The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘humanist’

African Americans for Humanism Launches!

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 10, 2012

I know I’m a little late to this party, but better late than never.  I’m very happy to spread the news about a new secular, skeptical organization which will cater to a highly under-served minority in the skeptical community: African Americans for Humanism!  Check out their announcement and website, and pass it along…

Black Nonbelievers Are Speaking Out

African Americans for Humanism (AAH) has launched an advertising campaign highlighting the rise in religious skepticism among African Americans. Coinciding with Black History Month, this national multimedia effort showcases religious skepticism in the African American community and features prominent African American humanists from history along with contemporary activists and organizers.

Debbie Goddard“African Americans who question religion often feel rejected by religious family and friends, and by the greater black community,” said Debbie Goddard, director of AAH. “But there is a rich heritage of religious skepticism and humanism in black history. By featuring the historical faces as well as the modern in our ad campaign, we show people that questioning religion is not new and that there are many of us here.”

AAH poster runner Anacostia

The ads began appearing January 30 and January 31 in New York City; Washington, DC; Chicago; Atlanta; and Durham, North Carolina. This week, the campaign is being launched in Dallas and Los Angeles. Advertisements will be found on roadside billboards and in public transit sites. The Stiefel Freethought Foundation provided substantial creative and financial support for the campaign.

AAH hopes that the campaign will bring attention to the presence of and increase in religious skepticism within the black community, encourage those who have doubts about religion to share their concerns and join other freethinkers in their local communities, and educate many about the history of black freethought. 

All of the ads display the same message: “Doubts about religion? You’re one of many.” In the ads, images of writer-anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, poet-activist Langston Hughes, and social reformer-publisher Frederick Douglass are paired with contemporary freethinkers. Representing their respective hometowns are activists leading the way for African American nonbelievers, including Mark D. Hatcher of the Secular Students at Howard University, Mandisa L. Thomas of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. (Atlanta), Kimberly Veal of Black Nonbelievers of Chicago, Jamila Bey of African Americans for Humanism–Washington, DC, Veronique Matthews of the Triangle Freethought Society, Leighann Lord of the Center for Inquiry–Harlem, Alix Jules of the Dallas–Ft. Worth Coalition of Reason, and Sikivu Hutchinson of Black Skeptics Los Angeles.

For more information, including ad images, information about historical African American freethinkers, photos, and videos, please visit We Are AAH.

AAH supports skeptics, doubters, humanists, and atheists in the African American community, provides forums for communication and education, and facilitates coordinated action to achieve shared objectives. 

In an irrational world, those who stand for reason must stand together.

AAH logo 2012Please stand with us by making your most generous tax-deductible contribution to African Americans for Humanism today.

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Posted in religion, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Skeptics, Humanists, and Atheists Reach Out to Give Aid to Pakistan

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 27, 2010

We’ve all been hearing the news of the devastation in Pakistan due to the unprecedented floods they are experiencing now.  I honestly cannot comprehend the level of human tragedy which must be on display there, but I can see how to help out.  In the spirit of providing aid to those in their time of need, I would like to pass along to you all a message I recently received from the Center For Inquiry concerning the SHARE (Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort) program. Read on, and whether you are religious, non-religious, skeptical, or whatnot, please consider helping out…

Increasing Need in Pakistan

As Pakistan faces the worst natural disaster in its history, SHARE (Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort) must provide assistance: every dollar you give will be sent directly to Oxfam to provide food and clean water. We have selected Oxfam as our partnering charity because the need for adequate nutrition and hydration is increasing in the aftermath of the flood.

Share Pakistan Logo 082010

Pakistan’s flood is of unprecedented proportions. At least 20 percent of the country’s land mass has been affected. According to BBC reports, “The damage is extraordinary. The sheer force of the rushing water swept away everything in its path—even roads and bridges. Recovery will be long and slow.”

Consider this news from BBC mobile: “UN officials have described the humanitarian situation in Pakistan as critical.” Here are the grim statistics (as of August 26):

  • 1,539 people have died
  • 17 million have been directly affected
  • 1.2 million houses have been destroyed, leaving an estimated 8 million people homeless
  • 3.2 million hectares of standing crops have been lost or damaged
  • A large proportion of people have no access to clean water or sanitation

Today, millions are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera while struggling with other health problems including diarrhea and dehydration. In flood-affected areas, health problems usually increase after four to six weeks. Without adequate nutrition and clean drinking water, conditions in Pakistan will only worsen.

As the situation continues, human misery is mounting. More funds are desperately needed. Pakistan’s infrastructure has been shattered—making it more difficult to provide aid where needed. Unfortunately, this disaster will have a major and lasting impact on the people of Pakistan.

