In 2010, FreethoughtAction organized secular groups throughout North Carolina to form the North Carolina Secular Association (now, the Carolinas Secular Association) to conduct a billboard campaign during the month of July featuring the original words of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance “one nation indivisible” over the American flag. The billboards appeared in six cities across the state, from the mountains to the sea (Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington), and each city had its own media representative.
Below is a link to a video I put together about a year ago about it. The first few minutes tells the story of the campaign and the remainder is just some of the television coverage the campaign received in each area, concluding with coverage from the national ABC Evening News broadcast. The entire video is 32 minutes.
I think it’s very interesting to watch on a number of levels.
I turn the thermostat up to 74 from where it was set before I went to sleep at 72.
I brush my teeth in the bathroom sink, where I can get water on demand.
I spend several minutes on the toilet, where I can easily flush my waste.
I take a shower. I step into an alcove in my bathroom and all I have to do is pull a lever to adjust the rate the water is falling on me and how hot or cold it is. I can even adjust the showerhead to spray me with water in any direction (or remove it to direct it where I wish).
While I’m waiting for my hair to dry, I can check any new emails I’ve received on the internet, I can check to see if anyone has responded to my FB posts, and I can check CNN and CBS News to find out if anything major has happened.
Just think about all that for a second….
I had a comfortable room to sleep in; if I didn’t wake up myself, an electronic alarm would have done that for me; I was able to instantly control the temperature of my environment and almost instantly dispose of any human waste I had.
I had instant access to however much water I wanted at any speed or temperature from any direction to brush my teeth and take a shower.
I had instant access to anyone sending messages to me from anywhere in the world while I was sleeping, as well as what was going on all around the world that was being covered by the news media.
If I wanted to, I could drive out to the airport and buy a ticket to another part of the world and fly there!! I could travel to the other side of the Earth in less than a day.
And I could listen to whatever music I wanted to hear or whatever podcast or other broadcast I wanted to listen to along the way.
I have the internet at my fingertips. It’s better than having the Library of Alexandria in your pocket.
I can take pictures and videos at a whim, play games, or live stream some experience.
I can talk to people in real time all around the world.
When I come home in the evening, I can take some food out of the refrigerator and put it in the microwave or cook it on the stove, OR I could have it delivered to me in 30 minutes.
There are about three things to take away from this….
The first thing is that we are living better than kings used to live, but we don’t appreciate it. We tend to judge ourselves in relation to our contemporaries and not what conditions were before us.
The second thing is that these conditions were all brought about by science, not faith in religion, which would have left us all in the dark ages forever if religion had its way. Science has given us everything from refrigerators to the internet.
The third thing is the reason of science make sense, and it helps us progress into the future and improve our situation.
[Note: not everyone is there yet; this is a first world scenario, but things are hopefully moving in this direction as they have continually been, if you look at the bigger picture.]
When I was a kid, my two brothers and I were each given a guinea pig as a pet from my grandfather. My mother wouldn’t allow them in the house, so my father put a cage for them in the backyard about 4′ off the ground. I stepped outside one day to see the door to the cage hanging open and one of the guinea pigs hanging from it… evidently trying to escape. Directly below him was our dog, taking a nap in the afternoon sun.
Before I had a chance to move, the guinea pig let go of the cage door and fell onto the dog’s back. The dog woke up and stood up. When the dog stood up, the guinea pig dug in his claws. The dog started running and yelping while the guinea pig was squealing and holding on for dear life. The guinea pig riding on the back of the dog around and around the back yard was one of the funniest and most unexpected things I’ve ever seen. Neither animal knew what was going on and both were scaring the hell out of each other.
After a couple of trips around the yard, the dog bucked the guinea pig off his back. The guinea pig flew up into the air, bounced off of the chain-link fence, and fell to the ground somewhat stunned. I reached him pretty quickly after that and picked him up to put him back into his cage. I told him, “I bet you won’t try that again.”
The following was written in 2013 as a result of the 10th anniversary of the Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics (CAA). It serves as an example of how one secular group began and evolved a little differently than most groups of its kind.
