Christians should eat free food with Fort Bragg atheists on Saturday

Todd Stiefel takes an unconventional approach to philanthropy. He put up the $50,000 at American Atheists that made our festival possible via his Stiefel Freethought Foundation.That represents 100% of the funding.

Last week, we were discussing ways to soften the blow that many Christians feel we are inflicting. We’re not attacking them at all, but it’s been portrayed as such by many prominent religious leaders (including Chaplains). Todd mentioned that his wife was a Christian, and that he’s made it work. We talked about his experiences and how those lessons could easily be applied to this situation. In the end the only way to truly break down these barriers is to have conversation, and realize that neither side are really ‘bad guys’.

Todd just donated 1000 meals to Christians and atheists at Bragg

Obviously Christians comprise the majority of the religious demographics, but any Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. are equally welcome.

Now my fellow atheists are going to wince at the “Pray for” part. Yeah, me too (and I made the damn thing.) But I think it still invites the conversation that America clearly needs to have. I have it on a regular basis. It usually goes something like this:

Christian: “I’ll pray for you and your festival.”

Justin Griffith: “Thank you for what you mean by that. But you should do something tangible to support us.”

Christian: “Ha ha…that’s kind of rude, no?”

Justin Griffith: “Perhaps, not intentionally… though your comment about ‘praying for me‘ can be seen that way too. As a former Christian, I get it. So no worries. We really do need all the support we can get. All you have to do is show up and watch us ‘not burn down churches’ or eat your babies. Then tell your friends we’re harmless.”

So all you Christians should feel perfectly comfortable coming out early to the Main Post Parade Field. Free food at 11:00 AM, and feel welcome to stay for all the free thought beginning at noon. You will not be alone, either. Richard Dawkins regularly attracts a considerable amount of Christians at his events. Some chaplains already told me they will be there incognito. Awesome.

Speaking of food

On the heels of our announcement that Fort Bragg had denied us the right to feed homeless veterans… I’m going to let you know right now that a very significant amount of food is going to feed the homeless based on this donation. This was already in the works, but we are certainly going to emphasize both ‘feedings’.

By the way, well over $1,000 was specifically raised by the Military Atheists and Secular Humanists Fort Bragg (MASH Fort Bragg) yesterday. Most of it came from reddit, and our treasurer will have much more exact figures to announce at the festival. It’s all going to the same account as our main funds, but each person who clicked on the paypal button in the viral post from (linked above) generated an email that earmarked it for the food drive. So our treasurer has to sift through it all to get exact figures. Thanks, brothers and sisters!

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  • Cheyla

    So sad that the life of animal had to be snuffed out to feed anyone. The animal was likely tortured before it was killed as a teenager at best. It would have been better to have served compassionate food.

  • James

    BBQ? No thanks, I’m eating babies! (Don’t want them to be tortured until they’re teenagers!)

  • Justin Griffith


  • Rando

    At least the animals got to have a life, plants on the other hand are rooted into the ground, in rows, like graveyards, never getting the freedom to roam around and have babies. No, plants have to endure a slow death, as their body parts are hacked off and left to rot,or worse yet their remains are dug up and dumped into a bin to be used as fertilizer to feed the next generation of plant sacrifices. Plants live a cruel life, growing for so long only to be tortured and killed to become a part of the barbaric practice know as a “Salad.”

    You’d rather protect the cute animals from a quick death while you mercilessly and cruelly torture and murder plants for your “Salads.”

    And let’s not forget the millions of germs and insects that were killed in the name of your “Salad.” Where’s the outrage for them!?

    You vegetarians have no understanding about the cruelty and suffering that went into your precious “Salad.”

    And you call us the “monsters,” you have blood on your hands too, just because a plant, insect, or germ can’t look at you with “sad” eyes you feel no sympathy for their suffering. And don’t give me that “higher order” crap! Death is death, you can’t say your stopping these things from dying while simultaneously killing millions of plants, insects, and germs. Just because you can draw a line at their suffering doesn’t make it all right. Your hypocrisy is why I think arrogant vegetarians are worst.

  • You had me at “free BBQ.” Hell, you had me at “BBQ.”

  • freethinker

    Rando – you need to take a freshman biology course. Then you’d know that plants do not feel pain as animals do, because plants do not have nervous systems.

    Many freethinkers do have a good understanding of basic biology and understand that farmed animals suffer tremendously at the hands of humans. That’s why there are so many compassionate people within the ranks of freethinkers. It would be nice to see more awareness of this issue by those who organize events for the freethought community.

