AtheistConnect -The Online Magazine

EXCITING NEWS!!! atheistconnect.org is taking steps to become an online magazine. We are very excited about the future. The magazine will be open to the public. Anyone will be able to submit articles for publication. More to come as we continue to develop this site.

Please comment below on suggestions for topics (i.e. In the News, Campus Atheists, Science, etc.)

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Announcement — End of the World Watch

The earthquakes May 21st are just indigestion

On May 21st, AtheistConnect will be providing hourly coverage of the end of the world. We will begin a 12 am Eastern and end at midnight Pacific. During that time, we will be listening to Family Radio and letting you know what they’re saying.

If the world has not ended by 6pm, we will be completing our coverage at a local bar. We’re pretty excited about that one!!!

So get ready! We’re going out in style!

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The reflection in the mirror isn’t as different as I thought.

Now you know why there was a giant dalmation fire hydrant.

The evening before had been spent with my hands cramped in the engine compartment of a VW Passat diesel late into the night, ending with a part we would have to find in the morning to get the job done. I was helping a friend, the same friend who had told me about Harold Camping and Family Radio just a few days earlier, Anthony L. of AtheistConnect. Anthony had been keeping up with them for some time before I’d heard about them. Back in my memory I recalled some previous mention, but certainly I had dismissed them like many other religious lunatics. After tracking down the car part in a city about an hour away we were off to purchase it. That is when he mentioned that one of the caravans was in Beaumont, a mere 4 hours from the part we were picking up. With a bit of laughter we decided that this would be a heck of a fun thing to go and do. After the ordeal with the car, and the fact that I can’t get any work done when people are over, why not. With that in mind we turned my truck the right direction, made phone calls trying to locate the caravan within the city, and began a four hour drive. 

En-route we discussed back story. Anthony and I are charismatic people. We tend to fit in to diverse situations. I came from a family history of being very loosely to not religious. Anthony has a history that is his to tell you, but I can say he has experience within the depths of the deluded. We decided that we would fit in with the Missionaries. Anthony drew on his background, and I relied on my history of growing up around the world to bypass any curiosity about not fitting into the expected mold. A choice that would work out well.

On our radio was controversial celebrity Howard Stern. A man that I once held the same despise for as the people around me until I was asked to listen and given a free radio by a good friend. Always willing to open up to new things I listened. I liked it. Like anything I’m invited into, I wanted to learn more. I learned his history. I am now an ardent supporter of Stern and idolize him for what he has done for free speech. The irony hit me that this shunned man could be heard  anywhere in the world that had a clear sky or Internet. As we grew closer to Beaumont we still had not received any return calls regarding the exact location of the caravan within the city. Surely the local Family Radio broadcast station would be airing updates, something their website was behind on. It was a mere 20 miles outside of the city that we were finally able to pick up the radio station, a contrast to the “filth” pouring down globally. No luck, only an old man reading the Bible with the occasional channel announcement of the call sign.

Arriving in Beaumont we decided they would be downtown somewhere and headed that way. A local contact suggested calling Channel 6 News to ask for help. They had heard that the caravan was in town but did not know its location. As we grew more worried that such a long drive was in vain we stopped so we could re-group. As I searched for downtown on a map a call came in. Anthony jumped in my truck to take the call; I knew who it must have been. An attempt earlier had landed us the cell phone number to the caravan leader, he must have received our message. A sudden rain forced me into the truck as I heard the end of the conversation. They would be waiting for us in our green truck. Surprise struck me. The plan had been to park the truck and walk to them. The Evolve Fish had to go. I jumped outside, tore it off the tailgate, and we were off, to Walgreens. We had driven by the very location about 5 minutes earlier and missed them parked for lunch.

Upon arriving they were quick to great and welcome us. A sentiment the Walgreens

The sight made my heart pound

manager didn’t reflect. While the caravans were just on lunch and not actively handing out literature, the manager spent some time eyeing them, obviously contemplating how to get them to leave. Quickly I caught on that they fit the stereotype of calling each other brother and sister and applying “god bless” as a period to their verbal sentences. This would be my in, I can mimic the parlance easily. To my surprise I found that they were genuine caring people but had the same uneasiness saying “God bless” and “amen” as I did. I speak against religion with every ounce of my non-existent soul. For what reason could they possible be so awkward with these phrases? Did they have doubt? Being friendly and welcoming to strangers was easy for all of us. Forcing ourselves to adhere to expectations about expressing reverence was hard on all of us. Hard in most cases, except for the woman we are calling Bea.

