness for the misguided, often treacherous bodies of dictatorial power that they are to their inner core. And the malevolent cowardice of this institution is unwieldy on the most vulnerable – children. Buddhist interests in Sri Lanka are encroaching on the innocent childhoods of the impoverished youth in this country in an attempt to boost the influence of this 2600 year old ideology.
"Child rights activists in Sri Lanka have criticized a plan by the prime minister to ordain 2,600 boys as Buddhist monks by next May....are angry at the plans to ordain the boys, who they say could be as young as 10. They say children have a universal right to be with parents, siblings and friends until they reach the age of 18...children from rich families are rarely ordained at such a young age."
And can one really be surprised that sexual abuse has been shown to be rampant within the Buddhist institution of Sri Lanka? Has recent history not shown us, repeatedly, the degenerate implications of philosophies based on superstition?
"Sri Lanka's National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has arrested scores of Buddhist monks for alleged sex abuse of boys in their care in recent years... Discussing child abuse - particulary in Buddhist temples - is taboo in Sri Lanka, as it is in many conservative societies in South Asia."
Defenders of the current sham they call Eastern spirituality ought to think twice before claiming that philosophies such as Buddhism lead to any sort of "enlightenment".

Free-Thought of the Day

Ohh this time it's my turn! After seeing a House quote a while back I wanted to say this one, as it's my personal favorite (House quote):

"Religion is not the opiate of the masses; religion is the placebo of the masses."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Free-Thought of the Day

I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence.

– Doug McLeod

Invisible Guy in the Sky Saves Chilean Miners

As the Chilean miners trapped for months underground emerge from the darkness, religious organizations have been frantic in claiming credit for the rescue.

"The three Christian denominations have each claimed credit for what they say is divine intervention in the survival – and expected imminent rescue – of the 33 men who have spent 67 days beneath the earth."

Of course, God did it. The countless nights spent by engineering teams, rescuers, international organizations may have contributed a little bit, but at the end of the day the Lord came through! Which version of the Lord, though? Evangelical, Adventist or Catholic?

Evangelical - A little bit further up the hill of Camp Hope, the improvised settlement of miners' families, rescuers, government officials and media, an evengelical preacher, Javier Soto , wandered from family to family with a guitar and songs of praise. "He listens to the music," said the pastor, gesturing to the azure sky.

Adventist - "God has spoken to me clearly and guided my hand each step of the rescue," said Carlos Parra Diaz, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor at the San Jose mine. "He wanted the miners to be rescued and I am His instrument."

Catholic - "God has heard our prayers," said the bishop. "I have received comments of encouragement from all over the world. Let us give thanks."

I wonder which of these Gods failed to prevent the mine collapse in the first place? Any takers?



If I've seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.- ISSAac Newton

Greetings, greeings, fellow stargazers! This Thursday, October 14th at 7pm our very own Becca Tippens gives a special presentation on legendary atheist polemic, iconoclast,  and cancer patient Christopher Hitchens. Afterwards, we can all do our best Hitchens impression at Murphy's.

As always, we'll be in Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.

What say you? 
Feel like your views or certain topics are ignored? We want to hear about it. Tell us what's what.. play devil's advocate or just share a great idea. Submit your ideas for an ISSAblog post, a suggested meeting topic, or even lead your own discussion at a weekly meeting. All our base are belong to you.

Upcoming Events:
 
Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
Try the fabulous waffles or just come and chat with us over a coffee at the best damn diner in Chambana. Every Sunday at 11AM. Merry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club.

Next Week and Beyond:

Rob Sherman: Church-State Separation Crusader -- October 21 
Next Thursday, we will be hosting Rob Sherman, a social activist and Illinois native who has been fighting religious encroachments into government for over 20 years. Sherman is responsible for the overturning of Illinois' mandatory "Moment of Silence" in public schools and has sued the state of Illinois for giving state money to the maintenance of an enormous cross in Southern Illinois.  

Curtis Orchard Trip -- October 24
Brisk weather, hot cider and thou. All this and more at our annual, much-beloved Curtis Orchards trip. Looky here for more information. Transportation will be provided.

Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) Annual Convention -- Halloween Weekend (October 29-31)
This year's speakers include Dan BarkerJulia Sweeney and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In addition, this will be a chance to meet and socialize with our excellent friends from sister campus secular group AHA!  Conferences are awesome and always a lot of fun, guaranteed. Let us know ASAP if you would like to attend, costs will be minimal for the first 12 people. If you would like to attend, you must register here ASAP!