  • I’m sure there will be plenty on vegetables for those that do think that their bodies require the protein and other nutrients that only meat provides.

  • freethinker

    Bob – surely you are aware that there are vegetarian sources of protein? Sheesh, I thought freethinkers had a respect for and understanding of science. The ignorance on display here is appalling.

  • There will be ‘side dishes’ for any vegetarians interested. Hope that helps, and doesn’t sound dismissive.

  • Eyedunno

    Years ago, when I was in college, I went through a McDonald’s drive-thru, and vandals had spray-painted “MEAT IS MURDER” on the drive-thru menu. So I ordered a Big Mac with extra murder.

  • Rich C

    Freethinker, you do understand sarcasm, right? When I read Rando’s post, it naturally came to me with a sarcastic tone. I didn’t imagine for a second that Rando actually thought vegetables feel pain or experience sentient thought.

  • Rando

    Freethinker I’m sorry my sarcasm wasn’t very clear. I likened vegetable farming to a graveyard, and how plants are waiting out a slow death to point out Cheyla’s hypocrisy. I know that plants don’t feel pain, but I needed a colorful metaphor to point out Cheyla’s hypocrisy.

    It irritates me when Vegetarians claim they just want to stop all the animal killing, meanwhile they kill plants, insects, and germs all in the name of their guilt free salads. I’m a meat eater, I have no qualms about that, something died so I can enjoy my hamburger. Vegetarians claim that killing is bad, but they don’t understand the killing that goes into making their “guilt free” salads. The point is plants, insects, and germs died to make, not only my hamburger, but Cheyla’s “guilt free” salad. The only difference between me and Cheyla is, I don’t pretend I don’t have blood on my hands.

  • Until vegetarians can say honestly that they use no leather shoes, belts, wallets, bags, wear no silk clothing, buy no oil or oil-based products* (synthetic fibres, fertilizer, plastics), take no antibiotics, they have nothing to say. Not that they stop saying it, of course.

    *Do they realize how many animals die for every barrel of oil produced, because of spills in the case of well-produced oil, or from major destruction of feeding and nesting grounds in the case of oil sands oil?

    Face it; humans are obligatory consumers of the lives of other life forms. The best way to reduce our impact is to reduce our reproduction rate, not to turn from one favoured type of life to a different one for our sustenance.

  • otrame

    You know, I have no problem with vegetarians deciding not to eat meat because, in this country, there are plenty of other options for good nutrition and eating too much meat can lead to some health problems. I have no trouble with vegetarians who are made uncomfortable by the deaths of animals for meat. Meat farming makes me uncomfortable too, though not because the meat requires the death of an animal. I don’t eat veal, because of the way calves destined for veal are treated. We all have our lines, and where we draw them are up to us.

    I have a lot of trouble with the smarmy, self-righteous vegetarians who imagine, as Rando pointed out, that it is possible to live without causing, directly or indirectly, the death of other living things, and who feel it is necessary to comment on a blog post like this with their holier-than-thou bullshit. You can choose not to eat meat. Fine. Being all “look at me, I am all noble and you are all murderers and I am so much better than you, LOOK AT MEEEEEE!!!!!” is just pathetic.

    In just a little while I am going out to my garden. I will kill any snails I find, because they are eating the last of my cabbages at a rate that is unacceptable. I will pick some spinach, wash it (possibly killing a few insects) and later I will combine it with some bacon and some cream and some flour (which I absolutely promise you is the result of billions of deaths of insects and weeds) and some butter and some vegetable fat and the onions I picked yesterday and make a nice spinach and bacon quiche for my family.

    I am a competent cook, so it will be delicious. I won’t feel guilty at all.


    And on topic: Justin, you guys are doing a great job. Thank you. I think you will make a real difference. Proud of you.

  • Steve

    “I’ll pray for you” is Christianese for “Fuck you”

    And yeah, evangelical and fundamentalist vegetarians are every bit as bad as those same Christians. Just stop preaching and live your own life

  • freethinker

    I don’t see any hypocrisy in Cheyla’s comment. She never claimed to not kill plants. Nor did she make any false claims of moral equivalency between animals and plants. Nor did she claim to be noble or better than others.

    Justin, it’s nice that there are some veg side dishes. Would have been better to have a veggie main dish too, and promote it in the ad alongside the BBQ. It seems that vegetarians are always an afterthought at best. My point is that freethought leaders need to be aware that there are a lot of vegetarian freethinkers, and their needs and desires need to be taken into account when planning events. I notice that FFRF is very good at this — they always have a veg entree at every event, and they always mention it in their promotional materials. Theirs is a good example for other groups to follow.