She was not the one to first welcome us, but was the fastest to pull us into her home (an RV doing god’s work) and involve us. What task did she have? Help her make a smoothie. She told us she isn’t very good with electronics and we were happy to spend time with her. I was happy to not be outside with these people, by the vehicles covered in their propaganda. Let’s be clear. I am not one to shy away from yelling my atheism at the top of my lungs in the middle of the Bible Belt. But to associate with these guys made me feel like I was hanging out with freaks. Yet I did not despise these people in any way. They were good people, one gentleman could have easily doubled for my grandfather. The others were caring and loving, doing their works to help man. Bea eventually told the story of her husband, which Anthony also reflected on. When Family Radio came on he, on his death bead in poor health, would rest peacefully at night. It became her routine to listen every night. To me, I saw the straw she grasped at.

The other key revelation from Bea came in talking about “Mr. Camping.” We knew they did not refer to him as reverend. But it was our place to first mention him in conversation

Safety in numbers

and we went with Harold. We were quickly returned in conversation with a thought on Mr. Camping. In my jest I said that his name “was spoke with the reverence of the lord,” but that statement could not have been more true. Bea lit up as she spoke of him, her smile filled her face. A smile we had seen a few times, as she was a very kind woman. This time it lingered, just a little bit longer, a little bit bigger, than it had before. I think Jesus did not mean as much to her as Mr. Camping, the man behind the sham, something that caught me off guard. I felt the safety of numbers when Anthony picked up the conversation, as I found my self caught without words.

I wish I could have more stories for the rest of them. Many times it is perceived miracles or “seeing” god or the divine in something that brings people to religions. I wondered if they all had stories of loss or woe that would make them want the end to be near. I also wondered why I felt these people were crazier than any others. Commonly I defend one religion against another. “Christians” criticize and laugh at Mormons. To me they are both no less ridiculous then Pastafarians. These are normal good Christians, who had put a time stamp on paperwork. Yet the world labels them as insane and dismisses them with hardly an ear to their tale. While we may have misrepresented background we were there to listen, to find out what they had to say for themselves.

After spending an hour and a half with them it was time for the caravan to go to work. By this point we had been given tee shirts which we had gladly donned to fit in. They wanted bumper stickers to be put on my truck. I love my truck. It is 11 years old, has 200,000 miles and drives like a champ. It looks beautiful. I had every reason not to put the bumper stickers on my truck and I would work as hard as I could to maintain the illusion that we belonged with them without putting them on my truck. But was I willing to in the end if I had to? Yes, but not for the illusion, for them. I had grown fond of our hosts and had no desire to be there when they questioned our intents. Our verbal prowess, combined with the fine coat of mud Texas tends to offer up on long road trips had protected us for now. Having somehow forgotten a memory card in my smaller camera (leaving us memory for only three pictures) I grabbed my professional camera from my back seat when we got in the truck. As Anthony told me he was OK with leaving, I snapped a handful of shots and then felt the urge to leave.

It had been hard for me maintaining our cover over the last half hour. In situations like that, where I care for the people, I want to talk. As much as they want to save me I want to save them. They had given up their home and their lives. The believed that their time had come and this was the best use of what they had left and needed nothing more. I felt sad and worried for these people and we could not do anything about it. When I left I took off fast. I wanted to leave that feeling behind as much as I did not want them to know our intentions of having been there. Would I face them today, yes. I would want them to read my reflections and know what I thought and why I came. I would want to try to save them. The ridicule they face is for nothing. The months spent working is for nothing. The homes and belongings they turned to cash and donated the cause was to line the pockets of a con-man. I want to be there on the 22nd to help pick them up when they fall down, just like they wanted to be there before the 21st to save me.

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End of the World: My Time with the Missionaries

Call it a mission of understanding. We were never rude. Never disrespectful. I’m an atheist. Like the missionaries of Family Radio (Family Stations, Inc.), I am a member of a small group of people who are distrusted and hated by the rest of America. My friend Brian and I infiltrated the missionaries of Caravan 2 in Beaumont, Tx. Not to mess up their work, but to attempt to understand why they think and act the way they do. We spent the majority of our time with a woman named Bea. Bea is a woman with strong convictions who is following her beliefs, which is why we find her such a tragic character. She is a widow and claims that at the end of her husband’s life, he was very sick. He often had trouble sleeping due to his illness. Bea claims she turned on Family Radio one evening, and her husband went to sleep peacefully. This became her routine.

