Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beat the Heat Update

We've run our "Beat the Heat" fundraiser for about 10 days now and the response has been incredible! We've raised over $800 to buy air conditioners for needy families in the Northeast Mississippi area and we're about to make it happen. Within the next few days, we intend to purchase the air conditioners and get them installed in the homes. As promised, we'll post the receipts and whatever photos the families will allow us to take.

By no means is this campaign over. August will probably be just as hot and horrible as July so we're going to keep this fundraiser going for anyone else who wants to contribute. No amount is too small! Even if we don't raise enough for more air conditioners, we can use the remainder to buy energy-efficient light bulbs for these homes that will reduce heat output and energy costs. We are also looking at sharing other energy-saving ideas with these people so they can maintain the benefits that we've helped them start.

Please, if you haven't done so, consider helping the people of our area. And if you cannot donate, spread the word for us. Our local churches are busy looking to the skies and praying for rain. We want to be the helping hands that make the difference instead. Thank you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Humanists "Beat the Heat" Campaign

We have just learned tonight that there are 105 people in Tippah County, Mississippi, who are on a long waiting list for air conditioning. Given the record-breaking temperatures here and the fact that so many of these people are elderly, disabled, or have small children, it is no understatement to say that these peoples' lives are in jeopardy.

Because we believe in social justice and we know that no gods are going to solve this problem, we humanists are ready to do something about it! We want to raise as much money as possible to buy air conditioners for these families so they will not needlessly suffer through this incredibly harsh summer. Even a small window unit will make a big difference - especially for those people who have allergies, breathing disorders, or are at high-risk for dehydration. And the best part is that this air conditioner unit will give a family several years of relief. The small investment you make now will pay out immediate and long-term benefits.

How can you help? The easiest way is to click the button on the right side of our page and give to the cause. You do not have to have a Paypal account to do so and your information is secure - we will never see it. Likewise, we aren't going to publish your name in the local paper or on this blog so you don't have to be worried about being "outted" as an atheist. In fact, we'll be happy to accept your donation if you're a believer who wants to do something good. The only thing we care about is getting air conditioners for those who need them!

If you work at a store that sells air conditioners and you can get us a discount, that would also be a great help.

Finally, if you spread the word to all your friends and family, we have a much better shot of raising enough money to help all these people. I'll take 100 people giving $5.00 just as quickly as I'd take one person giving $500.00. In the end, the person getting the life-saving air conditioning won't mind.

How can you be sure your money is going to this cause? We have a widget on the right that keeps track of how much we've raised. When we get enough money, we will purchase the air conditioners and post pictures of the receipts. Our plan is to also get some pictures of us turning the air conditioners over as well.

We are always saying that, "Hands that help are better than lips that pray." Let's show Mississippi that we mean it! These folks are desperately hoping that their god is going to help them. If we do nothing, the only relief they may find is on the other side of the grave. We can make a difference - we can give 105 people something to REALLY believe in ... humanity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Price of Faith

A Baptist church recently returned from a mission trip to Africa and, unfortunately, they brought something deadly back with them: hemorrhagic fever.

This is a very serious, often fatal disease. Think Ebola and you're on the right track. Risk factors for the illness include prior infection, being white, female, or young. There is no cure.

Science-based treatment was able to alleviate the symptoms and give these people a greater chance of survival. Fortunately, every victim survived but they can never go back to Africa lest they run the risk of dying next time. It's a tragic story.

But what's also interesting is the idea that these people went to Africa to do something they thought was good and their god gave them no protection. Faith was no shield. Belief made no difference. They were just as subject to the harsh whims of nature as anyone else - nay, moreso!

Perhaps some would say that "God had a plan" for them. I think it's painfully obvious that nature had a plan: survive. Yahweh didn't send mosquitoes to infect his missionaries so he could test their faith. Mosquitoes did what mosquitoes do and the rest is all science. There's no great purpose to their suffering. There's no great plan to be fulfilled. There is just human misery and death.

At this point, the only thing I can hope is that these people will continue to recover and suffer no long-term effects from this illness. And I also hope that they will choose not to go back to Africa and put themselves at risk for their silent god. Let these people have a long and happy life with their families and if Yahweh wants to tell the rest of the world about his plan of salvation, well, let him do it himself.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Don't Think, Believe!

From the Department of Irresponsible Religious Quotes we have this:

Yes, folks. Don't spend any time trying to figure this stuff out. Don't try to understand the shit you're being asked to believe or the code you're being told you must live your life by. Don't waste a moment evaluating Biblical claims or assessing Biblical morals - just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and leap out on faith.

Why live this way? Because if you don't evaluate the evidence and just trust the religion, you can deny responsibility for your beliefs and the consequences of those beliefs. It's the lazy way out. It's the immoral way out.

Don't think about - just believe and obey!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nothing Rakes in the Cash Like Prayer

It's that time again! Time for Don Wildmon and the AFA to start raking in the cash off their feel-good, do-nothing, overpriced buttons.

Our children and grandchildren will be paying for our collective sins their entire lives if we don’t change directions quickly. We are facing the most critical and important election this nation has ever faced.

What is the solution? Button-based prayer!

