Purdue Non-Theist display case vandalized

The Stewart Center at Purdue University has a bunch of glass cases that line its hallway where student groups are allowed to put up little displays advertising. Groups get a week reserved, so you see displays rotating through of everything from breast cancer awareness, traditional African dance club, anthropology club, upcoming musical performances, College Republicans, religious clubs…

But apparently an atheist club is just too much for Purdue to handle.

The Society of Non-Theists (which I just officially stopped being President of – was for 3 years) finally got a display case of our own. I helped our former treasurer put up the display at 3:15pm on Monday. It included a sign saying “This is what non-theists look like” with happy photos of our club members, our benign club t-shirt, some atheism-related books, and Darwin fish stickers.

And now it’s covered in marker with “In the beginning, God created…”Thank you, vandal, for perfectly illustrating why we need this club on campus. Because we can’t even say we exist in the most friendly way possible without someone trying to come by and shut us up or put is down. Though it really doesn’t surprise me; our flyers are constantly vandalized like this (or just torn down). Makes sense that they wouldn’t stop because of some silly glass. Foolish of me to think the display would last untouched for at least 48 hours.

I’ve never seen something like this happen to another case, not the Episcopalians, the Pagans, or the Muslims (the Islamic case is right next to ours and untouched). I guess Purdue still has a long way to go. Off to email this to the proper Purdue people, though they’re just going to tell me there’s nothing they can do…again.


  1. ShavenYak says

    Ah, Indiana. It’s Alabama’s northern cousin.The image links aren’t working, btw.

  2. says

    Maybe I’m just too quick on the draw (yay obsessively checking Google Reader) but the images don’t seem to be loading for me.It’s really sad that the same religions that yell out to everyone to tolerate their beliefs are so intolerant of people that lack belief. I’ve noticed for a long time that a lot of religious people don’t necessarily care what you believe, just that you believe in something. I don’t really understand why atheism is so much worse, but maybe they think if you already believe something wacky it might be easier to convert you to a different wacky belief?Oh, and since I haven’t commented much on your blog yet, I just want to say I love what you’re doing with this blog and everything else. You are an excellent writer, funny, and have a brilliant mind. Ok ok, so you are beautiful too, but I like to pretend I’m not that shallow ;)

  3. mcbender says

    Jen, the pictures are broken.That said… I actually think that this kind of vandalism can be a positive point for consciousness-raising, no matter how depressing it might be that people actually do it. By which I mean: the juxtaposition of a rather innocuous display with an extreme response just serves to further highlight the absurdity of our opponents.

  4. confuseddave says

    Put a notice on the inside of the glass saying exactly this. It will be have to be carefully worded, but their petty intolerance speaks volumes about theists, and as you rightly say, why a society for non-theism is so desperately needed.

  5. says

    That sucks. I’m finding that being an “out” atheist is sometimes more fraught than being an “out” mentally ill person – when I tell people I have depression, they accept that it’s an illness and doesn’t mean I’m “crazy”. When I tell them I’m an atheist, they hide their children and ask me questions about what the feeling of love is like for me. <hugs> if you want them. People suck, but you aren’t alone.</hugs>

  6. Quatguy says

    What ever happened to the christian tennant of “Love thy neighbour?”. Hypocrites!

  7. Hugin says

    I agree with this. Maybe try to get an extra week of display out of the administration to do it, but there needs to be awareness raised. Also, it might be a good idea to point out that the club isn’t just atheists. IIRC, we even had a couple Buddhists at the first meeting.

  8. says

    That sucks! Prejudice is never pretty, but hysterical religious prejudice always seems to be the ugliest. I hope your Uni authorities do something about it and try to catch the perps. Maybe if you scream long and loudly enough. :(Good luck, anyway.

  9. says

    Why does this not surprise me. It’s really sad when we can’t even be benign about our existence though. I guess there are good and bad things about those cases being in such a high traffic area.

  10. says

    I’m so sorry this happened. I know plenty of people who ascribe to theist beliefs and they would be appalled that this happened to anyone, especially by those who claim to be on their side of the religious fence.That said, I first stumbled upon your blog during Boobquake and have enjoyed reading your posts and points of view. I hope the authorities at Purdue actually do something about this. Until then, perhaps there’s solace in the fact you clearly pissed them off with your benign, fun-loving photos of atheists having a good time. :D

  11. says

    The entire quote is “Love thy neighbor (if they share your faith, otherwise I will destroy them).” It was edited of course.

  12. says

    It would be kinda funny if the vandals intent was to say “In the beginning…” and there being atheist there already!But I agree the vandalism is just wrong and unfair to be singled out among clubs too.EDIT: Noticed “In the beginning..” weren’t the only words. The act wasn’t just juvenile but abusive as well. >:(

  13. says

    Religion is toxic and the scourge of humanity. Not only is that act of vandalism cowardly (They were smart enough not to touch the Islamic case for fear of jihad) but they will gladly use criminal acts in an attempt to thwart reason while using their mythology as justification

  14. Jonathan says

    Jen, the term for this is “religious harassment.” Your school’s refusal to do anything about it is negligent bordering on criminal; if people had defaced a Jewish or African-American group’s display, just imagine how quickly the school would try to get to the bottom of it. Find a lawyer and learn your rights. Don’t let the uni get away with doing nothing.

  15. says

    I think this is a good idea. point out all the vandalism, and explain that this harrassment is precisely why non-theists have to have places to be among friendlies

  16. says

    Atheists are an easy target.In general, we aren’t joiners, that’s why atheist clubs are a bit rare and low on members.Any way, that is religious hate speech.Tell the school that you expect it to be treated the same was as if a jewish, muslim, christian or other display had been vandalized.But be willing to compromise and tell them you want the case for the whole year, yours will not rotate. Then put up a sign that says “Vandalism courtesy of blind faith”.This is the reason why I’m 100% religious and 0% spiritual.

  17. says

    Man, seeing things like this makes me realize how nice how lucky I am to be on such a liberal campus. When I arrived in the US for college I was awestruck by the density of very radical theists (by European standards), but this just makes me angry.

