by Bjorn Watland
On a crisp November evening at the University of Minnesota, a surprisingly large crowd gathered in a basement auditorium to hear from Sunsara Taylor, an unapologetic Revolutionary Communist and militant atheist. Hearing the views of a communist isn't as shocking as it may be in other arenas of the public; however, it isn't often that a communist will admit that they're also an atheist. Taylor is not ashamed of either her Revolutionary Communism, or her atheism, as she presented Bob Avakian's book, Away With All Gods.
Taylor's presentation began with a description of the horrors that await readers of the bible. "I wouldn't give this book to young children to read," Taylor said. She called the bible, "the most blood-thirsty book," mentioning specifics such as the practice of stoning women who were not virgins on their wedding night; God commanding soldiers to kill children, men, and women who have known a man, but to leave the virgins for themselves; and the series of plagues sent by God.
Taylor claimed that the New and Old Testaments can not be separated from each other, as some more progressive Christians try to do. Jesus is often separated from the horrors of the Old Testament, however, by what basis would you consider Jesus to the divine without fulfillment of the prophecies found within the Old Testament? "Jesus is not someone you would want to follow or should follow," Taylor exclaimed. "He didn't end slavery; instead he taught how slaves should be obedient to their masters. He didn't stop patriarchy. He continued to preach that disease and illness are caused by sin."
Read more: Sunsara Taylor at U of MN on "Away With All Gods"
The British Humanist Association led the way in promoting a humanist/atheist advertising campaign. Since then, COCORE and the American Humanist Association have released their own campaigns in the air on billboards and on buses in Washington D.C. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a long history of ads, including a few which have been taken down.
Now, Minnesota Atheists could do the same thing. As a non profit, we can get a good deal on advertising on billboards. The billboards are usually half the size of a full billboard, 22' by 10'. To get the non profit rate on advertising, which is less than $500 an ad for 4 weeks, we need to follow some rules. Our message can't be controversal, specifically with regards to religion. With that restriction in place, what are your ideas for a friendly atheist ad? Do you think we should bother? Let us know in the comments.
the Minnesota Atheists board of directors will occur at our January
18, 2009 meeting at the Roseville Library and elections
will be held at our February 15, 2009 meeting. Nominations
will open and close at the January 18 meeting. We will publish and
mail candidates' statements prior to the February 15 meeting
There are nine
positions to fill, elected in the following order: President,
Associate President, Chair, Associate Chair, Treasurer, Secretary,
and three Directors-at-Large. Our bylaws provide that anyone who
runs for one position and loses may run again for any other position
that has not yet been elected.
Some incumbents will
be running for reelection but there will also be some vacant seats.
All terms are for one year. Now is your chance to step forward and
help guide Minnesota Atheists!
Candidates for all but
the three director-at-large positions must have been members of
Minnesota Atheists for at least one year as of the time they assume
office, March 1, 2009. Candidates for the three director-at-large
positions must have members for six months.
You must be nominated
by another Minnesota Atheists member. You cannot nominate yourself.
You need not be present to be nominated. (If you wish to nominate
someone not at the January 18 meeting, please check beforehand to
make sure that person is willing to serve if elected.)
Nominees should send
candidate's statements (up to 150 words) to the MNA newsletter
editors firstname.lastname@example.org by January 24, 2009. We would also
like to have a jpg headshot of each candidate.
For more information,
contact the editorial staff at email@example.com.
For many years,
Minnesota Atheists has published a combined November-December
newsletter. This is because the main thing that happens in December
is our winter solstice party, which we advertise in the
November-December newsletter and often with a special separate
mailing in December, as we did this year.
production of a newsletter takes dozens of hours that our volunteers
often find hard to offer amidst the many parties and family
gatherings that occur in December.
Finally, we try to
save the organization (our members) money where we can.
However, at the
suggestion of Bjorn and Jeannette Watland, we decided to try an
experiment that would cost us nothing and would provide those of us
who desire it with our monthly installment of local atheist news and
comment. We decided to publish a December e-newsletter.
There are some atheist
groups that have totally abandoned paper newsletters (if they ever
had them in the first place). Call me old-fashioned, and some of you
young whippersnappers under age 30 will, but I still like holding and
reading a paper newsletter in my hands, rather than squinting at a
easy to forget to read one e-mail out of the hundred I get each day.
In contrast, I get about ten pieces of snail mail a day, half of
which I quickly and easily toss into recycling. This makes it easy
to spot my buff-colored Minnesota Atheists newsletter and set it
aside for later reading in my commodious reading room.
But, I realize that
the internet is the future that is upon us. Resistance is futile.
So, enjoy this "bonus" issue of our newsletter. And rest
assured that anything of great importance to our members - such
as the announcement of our annual elections - will be repeated
in the January 2009 paper newsletter.
August Berkshire is the President of Minnesota Atheists and the Vice President of Atheist Alliance International.
Colorado Springs, long known by some as the The Protestant Vatican, will be seeing some signs ... not from god.
On Monday, billboards that say, "Don't Believe in God You are not alone" will wind up peppering the state of Colorado, one in Colorado Springs,and ten in the Denver area. Inspired by the recent bus sign campaign in the UK, The Colorado Coalition of Reason is renting the billboards for four weeks. Meanwhile, the Freedom From Religion Foundation will be funding an even larger campaign to put up atheist billboards in 46 states.
Most of us drive by several Christian billboards on our way to and from work. It is nice to have at least a few of them that speak to us atheists, even if it is only for a short time.
No doubt, cries of persecution will be heard.
On the right hand side of the web page there's a poll. Should MN Atheists put up a billboard? Be sure to vote.