College Atheist Group Members Allow Students To ‘Stone’ Them for Charity

I love when college groups find a way to combine both fundraising and consciousness-raising.

For the second straight year, members of the Pastafarians at the University of South Carolina held a fundraiser on campus by allowing students the chance to throw water balloons at them — “stone” them — for $1.

They called it “Stone-a-Heathen” and they got the idea from the Bible:

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. — Leviticus 24:16

Turns out you can get stoned for a lot of reasons in the Bible…

Besides raising money for a good cause, the group also got out the message that there are some ridiculous things in the Bible if you’re not afraid to actually read it. Their promotional posters contained an assortment of verses in which stoning was the punishment for some silly “crime.”

Last year, when I posted about the event, I wrote that some students didn’t want to throw water balloons because they “claimed to be Christian and… it was ‘against their religion’ to stone people.” (Ironic, no?) This year, too, some people found the event offensive.

But in case you think stoning is an ancient form of cruelty and doesn’t happen anymore, the Pastafarians spread the message that it still goes on in some parts of the world:

“A lot of people disagree with our group and will not participate in throwing a balloon,” [USC Pastafarians president Kelley] Freeman said. “We’re not trying to get into an argument out here. Today, we’re trying to raise awareness for a much bigger cause.”

This “bigger cause” is one intended to end the suffering of people like Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, whose story was told on the Stone-a-Heathen fliers.

Dhuhulow, a 13-year-old Somali girl, was buried up to her neck and stoned to death for adultery. Only, according to reports from Amnesty International, she didn’t commit adultery; she was gang raped by three men and had the courage to report it.

Pastafarians held up signs reading “I rebelled against my parents. Stone me!” and “I blaspheme and cuss. Stone Me!”

Both are crimes punishable by execution by stoning in countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan.

“People don’t realize that stoning is still used as a form of execution in the Middle East,” [Director Dustin] Tucker said. “It’s unacceptable. This is the 21st century and we should be moving past things like this.”

The not-too-shabby $100 that was raised will be donated to Amnesty International “for their efforts to eliminate this barbaric practice.”

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    The Biblical prohibition on mixed fibers doesn’t apply to any two mixed fibers only wool and linen. Also, that was never a death penalty offense (the most likely historical punishment would have been whipping which isn’t that much better…) . The central point they are making is valid but doing your research is also a good idea. 

    Even more nitpicky remark: Not all Biblical death penalties were carried out by stoning. However, some of them are unclear due to translational and other issues. It is known that something involving fire was one of the forms of execution but it isn’t clear if this was simple burning to death. There’s some sources which suggest it may have involved having molten lead poured down the throat but those sources all date to centuries after the Jewish courts had stopped executing anyone. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/ryurack Rebel Yurack

      Way to absolutely miss the point…

      • Craig Hart

        Totally.

      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        Hmm? No. I think I got the point. The Bible is full of disgusting, draconian punishments for minor crimes and victimless behavior. It is an excellent example of Bronze Age morality. And the the impact of that sort of ridiculousness causes people, even little children, to suffer horrific agonizing deaths and other gruesome results. 

        In fact, I’m a little puzzled how you would think someone would be missing the point when the person  is commenting in detail on the actual really sucky Biblical punishments. 

        • Pseudonym

          Since we’re being nitpicky… Iron Age.

  • http://www.colormeatheist.wordpress.com Color Me Atheist

    I’m really not sure how I feel about this idea.  I like it because it just proves to believers that the bible is full of nonsense and even they could be stoned for their lives.  I don’t like it because I feel like it would bring out the ‘out-landish’ believers and they might think that the group is admitting they are “wrong” and that they are welcoming the “punishment”.  It can bring out some very interesting ideas in people.  

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      I’d be fascinated to see if that happens. The fact that they have water balloons and not rocks presumably would help lesson that chance.

      The real problem does seem to be that people don’t read their own scriptures and even when confronted with verses respond that they are offended by actually having their own religious texts pointed out to them. Humans are such irrational and defensive creatures sometimes. 

    • GadflySF

      Don’t you think it would be an amazing opportunity to confront that belief for a good cause?  I do.  Let the outlandish come – if they’re donors, of course.  That’d be a win-win in my book.  

      “Look, it’s *my* canon fodder and I found it perfectly fair and square!  Find your own!!”

    • Plain Skeptic

      I certainly don’t think that this fundraiser will convince believers that religion is a bad thing.

      But I was, at first thought,  very skeptical that many believers would interpret this fundraiser as an admission by atheists to being wrong and wanting punishment. That’s crazy.