  18. shadowgm says

    May I suggest writing a letter to whatever Christian student organization is on campus and suggest that they speak with their members about this? Possibly include other faith groups as well, because the message of disrespect could be aimed at them, next time.I understand you’ll probably get a nastygram in reply, but it’s also something you could take to the administration and say, “See, we tried to address this in a civil manner …”

  19. says

    This is clearly a vandalism issue, and a religious harassment issue. We’ve been respectful of the other religious groups and their display cases, why can’t they just practice what they preach and just “turn the other cheek”?

  20. emilializ says

    Vandalism under any circumstances is wrong, but perhaps you could use this opportunity to further explain what your group is about. There was a similar incident that took place at my old campus (University of Toronto) some years ago. The group the Student Christian Movement (SCM) had an office on campus and somebody wrote on the door, “What about gays, you f*** bigots?” The SCM took the time to explain that far from being a fundamentalist organization it took a pro-woman and pro-gay stance, which clarified what the SCM was about. So sometimes like these can be a chance for the group experiencing vandalism to show themselves to the wider public, so to speak.In the end, it’s the vandals themselves who look bad.Note: as with what happened to your display case, I thought the person’s writing “You f** bigots was unacceptable.” Let me say though that I’m perhaps a wee bit more understanding because many people who speak the loudest against gay rights (ex. same-marriage, adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples) wear their Christianity on their sleeve (though I’d also say that putting obsceneties on any anti-gay religious group, as much as I might disagree with that philosophy, is also wrong).

  21. says

    Hmmm….”In the Beginning God created ‘This is what a non-theist looks like'”?It should continue…..And God saw ‘This is what a non-theist looks like’ and behold, it was very good.”

  22. gypsylibrarian says

    As an alumnus of Purdue (B ’92), I am saddened to see this happen on campus. And yet I am not surprised because Indiana is not the only place where prejudice and just outright hate against anyone not a Christian (and specifically a fundie nutjob variety) is a constant. I am down here in East Texas, and it is pretty much the same climate. I am just waiting ’til the day someone does something to one of our library display cases where I rotate displays every month. Hang in there. Best, and keep on blogging.

  23. Buffy2q says

    They’re so terrified of our mere existence they have to lash out. So much for the superiority of their “objective morality”.

  24. Lauren says

    I actually am surprised that somebody would actually do this. But then, I am perennially naive and in spite of all evidence to the contrary, always expect people to behave like human beings. Well, “people” as a class I expect to be idiots… but I hold individuals to a higher standard, and so end up sad and confused when people do stupid things like this. :( And it boggles my mind that the atheist display was vandalized and not the Islamic. I didn’t realise the two forms of religious bigotry were separable!(Note: speaking as agnostic/deist here. But even when I was religious I still wouldn’t have been able to understand why they couldn’t just leave you alone.)

  25. Zenlite says

    Speaking of which, I think it is a telling point that what is, in a lot of ways, the least religious of the Christian groups, is also the easiest to get a long with.When religiosity is inversely tied to things like externalization of perspective and out-group kindness, that says something.

  26. JJ says

    Christians have this Spread-The-Word disease and many of them just can`t stand it that somebody might not believe and feel its their duty to do something about it. Sometimes I think something deep inside of them knows how ridiculous it all is but they don`t want to be reminded. Might have to think after all. Kind of threatening that we can so easily not BELIEVE and feel fine about it. Actually I`m surprised it was just marker since the more conservative variety are capable of doing much worse for Jaysus. Believe it or not Purdue has progressed somewhat but maybe that is only because society in general has progressed somewhat. But I suppose because of its main course offerings it will always remain a relatively conservative university at least as far as religion goes. Figured that out in a hurry when I switched from engineering to bio. Ironically, in their reactions to us these people always seem to unwittingly help us prove our own points. This was apparently one person. Not a nice thing to do but I wouldn`t get too shook, it comes with the territory in this society. At least for now. Think of the hundreds of other students who passed by, looked, read and maybe thought hmm, that`s something to think about. Keep hammering Jen.

  27. says

    I lived in Indiana (even worked in Lafayette for a spell) from 1976 until 1996 when I moved to Australia. The sudden absence of godbotherers in Sydney was a shock to my system, like having a grey, greasy coating lifted off my entire being. What a relief. No more running the gauntlet of two old fat black ladies in their pink Sunday suits and netted hats at the entry to the Kroger’s with their card table, tin can and stack of tracts and who, without fail, in unison, bawled that I was going to hell and ‘had better get RIGHT with JAYZUS’ every time I ignored them.

  28. Zenlite says

    “It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!” – Monique Davis (D-Chicago), in exchange with Rob Sherman during his testimony to the House State Government Administration Committee (4-2-2008)

  29. says

    Hello Jen,I too am a fairly new reader, in the wake of Boobquake (p.s., speaking as a social-constructionist, pro-sex feminist, WELL DONE!)I have to agree with the folks who insisted that this is religious harassment and should be treated as such. As what i like to call, a ‘devout agnostic’ it’s irritating that atheism and agnosticism are treated as the ‘poor cousins’ to other major systems of belief, as if they don’t count because they’re not based around any deity or deities.In all honesty, I’d bet they’d sit up and listen, as it’s already apparent that you’re quite capable of garnering media attention, should the occasion call for it. And I’d say, turning a blind eye to what could very easily be considered a hate crime is probably the kind of publicity Purdue does NOT need.

  30. Collin says

    Including the work of Christopher Hitchins and Richard Dawkins with the display is not the “… most friendly way possible”. It’s deliberately incisive.

  31. KellyRachel says

    You’re right. It wouldn’t happen to another religion, because they seem to be respected and allowed freedom of speech and worship. They could put copies of their bibles and whatever in their cases as well and no-one would consider that “incisive”. Why aren’t atheists granted the same amount of respect as a religious person?

  32. says

    Regardless, it doesn’t give someone else the right to deface the school’s property in protest against whatever infraction they felt the display caused. Not only that, but the religious organizations were no doubt allowed to put their texts of choice on display, why shouldn’t the non-theist organization be given the same right hassle free?

