Question of the Week: April 22, 2015

Apr 21, 2015

Openly Secular Day is tomorrow. What are some of your ideas to encourage secular people to come forward? What creative techniques should we employ to make as big a splash as possible with the Openly Secular campaign?

The winner is Felicia, who brought donuts to work and asked her co-workers to join her in celebrating Openly Secular Day. Your copy of Richard Dawkins’ An Appetite for Wonder will find it’s way to you shortly.

Runners-up: Oliver, David Ekkens.

31 comments on “Question of the Week: April 22, 2015

  • We need something with only mild commitment. For example, we might suggests atheists wear a certain colour on openly secular day. Someone can wear the colour, “by accident” without fully committing.

    It might be a colour like sky blue or light green that are not too obvious.

    You can even suggest someone where such a tee shirt UNDER their clothes, if they are timid.

    The first step is the hardest.

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  • What creative techniques should we employ to make as big a splash as possible with the Openly Secular campaign?

    Just felt a little uncomfortable about this approach. I see an Openly Secular campaign as a slow, dignified but persistent campaign, with a long term goal of getting reason to float to the top of the soup. It will never be fast. It will always be long. Both are obvious because of the position the opponents hold. (Through in some military metaphor here about know thine enemy.} They are strong and powerful. The notion of secularism, taken for whole planet earth is miniscule. There are some bright spots, but they are more like street lamps on a cold snowy night.

    More from the military strategists, the secular movement needs to select the ground on which to wage a battle. Ground that will drawn media attention, but on a subject that is very hard for the irrational to sustain fire (credible argument). Strong scientific evidence. Sometimes the media stories will be big, but mostly they will be small. Like drops of water building a stalagmite, it will take time. Take positions in court cases is a good strategy. I don’t think noisy parades and draping of flags fits with the idea of rational evidence based decision making. It’s more media spin and manipulation.

    I suspect an improvement of all to first world middle class standards with an equivalent education for all will do more to secularize the world than any media campaign. Bravo World Secular Day. It’s is certainly the first shots in a long and arduous campaign to save the planet.

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  • The towering need is to convey the “Good without God” idea. But that is an atheist problem and not a secular one, so-

    The secular stance could be portrayed as a desire for a meeting place uniquely open to all. It is not a group to walk into but, hopefully, the space outside of all groups. It is where all can meet to discuss a moral mutuality.

    So a known religious figure declaring for open secularity would be good, though risking making a hypocrite of them at some point.

    But, it would seem “secular” here may be the American-acceptable euphemism for atheist. In which case back to plan A.

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  • If a certain flower was used as a symbol, then we could all go out and buy a bunch, and arrange them in a vase to represent the day. When somebody notices them, we can say what they represent. This would be easy and a subtle way to mark the occasion.

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  • I’m an English/British/European/World inhabitant, so I have no problem as an Atheist; I don’t crow or proselytize about it, because I don’t need to, and I learned long ago it is a complete waste of time arguing with religious individuals, but if someone has a go at me I give better than I get.

    They get a metaphorical straight, hard punch on the nose.

    Although I sympathize with American rationalists, I’m not qualified to comment on their plight.

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  • Good enough global equality at a good enough level of comfort will wipe most of our problems away. And along with the universal education it should facilitate, this should see the end of parasitic religions, hunger, much conflict, and leave us free to concentrate on cancer, boy bands and reality TV.

    Incidentally, the latest New Scientist has an article proposing moralities arising out of steep heirarchical structures associated with unequal access to energy were such as to secure these systems. Slavery and its need appeared with farming cultures and the heavy demand for organised, cheap human production. The GINI index reached a tottering 0.59 in 18th century France.

    Christianity was ever a religious morality for the wanly hopeful meek.

    One day, one day…

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  • 8
    David Ekkens says:

    I disagree with those who think we need to play the slow game. Every religious person has doubts about their faith…the only thing that keeps them steadfast is 1) personal spiritual experience 2) brainwashing from an early age 3) lack of understanding in science. Secularists then are those people who find rational explanations for their own spiritual experience which are just as beautiful if not more so than religion. They embrace logic, and reality over faith and warm tingly self gratification, and they want REAL answers. Secularism has nothing to do with religion being flawed, conflicting with reality, or bad for society. It needs to be about self exploration and the TRUTH. If you want to get more people to be open secularists- start some local chapters and college organizations, have some parades or protests, find intolerance wherever it is and stamp it out with the media, but it can never be anti-religion, it must be a rational alternative.