    Concern for animals overlaps freethought in many ways. Both are minority positions that require independent critical thinking and research. Both go against tradition. Both draw scorn and ridicule, even from friends and family members. Both require a willingness to go against the grain and live the courage of one’s convictions.

  • I’m going to the event. I am Western Buddhist (although humanist, first) which means that I’m non-theist 🙂 The ancient teacher, Gautama Buddha is not worshipped and there are no gods in Western Buddhism. Along with many other great thinkers, most of the lessons taught in Buddhism and Taoism resonate with me.

    The particular friends I have that are Buddhist are also atheists or rather, think the idea of a god is completely irrelevant to living a compassionate life.

    Anyway, I noticed you mentioned Buddhists in your post and simply wanted to clarify…just in case, for those that might not know 🙂

    Peace! Really, really looking forward to this event!!

  • The Eat Pray Love poster is fantastic! Todd is fantastic!

    I am an atheist and a vegetarian, and I approve this message.

  • Justin Griffith

    Keep in mind, the aim is really to get the military’s Christians to come out. We’ll break bread, and perhaps some barriers.

    Sorry vegans, it was never meant to be a slight to you anyway. Most of the complaints are also coming from people not eligible to receive the food, so perhaps I need to be clearer with the advertisement anyway.

  • freethinker

    I hope the event is a great success.

  • Rando

    No, she didn’t say she killed plants, and no, she didn’t say plants and animals were morally equivalent, what she actually did, is the same thing you’re doing right now, you’re drawing a moral line in the sand and saying, “everything above this line can’t be killed, I feel that these forms of life are important and that they shouldn’t be killed, as for the other forms of life, well it’s alright, go ahead and kill them.” You want to protect the forms of life, YOU feel are important, and we get to kill the rest. Then you get to sit there and pretend to be upset, and then you stand in judgement of others, and say we are wrong for wanting to kill a creature that YOU have deemed important. The problem is you only pretend to not see the blood on your hands.

    I have no problem with admitting to myself and the entire world,”I’m an animal, I eat living things, I kill things for my survival! I can see the blood on my hands, it’s from animals, insects, plants, and bacteria, I killed them, and I accept that.”

    What I can’t do is lie to myself and pretend that the blood on my hands isn’t there.

    That is why you’re a hypocrite!

  • Robin

    Hope some of the BBQ will be for sale for us non-military ID holders! Justin said to bring snacks so I was going to buy a head of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, and a bag of mini-carrots. If that feeds all the rest of you too, I’ll be impressed.

  • Mari

    This is the funniest comment thread I have seem on here yet! I hope all of you will be there Saturday, because my vegetarian/atheist ass will be and I cannot wait. I hope you all are this funny in person!

  • I wish my vegetarian/atheist ass could be there, Mari! I’m in CT and broke-ass, though. 🙁

    I hope there’s going to be some kind video highlights from RBB at some point, for those of us who will be sitting home alone on Saturday night wishing we were there. 😀

  • freethinker

    Rando – it’s not a matter of which lifeforms I personally feel are important. Animals don’t deserve to be treated decently because of my or anyone’s opinions. They deserve to be treated decently because they are sentient — i.e. they are capable of suffering, because they have nervous systems and can feel pain. Therefore, what is done to them matters to them. I didn’t endow them with their sentience, natural selection did. I merely recognize that they possess it, and plants do not. This is scientific fact, not anyone’s opinion.

    Susannah, you seem to be saying that unless a person can live life without ever causing any harm of any kind, they shouldn’t bother worrying about someone else’s suffering or pain — they should just feel free to cause it or support it. I disagree with that point of view. I think it’s important to try to minimize the harm I cause in the world, even though I can’t eliminate it entirely. I don’t think that makes me and others who care about animals hypocrites. I freely admit that I am no candidate for “sainthood” (for lack of a better word). I don’t use or wear leather or any type of animal skins or parts (most vegetarians don’t), but I do drive a car and I know that causes some harm.