  33. Collin says

    Not saying the vandalism was justified, all I know about this display and its context is what the blog tells me, but this is a poke in the eye. Some skinny kid runs around saying “punch me you dickless jerks” and eventually he’s going to get punched. That a deliberately controversial display was controversial enough to be defaced doesn’t prove anything about anyone’s character- except that no one involved wanted to play nice. A non-theist display isn’t what set these people off, as this post argues- it was that a part of this display included the work of people who make a living pissing people off. And so it did.

  34. John Sherman says

    Is it my imagination or did they leave the “d” off God? I can’t see it in the photos. Well! If they are suggesting that Go created the universe, I might listen to that! There is only one “o” but I’d still pronounce it Goo. “In the Beginning, Goo created the Heavens and the Earth. And He saw that it was sticky. ‘Mmmm…,’ said Goo. “Sticky….'”

  35. JJ says

    I assume you mean inciting not “incisive”. Regardless, any atheism display will incite somebody no matter how it is presented. Nobody is going to be immediately converted to atheism but those particular authors are a good start for anybody who is interested in finding out a little more. We are not trying to cram atheism down any one`s throat.

  36. Collin says

    Agreed. In all honesty it’s shitty that this was defaced. Is this community strongly religious? I’m from Alberta, and most communities I’ve lived in were pretty nice about everyone’s religion, including Christians to atheists and vice versa, so maybe things are different in Indiana.

  37. salbro1 says

    Um, can you explain what about the display is equivalent to “punch me”? Do you think the feminists wearing “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts are asking to be punched, too?

  38. salbro1 says

    My guess is that the person who wrote that BS on your display would think of their act more as proselytization than vandalism. I would also venture to guess that a lot of people might agree (unfortunately). This makes it all the more important that you use the opportunity to draw the parallel between their act and vandalism/harassment. If you approach other religious groups on campus, maybe they will support your message that this was harassment and that there is no place for it at Purdue. Good luck!

  39. says

    Maybe, this is just the Christian way of starting a hundred yard dash, or a potato sack race. In the beginning, Go!!!

  40. says

    So, it’s totally okay for religious and political groups to fill their cases with books and opinionated topics that others may disagree with, but when atheists do it we’re being offensive? And we’re just asking to be vandalized because of our atheism?…Anyone who thinks us simply stating our lack of belief by using books as examples is unfriendly and deliberately incisive can kindly go fuck themselves. There, how’s that for friendly?

  41. Buffy2q says

    I remember her. Knowledge is only dangerous to people with very small minds, or very weak “faith”. If one’s “faith” is so fragile that other ideas or opinions could shatter it, that faith is utterly worthless.

  42. JJ says

    So the vandalism was unjustified but understandable because some people will be pissed off by some of the material. The exhibit was just egging on somebody who is prone to vandalize under these circumstances? I don`t mind atheism so much but these guys piss me off because they are anti-religion for the most part and I won`t stand for that(?). I think I know the point you are making but it seems irrelevant. It was not justified because somebody has a bug up their ass.

  43. HCFSDiscoman says

    hopefully some day in the future we can look back and say “anyone can put anything in a book. i believe there was a book that said the entire universe was created in seven days. a bestseller too…”wow, that is not fun. whatever happened to the tolerance religions preach? other than some of them only apply tolerance to their own people-making some religious people quite hypocritic.

  44. C. Sometimes says

    So if a woman deliberately dresses provocatively trying to create an earthquake but gets raped instead, then that is perfectly understandable since she was asking for it?Anger enough to incite violence comes from an inherent lack of security in one’s own power. If one is threatened by some books and pictures, maybe a deeper look at the strength of one’s own beliefs is in order.This was a childish and insecure response to an imagined threat. The Non-Theists were not attacking anyone by putting up this display, they were DISPLAYING. Justifying this vandalism by saying they were “asking for it” is banal and jejune.

  45. jrm529 says

    Actually, I can’t really see the ‘d’ in “created” either.I think that makes it something like: “In the beginning, Go! Create the Universe!” ;-)

  46. Monado says

    That’s it: religios are bullies, especially when they have the upper hand. Oh, for a security camera! I would like to hear that someone got raked over the coals and possibly expelled for this childish vandalism.Maybe the tone trolls are right and we should talk about community of feeling: A National Day of Prayer is a bad thing because it makes the non-religious feel oppressed, left out, and marginalized, not to mention bemused as we watch people bowing to their imaginary friend and worried about what irrationality they’ll come up with next. We’re being treated like second-class citizens. It’s not Faaaaiiirr!P.S. I’m adding you to my blog-roll.

  47. John says

    This is America, Collin. We’re still learning how to play well with others.

  48. Julie says

    I was just about to make this same comment. Finals week brings out the best in you, m’dear.

  49. says

    No offense (and I’m typing this as a “I don’t really care one way or the other, completely non-religious, really, I don’t give a crap if anyone believes in god or not or why” type), but, frankly, quite a few self identifying atheists take pride in shoving it in people’s faces. Repeatedly. And as rudely as possible. Just like Christians and Muslims. Just saying.

  50. says

    Indiana is one of our more embarrassing, backward states, I’m afraid. The state legislature was pretty much run by the Klan until 1971.

  51. says

    Just to add my personal opinion, yeah, you should file a grievance or whatever the procedure is at Purdue, and ask for extended display time.People gotta learn to play nice with people who think differently, especially at a University, where it is vital for ideas to live and breathe.

  52. T says

    It looked like someone tried to remove the graffiti but gave up after the “D”. The remnants are hard to see in the pictures.

  53. Collin says

    I didn’t say that either. You’re better than straw man logic.I’m saying there was an alternative here. Where I’m from we’re taught to play nice with people regardless of their beliefs. This display was built to do otherwise. “God is not great”? “The God delusion”? That’s the display of the friendly atheists? “Go fuck yourself” you say when the irony here is exposed?

