Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From Arlene Marie: Disturbing report on the Wyandotte Street Fair

Fellow Atheists,

Arlene-Marie sent the following message to her mailing list. Many of you are on that same list, but I wanted to post it here to reach a wider audience. Rest assured, I will be in Wyandotte next year, and I encourage as many people as possible to make a point of attending. I am only sorry I wasn't able to stand with the people who were there this year.


Michigan Atheists confront the good, the bad, the ugly
and the very ugly.

After several failed attempts over the past two
years Michigan Atheists finally made their first appearance at the Wyandotte
Street Fair, July 8 – 11, 2009, 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM daily.

interesting to note that Wyandotte is part of a group of about 22 communities
known as Downriver -- as in down the river from Detroit and often referred
to as ‘the cultural wastelands.’

We knew that this, our first
appearance in Downriver would raise eyebrows for many while bringing surprise
and delight to others. Indeed, dozens upon dozens of fairgoers were
pleasantly stunned to see our booth. Over and over we were told they never
imagined that Atheists would be openly on the streets in Downriver. They
were delighted to talk with us and eager to receive our literature and
books. A few even shed a tear of joy while others revisited our booth
several times just to be in our company.

However, little did we
know that those with raised eyebrows – you know who they are; those who
disapprove of our Atheism with familiar nasty looks, rude comments and
condemning us to hell would be the least of our problems. It would be the
ugly and the very ugly who would remind us of the horrors of public Atheist
activism in the 70’s.

For all four days we were actually
stalked by those who seemed to be on a mission to vandalize our presentation
table. Stalkers visited us frequently or stood close at hand watching and
waiting for an opportunity to catch us off guard. One woman seized the moment
and rushed to our table, gathered up every book on our table (new books donated
by two authors) and tossed them into a filthy trash can. A few hours later she
returned and kept reaching over our table attempting to provoke us into physical
(hand) contact. Several other taunting visitors, when asked to leave, got
seriously in our faces saying, “make me,” while still others would pick up a
book or literature, look us straight in the eye and tear it up while laughing
and jeering. Always present were those who told us to leave and go
back where we came from. I assume they meant the closet.

No closet for us. Michigan Atheists will return to the
Downriver cultural wastelands next year if the powers that be, the fair
committee, permit.

Applause, applause to Dee, Linda,
Joe, Lisa, Robbins, Howard, Gary, Steve, Spike, George, Ernie, Lee and Andre for
staffing our booth with courage, passion, conviction and a cool head.


And, as a footnote, Michigan Atheists are
currently staffing our booth at the Ann Arbor Street Fair. The fair runs
through Saturday and if you are in the area stop by and say hello.


Michigan Atheists State Director*Director, Michigan Atheists Affiliate
*Chairman, American Atheists Convention 2009*American Atheists, Inc., Board of Phone: 313-938-5960
Box 0025, Allen Park, MI 48101American Atheists is a nationwide movement which
defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church and
state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Religion-based discrimination against homosexuality supported by House Resolution 115

On June 25, Representative Tom McMillian introduced House Resolution 115 into the Michigan Legislature. This bill supports the practice of religious discrimination against homosexuality by alleging that Eastern Michigan University unfairly discriminated against a graduate student in their counseling program, Julea Ward, who refused to see a client based on her objection to his homsexual behavior.

It is EMU policy not to discriminate based on sexual orientation. EMU's faculty told Julea Ward in classes prior to her counseling Practicum that she could under no circumstances counsel a student to change their homosexual behavior.

Ms. Ward did refer the case to another counselor before the first meeting, so no harm was done to the student, but should someone's faith-based choices to be intolerant of others be tolerated in a professional setting? Should our legislature be condoning this practice?

Michigan Atheists will remember Tom McMillin in his role as the Mayor of Auburn Hills, where he was often the go-to person for a counterpoint in the press regarding issues of separation of state and church. His common line was that we were trying to rewrite history by supporting separation of state and church--that the United States is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles.

