The Necessity of Secular Safe Zones

The Atlantic‘s James Hamblin published a wonderful piece yesterday about the Secular Student Alliance’s Safe Zone program and why it’s necessary:

Earlier this year, while no one was looking, Gage Pulliam took a photo of a plaque that listed the Ten Commandments, as it hung on the wall of his Oklahoma high school’s biology classroom.

Pulliam emailed the photo, anonymously, to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They then sent a complaint to the school district, which asked Muldrow High School to take down the plaque.

The protesters began speculating as to who was responsible for the instigating photo. Speculative whispers became cries. When some of Pulliam’s friends — who were among the cohort of openly areligious students at Muldrow High — started feeling heat, Pulliam outed himself on an atheist blog. Sacrificing himself to so that he might save others, Pulliam admitted that he was the one who sent the photo.

Pulliam later said that in the wake of his confession, his mother worried for his safety. She also worried that his teachers might grade him differently. His sister, an eighth-grader, said other students wouldn’t look at her, and “in one instance she couldn’t even get a class project done because her group members refused to talk to her.” Other students “told Gage’s girlfriend that he should stay from them or else they’ll punch him.”

That’s the sort of antagonism atheists can encounter in certain schools in many states. That’s what the program is designed to counter. That’s why I’m a supporter of it.

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Today in San Francisco, the 5th Atheist Film Festival

Today, in San Francisco, the 5th Atheist Film Festival is taking place at the Roxie Theater. (Tickets are still available at the theater if you haven’t purchased them already.)

While most of the movies have been seen in other venues before, there’s one film making its premiere today that I’m particular excited about (only in part because I was interviewed for it). It’s called Hug an Atheist:

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Five Atheism-Related Stories That Made Me Smile This Week

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses five stories from the past week that made me smile:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]

This Atheist Married Into a Prominent Evangelical Christian Family

Andrew Bordoni is a musician and former worship music leader at a church who just came out as an atheist after waffling with Agnosticism for a while. That alone may not be unusual, but there’s one little detail to his story that makes it all the more fascinating:

I married into a massive and very prominent evangelical conservative Christian family.

By prominent I mean that some have worked with and are friends with members of the Bush family, Pastor Rick Warren and other important and powerful people in the Christian and political world.

Some have been and still are Presidents, CEO’s, Investors, Chairmen, Etc… of big and prominent Christian organizations…

Yikes… that’s gotta be awkward, right?

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It’s Hard to Dislike Pope Francis, but Don’t Get Lost in His Charm

Esquire‘s Joe Keohane spoke with the American Humanist Association’s Executive Director Roy Speckhardt to ask him what’s up with Pope Francis lately, what with him being all nice and tolerant and inclusive toward atheists:

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