Friday, July 17, 2009

Boston Atheists Report 1.11

Our mid-July podcast, recorded 7/15/2009. Daniel Radcliffe's coming-out; BA Harry Potter viewing; Boston Skepchick Rebecca Watson gets married!; Amanda Donaldson fired for being an atheist; methods of atheist news-spreading and community mobilizing. Roundtable: friendly atheism is better atheism (part one).

Download this podcast from our website, or, look for us on iTunes!

Sources Cited:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cancer patient fired from job for being an atheist, now needs financial help

Amanda Donaldson is an atheist suffering from breast cancer and earlier this year lost her job and health insurance because she is an atheist. Now she needs your help to pay for the overwhelming medical bills that come with this devastating illness. The story is heartbreaking and highlights the injustices many atheists face in today's world.

For the full story on how Amanda was fired please go here

This story was also featured on by Stacy Cornell, the Dallas Atheism Examiner. You can read her articles here and here.

To find out how you can donate, please vist her website's donation page. Let's show everyone that atheists can be just as charitable as those who claim a moral authority from god.

(This was reposted from my article.)

How True is This?

Now be honest, how many of you had the same exact conversation with their mother? I know I did. Granted I didn't use fancy language and just said I was just agnostic at the time and yet the reaction was just the same.

Years later I realized I was "one of those atheists", but I think my mother had time to get used to the idea.

While I find the cartoon amusing, it's also sad how true this is. Atheism is seen as a dirty word, and people would rather you call yourself anything but that.

In recent examiner articles I discussed how it can be harder to come out atheist as opposed to coming out gay, and how gay atheists can sometimes feel left out of the gay community.

In what other ways can atheism seem worse than an equally oppressed minority?

Friday, July 10, 2009

A show of good will

The official policy of the Boy Scouts of America repudiates homosexuality and atheism. This leaves us more open-minded individuals with a decision -- when confronted with an opportunity to support a program that has a largely positive influence on youth, do we grit our teeth and pitch in -- hoping that our charity isn't seen as endorsement of the bigoted 'company line' -- or do we stand in principle and take our charity elsewhere? I just got back from the local post office, where I was dropping a carton of books in the mail:
  • The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
  • Princeton Field Guide to Stars and Planets
  • Burnham's Celestial Handbook (all three volumes)
  • Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds
  • Audubon Field Guide to North American Trees
  • Audubon Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders
  • Audubon Pocket Guide to Familiar Mushrooms
These were donated by BA members in response to an inquiry from a Boy Scout camp in Connecticut. Disclosure: I was once a counselor there, and the director contacted me personally to ask if I could provide some teaching materials for the staff of the Joe George Nature Pavilion. Knowing that the BA crowd is full of science- and nature-lovers, I thought this would be a good opportunity to show some good will. Assistant Organizer Nora sent out an email asking for donations. In response, some members promised to send books, and others stated their objections to the Boy Scouts' policies. I think both positions are justified, but in the end I myself decided to purchase some new nature handbooks. The books won't be resold and turned into hard cash destined for the coffers of the national organization. The books won't be used to fuel a bonfire, over which is hung wood-carved effigies of Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins. My decision wasn't so fraught with self-contradiction, because I know that they will be going directly to the young Scout staff who teach nature topics to young Scouts at the camp.

The Boy Scouts of America discriminates against gays and Atheists. If we need to respond to this prejudice at all, I think it is best that we do so by objecting to their policies while helping their kids. By showing good will, we show the bigots what a good turn really looks like.

If any BA members have suggestions for other we can embarrass the BSA national office with charity, or recommendations of other youth organizations who might benefit from similar book donations, please make it known to the group organizers. Below, the bookplate affixed to the inside cover of each donated book.