Non-theist News – Weekly Events and Info

Club Events

Wednesday Thursday* Discussion Meeting:  Ethics
October 17th, 7:00 PM in Stone 217
We will be gathering to informally discuss ethics and how it ties into non-theism. We will discuss where we get our ethics and how we apply them. This should be another enlightening and thought provoking discussion. I encourage everyone to attend.
(FB Event)
* Due to general interest in Buzz Aldrin’s book tour and Science Week events, this week’s meeting is postponed until Thursday.

Feast of the Godless: Panda Express
October 20, 7:00 PM at Panda Express
(138 Northwestern Ave West Lafayette, IN 47906)
Yummy delicious Panda Express. This is the next stop for the Non-Theist weekly FotG. Same time and day, just different place. Try something other than the orange chicken!
(FB Event)

Carl Sagan Day (IU) 
November 9th at IU Bloomington
IU will be celebrating Carl Sagan day and we are going to start organizing transport to this event.  If you are interested in going and/or can help drive people to IU, let us know on FB!
(FB Event)

Skepticon Trip  
November 15-17 in Springfield, Missouri
Skepticon is an annual conference for non-theists of all stripes!  A full event description and list of speakers is available here.  Purdue awarded us a SOGA grant to subsidize this trip!  Want to go?  Dues paying members are eligible to receive partial travel reimbursement from SOGA, but attendees still have to cover food and (shared) hotel costs. The last day to RSVP for Skepticon will be Saturday October 26 by 11:59 PM, or simply by Saturday night.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP as soon as possible!

General Info

As always, if you want to help out with the club, please contact club officers via email, Facebook, or Twitter.  We are always looking for new and returning members who are interested in tabling for events or helping behind the scenes.

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Upcoming events – Fall 2013

It’s that time of year again.

Welcome back to returning students. And welcome to all you new students too!

If you’re either doing BGR or going to be on campus on Saturday (Aug. 17th), we encourage you to come to the B-Involved Fair on the Stadium Mall and meet us. (We’re on the south side of the Engineering Fountian, by Mechanical Engineering.)

If not, never fear!

On Sunday (Aug. 18th) at 7, we have our first Feast of the Godless of the year! All are welcome for delicious food and great conversation. This week, we’ll be at the Chipotle on Chauncey.

A week later (Aug. 25th), we have a second feast. Same time, different location (TBA currently.) Again, it is open to everyone and we encourage you to come and meet us.

Our callout will be on Wednesday, September 4th at 7 pm in HICKS B853! We will be providing pizza and drinks and, after a short and sweet introduction, we will be discussing what you want from the club.

Please feel free to join us on Facebook or to contact us with any questions or comments!

We hope to see you soon!

Upcoming Events

We have events you all should attend!  Here are a few:

On Wednesday, March 6th, we will be having our weekly Non-Theist social gathering in the basement of Beering, B247.  This week’s social gathering will be movie night.  The meeting starts at 6:30 PM.

We will be going to the Field Museum in Chicago on March 23rd.  The last day to RSVP for the trip is March 9th.  Twelve dollars with a PUID will be required for admission.  Dues are required for us to pay for your transportation.  RSVP here:

http://tinyurl.com/Non-Theist-Chicago-RSVP

The next Feast of the Godless event will take place on March 17th at El Rodeo.  FotG meets at 7:00 PM.

http://tinyurl.com/El-Rodeo-FotG

We need volunteers to march at Purdue Public Action.  This event celebrates a century of public action.  You can get more details at their Facebook page here:

http://tinyurl.com/MarchatPurdue

Welcome to Purdue!

The Society of Non-Theists is excited to begin a new year with a lot of plans and hopefully a lot of new faces. We’d like to welcome all new and returning students and invite you to come join us in the coming weeks.

We have a lot going on, so please come on by and meet us!

Saturday, August 18
2-5 pm: BGR GetInvolved Fair at the Engineering mall
4-5 pm: Faith Fest at Memorial Mall
3 pm – midnight: OUTfest at Main Street, Lafayette (just across the river from Purdue)

Sunday, August 19
7 pm: Feast of the Godless at Noodles & Co
The Feast is an opportunity to meet with your fellow heathens for dinner on every Sunday night when the dining halls are closed. We always pick a restaurant within walking distance. Conversation topics range from upcoming events to classes to cats.

