Weekend of Unbelievable Fun a Success for the 2nd Year in a Row
We did it again! We pulled off another unbelievably fun weekend this summer for the second year in a row thanks to the help of a lot of members and supporters of Minnesota Atheists!
The fun started in the late afternoon on Friday, August 9th, in the Midway Stadium parking lot, where we tailgated until a few minutes before our St. Paul Saints/Mr. Paul Aints baseball game. At about 6:30 p.m. our group began filtering into the stadium to watch Minnesota Atheists president Eric Jayne toss the ceremonial first pitch. He provided a little flair in his windup before pitching a perfect strike to the Mr. Paul Aints catcher behind home plate.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much to cheer about during game play as the Mr. Paul Aints lost to the Sioux City Explorers by a score of 3–1. There was, however, much to cheer about in between innings when the atheist-themed antics were performed. These antics included an “Atheist Race” where two contestants raced against each other by first running to a Slip ‘N Slide, at the end of which they donned a gorilla mask to represent the evolution of sea creatures to land creatures. The contestants kept running until the PA announcer told them that there was no finish because it was an atheist race. “You just keep going until you can’t go any longer,” he said.
After the fifth inning the crowd was treated to Seigo, who is a recurring character at many St. Paul Saints games. His routine was advertised on the scoreboard as Karaoke sung by a Real Japanese Guy. For what was billed as “A Night of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming,” Seigo sang the 1991 pop song Unbelievable by EMF.
In the middle of the sixth inning there was a Doubting Thomas who was “ejected” from the stands by the umpire after loudly questioning his judgment of balls and strikes from the previous at bats. The PA announcer narrated the kerfuffle so we could all be in on the joke.
The game ended with a loss, but the weather stayed dry despite a few gray clouds hovering above us. We won in that nature played nice with the atheists. And the postgame fireworks, which the Saints do every Friday night, were a fun way to end the evening for the 6400 in attendance—which included the 200 ticket sales in our atheist portal.
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Our American Atheists/Minnesota Atheists Regional Conference followed the next day at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis. The conference began at 8:00 a.m., with check-ins leading up to our 9:00 a.m. welcome. Thanks to walk-in registrations we had over 200 people attend the conference!
Iowa State professor Hector Avalos was our lead-off speaker. His presentation “How Archeology Killed Biblical History” was an extraordinary lesson. This was followed with two sets of four simultaneous workshops dealing with mental health, parenting, drug addiction, science, schools, and animal ethics.
After lunch we went back to one large room with our headline speakers. Greta Christina spoke on “Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, and Why”; Amanda Knief spoke on “Citizen Lobbyist”; and Annie Laurie Gaylor spoke on “The Religious War on Women.”
After dinner, we concluded with a panel discussion that included all of our main speakers plus PZ Myers and Kelli Clement, a local Unitarian Universalist and the Executive Director of the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The topic of discussion was “Atheism and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation?” It was a spirited discussion that was both entertaining and enlightening.
Many attendees stuck around for more socializing, appetizers, and cocktails. The party went until a few minutes after midnight.
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The Minnesota Atheists would like to thank everyone who helped make this all happen.
Thank you to board member Phil Cunliffe for renting the baseball game tailgating spot, table, and chairs. Thank you to Bill Lehto for donating food and drinks, bringing his grill, and grilling all of the food.
Thank you to Jerry Rauser, Bob Salwasser, and Richard Trombly for taking excellent videos and pictures at the game and conference.
Thank you to Paul Heffron and Jerry Rauser for writing and performing the Mr. Paul Aints song to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
Thank you to Minnesota Atheists president Eric Jayne for leading the efforts for the Mr. Paul Aints game. Thank you to the St. Paul Saints team—both on the field and in the front office.
Thank you to the Conference Planning Committee of August Berkshire, Jill Carlson, Heather Hegi, Eric Jayne, and Stephanie Zvan for making all of the conference arrangements with the hotel, caterer, and speakers.
Thank you to the Minnesota Atheists board of August Berkshire, Jill Carlson, Phil Cunliffe, Andy Flamm, Heather Hegi, Eric Jayne, George Kane, Chris Matthews, and Stephanie Zvan for their time spent discussing issues and concerns regarding the conference and baseball game. Each of their contributions shaped the baseball game and conference experience for the better.
Thank you to all of our wonderful speakers, including those who provided workshops. It was a genuine pleasure to work with you.
Thank you to Minnesota Atheists treasurer Chris Matthews for all of his invaluable help setting up the online store for conference registration and Mr. Paul Aints merchandise (which is still available), and for keeping track of the finances.
Thank you to Steve Petersen and Shirley Moll for creating the name tags and meal cards for the conference. And thank you to them and Chris Matthews for keeping track of registration and checking people in to the conference.
Thank you to Emily Matejcek for helping with our press release.
Thank you to Clint Buhs for helping with our website content for the conference and baseball game.
Thank you to Stephanie Zvan, Steve Petersen, Eric Jayne, and the Atheists Talk radio show production team at KTNF – AM 950 for covering the baseball game and conference.
Thank you to the Ramada Plaza and all of its helpful staff.
Thank you to American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation for your support.
And finally, thank you to all of our leaders, organizers, supporters, paid members, and donors. Without you and your resources none of this could have happened. We cannot thank you enough for helping us continue our efforts to promote the positive contributions of atheists to our society.