Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Blasphemy Day! (At Least for America… Kind of.)


Where does humanity stand on this issue of blasphemy? In the 1948 United Nations Human Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), the closest thing we have to an international authority on the subject, three fundamental principals for governing human rights were laid out: rights are universal (apply to everyone); inalienable, (herald state authority and are founded on humanity); and indivisible (all rights of level importance). Blasphemy is covered under Article 19 of the Declaration. Those privy to international relations know, however, that this holds incredibly small importance to most countries. And like most human rights, blasphemy has a long history of violence and oppression. Over 35 countries currently have laws against blasphemy, with punishments ranging from up to 1 month in jail to a mandatory death penalty (really cool, Pakistan). And as pointed out by Ed Clint last night in his discussion of Blasphemy Day during our weekly meeting, the United State’s close political ties with many of these countries is more than a little unsettling.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ISSA Freethought Library Update: A Quick Little "Thank You"

I'll be posting a more in-depth update in the next week or so, but I just had to take a moment this evening to once again thank everyone who has supported the Freethought Library. We officially started lending stuff out at tonight's meeting, and our membership was all over it! With nine books checked out at present, I think it's safe to say the project has been a huge success.

I have been incredibly touched over the course of the last few months by the generosity and enthusiasm of my peers in the larger secular community and within ISSA itself. We've had a steady stream of donations from day one, and the resulting collection is impressive in both its quality and variation. Of course, the most gratifying part of all of this came this evening when I looked on as folks skimmed the various texts and made their selections. The texts clearly piqued the innate curiosity that makes each and every one of our members so extraordinary, and I'm so proud to have played a part in that.

That being said, the Freethought Library is an ongoing project! We will continue to accept books until, well, we can't accommodate any more! ...At which point, I suppose we'll have to get creative, eh? Monetary donations are also much appreciated (click here to donate via Paypal) -- we're actually about $40 over budget on the project at this point, so every little bit helps.

Thanks again, guys!

Much love,
Becca

ISSA in the News


Hot on the heels of an incredibly popular blog post, our new scribe Max McKittrick has had his letter to the editor published in today's Daily Illini! Max wrote in to let his fellow students know what ISSA will be up to on the Quad for Blasphemy Day tomorrow, but don't forget that later on in the evening, we'll be enjoying a blasphemous improv show courtesy of campus improv group Odd Request. Hope to see you at one or both of these fun-filled events!

Edit: The letter has now also been quoted on The Friendly Atheist. Thanks, Hemant!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jail or Jesus

The choice is yours, Dear Reader: in states such as Alabama, Virginia, Idaho and others, many courts offer offenders the choice between doing hard time or spending that time attending "treatment programs" that involve attending services and meetings of a specific faith, and often require active participation.

Anti-blasphemy laws are abhorrent. Free speech ISSA civil right!

Greetings, Bodacious Blasphemers!

Blasphemy Day is here at last! Come find your favorite heathens this Friday on the Quad, where we'll be buying souls for cookies and encouraging passers-by to blaspheme in whatever form strikes their fancy. Later on, we'll assemble to watch an appropriately irreverent (and totally free) improv show! Read on for details...

THIS WEEK (READ ME!)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Weekly Meeting
This week's meeting will take place Thursday, September 29th at 7pm in Noyes 165 -- click here for a map. 

On The Agenda
Our own Ed Clint will speak about the importance of Blasphemy Day. Then we'll officially launch the Freethought Library and wrap things up with an episode of TV's most blasphemous show -- South Park!

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 your officers and godless cohorts better!

Blasphemy Day -- Friday, September 30th
Blasphemy Day is an international holiday created in defense of free speech following the infamous publication of satirical drawings of the prophet Muhammad in a Denmark newspaper. We'll be assembling on the quad for a creative protest against worldwide anti-blasphemy laws, then it's time for a night of irreverent comedy (courtesy of Odd Request) at 8pm in English Building 160! RSVP via the Facebook event page.