Bea speaks passionately about “god’s plan.” We had to resist shooting glances at each other as the conversation took us deeper and deeper into the psyche of this disillusioned woman. It’s tragic to see people, who are very generous and welcoming, give up their entire lives because of the thoughts of a madman. Bea speaks very fondly of this madman, referring to him as Mr. Camping and basing her entire life on his ridiculous words.

She has been shunned by her entire family. She spent time telling us about the ridicule she received from her son and grandchildren. They have told her several times that if she continues to speak the way she does, they will not be around her. But, she cannot escape her convictions — the drive of a corrupted mind that leads her to abandon her family. Her life. She said:

“I can’t control what people say. I can’t make them believe. I can only warn them. Everything after that is in god’s hands. My family said, ‘He [Harold Camping] has done this before.’ That’s not for me to decide. I have to go where god leads me.”

We cannot forget the enormity of the situation. We cannot forget the reality of every “prophet” in our short history, because like the other wicked minds of history, Harold Camping’s wallet is getting fatter as he spews his deceptive venom onto the sheep. People across America are selling everything they own. When asked if he would return the money on May 22, Camping said, “What they give, they give willingly.”

The media reports are all the same. A smirking news anchor briefly tells the story of the wacky missionaries in a way that allows us to chuckle. We laugh it off and forget that there are people behind the charade. I am genuinely sympathetic. I will certainly be thinking about Bea, as well as every other member of this “mission,” on May 22nd with a heavy heart. For most of America, it is another day. We will hear about it on the news. A bunch of crazies were wrong. We’ll ridicule them and continue on with our lives, because the insanity never reached our doorstep. And Bea, along with the other missionaries, will have to return to whatever is left of the life they left — to the ones that ridiculed them…because they believed.

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AtheistConnect Infiltrates End of World Missionaries; Makes Smoothies

Names of individuals who are not part of AtheistConnect have been changed for this story. While this post conforms to our usual style of satiric and slightly aggressive,  this story and the events had a profound affect on the authors. As such, each will publish a personal and serious post regarding his experiences in developing this story. Those statements will be posted on March 10, 2011.

Yesterday, we at AtheistConnect proved our immorality when we infiltrated Family Radio’s Caravan 2 in Beaumont, TX. This group of ‘believers’ is traveling across the Southern United States to inform the world that “the end of the world is almost here!” (Good news folks, the other three world notification caravans are also in the USA — the world is safe) Project Caravan is one of four groups traveling across the U.S. to spread the word of lunatic Harold Camping (his name is the same, since it’s all over his website at Family Radio.)

What the hell were we thinking?

We could not turn down this pristine opportunity to infiltrate these minds, and much to our surprise the stomachs, of our favorite end of the world cult. And let’s face it, we only have until May 21st. Right? After a four hour drive, we spent an hour and a half with people who can only be described as remarkable. It was incredibly difficult locating the caravan. Multiple calls ending in “God Bless!” led us to Walgreens, where Caravan 2 had a description of our truck and was ready to meet us with open arms. After a quick stop to rip the Darwin Fish off the bumper, we were ready to meet our contact in the group. It is difficult to describe exactly how we felt when we pulled into the parking lot. Three RV’s covered in artistic propaganda provided us with an immediate realization of exactly what we had gotten ourselves into. Our stomachs turned from a mixture of being terrified and disgusted.

Brian L. sporting his free shirt in the End Times RV

Meeting the ‘believers’ was culture shock, to say the least, but we played our parts well. There were hugs and exchanges of “god bless you.” (ours feigned, a sentiment theirs seemed to reflect also, oddly enough.) They thanked Jesus that we found them. If we weren’t so synical, this might have bothered us. The initial feeling was absolute fear. Would they expose us as phonies at first glance? Surely, two sane people would stick out amongst the crazies. Nope. In fact, we fed them BS from the top of our head, and they bought every word. We claimed we’d spent our lives doing missionary work, and we came from family’s who listened to Family Radio. Something most people learn in their lifetime, when lying, the less you give the better. Something they don’t, when lying to a religious person, tell them your whole life story, just make sure it’s fake. They could not shut up about their lives and their praise, so we had to follow suit. While this dug us deeper into a pit, it allowed us deeper into the rabbit hole.

