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The Out Campaign - Comments

ksskidude's Avatar Comment 1 by ksskidude

Its scary as hell coming out in a red state like MO. But I did indeed do just that. Here is my letter to the editor called, "The New Brights, and Why I Am One Of Them."
I understand that many have issues with the term Bright, but my local paper would not print anything I wrote with Atheist in it. So I altered it a bit, and got a response. They have confirmed that I wrote it, and said they plan on printing it. Only time will tell

I am a liitle nervous, but all in all pleased with what I have done.

Here is the Editorial I wrote,

What is a Bright you ask? According to the Brights Web site http://www.the-brights.net , a bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview. Whose worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements. In a nutshell, we do not believe in a god or gods. Brights are individuals who do not think alike on many issues, and it is not our desire to press for conformity.

My journey to becoming a bright started long ago. I have always been skeptical and inquisitive. So when my questions about god or the bible were unanswered or answered with, "God works in mysterious ways," I would walk away frustrated, angry and dejected. As I became more educated I learned of many other religions and many other ways to view the world. With this knowledge I was forced conclude, they all can't be correct.

So who was right? Talk to a Christian and they will tell you, they have the one true path to God. Ask a Muslim, they will tell you that they have the one true path, etc.... This was no help either. So I read the bible, and the more I read, the more I was aghast at the cruelty and vengeance of God in the Old Testament. But when you are dead in the Old Testament, that was it. The New Testament God, while he has a great many lessons to teach, wants to punish you forever if you choose not to believe. This did not sound like a God of love to me.

All of this led me to become an agnostic. I felt that I could not prove whether god exists or not. Nor could anyone else for that matter. So agnosticism seemed the correct decision.

Then Amendment 2 (www.missouricures.com) became a huge issue in our state. I am a proponent and a staunch advocate for all forms of stem cell research, and was a member of the Missouri Coalition For Life Saving Cures. I would argue with opponents, and the one constant attack on the research was that it was against God's will. I would ask, how do they know? Former Senator and Episcopal Minister John Danforth, says otherwise. Of course I would ask Senator Danforth the same question.

I could not understand how one could make that argument, when they can not prove that God even exists. They were arguing on faith. All other arguments are easily countered because of science. This attack by the religious on the potential cures that could from stem cell research, was the tipping point for me. I began to read and study once again, and this time I read a book, called the God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, and The End Of Faith by Sam Harris, Atheism, A Case Against God by George Smith, and many many more.

The more I read, the brighter I became. The more knowledge I consumed about astronomy, biology, physics, geology, etc..the less and less the probability of the existence of god became. I became a bright, because my worldview does not include any supernatural or mystical elements. If you want to believe in the supernatural,that is your choice, just don't try to legislate it.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:08:00 UTC | #56538

quicksilver's Avatar Comment 2 by quicksilver

I'm in Lafayette, LA, aka Hell for Atheists. I will order a couple of large ones in red. It's either this, or physical infrastructure sabotage...while I live in this hellhole it's my duty to awaken the sleeping. :-)

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:20:00 UTC | #56542

Macho Nachos's Avatar Comment 3 by Macho Nachos

ksskidude, good for you! While I'm not a big fan of the term 'bright', that's a really good letter, and writing it to your paper is a courageous move - just the ticket for the OUT campaign.

I'm off to fight the good fight against an IDer trying to preach at Australian universities tonight. I only hope I get the opportunity to make my voice heard, and hope that anyone in the audience who is wavering doesn't buy his tripe.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:23:00 UTC | #56545

Happy Hominid's Avatar Comment 4 by Happy Hominid

I like it. Could we do better? Maybe. But who cares? The point is to stand up and say what you are and if most go along with The Scarlet A then it will become KNOWN. It's not much of a statement if a million atheists have a million different ways of showing it, because the average person won't recognize the symbol. If we can rally around one, even if we disagree whether it's the BEST, it will have impact. I'm in. It's already up.

http://evolutionarymiddleman.blogspot.com/

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:25:00 UTC | #56546

Milton's Avatar Comment 5 by Milton

How about FIND OUT? The more you learn about how the world works the less likely you are to find a need for belief in the supernatural. Could also mean 'find out' more about how many atheists there actually are.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:34:00 UTC | #56549

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 6 by Bonzai

As an urban Canadian the vast majority of my friends are atheists or agnostics, I have occasions to know some religious people but they are the ones in the closet. I don't know, it may be different in the U.s. But I haven't heard of atheists being bashed by having base ball bats descending on their skulls like gays do even in the red states. The analogy with gays is over the top IMO.

