***Update***: I made an error with the original posting. No band opted out of the festival; only sponsors did. The posting now reflects that. Sorry for any confusion
The Charlotte Pop Fest ’09 took place this weekend — it’s a music festival that featured the likes of The Smithereens, Jill Sobule, and several bands/singers I’ve never heard of.
But I’m interested because all the proceeds from the event went to a great cause:
This year Charlotte Pop Fest will celebrate the life of Charles Darwin and all proceeds from the event will benefit the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The year 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book The Origin of Species.
The organizer, James Deem, said he just wanted to raise awareness for science education.
“It’s just really important,” Deem said. “There’s not that many people raising money for science.”
But, of course, some people are offended by the prospect of science education and the idea that their personal sacred cows are challenged at RDFRS.
Deem says he’s lost a sponsor because of the event’s support of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and the money he lost forced him to cancel appearances by a couple of the bands.
Thorne stressed that the bands are there to play music, not give out a message about atheism or anything else.
Pop Festival attendee Debbie Aintrazi of Mint Hill hopes they don’t.
“If they start going around saying, ‘no, you shouldn’t believe in this, you shouldn’t believe in that’ — that’s when I [get upset],” she said. “I don’t believe in not believing.”
Of course, no one at the festival is telling people to stop having faith. And even the Dawkins Foundation wasn’t formed to convert people. Even if Dawkins would like to do that, that’s not the purpose of the Foundation. The Foundation wants current atheists to go public about it, and they want people to think for themselves instead of blindly accepting whatever some person in a church tells them to believe. The Foundation preaches education, not atheism. But if the former leads to the latter, so be it. That’s just a pleasant byproduct.
This is the press release issued by Deem:
It is with great regret that I have to announce that Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and Linus of Hollywood will not be performing at Charlotte Pop Fest this year.
A couple of weeks ago a sponsor, that had originally committed to supporting the event financially, abruptly decided they didn’t want to be associated with the Richard Dawkins Foundation…
The sponsors refused to give money because part of it was going toward science education and it’s namesake is a man who challenges people to question their beliefs.