Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

Metro State Atheists End of the Year Newsletter

This year Metro State Atheists has accomplished a great deal. We won the Metropolitan State College of Denver(MSCD) Student Involvement and Leadership Award; the Student Organization of the Year 2009.   These events and our professionalism is what lead to this honor.  These two semester have been very busy for us and we apologize for not getting out newsletters for the latest semester.  Below is a summary of our numerous events and activities, in approximate order of there happening.


Click on the event to read a brief summary.


Also, change has come to Metro State Atheists.  Chalmer Wren,  now the former Vice President of Metro State Atheists,  graduated from Metropolitan State College of Denver May17, 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with a minor in Biology.  He was accepted to the Applied Chemistry Ph.D program at the Colorado School of Mines where he will be a T.A. over the summer.  He will be missed as an officer of Metro State Atheists, but he will still be involved with the group as Co-Founder, Director of Events and Treasurer Advisor of the newly formed group College Atheists of Colorado.
This means we are looking for new officers.  Open positions are Vice President, Treasurer and Representative; for information on these positions click here.





Biologist Paul Z Myers
In November 2008 we hosted our first big event, which was a lecture by popular blogger, evolutionary biologist, and secular activist PZ Myers entitled “The War Between Science & Religion.”  A synopses of the event was published in the Center For Inquiry’s October 2008 edition of the Campus Inquirer.  The event was also mentioned by MSCD’s online news production, The Met Report.  PZ Myers is author of the popular science blog known as Pharyngula.



Vote No on 48 Campaign

The year of 2008 saw what was the most historic election in the history of the United States thusfar.  Although the presidential election of 2008 overshadowed most of the other issues in our state, one ballot initiative could not go overlooked. Amendment 48, also known as the Personhood Amendment, would have made a fertilzed egg a person under sections 3,6, and 25 of the Colorado State Constitution.  The implications of this amendment were appalling and we wanted to fight it.  So, we teamed up with Protect Families, Protect Choices to oppose Amendment 48.  We set up two info table about two week prior to the election to get the word out, while do so, 9 News spotted us and asked if one of our officers would agree to do a live interview online.  Joel Guttormson agreed to do the interview.  When asked why our group opposed the measure, Joel was concise and accurate in explaining the pitfalls of the Amendment.  Then, the pro-48 person was interviewed.  She agreed with what Joel had said regarding the pitfalls of the Amendment but said she was voting for it anyway because it outlawed abortion.  On November 4, 2008, Amendment 48 was defeated in stunned fashion with a near 3-1 margin.


Separation of Church & State Rally


In September of 2008, Vice President of Metro State Atheists, Chalmer Wren, was one of numerous guest speakers for a
Rally for the Seperation of Church & State on the steps of the Denver capital.  organized by Denver Atheists and Freethinkers.  Additional speakers included Lucia Guatney, Victor Stenger, Marvin Straus, Brian Graves, Groff Schroeder, Mike Smith, and Richard Berg.





Astrobiologist David Grinspoon


In October, we hosted a
lecture by author and curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, David Grinspoon.  David is author of Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life .  Although David was scheduled to speak about the Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission, he instead spoke about astrobiology and planetary science in general.  David  was also kind enough to donate his time for this event.  More information about David can be found at is website www.funkyscience.net.



Don’t Believe in God?  You’re not Alone


In November of 2008, the
Colorado Coalition of Reason (COCORE), put up 11 billboards with the phrase, “Don’t Believe in God?  You’re not alone”.  This resulted in a what we considered a media frenzy given the lack of media attention we get as a movement.  Joel Guttormson stepped up as the unofficial spokesman for COCORE in this matter and was interviewed by Channel 7 News on November 13th prior to them actually going up and then again on November 17th once they were up.  Then, Joel was interviewed by Bill Johnson of the now disbanded Rocky Mountain News.  We received some hate mail, mostly from Christians but we all got encouraging emails from Christians, Joel was phoned by a sympathetic theistic Jew and we also received a blog comment and phone call from someone on the east coast.   Joel also wrote an article about this and other events in the CFI Campus Inquirer in January. All-in-all, the campaign was a success, and we’d like to thank COCORE for their activism and support.