The ‘official’ birth of ‘Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics’ (CAA) can be traced back to January 2003 when an email distribution list at YahooGroups was created for the few atheists who had previously been meeting once every 3 months or so through MeetUp.com.
In the summer of 2005, the group became affiliated with American Atheists. Later, it would also become affiliated with the American Humanist Association and Atheist Alliance International (now, Atheist Alliance America).
In January 2007, Dan Russell-Pinson built the first website and forum for the group, and he became the official group organizer.
During those first several years, meetings were occasional and purely social.
Meetings were held at places like: Hartigan’s Irish Pub, Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, and the Mellow Mushroom.
The meetings usually topped out at around 10 people.
As the group began to grow, people inevitably envisioned different directions for what CAA should be: some wanted a purely social outlet, some wanted more formalized activism, and so on.
In March 2009, to avoid fragmentation, CAA enacted bylaws and elected its first officers.
Dan Russell-Pinson became the first president….
A mission statement was approved…
“To create and foster a close-knit community of non-believers and to put a positive face on atheism through education, public outreach and community service.”
The group had grown to such an extent by then that it had to find a new place to meet. It found a “home” of sorts at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, where members could take over the room in the back or the space downstairs.
CAA decided not to make any changes regarding the purely social aspect of the now monthly socials, but started holding separate “planning” meetings each month.
When some wanted to start having speakers, CAA made that a separate event as well–and so on with any other activities–until the calendar was filling up each month with many different types of CAA events.
There were monthly community service projects, charity drives, movie nights, and book club meetings, and there was now an annual Garden of Eatin’ picnic added to the calendar….
While Dan was president, he was interviewed on radio, television, and for “Charlotte” magazine…
A new website and forum were built, and the groundwork was laid for CAA’s participation in the statewide “One Nation Indivisible” billboard campaign in 2010.
In the spring of 2010, Dan passed off the torch to Mike Tooney, who became the second president of CAA.
That summer, CAA received several rounds of media attention—local, national, and international–from its involvement with the “One Nation Indivisible” billboard campaign. CAA member William Warren was the media representative for the billboard in Charlotte.
Over 300 new members joined the new CAA website as a result of the campaign, bringing the total to over 1,300, and the following monthly social drew a record 75-80 people.
In the spring of 2011, Shawn Murphy became the third CAA president with Mary Snow as VP.
Monthly steering committee meetings began, monthly “alternative” socials were tested, and annual Darwin Day brunches and annual fundraising Summer Soirees were added to the calendar.
A youth group was launched, more speakers were brought in, a group page was started on Facebook, and CAA adopted a street in downtown Charlotte to keep clean….
President Shawn Murphy was interviewed on radio and television, and participated at interfaith events….
In 2012, several CAA members attended the Reason Rally in DC and Rock Beyond Belief in Fayetteville, NC.
Later, CAA representatives spoke out in the “Free Speech Zone” at the Democratic National Convention and received some media attention as a result.
CAA’s original logo, seen in the picture above, was replaced with a new one….
CAA became affiliated with the Carolinas Secular Association, and later went on to help sponsor and host two of that organization’s conferences held in Charlotte.
CAA also became an endorsing organization of the Secular Coalition for America and later joined the Charlotte Coalition of Reason (Charlotte CoR).
For two years running, CAA was able to get former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to sign proclamations proclaiming a “Day of Reason” for Charlotte…
This resulted in more media attention when Foxx was appointed Transportation Secretary for the Obama Administration shortly after he signed the second one….
In 10 years, CAA went from not being able to gather five people together more frequently than quarterly to a thriving group with over 1,300 registered members on the website.
In the summer of 2013, CAA celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary with a dinner banquet at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille…
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person.” “I am a really smart guy.” “I’ve been known as being a very smart guy for a long time.” “I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” “I’m intelligent. Some people would say I’m very, very, very intelligent.” “And then people say oh, is he a smart person? I’m smarter than all of them put together, but they can’t admit it.” “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” “My two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart…. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star, to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”
A GREAT ATHLETE
“I was the best baseball player in New York when I was young.” “I always knew I was good. I was always good at it. I was the best athlete.” “I was always the best athlete, people don’t know that.” “I’ve won many club championships and I was always the best athlete.” “Always the best player. Not only baseball, but every other sport too.” “I was good at wrestling. I was really good at football. I was always good at sports. I was always the best at sports.” “I had it [innate ability]. I always had it.” “I like being a great athlete.”
