Meeting of the Atheist Minds Recap

I’m back from the 3rd annual meeting of the atheist leaders across the country. (And no, they’re not all “atheists” but I’m just ignoring label differences right now.)

Like so many of these types of get-togethers, it’s hard to get everyone to agree on anything, but I did like one major idea that was proposed.

On the National Day of Prayer, many secular groups choose to participate in the National Day of Reason. This year, let’s get as many groups as possible to promote actions over words.

One way to do this is to donate blood.

Let me use the words of Ken Bronstein of the New York-based Center for Atheism who has been doing this for years:

Blood is a simple way that any secular person can observe the Day of Reason in a positive way. Everyone can take part: There is no marching or picketing, no placards to make or carry, no permit is necessary, there is no confrontation with authorities or the religious community. We call our blood donation program B.L.O.O.D., an acronym for Benefiting Lives Of Others Donations, and we intend to do it every year on the Day of Reason.

To start your own B.L.O.O.D. program, it’s simple. Here’s what you do: 1) Find your local blood bank. 2) Phone the blood bank to make arrangements for a group donation. 3) Notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is doing this and why. It’s simple, it’s positive, it’s effective. Join us in our Positive Protest against the Day of Prayer!

This year, on the Day of Reason (May 3rd), get your friends together and do something positive. We can compile what everyone is doing and share this information. These activities will do more to help others than anything prayer can achieve.

If you’re part of a national secular organization, write your leaders and find out what they are planning to do. Blood donation isn’t the only option. But let’s get the point across: Don’t wish for it. Do it. Help the community around you.

There were some other ideas proposed and we’ll see in the coming weeks how much traction they’ll receive:

  • Having a Freethought holiday (well, a Freethought “day,” anyway…).
  • Sharing litigation information across like-minded groups. Let’s be on the same page on what our groups are doing and where they need help.
  • Sharing educational resources.
  • Encouraging open identity as a non-religious person instead of petty arguments over whether a person is “atheist” or “Humanist” or what-have-you.

And my personal favorite:

  • Starting a Humanist sperm bank.

That one was a joke… I think.

Outside of those goals, there was a lot of discussion on what we could be and should be doing. There were also some interesting presentations: One was about early 20th century African-American history (Surprisingly, the black leaders of the time were almost all non-religious), there was a panel discussion on lawsuits, and Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, discussed what we are up against.

[tags]atheist, atheism, National Day of Prayer, National Day of Reason, Ken Bronstein, New York, Center for Atheism, Benefiting Lives Of Others Donations, Freethought, litigation, non-religious, Humanist, Humanism, African-American, Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism[/tags]

  • Devika Keral

    I love the blood donation idea for the NDOR. I’m definitely going schedule my next blood donation for May 3rd.

    I generally do introduce myself as a humanist when someone asks me about religion or worldview. It comes up a lot! And of course, so does the comment, “But you’re so generous and caring!” We need a serious PR campaign.

  • Janice

    Ken will be thrilled to learn that you mentioned the blood drive in your blog!

  • nowoo

    I’ve donated blood over 50 times, most of them back when I was still a Christian. I haven’t stopped since I became a godless atheist (but I’m still friendly too). I donate every 56 days if possible, and my next donation will be March 10. My thoughts will be with you on May 3rd, but I plan to donate on May 5 instead (my next opportunity).

  • txatheist

    I’ll keep May 3rd open. I’m eligible March 20th but if I donate then I will miss May 3rd. I actually remember this last year though I thought it was called Secular Day. I went in to the blood center and when they asked if I needed to donate to any specific cause I just said today is Secular donation day and they had no idea what I was talking about or at least it appeared that way by the blank stare :)

  • Karen

    I think the blood donation day is a wonderful idea. I’ll definitely pass it along to the leadership of my AU local chapter.

  • jason

    being pro-active is good but i am not sure how reason negates prayer! when people pray don’t they use their minds and do things at the same time as praying? don’t christians pray when they do these kind of meriful things you are talking about? if this is the case then doesn’t the ‘National Day of Reason’ support the ‘National Day of Prayer” rather than oppose it?

    have you looked for examples where prayer has benefited someone or a community? is there any evidence? if you have some but have dismissed it i would be interested to know. this blog and site has really got me thinking!

    thanks Hemant
    i would like to hear your thoughts

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