  54. says

    Sightly OT, but I just have to share a spam that Akismet ate on my site:”Money making ideas for girls raising money for our church?”Temple prostitution is back!

  55. Londo says

    I’m Jewish. So, there some people are pissed off by the mere fact that I am alive. So, now it will be understandable that they will try to kill me?

  56. says

    i have nothing important to add but would like to ask; how the eff do people get such neat writing on a flat vertical surface while standing?

  57. says

    I think what @Collin was suggesting is even if the students might be benign the book authors he finds offensive and provocative. That’s how I took it first reading..Bad form dude.

  58. says

    What irony? Atheism by definition rejects the existence of God, the basic foundation of many religions. That’s bound to offend people, even if you try to be tactful about it. Do you read much Christian literature and how it bashes atheists and even followers of other religions?Blaming the victim is never cool.

  59. shadowgm says

    “Richard Dawkins!” “Richard Dawkins!” “RICHARD DAWKINS!”Wow. Such an affront to the Christian faith.Collin, you’re either suggesting the Purdue non-theists ‘aren’t playing nice,’ and/or ignoring that it was a Fine Upstanding Christian Kid that defaced the display.Furthermore, you’re the one positing the strawman – that the non-theists are inherently aggressive by way of putting non-theist literature on display.

  60. Alfie says

    From where I am, in the UK, the idea of religious vandalism seems pretty novel. I can honestly say that I’ve never come across anything of the sort.What this suggests to me is that the vandal is not entirely secure in his or her faith – if the non-theists are such a threat that he or she feels the need to deface their display, how assured are the vandals of the validity of their own beliefs? Surely if what their religion preaches is true, the non-theists are a non-starter…

  61. JJ says

    Well you were “Christ killers ” after all. And I believe you drink babies blood in your secret ceremonies. On the plus side though I`ve never had a Jew try to convert me to Judaism. And I really can`t remember the last time I saw a Jewish missionary.

  62. says

    As the president of a similar society at my university in the UK, I haven’t come across vandalism (yet) but we are constantly up against people who tell us we shouldn’t have a society. In rather more colourful language, depending on their religion…

  63. says

    Lancaster University (that’s in the UK, in case there’s unis in any of the other Lancasters) has an Evangelical Christian Union which has been known to vandalise the advertising of, and even disrupt meetings of, the Pagan Society, the sci-fi/fantasy/horror society, Rock Soc (rock music) and the Role-Playing Society. I know those first hand, admittedly a few years ago. I also heard tell that they had some set-tos with the Catholic Society, who were in turn very nice to all the socs I mentioned above, especially the Pagans.To my knowledge, none of these were officially organised by the ECU. I’m pretty sure some of them were organised by members of the exec, though. People interrupting a pre-game meeting of the roleplaying soc to tell us we were all going to hell was quite fun. Most people blinked and carried on with what they were doing; some said ‘cool’ and then carried on with what they were doing.

  64. says

    Which is why I’d say this: there doesn’t have to be a general pro-religion/anti-atheist feeling for vandalism and/or disruption to occur, there just has to be a vocal and idiotic minority who care enough to be willing to behave like jerks.

  65. Alfie says

    That’s very interesting. I was president of the Games Society at the University of East Anglia (similar to the roleplaying society at Lancaster, I suppose) until the end of the last semester, and I’ve never come across anything of the sort, despite having spent a good six years with the society.I wonder if there’s a regional divide in the UK, or something of the sort. I’ve never come across any particularly intense expressions of faith, at most having people stop by on my doorstep with bible every few years (although I did once see a local catholic priest blessing the newsagent’s flowers, which despite my lack of belief strikes me as a pretty pleasant sort of thing to do).I hear from a friend studying medicine that there are a fair number of committed Christians on that specific course, but I’ve never really run up against faith issues. Norwich – where the UEA is situated – has an uncommonly high density of churches, mostly medieval, but I can’t say I feel that religion has a particularly strong influence here. I’ll be very surprised on the day that members of the Games Society are told that they’re going to hell.

  66. says

    No, it’s the Lancaster ambience. Attracts and breeds kooks. In my day it was full of god-botherers, new agers, femistalinists and other woo-woo merchants. As regards the third item, for example, this was the first time I encountered the “all intercourse is rape” brigade, there seemed to be none in my first university. People used to explain the general vibe with reference to a curse of the Pendle Witches, but it is probably because it’s a campus university from which you can barely even see any other human life, and the city is full of weirdos as well.

  67. JulieM says

    Try living in South Dakota or Wyoming… I’m an agnostic libertarian, and in Wyoming I’m pretty much a flaming liberal. Its not so ‘bad’ in eastern SD, but this is the state where there is still a law on the books (last I checked), that if there are more than 6 Native Americans on your property, you can shoot them… This is also the state where they’ve tried to get a certain abortion law put through TWICE and are more than likely to try a 3rd time…I was also part of a non-theist group on my campus and we were also targeted by the KKK (Kampus Krusade for Khrist), along w/ a few other hyper-religious student groups–our posters were torn down, they would block our displays and our tables in the Student Union, etc. The university did nothing. It somehow got to point where the our group broke up. Thankfully, under new leadership, we were reformed and have a stronger presence on campus.I love your blog Jen–its so nice to find those rare voices of reason on the Web. Keep up the awesome work!

  68. says

    Well the Muslim case was not touched because those crazy mofo’s will kill ya!People fear what they do not understand, clearly not a lot of understanding happening.

  69. says

    I feel that I should be offended, but it’s kind of true… I recall one year when femsoc was, I was told, dominated by lesbians who felt sorry for straight women, that they were somehow misguided… the behaviour of the Students Union in spending more time decrying British foreign policy than in dealing with actual issues actual students is more normal, for a British uni, I think.

  70. richardhb says

    There used to be a saying that in Norwich you could go to a different church (presumably all of them ‘East Anglican’ :-) ) every Sunday of the year….and a different pub every night. (East Anglians have their priorities right!)

