A Little About the Secular Student Alliance at IUP

The mission statement from the 2010 SSAIUP Constitution;

SSAIUP is committed to creating a safe, welcoming place for all atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinker students.

SSAIUP is committed to educating the IUP campus about atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, and the rational worldview.

SSAIUP is committed to human rights for all. We are also committed to the separation of church and state as outlined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

SSAIUP is dedicated to improving the community at IUP, as well as the world as a whole.

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National Ask an Atheist Day – April 13, 2011

The SSA@IUP is participating with the University of Illinois and many other SSA affiliates in National Ask an Atheist Day!

To raise awareness about atheists and other secular students on campus, we’re hosting tables in the HUB between the food court and gym and in the Oak Grove where atheists and other secular students can answer questions from the general public. If you’re interested in answering questions, fill out the survey here to sign up for times.

If you’re knowledgeable, great, and if not then you can still be moral support, and I bet you’ll be able to answer more questions than you’d think. If you don’t identify as atheist but would like to help out, you still can, and you can explain the difference between atheist, agnostic, skeptic, secular humanist, freethinker, etc!

We’ll meet at our regular SSA meeting on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm to distribute flyers, Atheist name tags, and make banners.

Questions? Email s.f.luciano@iup.edu or SecularIUP@gmail.com for more info.

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Dan Barker blogs about his IUP visit

Thanks to everyone who attended Dan Barker’s presentation earlier this week, and a big thanks to Dan for coming to IUP! Dan’s presentation was great, but there were a lot of… interesting… questions afterwards.
Check out Dan Barker’s blog for his reaction:

http://www.ffrf.org/news/blog/a-monster-of-a-question/

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Spring Semester Meetings

Due to the difficulty with meeting locations last semester and everyone’s tough schedule, we’ve decided to meet biweekly at the Commonplace Coffeehouse! All meetings are Tuesdays at 7:00 PM!

Our meeting dates this semester are as follows:

February 1
February 15
March 1
March 15
March 29
April 12
April 26

See you on Tuesday!

Steve

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Upcoming Events

Happy Thanksgiving and happy Black Friday everyone! At last week’s meeting, we decided that since we’ve all had a tough semester, we’re going to have fun these next two weeks!

The Thursday we get back, December 2nd, at 8:00 PM, we’ll be having a Pasta dinner in the Great Hall of Whitmyre (the Honors College building across from the HUB). Bring your appetite, and come hang out with us!

The Thursday following that, also at 8:00 PM, we’ll be having a game night in the same location.

See you there!

Stephen Luciano

President.

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Fiction for Fiction

So I was all set to get up a little early this morning, relax, watch Glee (I missed it last night and still haven’t seen it – please don’t spoil it for me!), when I  was woken up by a text from  Gary. The first word was “BIBLES!” I knew what it meant, so I got up, grabbed my tote-bag-full-o’-books, and started texting. At our first meeting, we had started planning for this day – the day that people were handing out bibles on campus.

It’s called fiction-for-fiction, and I know I’ve seen other SSA-affiliated groups do it on campus. Melody and I got the idea at the Secular Student Alliance conference in Columbus this summer from a presentation by Jen McCreight, president of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, perhaps better known as the boobquake girl. (she blogs at www.blaghag.com – check it out!) Jen suggested that this was a good idea, somewhere between ultra provocative (smut-for-smut) and wimpy (maybe a different translation instead of the New King James Version that they’re handing out today.

The premise of this idea is that there is fiction in the bible. (I would argue that the vast majority is fiction). Regardless of my personal opinion, the bible is full of contradictions; both sides cannot be true, thus one is a fiction, ergo the bible has fiction in it. Since they’re handing out fiction, why don’t we, the SSA at IUP, hand out fiction too? I grabbed a tote bag full of the best fiction I could find at the Newman Center’s used book sale last weekend – I didn’t expect to use it so soon.

Our library of fiction for the day.