Author Victor J. Stenger


In October 2008, we hosted a
lecture and book signing by the New York Times best selling author and retired physicist, Victor J. Stenger.  Victor was kind enough to donate his time for this particular event.  Victor spoke about the content of his 2007 book, God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Afterward, Victor stuck around to sign copies of his book that we were selling to raise funds.  An article about the event was written for the The Metropolitan by Nicole Queen but never published.  Nicole sent us a copy, though, and it can read here.


Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist


In what I can only described as a theatrical comedy performance, we arranged to host “
Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist: Patriarchs and Penises.”  More information about Brother Sam can be found at www.samsingleton.com.



Bob Enyart’s Radio Show

In January of 2009, Joel was interviewed by Christian radio talk show host Bob Enyart.  You can listen to the interview here.  After listening, you can read Joel’s and Chalmer’s commentary about the show.


CFI’s 12th World Congress (Bethesda, MD April 9th-12th)

In April 2009, Joel, Chalmer, and Faculty Adviser of Metro State Atheists, Norman Schultz, attended the Center For Inquiry’s 12th World Congress in Bethesda, Maryland.  Among the numerous guest speakers were ncluded magician and skeptical investigator James Randi, evolutionary biologist Michael Ruse, NASA climatologist Drew Shindell, philopher and author Barbara Forest and professor of psychology Richard Wiseman . Additional information about this event can be found at www.centerforinquiry.net/worldcongress. This endeavor was funded the MSCD’s student travel program.  We would like to thank MSCD, specifically Angela LeValley for making the trip possible.


Colorado Skepticamp 2009


In may of 2009, we hosted and provided catering for Skepticamp, a skeptics barcamp style conference.  This event included more than a dozen speakers, including presentations by Metro State Atheists’ President, Joel Guttormson, and Vice President, Chalmer Wren, on a plethora of topics including global warming, homeopathy, and Saturn.  More information about Skepticamp can be found
here.


The National

A Denver-based reporter for The National, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) English newspaper, contacted Metro State Atheists via email requesting an interview and photo of Joel and Chalmer.  They were told the article would be similar to the one done by the New York Times some time earlier. She interviewed both Joel and Chalmer and both of them were quoted in the article along with others in our movement.

Evolvefish.com

Late in the fall semester, Metro State Atheists received a grant from the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) to purchase merchandise to sell for fund raising purposes.  This merchandise was provided to us by fellow COCORE member Evolvefish.com.  We are happy to say that so far, the effort has been a success and we have sold a good portion of the merchandise and are poised to re-order some of our more popular selections.

By Joel Guttormson and Chalmer Wren

May 21, 2009 Posted by | Metro State Atheists, News, Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Metro State Atheists: Making noise, making a difference in Denver

Metro State Atheists: Making noise, making a difference in Denver
by Joel Guttormson, Metro State Atheists at MSCD

Many things happen during a college semester: mid-terms, finals, work and…activism?  Yes, activism!  That is the case for us, Metro State Atheists (MSA), an affiliate of the Center for Inquiry.  Besides the classes, work, and other academic responsibilities that we endure, we participated in some secular activist activity that put me in the spotlight both locally and nationally.

Not many can argue that 2008 wasn’t a historic election, not only for the entire country, but also for Colorado as we hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention.  However, that wasn’t the only history being made—at least trying to be made—in Colorado.  Amendment 48, or the Personhood Amendment, was on its way to become the first legislation in the United States to not only completely ban abortion but also redefine the term “person”: “to include any human being from the moment of fertilization.”  When our group became aware of this initiative early in the summer, we immediately knew that we had to do all we could to prevent this from passing.  That is just what we did, come the fall.  We contacted the political group “Protect Families Protect Choice,” to offer our support, and they responded by giving us informational material as well as yard signs, stickers, etc.  We then had two informational tables set up two weeks out from the election urging people to vote no on Amendment 48.  This caught the eye of our local news, Channel 9, which was in the process of doing stories on the different amendments on the Colorado ballot.  They asked to interview me about Amendment 48 the next day on campus as a part of their series that aired live online.  Come November 4th, Amendment 48 failed miserably, much to our pleasure.  We’d like to think we had a hand it its demise, seeing as we worked quite hard on campus to that end.