      Then I remembered the research showing that conservative viewers of “All in the Family” and “The Colbert Report” don’t get that these shows are satire and instead think that Archie Bunker and Steven Colbert are actually making good points.

      So I have to reluctantly admit that “Color Me Atheist” might have a point here.

      • Plain Skeptic

        Nevertheless, I do think that this is a fun fundraiser for a worthy cause. And I congratulate the group for doing good works as a group.

      • Gibb

        Nothing, I repeat, nothing, will ever convince most believers that religion is false.

        • Chrysknife

          My question to you is, why would you want to?

  • Anonymous

    I can think of a whole bunch of people who’d eagerly volunteer to get stoned for charity….

  • Annie

    I think it’s a very creative idea.  They made the event light hearted, without taking away from the brutal reality of stoning. 

  • Danish Atheist

    This is why it is much more fun to be an atheist in the US! In Denmark, if I tried a stunt like that, people would look at me unbelievingly and mutter “Atheist? Meh … who cares…”

    Or … I guess … maybe it’s more fun to be an atheist in Denmark. There are just more of us here.

    • Pseudonym

      It’s more hipster to be an atheist before it’s cool.

    • Fabian Kupferschmid

      I think that would be the case in most European countries, except maybe Italy and Spain.

    • Mkw

      Trust me. Its not fun. 

    • Franks a moron

      Are you kidding? USA is one of the least atheist countries out of the 1st world countries.

    • Dara Harris

      Probably the latter XD There are a whooole lotta religious people here, who think it’s incredulous not to believe in a deity, that we who don’t have something wrong with us, and the solution is prayer for our damned souls.

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

     Cute way to raise awareness for a totally barbaric and horrific practice. Part of me kind of disagrees with making light of the practice. Does reducing the horror of stoning to water balloons leave less of an impact on people about how horrible it really is?

    • Funk

      Thats the whole point of it ….

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    I just hope that Dustin Tucker was taken out of context, and doesn’t actually think that Somalia, Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan are in the Middle East.

    (I was going to say, “Don’t they teach kids geography anymore?,” but then I realized that, in fact, they don’t.)

    • Anonymous

      Iran is traditionally counted among the Middle East. But that’s the only country in that list. Unless you go back to before WWI, which included Afghanistan in the definition

      The expanded definition that includes other hot spots in the area is a product of the War on Terror and generally criticized. They probably heard that definition in the news over the last years

    • http://www.facebook.com/newmodelno115 Dustin Tucker

      hi, dustin tucker here.  i can assure you that i do, in fact, know that the countries you mentioned are not in the middle east.  however, the author of the newspaper article is not terribly accurate when it comes to quoting people.  she got creative with each of us.  i can also assure you that i know how to capitalize, but my phone seems to dislike this website and will not let me do so, much to my chagrin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Seems like there’s a disconnect here… they’re mocking Bible passages to spread a message that predominantly Muslim countries continue to stone people. Why not use Quran passages? I don’t really see an explanation of how their message is linked to Christianity.

    • http://churchofthecasualchristian.blogspot.com Pryopizm

      Islam is an Abrahamic religion, therefore all Bible passages are apt.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        so is the Quran… but they aren’t using Quran passages. Which seems biased, no?

        • http://churchofthecasualchristian.blogspot.com Pryopizm

          Biased, yes; but specifically targeted for their audience.  The vast majority of the students will likely identify as Christian.  Quran passages wouldn’t be particularly effective save for a small minority of students and they’re likely to know how barbaric the Old Testament is. 

          And given that they’re primarily quoting the Old Testament (perhaps exclusively); they’re actually mocking all 3 Abrahamic religions as it remains holy text to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

          • linda

            Excellent response…I’m too tired for that tonight…I just said he was silly.

        • Kelley

          We looked for passages from the Quran, but couldn’t find any. There appear to be potentially SOME in the Hadith, but mostly we just found a story about a goat eating the verses about stoning.

          • Dara Harris

            That’s because there isn’t anything about stoning in the Qur’an ^^

    • Matto the Hun

      I think it also points out that these horrible, rotten things are in the Bible, which many believers are not aware of o deny in order to sustain the idea that the Bible is God’s perfect word, lilly white and as pure as the driven snow. And it’s not.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        true, but that has nothing to do with what they identify as their “bigger cause.”

    • GadflySF

      It’s a mindset, not a particular religion.  It’s probably better using Biblical passages where stoning occurred and relate to a larger audience than to pretend it never happened just because someone is offended by the notion of source citations.  