Thursday, August 23
11 am – 3 pm: Activities Bonanza in the Union

Sunday, August 26
7 pm: Feast of the Godless at Five Guys

Tuesday, August 28
9 am – 5 pm: Stone a Heathen at the Memorial Mall

Wednesday, August 29
6:30: Callout! in Physics 203

Thursday, August 30
6:30: Big Gay Callout with the LGBTQ Student Alliance in Stewart 214

And many, many more events throughout the semester. Feel free to contact us with any questions and like us on facebook!

Boiler up!

Purdue administration wants you to grow in your “spiritual life”

Recently the Office of the Dean of Students sent out this email to incoming freshmen:

You are about to become a Boilermaker – Congratulations! This is an incredible place, not only to continue your education, but to experience all that the university has to offer through the plethora of student organizations. We want to encourage you to think about growing in your spiritual life as well. There are around 40 different religious student groups that offer places for worship, prayer, study, conversation, and fellowship, as well as opportunities to put faith into action through service opportunities, mission trips, and faith-based initiatives.

Please go to our website: http://www.campusfaith.info where you will find links to student ministries and organizations that are non-denominational, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, ecumenical, etc. You’ll also have opportunities to meet several faith groups during Boiler Gold Rush. Groups will be at:

–Activities Fair: Tuesday, August 14, 11:00 am-1:00 pm, in the Armory
–Faith Fest: Saturday, August 18, 4:00-5:00 pm, on the Memorial Mall

Welcome to Purdue.
University Religious Leaders and Religious Student Organizations

===========================================================================
Sent from the Office of the Dean of Students on behalf of the University Religious Leaders and Religious Student Organizations

(bold text for emphasis added)

The Society of Non-Theists finds it highly inappropriate for a public university to endorse religion in such a way. We feel that incoming freshmen should not be pressured into joining a religious institution, especially not by the university itself. Rhetoric of this variety is alienating to non-religious students and can make them feel like outsiders before they even set foot on this campus.

We have a meeting with the Dean of Students on Monday to try to address these issues. We hope to find a resolution to avoid such problems in the future and create a more inclusive campus.

In light of this and similar issues, we would like to ask that anyone who is subjected to or witnesses discrimination reports it to the university using the purdue.edu/report-hate page. Also, notifying us about issues can help ensure that they are addressed in a prompt and fair manner.

Thank you

I want to thank everyone for getting involved with the Faith West bond issue. It’s been an interesting and educational few weeks and I got to know some great people in the process. Even though the bond ordinance passed, we did great. By standing up against this and coordinating the opposition, we made this an issue. We got press and the city’s attention, which lead to even more people coming out to speak against this issue.

Ultimately, we made the city stop and think.

Thank you to Pride Lafayette for bringing your community in and for speaking. Thank you to the City Council and Mayor Dennis for listening to everyone who wished to speak. And thank you in particular to Peter Bunder, Eddie VanBogaert, and Ann Hunt who cast a difficult vote for what was right.

Thank you to everyone who spoke and especially to our “politics guy” Mike and our token theist Mario Melendez. Forgive the cliche expression, but I honestly couldn’t have done it without you.

This was a weird first month in office for me and I secretly hope the next 11 will have less politics, but this was fun in a weird sort of way.

With much heathen love,
Anna Biela

Update on Faith West

This post is referring to a bond issue in West Lafayette, IN that is fairly complicated. We have explained the issue in full in a previous blog post. Briefly, Faith Church is applying for a $7mil Economic Development Revenue Bond to build a new facility near Purdue’s campus. The $7 mil is a loan from Chase Bank, and not the City’s money, although they are tax exempt, and thereby deprive the federal government of tax revenue. The council is expected to vote on this project tomorrow evening, June 4.

Pastor Viars of Faith Church in Lafayette, IN likes to accuse us of discrimination against his church. The bond lawyer likes to think of awarding a $7 million tax-exempt bond as “a no brainer” and can’t find any reason to vote against it other than “bias against the church, against the Baptists.”

It’s especially worrying because, according to Viars, the president of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University said that “we need to crush [Faith Church] at all costs.” I can’t believe she would say such a—oh wait. She never said that.