    Everyone makes their own decisions about what to eat, what to wear, what kind of transportation to use, etc., and yes, we all may choose to draw the line in different places. I’m not trying to force my decisions on others. What I do hope to do is to encourage freethinkers and others to think critically about how their consumer choices may contribute to suffering — both human and nonhuman suffering. As a freethinker, I know that humans are but one species of animal. We share much more in common with our animal relatives than we differ from them. Like us, they feel pain and pleasure, they have emotions, they think, they are devoted to their young, they want to be comfortable, they want the basic necessities of life, they have a desire to stay alive, etc. I know that humans aren’t some god’s chosen ones and we haven’t been granted any divine right to rule over the rest of nature. Instead, we are a part of nature, and it rules us, not the other way around. If we undermine the natural systems that sustain us, as we are doing with our very wasteful and environmentally destructive system of animal agriculture (among many other polluting and unsustainable practices), it is ultimately we who will pay the price.

    I don’t eat animals for the same reason that I don’t eat human beings — it’s disgusting, it’s unethical, and I don’t need to.

  • katter47

    Uh, a couple of glaring errors in some the posts here. The vegetables I eat are not being “killed” they are harvested. If left in the ground/field/tree, they just rot. It is the life story of a vegetable. To equate that with the factory slaughter of animals is just absurd. I appreciate the sarcasm, but don’t double down on it as if it actually makes any sense.

    I find it fascinating that “freethinkers” seem so offended by those of us who chose to not eat meat.

  • SueinNM

    “I find it fascinating that “freethinkers” seem so offended by those of us who chose to not eat meat.”

    I find it interesting that vegetarian “freethinkers” like to batter people over the head and show off their ethical superiority to those who do eat meat.

    • Kathy

      “Ethical superiority”

      This is exactly what Christians feel about us. When we say we don’t believe in “God” we are saying in the same breath that they are delusional.

      When vegetarians say they don’t eat meat they are saying in the same breath that if you do than you are choosing cruelty.

      I think I am most distressed by how many free thinkers would feel that vegetarians or vegans are angry and self-righteous. Far worse, is making such sweeping statements as to imply that most or all of them are.

      Ironically, these are the same words used to describe atheists – angry and self-righteous (ethically superior). And, again these words are used to generally describe most or all atheists.

      No matter what we may think is right or wrong we should always respect each other. Why do so many of us feel the need to make fun of – or worse, demonize – what the other is doing?

      If you aren’t a vegetarian than you chose not to be a vegetarian. It ends there. It is uncomfortable for people that eat meat (particulary beef and pork) to come to terms with the cruelty behind the manufacturing of meat. This isn’t opinion. This is fact. It is also…

      …uncomfortable for those that have been indoctrinated with the concept of God to stop believing no matter how much evidence there is against it. They will defend it to the end no matter how illogical – denying the facts.

      Sam Harris wrote an article about the dangers of fireplaces – very real, scientifically based dangers. Yet, people still use fireplaces – it seems that it’s part of our culture and heritage. He said that most people will defend fireplaces with all sorts of reasons, completely ignoring the facts in front of them.

  • Rory

    No, Kathy, actually it’s not particularly difficult for me as a meat eater to ‘come to terms’ with the fact that animals die as a consequence. So perhaps if you resist the temptation to assume other people share your moral value, I’ll resist the urge to label vegetarian and vegans self-righteous.

  • Drivebyposter

    Uh, a couple of glaring errors in some the posts here. The vegetables I eat are not being “killed” they are harvested. If left in the ground/field/tree, they just rot. It is the life story of a vegetable.

    Cows aren’t killed they are harvested. If they were left in the field, they’d just die and rot. It is the life story of the cow.

    Just giving you a hard time. 😉

  • Aquaria

    So sad that the life of animal had to be snuffed out to feed anyone.

    What an annoying idiot.

    Look, fuckface, are you going to provide me with the foods I need to survive because I can’t eat at least half the fruits and grains out there? Have you been allergic to potatoes? Or gone anemic if you can’t get animal protein?

    You fucking smarmy self-righteous pieces of shit think that everybody should be like you. For your information, Kath, that’s what christers do.

    But no meat eaters told you you had to eat this food.

    No meat eaters are twisting your arm to go.

    If you’re wanting some vegetarian options, then ask for those rather than attacking people and saying bullshit fuckfaced crap like Cheyla and the other vegetarian fascists here have spouted.

    You are the ones who sound like smug, self-serving, illogical, evidence-free douchnozzles who can’t go five seconds without trying to spread vegetardian delusions to everyone. Just like the christers who try to wedge their delusion into every single conversation.

    Knock it off, and let people decide what they want to eat. It’s none of your goddamned business what anyone eats, or why. It’s not your goddamned call. At all.

    Are we clear, you idiot food fascists?