      • Pseudonym

        Which would be fine so long as you don’t cherry-pick quotations. Include the New Tetstament references to stoning such as the martyrdom of Stephen and  Pericope Adulterae, and you should be fine.

    • Gibb

      Well those verses are in the Bible…

    • linda

      Then you are very silly

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1377173672 Bryan Richards

      You realize islam is also an abrahamic religion. Yours and theirs really aren’t that different. Have you picked up a quran?

  • GadflySF

    The cotton/polyester blend?  Oh ready, aim, and fire!!  Definitely a stoning offense for a great cause!  Give ‘em Hell!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.j.jordan Scott James Jordan

    Pastafarians held up signs reading “I rebelled against my parents. Stone me!” and “I blaspheme and cuss. Stone Me!”

    And let’s not forget the Rastafarians, who welcome getting stoned too. ;)

    • Tonypmurray

      Prefer to be a Rastafarian then!!

    • Ohgodacrux

      They say that a man who lies with another man should be stoned.  Well yah dont have to be, but it’d help ;P 

  • Dedicatedwarrior@yahoo.com

    Seems like they are making light of a practice that still is happening to women in the world and most likely have never seen a woman stoned to death for no reason other than a misinterpreted passage in a holy book. What’s next a fund raiser using jews with showers and ovens?

    • http://profiles.google.com/rablenkov Dan

      Did you actually read the article?
      I only ask because when you say, “seems like they are making light of a practice that still is happening to women in the world”, it’s almost as if you didn’t read the part that said, “The not-too-shabby $100 that was raised will be donated to Amnesty
      International “for their efforts to eliminate this barbaric practice.”"

      • me

        Yes I read the passage and while its great they raised money for amnesty international I still feel that they are making a mockery of real world events. I’ve witnessed these actions first hand and to turn it into what basically amounts to a game even if its under the umbrella of doing it for charity is wrong. I can raise more than a 100 dollars just by asking for donations towards stopping these crimes than they did reenacting them. Just my humble opinion of course.

        • http://www.facebook.com/srta.tacomal Dara Harris

          This grabs the attention of college students that probably wouldn’t have given us the time of day if we just handed out fliers and took donations, though. They get enough dry lectures in class, so why not give them something a little more hands-on that’ll stay in their minds a bit longer than a flier? It’s a way to have fun while bringing awareness to an important issue.

          • Dedicatedwarrior@yahoo.com

            Either way its making a game of something terrible and while I agree its an issue that needs attention I feel this is the wrong way to go about elevating awareness. Do you really think the ones who paid to throw water balloons at girls really gave a crap about the message behind it or do you think its more likely they enjoyed the idea of throwing water balloons at girls and that’s all it was to them.

            • Jude Adamson

              I certainly agree that we should be outraged at the abhorrent practices that continue in these fucked up countries (and sometimes in our own countries too). I do think, however, that humour and sarcasm is a vital tool *in addition* to other methods of activism. You may not agree, and you are welcome to that opinion. Perhaps you could read this excellent piece from the Guardian … it explains it much better than I could. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/28/hitler-madame-tussauds-david-mitchell

              • Dedicatedwarrior@yahoo.com

                You make valid points in clear and non argumentative fashion and I tip my hat to you. I suppose the ends justify the means and any awareness raised through non violent means is a good thing. Thank you for the article it was interesting reading.

                • Chrysknife

                  Don’t worry DW, I’m picking up what you’re putting down. They’re just too interested in defending themselves to open up their mind and recognize someone else’s opinion. Thanks for your service btw.

            • linda

              You are just missing the point of doing this…you are pulling out what you want and picking on these kids.  Not one of them is trying to make a game of something terrible.  I think you just like picking fights.

              • Chrysknife

                Chill bitch, let the man talk. Just because he doesn’t see things the same way doesn’t make him wrong, and he has every right to drop his 2 cents. Side note: they ARE making a game of something terrible. They are mocking a stoning, but using water balloons instead of rocks. Now I’m not going to say whether this is right or wrong, but I am going to say he is right to have reservations since they are making light of public executions. Open your mind, and let the ignorance wash away.

                • Dara Harris

                  While passing out incredibly depressing flyers. I understand your views and respect them, but while being hit by water balloons is more fun than being killed with stones (although the balloons were underinflated, so they didn’t feel great) but at the end of the day, what really matters is what people are left thinking. I’m pretty sure most people didn’t leave thinking “Stoning is funny!” Plus, as I’ve said above, it’s likely that we raised more money this way than if we’d just sat at our table and asked for donations.

