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The ACA has been invited to the following talk at UT by historian G. Howard Miller who spoke to the ACA in February. The lecture will be Monday, April 16th, 7:30pm. The lecture is titled "Belief and Unbelief in George Bush's America". It will be given Monday, April 16th, 7:30pm at in Gearing Hall room 105. The talk will enlarge on comments he made in his February lecture and will pay special attention to the recent public defenses of unbelief in the works of men like Dawkins and Harris. 

Dr. Miller's Biography

A native of Graham, Texas, Howard Miller is University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been teaching about religion in American history since 1971. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Professor Miller is currently writing a book on the impact of General Wallace's novel, Ben-Hur on American culture since its publication in 1880. He has recently become interested on film in America and has developed several new courses that rely heavily on audio-visual materials. Over thepast few years he has taught new courses on Jesus in America, on the cinematic lives of Jesus, on religion in America in the Fifties and on unbelief in America. This semester he is teaching a new lecture course on religion in America since 1945. In the Spring of 2008 Professor Miller will offer a new lecture course on unbelief in America that grows out of the undergraduate seminar he recently taught on the same subject. His lecture grows out of his experiences in that course.

Talk Abstract

Scholars and cultural commentators have much recently of the power of religious belief in George W. Bush's personal life and in his rise to and survival in power in American politics. Critics of the President speak ominously of the rise of a politically engaged religious fundamentalism that has disturbing similarities to the Islamic fundamentalists against which America is now arrayed in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the past few years, just as commentators have predicted the inevitable and lamentable triumph of the Religious Right in the United States, the nation's bestseller lists have begun to fill up with books defending, of all things, unbelief. How to account for this seemingly unexpected rise of a clearly articulated, intellectually sophisticated, public defense of unbelief? Is it but the inevitable reaction to the stridency of the Religious Right? Is it part of our growing fascinating with the capacity of science to answer ultimate questions? Just how unusual is it in the broad sweep of American history? These and other questions will be the focus of this lecture on one of the most important developments of our time. 

Directions to the Event

The event will be in Gearing Hall Room 105 on the UT campus. If you walk north from the Tower and cross 24th Street, you will walk right into Gearing Hall. Look at the bottom of map 1 on this page to see where the building is. If you go to the lecture, I recommend parking in the parking garage at 25th and San Antonio and walking over. See the visitor parking map. Go early enough to find parking and allow for walking time whenever you visit the UT campus. Once you enter Gearing Hall, take a left then the next left, and you are there at room 105.

ACA will be holding a demonstration at the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, May 3rd from Noon to 1pm as part of our National Day of Reason activities. We would like to get a big group out there with signs promoting reason and church-state separation. We already have the signs, but we need participants. 

We will have an informal meal meeting prior to the event at Hickory Street, 8th and Congress at starting from 11am. After a meal, we'll go to the sidewalk on 12th St. in front of the Capitol to set up our signs. We'll be there from Noon to 1pm. We'll wave at cars, show off the signs, and chat with people on the street. Please come down. Wear sunscreen and bring some water for yourself. The event is fun and a great way to show your support for reason and church-state separation. 

This event is part of a National Day of Reason response to the National Day of Prayer event occurring at the same time at the Capitol. As far as we know, this particular NDoP event does not violate church-state separation boundaries, but the national movement is clearly over the line. (If you know of a way that the NDoP event violates church-state separation, please let us know.) We will be exercising our free speech rights in response in the form of a demonstration. Other National Day of Reason activities are being done across the country as part of a movement to promote reason and community service.

ACA members Leon Harvey and Elze Hamilton have created a MySpace page for the ACA. The page includes a re-packaging of some of the material on the ACA web page for easier use by the audience there. 

A big part of MySpace is the friends network and ACA already has a large number of friends, including some famous folks, like the Infidel Guy. 

The MySpace effort is just one of several ACA satellite web efforts such as Martin Wagner's Atheist Experience blog

We appreciate the enthusiasm of these individuals. If you're thinking about a similar effort, please keep the ACA board in the loop as we need to be careful how ACA is marketed and perceived.

The ACA Happy Hour event will move to the Dog & Duck Pub, 406 W. 17th St. near the Capitol (Google Map). The event will also start earlier, at 7 PM. As always, the Happy Hour is a time for informal conversation and people can drift in and out as their day permits. 

Besides being a central location, Dog & Duck Pub is more of a relaxed venue with a pretty large menu and a good selection of beers. It's also close to UT, which might encourage UT students to become more involved with our group. 

Thanks to Shilling Cadena for finding a new location for the event.

The Sunday, March 18, 2007 edition of the Austin American Statesman featured ACA President Matt Dillahunty on the front page of the Metro & State section, under the title "Preaching his own gospel of atheism". A link to the story was saved on Richard Dawkins' web site

The article focused primarily on Matt's path to atheism, his coming out experience with his family, and his role as host of the Atheist Experience TV show. 

The article mentions the Atheist Community of Austin and some facts about it, but does not talk about what atheism is or our stance on the importance of church-state separation. On reading the article, you might not be aware that atheists, for the most part, come to the same conclusion under their own power and not because of some sort of atheist evangelism striking an emotional chord. The reader almost gets the impression he's the lone ranger out on the frontier.

We are grateful for the Statesman for a positive article and we hope to see more articles in the future on secular topics.

Atheist Community of Austin

The Atheist Community of Austin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive atheism and the separation of church and state. The ACA serves the local Austin community through outreach programs, providing informational resources and various volunteer activities. In addition, the ACA serves the community-at-large through free online portals including informational wikis, regular audio/video podcasts and interactive blogs.

We define atheism as the lack of belief in gods. This definition also encompasses what most people call agnosticism.

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