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SEPTEMBER 2013VOLUME 23NUMBER 8The MinnesotaAtheistPZ Myers to Speak atSeptember MinnesotaAtheists MeetingPZ Myers will be our featured speaker at the Sep tember Minnesota Atheists meeting.Myers is an associate professor of biology atthe University of Minnesota Morris. His researchfocuses on the evolutionary developmental biol ogy of zebrafish. He is an active critic of religionwho makes no attempt to be courteous in hiscondemnation. Noting that Myers once “publiclydesecrated a Communion wafer,” The New YorkTimes wrote, “Myers is way out of the closet as anatheist—proudly, outrageously so.”Myers began the weblog in2002, which is now hosted by In 2006, Nature ranked Pharyngula as themost popular blog by a scientist. Myers covers awide variety of topics on Pharyngula, but the web log is primarily noted for its fierce opposition toIntelligent Design and creationism.At the September Minnesota Atheists meeting,Myers will talk about his newly released book TheHappy Atheist, published by Pantheon. The HappyAtheist takes a humorous look at the absurdities ofreligious thought and addresses the very seriousproblems superstitious thinking can cause. Here’s asample from the first chapter of the book:President’s Column 2News and Notes 3Cryptogram 3Book Review 4Billboard Response 5Shelter Work 5Weekend of Fun 6Pride Festival 7Treasury Report 8Highway Cleanup 8Freethinking Families 8NIP Volunteers 8Television Report 9Radio Report 10Upcoming Events 11I’m an atheist swimming in a sea of super stition, surrounded by well-meaning, goodpeople with whom I share a culture and similarconcerns, and there’s only one thing I can do.I have to laugh.Living in America at the beginning of thetwenty-first century is like attending the circuswhen the clowns are performing—it’s lowcomedy, full of pratfalls and pies in the faceand silly costumes. It’s also hilarious.The people all around me seriouslybelieve most fervently in a god who brieflybecame human and was tortured to death forhis trouble—and that this is the greatest storyever told. The omnipotent Lord of the Cos mos is a man-like entity who, in addition toPZ Myerskeeping the planets in their courses, decidingfates of nations, and spawning hurricanes andearthquakes, frets endlessly about the sex livesof his chosen people. . . . Lately he has becomea devotee of football, and players and specta tors beg for his divine favor in helping to get aball from one side of the field to the other. Hisfollowers are offended at the thought that theyhave distant relatives who are monkeys, butthey feel ennobled by the myth that they weremade from dirt. . . .I try to laugh, but I also feel the humansuffering caused by these follies. But then, asShakespeare knew, the best comedy has alwaysbeen born out of the truth of pain and has aleavening of tragedy mixed in with it.The September Minnesota Atheists meetingwill be held in the meeting room of the RosevilleLibrary, 2180 Hamline Avenue North, Roseville, onSeptember 15th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

2T H EM I N N E S O T AA T H E I S TEric Jayne, MinnesotaAtheists PresidentPresident's Column Eric JayneWhy I’m an Atheist ActivistNow that our second annual regional confer ence and Mr. Paul Aints game weekendis behind us, I’ve been able to take a deepbreath and remind myself why I volunteerso much of my time and energy toward thecause of atheism. I recognize that there aremany self-identified atheists in the UnitedStates who seem to be getting along just finewithout actively supporting atheism. Theytake no interest in supporting atheist organi zations and some even complain that atheistactivism is an unfavorable endeavor on parwith religious proselytizing. So then why do Iand others do it? Why do I make myself vul nerable by publicly proclaiming my atheism?Is atheism really worth supporting? To put itmore simply, why am I an atheist activist?In addressing these questions, Iwas compelled to first look back to mychildhood, when I was brought up in anevangelical Christian home. It was a finechildhood overall, but I remember gettingunsatisfactory answers to questions aboutGod’s origin, power, and goodness. I remem ber the mental anguish I had in trying tomake sense of Sunday school lessons teach ing about the promise of eternal damnationfor having incorrect beliefs. I remember theterrified feeling of thinking about my adultbrother—fourteen years older than me—go ing to hell since he didn’t