Atheist Group’s Flyers at an Alabama University Keep Getting Torn Down

There’s a new Secular Student Alliance affiliate starting at Auburn University — Montgomery and, like many new affiliates, they’re having some problems keeping flyers up.

Sometimes they come down entirely. Other times, people just add their own commentary:

Secretary Shane Williamson videotaped some of the carnage in one of the buildings on campus:

Do you have any suggestions on what they could do to keep flyers up in the halls?

On the brighter side, at least they seem to be having fun replying to the commentary that’s written on there!

About Kelley Freeman

Kelley is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina. She is a former president of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of South Carolina and a former intern for both SSA and Foundation Beyond Belief. Kelley is also a board member for both Camp Quest South Carolina and the Carolinas Secular Association, a Volunteer Network Coordinator for the southeastern region for the SSA, runs a vlog series called Secular Start Up, sometimes does stand up comedy and can crochet like a fiend. She's on her way to becoming a Jane of All Trades. Follow her on twitter @ramenneedles

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587301218 Taylor Michael Grin

    My student group in southern Utah had a similar issue. I contacted some friends within student government and the student newspaper and within a week there was an article about it. And, protecting flyers was on the agenda of the next government meeting. Everyone pulling them down looked like anti-speech asshats. My overall point being: If someone challenges your right to distribute club material, there are hard and soft tactics that can be used within the structure of the school to combat this, all it takes is a little politics.

    • Shane Williamson

      Right now we’re contacting the school newspaper, and we should be getting some good coverage on this soon. With the help of faculty, the flyers are free to print, but I think the bookstore is making a killing on tape sales. We’re not discouraged by any of the vandals; we’re actually amused whenever anybody tears one down. In the video you see that we posted new flyers right next to the torn ones, and on the doors we didn’t even bother to post a new one. The torn flyers send out just as good a message, if not a better one, than the intact flyers do. It’s a standing testament to the bigotry that still exists in society.

      • http://CoffeeShopAtheist.com/blog Patrick

        I say post something along the lines of

        “This is what people with shallow faith do

        <—-"

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

    Perhaps a flyer that says at the top “Read this quick!  Some Jesus-hating “Christian” is about to tear it down!”

    • Helanna

      I like it. Or leave a space at the bottom that asks for commentary, or invites dissenters to a meeting. Something to call out the cowards who can’t handle a poster simply discussing the existence of atheism. 

      • randall.morrison90

        Come to think of it, the comments by Krauss in the poster are not necessarily an argument for atheism.

        And “secular” does not equal “atheist”…so they need to quit lying about that.

    • http://twitter.com/GreenEyedLilo Jayelle

      Or something that says “This message has been CENSORED!”

      • randall.morrison90

        And we all know atheists don’t censor!  …snicker…

        • Antinomian

          For some reason randall., …snicker… doesn’t seem to fit your personality. For the passive-aggressive such as yourself, may I suggest …tehehehe! scamper, scamper scamper…

  • Aguz

    Oh, the misspelling in the first photo is pointing out everything that’s wrong with the people destroying the flyers in the first place.
    The only solution I see is keep them coming until they get bored. 

  • Blacksheep

    Whether or not the word “day” means a 24 hour peiod in the Bible, it says that stars were created on the fourth day, and humans on the sixth. So at least the order is correct!

    The “forget Jesus” bit is a jab, and is probably more of the reason the signs were torn down. 

    • Tgavazzi1

      Thanks for trying to excuse what was clearly vandalism.

      • Blacksheep

        I’m really not trying to excuse it.

    • Coyotenose

      You do know that there are multiple versions of Genesis in the Bible and that they don’t match up. You do, right?

      • Blacksheep

        Yes, I do know that there are (two, mainly) variations on the creation story, but they are really just multiple tellings of the same thing. The sequence of creation is described in Genesis 1, and then more details are clarified in Genesis 2. (it pretty much begins with the creation of man). Genesis 2 is not very sequential (In the way that Genesis 1 is). It gets specific in that there were no “Plants or herbs of the field” before man, partly because there was “No man to till the ground…”

    • Isilzha

       Saying “forget jesus” is exactly like saying “forget the invisible, rainbow-farting pink unicorn”.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      ‘forget Jesus’ is a direct quote from the author.  One may not like what Krauss said, but it’s hardly a reason to censor him.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
      • Blacksheep

        I agree, I’m never for censoring anyone . I’m pointing out that the reason why people might be pulling the signs down is not because of the science part (maybe) but the Jesus part.