Image-CFI-Share-Donate-Button.jpg

We hope that you can give generously to the SHARE campaign to help Pakistanis in need. Thank you!

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Freedom From Religion Foundation Bus Ad Campaign Hits Chicago

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 18, 2010

I’m just tooting my own horn a bit because apparently I’m achieving a measure of notoriety on the Internet (especially over at The Friendly Atheist blog) for some comments I recently made for a Chicago Tribune article on the new Freedom From Religion Foundation’s bus ad campaign in the Windy City…

Secularists spreading the word

When the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign and American Humanist Association wanted to spark a public conversation last spring about the origin of religion, they plastered Chicago’s buses with a provocative twist on Genesis: “In the beginning, man created God.”

When the Chicago Coalition of Reason wanted to proclaim that no one needs God to be good, they posted a billboard a few months later above a LaSalle Street sandwich shop in Chicago’s Loop.

So when the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation took its controversial slogan touting the benefits of sleeping in on Sundays to honor the day of rest, they came to Chicago first, a city where they knew they would be welcome.

After awhile, the article gets to me and my epic quote…

Matt Lowry, 37, a science teacher in Vernon Hills and the organizer of the North Suburban Chicago Freethinkers, said he never wore his beliefs, or lack thereof, on his sleeve. But the more it came up in conversation, the more he realized how the collective silence has caused atheists and agnostics to be misunderstood.

“Just because you’re a nonbeliever does not mean you’re kicking little old ladies down the stairs or eating babies,” Lowry said. “There’s this common misperception. For too long, the nonbelieving community in this country has basically allowed religious fundamentalists to define them that way.”

Yeah, that was all me – it was my humorous & snarky way of basically saying: hey, nonbelievers are good and moral people, too. Now that I see how much people like the quote, I’m considering having T-shirts made up 🙂

Posted in religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chicago Coalition of Reason puts up “Good Without God” billboard

Posted by mattusmaximus on October 20, 2009

Whew! I had a hard time keeping a lid on this one 🙂

I’m part of a coalition of folks who have been working to bring this billboard to downtown Chicago…

Godless Billboard Appears in the Chicago Loop

“Are you good without God? Millions are.”

These words are part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don’t believe in a god. It fits into a nationwide effort that has now come to the Chicago area. The prominent ad appears on a downtown billboard at LaSalle Boulevard and Grand Avenue and can be read by those traveling north who will see it on their left. Placed by the Chicago Coalition of Reason, with funding from the United Coalition of Reason, the billboard features an image of blue sky and clouds with the words superimposed over.

“The point of our national billboard campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained Fred Edwords, head of the United Coalition of Reason. “Nontheists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community out there for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope this will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”

Reaching out to nontheists isn’t the only goal of the campaign. “We want people to know they can be good without belief in a god,” said Hemant Mehta, coordinator of the Chicago Coalition of Reason. “There is a lot of misinformation out there about us. But we humanists, agnostics and atheists are as normal as anyone else. We’re your friends, neighbors and family members. We care about our communities and are true to our values.”

The Chicago billboard officially launches Chicago CoR. It is also timed to coordinate with the launch of a new book called “Good Without God” by Greg Epstein, which is being released by William Morrow. Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, is giving talks and holding a book signing the afternoon of October 26 at the Interfaith Youth Core Biannual Conference, Center for Civic Engagement, at Northwestern University in Evanston. The next day he will speak at the University of Chicago Hillel lunch at 12:00 Noon. At 5:30 PM that evening he will speak at the Harvard Club of Chicago. From 8:00 to 10:00 PM he will lead a discussion at the University of Chicago Chaplains Office, Divinity School.

The billboard is one of many that have appeared around the country this year. Billboards and transit system ads funded by the United Coalition of Reason have gone up in places as far flung as Charleston, South Carolina; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Morgantown, West Virginia; Phoenix, Arizona, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Subway ads will appear next week in New York City and a billboard will go up in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In a month, more are slated for California and elsewhere.

Of course, this advertising campaign is an excellent example of fighting a common logical fallacy (called a false dichotomy) posed by far too many ultra-religious believers: that without a belief in the supernatural or a god, one cannot be a good person.  One can be “good without god”, but I should also point out to my fellow atheists & skeptics that just because someone is religious doesn’t mean they also cannot be a good person.  I know plenty of good people, both religious & non-religious, and I don’t think that painting with a wide brush by labeling one side or the other as morally inferior is conducive to critical thinking when dealing with such issues.

Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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