Read more about the resolution and the court case here:

Find and contact your representatives here:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Salvation Army Harbor Light program in Michigan appropriations bill

On April 22, the Michigan House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that included funding for The Salvation Army's Harbor Light program, as it has annually for several years.

The program has been in existence in the Detroit area since 1939, and has expanded across the country. It provides rehabilitation services for substance abuse and programs for the homeless.

While the program itself does not appear to involve proselytizing, the continued state funding for the activities of The Salvation Army and those of other religious charities, such as those run by the Catholics, provides stability, assets, and PR for religious organizations.

The question raised in my mind about this program is this: what does this program offer that a secular alternative cannot? If money is to be appropriated for substance abuse, as with this appropriation, then why not choose a secular non-profit or have a state-managed operation? Does the state take bids on this sort of service?

I will be exploring this issue in depth, since I have seen funding for this program on appropriations bills since 2001, when I began following legislation in Michigan. In the meantime, read more about it here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Writing for The Examiner

I have become the Detroit Church & State Examiner for I have several article ideas, but there are two ways I want to involve Michigan Atheists. First, I want to give Michigan Atheists as much positive publicity as I possibly can, since the primary reason Michigan Atheists exists is to educate the public about separation of state and church issues. The second is that I want to document individual events and help promote them.

I will be writing four to five articles per week for While I won't be focusing one hundred percent of them on Michigan Atheists, I would like to raise awareness of issues by presenting the facts on, then coming here and calling for action when it is necessary.

I would love your thoughts.

My first article may be found here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Michigan Atheists State Director to be on Lou Perry Radio Show

WHO: Arlene-Marie, Michigan State Director
WHAT: Guest on the Lou Perry Radio Show
Topic: church and state issues
WHERE: WLBY Radio – 1290 AMAnn Arbor, Michigan(covering a number of communities in Michigan, but not a national program)

WHEN: Sunday, January 25, 2009 12:30 p.m.
CALL-IN: 734-827-1290

ARLENE-MARIE, Michigan Atheists State Director*Director, Michigan Atheists Affiliate *Chairman, American Atheists Convention 2009*American Atheists, Inc., Board of Directors
Phone: 313-938-5960
PO Box 0025, Allen Park, MI 48101

Thursday, January 22, 2009


My appearance on the bob Dutko show will be on January 28th. I corrected it in the article, but corrections within posts already created do not get sent to the group.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Bob Dutko Show Invitation

Some time ago, I made a deal with one of my colleagues at work that if he'd read a book on evolution, I would debate Bob Dutko on 103.5 FM on the subject. Bob Dutko is a Christian radio talk show host who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I emailed Bob, telling him I was a biology major in college (before I switched), that I am a board member for Michigan Atheists, and that I would like to debate with him regarding evolution. He responded promptly, and that's how it began.

Since then, we've had conversations (they are not formal debates in any sense) about separation of state and church, the plausibility of dinosaurs and humans coexisting, and the existence of gods. We're having another round regarding the last subject.

There have been mixed reviews. Some people will say I did well; others will say I missed this or that point; others will say that I failed to "go for the jugular". All I will say is this: I am not going on Bob Dutko's show to win or lose. I will answer his points as well as I can and as time allows, as always, but my real goal is to demonstrate that an Atheist can stand his ground and be civil about it. My goal is to show Bob's audience that Atheists aren't bitter, angry, hateful people; we're rational, sane, and reasonably intelligent.

So far, it's worked fairly well. Bob's audience members have called and written him to say that the Atheist he had on seemed like a nice guy. They like that I don't try to shout him down--which means that ultimately, they'll be likely to listen to the whole conversation. I know that several of my colleagues at work do, and their feedback has been positive. I've given them things to think about. They may not give up religion, but at least they know someone who is an Atheist, so their prejudices toward and caricatures of Atheists have to come into conflict with what they know about me.

In any case, the show will be airing live at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, January 28, for anyone who wants to listen.