Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ISSA Kicks Off Month-long Hugfest

Today, we at ISSA kicked off what will be a month-long fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society here at the University of Illinois. The idea is simple: pay a dollar, get a hug, and help cure cancer. I can proudly say that we raised over $110 just this afternoon, and we hope to repeat that performance next week, and the next week, and the week after that. We're going to hug until we can't hug any more, and then we'll hug a little more. Below you'll find some pictures from today's event, along with an awesome video put together by our new Social Media chair, Alex Fiorentini!

Just getting started around noon. Already collected a few bucks.

A hug in action!

The Mayor of Champaign even stopped by to show his support. He donated, got a hug, and told us all that he "appreciates what we're doing" and is "glad to see us out there." Talk about a class act!



This was an absolute blast, and we invite you to come by the Quad the next three Wednesdays and pitch in! And stay tuned - this is just the beginning of what ISSA will be doing to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Undercover Atheist

Many of us atheists think it’s important to show believers that we’re friendly, affable people. It’s long been suggested that one of the best ways to end stereotypes about atheists is to “come out” and be open with believers about lack of belief - so I decided to put this idea to the test.

Last year, I was approached by a young man in the University of Illinois’ Business Instructional Facility, and was asked if I would like to join his Bible study group. I told him yes, I would like to, but that I’m an atheist, and if he or the other members wouldn’t be comfortable with that, it might be best if I didn’t. Naturally, he seemed a little surprised, but he took down my number, and asked me to come. I had two motives for joining: First, I wanted to put a friendly face on atheism. Second, I wanted to see how these particular Christians interpreted the Bible, and how they justified contradictions and violence in the text.


Of course, I understood that an atheist joining a Bible study group would be pretty controversial, so I made a few rules for myself upon joining. First, I would always be open about being an atheist - though I wouldn’t flaunt the title as if my lack of belief was superior to their religiosity. Second, I wouldn’t criticize anyone’s beliefs. To some this may sound like a rather restricted position, but it was the stance I was most comfortable with, and one of respect.

Although I had been a Christian until I was 17, by joining a Bible study I bit off a little more than I could chew. This wasn’t Bible "study", it was Bible worship. The history of Biblical texts is actually quite interesting, and how Jewish history and culture relates to some passages can be fascinating. However, what the group actually did was read passages and then discuss how they interpreted the reading, and how they could apply it to their lives. This gave me little room to contribute to discussions, because I'd have to presuppose the accuracy of the text in order to not sound like a complete jerk - which left me silent more often than not. In all, I joined two different Bible study groups over two semesters, and had relatively similar experiences in both. When I tell people this, I find it hard to explain that I was neither being disruptive nor was I secretly interested in returning to Christianity. I was looking for a unique experience, which is exactly what I found. The study groups were led by one person, who would lead the discussion and ask for other members' opinions. The main problem with the format of these groups was that when conflicting interpretations of the Bible arose, it was either ignored or blown off in some fashion. Although it would be impossible for Christians to all agree on the meaning of each passage of scripture, I think many don't speak out against the beliefs of others because they believe it would be disrespectful in some way. This stems from the "God is unknowable mentality that allows people with harmful beliefs to confirm their extremism with an "inerrant" source.

Being in a  Bible study group gave me an inside perspective on Christianity - though it was an admittedly awkward and generally uncomfortable one. Coming from the point of view of someone who was a Christian not so long ago, it was a good reminder of how easily people can fool themselves when they have the support of their peers. Some of you might think it would be amusing to see religious people hide behind a wall of irrationality - because it's true that figures like Brother Jed can be pretty comical at times. Seeing these students first hand, though, was truly sobering. It reminded me of religious friends I've lost, a community I'm no longer part of, and made me vividly recall a person I used to be. In the group around me, I saw the same unwavering faith I once knew. By the time we ended with prayer at one of the last spring meetings, though, I had begun to doubt anyone could walk freely out of Plato's Cave as I had done.

When I noticed two others in the group hadn’t bowed their heads, though, I knew I was wrong. As our eyes met, an incredible feeling came over me. At that moment, I knew there was hope. Hope that people can learn to think for themselves, hope that they can have the courage to stand out, but most of all, hope that those with blind faith can open their eyes and see again. Sometimes I wonder if those two students kept their heads raised for reasons other than mine - it's hard to tell for sure. Still, I like to think they were critical thinkers. Dreamers. Just normal people, with normal doubts. Perhaps more so than I - undercover atheists.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“Blasphemy ISSA an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense.”