Cafe Freethought -- Sunday, October 2nd
Don't worry, you can still sleep in! But be sure to join us this Sunday at 2pm for a nice chill afternoon at the Espresso Royale at Goodwin and Oregon. Bring homework, games -- whatever you like! Just come ready for good coffee and even better conversation. Click here for a map/directions.

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

Curtis Orchards - Saturday, October 8th
Our yearly trip to Curtis Orchards is guaranteed awesome. Come for the hay rides, apples donuts, apple-picking and petting zoo, stay for the kinship! Transportation can be arranged -- just let us know if you need help getting there!

ISSA Ladies' Night -- Saturday, October 22nd
PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DATE. Us godless girls gotta stick together! That's why we're planning a night just for the ladies. Bon bons, bonding and non-theism -- stay tuned!

Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always awesome -- simply email lliniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.

Love,
ISSA

_______________________________________________________
Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!
ISSA Blog: www.IlliniSSA.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/IlliniSSA

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sheol Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

You’re going to Hell! We've all heard it at some point, whether from a joking friend or a raving evangelical. However, it’s more than a hateful presumption, and much more than a jest. It’s one of the most horrifying and disquieting aspects of religion.

This guy was preaching on
campus last week...
From an objective viewpoint, a large problem with the concept is that it incorporates emotion into belief. If scientists were emotionally involved with theories, little progress would be made. This is because emotion necessitates attachment, even when that attachment is misplaced or illogical. The concept of Hell is predominantly used as a fear tactic to subjugate believers, and it’s been so since long before Christianity. Hell spans more religions than almost any other theological concept – just check out the Wikipedia article! The idea of Hell is so widespread because it has been, and still is, used as a method of forcing ethics upon societies. This is similar to the idea that if you aren’t good during the year, Santa won’t bring you presents. Except Santa is infinitely merciful, and instead of giving you coals, he’ll be roasting you on some.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ISSA: Now an Academic Reference!

Stedman
We're thrilled to report that ISSA continues to get fancier by the day! Today on the Huffington Post, Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy Fellow Chris Stedman reposted his article from the Journal of College and Character. Co-written with SSA Director of Campus Organizing Lyz Liddel, "Nontheistic Students on Campus: Understanding and Accommodating Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists and Others" "identifies issues these students face on campus, and offers strategies for accommodating nonreligious nontheists as part of a diverse student body." ISSA's work is referenced as evidence of the educational work done by secular student groups! Write Stedman and Liddel:
April 2011 saw the first national Ask-an-Atheist Day, an event created by students at the Illini Secular Student Alliance, in which dozens of other campus groups participated (Tippens, 2011). SSA records show Ask-an-Atheist events included tabling, students advertising their atheist identities and encouraging questions, panels of nontheists answering audience questions and discussion events.
Note that club Vice President Becca Tippens was cited for her press release! Congratulations to Becca and everyone who helped make ISSA one of the most notable secular student groups in the country, and thanks to Chris Stedman and Lyz Liddel for the academic shout-out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Amish 101”, or, “How Debbie was almost raised Amish (but not really)”

This post is by ISSA treasurer Debbie Rapson.

As you can see, I am clearly an expert on this subject.
Ah, what might have been.
When my parents were young, long long ago in the before time, also known as the 1970s, my father decided he wanted to become a pastor and start a Mennonite church. What’s that, you ask? He wanted to dress up in old timey clothes, forgo the use of zippers, and live on a farm? Why, no! He did not. Even though I would have been completely adorable dressed up in 19th century fashion, as evidenced to your left, the Mennonite church is a Christian denomination that has split into several different sects since its origins in 16th century Western Europe and not all of them have an affinity for buttons.

 A Really Boring History Lesson

During the 16th century, a little thing known as the “Protestant Reformation” was going on in Western Europe. You may remember this as “the most boring part of AP European history class, ever… when do we get to the part where America invents democracy and defeats the Nazis?”  It culminated with a guy named Martin Luther, who published The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, criticizing the Catholic Church for many, many things, but focusing on the sale of indulgences, whereby someone could purchase a piece of paper that claimed their sins were forgiven and BAM, free ticket to Heaven. His followers became known as ‘Lutherans’, but there were many other religious groups forming as well, including the Anabaptists.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Defining Agnosticism

How the Secular Movement has
defined agnosticism
This post is by ISSA President Franklin Kramer.

