Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This ISSA non-prophet organization!

Greetings, godless brethren!

Another week, another meeting of your favorite nonbelievers! You may have seen us out on the quad Tuesday for Activity Day -- the first of several exciting events this week and, thankfully, the only one to take place outdoors. BRRRRRRRR! Here's hoping our enthusiastic greetings and tantalizing flyers attracted some new members! Remember -- you too can help spread the word!

Anyhow, it's time for the weekly rundown.
..

THIS WEEK --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This week's meeting will be at the usual time in the usual place: Thursday, January 27th at 7pm in Mechanical Engineering Building, room 253. Click here for a map.

On the agenda...

FREE FOOD! And if that doesn't sell it (...aren't you in college?), we'll be doing some corny-but-ultimately-satisfying getting-to-know-you, team-building sorts of activities -- lead by the lovely Sarah Connor. If you're new to the group: Yeah, the terminator lady. In other news... CLUB TEES ARE IN! Get yours ASAP! Only $12.


ISSA at Murphy's!

After the meeting, we'll adjourn to Murphy's, as is our tradition. We welcome anyone and everyone who can make it, regardless of whether or not you plan to drink. It's a great chance to get to know us -- your officers -- better!


PARTAYYYYYYY -- January 28th

It's a party -- a partayyyyyy, even! Join us this Friday night at 9pm for some hedonistic revelry and an all-around good time! View the Facebook event page here.


Food for Freethought @ Merry Ann's -- January 30th
This week's Sunday morning smorgasbord will be held at Merry Ann's Diner (near Krannert and the Canopy Club -- click here for a map) at 11am, and we'd love it if you'd grace us with your presence. We don't need no stinkin' church! Pancakes, eggs and bacon are our holy sacrament. We're going to be experimenting with new brunch locations after this week, even potentially venturing off-campus. To keep from spamming the rest of you, we're starting an additional email list specific to Food for Freethought. If you're interested in attending, please reply to this email with a statement to that effect.

Hemant Mehta @ Purdue -- January 30th
Purdue University's campus secular organization, the Purdue Non-theists, will be hosting Hemant Mehta (the Friendly Atheist) this coming Sunday, and they've graciously invited ISSA members to attend! A group will be leaving for the event from Merry Ann's around 1pm. If you plan on attending, please RSVP here! Be sure to mention if you need a ride or could potentially drive...

UPCOMING EVENTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Blood Drive -- February 5th

ISSA will be co-sponsoring a Red Cross Blood Drive (with our friends from Cru) at the Wesley Foundation United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 5th, 11am - 3pm. It's a great opportunity to save some lives, and is generally followed by yummy food and fraternization! The church is located on the corner of Green and Mathews.


Darwin Day -- February 11th
Darwin Day is fast-approaching, and we'll be on the quad celebrating! You know what that means -- CAKE! Darwin Cake. Yum.

Ask an Atheist -- February 16th
Yet another fun day on the quad! We'll have a snazzy little booth set up (from noon to 4pm) to answer folks' questions about atheism, all-the-while raising money for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank!

Greta Christina -- March 10th
We're thrilled to welcome atheist blogger, sexpert and LGBT advocate Greta Christina to the U of I campus!

...And much more to come!
Keep up with our emails! This promises to be an eventful semester, and we want you on board!

 
Best Wishes,

ISSA

 

_______________________________________________________

Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!

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, January 21, 2011

Ricky Gervais on the "Thank God for making me an atheist" quote

For those who are skeptical that it wasn't seen as a big deal (which of course I agree that it shouldn't be), it was one of the topics during his recent interview on CNN. Take a look:




PS: I may or may not be secretly developing a man crush on Ricky Gervais.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"A heresy can SPRING only from a system that ISSA in full vigor." - Eric Hoffer

Welcome heathen friends, new and old! HAPPY 2011!

The new year ushers in exciting changes for the Illini Secular Student Alliance, as we resume under the new leadership of Mat Rayman and welcome back former president Franklin Kramer filling in the role as VP! That being said, we'd like to express our gratitude to Edward Clint for an action-packed fall semester that marked some truly phenomenal milestones for ISSA.

Our humble group has been gaining more and more momentum with each passing term, and this semester will be no different! Events like Draw Muhammad Day, Minority Report and Blasphemy Day -- in conjunction with last semester's bus ad campaign -- have significantly increased our campus presence, and even earned us some national recognition!

It's an exciting time, and we want you to be a part of it. Soooooooo...


THIS WEEK --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our first meeting of the new semester will be this Thursday, January 20th at 7pm in the Mechanical Engineering Building, room 253. Click here for a map.

On the agenda...

Winter break was a smorgasbord of current events in the world of atheism, and we're giddy as school girls at the prospect of rehashing them! Franklin will be leading the talk about the recent events (complete with videos) as well as leading discussion about the issues they raise. Look forward to it! I hear Franklin is pretty awesome.


ISSA at Murphy's!

After the meeting, we'll adjourn to Murphy's, as is our tradition. We welcome everyone able to stop by, regardless of whether or not you plan to drink. It's a great chance to get to know us, your officers, better!


Food for Freethought @ Flat Top Grill!
We're trying something new this semester... Brunch at Flat Top Grill! They've got some superb make-your-own breakfast options, and it's right in the heart of campus! Join us this Sunday, January 23rd at 11am


UPCOMING EVENTS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hemant Mehta @ Purdue -- January 30th
Purdue University will be hosting Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist a week from Sunday, and they've graciously invited ISSA members to attend! View the Facebook event page here.


Blood Drive -- February 5th

ISSA will be co-sponsoring a Red Cross Blood Drive (with our friends from Cru) at the Wesley Foundation United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 5th, 11am - 3pm. It's a great opportunity to save some lives, and is generally followed by yummy food and fraternization! The church is located on the corner of Green and Mathews.


