by Bjorn Watland
On the afternoon of Saturday, December 6th, five atheists braved chilly temperatures and blustery winds to participate in the 3rd Annual Santa Run to Benefit Legal Aid. Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, a secular organization providing legal aid to low income and disabled Minnesotans, received over $600 in donations collected by five proud members of Minnesota Atheists: Jack Caravela, Bonnie Marsick, Vanita Mishra, Bjorn Watland and Jeannette Watland.
The atheists stood out of the pack of people dressed as Santa and others dressed as dreidels by donning lab coats and protective goggles. The back of the lab coats had the Minnesota Atheists name, logo, and slogan, "Positive Atheism In Action!" Only positive comments were made about the group's involvement and one Santa expressed interest in running with our group next year. Because of the success of this year's event, Minnesota Atheists may make a tradition of participating in the Santa Run to Benefit Legal Aid in the future.
By Victor Tanner and Crystal Dervetski
On November, 21st, the Southern Minnesota Atheists Meet-Up Group hosted its first event at Blue Brick's pub in Mankato. Dubbed "Think and Drink", the meet up saw an estimated 38 atheists and free thinkers from Mankato and the surrounding area get together to share their thoughts and ideas, both weighty and light-hearted. While parts of the group discussed heavy duty philosophical concepts, others just decided to kick back and enjoy some fun conversation.
Future events will include an evening in January at the Andreas Observatory, at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The group is also excited to start small group discussions and will be looking to work with other local groups, such as Campus Atheists and Agnostics and liberal churches, for debate, socializing and volunteer work.
Anyone looking to attend atheist-themed events in Southern MN should visit our Meet Up site here.
Minnesota Atheists Public Meeting
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Roseville Public Library
Hamline Ave. and County Road B
1:00-2:00 p.m. - Members Meeting
2:00-3:00 p.m. - Public Presentation
3:00-3:30 p.m. - Social Time
4:00 p.m. - Dinner at Panda Garden Buffet,
1706 Lexington Ave. N., Roseville.
by George Kane
Thanksgiving, we all learned in school, was created as a national exercise in piety and acknowledgement of the beneficence of God. This year we awoke on Thanksgiving Day to news of acts of extreme evil which religious fanaticism has made so familiar. It began nearly three days of coordinated terrorist attacks in the Indian financial center of Mumbai that killed nearly 200 and injured nearly 300. At this writing, no group has claimed responsibility, but Indian and American intelligence sources blame Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Pakistani Islamist group. Concerning this group, Wikipedia reports: "The Lashkar's agenda, as outlined in a pamphlet titled ‘Why are we waging jihad,' includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of South Asia, Russia and even China. Further, the outfit is based on a sort of Islamist fundamentalism preached by its mentor, the JuD. It seeks to bring about a union of all Muslim majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan." While terrorist groups vary in their location and specific nationalistic ambitions, Islamic supremacy and Shariah law inspire religious fervor wherever Muslims take arms against secular governments.
The assault by Islam against secular government continues on the diplomatic front, too. I have previously reported on the Declaration on Combating Defamation of Religion, which the Organization of the Islamic Conference has been promoting in the United Nations Human Rights Council. Based on the Cairo Declaration, that declares Shariah law to be the source of all human rights, the Declaration on Combating Defamation of Religion proposes to criminalize blasphemy in all member nations. It will be coming to a vote in the General Assembly by the end of this year. We should credit lobbying by human rights organizations, including the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), for perhaps having an effect. For the first time, the vote in the Human Rights Council carried with fewer votes in favor than the total of votes against and abstentions.
‘Tis the season again. Atheists, free thinkers, and other assorted non-Christians purposely sit out the most over-blown religious holiday of the year. Some are passionate in their non-participation; others simply watch the procession from the sidelines. While some have pointed out the incongruity of an ostensibly secular government proclaiming Christ's birth a national holiday, others have countered that such observations constitute a war on Christmas. When we consider the drain on the environment and checkbook that is Christmas, coupled with the overt religious themes, it's easy to see how those who reject the Christian god likewise reject his followers' biggest party.
In this way, I am an anomaly. I grew up in a devoutly religious household. We believed in Jesus. Yet, we never celebrated Christmas. That Christian version of Hanukkah was just another day. My sister and I did get to stay home from school, and my parents had the day off of work, but this was not our choice. If Christmas fell on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday, we participated in our routine religious meetings, like we did every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. If Christmas arrived on a Saturday, we did what we did every Saturday: we went dashing through the snow and knocked on doors passing out bible literature. When I became an adult, the day became convenient for catching a movie or getting together with friends who, like me, had the day off from work and nothing to do.