  71. says

    I feel that I should be offended, but it’s kind of true…Glad to see you decided that truth is not offensive after all ;-)It was at Lancaster that a woman (I’ve quoted her here before, but now we have context) told me that no, she had never in her life done anything wrong, because her consciousness-raising had taught her to see herself solely as a victim. I don’t recall my first university, Oxford, having a “femsoc” at all. But Lancaster is a great place for hikers.

  72. skepticalmedia says

    Put a little sign in the corner of the display case (inside the glass) that says: “Before you vandalize, ask yourself… what would Jesus do?” Although it probably won’t work; hypocrisy is too complex a concept for the religious mind. They can only handle simple ideas.

  73. Maria says

    The display simply explained the club. Your standards mean that to put books by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Al Sharpton, Malcom X, Rushdie Salman, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Robert Penn Warren, Louise Rennison, Judy Blume and William Faulkner, to name a few authors with frequently banned books in America, would be inviting controversy. Purdue is a place of learning and while you don’t have to agree with all view points offered, if you cannot even tolerate looking at a display, then what are you bothering with a higher education for?

  74. Collin says

    Yes, you’re right. Well, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are bad people so I agree with censoring them. Not sure about the rest, but Orwell did great work. In Canada we have a “reasonability” test applied to our rights and freedoms, sort of like a community’s right to not have to listen to somebody is balanced agaiinst their right to talk shit about people. It’s how the protest in Edmonton that cancelled Ann Coulter’s speaking was deemed still constitutional. She’s just such a bad person that enough people approved of her pushed away. Which I wholeheartedly agree with.

  75. Collin says

    The use of those two books was aggressive. Did you consider that these people might have perceived an attack on their beliefs? They responded badly, but think about it from another perspective. Maybe this guy feels the display started shit and he was finishing it.Instead, the display could have used something explaining the scientific method, or evolution, or a book describing proper applications of rhetoric and critical thinking. Instead, they used Chris Hutchins, who makes a living thumbing his nose at Christians.

  76. Collin says

    No, I said a part of the display was wrong. Obnoxious is exactly that, and it’s wrong for hardnosed Christians to post boards that talk shit about people’s beliefs too.

  77. Warrior4u says

    Hi Jen,I am once again outraged at how the religious continue to believe that it i OK to annoy and harass those that do not believe in a GOD thingy. You are a beautiful awesome human being so just be yourself and there are those of us out there with expanded consciousness who care about you, what’s left of society, and our home on this planet. Mother Nature will prevail over those who believe in the GOD thingies. I just found your blog by accident and realise that your are the one my goddess lover adores. Keep being you.

  78. says

    A poke in the eye? Really? As passive, static display featuring a few pictures of people who don’t believe in gods and a dozen books? That’s offensive?My dearest Collin, please FRO[1].[1] Fuck right off.

  79. says

    Wow, Collin, you are even dumber than I thought at first. What the hell is wrong with you???Censorship is not cool, unless what is being censored involves a clear incitement to violence. Even Rush Scumbaugh and Ann Revolter are not guilty of that, AFAIK. They just lie a lot.

  80. Toad says

    If you can’t get the marker off, you might as well finish the sentence.Some examples:In the beginning, GOD created…- whacko religious nutjobs- delicious cake- vandalismReally, that there’s a golden opportunity for some funny.

  81. Londo says

    Right. So if enough people don’t like me I can be shut up? And the line between a country with free speech and without free speech is the amount of people that think that particular speaker is bad? According to that logic, Martin Luther King for example, should’ve never given the “I have a dream” speech – a lot of people at the time thought he was a bad person and really didn’t like what he had to say.

  82. says

    Demonstrating against some asshole’s right to speak gives them free publicity. I don’t follow the neo-nazis, but would it greatly surprise us if Irving’s being jailed by the Austrians had increased his following among the skinheads? The whole of Irving’s schtick is about endlessly proclaiming two technical truths, that when taken in isolation become two great and thumping lies. One might think a better remedy was explaining these.

  83. rfirth says

    Ahhh. Purdue. I spent 5 years there getting my PhD. Fine school, but surrounded by amazing bigotry. I was on campus during the OJ Simpson case, and anti-black rhetoric was high. Standing on the street corner next to a black girl waiting for the light to change, a car sped by and the guys inside yelled “Ni***r!!” The yearly Klan rallies on the courthouse steps across the river. And even within the school the endless whiny screeds submitted to The Exponent (school paper) by the god boys trying to validate their beliefs. I went to a young-earth creationist talk invited by one of the student god groups, and I swear I was the only one in the audience who even suspected the earth might be older than 6000 years.Keep up the good fight, Jen. Your display and the resulting vandalism only shines light on who is The Good and who is The Bad. The more that people see this, the more people will see that religion is toxic and that belief in a god is just a waste of time for everybody.

  84. shadowgm says

    You’re talking absolute scribble. Or did you miss the bit earlier this year where washed-up actor Kirk Cameron and his buddy Ray Comfort went around handing out ‘corrected’ versions of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’?It’s not about science, it’s about dogma. Dogma is threatened by opposing views – and, from your replies, just the cover of a book and the author’s name is AGGRESSIVE enough to elicit vandalism.Bull cookies.I was raised Catholic, and still consider myself to be Catholic/Christian. The existence of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins doesn’t keep me up nights any more than either of those esteemed gentlemen worry about going to hell.