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  • Most people already know that I’m an atheist at work so I decided to treat the day like a holiday. I’ve mentioned that 4/23 is Openly Secular day to a number of my co-workers and that I will be bringing doughnuts and cookies to help them celebrate with me. So far everyone’s been really positive about it.

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  • This should be a positive and simple event that promotes self exploration. Encouraging people to look into something that they have not thought about before. So I propose going out and telling one person or many people about an experiment, theory or scientist that they find interesting or inspiring. This way people can either promote their secularism openly or simply a broader perspective of the world.

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  • I agree with this proposal. Religion in adults, is rooted by custiones irrational nature. So it is impossible to try to deter a believer of their ingrained beliefs through reason. The believer is not linked to religion rationally, but yes it can try to explain or outline some ideas to try to justify their position
    Besides believing people structure their entire personality, or a large part of it round about religion. Their beliefs are part of personality, then any criticism or critical commentary, is experienced as an attack on his person

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  • So it is impossible to try to deter a believer of their ingrained beliefs through reason.

    As Hitchens so succinctly put it. “You can’t reason someone out of something, they didn’t reason themselves into.”

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  • 14
    Catalin Andrei says:

    Two weeks ago I opened my portrait exposition in a library in Constanta, Romania called Carturesti. From the picture below I hope you will be able to recognize all the personalities. Aside from the name, underneath their portrait is a quote that I hope will make people think and understand that secularism is not a bad thing and that individuals who claimed to be atheist or agnostics are, through their ideas. the definitive standard for morality and human character.
    The location is also a tea house and, on all the tables there are booklets containing all the quotes and blank pages to write their ideas and suggestions.
    I am very glad that my exposition coincided with Openly Secular Day and hope that it will be productive in changing the misconception.

    All the best from Romania,


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  • Roedy’s idea of wearing something is good but even better is to
    adopt an existing symbol that is decades old. That is the fish symbol
    that looks like the Christian fish but has LEGS! This is a good symbol
    of evolution- the scientific basis of atheism.

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  • That is the fish symbol that looks like the Christian fish but has LEGS!

    Clever. LIKE.

    Might I suggest the Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil fish with four rudimentary fin / legs. This fish featured heavily in the Dover School Board teaching evolution trial, so is a “poster child” of a rational mind. Here is the link and the picture.

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  • My favourite animal. I have unsuccessfully tried to find a model for my desk. I would like it if every school and library had a little diorama with one life size, perhaps in a pond. It would be such a concrete statement of evolution that could not be denied. The first step on land is such a key moment in our collective history. Another possibility is a small dinosaur. Kids love dinosaurs. However, dinosaurs in saddles are a creationist symbol.

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  • good without god

    no BAD with god

    The point I usually make is that Christians behave far worse than anyone else. That is why I put so much effort into destroying Christianity. If you read the bible, it commands hair-raising evil, and only a smattering of what any sane person would call good.

    Because almost no Christians read the bible cover to cover, they imagine the bible is a force for good. We need to teach them what it says.

    Complaints With Christians

    I am fed up to the teeth with Christians meddling in my life. Where do you go to vote them off the island? They are obnoxious busy bodies. They have to go. Here are some of my complaints with them in descending order:

    Discrimination against gays must stop. It is illegal. We must not continue to let Christians get away with advocating murder and hate speech against gays. Just because they break the law out of religious hatred should not give them a get out of jail free card.
    Christians must stop interfering with marriages between gays. Christians are not affected in any way so have no right to meddle. They have no right to cherry pick their bible and use it as an excuse to persecute minorities, originally blacks, now gays. We have freedom of religion and freedom from religion and that includes freedom from the most hateful religion of them all — Christianity.
    Christians must stop interfering in other people’s end-of-life decisions.
    Disband churches that aid and abet threats and violence against children to force them into sexual acts.
    Christians must stop interfering in other people’s abortions. Their objections are based on a religious superstition that a disembodied consciousness, a ghost, called a soul, possesses the body at conception and leaves it at death. There is not one iota of evidence to substantiate this nonsense.
    Christians must stop interfering in other people’s contraception. It is none of their business.
    Christians must stop teaching junk science in public schools.
    The government must stop giving religious lobbyists, i.e. politically active churches, tax breaks than other lobbyists do not get.
    Churches should get the exact same tax breaks other organisations get, only breaks for their charitable works, not just for being a church.
    Full disclosure of how religious donations are spent.
    Protect children from Christian parents doing harmful things to them for religious reasons, such as denying medical care for snake bites.
    Prosecute faith healers for false claims, just as any other false advertiser.
    Make it illegal to proselytize to other people’s children without their parents’ explicit signed permission.
    No circumcision male or female without consent.
    The Pope must formally disown the parts of the bible that demand criminal behaviour or that encourage hate to various minority groups.
    A moratorium on Christmas music and Christmas programming one day in seven during December. It is nauseating, like a diet of pure high fructose corn syrup. It in unfair of Christians to impose the torture on others without relief.
    These reforms apply mostly to Christians, but of course any changes in law would not single them out.

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  • You are not going to budge one of the crazies, but you can demonstrate to others HOW they are nuts. You can encourage a fledgling atheist not to relapse. You want to make sure that no one presumes you are Christian.

    If you hide in the closet, you will be part of the problem.

    We have got the nutty idea that your action must move mountains or it is pointless. It does not work that way. It is more the way an ocean gets filled with raindrops. It can take centuries. Just look back in history at how slowly Christianity has eroded.

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  • 24
    Martin Mark says:

    I am English and a recent member of the BHA (British Humanist Association). I feel that all Humanists/Athiest need to be seen as part of a closer society. I have made a few T-shirts showing support for charities that wouldn’t exist without science, for instance, Cancer charities and Macmillan nurses (which is another cancer support group), alongside a Humanist support. There are many other such charities; Doctors without borders; International red cross to name a few. Anyway; I feel more should be done by organisations and individuals to show the world we get involved with real “life and death” charities, that will catch the eye of others.
    On my own T-shirt I have “CANCER… Together we can find the cure..” in about A4 size, while underneath I have “ANGELS walk among us.. show the carers you care too..” again in A4 size.. On the reverse I have “RELIGION.. Together we can find the cure.. Because the truth matters..”
    I feel that an affiliation with such charities would only serve to raise the profile of reason over belief.

    That’s my 10p worth.

    Love and respect to all.

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  • 25
    Martin Mark says:

    I am from England and a recent member of the BHA (British Humanist Association). I am a firm believer that we should all show an affiliation with other secular charities that wouldn’t exist without a scientific world outlook. This would help to show we are not, in fact, all heathens and have no morals.
    I have made several T-shirts that advertise Cancer charities and the Humanist association as well as a “Dawkins” type anti religious “the cure for Religion is Humanism rant. I think if an orgabnisation was affiliated with such charities it would raise the profile of Humanism/Atheism to others. Many such charities exist. From Cancer support to Doctors without borders and International red cross.
    And why not make your own T-shirts to wear proudly.

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  • A moratorium on Christmas music and Christmas programming one day in seven during December. It is nauseating, like a diet of pure high fructose corn syrup. It in unfair of Christians to impose the torture on others without relief.

    That’s seems a little unfair to me. Christmas music (much of which is secular) and Christmas programming (ditto) is imposed on us, not by Christians, but by big business. For this Christian, the Christmas season starts on December 25th, not sometime in mid-October; and it’s not celebrated by endless reruns of It’s A Wonderful Life and on-the-hour-every-hour renditions of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

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  • Ewan
    Apr 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    and on-the-hour-every-hour renditions of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.

    Not to mention, “Rockin’ around the Xmas tree”, The 12 drinks of Xmas, and “Fairy tale in New York”!

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  • “The winner is Felicia, who brought donuts to work…”

    Does anybody else find it ironic that Felicia won the Openly Secular campaign contest by bringing something holey to work?

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  • In the Question of the Week Foundation Newsletter, dated April 21, 2015, it was stated: “Openly Secular Day is TOMORROW”.

    However, in several of the comments you posted, they indicated that Openly Secular Day is April 23.

    Please confirm which date is correct. Is it April 22, like you indicated, or April 23, like most of the comments stated?
    Could you send me a reply to my email address?



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