Some atheist chap from the U.S. came to my university to speak against ID. In the end he got a standing ovation and everyone in the Q&A segment agreed with him. He said, "what the hell is wrong with you people? It is the first time I have a 100% approval rating! I have prepared some brilliant points to debate creationists in the Q and A session and now I can't use them !" It was apparently the first time he visited Canada, all his previous speaking engagements were in the U.S. He oughted to have gone to Alberta if he wanted a good debate.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:40:00 UTC | #56550

ricey's Avatar Comment 7 by ricey

Are you uncomfortable with this "A" stuff?

As atheists we have the right to assert our opinions and a need to support one another in practical terms. However, I have misgivings about the net outcome of the "A" campaign (though it is infinately better than the "brights" idea).

Is the whole "out" thing becoming a little too politicised? Does it not run the risk of becoming a bit "cultish". Dosen't atheism abhore cults (I do)? Cults have the nasty habit of becomming "revered". Next thing you know, the texts of Dawkins et al become "the way" rather than the "out".

"The way" is individual self-examination based on reasoned contemplation. It is not cultish; not T-shirt wearing or manifested in any other form of flag-waving.

That said, if "A" draws attention to science and reason, perhaps there is a case to be made for it. But its dicey.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:59:00 UTC | #56554

theocide's Avatar Comment 8 by theocide

I have recently decided to come out. It is really scary because all my family are fundamentalists Christians. I can directly thank Richard Dawkins & Dan Barker for giving me the courage to come out and proclaim that I won't keep quite any more regarding my lack of belief in any gods.

Thank you Richard and Dan! Please keep up this important work. I'm sure there are many millions more like me that don't believe but don't speak out either.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:00:00 UTC | #56556

Henri Bergson's Avatar Comment 9 by Henri Bergson

Well said.

I'm glad you are sympathetic to the fact, Richard, that this movement smells like "quasi-religious conformity". Also that it is confined to the US and would be less effective in Europe.

But, if this is the only effective method by which to oppose religious political power in the US, so be it. Swallowing pride may be necessary there (note to my dissenters: it is swallowing pride).

On a more practical point, what would you suggest that Europe does to aid the US movement, as wearing 'A' t-shirts would be useless here, if not counter-productive?

Personally I think the first step is outlawing all faith schools (extreme child manipulation). But how?

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:02:00 UTC | #56558

CruciFiction's Avatar Comment 10 by CruciFiction

Theocide,

Good for you! And a special thanks for sharing with us.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:03:00 UTC | #56559

dazzjazz's Avatar Comment 11 by dazzjazz

To Deja Fu,

Perhaps Richard can use his new found fame to get the copyright owners to release that font!

I don't like it much, but I do think it's important for us to rally around some symbol for the medium term.

Darren

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:11:00 UTC | #56562

Morro's Avatar Comment 12 by Morro

I still don't like the parallel with homosexuality, but at least Richard addresse the issue. Thanks, Richard!

My problem with the parallel is that it seems to compare a state of being (straight/gay) with a set of beliefs (theist/atheist.) There are completely different rules as to how each may be treated, and should be treated. A state of being, whether it be gender, race, sexuality, etc. is not a choice. A world-view is. It's an opinion, albeit a fairly all-encompassing one.

I feel like the parallel is a reach for special respect that atheism, being a philosophy rather than a trait, just shouldn't be asking for. Just as the religious should not be able to claim that their views are equal to a race, neither should we be able to claim that our views are equal to a sexual orientation.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:20:00 UTC | #56563

Happy Hominid's Avatar Comment 13 by Happy Hominid

Deja Fu said, " don't think any books from Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Stenger, Hitchens, Sagan, et al, will overcome the embedded generation's brainwashing as children."