  85. Julie says

    As a Christian (though admittedly from one of the more moderate denominations), I’m deeply upset by this apparent idiot’s inability to just take a deep breath and walk away. In spite of being moderate, I’m actually on the list of Christians who get offended by Richard Dawkins and the like. It’s just something about the way he puts things that makes me feel like he’s insulting my intelligence…Anyhow, none of that is a valid reason to vandalize anything. I think it makes a much better statement to try and set up a discussion panel to go over any disagreements. (Yes, we all know that no conservative Christian can have a ‘discussion’ with an atheist. They’ll just start spouting off things about people going to Hell.)I would like to say that I don’t think it’s fair to tar all (or even most) Christians with the brush of intolerance using this as an example. As someone pointed out earlier, Episcopalians are pretty cool. So are Methodists and most of the Presbyterians I’ve known. Saying that this is indicative of why faith is bad would be like me saying that Richard Dawkins is the reason no one should be an atheist. There are annoying, offensive, ignorant, and childish members of just about every religious/political/racial or whatever group in society.As an aside, I have found reading the comments of the vocally atheist here very interesting. Being surrounded by Christians most of the time limits my perspective (which is a crying shame). I find it very interesting that atheists feel like their rights are being infringed by theists, and therefore they need to ‘yell loud and long’ to get their share of fair treatment. Most of the Christians I know live under the impression that atheists are taking over the country and infringing on their rights to believe and worship. (Personally, I don’t care who is in control as long as I can do my own thing.)This was a long note by my standards, but as a first time reader, I had a lot to say. Anyhow, I’ll be adding this blog to my list of sites to check regularly. :) It’s been wonderful reading.

  86. Eric says

    I’m just sorry that I didn’t know about this club when I was at Purdue 10 yrs ago. Actually, though, Purdue is where I learned to be comfortable calling myself an atheist. Before my time in West Lafayette, I cam from a yet more theist environment. It does get worse than Indiana, trust me.

  87. says

    Julie,One of the great things about this country is that you can offend anyone you like. No one has the right not to be offended. I hear people talking about how people like Dawkins and Hitchens are offensive, which I can see how people might think they are. However, from my perspective people like the pope, Rick Warren, and most preachers and priest that I have come across, are equally offensive. Try listening to a man on television with millions of followers tell you that you have no moral compass, or listening to George H.W. Bush explain that atheist, because of their lack of beliefs, shouldn’t be considered citizens. People shouldn’t avoid expressing opinions because it could offend someone. Expressing these opinions often shed light on the issue. And sometimes it’s the offender and other times it’s offendee that is in the wrong. Until these ideas which people consider offensive are confronted in the open, the problems behind those ideas aren’t going to be solved. Not to be open about ideas would be to stifle debate and dialog. People defending minorities, be it is racial, politician or religious, tend to shout the loudest, mostly because they have too. If they don’t aggressively defend their rights, then most likely those rights will be taken away. The majority tends to oppress and drown out the minority, in most cases without ever realizing it. Just think how you would react, if your view point was not only not shared by the majority, but in fact frequently demonized by the majority? Hopefully, you would be as loud as the vocal atheists. If anyone says that atheist are taking over the country, ask them to name one self-described atheist in Congress, in the supreme court or holds a cabinet-level or higher position, or to name one governor, or to name one state, county or city elected government that has a significant number of atheists. Pete Stark is the only member of congress. I am not aware of any other high ranking member of the national government, or of any state government that is an open atheist.(P.S. Obama is not a atheist. He’s Christian. He may not be Duyba’s brand of Christian, but he’s Christian none the less.)

  88. says

    I wonder whether the vandalising Christians suffer from what I might call “Special Leadings Syndrome”. Charismatics believe in direct guidance from God that can easily conflict with, and trump, the general moral law common to Christians and non-Christians. For example, at Lancaster (q.v. other thread) I remember a ECU girl who signed a contract for a room with a landlady, then someone got at her, probably with the “having a non-evangelical landlady will endanger your faith” line, and so she prayed and got a Special Leading from God, that he didn’t want her to live there. She simply didn’t recognise that she was doing a bad thing by shafting the landlady, because she had never been taught that specific Christian morality builds on rather than totally replaces the rules that everyone knows. I’ve even seen people having SLs telling them to cheat on their wives, so I don’t reckon that hearing God tell you to vandalise something, overriding the ten commandments that they otherwise make such a fuss about (I reckon Thou Shalt Not Steal ought to cover it?) would prove very difficult. As regards the expected effect of the vandalism, I bet they would “hear” God telling them that Witnessing took priority over respect for other people’s property; as we have mentioned on this site before, people seem to think that we atheists have never heard a scripture before and so will immediately collapse in the face of the words. So, Julie, I for one wouldn’t suspect all Christians of behaving like this; we’re dealing with a sort of antinomian heresy here.

  89. says

    Wow Jen, you’re officially famous. I just got a comment on my blog by some anti-atheist troll freaking out about the flying spaghetti monster, Dawkins, PZ, and you (you’re in good company). He compares boobquake to 9/11 and then says “[J]en is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE…”.I just thought it was funny. Who knew that EROS and SCIENCE were in conflict. I sure didn’t.

  90. says

    George H.W. Bush explain that atheist, because of their lack of beliefs, shouldn’t be considered citizens.He really said that? Yikes. I remember after 911 he didn’t want anyone to harass innocent Muslims; so maybe the atheists should go blow something up too. Then it will be said, perhaps for the first time, that the rest of you, the ones who didn’t do the deed, are good patriotic Americans? Or maybe not.

  91. JJ says

    Actually I think there is about an even chance that Obama actually is an atheist. Of course he plays the chrisitian but he has a lot on his plate and you have to pick your battles and that would be one that could do more overall harm than good at this point in time. But regardless, I don`t think what appears to be a gradual increase in unbelief in this country has to do as much with vocal atheists as it does with the obvious hypocrisy and growing irrelevance of the church and religion in general. We are quite a ways behind Europe, for example, when it comes to liberal thinking. Not just because of the present wingnuts in this country but because of their long time influence on our society. But things do change. I`d rather be gay or black in the US today than in 1960. Religion is a different sort of issue and I don`t think for the most part you are going to convince the religious to not be religious unless they are leaning that way and just need a little push. As I said I think more acceptance will come when we catch up with the rest of the civilized world and religion simply drives enough people away. I`ve discussed religion on occasion with various people I know and I think what irks them most is that they consider me a happy, secure, moral person and that just shouldn`t be. And, of course, I don`t lose my temper ending with “Well, you are a stupid fuck if you believe that”. It sends them off steaming but who knows, maybe thinking a little too. I do think there are some ways we can possibly make a little more of a dent in our society but that is for another day.