            • Dara Harris

              Actually, we had several people who simply donated money without throwing balloons.
              Also, they liked throwing the water balloons at the guys better; most of them figured we were too soft and fleshy and didn’t want to injure us. Just sayin’. We had to compete for them to throw them at us; they weren’t all like, “Huhhuh, dude, look, wet t-shirt contest! *throws at boobs*”

          • Dedicatedwarrior@yahoo.com

            My apologies I came off kind of holier than thou on my reply to you. If you were part of this demonstration I applaud your efforts on raising awareness on this tragic and barbaric practise however I just wish it didn’t have to take something like this to get attention from college students. I have nightmares from seeing these types of things and worse perpretrated on women in a certain region. Makes me sick knowing for every one I stopped dozens more were probably having worse things happening to them elsewhere in the cities.

            • Dara Harris

              XD I am the girl in the first picture. I was totally part of this.

              Yeah, it’s tragic :(

        • Gibb

          At least they are doing something about it, that $100 they raised will do a lot more good than your moral outrage.

          • Dedicatedwarrior@yahoo.com

            I have personnaly stopped men from stoning women on more than one occassion during my time in a desert so take your assumptions elsewhere.

        • Beal Alexandra

          What do you think Call of Duty and other war games are? People are saying “headshot sweet” while people are really getting shot in the head. Where is the millions of dollars they are getting from those games going? 

          Go do something else, man instead of posting the wrong doing these atheists did by raising money.

        • Anon

          why dont you go out and raise that money then? or just shut up b/c they did more than you will but your still belittling their effort

    • Rob

      >> for no reason other than a misinterpreted passage in a holy book.  
      >>a misinterpreted passage in a holy book. 
       
      >> a passage in a holy book. 
       

       
      fix’d

      • Dedicatedwarrior@yahoo.com

        Touche my good sir.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DWHOIMYUHETI676WTS6YPGED3I Jimmy C

      No.  Jews don’t need fund raising.

    • Upcangel422

      there is a movie called the stoning of  soria M…idk if i spelled it right but it is based on a true story…

      • Nishantku

        zoraya m

    • Lhamilton517

      Don’t be ridiculous.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Kellner/100002383508134 Robert Kellner

    This specific event was about raising money for Amnesty to help prevent human rights abuses, specifically stoning in a set of countries plagued by laws based on an extremely conservative fundamentalist interpretation of the Islam.  However, their signs make reference to the Bible, not the Quaran.  What could have been signs about saving people from horrible fates were instead signs mocking the religion of many people who would otherwise stand with them.  In essence their intent was humanitarian, but their message was anti-Judeo-Christian.

    Signs with basic facts about about human rights violations and saving people from horrible fates would have been more on topic and more successful.  I’ve been parts of college fundraisers that raised far more money than that.  Within 1 dorm building, population less than 200,I helped raise FAR more money than that for causes a lot less poignant.  Their $100 effort was a sad amount for how large the U of South Carolina is.

    And quite frankly, they take a very naive interpretation and understanding of the Bible and the Christian faith.  It makes them look foolish and uneducated.  They read the Bible and they make their own interpretations, completely ignoring nearly all common accepted religious interpretations.  The girl with the cotton/polyester sign comes of as a particular idiot to me.  That verse has NOTHING to do with stoning; it is an intentional and complete misinterpretation.  None of the sundry laws (which Deuteronomy 22:1-11 are) had stoning provided for as a penalty; they are general guidelines to improve people’s lives, some of which (like that one) are now historical artifacts.  (If I had to hazard a guess, that particular verse probably was to spare people from mixing two materials (wool and linen) which would shrink at different rates when washed, thus rendering a mixed-material garment useless after only a few washings.)

    It is no different than critiquing the U.S.A. based on only the Declaration of Independence and Constitution while intentionally ignoring the the Bill of Rights, U.S. federal laws, state constitutions, state laws, and all case law.  It is people like this who give atheists a bad name; they put their anti-religion message before their humanitarian efforts.  They did exactly what they typically criticize religious folks for.  Hypocrisy!  They are as bad as every preacher or zealot who puts their pro-religion/anti-other-religions message before their humanitarian efforts.

    • Chrysknife

      Truth. He speaks it.

  • Duderino

    This is like trendy atheism, atheist suck. No one cares why do you feel the need to shove it down peoples throats. Just like christians i swear.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1377173672 Bryan Richards

      Except we don’t have a book that tells people to kill each other.

  • Patmagooch

    This is lame. We’re all going to die anyways. What difference will it really make in the end?

  • Lame

    Pastafarianism is a monotheistic religion, not atheistic. Check your sources next time.

  • Atheismy-net

    Atheists are cowards. Brave people have to choose real stones :)