A couple of posts later Theocide said, " have recently decided to come out. It is really scary because all my family are fundamentalists Christians. I can directly thank Richard Dawkins & Dan Barker for giving me the courage to come out and proclaim that I won't keep quite any more regarding my lack of belief in any gods."

People DO change their positions. Yes, it can seem impossible with some folks and it may be so, in their lifetimes. The point, to me, is to start moving the numbers in our direction. Most atheists today were brought up in a religious tradition. We all changed. We probably didn't just "do it" in some vacuum. We read the thoughts of great minds and we paid attention to the realities of history and science vs. what we were taught and came to a conclusion - to COME OUT. Others will too. How many is partly up to us who are already there.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:25:00 UTC | #56564

Sten's Avatar Comment 14 by Sten

I live in a working class estate in the north of the UK, and I can tell you that no one here discusses religion much - I mean there are lots of folks who have 'faith', but very few know the texts in the bible beyond what they remembered at Sunday school or at the morning prayers when they were at regular school. They don't want to come out or in. I reckon most folks just hope they can continue somehow after they've dropped dead. I think it's wishful thinking, but that's the way people are. My gut feeling is that many folks who 'believe' round here, will not be told (or persuaded), to believe or not believe, they just want the comfort of the faith thing. Personally I think it's time the human race got a grip and took it on the chin when they expire, but humans have huge ego's so that's not going to happen just yet. Roll on evolution.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:29:00 UTC | #56565

jaydon64's Avatar Comment 15 by jaydon64

Good to see Aussies prepared to fight the good fight especially at our Universities, which are supposed to be places of higher education. Hope your voice was heard loud and clear Macho Nachos.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:36:00 UTC | #56566

firemancarl's Avatar Comment 16 by firemancarl

Hey, I work with another athiest firefighter here in the Daytona Beach area. I canna wait for my T Shirt. I will wear it with pride, ready to dash the bible thumpers with logic and reasoning which will no doubt cause their heads to explode!

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:39:00 UTC | #56567

JackR's Avatar Comment 19 by JackR

Good to see Richard weigh in on this, and to see him do so with his customary clarity.

By nature I am not a "joiner". I am not a very clubbable chap. But I feel so strongly that atheists need to become more visible, more open, more exposed. Remember that chilling recent statistic which showed that atheists are amongst the most mistrusted people in America? That, right there, is why this is a worthwhile campaign. It's not about getting in people's faces in order to be provocative or aggressive; it's about being open, about showing all those people who so mistrust atheists that we're actually decent, moral, non-scary people. And it's about making it okay to be openly atheist in those many areas of the world where it is anything but that right now.

I've always been an extremely vocal and unapologetic atheist, but I've also always recognised that to be so isn't easy for everyone. The anti-atheist prejudice is real, and in some areas quite vicious. So I'll wear the shirt as an expression of solidarity with those people more than as a personal expression of belief (or lack of) And also because I agree with Richard when he says, "We need to stand up and be counted, so that the demographically savvy culture will come to reflect our tastes and our views. That in turn makes it easier for the next generation of atheists."

Those of us who grew up in the relatively enlightened post-war era, in which religion was very much in retreat in the west, have been complacent. That has allowed the madness to take root and thrive again. No more complacency. This is worth shouting about.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:42:00 UTC | #56570

firemancarl's Avatar Comment 18 by firemancarl

Side note.

I would like to see the "A" large and in the backround and the atom superimposed on top of it. that wuold look kickass in my opinion!

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:42:00 UTC | #56569

Damien White's Avatar Comment 17 by Damien White

I've got a t-shirt winging it's way to me down here in Adelaide, The City Of Churches, and once it's arrived i'll be wearing it, and eagerly looking out for others!
United we stand, divided we fall.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:42:00 UTC | #56568

dhweaver's Avatar Comment 20 by dhweaver

I live in Lancaster, PA. Yeah, I'm talking about the place where thousands of people are partying like it's 1699. Ok, so most people around here aren't Amish, but the red here is deep and dark. 75% of my relatives the women wear coverings and the men drive black cars. In their churches, the women sit on the one side and the men sit on the other (in order that they don't have sexual thoughts during prayer service. I'M NOT KIDDING!!!) Coming out scares me to death. I envy you people who live in areas of the world that are so tolerant to individual beliefs.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:50:00 UTC | #56571

USA_Limey's Avatar Comment 21 by USA_Limey

Ok, that's it: time to put up or shut up. I have been toying with the idea for around a year now of trying to start up some kind of atheist/humanist group in my own patch, (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), but have kept coming up with excuses not to.

