Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christian named Person of the Year by Athesists & Freethinkers Group

The Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers has named Rev. Mike Burr, pastor of Koinonia Church in Grand Junction, as their “Person of the Year.” Burr was unanimously chosen by the group for his work with peace and social/environmental justice issues; his leadership in advocating for the poor, disadvantaged and exploited; his advocacy of separation of church and state; his opposition to recent wars waged by the United States; and his opposition to anti-Muslim views and actions. The Koinonia Church congregation is aligned with American Baptist Churches of USA and Church of the Brethren.

“I've been a staunch advocate of separation of church and state all my life,” Burr said in this newspaper article. He's also a believer in science. “I have no difficulty with scientific truth. Truth is truth,” Burr said. He says of the scientific theory of evolution: “It's a description of the way things happened. It in no way denies the holiness of creation.”

I like this guy. I would never try to convince him there wasn't a God, and he would never try to take science out of schools. I'm no threat to his religion, and he's no threat to my lack their of. He wouldn't try to force me to follow his religion, and I wouldn't try to force him to give his up. And we share the values of the separation of church and state. Many Christians and Muslims actually don't believe the church or sharia law should be a part of local or state government - I wish we heard more from them!

Thanks to the Stiefel Freethought Foundation's Facebook page for bringing this to my attention!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prayers just aren't enough - DO SOMETHING

Anyone with any sense of sympathy and empathy - and that's most humans - is heart-broken over the situation in Japan, just as we are when we see such harrowing images from any natural or man-made disaster that causes such destruction. With or without any belief in a god, most humans don't like to see humans suffer, whether those humans are across the street or across the world.

I have read endless numbers of Facebook status updates and heard endless numbers of people on TV saying, "I'm praying for Japan!" And I have to admit that it gets in my craw, as we say in the South. So many people think, "I don't have to give money -- I'll just pray!"

I would be okay with it if they would say, "Pray for Japan - and donate any money you can, even just $5, to..."

Praying might make YOU feel really good, but it doesn't feed hungry people, it doesn't provide medicine to the injured, it doesn't provide emergency housing, it doesn't get supplies to the people who need them and it doesn't shelter the homeless.

You can donate to help Japan through the American Red Cross. Or Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 (will be added to the donors’ next cellphone bill).

Mercy Corps: Mercy Corp in the USA has set up a donation fund for its partner, Peace Winds Japan, and its emergency assistance on the ground.

Every time you see someone on your social networks saying "Pray for Japan," jump in with a reminder about how to donate, and how important financial donations are. Also remind people NOT to start gathering food, clothes, medicine, etc. It is so much cheaper and more efficient for response agencies to buy and ship these items from surrounding areas that are MUCH closer than anywhere in the USA. Plus, it's better for agencies to buy these new, rather than going through donations, which are often filled with inappropriate items.

And consider channeling this helpless feeling in your gut into volunteering locally: call your local American Red Cross, or look at the chapter's web site, and attend the next volunteer orientation, and start taking their excellent training classes regarding first aid and emergency response.

Also see: Volunteering To Help After Major Disasters (which talks about how you need to get training now, before the disaster, in order to help after such).

Friday, March 4, 2011

The joy and truth I feel

I'm an Atheist. And without any belief in a God or Gods, I experience:
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Wonder
  • Hope
  • Happiness
  • Contentment
  • Compassion
  • Sympathy
  • Empathy
  • Strong, impossible-to-ignore compulsions to help others
  • Strong urges to sing and dance and laugh
All without a God or Gods. All without Jesus, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, Isis or Vishnu.

My life has meaning because I work to make it so. My emotions and values have a genuineness, an honesty, that I never experienced when I tried to believe in the invisible all-knowing Super Friend. Life feels authentic!