During work today the discussion of Macs versus PCs came up, and someone said, "Well, to be honest, I'm agnostic on the issue." Every time I hear the word agnostic used this way it puts a slight pang in my side. After all, we just had a meeting this past week where Derek and Sam gave a great presentation about atheism and agnosticism, going over exactly what each of the terms mean (and how one can be both an atheist and an agnostic). The definitions given during the presentation are the definitions generally accepted by the atheist community. But in this specific situation, it seems that it was used to simply mean "apathetic."

Monday, September 19, 2011

David Fitzgerald is coming, so there's no reason to sit alone in ISSAlation tomorrow night!


Greetings, gnarly nonbelievers!

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Why have I never eaten frozen yogurt with a famous Biblical scholar?" Well, my heathen friends, Tuesday night's your lucky night! This week we're hosting David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All. Read on for details!

Deism with Benefits

We secularists rarely give theists the credit they deserve. After all, they have to live within the austere constraints of their chauvinistic dogmas while attempting to rationalize such doctrines with scientific progress. Of course, the previous sentence is rarely true. Nowadays, the majority of U.S. Christians are Protestant, and an increasing number of these are Liberal Christians, which I will refer to as LCs. (They aren't necessarily politically liberal). A religious friend of mine kindly calls them, “Douchebag Deists.” However blunt, he points out how agnosticism and ambiguity in doctrine are inconsistent with the structure of Christianity.

Your [Long Overdue] Monday Freethought Library Update!

I know, I know -- It's been a while since the last Freethought Library update. We're already five weeks into the fall semester, and a lot has happened since I last posted. We've had four ISSA meetings, a cookout, a party and multiple Freethought Cafe meetups; meanwhile, the library has continued to grow!


I've already placed an order for a nifty little "property of..." stamp, as well as some library cards and pockets. We're planning to introduce the project (and begin lending) at the weekly meeting Thursday, September 29th!


Finally, three [taller-than-they-look] stacks!

We went with this stamp design in blue. It's going to look completely badass.
Forty-two books and counting... Here's our updated Freethought Library wishlist!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

To Absolutely Nobody's Surprise, GOP, Tea Party Back Evangelical Candidate


     As their influence in the GOP continues to increase, members of the Tea Party have wrapped their sticky fingers around the throat of Mitt Romney's presidential bid before it's even off the ground, based solely on their evaluation of his religion.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"That's why they call me mISSAter Fahrenheit" - Queen

Greetings, happy humanists!

Another week goes by, and it's almost time for the fourth ISSA meeting of the year! We have lots of exciting things coming up very soon, so read this email... or else.

THIS WEEK (READ ME!)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This week's meeting will take place Thursday, September 15th at 7pm in Noyes 165. Click here for a map. Don't miss it!


On the agenda...
After last week's atheism-centric meeting, we've decided to move into the realm of skepticism. President of CU-Freethinkers and long-time best friend of the group Phil Ferguson will come and give a presentation on homeopathy. If you don't know what it is you'll definitely want to come see it, and if you're already familiar with it I guarantee you'll still find his presentation extremely enjoyable!

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 your officers and godless cohorts better!

Party with the heathens -- Saturday, September 17th
Don't miss out on heathens heathin' it up! It's the first ISSA party of the year, and we've already got a wacky theme in mind! It'll start at 8:30PM at Debbie's house in Urbana. Make sure to join the facebook event, or if you're one of the few without facebook just email us for details or talk to us after the meeting.

Cafe Freethought -- Sunday, September 18th
Don't worry, you can still sleep in! But be sure to join us this Sunday at 2pm for a nice chill afternoon at the Espresso Royale at Goodwin and Oregon. Bring homework, games -- whatever you like! Just come ready for good coffee and even better conversation. Click here for a map/directions.