“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.” “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” “I’m so good looking.” “I feel like a supermodel except, like, times 10, OK? It’s true. I’m a supermodel.” “Do I look a president? How handsome am I, right? How handsome?”
RICH AND SUCCESSFUL
“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” “I have made myself very rich.” “I was always the best at what I did.” “I don’t think I’ve made mistakes.” “Everything I’ve done virtually has been a tremendous success.” “I was successful, successful, successful.” “I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far. Nobody’s ever been more successful than me.” “I’ve been, you know, pretty successful in the courts over the years, I’ve been a very successful person, you can check — USA Today said, ‘he does great in the courts’ OK?” “If you don’t tell people about your success, they probably won’t know about it.”
A NICE PERSON WITH GREAT TEMPERAMENT
“I had some beautiful pictures taken in which I had a big smile on my face. I looked happy, I looked content, I looked like a very nice person, which in theory I am.” “I think I am a nice person.” “I’m actually a nice person.” “I have a strong temperament.” “I think I have a great temperament.” “I have a great temperament. My temperament is very good, very calm.” “I think I’m a sober person… I’m a very sober person.”
RAN A FLAWLESS CAMPAIGN
“I’ve had a beautiful, I’ve had a flawless campaign.” “I won an election that should never be won, because the Electoral College is far harder to win than the popular vote. The popular vote, for me, would have been much easier.”
MOST RESPECTFUL OF WOMEN AND ‘THE BLACKS’
“I have more respect for women by far than Hillary Clinton has.” “Nobody respects women more than me.” “I was the one that really broke the glass ceiling on behalf of women more than anybody in the construction industry.” “There’s nobody who has done more for equality than I have.” “Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person.” “I am the least racist person that you have ever met.” “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.” “I am the least racist person, the least racist person that you’ve ever seen, the least.” “I have a great relationship with the blacks.” “I have a great relationship with African Americans, as you possibly have heard. I just have great respect for them. And they like me. I like them.” “And did you know my name is in more black songs than any other name in hip-hop? Black entertainers love Donald Trump.” “And at the end of four years, I guarantee you, that I will get over ninety-five percent of the African-American vote. I promise you.”
MULTI-TALENTED & KNOWLEDGEABLE
“I build the best buildings.” “Nobody builds walls better than me.” “I created maybe the greatest brand.” “Trump Steaks are the world’s greatest steaks.” “I have the best [golf] courses in the world.” “My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.” “I know all about knives and belt buckles.” “And I know more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived.” “I know more about [campaign] contributions than anybody.” “Nobody has better toys than I do.” “Nobody loves the Bible better than I do.” “I’m the king of debt. I understand debt better than probably anybody.” “Nobody knows more about debt than I do.” “I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world. Nobody knows more about taxes.” “Nobody knows more about taxes than I do — and income than I do.” “I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.” “Nobody even understands it but me. It’s called devaluation.” “Nobody knows more about trade than me.” “I’m really a great negotiator. I know how to negotiate.” “Deals are my art form. I like making deals, preferably big deals.” “Nobody knows banking better than I do” “I understand money better than anybody.” “I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.” “I know more about the big bills than any president that’s ever been in office.” “I know the H1B. I know the H2B. Nobody knows it better than me.” “I know the best people.” “I know the smartest negotiators in the world. I know the good ones. I know the bad ones. I know the overrated ones.” “I’m really good at war.” “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” “Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump.” “Nobody is bigger or better at the military than I am.” “I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand.” “There’s nobody that understands the horror of nuclear better than me.” “Nobody is fighting for the veterans like I’m fighting for the veterans.” “Nobody’s better to people with disabilities than me.” “There’s nobody more pro-Israel than I am.” “Nobody knows jobs like I do!” “Nobody knows politicians better than I do.” “Nobody knows the game better than I do.” “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” “Nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump.” “I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth.” “Nobody’s ever had crowds like [I’ve] had.” “Nobody can do it like me. Nobody. Nobody can do it like me, honestly.” “Nobody is stronger than me.” “It’s all because of me.” “I know words. I have the best words.”
