Bringing Atheist Bus Ads to Mississippi

Long-time readers may remember that we raised the question of erecting an atheist billboard in two in our state almost a year ago. At the time, the Freedom From Religion Foundation was talking about trying to place a billboard in every state and was looking at Jackson, MS. Although that plan fizzled out (at least for now), it sounds like Annie-Laurie Gaylor (Freedom From Religion Foundation) is interested in bringing the sort of atheist bus campaign we have seen in many other areas to Jackson.

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Before moving forward, she has some questions those of you in the Jackson area might be able to help her with. In particular, she's interested in anyone with experience with the mass transit system in Jackson who could comment on whether it seems to get much use, etc.

Steve has been in contact with her, and I assume he'll be willing to relay information to her if we can help collect it.

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Opposing Christian Prayer Caucus in Mississippi

Annie-Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is looking into assisting Mississippi residents in pursuing a First Amendment case against the recent Senate Resolution 669 establishing a Judeo-Christian prayer caucus among our elected representatives (see .pdf here). Our own Steve Schlicht (Biloxi) has been in touch with ACLU attorney, Brigitte Amri, and reports that progress is being made in putting a case together. It sounds like this will be one to follow.

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BP and the Catholic Church

BP.pngEvery day I drive past at least one BP station on my way to and from work. I rarely use it because others are more convenient along my route, and I've never given it much thought until this week. Now I find myself curious to see how many cars are there when I pass the station. Does it appear any more or less crowded than other nearby stations? No, I haven't been able to detect any difference. I suppose I'm a little surprised by this, given that most of us in South Mississippi know at least someone who has been negatively affected by the oil spill.

But then, something else occurs to me. I don't notice any fewer cars in the parking lots of local Catholic churches following each abuse scandal. I hear people discussing the latest abuse scandal sometimes, so it isn't that they are just unaware of it. But it certainly doesn't seem to translate into anything I can readily observe.

I suspect BP will be fine, just like Exxon is fine and just like the Catholic church is fine. It seems to take far more than catastrophe to produce meaningful behavior change.

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Central MS Atheist Meetup

The Central MS Atheist Meetup Group has announced their next meeting for Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM in Jackson. For details, please see the group's Meetup.com page.

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Difficult to Assess Oil's Impact on the Coast

I have the impression from bits I've seen on Twitter and elsewhere that we are not getting the full story about the oil spill and its impact along Mississippi's coast. I keep hearing about BP and law enforcement keeping citizens away from affected areas and controlling the flow of information out of the area. It sounds like the chemical dispersants BP has been using may end up doing damage that will be harder to detect. Are those of you who live down there hearing anything different?

Draw Mohammed Day

jyllandsposten_glory.jpgThe argument against Draw Mohammed Day, being celebrated today, is quite simple. Deliberately offending religious believers, Muslims in this case, accomplishes nothing positive and is just mean. And yet, I think that it is a positive act to stand up and say, "We will not be intimidated by your religiously-motivated threats." Draw Mohammed Day is not just about agitating Muslims; it is about highlighting a particular form of religious idiocy. Drawing someone is not off limits simply because some religion wants to make it so.

To be sure, some misguided Christians will participate in Draw Mohammed Day without realizing that they suffer from the very religious idiocy being criticized here. If you don't believe that, remember how upset Christians became over "piss Christ" and chocolate Jesus displays.

Draw Mohammed Day reminds us that nothing is sacred. Not images of Mohammed, not depictions of Jesus, nothing. Cloaking something in religious garb does not render it immune to criticism. In fact, a brief examination of what religion has led and continues to lead people to do demands criticism.

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Bill Maher Skewers Alabama Governor's Race

Here in Mississippi, we really don't have much room to make fun of the politics of any other state. Hell, we rarely get to make fun of any other state for anything! So it is important that we take advantage of the handful of opportunities we have to breath a sigh of relief and say, "Well, at least that's happening somewhere besides Mississippi." Alabama, I'm looking at you!



H/T to Dispatches From the Culture Wars

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Honoring The Life of Katherine Hepburn

We've been a bit busy down here on the MS Gulf coast (as many may understand) and are now playing a bit of catch up lately regarding current events and news.

What with the clean up and preparation for the affects of the oil spill , the volunteer work and continued aid sent to those in the area of Yazoo City in the aftermath of the tornado that caused so much destruction and claimed so many lives...we thought everyone would be interested in a brief respite to appreciate another one of those popular figures in art, culture and history who were atheists and humanists and who lived fine lives without being religious.

Humanists Applaud Release of Katharine Hepburn Commemorative Stamp

For various reasons, not many folks are familiar with the large numbers of brilliant and talented atheists, freethinkers and humanists throughout the history of humankind and it is good to see one of them honored in such a national forum.

"Fearless in her craft and life, Katharine stood by her beliefs and values, expressing them with all the elegance and honesty she possessed on screen.

“I'm an Atheist and that's it,” said Katharine to Ladies Home Journal in 1991. “I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other, and do what we can for other people."

A fine woman with a wonderful and positive worldview!

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How to Help Nashville

nashvilleflood.jpgI know our state has plenty of problems, but our neighbors to the North need help. For a variety of reasons, some of them understandable, the mainstream media has largely ignored the plight of Nashville, TN. Now that the floodwaters have receded, so too has any national attention Nashville is likely to receive. I posted a desperate plea for help I received over at Red State Progressive and want to call your attention to it here.

For specific ideas about the many different ways you can help, please see this page at Nashvillest.

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More Mississippi Bigotry

In a recent post about Arizona's despicable "show me your papers" law, the Good Atheist wrote:
You get the impression sometimes that there really is two Americas: one where the values of liberty, religious and ethnic diversity, the rule of law and a sense of fair play still reigns supreme, and one where bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, rigid religious dogmatism and “safety” rules the day.
He's right. After all, we live in the second of these Americas. Remember the Constance McMillen story and how it exposed the religiously-motivated bigotry and hatred in our state? It seems that we have another example. The Jackson Free Press is reporting that the Wesson Attendance Center (Copiah County) removed any trace of a lesbian student from their 2010 yearbook.

H/T to Dispatches From the Culture Wars

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Volunteers Needed to Assist With Oil Spill Clean Up

spill.jpgIf you have the time to spare and live within driving distance from the Gulf Coast, volunteers are desperately needed to help out with the massive oil spill. For more information about volunteering, see:
This is going to be a massive undertaking, and it sounds like large numbers of volunteers are going to be needed.

Image Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team

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Oil Spill

We don't have a whole lot of time to post much right now.

Please take a moment to consider what resources y'all have to help our community.

Please blog, twitter and/or reach out to all your friends and family to support our efforts, even if only to send us an email with words of encouragement.

Thanks!

The Great Southern Humanist Society