Making connections »« Wafa Sultan

Sunday morning liveblogging

It’s 9:03. People are milling. I can’t mill because I’m tapping on Simon’s laptop.

Last night at dinner I sat between Wafa and Annie Laurie. Jen, Ingrid, Greta, Simon, and Melody finished the circle. Good company.

Wafa asked me about penalties for being atheist, legal and social. (She says she always asks about that; she’s gathering the big picture.) I was able to point out Jessica at the next table and say what her penalties had been.

I also got a chance to talk to Jessica for a few minutes. She’s looking forward to the post-high school phase of her life.

Jennifer Michael Hecht is introducing the panel. The panel is Jen, Greta, Jamila, and Debbie.

Jen points out that Secular Students are growing hugely while Cru (as secular students call Campus Crusade for Christ) is going in the opposite direction…and they have WAY more money. Go us!

Greta says if the LGBT movement had had the internet in 1969 – wo.

When the internet blows up, it’s different. Hmmm. When the internet blows up about sexism, at least people think sexism is bad. Hmmm. I’m not sure about that.

(What do you think, Linda? I think the internet is [at least also] enabling sexist discourse, and fanning enthusiasm for it and a “community” of it the way it is for, say, atheists and secularists.)

Jamila: “Frankly, I’m a loudmouth and I like words.”

The future should be informed by the past.

“You don’t want to use birth control? Well be Quiverfull and get a show on the Discovery channel.”

Debbie: “So we weren’t really serious about that two minute thing, right?” [laughter]

The movement is broadening as the people involved become more varied. “As the scope broadens we’ll see more people involved.”

Jennifer says her next question is about coalitions. Is it a good idea for us to make coalitions with more liberal kinds of religion? Jen says it’s fine to work with religious groups but we don’t want to do “interfaith” because faith is not a good thing. Yeah.  

Jamila’s little boy is upstairs at the daycare. At his school 13% of the kids are at grade level in science. She’s willing to show up at his school. She might not wear her “show me on the doll where Jesus touched you” T shirt. But there are going to be times when the price is too high. There are going to be times when if you can’t sign the statement of faith you can’t participate. “You can’t come in unless you’re willing to cover. Your name is ‘Bey,’ what’s the problem?”

Debbie: we realize sometimes that there are groups who don’t want us there, because we’re atheists. Some feminist groups are full of woo, so that’s another kind of coalition-building – atheist feminists working with feminist groups and bringing along some skepticism. Ohhh yes.

Debbie: “the problem comes when people assume they know what everybody wants.” Everybody wants to hold hands; nuh uh. Everybody wants to talk about science all day; nuh uh.”

Jamila is invited to a secular inquiry parents group. “Wow, a parents’ group; I have a child; that’s really convenient.” And then – “Nobody starts a sentence with, ‘My child is an indigo child.'”

“This is why I’m so big about ‘be who you are, wear a button.'” We need to do more family stuff and bring kids so they get good memories and they will grow up in the movement.

Greta: “When it’s hard to come out, the people who come out are people who don’t care that much what people think of them.” That’s going to change. Now the movement is growing we’re going to get more people who are social, and do care what people think of them.”

Simon’s battery is about to die. I can’t spot him in the room. Will fall silent in a minute.

Or maybe 19 minutes, which might get me through.

Debbie: was there a world before YouTube? We all need more history. Yes we would benefit; no that’s not why people come to meetings.

Jamila: “We need to let people know there were always people who doubted.”

“I wish we did more reading as a society, especially since I’m a journalist. But then I’m a journalist on the radio…”

Greta: a focus on history shouldn’t mean getting stuck doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Jamila answers audience question: “As a journalist who covers women’s health issues, I’m a little pessimistic.” A journalistic shout-out. “Women don’t do op-eds.” There’s a thing called the Op-ed Project; google it and act accordingly.

 

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