Skepticon III -- November 19-21
Skepticon is the the midwest's ONLY major secularist convention and is on track to be the largest in the country! This year's Skepticon will feature luminaries such as Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson, The Amazing James Randi and others. What would you pay for all this? Try FREE.  Register here to join us and put your name on the roster here:
 
See you Thursday!

 

<3

ISSA

 

_______________________________________________________

ISSA on the Web

ISSA Blog     http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com

Facebook    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2252245006

Flickr Photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/uiucatheists/

Email: UIUCAtheists@gmail.com


 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Does Religion Cause Homophobia?

October 11th is International Coming Out Day and so it's a fine time to ask why we still have such a resilient form of stupid in America. We long ago brought into the expanding circle of ethical rigor women, minorities, children, and even animals. Not that we don't have lingering problems with such groups, but one cannot  assert that they don't deserve rights in mixed company and not seem a barbarian. The same is not true of the non-straights as a group, and this is in spite of two different sexual revolutions. Only atheists and fat people have it as bad. If you're a fat tranny atheist you might as well get off the ride right now. Why is it so? Is religion the problem here?

And he said unto them..., huh?
According to the flamboyantly-dressed men's club for ritualistic kneeling and consumption of flesh and bodily fluids in Rome, homosexuality is an abomination. It's "Adam and Eve," they say (cleverly!) not "Adam and Steve". Maybe if it had been Steve there wouldn't have been a dumb bitch to eat the apple and damn all mankind. Theists never see the big picture. Complex social dynamics can't be laid at the feet of a single factor such as religion but we have plenty of reasons to suspect religion is mucking up our discourse:

  • the most religious states, such as Mississippi and Texas has the poorest attitudes toward non-straights and related issues; the least religious states tend to have the most progressive policies and social views
  • homosexuality is a capital offense in theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Mauritania
  • individuals with higher religiosity tend to have poorer views of non-straights
  • the least religious nations have the highest level of civil rights protections for non-straights
  • religious people, groups often cite religion as the source of their views


Homophobia is never louder and more incessant than when it comes from the pulpits. And what of the Ted Haggard's of the world? What could possess a gay man to self hatred if not a backward and hateful belief system? Surely without religion such people would be happier without the lies and twisting their mental corkscrew ever tighter to preserve the most pointless and miserable of delusions? Religion must be the culprit. Unless, it isn't.

Thin & religious America
Americans are obsessed with the notion of being thin and of being religious. The untold millions spent on gym memberships, gimmick exercise devices and miracle diet pills mirror the millions spent on miracle wranglers in their thousands of churches and cathedrals. The problem is that we aren't thin, we're the fattest people ever to walk the Earth. Similarly, we're not religious either. We're merely obsessed with the idea of being religious and this is an entirely different matter. Devout countries don't have 10 billion dollar porn industries while parishes close due to lack of clergy or followers. Religious nations criminalize non-straights along with anything else deemed immoral by some-or-other holy text or  icon-festooned godhead. They burn witches and arrange marriages. They let god pick their ruler. That's what real belief looks like.  We only have the Disneyland version here. You can visit a set that's decorated with Jesus-y or Jew-y  or Koranic window dressing but deep down you know you're just a tourist, it's just Jebus of the Caribbean; your next stop is Starbucks or the bar, then to check out the chick-of-the-week on Entourage. "All men are frauds." said H.L. Mencken, "The only difference between them is some admit it. I myself deny it."
Ask the next Christian who exclaims that OT God forbids homosexuality in Leviticus (18:22) if they also agree with God's Word in Leviticus 20 that commands death as a punishment. The piety of the person will diminish to the exact degree it becomes politically inconvenient. God's Word always seems to lose to convenience. It's hard out here in the universe for a pimp, sayeth the Lord. 

The statistics given above have serious problems illustrating causality. The religious demographic also tends to be poor and uneducated. The uneducated part could be driving both the religiosity and the phobia. There is no easy way to tell what is really happening, from the numbers alone. You, my dear erudite reader, know about correlation and causation so let's skip to the end: religion rarely introduces or causes these sorts of problems directly. If that were so we'd still be killing kids for picking up sticks on Sunday. It just doesn't work like that. That doesn't make it blameless. It can crystallize the views of a specific time or group of people. As the rest of the world moves on, the conservatives look increasingly dated and bigoted. By denigrating reason and promoting rigid authority, religion makes it harder to grow. This is especially disastrous in any place where religion and a political movement join forces as happened during the 80's with the rise of the Christian Right.

