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.

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