join the rest of ourfamily at church.Experiencing this intellectual dishon esty and fear-based indoctrination was agood reason to leave the church and even thereligion altogether, but is that reason enoughto become an atheist activist? Maybe, butjust to be sure here are a few more reasons Iconsidered.Atheists are marginalized insociety. This marginalization is indicatednot only by copious amounts of anecdotalevidence, but also through polls and compre hensive research findings that include studiesfrom the University of Minnesota and theUniversity of British Columbia. The Min nesota Atheists’ brand of positive atheismin action—with philanthropic communityoutreach events and our self-promoting Mr.Paul Aints baseball game—helps to educateothers about our high regard for happinessand well-being while dispelling rumors thatwe’re a bunch of nihilistic hedonists.Our society is encumberedby the whims and authority of areligious majority. It is incrediblydiscouraging that many of our elected law makers and popular media correspondentsinvoke their God and their Bible to shapepublic policy in various domains like LGBTequality, women’s reproductive health,and embryonic stem cell research. Fortu nately, we have a number of atheist-friendlyorganizations that work together to addressthe pernicious theocratic elements in ourlawmaking institutions and ethnocentricnarratives manufactured throughout themedia.Atheism paves a path withrewards of clarity and genuinespirituality. Unlike my experience asa Christian, as an atheist I have been ableto accurately understand a lot about theuniverse and life on earth. Following theevidence and learning about mind-blowingscientific discoveries, which are awesomelyspiritual, is something that I no longer needto square with Bible teachings. I don’t goout of my way to “proselytize” atheism, butI don’t hesitate to explain how atheism hashelped launch a more authentic and honestworldview.Atheists are social creaturesjust like people in religious sects.I feel honored that I have the opportunityto help continue and build on the fantasticwork of the Minnesota Atheists organiza tion, which provides an important outlet forfreethinkers to talk without restraint and tosocialize with other friendly freethinkers in avariety of ways.Progress is being made. At leastit seems that way. As I pointed out earlier,atheists are marginalized in our society, butit seems as though it’s less so today thaneven a couple years ago. I could share myown positive experience of coming out as anatheist at work. Or I could point to the sig nificant decrease in complaints and threatsrelated to this year’s conference and baseballgame compared to last year’s. But these arejust anecdotes. As noted in George Kane’sarticle on the opposite page, the recent Glob al Index of Religiosity and Atheism showsthat those who identified as “religious” wentdown from 73 percent to 60 percent since2005. Moreover, the index found that selfidentified atheists went up from one percentto five percent. Having more people shakeoff their religious identity while increas ing the number of self-identified atheistsshifts power away from those with a narrow,religious-based agenda. Without atheistactivism this kind of progress would likelynot have happened as quickly.Neither atheist nor atheism arefour-letter words. These are perfectlyfine words that nicely explain non-belief inGod or gods. Through positive and friendlyatheist activism, I want to help make thesewords more accepted and understood sothat everyone who is without theism (i.e.a-theism) can feel as free to claim an atheistidentity as a Bible-believer claims a Chris tian identity. This is not only important forindividual comfort and pride but also forcontinued progress on the secular front on alarger level.I could spend more time listing thereasons for my atheist activism, but I shouldreally get back to the rest of my godlesstasks. I am proud and honored to have theopportunity to funnel my activism throughMinnesota Atheists. My colleagues on theboard, Meetup leaders, and many othermembers in the organization have beenwonderful friends, teachers, and motiva tors. After helping lead the efforts for twobillboard campaigns, two regional confer ences, two atheist-themed baseball games,several community-based volunteer events,many debaptisms, and numerous book clubdiscussions, I am certain, now more thanever, of why I am an atheist activist: Becauseit is important, fun, rewarding, and mark edly successful.