        • Coyotenose

           Those are not really two separate “offenses”, though. The type of people who do this are so anti-intellectual and have such knee-jerk martyr streaks that they consider discussions of major portions of Physics, Astronomy, Biology and more to be personal attacks on their beliefs.

          The effect is compounded by how No Child Left Behind and educational budget cuts have resulted in a generation of students who consider personal opinion to be equivalent to evidence, haven’t really been introduced to the whys and hows of basic science or of any field, and have never learned how to handle being challenged. I wish I wasn’t pleasantly surprised every time I see a smart, educated young person, because there ARE plenty despite what’s been done to them.

          • Blacksheep

            You might be surprised to find how completely I agree with you.

        • Antinomian

          No, no I’m sure it’s not just the jesus part, it’s the  jesus butthurt 100%.

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        I think the vandal assumed the quote was by a member, otherwise the “you sir are an idiot” line probably wouldn’t be there. Combine that with the lack of commas and inability to spell? I weep for the educational system.

        • Coyotenose

           It is terrifying how educationally unprepared students often are when they enter college. I have a professor friend who passes along papers (all identifying features removed, only shares with a couple of trusted people) that show that most of his students aren’t even qualified to handle introductory courses. Their appalling grammar and spelling are only the tip of the iceberg.

          • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

            Honestly, I’m not surprised.  I went back to college after a stint in the Army to get a second degree, and in a class where we did peer-reviewed assignments, was aghast at the lack of basic Enlgish writing skills…. and this was a class *teaching* basic writing skills.  (I had to take it due to a mix-up from my transcripts – boring story.)

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              The USA has the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world.

              Partly due to the fact that we send lots of kids to college in the 1st place, but that’s not the whole story.

        • Thin-ice

          Keep in mind, this is Alabama. This behavior would be exceedingly rare at a northern state university.

    • RobertoTheChi

      You’re basically excusing these asshole…

    • Collin

      And it also says plants on the third day, before the sun and stars.  That’s definitely not the right order.

      • RobMcCune

         The bible also says plants predate life in the ocean, and that flying creatures predate land animals, yet more things that are completely out of order.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

          I’ve always wondered, were penguins and ostriches created with ”
          every winged bird” on the fifth day or created with “creatures that move along the ground” on the sixth day?
          Or maybe they were created with the other birds but lost their ability to fly after the “curse.” lol

  • http://goddoesnt.blogspot.com/ James Lindsay

    I’m rather enjoying a certain facet of this: “Atheist Group’s Flyers at an Alabama University *Keep* Getting Torn Down.” That implies that they also keep getting put back up. That means the atheist group in question has the tenacity to eventually start catching hearts, minds, and attention. Kudos to them!

  • http://twitter.com/gdeichen Gavin Deichen

    A laminator and  some No More Nails might do the trick for a while? Or perhaps project the poster and watch them pawing at it like kittens with a laser pointer.

    • Pseudonym

      It’s probably against the rules to glue anything to a wall or door. Hell, I’m surprised they let you tape it.

  • http://twitter.com/GreenEyedLilo Jayelle

    Lamination, lamination, lamination! My feminist and Young Democrats groups did that at my conservative high school. Also (and this is probably less likely to be implemented), put on rubber gloves and rub the edges of the flyer with poison ivy. Use the rubber gloves to put them up and take them down. Anyone who does the taking down for them will have itchy fingers!

  • vexorian

    Yeah , stars exploding so that we could live is the most ridiculous stories I heard of.

    If you need me I’ll be at church listening about how a talking snake ruined our lives.

    • jdm8

       Exactly. Christians also complain about “no first cause” in a non-theistic origin to the universe. It really sidesteps the fact that they can not offer a first cause for a supposed omnimax creator being to exist.