"Ten Beautiful Lies about Jesus" with David Fitzgerald -- Tuesday, September 20th
David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All, is coming to the University of Illinois to speak about how the traditional assumption that Jesus Christ was a real historical figure should be seriously questioned, as well as how different the historical record would look if there had  been a real Jesus - even a merely mortal one. We're very lucky to have him here, so everyone who can should definitely attend! It will be at Greg Hall room 319 at 7:00PM, you won't want to miss it!


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


Blasphemy Day -- Friday, September 30th
Blasphemy Day is an international holiday created in defense of free speech following the infamous publication of satirical drawings of the prophet Muhammad in a Denmark newspaper. We'll be assembling on the quad for a creative protest against worldwide anti-blasphemy laws, then it's time for a night of irreverent comedy! More details to come.

Curtis Orchards - Saturday, October 8th
Our yearly trip to Curtis Orchards is guaranteed awesome. Come for the hay rides, apples donuts, apple-picking and petting zoo, stay for the kinship! Transportation can be arranged -- just let us know if you need help getting there!

ISSA Ladies' Night -- Saturday, October 20th
Us godless girls gotta stick together! That's why we're planning a night just for the ladies. Bon bons, bonding and non-theism -- stay tuned!

Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always awesome -- simply email lliniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.

Love,
ISSA

_______________________________________________________
Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!
ISSA Blog: www.IlliniSSA.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/IlliniSSA


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's your nonbelief -- atheism or agnostISSAsm?

Greetings, affable atheists/agnostics!

Can you believe it's week three already? Time flies when you're having fun! Speaking of which, we've just added several more exciting events to the club calendar! Read on for further details.

THIS WEEK (READ ME!)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This week's meeting will take place Thursday, September 8th at 7pm in Noyes 165 (two doors down from last week). Click here for a map. We hope to see you there!

On the agenda...
Atheism 101! Sam and Derek talk atheism, agnosticism and much, much more! Whatever your persuasion, this presentation is sure to get you thinking.

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 your officers and godless cohorts better!

Cafe Freethought -- Sunday, September 11th
Don't worry, you can still sleep in! But be sure to join us this Sunday at 2pm for a nice chill afternoon at the Espresso Royale at Goodwin & Oregon. Bring homework, games -- whatever you like! Just come ready for good coffee and even better conversation. Click here for a map/directions.

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

Party with the Heathens -- Saturday, September 17th
Heathens heathin' it up! It's the first ISSA party of the year, and we've already got a wacky theme in mind! Time and location to be announced.

David Fitzgerald -- Tuesday, September 20th
We're pleased to welcome biblical scholar David Fitzgerald to the U of I campus! Mr. Fitzgerald will be speaking about the Bible's origins, contradictions and implications, and examining Jesus Christ as both a biblical and historical figure.

Blasphemy Day -- Friday, September 30th
Blasphemy Day is an international holiday created in defense of free speech following the infamous publication of satirical drawings of the prophet Muhammad in a Denmark newspaper. We'll be assembling on the quad for a creative protest against worldwide anti-blasphemy laws, then it's time for a night of irreverent comedy! More details to come.

Curtis Orchards - Saturday, October 8th
Our yearly trip to Curtis Orchards is guaranteed awesome. Come for the hay rides, apples donuts, apple-picking and petting zoo, stay for the kinship! Transportation can be arranged -- just let us know if you need help getting there!

ISSA Ladies' Night -- Saturday, October 15th
Us godless girls gotta stick together! That's why we're planning a night just for the ladies. Bon bons, bonding and non-theism -- stay tuned!

Open call for blog entries -- ONGOING
Got something secular(ish) on your mind? BLOG ABOUT IT! Posts from members are always awesome -- simply email lliniSSA@illinois.edu if you're interested.

Love,
ISSA

_______________________________________________________
Can't get enough of us? ISSA online!
ISSA Blog: www.IlliniSSA.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/IlliniSSA