7/28/14

Changing Mississippi

St. Paul, Minnesota May 6, 2010 Humanists, ath...
St. Paul, Minnesota May 6, 2010 Humanists, atheists and agnostics held this event in support of the separation of church and state. and as a protest to the government endorsed National Day of Prayer. Fibonacci Blue 2010-05-06 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here in Mississippi, it often seems that we are surrounded by church-state violations. And yet, many of us are reluctant to engage in secular activism. We are constantly bombarded with unwelcome proselytizing from evangelical fundamentalist Christians, but we rarely speak out against it. Our environment is so thoroughly saturated with Christian privilege that it often feels as oppressive as the humidity in late July; however, most of us have invested little if any effort in changing this toxic aspect of our culture.

It is perfectly understandable that we would be reluctant to speak out and to work toward change; this is risky. We worry that engaging in secular activism, identifying ourselves as atheists, or working to change Christian privilege would bring unwelcome consequences. We might lose our jobs, or friends, or even our families. Sadly, these concerns are not as exaggerated as they might appear. After all, this is Mississippi we're talking about.

7/10/14

Mississippi Has Highest Rate of Vaccination

Peacock flower

We may not have much in Mississippi that we can take pride in when we compare ourselves to the rest of the U.S. We are used to scoring at or near the bottom on all sorts of measures of positive indicators (e.g., education) and at or near the top on many of the bad ones (e.g., poverty, infant mortality, obesity). But we do have something in which we should take pride and be prepared to defend against those who would threaten it.

According to Newsweek,
Today, Mississippi has the highest rate of vaccination in the U.S., with 99.9 percent of kindergartners receiving their MMR.

7/7/14

Hide Your Atheism From Potential Employers

Resume Design
Resume Design (Photo credit: CharlotWest)
A recent study published in Social Currents by Wallace, Wright, and Hyde (2014) explored the relationship of religious affiliation and hiring discrimination in the South. The researches sent fake resumes to employers who had posted job ads in the South. The resumes were identical except for the expressed religious identity, which the researchers varied. They found that resumes expressing any religious identity were 26% less likely to receive a response and that identifying oneself as a Muslim, atheist, or pagan brought the least positive responses.

The study was a fascinating read, particularly the researchers' use of many theories to interpret their results. But for atheists applying for work in the South, the take-home message is simple: do not put anything on your resume that could lead to you being identified as an atheist.

Your work with the Secular Student Alliance in college? Don't include it. The volunteer work you did with the local humanist group? Make sure it isn't on your resume. Such indicators are likely to do more harm than good.
Atheists also faced considerable discrimination from employers...They received 49% fewer e-mails and 43% fewer phone calls than the controls.
Employment discrimination against atheists, as well as others who are not Evangelical Protestants or Jews, appears to be part of our reality.

H/T to The Jewish Daily Forward

Subscribe to Mississippi Atheists

7/3/14

Before You Go Nuts With the Fireworks

Men Shun Rocket packs
Men Shun Rocket packs (Photo credit: EpicFireworks)
I have made no secret of my dislike with how so many Mississippians insist on celebrating the Forth of July, New Year's Eve, Christmas, and other holidays with fireworks. What I find objectionable is not that they enjoy fireworks. I recognize that other people are going to enjoy things I regard as silly and vice-versa. That's not the problem.

What I object to is their continued use of the loudest fireworks they can find long after many of us are trying to sleep and their refusal to pick up the litter they leave in the street and in my yard. This behavior strikes me as being incredibly inconsiderate of others, and I detest it.

What they do with fireworks really isn't any different from me putting an incredibly loud stereo system outside in my lawn and treating the neighborhood to an unwanted serenade of death metal for several hours while tossing beer cans in their yards. This would create a similar amount of mess and be roughly as annoying. I'd never do this, of course, because I am far more considerate of others than that. And yet, I'm the one who cannot be moral without their Christian god!

7/2/14

Mississippi Trusts in God

As of yesterday, we now live in a state with "In God We Trust" on the state seal. This recent addition to our state seal was a provision of the controversial Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Senate Bill 2681), which Gov. Bryant signed into law back in April.

As you may remember, this legislation was controversial mostly because of fears that businesses would use it to discriminate against LGBT persons. The public outcry over this anticipated discrimination was just enough to delay the bill a bit but not to stop it from passing.

The church-state implications of adding a divisive god reference to the seal and legislating Christian privilege received very little attention in spite public statements made by Sen. Phillip Gandy, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Gov. Phil Bryant. All three of these men, elected to represent all the people of Mississippi, made it clear that this legislation is about promoting their Christian faith.

When a Failing Infrastructure Really Stinks

English: Hattiesburg Union Station in the earl...
Hattiesburg Union Station in the early 1900s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Downtown Hattiesburg has been plagued with an intermittent noxious odor for several years coming from an aging city lagoon used to treat industrial waste. On good days, it is barely noticeable. On bad days, it is downright oppressive and extends for miles. If a town were seeking ways to repel visitors, this would be a winning strategy.

On Saturday, local music promoters held a concert they billed at the "Hattiesburg Stink Fest." The idea was to bring greater attention to the problem in the hope that public pressure might push the city to finally do something about it.