Atheist Community of Austin featured on “Hidden City”

Recently a bunch of our members got together with a TV crew at El Arroyo and had a chat for a couple of hours about what we do.  We have received confirmation that the episode will be airing on the Travel Channel on January 31.  They seemed like a good group of people with an interesting show concept, so I’m going to go ahead and encourage you to start watching it now and see what it’s like.

It premieres tonight on the Travel Channel.  This is the message we received from the crew:

Just wanted to say hello and thank you for being a part of our first season of “Hidden City.”  The show has received great feedback so far, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you in the coming weeks.

The first episode (Chicago) premieres next Tuesday, December 6th at 10pm EST/9pm Central.  We will then be showing a new episode every Tuesday night through February in that same time slot.  The AUSTIN EPISODE is on the schedule for JANUARY 31st.

Thanks again for all of your time, pictures, and signed releases! It’s been so great working together with you guys over the past few months to tell these incredible stories.
The topic of the show was kind of tangentially related to what we do.   Apparently they intend to visit one city a week and discuss a major event that occurred there, in order to explore broader issues.  For Austin, they chose the murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
The ACA has never been directly associated with Ms. O’Hair, and we’re only recently affiliated in a loose sense with American Atheists.  However, we are of course the most prominent atheist group in her home city, so we got to spend a lot of time over margaritas discussing issues of concern to us.  Here’s hoping we come out looking good. 🙂

AustinCOR Billboard Campaign Starts!


This is what potentially millions of people will see over the next month as they travel south on I-35. The Austin Coalition of Reason, of which ACA is a member, officially kicked off its billboard campaign this morning. The billboard is located on I-35 north of Grand Avenue Parkway facing north. It’s a message of inclusion, designed to let other atheists, secularists, and freethinkers in the area know they are not alone.

It’s already been picked up by local news media, although KVUE is currently the only channel with the story posted. ACA Board Member and AustinCOR Coordinator, Don Rhoades, has done some heavy lifting today with news interviews. Check Don out on KVUE:

The disappointing thing about the campaign so far – the reporter here just couldn’t report the story without putting an overtly religious spin on the whole thing. The title of this story was part of a quote from a local pastor, “Atheist billboard a great advertisement for God.”

I guess if you think your god created a planet in a vast universe just for you, you just can’t help thinking a billboard is all about you too.


Addendum: Hello, Squid Hordes, and thanks to PZed for the linkage. Feel free to follow us if you enjoy what you read here, gang.

Kathleen Johnson: “A Place at the Table”

Here’s the video from a recent ACA Lecture Series lecture with Kathleen Johnson, titled “A Place at the Table.”

On February 26th, 2010, Kathleen Johnson, American Atheists Vice President and Military Director and the founder of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, spoke at a historic meeting with the Obama administration at the nation’s capital. The event, organized by the Secular Coalition for America, focused on three issues: faith based medical neglect, proselytizing in the military, and administration support for faith based initiatives. This occasion was a prime example of how a variety of different secular groups can unite for a common cause and accomplish significant political actions. Ms. Johnson will speak about her experiences with “having a seat at the table” and the importance of effectively setting aside political and positional differences to effectively advocate for common causes.

“A Place at the Table”

Mp3 audio is available here.

Fred Edwords: Sailing the Rising Tide of Reason

Since some people may be missing The Atheist Experience this week, I’m posting the video from a recent ACA Lecture Series lecture.

Fred Edwords from the United Coalition of Reason on “Sailing the Rising Tide of Reason”.

Over the past few years, with the rise of the “New Atheism,” interest in Freethought and humanism is growing. And the more recent billboard and bus campaigns have stoked the fires of enthusiasm. How can Freethought and humanist groups benefit from this secular “coming out”? How can they capture this interest to help their memberships grow? Fred Edwords, a former executive director of the American Humanist Association, is now the national director of the United Coalition of Reason. Over his thirty-year career as a humanist leader he has lectured, debated, and taught on humanist philosophical issues and effective outreach techniques. He has appeared on national and local television in the United States and Canada, has been interviewed on radio and for newspapers around the world, and has lectured in North America, Europe, and India.

“Sailing the Rising Tide of Reason”

Mp3 audio is available here.

Last night at Threadgill’s

All right all right, I hyped up the surprise at dinner after the show, so I feel like I should just get it out and not wait on pictures to surface.

The Everything Else Atheist and I are now engaged. There, I said it. In a highly unconventional move, since we are godless heretics who scoff at tradition, she proposed to me.

Obviously none of this was a surprise to me since I announced it in advance. We had discussed marriage already and I already knew that she was planning to pull this off at dinner. What I was not expecting, though, was that she enlisted three of her coworkers at Texas Campaign for the Environment to show up dressed as the Bad Horse chorus from Doctor Horrible’s Singalong Blog. They sang the song, but the lyrics were, er… modified, to warn me of dire consequences unless I said yes.

I said yes.

The turnout was great, with about 30 people in total showing up. Among those attending were my son Ben, and a rare appearance by my sister Keryn and her husband Michael, and of course the usual crew along with numerous show cohosts.

Thanks everyone, for being there! And to everyone who knew exactly what was about to happen, thanks for keeping the secret.

Watch found on bat cruise

Sorry for taking up space with this announcement. I mentioned this on the Atheist Experience yesterday, but I know a lot of people skip past the announcements.

Someone left a watch on the boat after the bat cruise ended on Saturday. I have it. If you think it may be yours, email tv@atheist-community.org with a description, and we’ll figure out how to get it back to you.

I’m sure this needn’t be said, but please don’t waste time trying to be funny and pretend the watch is yours when you know it isn’t. Also don’t claim it in the comments on this message, as it is more likely to be noticed via email.

ACA Publishes Voters’ Guide

The ACA has completed its 2008 Voters’ Guide project this week. The Voters’ Guide is meant to provide information to voters in Texas from state and national candidates on issues that atheists care about. We posed 23 statements to 482 candidates and asked their level of agreement or disagreement with the statements. We got 50 responses, which is better than we expected.

Here are some related links:

  • Our press release on the guide (a good introduction). This was sent out Wednesday.
  • The main Web page (if you forward a link, use this one).
  • The questions (my favorite is #3 concerning conflict of interest).
  • The results (there are a handful of different formats).

Our press release has caused a little buzz already:

We would appreciate help in spreading the word about this resource–especially to people in Texas. The questions should be of interest to many people besides just atheists. Also, if people see additional links about the effort, I’d appreciate knowing about them.

If you have any feedback on the effort, that would be helpful, too, though it’s too late to change most things. We will likely attempt this again in future elections.