Don’t be a Dick – new from Jezebel!

Over at Jezebel, there’s an article on how to be an atheist without being a dick about it.

Ironically, I have yet to read an article or hear a talk about atheists being dicks that didn’t include a few examples of the author or speaker actually being a dick. Lindy West is not an exception. Are there atheists that are making the movement look bad? You bet. Does this article cite any specific examples, name any specific names or even address a real problem? Not as far as I can see.

[Read more…]

You really, really, really don’t want to read this.

No, seriously…you don’t want to read this. The other day, I got an e-mail that read:

“I think I am the only Human on Earth that can convert you to Christianity. Please contact me.   Maybe we can talk on the phone and than set-up a live interview. I could explain the real position of the Bible. Ask a pendulum if my word are true.”

I decided to respond and there was a quick, confusing e-mail exchange which culminated in the massive e-mail below the fold. After that e-mail he promised I’d never hear from him, but my inbox was flooded with e-mails with the same cut/paste threats from several different e-mail addresses. I tweeted about the exchange and people asked to see this, so I’m going to post it, anonymously.

Please note: The individual is clearly suffering from some mental disorder. Please don’t be disrespectful in the comments. Generic notes about ‘crazy’ don’t help anyone. This isn’t just garden-variety conspiracy and confusion, this is pretty serious and I hope that the individual finds the strength to get some help.

I’m not posting this so that people can laugh – I’m posting it to bring attention to mental illness and how religion and conspiracy-thinking can prey on and amplify mental issues. I’m posting it as a clear example of the difference between ‘your crazy uncle’ and people who have real problems and need our help.

We live in a culture that stigmatizes mental health issues. We need to fix that. If your comments below are out-of-line, you won’t be posting here anymore.

This was the lengthy response that is his new ‘Bible’: [Read more…]

Feedback from Sunday’s show…

Let’s make today’s e-mail a GREAT one. I directed a caller on Sunday’s show to my take on the Sermon on the Mount. He was, admittedly, a searching deist with Christian leanings – but he was still of the opinion that the New Testament was an improvement and that there were merits there that elevated his view of Christianity. Here’s the e-mail I just received (posted with permission): [Read more…]

An open letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Based on this video:

I sent the following letter to Mayor Villaraigosa and the Democratic Party:

Mr. Mayor,

I’m not a citizen of Los Angeles, but I am a Democrat. When Ted Strickland offered his amendment, calling for the party platform to recognize his god, I was disappointed, but not surprised. This sort of religious pandering has become common, but as someone who does not share his religious views, I continue to hope for the day when people will recognize that the party of inclusion should not be including divisive language that is disrespectful to and excludes anyone who doesn’t share the religious views of the majority.

Yesterday was that day – and you destroyed it. [Read more…]

Donate to CampQuest – help me defeat this upstart!

“Our daughter told us when she came home from Camp Quest Texas that it was the first time in her life that she felt completely comfortable and honest around kids her own age. She said that the experience was like drawing a deep breath for the first time.”

That’s why we’re doing this. SEND ALL THE CHILDREN!

So – I’m going to keep asking for donations for CampQuest Texas. AronRa is still in the lead, but neither of us have reached the goal.

The curious thing is that I’ve had more individual donors, but Aron has had more big donors. You don’t need to donate $500 (though please do, if you’re able). Donate $1, $5, $10…

Are you really going to let me lose this? Worse…are you going to let the kids lose?!

UPDATE: So, thanks to you folks, I’ve managed to hit the mark first…but don’t stop donating. We need to make the camp, bigger, and better!

Matt’s debates and podcasts and upcoming schedule…

So, I’ve been busy.

I did a debate in Frisco, TX at the NTSSC. JT Eberhard and I teamed up against John Ferrer and Sloan Lee. That video is now up here:

I couldn’t have asked for a better partner or been more pleased about the heavy lifting he did. It made room for my meta-level strategy and sermonizing. 🙂

I also did a debate in Binghamton, NY against Jay Lucas. That video is up here (for now, only the left channel is working):

Then I spoke at the Freethought Fest in Madison, WI. No video yet, but I had a great time!

Last week, I served as the officiant in a wedding for some friends of mine and then I ran off and got re-elected as President of the ACA.

This week, we’re going to try to do a Non-Prophets via Google+ hangout. No word yet on whether we’ll broadcast it…but there’s a lot to talk about.

Last night, I was fortunate to sit in as a guest on the Cognitive Dissonance podcast.