      • ragarth

        They do. To theists, intelligence is magic and can be its own first cause.

        • french engineer

           the unknown always feels like magic

          • randall.morrison90

            No it doesn’t.

          • MattD

            Ignorance is magic…..the unknown is merely a challenge.

      • randall.morrison90

        If atheists can argue that existence is eternal, as in “pre” big bang scenarios that are based on endless cycles, then God can be eternal.

        One you have admitted the concept of the eternal, as Krauss has, then its wide open.

        • jdm8

           Atheists don’t argue that existence is eternal that I’m aware of. There are no known facts regarding what was before the big bang, if anything.

          Besides, if it was, if a Christian denies evolution, then there’s still a question of where God came from.

    • randall.morrison90

      They need to quit pretending that “Secular” equals “Atheist”.

      As for Krauss, he is conflating philosophy and science.

  • Sandra

    the way I see it…defacing a flyer, whereas it’s unkind, means that these flyers are getting through to people. It falls in the category of “no bad publicity”. Tearing them down so no one can read them is a different matter. Keep putting them up! ;)

  • chriss65

    Unfortunately, we’re going to have to deal with these nuts for a long time!  It doesn’t look like it’s going to go away soon!

  • http://profiles.google.com/sullivanjd Jason Sullivan

    Post them on the ceilings

  • Joules

    One good turn deserves another… deface and tear down their flyers. Christians, being great lobbyists, would attempt to engage some form of campus control to cease the defacement at which point campus authority can either admit Christian groups have more rights, protect all the flyers and cease allowing any flyers to be put up. But I’m in an angry part of my life and need my best friend to talk me down constantly…

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      One problem is that you’d be tearing down flyers of people who didn’t necessarily tear down your flyers.  In essence, just passing on the hate.  Getting the support of other groups on campus is a good idea, but it won’t be obtained by tearing down their flyers.

      • Grizzz

        I agree. This is not the time to “fight fire with fire”. Censorship is never the answer, even when we disagree with the posters from the other side.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Laminate them and make the edges razor-sharp. 

  • ReadsInTrees

    Couldn’t you just head the poster with bold letters that say something like, “Deface this poster if you’re gay!” or something else that the Christians would never, ever want to be associated with.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OFCT2JLB5U57DVSABYYMRCYTDE BeezerQ

       Nice one, Reads.

      They could also put on the poster “Don’t tear this down. God is watching you”.

  • Collin

    We always found that posters being torn down was a good sign because it meant they were being seen.  Posters that were still up 3 days later were clearly in places with low visibility.

    Maybe we should take something out of the psychology lit and put eyes on all the posters.  When people feel like they are being watched, they are more likely to behave morally: 
    http://io9.com/337492/eyeballs-fight-crime

  • Silver_fox-trot

    I have an idea, it’s been done before, but its awesome.

    Underneath the large poster, print a smaller one with various phrases such as ‘Do Unto Others’ and ‘Here a Poster was torn down by a Free-Speech Denier’ or even ‘My Cover was Torn Off By an Oppressed Person’ ‘I was Censored!’. Other little phrases that use the traditional terminology of the Christian Right for us ‘forcing’ their beliefs on them.

    Nothing that would insult them, but rather, words and phrases that would make them realize that they are acting the bully. Some Monty Python would be awesome too!

    • banana_slug

      Come see the violence inherent in the system!  Help!  Help!  I’m being repressed!

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      This is probably the best option. But I’d put it to the person ripping it down even more. Have something of the sort “If your faith is so shaky to have to censor an opposing viewpoint, why do you insist that others share it?”

      • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

        I like this one.

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    Here’s the best solution to this sort of thing that I have seen, courtesy of The Blogess: http://thebloggess.com/2011/10/missing-2/

    Take a photo of your poster on the wall, like the one above, then create “missing – have you seen this sign?” posters for the original poster.  (Be sure to get a photo of that one too.)  That way your posters are not just disappearing, but you are calling their disappearance to everybody’s attention.