Our library of fiction for the day.

By 8:20, I was outside Delaney hall, where I was told that bibles were being handed out. Two older gentlemen were standing on the corner, their hands full of slim, green bound Gideon bibles. I set up about 10 feet away from them, let them know what I was doing, and went at it. I tried to be reactive – I would only approach those people who too bibles.

Most people ignored me, or at least said no thanks. Throughout the morning, I got one or two  people to take interest. When I said something about exchanging fiction for fiction, one passing girl yelled “Asshole!” at me in a surprisingly vitriolic manner.  That was about the only negative reaction I had so far.

The two gentlemen handing bibles out were rather calm. One was more quiet, the other more vocal. The vocal one, who looked a lot like Joe Paterno, kept saying something that really grated on my nerves – he kept calling it a “free textbook.” In retrospect, I suppose the bible is potentially a textbook – in a religious study class. But still,  the idea of using a new testament in a biology or anthropology class is so laughable, so offensive, that it really grated on me.

The talkative guy even told a couple people that they could trade their books in if they wanted – he was getting on my case about depriving people of their point of view, which is a valid point, but I really wasn’t taking peoples bibles if they didn’t want to give them up; they could have had the books for free. During a lull, I pulled up the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible on my phone, and searched for contradictions. The first one I found, in Matthew, involved the number of generations between  David and  the forced migration to Babylon. Matthew said 14, 1 Corinthians said 17. To the men handing out the bible, this discrepancy didn’t matter. The talkative guy said that it was the same scene seen by two different men, so I guess at least he didn’t believe that the whole thing was literally written by God.

By about 10:30, the two men  left,  after the talkative one told me to listen to that small voice inside me – my conscience, which he called my soul. I was hot, tired, and hungry, so I decided to take a break.

We’ll be back out in the oak grove continuing fiction-for-fiction at 2:45 this afternoon. Come out and help hand out books!

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(Belated) Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I just finished handing out candy for Talk Like a Pirate Day (well technically the day after TLaPD), and it was a huge success!  I showed up outside Leonard Hall at about 10:15, and started talking like a pirate, inviting lads, lasses and scurvy scalawags to get some candy and flyers from the SSA.

There were two main types of people that I noticed today . The first was probably the majority – those that ignored me.  Lots of them were listening to their iPods. Earbuds seem to be the bane of a hawker’s existence.  The next group of people was those who   really reacted.  I mean I’m a guy dressed and talking like a pirate handing out candy – it’s funny!  I really enjoyed bringing a smile to their faces. A few people even told me I made their day!

I decided not to hand out Flying Spaghetti Monster propaganda today, though the original plan included it. I think that it’s a joke that a lot of people won’t get; people who aren’t already atheists or skeptics generally don’t understand it from my experience. Plus, though it is poking gentle fun at religion, it’s still poking fun at it, and I wanted to take as gentle an approach as possible today.  Only one person got the FSM connection though – and he was a Christian. He was pretty cool about it though, and I really appreciated that.

The oak grove preacher showed up for a few minutes today. He stayed in his usual spot, about forty feet away from me.  When he started talking, I naturally increased the volume of my hawking for the SSA. After about fifteen minutes, he left.  I’m not sure if it was because of me; I was planning on talking to him at some point about the SSA.

By about 11:45 or so, we had finished handing out candy, so we decided to call it a day. Overall, I’d have to  call this event a success! … At that point I got a text from Christine, who hadn’t gotten the message that it was over.  I found a few pieces of candy and went forth once more into the breach!

Finally, another interesting point that I noticed. I expected that the best times to get people to take flyers and candy would be the fifteen minutes between classes.  I was wrong – the more people that walk by you at the same time, the harder it is to address individuals, and the easier it is for them to  ignore you. While classes were going on, I was able to talk to individuals as the passed me, and got a lot more people to take candy. Food for thought – sometimes quantity isn’t as good as quality.

May the wind always be at yer sails!

- Steve

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