s e p t e m b e r2 0 1 33George Kane, MinnesotaAtheists Director-at-LargeNews and Notes George KaneReligiosity Declining inWorldwide Gallop PollAt the end of July, Gallop Internationalreleased its Global Index of Religiosityand Atheism 2012, which shows that theatheist movement is advancing rapidlyworldwide. The international surveyasked respondents, “Irrespective ofwhether you attend a place of worshipor not, would you say you are a religiousperson, not a religious persons [sic] ora convinced atheist?” The response topolls on religiosity and atheism is heav ily influenced by the way the question isworded. For example, a 1996 poll by FreeInquiry magazine asked people if there isa personal god who can answer prayer.By selecting this wording they avoidedcounting as “religious” people who definegod, for example, as love or the laws ofphysics. As Gallop formulated the ques tion, their “atheism index” counts onlyself-described atheists, thereby excludingpeople who prefer to call themselves, forexample, rationalists, materialists, free thinkers, humanists, skeptics, or secular.Gallop’s option of “convinced atheist” willalso be selected only by “strong” athe ists—people who believe that there are nosupernatural gods—and not by “weak”atheists, who have no opinion on the exis tence of gods, or believe that the questionof the existence of supernatural gods isunanswerable or meaningless.The country with the most atheisticpopulation is China, with 47% of re spondents calling themselves convincedatheists, and another 30% reportingthemselves as not religious. This re sult probably reflects the influence of agovernment which exerts considerablecontrol over potentially dissident orga nizations. Although freedom of religionis guaranteed in China’s constitution,the government bans churches that arecentrally controlled outside of China. Thatis why Catholic Bishops are appointed bythe Chinese government rather than bythe Pope. Perhaps most significantly, Chi nese law forbids religious indoctrinationof anyone younger than sixteen years old.Here is a list of the top ten atheistpopulations after China:CountryNotConvincedReligious AtheistJapanCzech RepublicFranceSouth %10%10%10%10%Of these nations, the only ones with themajority of the population reporting asreligious are South Korea, 52%; Germany,51%; and Iceland, 57%.The ten most religious popula tions are Ghana, Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji,Macedonia, Romania, Iraq, Kenya, Peru,and Brazil. The data for all nations showsan undeniable trend: the nations with themost religious population have the lowestannual per capita income, while countrieswith the highest per capita income havethe least religious populations. World wide, the highest income quintile is 19%atheist and the quintile below that 20%.The world’s lowest quintile of incomeis only 7% atheist. The rate of atheistsamong people with a college education is19%, but only 7% among those with noformal education.The decline of religiosity is surpris ingly rapid. Comparing 2012 results toresponses to the same survey in 2005,only seven years earlier, Gallop foundthat religiosity declined 23% in Vietnam,22% in Ireland, 21% in both Switzerlandand France, and 19% in South Africa.Globally, there was a 9% decline duringthose seven years, demonstrating a rapidcultural shift.In the United States, only 5% describethemselves as convinced atheists, while30% call themselves not religious and 5%are undecided. The percent of Americansself-identifying as religious declined from73% in 2005 to 60% in 2012. This reflectsthe trend that we have seen in Minnesota,where we have experienced a surge inthe numbers of people attending athe ist events. The Gallop survey does notprovide demographic information, butlocal experience suggests that the growthhas come primarily among people twentyto forty years old. Older people reachedtheir religious conclusions when athe ism carried an enormous stigma. Peoplewho believed there were no gods kepttheir opinions to themselves; at the veryleast, they described their beliefs witha term other than atheism. Mainstreamacceptance is a major cultural change thatpromises continued growth.George KaneFreethought CryptogramQv qt dszotqylfro vm forqobo l gymgmtqvqms kios vioyo qt sm yoltms kilvtmoboy amy tdggmtqsu qv vm fo vydo.—Foyvylsz Ydttorr. (Answer on page nine.)

4T H EM I N N E S O T AA T H E I S TBook Review Lewis CampbellAn Atheist Guerrilla Debating ManualPlaying Chess with Pigeons: A Compendium of Fundamentalist Apologetics andtheir Refutations by Chuck Hall. BMDOPublications.Chuck Hall says he has been debatingfundamentalist Christians for over fortyyears. Playing Chess with Pigeons certainlycontains the largest arsenal of anti-funda mentalist debating points you are likely tofind anywhere.Hall provides a long list of typicalfundamentalist arguments, along with adetailed refutation for each one. He alsointroduces some more unusual debat ing points. He gives us a very long listof contradictions in the Bible, and notesthat even this long list is only the begin ning. And in one especially interestingsection, Hall cites numerous passagesfrom scripture to show that the writersof the Bible almost certainly conceivedof the Earth as flat.Playing Chess with Pigeons coversthe Omnipotence Paradox briefly, andwhat