Humanism on the Move


Oct. 7, 2009

Tickets have finally gone on sale for the 2010 Global Atheist Convention to be held in Melbourne, Australia on March 12-14, 2009. The Convention will include presentations from humanist luminaries such as PZ Myers, Peter Singer, Taslima Nasrin and Richard Dawkins. You can purchase tickets here.

The Convention is sponsored by the Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc and Atheist Alliance International. It's projected to be the biggest atheist event in Australia's history.

Foundation Beyond Belief, a new charitable and educational foundation, has just pre-launched its website in one of the first phases of its establishment.

Foundation Beyond Belief is being created to focus, encourage and demonstrate humanistic generosity and to support a nationwide nonreligious parent education program. It will highlight ten charitable organizations per quarter in areas of health, poverty, the environment and more. Members of the Foundation will be able to set up personal profiles to indicate areas in which they'd like their contribution distributed. Beneficiaries may be founded on any worldview as long as they do not engage in proselytizing.

The current website allows visitors to sign up for membership, nominate charities, apply to be a volunteer and donate to the cause. Its full website will be available on Jan.1, 2010 (which will include a social network, discussion forum and a list of beneficiaries to support).

The Center For Inquiry made waves this week with the Sept. 30 launch of a blasphemy contest, part of their Blasphemy Day International campaign to promote free speech and the right to criticize religion and to commemorate the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. The contest asks for poems, statements and works of art that would have been considered blasphemous.

Paul Kurtz, the founder and former chairman of CFI, took objection to some of the artwork being circulated, including a comic portraying a feminine Jesus painting his "nails" with red polish. He wrote on the organization's blog, "It is one thing to examine the claims of religion in a responsible way by calling attention to Biblical, Koranic or scientific criticisms, it is quite another to violate the key humanistic principle of tolerance. One may disagree with contending religious beliefs, but to denigrate them by rude caricatures borders on hate speech."

Ron Lindsay, the current CEO of CFI, responded by saying, "It is fundamental to the humanist ethic that we respect the worth and dignity of persons, but that presupposes that we treat others as our equals and not condescend to them as though they were children who cannot accept criticism of their beliefs."

The Morgantown Coalition of Reason, with co-sponsorship from the United Coalition of Reason, put up a new electronic billboard in Morgantown, W. Va., last week. The billboard displays the text "Don't believe in God? You are not alone" superimposed over an image of blue sky and clouds. The Morgantown Coalition of Reason is comprised of four local groups of freethinkers and humanists with the purpose of educating the public about their worldview.

"We want the public to see that atheists and agnostics are part of the community, just as the faithful are," said Rachel Cather, spokesperson for the group."We have the same compassionate values and, in most other ways, are just like them. We are hard-working, tax-paying, moral citizens who care deeply about family, community, state and nation."

The billboard joins many similar advertising campaigns launched by the American Humanist Association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign, the United Coalition of Reason, and other groups.