“I think I am actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.”
– Donald Trump
[NOTE: I didn’t exhaust all the quotes I could have included, but many of them were repetitive.]
I hope everyone has a very merry Zagmuk, Sacaea, Saturnalia, Yuletide, Sankranti, Brumalia, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Hanukkah, Alban Arthuan, Midwinter, Finn’s Day, Festival of Sol, Festival of the New Sun, Festival of Growth, Great Day of the Cauldron, Dong Zhi, Nollaig, Juul, Jul, Jiueis, Jol, Joulu, Joulupukki, Children’s Day, Festival of Kronos, Kallikantzaroi, Karkantzaroi, Dazh Boh, Chaomos, Inti Raymi, Soyal, Sada, Touji, Geol, Feailly Geul, Modra-niht, Giuli, Iol, J–lm^nu_r, Shass Greiney Geuree, Yn Ad-Gheurey, Divalia, Larentalia, Sigillaria, Midvinterblot, Touji, if Inti Raymi, Shabe-Yalda, Sviatki, Koleda, Choimus, Soyalangwul, Diwali, Sadeh, Adur-Jashan, Maidyarem, Shab e Cheleh, Novo Hel, Nollaig, Pongal, Modranetc, Yalda Night, Karachun, St. Thomas’ Day, Christmas (Xmas), The Festival of the Long Night, Wintervil, Zamenhof Day, Festivus, HumanLight, Chrismukkah, Giftmas, Newtonmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Lenaea (Festival of the Wild Women).
And a very happy birthday to Adonia, Appolo, Attis, Baal, Dionysus, Helios, Hercules, Mithra, Osiris, Perseus, Theseus, Jesus, and King Arthur.
In 1979, I was lying in bed and wondered why people didn’t decorate their ceilings. I began to decorate mine with billowing Indian print bedspreads or tapestries and other things.
In the 1980s, I first had the idea to hang an upside-down Xmas tree from the ceiling, but I didn’t act on it.
In 1998, a co-worker offered me her old artificial tree, and I implemented the idea. I put it up with strings, wire, and push-pins. I strung lights, decorated it, and put presents all around.
In 1999, I put a toy train around it and decorated the whole ceiling as if it were Xmas morning, and some of the gifts had been opened. I had a chess game in progress, a spilled drink,a Twister game, and various other gifts laying around.
I moved to a new place in 2001 and set it up again on the ceiling of my porch less elaborately.
I thought it was a unique idea, but a friend sent me a picture of an upside-down tree in a bar, and I discovered that you could buy variations of the idea online.
Many years later, my aunt took a picture of an upside-down tree for sale….
But I’ve never run across anyone who went to the extent of decorating the whole ceiling as I did.
I’ve always thought these other holidays like HumanLight and Festivus were kind of lame attempts to compete with Christmas. After all, Christmas has a lot of cultural evolution behind it that has caused it to succeed very well.
Everyone should know that Christians have appropriated many older customs to form this holiday to try and make it their own. I don’t see why we can’t appropriate it for ourselves just as they did. It is already well on the way to becoming a “secular” holiday anyway, so maybe we can just push it the rest of the way.
There are many Christians who don’t understand the history of why it is sometimes abbreviated as “Xmas,” and they object to that abbreviation because they think it is “Xing out Christ from Christmas.”
Rather than trying to continually enlighten them about this issue, why not embrace their misunderstanding? We can say, “Yes! that’s exactly what we are trying to do!!! We are going to celebrate Xmas just like you celebrate Christmas, but without the Jesus BS.” We can still have the tree, the lights, and the gifts etc., but without a Jesus in the manger.
If Christians can steal it from pagan traditions, then we can steal it from them.
It could also be considered somewhat edgy, just like the X-Games relate to the Olympics. We could add our own extra flourishes to replace those that we are excluding (possibly crowning the tree with a Flying Spaghetti Monster rather than a star, for example).
I think it may be easier to appropriate it than to compete against it.