a paradox it is. In Hall’s words:“Could God create a rock too big forhim to lift?” The purpose of this state ment is to illustrate the absurdity ofthe argument of omnipotence. If Godcan create a rock too big for him tolift, then is his strength really omnipo tent? On the other hand, if he can’tcreate such a rock, does this meanthat his powers of creation aren’t om nipotent either?In one impressive section, Hall sur veys an extensive collection of researchwhich demonstrates that fundamental ists are less intelligent than atheists onaverage. Of course this is an ad hominemargument which does not speak to themerit of fundamentalist beliefs them selves, but it does confirm many atheists’suspicions.Hall uses analogy very effectively. Indiscussing the resurrection, he writes:For example, let’s say your Aunt Es ther had died. You go to the funeralhome and discover an empty casket.Do you automatically assume thatAunt Esther has risen from thedead, or do you look for a morelogical, reasonable and simplerexplanation? Maybe Aunt Esther’sbody was misplaced. Maybe in yourgrief you got lost and you’re at thewrong funeral home. Maybe necro philiacs stole the body. There aredozens of possible explanations thatneed to be exhausted before leapingto the illogical conclusion that AuntEsther has risen from the dead andis now out dancing at the VFW club.And in arguing that only an immor al god would create a hell, he writes:Suppose I tell my daughter to cleanher room, or I will punish her bytaking her out in the back yard,dousing her with gasoline, and set ting her on fire. Further suppose shedisobeys me and doesn’t clean herroom, so I take her out into the backyard and make good on my threat.When the police arrive and askwhat happened, I tell them, “Well,she knew what the consequenceswere if she disobeyed me. So it washer choice. She set herself on fire!”Hall does not address some wellknown but relatively subtle argumentsfor the existence of God, such as theArgument from Degree of ThomasAquinas or the Ontological Argumentof Saint Anselm. But perhaps thesearguments are rarely used by fundamen talists.Hall makes no attempt to keephis arguments civil. He writes in afreewheeling style, with liberal use ofexpletives, sarcasm, and insults. Forexample, Hall argues that praying to atoilet would be as effective as prayingto God. This may be true, but it is notan argument likely to win the hearts ofmany theists. However, Hall says at theoutset of the book that he is not try ing to win any converts to atheism butmerely providing support for those whoalready agree with him.Playing Chess with Pigeons does notcontain any obvious factual errors, but itdoes commit some sins of omission. Forexample, Hall argues that far from beingan atheist, Hitler was a Catholic. WhatHall fails to tell us is that while Hitlerwas a member of the Catholic Churchthroughout his life, Hitler was stronglyopposed to the Church hierarchy and re jected large parts of the Bible. Because ofHitler’s many contradictory statementsand actions regarding religion, histori ans disagree on Hitler’s actual beliefs.Hall also cites Pygmalion in theClassroom by Robert Rosenthal andLenore Jacobsen to support the ideathat people often act according to theexpectations others have for them, andthat theists often see evil in others be cause that’s what they expect. What Halldoesn’t say is that numerous replicationsof the research reported on in Pygmalionin the Classroom have failed to duplicateits results, and the original research isnow considered invalid by many experts.Playing Chess with Pigeons providesan extensive array of rebuttals to a widerange of arguments in Christian apolo getics, and it has some rollicking goodfun doing so. Its arguments are unlikelyto sway many theists, but if you favora scorched-earth approach to debatingfundamentalist Christians, this may bethe perfect manual for you.

s e p t e m b e r2 0 1 35Eric JayneMinnesota Atheists Respondsto a Local BillboardThis article originally appeared in a slightlydifferent from in the St, Cloud Times.“With atheism there is no hope, onlydespair.”At least that’s what a billboard tells uson Stearns County Road 75 near InterstateHighway 94 in St. Joseph. Of course, a lotof billboards say things that aren’t true,and to be sure, this is one of those.It’s important to first point out thatall people, regardless of religious beliefsor cultural affiliation, are susceptible tofeelings of hopeless despair. If those feel ings negatively affect a person’s ability tosuccessfully function in life, then it wouldlikely be a good idea to seek help frommental health professionals.Regarding atheism, many peoplehave been empowered once they reachthe atheist conclusion because it providesclearer thinking and triggers a morefocused approach to life here in the cor poreal world.Atheists exercise hope when we workto enhance the well-being of others, suchas when we volunteer every month at alocal homeless shelter, donate holiday giftsto children in hospitals, and work withour LGBT friends to bring equal opportu nities and justice under the law.This billboard appeared recently in St. Joseph.Photography by Mary Carlson.We find joy and genuine spiritualityin learning how the vast universe works inand out of the blue speck we call Earth.We celebrate our