Thursday, September 06, 2007

Big ol' godless rally this weekend in Austin

And it's typical that I won't be in town to partake. Ah well. For the rest of you, American Atheists is sponsoring a Church-State Separation Rally to be held on the south steps of the state capitol building in downtown Austin, this Saturday, September 8, from noon till 3. Here's the salient info from the press release, with thanks to Joe Zamecki for being the driving force behind this.

The 2007 Texas State-Church Separation Rally will take place this coming Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007 on the South steps of the State Capitol building in Austin, TX.

Joe Zamecki, Texas State Director for American Atheists, said that the event is being held to build awareness of the First Amendment separation between government and religion, and the civil rights of non-religious people. Mr. Zamecki added that the Rally is also to show support for David Wallace Croft and his family of Carrollton, TX, who have recently challenged the recitation of the state "pledge" and a requirement that students be required to observe a "moment of silence" in public school classrooms.

"These are the sorts of state laws and practices that are all too common in Texas, and undermine our freedom from religion," said Mr. Zamecki.

"Our state legislature and Attorney General need to understand that not all Texans are fundamentalist Christians, and that freedom of conscience is important to everyone," Zamecki added. "Our state government needs to realize that we are a diverse citizenry, and should stop pushing religion on the citizens."

The State-Church Separation Rally will include speakers representing a number of Atheist, Freethought, Secular Humanist and pro-separation groups. They include Nicholas Paschall of University of Texas SA Secular Student Alliance; Meghan Regis, Atheist Agenda; Dick Hogan, American Atheists; Derek Jones,; Texas civil rights activist Marsha Corriera, and others. Mr. Dean Croft will also speak, and there will be a voter registration table.

Sadly, we Texans live in such a religion-addicted state — our tool of a Christian Right governor just appointed a pig-ignorant creationist stooge to head up the State Board of Education, fer cripes sake — that I fear we may be subject to a lot of shove-it-down-your-throat religious legislation, slickly marketed to seem pro-diversity and pro-tolerance, for some time to come. But with the increased public profile of atheism in general these days, at least rallies like these help get the message across that not every patriotic citizen thinks one should have to acknowledge sky-gods as par for the course. Also, fearful and closeted unbelievers are sometimes prompted to come out from hiding once they realize they're not as alone as they thought.

Surely one of my fine team members here will attend and post a report with photos. (Sorry...did I break anyone's toes when I dropped that hint? Heh heh...)


  1. The CBS affiliate has about a 20 second spot about the rally on both the 6:00 and 10:00 news shows.

    I thought some of the speeches were good, others needed more public speaking experience. Although some of the speakers talked about joining forces with liberal and moderate religious groups, other speakers were quite harsh on believers. If we want liberal and moderate believers to support church-state separation with us, we need to focus on that specific issue and leave the God bashing (which I enjoy as much as the next atheist) for another rally.

  2. nal:

    I sympathize with your last point. When I first heard about the rally I was excited because it was schedule for a weekend. Most of the time they're held during the week, and I can't go. (I understand wanting to have them when the capitol is actually open for business--it's just that that's generally when I'm also at work.)

    I wrote to a friend and asked if he was interested in going along as well. He couldn't go, but I was very willing to go alone. However, I was on a mailing list where there was some discussion about the focus of the rally and ideas for what might be done at the rally, and that was when I realized I likely could not support the rally.

    I was hesitant to even post this, since I certainly don't want to criticize what other atheists feel OK doing or promoting. And I don't want to come off as being critical of efforts of others--or anyone--to promote the community.

    It just isn't what _I_ was comfortable doing/promoting. Ultimately, it wasn't the message I wanted to send and didn't represent my views about why I'm an atheist and my attitude toward believers, so I ultimately chose to not be involved.

    As far as your statement: "If we want liberal and moderate believers to support church-state separation with us, we need to focus on that specific issue and leave the God bashing (which I enjoy as much as the next atheist) for another rally."

    I have a similar view. Again--I am not telling any atheist what his/her views must be or should be or how they should promote their own views. I'm speaking for myself and what I feel is appropriate for me, based on my personal views.

    I appreciate rationalism and a calm delivery of well-reasoned ideas. And I can get 100 percent behind a serious on-topic (church-state separation) message, supported by a well-constructed and well-delivered argument. But when it becomes mocking/insulting or emotional/angry, it's just not something I, personally, am comfortable supporting.

    I guess I expected that a church-state separation rally would be restricted to serious discussion about our laws and our nation and how religion should/should not be considered from a government perspective. It may have been simply my failure to fully consider the situation, but it never occur to me until I saw some of the pre-rally suggestions that it was potentially going to be an anti-religion rally combined with a church-state separation rally.

    In the end I was just too conflicted and had to withdraw my support. If someone wants to promote church-state separation, I'm right there. But if they want to mock religious people on the capitol steps, I don't see that they need my public support to do that, that strikes me as a personal agenda, and I didn't feel comfortable being involved on that level--since, ultimately, it doesn't reflect my views or my personal agenda.

    And let me qualify (to be fair) that since I didn't ultimately attend the rally, I can't really say whether or not my concerns were validated. But nal's last line reminded me of my earlier concerns, and it made me think I probably made the right choice, for myself, by sitting this one out.


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