President’s Column: Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The 2nd Coming

Published by MNA on

By Eric Jayne

Photo of Eric in Aints t-shirt and cap, wearing a baseball glove.

Since I’ve been so incredibly busy planning for our second annual Mr. Paul Aints game on August 9 and joint American Atheists/Minnesota Atheists regional conference on August 10, I will use this column to talk about our Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming.

The conference planning committee of August Berkshire, Jill Carlson, Heather Hegi, Stephanie Zvan, and me has worked incredibly hard, and I am confident that attendees will be superbly happy with the product we have to offer. The main speakers and their topics have been carefully selected after thorough discussion, and the eight morning workshops described below cover ideas of particular interest to atheists, presented in an intimate, engaging environment. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend two of these forty-minute sessions.

Regarding our atheist-sponsored St. Paul Saints/Mr. Paul Aints game, we are very excited to provide Infield (Infidel) Reserved seating and fresh atheist-themed antics for what should be an even better experience than last year’s. The Mr. Paul Aints logo now features the red, Atheist A which is available on T-shirts, hats, and authentic jerseys. All of these are available for purchase at our online store. The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming begins at 5 p.m. in the parking lot next to Midway Stadium. That’s when and where we’ll have our pregame tailgating party with grilled food and drinks under the warm August sun.

Now, without further ado, here is the full descriptive list of the American Atheists/Minnesota Atheists regional conference workshops. Your choice of one from List A and one from List B.

List A

Keeping Science Secular in Public Schools
Greg Laden
We will examine organized efforts to insert religion in public school science class and the effects this has on learning in the classroom. We’ll examine the role of citizens, teachers, and administrators in addressing this issue, and look at effective strategies for keeping science secular in the public school classroom given the current legal climate and the realities of how schools are run.

Answering Your Child’s Difficult ­Questions and How to Teach Religious Literacy
Jill Carlson, Eric Jayne, and James ­Zimmerman
Children are naturally inquisitive and they rarely hesitate to talk about their ideas with their peers and parents. Three atheist parents will explore how to respond when your child asks why we don’t go to church like their friends or why we don’t believe in God like their friends.

Atheism and Animals: Making the ­Connection
Rohit Ravindran and Kim Socha
Secularism is rising as an acceptable alternative to God-based views of reality. What does this mean for nonhuman animals? Rohit Ravindran and Kim Socha will explore what a lack of human divinity and the acknowledgement of humans as animals means for other creatures with whom we share this time on Earth.

Atheism and Mental Health
Cliff Buhl
This workshop will explore the psychological effects atheism has on individuals. We will review available research on the effects an atheist world view may have on an individual’s functioning and discuss a preliminary study focused on exploring how individual atheists view themselves and their relationships with others, deal with bias, and manage existential questions.

List B

Arguing on Behalf of Science
Greg Laden
Evolution, climate science, science-based medicine, and other scientific fields are often under attack from religious quarters. What are the most effective ways to argue on behalf of science, even science that is uncertain, as a citizen, teacher, parent, neighbor, or relative visiting the cousins for Easter? We’ll focus on evolution and climate science, but bring your own stories and ideas in other areas if you like.

Dealing with Religious Relatives while Raising Freethinking Children
Jill Carlson, Eric Jayne, and James ­Zimmerman
You’re trying to raise a critical-thinking child free from the indoctrination of religion, but some of your relatives disapprove or don’t know about your godless parenting. In this workshop we’ll discuss strategies for dealing with relatives, friends, and other elements that challenge your parenting.

Addiction, Recovery, and the Meaning of Life: An Atheist’s Perspective
Susan Campion
Ms. Campion is a State of Minnesota Gambling Treatment Provider, National Certified Gambling Counselor II, and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Treatment for addiction in Minnesota often involves reference to a higher power. This is a civil rights issue as nonreligious clients entering treatment often are discriminated against. The discussion will include recovery relationship with a higher power in lieu of spirituality, including recovery within a twelve-step program.

Dealing with Shame
Stephanie Zvan
Shame has its uses, but religions frequently abuse shame as a method of control. Come talk about what kinds of irrational shame religions and religious societies impose on us and how we can loosen shame’s hold on our lives.


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