knowledge of lifethat Darwin crystallized through histheory of natural selection, which comple ments our understanding of how theatoms that flow in and out of our bodieszipped through the vacuum of space eonsbefore our solar system formed and eonsafter Earth is swallowed up by our sun.I invite everyone, including those be hind the misguided billboard message, tolearn more about how we practice positiveatheism in action.Minnesota Atheists and CentralMinnesota Freethinkers offer a variety ofsocial gatherings and intellectually stimu lating lectures happening throughout theTwin Cities and St. Cloud area.My hope is that atheists becomebetter understood and more accepted inMinnesota, but I will withhold despair ifthat doesn’t happen as quickly as I’d like.Bernadette Chlebeck and Phil CunliffeMinnesota Atheists Meetup GroupContinues Volunteer Work at ShelterFor the last year a group of MinnesotaAtheists has been volunteering at TheFamily Place shelter to cook a meal forfamilies facing homelessness and eat itwith them. We are scheduled to servedinner the third Saturday of each month.We use the Minnesota Atheists groupon to organize the event. Amenu with a list of ingredients is postedin the comment section. Each person thatsigns up brings what they choose from theingredient list.Minnesota Atheists has been able toprovide a healthy, home-cooked-style mealeach month. We have prepared chickenParmesan, jambalaya, chili, Asian stir fry,and other recipes high in protein and freshvegetables. Meals are served family stylewith Minnesota Atheists volunteers eat ing with the families being helped by TheFamily Place.Wilder Research Center estimatesthat more than 10,000 people are homelessor transitioning to a new home in Min nesota on any given night, including morethan 3,000 children. The Family Place isa secular nonprofit homeless shelter thatkeeps families together and helps familiestransitioning to a new home. Families stayovernight in area churches and returnto The Family Place each morning forbreakfast.If you are interested in volunteering ordonating food for the meal, please watchfor events at the Minnesota Atheists groupat

6T H EM I N N E S O T AA T H E I S TThe panel at the American Atheists/Minnesota Atheists Regional Conference. From left to right: Hector Avalos,Stephanie Zvan (officiating), Amanda Knief, Greta Christina, Annie Laurie Gaylor, PZ Myers, and Kelli Clement.Weekend of Unbelievable Fun a Successfor the Second Year in a RowWe did it again! We pulled off another un believably fun weekend this summer for thesecond year in a row thanks to the help of alot of members and supporters of MinnesotaAtheists!The fun started in the late afternoon onFriday, August 9th, in the Midway Stadiumparking lot, where we tailgated until a fewminutes before our St. Paul Saints/Mr. PaulAints baseball game. At about 6:30 p.m. ourgroup began filtering into the stadium towatch Minnesota Atheists president Eric Jaynetoss the ceremonial first pitch. He provided alittle flair in his windup before pitching a per fect strike to the Mr. Paul Aints catcher behindhome plate.Unfortunately there wasn’t much to cheerabout during game play as the Mr. Paul Aintslost to the Sioux City Explorers by a score of3–1. There was, however, much to cheer aboutin between innings when the atheist-themedantics were performed. These antics includedan “Atheist Race” where two contestants racedagainst each other by first running to a Slip‘N Slide, at the end of which they donned agorilla mask to represent the evolution of seacreatures to land creatures. The contestantskept running until the PA announcer toldthem that there was no finish because it wasan atheist race. “You just keep going until youcan’t go any longer,” he said.After the fifth inning the crowd wastreated to Seigo, who is a recurring characterat many St. Paul Saints games. His routine wasadvertised on the scoreboard as Karaoke sungby a Real Japanese Guy. For what was billedas “A Night of Unbelievable Fun: The SecondComing,” Seigo sang the 1991 pop song Unbelievable by EMF.In the middle of the sixth inning therewas a Doubting Thomas who was “ejected”from the stands by the umpire after loudlyquestioning his judgment of balls and strikesfrom the previous at bats. The PA announcernarrated the kerfuffle so we could all be in onthe joke.The game ended with a loss, but theweather stayed dry despite a few gray cloudshovering above us. We won in that na ture played nice with the atheists. And thepostgame fireworks, which the Saints doevery Friday night, were a fun way to end theevening for the 6400 in attendance—which in cluded the 200 ticket sales in our atheist portal. Our American Atheists/Minnesota AtheistsRegional Conference followed the next day atthe Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis. The confer ence began at 8:00 a.m., with check-ins leadingup to our 9:00 a.m. welcome. Thanks to walkin registrations we had over 200 people attendthe conference!Iowa State professor Hector Avalos wasour lead-off speaker. His presentation “HowArcheology Killed Biblical History” was an ex traordinary lesson. This was followed with twosets of four simultaneous workshops dealingwith mental health, parenting, drug addiction,science, schools, and animal ethics.After lunch we went back to one largeroom with our