Next, without much warning, came what would turn out to be the most media coverage we have ever received.  MSA is a part of the Colorado Coalition of Reason, or COCORE, which put up 11 billboards in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs.  The message was similar to those seen elsewhere around the country.  The billboards needed only eight words, “Don’t believe in God?  You are not alone,” to ignite a controversy that took two local newscasts (11/13/08, 11/18/08) and a half-page opinion article in the Rocky Mountain News to clear up.  The fervently religious were utterly offended that such a message was allowed in Denver.  The story received national media attention when the Channel 7 news story made its way onto CNN.com.  We saw our first hate mail ever, from Christians no less, calling us evil and full of hate.  I got phone calls too!  However, instead of being mean-spirited phone calls, they were supportive.  A man from South Carolina called me, telling me that he appreciates what we are doing and asked me, as a fellow atheist, if there were any similar organizations such as MSA or COCORE in his area.  Another call was from a Jew lending his support to the cause.  This project was a great learning experience and we enjoyed the huge amount of media coverage it got.  It made more of an impact that we could have hoped for in our wildest dreams.

The last and most recent event wasn’t really an event, so to speak.  After rediscovering my cousin Becky via Facebook, I learned that her pastor is Bob Enyart who appeared on the same newscast as I regarding the aforementioned billboards.  She told me that ever since she told Bob that I was her cousin, he has been wanting to have me on his show on 670 AM, KGOV.  She then served as a go-between to make the proper arrangements for me to be on the show.  In short order we arranged a date and time.  I appeared on Bob Enyart Live on January 7th, 2009.  We talked about atheism, the billboards, and about how I became an atheist.  This was an advantageous interview as Bob has offered to advertise our events to people of an opposing viewpoint, which we believe is critical to our cause.

In closing, I’d like to stress the importance of organizing.  Although the task of secular activism and attempting to effect change can be tough, and at times seem impossible, it can be done, even if it’s just change at the local level.  Think big, but take baby steps.  The American Revolution wasn’t born, fought, and won in a day.  We need to stay vigilant, learning from every victory and, perhaps more importantly, from every defeat.  When a minority is fighting a majority who commands all the power and resources, it amplifies the importance of cohesive, organized goal-oriented activism by many orders of magnitude.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I believe this is insufficient and passive.  You must not only be the change but also be willing to work for it.  Thus, I appeal to you all: work with us, fight hard, and we can bring about the change necessary to make this country what it once was!

Joel Guttormson is President of Metro State Atheists and a theoretical mathematics major, linguistics minor at Metropolitan State College of Denver.  Joel also volunteers for CFI as a campus regional coordinator.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Center For Inquiry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Media Release: Coalition For Secular Government

Below is an e-mail we received the Coalition For Secular Government

"MEDIA RELEASE: COALITION FOR SECULAR GOVERNMENT

Nearly 40% of Colorado Voters Seek to Destroy Reproductive Rights

Sedalia, Colorado / October 7, 2008

Contact: Diana Hsieh, co-author of "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life" and founder
of the Coalition for Secular Government, Diana@SecularGovernment.us or
303.304.0689

A poll of likely voters shows strong support for Amendment 48, the ballot
measure that would grant the full legal rights of persons to fertilized
eggs.  The survey, conducted on September 28th by Rasmussen Reports with 500
likely voters, shows that 39% plan to vote for the measure, 50% to vote
against it, while 11% are unsure.  (See <http://tinyurl.com/4huary>.)