  92. says

    Ha, looks like you have a DM infestation. If anything, that means you’ve finally made it – having DM troll your blog is like an atheist badge of honor ;)

  93. says

    This is very sad. But you are right, it proves how important your group is at your school. Hang in there and keep striving to spread the word of reason. Don’t let bigots get you down!

  94. IHP says

    I think the vandalism just calls more attention to your display. Awful for someone to do though.I’m glad to hear there is a group of non-theists at Purdue. I wish there was one/I had known of one at my university. As an agnostic I often feel excluded and misunderstood. I dated a Catholic who once asked me how I could have morals if I didn’t have religion. My response of right and wrong being obvious and treating others as I would like to be treated wasn’t acceptable to him. He stood there and told me I had no morals.At work I’ve been putting up with a nativity scene in the bathroom every year at Christmas. Every time I see it, it angers me. Why is someone bringing their religion to work and decorating a shared area? I haven’t gone to the extreme of vandalizing it though. I have contemplated bringing in symbols from other religions.I guess what I want to say is I have felt persecuted for my open mind as opposed to blind faith. I’m sorry to see your group’s display vandalized, but glad to hear of the group’s existence.

  95. Julie says

    holytape,Oh, I know that no one has a right not to be offended. :) I was just pointing out that one can be offended by something and still walk away without being an ass. You’re also 100% right about open debate being the best solution. Freedom of expression/speech is too important to stifle, but if we all just shout at each other saying, “I’M RIGHT! YOU’RE WRONG!” nothing gets accomplished.I’ve actually tried explaining why minority groups are so vocal to the people around me who complain about it. They generally look at me like I’m from another planet. Then again, I did say I’m a moderate Christian, and I am from Texas. I get ever weirder looks when I try to explain that being a member of an alternative sexuality is okay.I will take your advice though, and ask what political leaders they can name who are self-described atheists. I’m not going to lie. I’ll get a kick out of watching them fumble for an answer that isn’t some trumped up falsehood they read about in one of those annoying email chains.Thanks for the ideas!

  96. Julie says

    Antinomian heresy indeed! I’ve never encountered a person who broke a commandment or governmental law and claimed they did so because they were led by God. I’d likely point out how questionable that claim was since Jesus believed in following all of the laws (both God’s and Rome’s).Then again, the overly evangelical Christians tend to ook me out. It’s hard to be around people so blind and deaf to reality that they can’t tell they piss more people off than they convert.

  97. says

    Liberal Quakers (who aren’t really all Christian these days) reached the view, many years ago, that *corporate* direct experience took precedence over scripture. It was, in fact, the key point of the main Quaker schisms.

  98. Erp says

    Father not the son. Some people have questioned whether he actually said it though there is an eyewitness report.As for politicians any Unitarian Universalist or Reform Jew could possibly be atheistic (Pete Stark is an UU) but not willing to state it (much like most Christian politicians don’t explain in fine detail their particular Christian theology).

  99. says

    Oh, I know, Sam. The sort of thing I describe results from inadequate mentoring of excitable youngsters. I bet that girl’s pastor would given her a carpeting if he’d known about the welshing, but I am equally sure that she never told him. And the same would apply to Jen’s glass case. Julie: Unfortunately, some people would be proud of pissing off the potential converts. If they are exposed to the other Big Stupid Idea, namely that hostility = the Devil paying attention to you because you’re doing things right.

  100. Pablo says

    It is unfortunate that this had to happen in finals week, where the group doesn’t have any opportunity to garner any publicity from it. You can write to the Exponent again, but in summer, no one will see it.While too many would dismiss the issue, perhaps a few be a little introspective and think about why it should.BTW, one thing that is not clear – at what time did this vandalism happen? That corridor of Stewart is not the busiest, but I would be surprised if no one came upon the vandal(s) in action.

  101. says

    How did I miss this post. Anyway, this is exactly why atheists are being so outspoken. The people that did this are the same people that would cause problems for atheists that are bold enough to let it be known. Strength and safety come in numbers, and the more atheists that show themselves, the less likely people are to mess with us like this.

  102. Miso says

    In the beginning god created assholes that have no rational thought and are who are frightened of discussion of thought contrary to their thoughts and who think it’s okay to squash freedom. Scary people.Hmm. What would Jesus say? Oh yea, he’d say been there done that. He was persecuted for having contrary thoughts. So, history repeats itself.

  103. says

    I’m the president of the secular group at my college, and we’ve had similar poster issues. What really drove me crazy was that when a Christian group chalked things like, “God Loves You” etc. on the sidewalks and someone went around adding things to them, a big fuss was made. At that point (it was April 1st) my group had been putting up posters for two weeks and they were constantly getting torn down, but no one cared about that. Worse, a lot of people blamed my group for what happened with the chalk mostly just because we’re secular and …therefore evil?? O_o

  104. Amanda says

    Should add that the things added to the chalkings varied widely from “Unicorns love you” to “God is fake” followed by a little mock gospel citation.

  105. Peter_B_too says

    I think you’re all missing the most important point:There was no letter “d” in the graffiti, meaning it read “In the beginning, Go created…” Obviously the word was originally written as “God”, but someone came along later and erased the “d”.OMG! Someone defaced the message! Quick, call the dean’s office! It’s a sad day when you can’t deface a display without someone messing with it./sarcasmSeriously, congratulations on your efforts. They may not have an obvious immediate effect, but I’m sure they’re giving some people the confidence to challenge their own beliefs.

  106. Pablo says

    BTW, Jen…”Off to email this to the proper Purdue people, though they’re just going to tell me there’s nothing they can do…again. “Then again, this is not just another “they tore down our signs on the sidewalk” case. This is an actual act of defacement WITHIN A BUILDING at Purdue. While the act was in response to your display, the actual physical damage was done to Purdue property, and ultimately it was a Purdue janitor who was responsible for cleaning up the damage.I expect them to take this a bit more seriously, given that it happened in a corridor in a building. I know our building deputy would take it seriously. He might not be able to do anything directly, but it would not be brushed off.