headline speakers. GretaChristina spoke on “Coming Out: How To DoIt, How to Help Each Other Do It, and Why”;Amanda Knief spoke on “Citizen Lobby ist”; and Annie Laurie Gaylor spoke on “TheReligious War on Women.”After dinner, we concluded with a paneldiscussion that included all of our main speak ers plus PZ Myers and Kelli Clement, a localUnitarian Universalist and the Executive Di rector of the Minnesota Religious Coalition forReproductive Choice. The topic of discussionwas “Atheism and Religion: Confrontation orAccommodation?” It was a spirited discussionthat was both entertaining and enlightening.Many attendees stuck around for moresocializing, appetizers, and cocktails. The partywent until a few minutes after midnight. The Minnesota Atheists would like to thankeveryone who helped make this all happen.Thank you to board member Phil Cun liffe for renting the baseball game tailgatingspot, table, and chairs. Thank you to Bill Lehtofor donating food and drinks, bringing hisgrill, and grilling all of the food.Thank you to Jerry Rauser, Bob Salwasser,and Richard Trombly for taking excellent vid eos and pictures at the game and conference.Thank you to Paul Heffron and JerryRauser for writing and performing the Mr.Paul Aints song to the tune of Take Me Out to

s e p t e m b e rthe Ballgame.Thank you to Minnesota Atheists presi dent Eric Jayne for leading the efforts for theMr. Paul Aints game. Thank you to the St. PaulSaints team—both on the field and in the frontoffice.Thank you to the Conference PlanningCommittee of August Berkshire, Jill Carlson,Heather Hegi, Eric Jayne, and Stephanie Zvanfor making all of the conference arrangementswith the hotel, caterer, and speakers.Thank you to the Minnesota Atheistsboard of August Berkshire, Jill Carlson, PhilCunliffe, Andy Flamm, Heather Hegi, EricJayne, George Kane, Chris Matthews, andStephanie Zvan for their time spent discussingissues and concerns regarding the conferenceand baseball game. Each of their contributionsshaped the baseball game and conferenceexperience for the better.Thank you to all of our wonderful speak ers, including those who provided workshops.It was a genuine pleasure to work with you.Thank you to Minnesota Atheists trea surer Chris Matthews for all of his invaluablehelp setting up the online store for conferenceregistration and Mr. Paul Aints merchandise(which is still available), and for keeping trackof the finances.Thank you to Steve Petersen and ShirleyMoll for creating the name tags and mealcards for the conference. And thank you tothem and Chris Matthews for keeping trackof registration and checking people in to theconference.Thank you to Emily Matejcek for helpingwith our press release.Thank you to Clint Buhs for helping withour website content for the conference andbaseball game.Thank you to Stephanie Zvan, Steve Pe tersen, Eric Jayne, and the Atheists Talk radioshow production team at KTNF – AM 950 forcovering the baseball game and conference.Thank you to the Ramada Plaza and all ofits helpful staff.Thank you to American Atheists and theFreedom From Religion Foundation for yoursupport.And finally, thank you to all of our lead ers, organizers, supporters, paid members, anddonors. Without you and your resources noneof this could have happened. We cannot thankyou enough for helping us continue our effortsto promote the positive contributions of athe ists to our society.2 0 1 37Minnesota Atheiststakes part in the Pride Festival parade.Commentary Heather Hegi2013 Pride FestivalThe Pride Festival is just about the bestevent Minnesota Atheists takes part in.The highlight of the festival is theparade, which was June 30th this year. Eachyear, Minnesota Atheists registers for aspot in the parade and provides signs formarchers to carry. We have signs that read:You Look Just Like an Atheist; Smile, thereis no Hell; Gay Rights are Equal Rights;and everyone’s favorite, Hug an Atheist,among others. These signs really conveyour motto, Positive Atheism in Action. Thecheering we receive as we march downHennepin Avenue is just amazing. AndI have heard it isn’t just that the crowdcheers for everyone; a person who haswatched the parade has told me that thecrowd cheers louder as our group marchesby. It’s encouraging that we get such apositive response from the crowd, not tomention all the hugs the marchers whocarry the Hug an Atheist sign receive.For the whole weekend of the PrideFestival, Minnesota Atheists also regis ters for a booth in Loring Park, where allof the festivities take place. This year Ivolunteered to staff the booth on Saturday,the day before the parade. The festivalis a very bustling place both days, andmany people stop at our booth to inquireabout Minnesota Atheists and atheism ingeneral. This year, I met one gal who wasso overjoyed when she saw our booth thatshe broke into tears as she ran up and gaveme a hug. She’d had no idea that there wasan organization which shared her atheisticbeliefs. I really enjoyed talking to

released its Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism 2012, which shows that the atheist movement is advancing rapidly worldwide. The international survey asked respondents, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious persons [sic] or a convinced atheist?”

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