Such strong support for Amendment 48 should surprise anyone familiar with
the barrage of criticism published in Colorado media in recent weeks.
Critics of the measure have warned voters of its destructive effects on
Colorado's laws if passed and enforced.  They have shown that it would usher
in a near-total ban on abortion, outlaw the birth control pill and in vitro
fertilization, and subject pregnant women to police controls.  Yet these
latest poll results are basically unchanged from a June poll, also by
Rasmussen.  (See <http://tinyurl.com/4mm59r>.)

Diana Hsieh, founder of the Coalition for Secular Government and co-author
of "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life," argues that the broad support for Amendment
48 is driven by a deeply-held faith pretending to be "pro-life."

The most recent Rasmussen poll showed that 41% of Colorado voters believe
that "life begins at conception."  That number explains the strong support
for Amendment 48, despite the media barrage against it.  "People who endorse
that slogan regard a fertilized egg as a new, whole person with a right to
life," Hsieh said.  "They regard the enormous sacrifices forced on real men
and women by the measure as insignificant -- or even ennobling.  Their vote
is based on faith, without regard to the real-world requirements of human
life and happiness.  It's not 'pro-life' at all."

"To effectively combat measures like Amendment 48, the whole 'pro-life'
ideology must be challenged at its root," Hsieh said.  "A mushy slogan like
'it simply goes too far' is unconvincing, even misleading.  It doesn't speak
to the fundamental dispute.  Worse, it suggests that some compromise -- like
banning most abortions -- would be acceptable."

"Instead, reproductive rights must be defended on principle, based on the
objective facts of human nature.  With regard to abortion, the fact is that
a fetus or embryo is only a potential person so long as encased within and
dependent on the woman.  Once born, the infant is a new individual person
with the right to life.  That view ought to be the basis for the laws of a
free society.  Any alternative -- any attempt to grant rights to the embryo
or fetus -- would violate the rights of pregnant women."

For a principled defense of reproductive rights, see the Coalition for
Secular Government's issue paper, "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters
That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person," available at
<http://www.seculargovernment.us/docs/a48.pdf>, particularly the section
"Personhood and the Right to Abortion," pages 10-13."

- Chalmer

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

October Newsletter

Hello all!!!  Nice to be in touch with you again!  We have some new things to tell you about and to remind you of some others.
First and foremost- Saturday, October 4th.  We will are inviting all who want to join us for an atheist night out!  We will be going to see the new Bill Maher movie “Religulous” at the Regency Tamarac Square Theatre. Located at:  7777 E. Hampden Ave. Denver, CO 80231 Phone number: (303) 368-9200.  We will be going to the 7:15pm showing.  The theatre asks that you arrive at least 15 mins before the showtime to allow time for getting through the ticket line.  Tickets for adults are $9.50 and students w/ valid student id are $7.00 (I don’t know if this includes tax, but I doubt it).  This is an informal outing, but would like to see as many of as possible.
Secondly- This month we have two on campus events (Both of which are free).
  1. Fight Amendment 48: Oct. 20th and 22nd .  In the Tavern Space.  This table is to educate people about Amendment 48 (Definition of a Person) and its consequences and to oppose the measure. 9am-4pm both days.

  2. David Grinspoon: Alien Life:  The Science and the Hype (Why Denver Doesn’t Need an ET Affairs Commission”. Oct 23rd at the North Classroom Atrium A-B (near the Café) from 3pm-5pm.  This talk will be very interesting and quite informative.

Third (but no less important)- We have a new blog spot that is getting a lot of attention that all of you should check out, read and comment.  We have many blogs, new and old that are sure to make you think, question and laugh. Click here to see the new blog (if that link doesn’t work, the URL is http://metrostateatheists.wordpress.com/)

Lastly- Chalmer submitted an article to the Campus Inquirer, a publication published and circulated by our affiliate The Center for Inquiry, about our guest speaker event featuring P.Z. Myers.  When we receive more details about the publication we will pass that info on to you all!!!

Stay Rational!

Joel

President

Metro State Atheists- A CFI Affiliate
Website: http://www.myspace.com/metroatheists
Email: metroatheists@hotmail.com

October 4, 2008 Posted by | Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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