Today we set up the Ask an Atheist table again at Speakers’ Circle, and handed out approximately 150 of these flyers:
We got overwhelmingly positive responses at the table; we had a few very good discussions and helped several people understand what we mean by the word “atheist”/”agnostic,” why we do what we do, how atheists make ethical decisions, etc. We told a lot of people about events we have planned for this year, and I think we’re going to have even more people at our next meeting than we did at our last one, especially considering we haven’t put up the bulk of the posters yet!
Coincidentally, there were independently two (unrelated) street preachers at the circle today, as well. The first up was a 40ish man with a thick Alabama accent and a VERY loud voice who read from his bible incessantly for several hours. He was completely uninterested in opening a dialogue and simply yelled bible verses at students. A few people sat and listened, but he didn’t really have a crowd going. I went over and tried to start a conversation with him, but gave up after about 5 minutes – every time I asked him a question, e.g. “You quote the bible, but why do you believe in the bible?” or “What’s your name?” he simply said “Not now” and continued reading his bible to the open air. I don’t think he really reached anyone.
Sister Cindy preached next, but honestly I didn’t get a chance to listen to her, since I was back at the table by then. I did see that she was holding up a condom, so I imagine she was talking about “fornication!!!!!” I do think it’s interesting that, according to Brother Jed’s journal about today, he was worried about a young guy named Marcus who all set to get saved, but changed his mind at the last minute because he realized that he would have to obey the bible in its entirety (according to Jed), and believing and obeying the Christian bible meant turning against his sister, who’s gay. (Jed quoted Luke 14:26 in his journal, which reads: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”) I think it’s ironic that Sister Cindy was preaching today, considering that apparently she believes it’s alright to pick and choose from the bible (see 1 Timothy 2:11-12).
We’ve discussed this before at meetings, but I think it’s worth mentioning: Our table has a big sign that says “Ask an Atheist” (see yesterday’s post for a photo), and we’re wondering if we’re really approaching our tabling with the right goal in mind. Although we do want to chat with people who are curious about atheism and help them understand better what it means, we are also—primarily, even—seeking other atheists who are interested in joining our group. The sign we’re using now doesn’t really work well for that purpose. We get a lot of people giving us thumbs-up as they walk by, or taking pictures of our sign and waving at us, or telling us “Keep up the good work!” and so on, but we want those people to stop at the table and learn about our group! Those who did approach us, often, didn’t even realize we were part of a group that has regular meetings, as much as just taking it upon ourselves to answer people’s questions about atheism. I think we’ll need to make a new sign with something more direct, for example, “Atheist? Join the club!” or something along those lines to accompany the one we have now.
After we finished tabling, we went to the LGBTQ Resource Center‘s welcome pizza party. It was great! So many people having fun, getting to know each other, and knowing that have a safe place on campus to learn, read, and not have to worry about people not understanding them. This is the type of thing of which we need more, not Brother Jed telling people that they are “not worthy” because they’re not willing to “hate” their sisters simply for being gay. I am honestly tired of Christians, mostly who haven’t ever read the bible, trying to convince me that Jesus was all about love and peace. The character of Jesus as portrayed in the bible doesn’t exactly match the glowing beacon of acceptance your youth pastor told you about, guys… sorry to burst your bubble!
People who use reason, logic, and evidence to decide how to weigh what’s acceptable or not are the people I want to hang around, and an ethical (and legal) system based on critical examination and rationality is the kind of system under which I want to live. Richard Dawkins explains it well in this clip, I think (and gets a round of applause, as well):
Until next time!
Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, he posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website ishttp://www.DaveMuscato.com.