My pledge: I will now try to do so.

Oh and I'll get a T-shirt.

First step: anyone on this site in my neck of the woods who'd be interested in exchanging ideas?

USA_Limey

aka Ian the ex pat Brit in Pittsburgh, PA

_________________________________________________
Carousel is a lie! There is no renewal!

~ Logan

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 15:59:00 UTC | #56574

Sten's Avatar Comment 22 by Sten

Folks - (FiremanCarl, Damien, Jack, DhWeaver, Macho, USA_Limey), you must be under siege out there from religious dogma etc. It's unknown where I live. I've been mulling over the idea of going to some church just see if there are any folks up here who actually believe in the actual literal word of the bible....I have no one on the ground out here to argue over religion with. It's soul destroying!! Cheers.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:10:00 UTC | #56575

Lil_Xunzian's Avatar Comment 23 by Lil_Xunzian

Thank Tlaloc I'm living to see all this go down. I really actually didn't even realize how big of a problem religion was in my own damn country (America) until I left Ct and went to college. Ct's famous for two things (aside from cash-monay and cuteness): Yale New Haven and the pharmaceutical companies (namely, Bayer, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb). So, we had A LOT of scientists and doctors around, so religion didn't play a very big part in most people's lives, even if most people weren't out-and-out atheists. Research scientists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, regular psychologists, professors, etc. abounded! Then, however, I went to college and got acquainted with many of my schoolmates' religious beliefs, and my responses ranged from "you can't be serious" to "you must be joking." For me, part of college was about leaving the Ct-bubble and learning about what kind of country I lived in. It was my sophomore year when I started doing some research into the matter that I really began to realize how bad the evangelical infection is. And it was in my senior year that truly began to notice how nasty Catholicism and Catholics can be. I'm just thankful to Tlaloc that at the same time I was traumatized by the wretchedness of my countrymen that atheists took the next step. COME OUT!

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:18:00 UTC | #56577

briantw's Avatar Comment 24 by briantw

Here's an example of what can be done. I attended Rock Against Religion here in South Africa. There were some people outside praying, but they got cold and went home. Other than that it was peaceful and, I think, productive.

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=180&art_id=vn20070626040504282C606400

http://www.news24.com/News24/Entertainment/Local/0,,2-1225-1242_2117677,00.html

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:18:00 UTC | #56578

Jef's Avatar Comment 25 by Jef

Now I feel all left out because I've never been anything but a completely unapologetic atheist... :/

I want to come out too!

Hmm.. never thought I'd ever be saying that.. :P

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:22:00 UTC | #56580

Dr Benway's Avatar Comment 26 by Dr Benway

Here's an idea: rubber wristband with "ATHEIST" on it, like those yellow wristbands with "LIVESTRONG" promoted by Lance Armstrong for cancer research.

I can't wear icons to work. But I'll get a mug if you got one.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:30:00 UTC | #56583

Charlou's Avatar Comment 27 by Charlou

The following comment to the article struck a chord and has made me ease up on my sweeping opposition to the idea of the T-shirt, and while I, as an already open atheist, am still not personally interested in the idea of supporting the T-shirt I'm willing to sit back and wish all those who feel it important in taking that step of 'coming out' all the best.

" 20. Comment #59794 by Jack Rawlinson on July 30, 2007 at 4:42 pm
Good to see Richard weigh in on this, and to see him do so with his customary clarity.

By nature I am not a "joiner". I am not a very clubbable chap. But I feel so strongly that atheists need to become more visible, more open, more exposed. Remember that chilling recent statistic which showed that atheists are amongst the most mistrusted people in America? That, right there, is why this is a worthwhile campaign. It's not about getting in people's faces in order to be provocative or aggressive; it's about being open, about showing all those people who so mistrust atheists that we're actually decent, moral, non-scary people. And it's about making it okay to be openly atheist in those many areas of the world where it is anything but that right now.