  • Highlander

    I used to be a Resident Assistant at a University and our fliers were constantly being torn down, not because they were religious or non-religious or even slightly offensive, solely because even at 22 some people are still very immature and find destroying things to be entertaining.  There isn’t much you can do but keep putting the flyers up and pointing out how stupid it is to tear them down.

  • Qboricua3

    I think in order for the flyers to not be torn down, They should not mention any of the religions. I think you can get a secular message out without saying anything about the religions that are opposed, and in turn you will get more of a response because the flyers have less of a chance of being torn down.

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    I’m loving how the vandal doesn’t know who Lawrence Krauss is. I’d pay to see said vandal call Krauss an idiot to his fave and get bitchslapped with an advanced degree in science.

    • Drew M.

       Except the vandals are quite likely to be immune to science.

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        True, but if you hit the vandal hard enough they might see some stars. Might knock some sense loose.

        • Drew M.

           I see where you’re going with this and I like it. I like it a lot.

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    How shakey one’s faith must be to feel threatened by a piece of paper.

    • Coyotenose

       Well, religionists in the U.S. are extremely threatened by the Constitution. It’s just a piece of paper.

  • Noelle

    Laminate.

    No scotch tape! That stuff peels paint off walls.  Be kind to the hard-working folks who spruce up the place.  Who knows? That could be your summer job someday.  Try masking tape.  It seems to be gentler.

    Block of text is boring.  How ’bout a nice eye-catching sketch or photo or comic?  That up there is some right nice poetic language.  It’s begging for an artist’s touch.  Have you no artists amongst you?

    Anounce free snacks and next meeting time on the flyer in a big-enough font.  I can’t think of a college student who’d turn down free snacks.  Hell, I got degrees and a career and I don’t turn down snacks.

    Embrace the commentary.  Leave room for it.  People will stop to read the scribble, and then read your flyer, and then attend a meeting, just to see what all the fuss is about.

    You could tell the school newspaper.  I was once a writer and then section editor of the college paper and I was always looking for something half-way interesting for a story.  I mean, it’s great and all to devote space to whatever fund-raiser some frat is doing for some charity.  Again.  That no one will read.  But the defaced flyer story is actually interesting.

  • joe

    change the poster to print krauss’ quote mixed with the genesis story on alternating lines and alternating colors (or maybe bold and light). then at the end ask “which one sounds more feasible?” might be hard to deface every other line, or at least make it hard for them to follow. :)

  • Grizzz

    Hi Келли, трудно не удивляться. Эти люди из Алабамы после того, как все. Anyway, я люблю Россию, и работал в Камчатской. Я был Rantasipi Pohjanhovi с клиентами в районе вулкана. В документы, которые приняты вниз попробуйте с помощью пластмассовых баннеры и болты в стенах. хорошем отношении

    Grizzz

  • BenZ

    As big of a problem as this is, the bigger problem is the widely held belief that secular students are not victims, but aggressors. The same thing happened at both my universities, and it makes me crazy. If similar things had been done to posters for Black Student Union posters, Hillel, or Cru, the school administration and much of the student body would go ape-shit. However, no one gives a damn if the atheists are attacked.

    The answer is to do exactly what they are doing and more. Make this vandalism highly visible. Make the administration very aware of each act so that this bigotry is as much their problem as SSA’s.

    Another option is to “turn the other cheek”. At the my university, we left half of our posters blank and encouraged people to write whatever they wanted. Ironically, I never noticed these posters torn down, and they rarely included anything nasty. When invited to deface a poster, it was no longer an act of defiance.

    • Drew M.

       “Another option is to “turn the other cheek”. At the my university, we
      left half of our posters blank and encouraged people to write whatever
      they wanted. Ironically, I never noticed these posters torn down, and
      they rarely included anything nasty. When invited to deface a poster, it
      was no longer an act of defiance.”

      That’s a great idea! I would love to see if that works in Auburn U as well (I’m betting it would).

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    Has no-one in the US heard of CCTV? Get a hidden camera, point at posters, take evidence of vandalism to authorities.  How is this complicated?

    • Alex

       Except in some environments the camera will be the first to grow legs.