  • freethinker

    Here’s an article that does a pretty good job of explaining the overlap between freethought and concern for animals:

    Secular Ethics and Animal Rights

    by Peter D. Wilson

    a quote form the article:

    “Secular ethics cannot make a clear distinction between humans and nonhumans. Limiting the ethics to just the human species is arbitrary and inconsistent with the evolutionary history of life. One could just as easily choose to limit ethics to one’s own race, but this has been almost universally rejected. Ethics should not be based on one’s membership in a class but rather one’s characteristics. Therefore, if any creature suffers or feels the harm caused by an action, the creature’s welfare must be considered and judged against the harm caused by not acting. “

  • Rando

    I find myself expressing regret again Freethinker. I thought you were upset that animals were killed to make meat. I thought that if I argued that plants, insects, and bacteria all died in the name of “guilt free” salads, you would feel some sense of error, but it seems my assessment of you was misplaced. I humbly apologize for making this mistake.

    Now I realize that it is not that animals DIED to become hamburgers, it is rather that animals SUFFERED to become hamburgers. Now I understand my error.

    Now if I want to point out your hypocrisy, I have to focus on suffering of animals. If only there was an area of our lives where animals not only died, but suffered for our own personal gain. This has to be an area where that occurs! Let’s see here, animal exploitation, animals being made to endure suffering and even death, an area where the suffering of the animals not only lead to the gain of humans, but one that is ongoing and has benefits that can be demonstrated. Lets see…

    Oh, I know, Medical Experimentation!

    Do animals suffer? Check

    Are animals killed? Check

    Do humans benefit? Check

    Is it an ongoing process? Check

    The treatment for Tuberculosis and the discovery of Insulin are just a couple of the benefits we’ve gained through animal testing. 69 Nobel prizes have been handed out because of animal experimentation. If we didn’t use animals almost all of medical science would have to stop. Yes, we are trying to cut down on the use of animals,but you can’t deny that we have benefited from it. What’s worse is, you can’t avoid using the benefits today. If you use any of those treatments or drugs you are benefiting from the SUFFERING of animals. It’s also retroactive, these animals may not be suffering now, but you are still using the things we’ve learned through it.

    So freethinker if you honestly care about the suffering of animals, NEVER use the benefits of medical science again because an animal SUFFERED and DIED to give you that benefit.

  • freethinker

    Rando, you present only one side of the animal experimentation issue. The other side is that most animal experiments yield no clear benefit to humans, many are done for trivial reasons (such as testing new varieties of cosmetics, etc.), and some have produced misleading results which have led to human suffering (such as thalidomide, for example). So the case for it is not so clear cut as you imagine.

    Back in ’08, Richard Dawkins interviewed prominent philosopher, animal advocate and atheist Peter Singer for “The Genius of Charles Darwin”, the Channel 4 UK TV program which won British Broadcasting Awards’ Best Documentary Series. This interview touches on many of the issues raised in our discussion here, and is a thought-provoking foray into the intersection of atheism and animal rights. Hope some here will take the time to watch it. Singer does a great job of presenting the case for ethical consideration of the interests of animals from a Darwinian point of view. I’d be interested in hearing the reactions of those on this board after you’ve watched it. Here’s the link:!

  • Rando

    Thanks for the link. I was hoping that it would be more thorough than it was though. They only gave the Medical Testing aspect a puny five minutes. They never mentioned the benefits of medical experimentation. They also didn’t seem to know much about the regulations that go into animal care. The USDA has many guidelines on the subject.

    The biggest one of which is The Animal Welfare Act of 1966

    They also mentioned PeTA an organization that I personally have an issue with. PeTA supports domestic terrorist groups like the ALF, and they also have members that teach people how to commit terrorist activities.

    Seeing as you have provided a link to how you feel on the subject, I’ll provide one as well…

  • James

    Aquaria, you are one angry mother fucker! Love it!

  • freethinker

    A Convenient Untruth

    Of mice and men, and the lies science lives

  • Rando

    So, are you just going to keep ignoring the benefits that medical experimentation has given us? Every response you’ve given me either ignores the subject or just waves it away, like it’s not a big deal.

    I’ve given you examples of the medical treatments and cures, and you have given me philosophical “what ifs” and a talk that also doesn’t address the issue.

    I give you laws that try to minimize animal suffering, and in return I get a psychology blog that’s full of the same hand waving nonsense.

    Can you at least admit that there have been some medical breakthroughs thanks to animal research!? Cause this feels like it’s going nowhere…