There are, apparently, 6 reasons to oppose this. Our completely unfair discrimination is the first one, so here are the other 5 that the City Council should consider when casting their vote:

1. How it’s being handled

While in front of the media or City Council, Viars tells a very compelling story of a facility that will be open to everyone and will provide much needed non-religious services. His flock gets a different story, however. To them, it’s all about advancing their ministry and we, the very community who he claims to welcome, is the enemy. He spins tales of conspiracies between the local Episcopalians and the atheists, criticizing Councilman (and Reverend!) Bunder for having the welcoming church that Viars only claims Faith West will be.

Pastor Viars is using his congregation as a political tool, misquoting Anna and vilifying the opposition during his Sunday service, and packing the Council room past capacity, making the public hearing hostile and difficult. His answers to our concerns range between empty platitudes and jokes.

2. Saturated markets

Faith West boasts a new fitness center, daycare center, and biblical counseling (see a later point for more on the biblical counseling). The problem is that these facilities are going to be located in a saturated market, and thereby have limited economic effects.

For example, the fitness center will compete with at least two private centers and also a University fitness center, which faculty and students have free access to. If about half the city has essentially a free membership to a gym and the other half has access to existing facilities, It’s irrational to think that the fitness center (which has stricter rules, but similar pricing) will actually add anything to the city’s economy.

It’s the same story with the daycare center. There are 3 child care services run by the University with at least an additional 12 off campus. All for a city of 30,000 that is mostly childless students. And considering that it is such a fundamentalist religious institution, few members of the community who aren’t Baptists would be interested in sending their children there. We must ask, what benefit is the community drawing from this?

3. 18 jobs is not economic development

According to the bond application, 18 jobs are supposed to be created by this facility. According to Pastor Viars himself, most of these jobs are going to their own seminary students.

So they want a $7 million bond so that their own people get money that they’re going to give back to Faith through tuition and housing expenses. The current job openings they have all note that “This is a ministry position, and wages will reflect that fact,” which we can assume that means “divine intervention is needed to work for this cheep.”

Even if we assume most of their salaries will go into the local economy, we must consider that most of these seminary students live in Lafayette, not West Lafayette, which are two distinct municipalities.

It should also be mentioned that the discrimination policies of the city do not apply to these jobs. We’re all elated at the promise of 18 more jobs for god-fearing, hetronormative white men! (On their website they kindly promise not to discriminate based on ethnicity or race.)

4. Misuse of Bonds

It is the opinion of the City’s attorney that this is legal, however there still are a few points to be made here:

Pastor Viars is applying economic development bonds, when Faith Church could obtain the funding in the private sector. The difference between the private and public sector is roughly $56,000 or 2% interest rate. They claim no plan B, but this is a church that has $5.5 million on hand for a project that is projected to cost $12 million. A 2% difference in rate is not going to make or break it.

It will happen, with or without the bond. The entire point of the bonds is to promote economic development that otherwise wouldn’t happen in the City.

This facility is going to have negligible economic benefits to the city, and the justifications are not very convincing. The City will be cutting from its property tax base. The fed government won’t get tax revenue from the loan. They’re risking a lawsuit. All this for 18 jobs that hardly pay anything and will go to people outside the city.

5. City endorsement of a violation of their own policies

The bond policy of the city necessitates that the project support the general welfare of residents. By passing this ordinance, they are saying that this church is good for the community.

Two years ago, the city of West Lafayette showed their support for GLBT rights in the hiring process by passing a new Human Relations ordinance. In this ordinance, gender identity and sexual expression were added to the city’s non-discrimination policies, which is unusual for Indiana and clearly cemented the City’s position on human rights.

This is important, because the church endorses, as well as offers, homosexual reparative therapy. This therapy has been heavily discredited by the American Psychological Association and the state Senate of California recently moved to ban it.

In an older blog post, Pastor Viars claimed that Rep. Michelle Bachmann is “theologically bankrupt” for suggesting that homosexual reparative therapy is a choice. We would hope that Pastor Viars has changed his view on this matter, but we’re skeptical.

While the City may not have a legal right to prevent such “therapy,” they do not need to endorse it. Faith Ministries is not entitled to this bond, the city does not have to support it. After such a decisive move for human rights, it would be tragic for them to endorse the very discrimination they wanted to prevent.

Even if this bond measure passes, we hope that our opposition has set a precedent for having better scrutiny and skepticism towards what the city is actually endorsing.