    • Drew M.

       Well, for one, the cost of the camera(s) and the potential of losing them.

      Let them eat cake, eh?

  • Robert_spam

    Let it go and just accept it.  I tear down religious junk like this all the time.  It seems turnabout is fair play.

    Print it on cheap paper and put up more.

    • Gus Snarp

      You’re an asshole.

    • Bryan Gillis

       Don’t do that. They have as much of a right to speech as atheists do. Everyone trying to censor everyone else leads to martyr complexes on all sides. An open dialogue, on the other hand, can help change minds.

    • Anonymous Atheist

      Look for fliers that aren’t marked as approved by the student life office or whomever handles that at your campus. Religious proselytizers often feel like they can post whatever they want without following procedure, and *those* can be legitimately removed. But don’t mess with the ones that are approved.

  • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

    This is what you need:
    1) Fishing line
    2) Bucket
    3) Liquid (organic or otherwise)

    Tape the fishing line on the back of the poster and make it run to the ceiling tiles.
    Fill the bucket with yellowish organic liquid and place in a precarious position so that removal of the tile makes bucket tip[ over immediately above the person tearing the poster down.

    A security camera or webcam nearby is a bonus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.ravenswood Jane Ravenswood

    a suggestion to keep the flyers up might be to print in large letters “Destruction of property is stealing.  Your actions reflect on your religion.” on these flyers. 
    Of course, the excuse will be that they are doing it for their god.  That’s fine, it just shows that they don’t actually believe in what they claim, that this god punishes anyone or that its powerful at all.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache
  • Jenniferabsher87

    Have in bold “not all people are Christians and we have the same rights to voice our opinions just like everyone else”

  • OCRazor

    Write “STOP!  Tearing Down Flyers Makes Baby Jesus Cry!”

    It ought to conflict a few angry Christians anyways.

  • Doryen Chin
  • Foster

    I’m a Catholic Christian, but I don’t mind providing some advice for fellow truth-seekers.

    “Do you have any suggestions on what they could do to keep flyers up in the halls?”

    If you ask questions like for example, “What does it all mean?  Feeling like you’re not represented?” or something else non-combative and generally metaphysical, the mere name of the organization at the end will suggest what your answers are to those questions, but won’t be target-worthy enough for critics to want to tear them down or add their own graffito to deface them.  You could also apply for access to glass cases that they have at many schools for official organizations’ advertisements.  

    Personally, I don’t buy materialism, but I think that the more we discuss freely and logically the more likely we will find the truth, or at least become better people for it.  

  • Randy

    On one point, they are right.  There’s no evidence that any star died so that we could live.  That idea is nearly as silly as the talking snake.  At least one star died AND THEN we live.  There’s a difference, and it’s important.

  • Roxy

    How about leaving the torn flyers up? Add one that says “a christian whose faith couldn’t stand the pressure did this” along with an arrow pointing to the torn page(s).

  • Keulan

    Just keep putting up new ones. And maybe intentionally leave some space on the flyers for people to write on them.

    These vandals must have pretty shaky faith for it to be threatened by words on a few flyers.

  • Shane Williamson

    Looks like last night our quasi-friends posted their own flyers next to the Krauss quotes.  They include the Hawking quote:
     “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the big bang are enormous… I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the universe.”

    Following this is a badly worded paragraph which leads me to believe that one of the students wrote it themselves… Perhaps one with honist intentions like the vandal whose work you see in the picture.  I don’t see why they have to print off flyers with no purpose whatsoever other than to try and discredit us, but it’s going to make for some more fun commentary.  On our own flyers, of course, because we at least have the decency to not deface somebody else’s property.

  • DBergy65

    From an Auburn grad… I wish you the best getting the group going. Warrrrr Eagle!

    Remember, tearing down the flyers is a sure sign of weak faith and the inability to face their own doubts.
    Keep it up!

  • ConureDelSol

    First thing’s first, laminate the flyers.  Much harder to tear that way.  Second, use stronger tape.  

    Three, make a flyer next to it telling them to tear down the flyers if they want, that they’ll just keep putting them back up.


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