I've always been an extremely vocal and unapologetic atheist, but I've also always recognised that to be so isn't easy for everyone. The anti-atheist prejudice is real, and in some areas quite vicious. So I'll wear the shirt as an expression of solidarity with those people more than as a personal expression of belief (or lack of) And also because I agree with Richard when he says, "We need to stand up and be counted, so that the demographically savvy culture will come to reflect our tastes and our views. That in turn makes it easier for the next generation of atheists."

Those of us who grew up in the relatively enlightened post-war era, in which religion was very much in retreat in the west, have been complacent. That has allowed the madness to take root and thrive again. No more complacency. This is worth shouting about."

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:39:00 UTC | #56585

_J_'s Avatar Comment 28 by _J_

Dr B, 28 - it's a nice idea, although there are already so many different coloured bands for different causes. Still, the more the merrier.

I actually still like the idea of putting WWJD? on the wristband, alongside the 'Come OUT' or 'A' logo. A URL for Dawkins' 'Atheists for Jesus' article would finish it off, making it all sincerely, but ironically, consistent.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 16:46:00 UTC | #56586

konquererz's Avatar Comment 30 by konquererz

First off, I have lived in Missouri most of my life, and now I live in Indiana, and Indiana is much much worse than Missouri. City officials have have this slogan going in their offices "god is great all the time". People look horrified when I explain exactly what my flying spaghetti monster t-shirt with the fork on a cross is about.

Whats even greater, is when I get asked my religion or what church I go to up here. It happens all the time. I put on my best friendly face and simply say, "I don't believe in invisible things" which usually gets a chuckle. Then they try to be cool about it and say something to the effect of "ha ha, like bigfoot and the lockness monster?" and I say "yeah, those too".

Its funny because religious people will always put themselves into those awkward thinking positions. However, I thought I would weigh in on the big red A thing. I have some issues with it, since it seems like the scarlet letter for adultary. And the whole "out" think seems to steal to much thunder from the gay pride movement, something worth coming out about in its own right.

But something is better than nothing, and if you don't like the ideas out there, why not start a new one yourself? After all, freedom is absolute, creativity embraced, and unity important. We still need to let the countless atheist wannabees know that its Okay to not believe and that there are others out there. Those of us born and raised christians know what its like to try and come out among religious peers, friends, and family, and I for one will not stand by and force others to come out all alone like I did. I took me months of actively looking to find others like minded as me in my area. I want to be supportive of someone elses choice to stop believing the lie.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 17:04:00 UTC | #56589

Yorker's Avatar Comment 29 by Yorker

I applaud those Americans who have decided to come "out" in the hard states, I understand how you feel.

I once gave a week long seminar in the Southern Indiana/Kentucky border area, the first day all went well, many delegates were keen to tell me of their Scottish ancestry and they took me to lunch and dinner. During after dinner conversation someone raised the subject of religion and I got quite a shock. They began to tell me how they admired the devout Scottish christians and automatically assumed I was one of them, when I said they were describing a nation unknown to me and that I was myself an atheist, well, my words seemed as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. It dawned on me their notion of religion in Scotland was the kind the pertained in the days of John Knox.

I decided that a diplomatic change of subject was in order so I indicated my desire to see the fossil beds that are close to the bridge over the river that runs along the border between Kentucky and Indiana, it might be the Ohio river but I can't quite remember; locals from that area will know the place I'm referring to. I was hoping maybe one or two would offer to accompany me on an evening visit to the site, all I got were terse replies that indicated a lack of interest in fossils.

For the rest of the week I ate lunch and dinner alone, no more invitations were forthcoming. Had it not been for the fact that their employer had paid for them to attend my software seminar so they could learn how to use it, I think many of them would have skipped the course after the first day.

That was my first experience of rampant religion in the USA and it took me aback because I'd already worked in Florida for several years and most of my colleagues were democratic and atheistic. I had another more serious run in with religites in the USA but that's another story that I won't bore you with just now. Perhaps due to the efforts of you American "outers", I'll notice a difference if I have to visit that part of the country again.

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 17:04:00 UTC | #56588