On February 10 a man named Craig Stephen Hicks turned himself in to the police after fatally shooting three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC. According to news reports [link expired], Hicks was a fan of The Atheist Experience, and had been critical of religion on his Facebook page. The precise motivations of Hicks are not currently known.
The Atheist Community of Austin strongly opposes violence in all forms, whether it is motivated by hatred of someone else’s religious convictions, or a parking dispute. Acts of unprovoked violence may be inspired by a complex combination of factors that include ideology, mental disposition, and the social acceptability of various attitudes. It is overly simplistic to reduce the cause to any one factor. It is vital for believers and non-believers alike to draw a sharp distinction between criticism of someone’s philosophical positions, and the use or threat of deadly force.
We condemn this senseless act of murder, and extend our condolences to the families of the victims.
The ACA has published a 2014 voters' guide again this election season. While our 501(c)3 organizational status does not allow us to support any particular party or political candidate, we can raise our issues in the political arena. And there are plenty of issues that atheists care about that are largely missing from the nation’s political dialog. Church-state separation would be a major one, but we also care about fair treatment, promotion of science, and other topics. As an active atheist group in the Capitol city of the second largest state, the ACA is well positioned to make a big impact. To do that, we are again publishing a voters’ guide for issues that concern atheists. This guide is similar to the one we did in 2010 and 2008.
The guide is based on the results of a survey of candidates running for offices voted on by Texans in the 2014 general election. Because every candidate for each race is given the same opportunity to respond, the voters’ guide will allow voters to make an informed choice on the issues behind the questions.
We are hoping that the survey gets some publicity and raises awareness for our issues. Even so, the survey will have an educational impact on the candidates and the community at large.
We feel the voters’ guide is a great initiative that advances our mission and provides a public service. We are doing our part to improve our nation by helping to elect highly qualified candidates regardless of party. Thanks to ACA members who have contributed to the project. If you support this effort, consider making a donation to the ACA to defray costs. See you at the voting booth!
The ACA will be chartering a cruise boat on Town Lake on Saturday, September 27th, 2014, 6-8pm. We'll have the new large, double-decker boat to ourselves to chat, picnic, and watch the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue bridge. The event is open to out-of-town visitors.
The boat we'll be taking is the Capital Cruise's M.V. Pride and Joy II. This boat has the upper deck for great bat viewing. It has a bathroom and tables for our use. We can bring food and drinks to share, but not in any glass containers. Plan on bringing some food and drink. The event should be a relaxing cruise on the lake. For those who are interested, check out the scrapbook entry from the 2008 event.
We're going to need to collect money in advance for the event for around 50 people. Invite your friends, but space will be limited! Atheist-friendly guests are welcome. The price is $30 for each adult, $10 for each kid (ages 5-12), and kids under 5 are free. Please pay with exact change (preferably in an envelope), with a check made out to "ACA" and give your payment to an ACA board member at any ACA event. Better yet, sign up via our products page. Mark the check, envelope, or submission notes with the name(s) of the participant(s). Your seat is not reserved until you pay.
On the day of the event, meet at 5:30pm at Capital Cruises' dock, on the river, behind the Hyatt Regency Hotel, on the South side of the river. That's between the Congress Ave. bridge and the 1st St. bridge, on the South shore. The number for Capital Cruises is (512)480-9264 if you need last minute help, or see their web site.
We recommend parking at the One Texas Center garage, 505 Barton Springs Road Austin behind Threadgills.
Our special guests this year will be Richard Carrier and Chris Johnson.
The lectures begin at 1:15 PM on Saturday, September 27 at Trinity United Methodist Church, at 40th and Speedway (4001 Speedway). The cost will be $5.00 at the door, or free if you are attending the bat cruise that evening. Richard and Chris will also be joining us on the cruise.