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Student Alliance


Greetings, Bawdy Blasphemers!
Get ready for some mischief, because this week we will celebrate International Blasphemy Rights Day! Read on for details...

LLS Fundraising on the Quad
ISSA has joined the Foundation Beyond Belief's campaign to raise $1,000,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! We'll take to the Quad from noon to 4pm this Wednesday for "Hug An Atheist" -- $1 for awesome atheist hugs to raise money for a great cause! We hope you'll drop by to hug or be hugged, and/or join our fundraising team

Weekly Meeting
There is a special time/location for this week's meeting! It will take place this Thursday, Sept. 27th at 8:00pm in Chemistry Annex Room 112. Click here for a map. 

On The Agenda
The oh-so-blasphemous, banned-from-TV comedian Jamie Kilstein will be performing for us! Kilstein spoke at the Reason Rally earlier this year and is one of the co-hosts of the Citizen Radio podcast. He's a riot, so you won't want to miss it. And, did we mention, it's FREE? RSVP via the Facebook event page.

ISSA at Murphy's
After the show, 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 godless cohorts better!

Blasphemy Day de-Baptisms 
Join us on the Quad the next day -- Friday, Sept. 28th from Noon to 3pm South of the Union -- to bring the joy of Blasphemy Day to the rest of campus! Our president Derek Miller will be performing de-baptisms for passersby, and we'd love if if you would participate in the shenanigans.  RSVP via the Facebook event page.
Curtis Orchards
(Sunday, Oct. 7th)

Our yearly trip to Curtis Orchards is guaranteed awesome. Join us for hay rides, apples donuts, apple-picking, a petting zoo and a whole lotta kinship! Details to come.
Superstition Party
(Saturday, Oct. 13th)

Walk under ladders, break mirrors, pet a black cat, or get your fortune read at ISSA's first party of the year! Don't miss out; things are sure to get freaky.
Have you seen our blog?
Member posts are always welcome! Email us at 
lliniSSA@illinois.edu 
for more information.
Heathens gotta represent! Get your ISSAwear here.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It wouldn't be advISSAble to miss this week's FSM Spaghetti Dinner!



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Student Alliance




Greetings, propitious Pastafarians!
This week is all about skepticism and spaghetti! What could be better? Read on for details...

Weekly Meeting
This week's meeting will take place Thursday, Sept. 20th at 7:00pm in 1064 Lincoln Hall. Click here for a map.

On The Agenda
President of CU-Freethinkers and long-time friend of the group Phil Ferguson will be giving a presentation on the homeopathy and the dangers of medical pseudoscience. Plus, we'll give you a chance to joining ISSA's fundraising team for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and/or register to vote in the upcoming elections!
ISSA at Murphy's
After the screening, 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 godless cohorts better!

FSM Spaghetti Dinner
It's that time again, fellow Pastafarians! In honor of His Noodliness, who is holier than a colander, we will be eating all the spaghetti, meatballs, and garlic bread we can -- for the low, low price of $5! Join us this Friday, Sept. 21st at 7pm at Neal's place in Urbana. RSVP via the Facebook event page or email us for the address. Dress like a pirate, wear a colander, or just bring your sense of fun!

Blasphemy Day
w/ Jamie Kilstein
(Thurs, Sept. 27th)

Be there as ISSA celebrates Blasphemy Day International in style -- with a free evening show by banned-from-TV comedian Jamie Kilstein! Plus, debaptisms on the Quad the next day from 11am to 2pm! RSVP via the Facebook event page.

Curtis Orchards
(Sunday, Oct. 7th)

Our yearly trip to Curtis Orchards is guaranteed awesome. Join us for hay rides, apples donuts, apple-picking, a petting zoo and a whole lotta kinship! Details to come.


Have you seen our blog?
Member posts are always welcome! Email us at
lliniSSA@illinois.edu 
for more information.
Heathens gotta represent! Get your ISSAwear here.


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Saturday, September 15, 2012

What ISSA is doing to help Light the Night

Way back in July, I wrote about the recent campaign by secular groups across the nation to raise 1 million dollars for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I talked about the variety of wonderful services they provide and how ISSA will be joining the campaign to Light the Night. I'd now like to talk a little about what ISSA is going to be doing, as well as introduce a side project of my own to raise money for this wonderful cause.