Would you be willing to endorse I PRAY FOR AMERICA; to promote it in the circles where you have influence; ask others to participate and promote I PRAY FOR AMERICA?

If only we had truth-in-advertising laws. Then it might read more like: Would you be willing to buy our buttons and pester your friends and family until they buy our buttons too? But wait! They are also available as bumper stickers too!

I PRAY FOR AMERICA requires no meetings, no travel and no budget, only a prayer to a merciful God to forgive and heal our land.

Actually, it does require a budget. It requires that you buy the bumper stickers (10 for $10) or buttons (10 for $12) so you can signal to the rest of society how morally superior you are.

Ask your pastor to urge participation by your church members. Ask a Sunday school class to promote it in your community.

Push our merchandise, dammit, or else you're unpatriotic and unAmerican! Oh, and Happy July 4th.

Here's a thought. How about quit wasting your time and money on prayer and actually do something. Pick up a book and learn something new. Go volunteer your time at shelters or soup kitchens. Start a meetup group in your area to address local challenges. Do anything except put a ratty-ass bumper sticker on your car to glorify yourself.

Do it to help your country and to make Don Wildmon sad. What other reasons do you need?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sweet Home (White) Alabama

It doesn't matter how moral you are, how much theology you know, or how many charitable acts you do. All that matters is that you're WHITE.

America wasn't created for freedom and equality. It was created for white Christian males to dominate and reign over the lesser folks. That's what these clowns want to bring back - dominion.

Whether you are atheist or Christian, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, you'd best make a lot of noise against this kind of thing. Better yet, let our pathetic excuses for politicians know that you will not vote for anyone who associates, condones, or excuses this type of bigotry.

The City of Winfield is not happy about it and they're planning to have their own shindig instead. What are you going to do?

Bryan Fischer's Fishy Poll

Our favorite nut it as it again, claiming that 83% of doctors are considering quitting because of Obamacare. 

If that sounds insane to you, it should. Fischer's numbers are nowhere near as meaningful as he'd like to think. Let's take a look at the survey on the Doctor Patient Medical Association's website. The item in question is this one:

As you can see, 60% agree + 20% undecided does not "83% are thinking of quitting" make. But the problem here is more insidious than a simple misinterpretation of the data. This survey was taken in 2011 over a one-week span by fax to random Ohio doctors. That does not make for a very representative sample of American doctors, particularly when you consider that only 2.9% of those who were sent the survey (a total of 133 doctors) actually responded. We can't really take away much from this survey at all because it's not scientific. It has a target audience with no controls and a very small sample size.

For Bryan Fischer to use this survey to claim that "83% of doctors are thinking of quitting" is irresponsible and disingenuous.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why You Should Attend an Atheist Conference

If you are an atheist, you might have been so put off by the civil war regarding sexism and harassment that you don't want to be anywhere near an atheist gathering. I understand that feeling as I've said here. However, I think I have a solution to that despair - one that certainly worked well for me.

Just fucking go.

Forget the bullshit and the whining, the fighting and the name-calling, the eye-rolling and the caterwauling and just go to a meeting. Large or small, doesn't matter. National, state, or local - makes no difference. Find a meetup and go.

Despite my deep despair over how the atheist internet community has become a rather unwelcoming and hostile space, I thought back about how all my real-life, in-person gatherings have been fabulous. So Nathan and I put on our DFFT t-shirts, packed our bags, and went to the Alabama Freethought Association's Glorious Fourth at Lake Hypatia. And guess what? It was wonderful! It was the best medicine yet.

It's one thing to read great blogs but it's quite another thing to meet Al Stefanelli, JT Eberhard, and Dr. Darrel Ray and find out that they are warm, caring, friendly human beings. And when I say those words, I mean them. I'm talking about people who laughed with me, listened to me, hugged me in both joy and sorrow. Real folks with real feelings. 

It's tempting to let the internet become our idea of what the world really looks like and maybe to some degree it is. But it's also true that there is the face-to-face world where we can find greater empathy and solidarity with others. If our efforts to spread skepticism and freethinking values is to succeed, we must be willing to communicate those values with others and reinforce them in our community. We must be willing to work with others and to encourage each other. Conferences can do that. They can give us a place to come together, have fun, learn new things, and figure out how to be better people.

We can't sit around and wait for our community to be perfect. Indeed, I would argue that our community is not a place for perfect people - it's a place for people who are continually striving to learn more and be better people. Just as Christians tell you that you can't wait for the church to be perfect, neither can we sit around wringing our hands and waiting for our time to come. We must show up at these meetings and work for what we want. 

In this vein, I'm going to stop sitting around and waiting for the perfect post to come into my head. Instead, I'm going to try to write here every day and, if the post isn't perfect, so what? At least I will be moving in the right direction.

So too do I encourage you to stop waiting for a comfortable moment and seize the day. Do what you can - no matter how small. Go to a local meetup. Get involved in a conversation. Start that blog. Make a small move and the next will be easier and easier until, before you know it, you're taking large strides. That's how our community is going to get larger, better, and more effective.

So find a local meetup or a conference close by. Grab a friend or two and go. Do it and become part of our community instead of someone just sitting on the sidelines. Do it today because the world needs to hear our voice and the atheist community needs to hear yours.