Anthony L. making smoothies for the True Believers

The ‘missionaries’ seemed almost desperate to find like-minded believers — accepting our arrival with the gratitude that can only be likened to the acceptance of the Trojan Horse. They gave us tee shirts, bumper stickers, and reading material. We quickly dawned the tee shirts, talked our way out of covering our vehicle with bumper stickers, and stifled laughter at the titles of the pamphlets (Gay Pride: Planned by God as a Sign of the End). We ingrained our acceptance of the prophecy by sharing our knowledge of finer details. We had studied familyradio.com carefully. It seemed we knew more than they about the teachings of Mr. Camping. That’s right, Mr. Camping. We casually called him Harold, a near mistake when they mentioned his name with the reverence of the Lord himself. We heard their stories. Jay, a Beaumont resident, invited the Caravan missionaries into his home and fed them. He is days away from quitting his job and joining them on the road, because there’s only one thing to do when the end is near — cast all responsibilities aside and throw your life away (End’s up we were wrong about the orgy).

Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Every minute doing the ‘Lord’s work’ seemed an eternity. When Don, leader of the radio congregation, announced it was time to go, we began to feel the weight coming off our shoulders. We were minutes away from peeling out of the parking lot and escaping back to our heathen lives when we were asked to stay put for another half-hour to allow time for Channel 6 News to arrive. It was during this time that we sucked it up and did the true digging. What is the best way to hide in a camper? Offer to help a sweet little old lady make smoothies. We had been invited primarily into Bea’s shared RV and it had been while she was making lunch. What was for lunch? A banana, strawberry, mango and almond milk smoothie. Is such a healthy diet necessary when the world is ending? Who knows, but it gave us an out from the large group and an in to the mind of the individual. Bea’s story is too difficult to explain here. We will dedicate a post to her tomorrow. When the camera crew had left, we inched our way toward the AtheistMobile, or common truck without the Darwin Fish, but escape seemed impossible. Ron wanted to give us his cell phone in case we got lost. Don tried to give us a radio. Vicky wanted us to take her camera to provide her with photos of the back of the convoy, because even during the apocalypse, pictures are important. The mission was turning to dust in our hands, but after several “No”s and even

The things we saw. What the hell is wrong with this town?!!

more “uh”s, we jumped in the truck free of all Believer Technology. As we looked at each other in the truck, we could only smile as the escape plan was finally within grasp. Brian L., who is about as close as one can get to a super villain, stomped on the gas and skidded out of the parking lot, leaving a smoky, black goodbye behind us. We weaved through roads we had never seen or heard of until we felt we would be safe from pious vengeance. Evasion had become a specialty after certain non-science based churches with the word science in their name had followed him in the past. Not that Christian Scientist one, but the one where they combined the second half of “technology” with science…which we can’t mention by name. The excitement, frustration, and nervousness faded as we stood under the shade of a giant, dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant. The irony that we’d done nothing more than meet a group of Christians who’d placed a date on the end times was not wasted on us. We realized that what we’d seen, what we’d done, was completely different than what we’d expected.

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HUGE Religious News Tomorrow from 2 Idiots

We apologize for not posting today. But, be ready tomorrow. We are breaking huge news!!!

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Getting ready for The Big Camping (get it?) Trip

If you didn’t get it, go read other posts.

He winters in Austin, a fact I lament knowing.

Seems like the end is coming. That guy with the billboards out on Times Square was right! And so was the cowboy in his underwear singing with his guitar. Sadly, he only said that their was joy to be had in life, not as important as the end of the world. This guy offers some advice. We thought we would help prepare you for these end times with a list of to do’s:

1) Be very surprised. We mean totally surprised. If these guys are right, Brian will eat his research…he works at a body farm as a putrefaction microbiologist.

OK, so you read our blog. You must not have been raptured. Good news, we are still around too. We are sure of it. Now a list of things to do if you haven’t been raptured:

1) They are finally gone. Get happy. Super happy. All those self-righteous morons have moved on. Sure, we may have been wrong, but now nobody is around to tell us.

2) Orgy! You know you wanted to but couldn’t find people. With all the good people gone, it should be much easier.

3) Steve Coerper recommends repenting. This may be a good idea at this point honestly, but make sure to do the orgy first.

Y2K predicted by my pants.

Seriously folks, the Mayan 2012 thing has more validity than these guys. Although, it seems they are happy to keep that money rolling in after they are gone. I have a feeling that after the rapture, toilet paper will have more value than cash. My zipper predicted the end of the world and it was wrong to. We here at Atheist Connect will be working hard to keep you up to date and will be up all night May 21st (at the bar) to keep you informed when the world ends.

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