Mankind's gimpy knee
The censors, the reactionaries, the conservatives have always lost in the long run. That's how we got where we are. Sometimes it's a difficult and brutal struggle forward. Sometimes progress loses out for a while. At one time Japan & Germany seemed horrifyingly regressive but who is regressive now, just decades later? Religion is man's gimpy knee. It slows us down, it makes our situation worse, but it has never stopped us and it won't now.

Free-Thought of the Day

I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake… Religion is all bunk.

- Thomas Edison

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Extremist Christian Hate, Up Close and Personal

"Hey isn't this more fun without the white hoods?"
This is hard to watch. But you need to. In June ABC's 20/20 profiled a family belonging to the notorious Westboro Baptist Church of "god hates fags" fame (this is their favourite slogan, and also their website URL). They're sort of like the KKK but without the laughs and good manners.

They're even ultra-Jesus enough to alienate Fox News. Bill O'Reilly condemned the Westboro Baptists' disruptive protesting of  military funerals. The WB's hate America and are not shy about saying so. They therefore hate its most conspicuous protectors: the soldiers. According to a recent Huffington Post article, the Supreme Court  is considering a case against such protests. Here is the ABC video which covers the protests and interviews the children of Westboro Baptists Steve and Lucy Drain.



When Richard Dawkins mentions religiously-based child abuse, I'm pretty sure this is what he means. Poe's law would immediately suggest this is all fake, especially with the cheesy hate-tastic Lady Gaga musical knock-offs. The proudly unhinged, seething malice is so incongruous with mainstream American society it is hard to take seriously. The worst part is not the 7-year-old who hates Jews (he doesn't know what this means and may grow out of it) nor the disgusting act of protesting a funeral. It's the cold, matter-of-fact "bubye" with which Lauren was cast out of the family. Why would I miss her? Steve asks of his estranged, heart-broken daughter. Lauren didn't do anything but notice the church had "hypocrisies" and that was enough to be disowned. She still loves her family. I tell them I'm sorry, I'll do anything, when can I come back? She forgives them their flaws. She misses them.
This is all making me pretty sick.. here, let's look at this for a moment.


aww. That's better. 
What Intolerance Looks Like
This is why it isn't okay to call ISSA (and similar groups) intolerant and bigoted when we draw a stick figure. It is an insult to people like Lauren or Albert Snyder, who have been hurt by real hate. You may freely call us misguided, tactless or possessed of poor judgement but we just don't hate anyone. We don't hate any group, the community or America. We don't even hold with ideals that are not accessible to everyone (such as faith). We have routinely decided against actions for no reason other than that they could do harm. We invite everyone we don't agree with to talk to us in forums of mutual respect and civility. We don't ostracize. We don't question anyone's right to be a full and equal part of the community. We don't hate.

The Real Fringe of Free Speech
Let's face it, compared to eighty people showing up at a soldier's funeral with "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" signs, the Koran burning looks like a marshmallow campfire affair. The Supreme Court will rule on this issue some time in the coming months. As grotesque as it is, my hope is that the court will not preclude such protests (though restrictions are certainly in order). I am left wondering if all those who supported the Koran-burning Florida pastor also support the Westboro Baptists in each of their hundreds of protests each year. Will you hold godhatesfags.com aloft as a symbol of free expression?

Unbridled Faith
Apologists like Dinesh D'Souza like to argue that Christianity brought civilization to civilization because the western world is also the origin of the most progressive political and social movements. By this reasoning I might also argue that the invention of pants brought political change and social justice. Meanwhile, back in reality it is mainstream society that has humanized religion and forced it to abandon one doctrine after another with the clerics fighting bitterly every step of the way. The Westboro Baptists are people indifferent to the mores of their society.  That makes them free to take the Bible literally. What they say about God is biblically accurate. God does hate fags. He is bloodthirsty and vengeful.Their religion is not a distortion of Christianity, it is a more pure, fewer-compromises version of it. It is religion in a more natural state. The only harmless religions are the ones that have been politically and legally castrated. Try to think of a single counter-example.