  107. Peter_B_too says

    I’m quite sure I remember reading an article (5-10 years ago now) about some research conducted of Christians in the USA. Sadly I can’t find any reference to it now.Anyway, the upshot of it was that many American Christians thought it was okay to cheat non-Christians. Apparently Christian morality applied only to relations between Christians – non-Christians were fair game.I’ve also read of stories where con men convince Pastors that they’re the genuine article, and the Pastors then convince their flock to invest in the con man’s scheme.And in fact I have personal experience of a similar dodge. In 2003 I was asked if I could help someone with a loan of $7000. I’m an atheist, and the man I was helping is a Christian, but as I explicitly trusted the man, I agreed. The loan was to help him and his family travel to the USA for a year so he could undertake some training at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I didn’t bother to ask for interest as I assumed the money would be repaid shortly after they returned.To cut a long story short, I got the first $2000 back in 2005, and didn’t get the balance until the end of 2009. The reason for the delay was that the man had actually invested this money in a construction project endorsed through his church. Apparently the builders hadn’t been able to get finance from the banks, so the next best thing was raising investment through Christians brought up on Prosperity Theology. Of course, the company went broke.This man still hasn’t got his money back. I only got my money back because he took out a bank loan. I own my own house and also have an investment property. This man is renting and has few assets. Do I feel guilty forcing him to take out a loan to pay me money? Not really – as far as I can tell, he lied to me (and others) about why he needed the money, then had interest-free use of it for several years, and chose to put it in a high-risk investment; I’m not responsible for his decision to invest it unwisely.

  108. Peter_B_too says

    IHP said: “At work I’ve been putting up with a nativity scene in the bathroom every year at Christmas. Every time I see it, it angers me. Why is someone bringing their religion to work and decorating a shared area? I haven’t gone to the extreme of vandalizing it though. I have contemplated bringing in symbols from other religions.”You’re going about it the wrong way. :-)What you should do is sponsor and judge a competition for the best Christmas decorations in the office. Make it a good prize, and watch (and laugh quietly) as the competitive spirit beats up the Christmas spirit.Where I work we all (non-Christians and Christians) enjoy putting up Christmas decorations. The hilarious bit is when people look at our Happy Birthday banner and ask whose birthday we’re celebrating.

  109. says

    I’ve also read of stories where con men convince Pastors that they’re the genuine article, and the Pastors then convince their flock to invest in the con man’s scheme.Convince? More likely, cut him in. raising investment through Christians brought up on Prosperity Theology.A friend of mine, who is an expert on securities fraud, says that the best market for investment scamsters is the Mormons.

  110. the_Siliconopolitan says

    The Baptists, then?More seriously, I’d actually have liked to hear what the public response was to an apparently defacement of a Christian display.

  111. says

    Jen,We need another campaign like boobquake to beat the religion again and to have more sample point to prove to them that boobs don’t cause earthquakes.

  112. jdhuey says

    It might be effective to put up a notice denying that you vandalized the display yourself in order to make the theists look like jerks.

  113. Sir VG says

    It’s stuff like that which makes me hate religion. Everybody’s religion and/or beliefs are better then all the others. Some of the ways are so backwards (especially in conservative religions, especially Catholicism) it’s scary to think that people BELIEVE in that stuff.I’m not a fanatic, but I remember that love was a common theme addressed throughout the bible. Yet the “bible thumpers” do anything BUT that. They just like to pick and choose what they want to believe and follow. Granted yes there are contradictions throughout, but that’s not the point, really.You don’t have to love everybody, but I wish people would have more tolerance of those who are different then them. It’s sad, really.

  114. says

    There *are* religions that are tolerant and truly liberal; those that come most to mind are Unitarians and Liberal Quakers, but that’s just what I have most experience with. I’m sure there are people within those communities that are intolerant, but then again there are intolerant atheists as well.

  115. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a Unitarian. Maybe we don’t have them in Rightpondia? Liberal Quakers, yeah, great people. I had a friend who followed an Indian guru called Meyer Baba, and she went to meeting with the local Quakers, who were entirely cool with that. Were I a Christian, I think I’d hang out with this guy:http://johnshore.com/2008/01/3

  116. says

    In terms of the actual organisations, in the UK we have a very small and quiet Unitarian Church, who are historically and theologically distinguished from pretty much every other Christian church by being Unitarian (as opposed to Trinitarian). They are also, however, incredibly liberal. In the US they have Unitarian Universalists, who were, I believe, formed by the merger of the Unitarians and the Universalists, the latter not being Christian per se. I think. I don’t know about continental Europe, though.

  117. says

    (have a quick Wiki here). Ah so. If you’re born in late March, and judging by the name, that would make you an Aryan Arien Arian. Triple A, just like a Goldman CDO…….(sorry, I’m in a silly mood today. Blame the volcano. I’m supposed to be going on holiday Thursday, and it’s anyone’s guess.)Universal salvation, eh? Bet that gets the Calvinists’ backs up. No fun getting saved if everyone else is saved too, what?

  118. Wyzard says

    I’m actually shocked by the defacement. I was heavily involved with Purdue’s Pagan Academic Network 20 years ago or so (man, I’m getting old…) and we put up displays pretty frequently. I can’t remember a single one getting defaced. Have we really lost that much tolerance since then?

  119. says

    I must confess, this is one of those issues that leaves me scrambling to understand some of the people here.. this rush to find reasons other than the obvious explanation, and excuse making..Yes, it was scrap metal merchants. That makes complete sense. Wow.Or, “so what if it was an atheist”.. I mean.. people have been pointing out that some militant atheists are just as nuts as bad as any theist. People say that such atheists don’t really exist. Then they do something ridiculous, and people say “so what?”.Just wow folks. Why can’t you see where you are letting your ideological beliefs blind your common sense?


  1. […] I co-founded the Society of Non-Theists to combat this notion that everyone on campus was religious, and to provide a safe place for students who were not. We’d get people screaming at our tables saying we’re going to hell. As President, I received hate mail. At graduation, I was treated to a choir repeatedly singing “Amen.” The one time we tried to use a public display case, it was vandalized. […]

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