An Atheist Hugfest in Champaign, Illinois

The Illini Secular Student Alliance in Champaign, Illinois is raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk by offering hugs, hugs, and more hugs!

They’re only $1 each :)

Yesterday alone, they raised $110. And they have three more weeks of this! What a great way to break stereotypes, raise money for a good cause, and have a fun time meeting other students.

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.

  • The Other Weirdo

    And then things got awkward.

    “What do you mean, you didn’t bring the babies?” said Rene. Her brow furrowed and her mouth curled. “What are we supposed to eat for lunch?”

    Seriously though, while it’s a fun way to raise money for your organization, I’m really sure how it helps to break religiously-driven stereotypes.

    • Tainda

      All the religious wackadoos think we are evil creatures who sit in our caves saying “My precious” all day and night.

      • The Other Weirdo

         You mean you don’t do that? Damn! Now I really have to go see a shrink.

        • Tainda

          Nope!

          I sit in a dark room, rock back and forth and say “I must not fear.  Fear is the mind killer.  Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear.”

    • jose

      They don’t look like Richard Dawkins.

      The “hey, they’re just regular folks like me” idea is very powerful. It’s worked for every minority out there. Normalization.

      • The Other Weirdo

         What’s wrong with the way R/D looks?

        • jose

          Try to see the point. Don’t get stuck in the example.

  • A3Kr0n

    That’s so kumbaya.

  • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

    Just try to be careful. If you hug some atheist for more than 3 seconds they might start screaming that you’re raping them. Hope they brought some sticker with them.

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

      Wow, seriously? Grow up.

      • http://twitter.com/Outcast_Kyle Edgar

        I think someone received the stone.

  • jose

    By the way, many atheists would benefit from closely examining and analyzing the video, not only the hugs but also the high five at :37, in order to learn the body language rules that govern these types of interactions. Many people have been complaining recently that we want to make them sign triplicate permits and drain all the fun out of life and all kinds of exaggerations because we said just grabbing someone without any prior sign is bad. Specifically, watch how they open their arms in order to signal “I’m ready to hug you”, and only then the actual hug takes place. Same thing for the high five.

    Having to explain this is embarrassing, it reminds me of Cortázar’s instructions on how to walk upstairs, but seemingly people need it. So let this be good practical advice.

    • The Other Weirdo

       The difference is that here you are actually paying somebody to touch you(or you touch them), which under a different context might be considered prostitution. So I’m not sure we have anything to learn about interacting with the general population by studying interactions with people we’re paying for the privilege of interacting with.

      • jose

        Oh come on. Alright alright I’ll make it more clear just for you. I condensed it into three simple steps and turned them into slides that can be analyzed separately! One, two.  If you’re ever unsure if you’re being a creeper at a social gathering, just stick to this simple rule of thumb. In order to go from step 1 to step 3, step 2 has to happen, too! With time and practice, it’ll become second nature and it will come out spontaneously. :)

  • ortcutt

    I really hate this kind of thing.

  • anon101

    Typical feminst double speak and dishonesty again. Frist you complain loudly about unwanted touching at atheist conferences even going so far as implementing policies banning all touching and then you go ahead and sell unwanted touching by complete strangers for a dollar.

    And the irony is that this comes from an organization the SSA that thinks that contractually ruling into other people’s bedroom is okay.

    • Trickster Goddess

       Um… if they are selling hugs, then by definition it is not unwanted touching.

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

       I know, it’s ridiculous. Sometimes I get uncomfortable when a creepy guy hugs me close for an awkwardly long time, but then other times I’ll hug someone who’s being friendly to me. There I go contradicting myself!

      Let me spell this out for you:
      hugs = touching
      unwanted hugs = unwanted touching
      Some hugs are unwanted, some are not. If you think about it, I’m sure you could think of some people you’d be fine with hugging and some that you’d really rather not. Wanting or accepting something doesn’t mean you have to want or accept it with anyone at any time.

      • anon101

        Let me spell it out for you:
        In the same way you can’t keep complaining about being objectified and simultaneously sell semi-nude calendars of you, you can’t complain about being touched unwantedly and at the same time sell hugs for a dollar or in exchange for getting vaccinated.

        A rather trivial parallel.

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

          I think there’s a time and a place for sexual themes, but that doesn’t mean that someone who poses sexually for something is asking to be sexualized every moment of their life.
          Personally, I’m in between on the calendars. I think there should be no shame in nudity and I think in a less sexist society, they could be a really positive thing. As in, it wouldn’t be weird to see naked men and it wouldn’t be completely about sex when viewing naked women, and for both genders, we could see beauty in all body types. Unfortunately, I don’t think that time has come, and people cannot see nude pictures without viewing the person posing for them as a whore or judging them for their looks.
          As for hugs, that’s a lot more personal than viewing pictures. Getting a hug from someone you want to stay away from is way more violating than knowing someone likes you more for your body than your brain.
          There are some people I know that I would be uncomfortable or even scared to get a hug from. That doesn’t mean I revoke my right to hug anyone I want (when they accept the hug).