The Biggest Loser
Steve and Lucy Drain already lost one of their kids. Even with inculcation from birth, it's actually pretty hard to sell people on venom and bile as a way of life. Statistically, they will lose more from the flock over time. The Westboro Baptist church is a fringe group, loud but not large. Shunned equally by the political left, right, and center, its future is absent failing the continual recruitment of emotionally damaged individuals. The wages of sin could be death, but the wages of piety are worse - obsolescence. It isn't a coincidence that Katy Perry, POD and Creed starting making money the day they replaced "Jesus" with "baby" on the lyric sheets. The WB nutjobs will fail just like the puritans before them. God always loses in the end. Even today they are met, sometimes overwhelmingly, with opposition:


The best antidote to those celebrating their liberation from reason, is ridicule. Thomas Jefferson taught us that.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Blasphemy of the Highest Order"

The Chive, a delightfully witty website with funny videos, scantily clad women and other enjoyable content recently received an email from an angry viewer about the blasphemous image below. Read the exchange that followed, if only to educate yourself on how to respond to emails from indignant, puffed-up pastors.



Free-Thought of the Day

Who would have thought that Charlie Chaplin was an atheist!

By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none.

- Charlie Chaplin

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't be mISSAnthropic, come party with the godless!

Greetings heathen friends! This Thursday, October 7th at 7pm we will partake of some celebratory post-blasphemy-week free pizza and watch the "cult" comedy classic The Life of Brian then it's off to kill a few more liver cells over at Murphy's.  Those cells have had it too good for too long.

As always, we'll be in Mechanical Engineering Building room 253.

Bar Crawl!
ISSA will be holding a bar crawl in early November. Get your official shirt for just $10. Just give us your Name and Shirt size, Pre-order now! The order will be placed this Friday.

Got something to say? 
If you want to give a presentation or lead a discussion, or just have a good idea for a topic let us know! If that's not your bag, then maybe ISSA's official blog at http://UIUCAtheists.blogspot.com is the perfect venue to get your opinions heard. Comment on existing stories, or email us your own! 

Upcoming Events:
Merry Atheists @ Merry Ann's! -- Every Sunday
Good coffee and good company, what more could you ask? and cheaper than tithing. Sunday at 11AM. Merry Ann's is located near Krannert and the Canopy club.

Next Week and Beyond:
Curtis Orchard Trip -- 24 October
Come out and celebrate fall with us! Try the famous apple donuts at the Flying Monkey Cafe, and pick your own apples and pumpkins. All this and more at our annual, much-beloved Curtis Orchards trip. Looky here for more information.

Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) Annual Convention -- Halloween Weekend
This year's speakers include Dan BarkerJulia Sweeney and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In addition, this will be a chance to meet and socialize with our excellent friends from sister campus secular groups such as AHA!  Conferences are awesome and always a lot of fun, guaranteed. Let us know ASAP if you would like to attend, costs will be minimal for the first 12 people. If you would like to attend, you must register here !

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ISSA on the Web

ISSA Blog     http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com

Facebook    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2252245006

Flickr Photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/uiucatheists/

Email: UIUCAtheists@gmail.com


See you at the meeting!

 
Love,

ISSA

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Free-Thought of the Day

Congratulations to Becca on a thoroughly insightful op-ed published in the Daily Illini! In light of the reaction that Blasphemy Day may have evoked in some, here is a quote that further expounds on the habitual respect that religion manages to garner.

“Religion… has certain ideas at the heart of which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’…Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other”

- Douglas Adams

Monday, October 4, 2010

Religion Just Keeps Getting Weirder

Do you worship the Sun, Earth and other ‘heavenly’ bodies? Partake in the occasional dancing and singing at stone circles? You may well be a Druid! This wacky religion has just gained official status in the U.K., which means they will be exempted from taxes on donations.

To register as a religious charity in England, an organization must satisfy requirements that include belief in a supreme entity, a degree of cohesion and seriousness, and a beneficial moral framework.

Druids have practiced for thousands of years in Britain, worshipping natural forces such as thunder and the sun, and spirits they believe arise from places such as mountains and rivers.

"There is sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law," the Charity Commission said.

A degree of cohesion and seriousness? How serious can one get while dancing to the moon and planets? I would like to see Pastafarianism and Jedi worshipers apply for religious status – if the Druids can do it, anyone can.