By Eric Jayne
Thank you for visiting our website and taking an interest in us. If you’re reading this you likely know about our upcoming sponsored St. Paul Saints baseball game. As a way to celebrate our identity and extend our fun to others, the St. Paul Saints agreed to an atheist sponsored game in which the team name will be changed for one night. While the reaction from the freethinking community has been very positive, it’s been a mix of positive and negative from everyone else. Most of the negative feedback has come from misconceptions (often perpetrated by bloggers and some media outlets) about our purpose for holding the “Night of Unbelievable Fun”. Because of that I thought that I would address some of the most common accusations permeating in the media and blogosphere:
You are mocking Christianity by changing the name of the team.
-- No. The team is not a Christian team and the team name wasn’t chosen to honor Christianity. We just put a fun twist on the team and city name for our sponsored event as a way to playfully promote ourselves. If sports teams were reverent to their team names and mascots what would we think of the Arizona State Sun Devils, New Jersey Devils, DePaul Demons, Duke Blue Devils, and the oddly named Demon Deacons of Wake Forest? Many of those I just listed are Christian-affiliated private schools, by the way.
You are being irreverent by changing the name of the city to “Mr. Paul”.
-- It's important to note that we are not in any way officially changing--or suggesting to change--the name of the city. Also, unless the collective St. Paul citizenry and/or baseball franchise is devoutly dedicated and reverent toward Paul the Apostle we're not really being "irreverent". Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and other non-Christians who live in St. Paul and attend Saints games would certainly feel ostracized if the city and team had an official religious identity. Fortunately the city and team are secular.
I heard that you're going to lead the crowd to sing "Dog Bless America".
-- I heard that the Loch Ness Monster ate Big Foot but that doesn’t make it true. Not only would that be a lame stunt, but it doesn’t fit with the fun and welcoming theme of the evening. Besides, the Saints baseball team did not follow the relatively recent trend of some MLB teams to showcase God Bless America performances during the 7th inning anyway. The origin of this story seems to have stemmed from a blogger completely unaffiliated with MNA who had an active imagination.
The Saints are promoting atheism so I will no longer attend their games.
-- The Saints are not endorsing atheism but they are demonstrating acceptance and tolerance by adding atheists to the communities that they work with and we should all commend them for that. They have worked with groups of faith and many cultures so we are grateful that they are treating us with equal respect. The icing on the proverbial cake is that it looks as though they are inadvertently teaching us all a lesson in tolerance.
You’re not going to convert me to atheism by sponsoring a baseball game.
-- Good. We’re not interested in converting you. We’re interested in having fun and celebrating our community’s shared identity while reaching out to other freethinkers, atheists, secularists, humanists, and whoever else is interested in learning more about American Atheists, Minnesota Atheists, and/or atheism in general.
For more information about atheism read Minnesota Atheists president August Berkshire’s Atheism 101 essay. If you’d like to read about personal experiences about local atheists in Minnesota check out the upcoming anthology, Atheist Voices of Minnesota. The personal stories are from college students, parents, grandparents, gays, lesbians, men, women, scientists, former bible school teachers, and so much more. The book is due to be released on August 28 but we’re taking advanced orders on this website, Barnes and Noble, and on Amazon. It will also be available in eBook format for Nook and Kindle.
There are still some seats left at our regional conference the day after the baseball game (8/11). You can still register online or at the door. It's $49 for admission or $10 if you are a student and/or under 25. Lunch and dinner options are available to order for an additional charge.
The eight speakers are:
Dave Silverman (President of American Atheist),
Hector Avalos (author of Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence),
Jessica Ahlquist (the student who fought the posting of a prayer at her Rhode Island high school)
Ayanna Watson (president of Black Atheists of America)
Robert M. Price (author of The Case Against The Case for Christ and The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems)
Teresa MacBain (past executive director of The Clergy Project, for clergy who are secretly atheists)
PZ Myers (author of Pharyngula, the world’s most popular atheist-science blog)
J. Anderson Thomson (author of Why We Believe in God[s]: A Concise Guide to the
Science of Faith).