Darwin Day -- February 11th
Darwin Day is fast-approaching, and we'll be on the quad all day celebrating! You know what that means: CAKE! Darwin Cake. Yum.

Ask an Atheist -- February 16th
Another fun day on the quad! We'll have a snazzy little booth set up (from noon to 4pm) to answer folks' questions about atheism, all-the-while raising money for a charity TBA!

Greta Christina -- March 10th
We're thrilled to welcome atheist blogger, sexpert and LGBT advocate Greta Christina to the U of I campus!

...And much more to come!
Keep up with our emails! This promises to be an eventful semester, and we want you on board!

 
Best Wishes,

ISSA

 

_______________________________________________________

Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!

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

The Struggle for the 'Child Witches' of Nigeria

A nation where institutionalized corruption constantly depletes any viable national progress, Nigeria has recently been in the spotlight for allowing child harassment, torture and murder to proliferate in the name of ‘witch-hunting’. The Guardian recently reported on the activities Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries that “is claimed to be one of Nigeria's leading 'deliverers' of witches - ministering to up to a thousand at a time.”


If there ever was doubt on the atrocities that may be committed due to a belief in the supernatural, Nigeria showcases the worst of the worst. The most vulnerable of society, young children, are branded as witches as they are subjected to nauseatingly cruel punishments.
“..are taken to churches where they are subjected to inhumane and degrading torture in the name of 'exorcism'. They are chained, starved, hacked with machetes, lynched or murdered in cold blood."
But not all is lost, for brave human rights campaigners are constantly fighting against the tyranny of faith-based oppression. Humanist campaigners like Leo Igwe and others of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, British Humanist Association and Nigerian Humanist Movement have been fighting day and night for the lives of these children. The obstacles they have faced have been horrendous. Igwe, for example, was arrested and allegedly beaten before being released for intending to provide evidence to the Akwa-Ibom State Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Accusations and Child Rights Abuses.

"It was a terrible encounter and it was premeditated going by the way they executed the plot to hold me accountable for "kidnapping;" my hands were tied behind me and they beat me mercilessly. [...] My head was swollen and I kept massaging it so that it does not become permanent; from Tuesday night to this morning I was kept incommunicado and had no contact with either my family or my lawyers."

Human rights campaigners face a constant stream of harassment everyday, but remain undeterred to continue the strife against the religious violence and tribal ignorance that claim the lives of hundreds of unknown, unheard children everyday.

************************************************************************************
To donate to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, click here.

To donate to the British Humanist Association, click here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In Defense of the Pope


As every year, Vicar of Christ and lightning enthusiast Pope Benedict delivered his Christmas address to a crowd of thousands of genuflecting fanboys this past December 25th. In addition to the expected rhetoric about peace, championing of the struggles of repressed Christians, and shout-outs to his homies aus den Hood, the Pontiff made controversial remarks about pedophilia. 


The Pope, as most celibate and therefore highest authority on all sexual matters, determines policy and stance toward the molestation scandal but rarely comments directly. As if channeling his own South Park parody, the Pontiff said that pedophilia was normal back in the 70's and not considered "evil" and that nothing was. A quick look around the blogosphere registered the secular internet's outrage:


Belfast Telegraph: Pope’s child porn 'normal' claim sparks outrage among victims
Sott.net: Vatican Christmas Shocker! Pope says child rape isn't that bad, was normal back in his day
Chron.com: Sinead O'Connor demands answers over Pope's child abuse comments

Sott.net quoted the speech as follows: "In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children," the Pope said. "It was maintained - even within the realm of Catholic theology - that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a 'better than' and a 'worse than'. Nothing is good or bad in itself."

This all sounds pretty monstrous and the anger is understandable, right?



I find your lack of faith socially maladaptive.

No
The Pope is most definitely not defending or even equivocating about child molestation. The quotes are cherry picked. According to Reuters his message, "called for Catholics to do everything in their power to end the suffering of abused children. Let us think of those chidlren who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse and thus are traumatized to the depth of their soul." Here is the Reuter's news clip.



The Pope cites moral relativism as a cause of the problem, not a justification for it. This is wrongheaded of course. The rest of the world outside the church is always to blame for the Vatican's problems somehow, and here he blames secularism. He isn't strictly wrong about the relativism. Starting in the 40's, if not earlier, the idea that ethical values are arbitrary cultural bric a brac indeed gained significant popularity. This kind of relativism can't really be found anymore, not even on a liberal campus such as ours. This notwithstanding, the very notion that religious authority will correct our depraved secular culture is about as wrong as it gets. It has always been secularizing culture that has stemmed the abuse and privations of tyrants, religious and otherwise.


It's the tone of the response that bothers me. It is disturbing when the people who pride themselves on their literacy, IQ, and critical thinking skills forsake them so completely over an opportunity to bash a sinister foe. Intelligence and education should be tools to make tomorrow brighter, but without honesty and vigilance, they're just blunt weapons to service your hostility. 

New "Ordinary Muslim" meme appears on the Internets

Just when you've thought you've seen it all (who are we kidding), you come across a very interesting internet meme via reddit: "Ordinary Muslim Man." Based on a growing theme of memes featuring random characters along with witty two-liners (such as "Successful Black Man" and most recent "Hood Dad"), this picture takes a phrase that would be very unusual for the character to say (often because it is stereotypical) and, by adding to it, twists it into a phrase that one would expect from such a character.




Of course, because the picture is thematically following the previous memes, it is indeed implying that Muslims are just ordinary people, and it would be silly and stereotypical to automatically label them as terrorists.

Or maybe I'm just thinking about it too much.