When we found out about Light the Night, there was unfortunately no walk scheduled in the Champaign area. So ISSA has decided to spearhead Champaign's first Light the Night walk. Working with local businesses, faith groups, and other student organizations, on October 20th we will be showing our support and raising money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I highly encourage you all to join us and donate if you can. We will also be running a variety of other fundraising events over the next month or so. Those of you who would like to donate, you can go to our ISSA team page and donate there.

Of course, there's more to LLS fundraising than Light the Night; We will be fundraising in other ways, including having a variety of businesses on Green Street selling paper balloons for $1 to be signed by the buyer and displayed in the store. Several restaurants on campus will also be donating gift certificates to be raffled away at our Light the Night walk. Our other efforts will include running weekly Hug an Atheist events on the Quad, where we charge $1 a hug with proceeds to benefit the LLS, as well as a few other events which will be announced as plans are finalized. 

So that's what ISSA is doing. Now, I'd like to personally sweeten the deal for you, and give you something fun in exchange for your donation. Those of you who know me have probably noticed I have an accent of sorts. In fact, it's not uncommon for people to meet me and immediately request that I say something in it. Perhaps you yourself have some delightful phrase stored up and need to satisfy your craving for some sweet Anglo-Saxon argot. Well, I'd love to oblige you. 

Starting today, if you donate money towards this wonderful cause I will, whether in person or via Youtube, say whatever phrase, sentence, paragraph, poem, song lyrics, bedtime stories, or sweet nothings in your ear that you request. My base rate is 1 dollar per sentence you would like spoken, no limits on donation size or submission length. All you have to do is donate to LtN team IlliniSSA-FBB under my name, Daniel Hay (look on the right, under the donate to the team sidebar), and list the phrase you want said and a way to contact you (email preferably) in the comments. Alternatively you can contact me at accentuatedatheism@gmail.com. I made a video... Check it out!



Please consider donating. It's a wonderful cause! And, as always, thank you for your time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Lord ISSA Not On Trial Here Today -- free screening this week!



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Illini Secular
Student Alliance




Greetings, gnarly nonbelievers!
This week is a big one for ISSA, and we want you to be a part of it! Read on for details, and don't forget that it's not too late to sign up for our upcoming game of ISSAssins!

LLS Fundraising on the Quad
ISSA has joined the Foundation Beyond Belief's campaign to raise $1,000,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! We'll take to the Quad from noon to 4pm this Wednesday for "Hug An Atheist" -- $1 for awesome atheist hugs to raise money for a great cause! We hope you'll drop by to hug or be hugged, and/or join our fundraising team!

FREE Documentary Screening
In lieu of a meeting this week, we're hosting a FREE screening of U of I Professor Jay Rosenstein's award-winning documentary The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today, which details the activism of one remarkable Champaign woman and the Supreme Court case that forever changed the relationship between religion and public schools in America. Join us this Thursday, Sept. 13th at 7pm at the Art Theatre in Downtown Champaign. Click here for directions, and be sure to RSVP via the Facebook event page! If you're driving, please note that there is paid parking near the Art Theater for around $2. Otherwise, meet us at the Illini Union Engineering Side bus stop at 6:15 to catch the Green to Church & Randolph.
ISSA at Murphy's
After the screening, 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 godless cohorts better!

Flying Spaghetti Monster Spaghetti Dinner
(Friday, Sept. 21st)

Pasta sure beats communion wafers... Praise FSM! He boiled for your sins, so you better eat up! Details to come.
Curtis Orchards
(Sunday, Oct. 7th)

Our yearly trip to Curtis Orchards is guaranteed awesome. Join us for hay rides, apples donuts, apple-picking, a petting zoo and a whole lotta kinship! Details to come.

Blasphemy Day
w/ Jamie Kilstein
(Thurs, Sept. 27th)

Be there as ISSA celebrates Blasphemy Day International in style -- with a free evening show by banned-from-TV comedian Jamie Kilstein! Plus, debaptisms on the Quad the next day from 11am to 2pm! RSVP via the Facebook event page.


Have you seen our blog?
Member posts are always welcome! Email us at
lliniSSA@illinois.edu 
for more information.
Heathens gotta represent! Get your ISSAwear here.


Not diggin' it? Click here to unsubscribe.







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