Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Recruiting into an Atheist Organization

I'm an active officer in our university's atheist group on campus that has recently been started up. Previously, we had another organization of which I was a member of that fell apart due to various reasons.

This new organization, however, seems to be run by a group of strong-willed, like minded individuals who can keep this club active and quite strong. One of the main goals of this summer has been to work on our recruitment of new members. What better way to do this than through the Freshman Orientation Organization Fairs?

We had one such fair this past Sunday and we had many students stop by and sign up for more information as well as talk to us about what the organization is about. For each person that signed up, however, we had 2 freshmen (often with their families), literally speed up and turn away from our booth. Several made under-their-breath statements just loud enough for those of us in earshot to make out what they said. Needless to say, more often than not, they weren't the kindest of words.

A few families approached our booth and spoke with us and later I noticed them signing up for information at several of the Christian organizations the school also has. I enjoyed speaking with these individuals and they seemed genuinely interested in learning about our club, but I wonder if they were interested in finding out if we were heathens more so than a group trying to bring individuals together that have similar beliefs or wish to learn more about atheism and its related schools of thought.

In the past, I've often felt scared to admit my atheism to my friends. For the entirety of my life, atheists have been the most hated demographic in America. It wasn't until later in college when I found the first atheist group on campus that I felt comfortable with actively talking about it.

I hope this new group will provide the ability and strength to freely admit their atheism to the incoming freshmen as well as other students. I feel much more comfortable with who I am and what I believe. In fact, I can now stand at a booth and admit to complete strangers that I am atheist and I help run an organization of atheists. It's very liberating and I hope to be able to share this with new members.

The fall is quickly approaching and I'm excited to get a move on things and find out what other students would like to see com from this organization. I've got a series of lectures I want to write and deliver, we have many social events such as bowling and BBQs planned, and we'd like to bring in guest speakers and go on field trips with the group.

Even after last night's fiasco in the Home Run Derby, I'm not sure I've ever been more proud to be an atheist than I am right now. Let's hope that I, as well as everyone else involved with this group or blog, can keep the momentum up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"It's a lousy night to be an atheist."

Did I really just hear this phrase during the MLB Homerun Derby on ESPN from one of the commentators? I may have been mistaken, but I believe I did hear this in response to Josh Hamiliton's success in the first round. He is said to have had a dream telling him he'd be playing in the Homerun Derby in Yankee Stadium shortly after finding religion and cleaning up his heroin and cocaine addictions.

Now I'm all for people getting their act together and becoming a better person for it. I also have no problem with those that have discovered religion is an answer for them. What I do have a problem with is a statement like "It's a lousy night to be an atheist."

I had not planned for this to be my first blog entry, but I must retort! It's never a lousy night to be an atheist! I know that I personally live a rich and full life without the need for religion to fill some sort of imaginary hole in my heart. There has yet to be a moment in my life when I've wished that I've believed in a god of some sort, especially not while watching an exhibition sporting event.

I mean who says something like that. "It's a lousy night to be an atheist." I just don't get what that has to do with it.

Edit 1: Having searched online after having initially written this, I've found others who have heard the same comment and thus can confirm I wasn't just imagining things.

Edit 2: I have sent an email to ESPN explaining my disgust with the comment and I've called for a public apology. Who knows, however, if'll they'll listen to just some random guy that no one cares about?

I would appreciate it if you find such a statement to be inappropriate for a live broadcast of the Home Run Derby to fill out a complaint at the following webaddress and ask for a public apology, and should you choose, for the line to be removed from future rerun broadcasts of the Derby.http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/contact