Improving Mississippi for Atheists

Droid - change-and it-s on (by)The majority of Mississippians who vote continue to elect extremely conservative Christians to our state legislature and to Congress. Thus, it comes as no surprise that we secular Mississippians rarely feel as though our interests are being adequately represented. In fact, we often feel as though our rights are under attack, that we are surrounded by church-state violations and Christian privilege, and that many of those in power seem determined to keep it that way.

We have state representatives who quote the Christian bible to justify their bigotry, almost as if they do not realize that they are tasked with representing all Mississippians in their district. We have judges coercing juveniles into reading the Christian bible to avoid punishment while the local news media acts as if this is perfectly normal. We have sheriffs using taxpayer money to put "In God We Trust" on their official vehicles as if that will help them to protect and serve all Mississippians.


Heading to the American Atheists Convention in Memphis?

English: Peabody Hotel; Memphis, TN
Peabody Hotel; Memphis, TN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I am sure you are aware, American Atheists is holding their national convention in Memphis April 2-5 at the Peabody Hotel. This makes attending a large atheist gathering far more accessible to those of us living in Mississippi than is usually the case, and I suspect some of you will be taking advantage of the location to attend.

If you will be driving to the convention from Mississippi and have room for additional passengers in your vehicle, I suspect that there are some Mississippi atheists who would be interested in ride sharing/carpool options. If you are interested in helping other atheists in our state get to Memphis or if you are still looking for a ride, please feel free to post your information on our Facebook page.


Mississippi Passed Law Like Indiana's Last Year

English: American actor George Takei at the St...
American actor George Takei at the Star Trek Convention UFP Con One in Hamm, Germany, 1996. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The new Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana has been receiving considerable attention around the atheist blogosphere since it was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence. It captured the attention of Star Trek's George Takei and soon spawned a popular hashtag campaign on Twitter (#BoycottIndiana).

Here are just a few of the recent mentions I have seen:


North Dakota Woman Fined for Loud Public Prayer

English: An Oil Pump in western North Dakota
An Oil Pump in western North Dakota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to this fascinating report from ABC News out of North Dakota, "A Pastor and his family's faith is being tested by law enforcement..." That doesn't sound good. Why would local law enforcement test this family's faith? And what does it mean to test their faith? Could this be undue government interference with the family's right to practice their religion?

The report goes on to explain that the problem is that the pastor's wife, Ms. Martha Nagbe, has allegedly been praying loudly on city property and refuses to stop despite noise complaints.
Lisbon Police say the citations are not about religion or freedom of speech. They say they are just responding to neighbors who are calling in to complain about the loudness of her voice.


Another Atheist Condemns the Murders in North Carolina

Old Well and McCorkle Place 2005Craig Hicks has been arrested and charged with the murder of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. He has not yet been tried, much less convicted. But it certainly appears that he is an atheist who was active online in many of the same ways we are active online. It remains unclear whether atheism played any part in his alleged actions, but it certainly appears that he is a "real atheist." And so, I think it makes sense that those of us who want to express our opposition to these murders feel free to do so.

With that in mind, I posted my initial thoughts on the Chapel Hill murders at Atheist Revolution this morning. I wrote:
But there is one thing I feel comfortable saying no matter what else we learn about it: murder is wrong and does not become any less wrong when the alleged murderer is an atheist. Violence is not an acceptable means of solving problems, and I condemn this despicable act regardless of its motivation or the identity of the perpetrator or the victims. I have little doubt that many other atheists will condemn this violence, and I find that encouraging.
Even if the shooter ends up being someone other than Hicks or even if we learn that the motive for the shooting had nothing to do with atheism, I'm perfectly comfortable expressing my condemnation for the murders and my sympathy for the victims' families. I condemn violence committed by atheists against religious persons just as I condemn violence committed by religious persons against atheists.

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