New Video Series for Secular Student Group Leaders

Admittedly, this is total shameless self-promotion. However, it’s done with the intention of trying to help. 

Gordon Maples and I (Kelley Freeman) have started a video advice series for the leaders of Secular Student Alliance affiliate groups. We are both alumni of really strong SSA groups with at least six or seven years of group running experience between us. While this is not an official project of the Secular Student Alliance, we want this to be as helpful as possible and we take questions on Twitter (or in the comment sections of the YouTube videos).

We plan on doing a video every Monday night at 7:30p (ET) — and they are Google Hangouts on Air so they are live! So far, Gordon and I have covered starting your own secular group on campus and tabling effectively. This coming week, we will be talking about how to run meetings and choose meeting topics.

These videos shouldn’t last much longer than half an hour each week. Occasionally, we’ll have other experts on to talk about topics (Hemant has promised to show up at some point)!

Here is our latest video, about tabling:

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A Conference on How to Raise Your Kids Without God

The Long Island Secular Parenting Forum is putting together a one-day conference for non-religious parents who want to learn more about how to raise kids without faith.

The speakers are fantastic — most of them are brand new to our movement — and the cost for the full day is under $25.

The event takes place on Saturday, September 21 in Garden City, New York, and you’ll want to register as soon as you can before it gets booked up! [Read more...]

When Atheist Children Are As Good As Dead To Their Parents

As a parent and an atheist, I got blindsided this morning.

One of the most popular pieces at the Washington Post website right now is Michael Gerson‘s brutally honest take on letting go of your children when they leave home. Gerson just saw his son off to college and writes movingly about how the experience hit him a lot harder than he was prepared for:

I know something he doesn’t — not quite a secret, but incomprehensible to the young. He is experiencing the adjustments that come with beginnings. His life is starting for real. I have begun the long letting go. Put another way: He has a wonderful future in which my part naturally diminishes. I have no possible future that is better without him close. …

The end of childhood, of course, can be the start of adult relationships between parents and children that are rewarding in their own way. I’m anxious to befriend my grown sons. But that hasn’t stopped the random, useless tears. I was cautioned by a high-powered Washington foreign policy expert that he had been emotionally debilitated for weeks after dropping off his daughter at college for the first time.

But it wasn’t Gerson’s tale of loss that gobsmacked me. It was a comment. This one, by a Washington Post reader called ariel823:

I am the mother of a 54 yr old who has valiantly fought cancer for 12 yrs and is now losing the fight, and the mother of a 56 yr old who has lymphoma and last year survived a stem cell transplant barely, and is weak and damaged but trying to hold his job. Also he exceeded his health insurance cap of $750,000 by a large sum. And our 3rd child has become an atheist in spite of his upbringing. Pain is pain, from wherever it originates.

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In the Wake of a Skeptic’s Death, Indian State Takes Small Steps Toward Rationality

Today’s New York Times features an article on Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, the skeptic who was assassinated earlier this week, presumably because his debunking of supernatural claims angered a few too many people…

The article is a glowing tribute to what he accomplished in his life and how far India still has to go:

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How Does Faith Impact African-American Communities?

Jeremiah Camara is an author and filmmaker whose latest project, a documentary called Contradiction, explores the impact faith has had on African-American communities:

Contradiction explores the paradox of an abundance of churches coupled with the great number of societal ailments in Black communities and seeks to find if there is a correlation between high praise and low productivity. Camara talks to the faithful and the faithless to determine the empirical benefits of prayer, worship and religious loyalty.

I asked Camara to tell me more about the film and what inspired him to make it. This is what he said (via email):

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