Next week, I’ll be at the Imagine No Religion 2 conference in Kamloops, British Columbia. I’m giving a talk and doing a team debate with Chris DiCarlo.

Thoughts on the SCA’s new Executive Director

For those who aren’t aware, the Secular Coalition for America represents 11 member groups and it serves as the lobbyists for the secular community. I’ve been a vocal supporter of the SCA (and many of their member organizations) for years.SCA logo

A few days ago, they announced their new Executive Director and the secular community got very excited. Unfortunately, most of this excitement was rather negative. You see, the new Executive Director is Edwina Rogers, a republican lobbyist with a history that reads more like someone we’d be working against, than with. [Read more…]

Matt’s speaking/debate schedule

By the way, if you’ve invited me to speak/debate and don’t see your event on this list, contact me immediately!

This is the rough schedule. I’ll get details added as I get them.

Edit: Postponed (was March 24th)
– Sam Houston University
– Topic: The Superiority of Secular Morality

My apologies…the event at Sam Houston University this Saturday has been postponed. As soon as I have a new date, I’ll let you know. In the meanwhile, if you’re not going to the Reason Rally, be sure to follow all of the bloggers and news stations that are covering it!

April 14th
North Texas Secular Student Convention
– Debate: “Does a god/God exist?”
– JT Eberhard and Matt Dillahunty vs. John Ferrer and Dr. Lee

April 21st
– Binghamton, New York
– Debate: “Does God Exist?”
– Debaters: Jay Lucas vs. Matt Dillahunty
– Time: 7PM to 9PM
– Location: Binghamton University, Lecture Hall 1

April 28th
– UW-Madison “AtheistFest”
– Topic: The Superiority of Secular Morality

May 18th-20th
– Imagine No Religion 2
– Kamloops, British Columbia
– Chris DiCarlo and Matt Dillahunty vs.

July 6-8

– SSA Convention


Edit… my speaking schedule originally listed FreeOK (The Oklahoma Freethought Convention). That was a mistake. I did that event last year and won’t be speaking at this year…but you should all still go. It was a great event and looks like it may be even better this year! It’s June 23rd…go and free Oklahoma!

On Christianity and the slavery billboard…

I loved the slavery billboard and thought the message was clear and good – but Sikivu Hutchinson argues that even when the message is understood, the imagery is unwelcome and that we have badly misunderstood the audience.

On the subject of the billboard and whether or not it is racist, I’ll concede that there’s apparently enough contention that it’s the sort of image we should avoid.

I look at that billboard and I’m outraged – but I’m outraged at the source that sanctioned and supported slavery, not at the individuals who are pointing this out. To me, the billboard is the equivalent of saying “Look, they sanctioned slavery, is this what you want to associate with?”…and that’s the sort of statement that one wouldn’t expect to be contentious.

Perhaps Sikivu is right. Clearly there were some who were more than a little upset about the imagery. I’m not even sure I can comment on that, as my own privilege might be preventing a clear understanding. At the end of the day, though, if the billboard isn’t conveying the intended message and achieving its intended goal, then it failed and we need some other message.

I don’t get to decide what someone else finds offensive, and I can’t easily put myself in someone else’s shoes…so I’ll simply agree that the billboard turned out to be a mistake, no matter what my personal impressions of it were.

But when it comes to the religion in question, I won’t be giving an inch of ground away.

She included this line, in her blog post:

“Douglass prefaced his critique by contrasting the corrupt Christianity of a slaveholding nation and the so-called benevolent “Christianity of Christ” practiced by African slaves in liberation struggle.”

Douglass was, if I’m understanding this summary correctly, wrong.

There’s nothing “corrupt” about a Christianity that endorses slavery. The Bible supports it, in both testaments and Jesus never says a word against slavery. That’s part of the reason that the billboard chose this message and one of the reasons that I continually use it as my go-to point for condemning the Bible.

There were plenty of Christians who were critical to ending slavery, but they were acting in opposition to their own religion; cherry-picking the verses that supported their desires and ignoring the ones that didn’t.

One could argue that this is true for all Christians, which would make it very Christian to come up with one’s own interpretation – and that’s true: there are probably as many Christianities as there are Christians.

But, when one’s holy book explicitly sanctions an act, in great detail and never explicitly rejects that act – those who do reject it are on exceptionally weak footing as long as they’re citing the same book as a primary source for their beliefs.

Slavery, in the United States, was ended by people. Religious people and secular people – working toward an ideal that directly opposes the Biblical view. Implying that slavery was a perversion of Christianity simply isn’t true.