Metro State Atheists

Promoting Science, Reason, and Secular Values

CFI Leadership Conference by Sara Diaz

Sara Diaz
Metro State Atheists
University of Colorado Denver

I recently “deconverted” from Catholicism and Christianity.  This past spring will be one year since I started living a more rational and religion-free life.  During this last school year, I helped out the Metro State Atheists, which is the Auraria Campus atheists club in Denver, CO.  The president of the group became my best friend, someone who has helped me through my struggles as an atheist.

Our club worked with the Center for Inquiry, which has also helped me through my transformation.  When we heard about this year’s CFI Student Leadership Conference, we were all very excited and quickly submitted travel grant applications.  The days leading up to the conference seemed to creep by more slowly as the conference approached.  Upon arrival at the CFI Amherst building, I became anxious—I was eager to meet fellow freethinkers and secular students.  At the same time, I was nervous.  I felt like everyone else knew more than me, that everyone except me already had this “atheism” thing figured out.  Growing up in a Catholic home and turning to Christianity as a teen, I wasn’t surrounded by people that would understand my shift to atheism.  But as I started talking to the other students at the conference I realized I was meeting familiar strangers.  Many of the students were struggling, or had struggled, with the same problems that I have.  How do I tell my family?  Will my family disown me if they find out?  Will other people accept me?  How do I find morals without religion?  (I’m a “closet atheist” and terrified at the thought of coming out to my family.)

Students arriving early wait for the conference to begin / Matthew LaClair talks about education

The conference started in the late evening with Debbie Goddard welcoming everyone to CFI.  Then, Matthew LaClair, the volunteer student president of CFI’s campus outreach initiative, spoke about his experience with his high school and other issues regarding education that he was facing.  Matthew shared some words of wisdom: “You cannot depend on other people to do things for you.”  I interpreted that as this: “No one else can tell your family but you, because no one else understands your family like you do.”  The students, staff, and speakers made everyone feel welcome.  I was in a safe place.  I could be me, not just the pretend me I am around family—the pretend me I am at the church where I work on Sunday mornings.

During the next few days we heard from Eddie Tabash about debating and watched Ron Lindsay and Eddie Tabash have a mock debate (which was good entertainment!).  Debbie Goddard and D.J. Grothe spoke about CFI and its affiliated organizations, Roy Natian gave groups helpful tips for online outreach, and Justin Trottier showed everyone how to manage media relations.  We also heard from John Shook and Massimo Pigliucci.  Joe Nickell gave everyone insight about investigating the paranormal and how sometimes being just a skeptic doesn’t help.

Massimo Pigliucci talks about reason / Ronald A. Lindsay (as Ron N. Atas) debates Eddie Tabash

Some of my favorite parts of the conference were the workshops with Dan Riley.  Dan posed questions to the students, then in small groups we discussed topics such as voting for an atheist, France’s wanting to make burkas illegal, and what we, the students, see as the future of CFI and the secular movement.  Many students compared the secular movement to the gay rights movement.  I have many friends who are gay, lesbian, and transgender, and although I do not completely understand all the struggles they go through, I do understand what it’s like to be “in the closet” about who you really are.

Workshop session outside / Dan Riley leads a discussion on secularism

As the conference came to an end I had more confidence in myself as an atheist.  I left knowing that I always have a community of people that will help me through my struggles and that the fear I had was a fear that many individuals at some time have faced.

Sara Diaz is an undergraduate at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in secondary education-English and minoring in philosophy. She served as the secretary for Metro State Atheists and is starting an atheist group at UC Denver, for which she will serve as the president.


August 18, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Bible, Center For Inquiry, Christianity, god, Metro State Atheists, religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Venom In The Veins


in the


It’s my property! Why, I paid $985 for this here piece of flesh, and I have the right to do what I want with it.

Pounded under the slave block’s gavel,

bid-$1-2-430 bid-$2-4-580 bid-$3-4850 bid-$5-6-1,000

& Sold, & Sold, & Sold, & Sold,

heart beats, heart beats, heart beats, heart beats

Four million hearts beating


For Life

For Greed

For Lust


the rhythm of planting, picking—


Turned into MONEY,


Poured into crops,

Fusing with the dirt


Raining from the sky—

Southern trees bore a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Across the street,

in the White Churches,





So if’in I want to rape it, hate it, mutilate it, that ain’t none of your business. I can even kill it if I want to ‘cause it’s mine, and you can’t stop me. Though me killin’ it would mean I was downright crazy given what I just paid for it. But when it gets old and useless, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth, I just might hunt it for fun. Now you just get on out of my way before I start to showin’ my hate for you, you anti-Christian piece of Northern trash! It’s in the Bible; they’re heathens, savages, inferior, don’t believe in Jesus, and even when converted, they still the sons of Ham. My preacher taught me the word of God. He should know. God’s never wrong, and We Southerners have God on our sidde [ssssss-slap]

God on our siiiiid- [sssss-slap]

God on our siiii- [ssss-slap]

God on our sssss- [ssss-slap]

God on ouuur- [ssss-slap]

God onnn -[ssss-slap]

“Oh, yes ye converted heathen, God has a message for thee; be meek and mild my child in the face of thy travails. Submit and repent; think only of Heaven, not this world, and the next will be yours.”

So said the Southern Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and cohorts.

(and the country whispers but that was so long ago; that was not us; I’m not to blame…. but look and listen and understand it is here now; it is racism; it is killing you, me, the haters and the hated—and yes, even most the ones that stand by, doing nothing)

The vomiting has begun


The bile is rising


The venom in the veins

Courses hardy


Throbbing, pulsing


Lub dub, Lub dub, Lub dub:

The throb of life calling for

MURder, MURder, MURder, MURder

chanting in a viperous tongue

slithering from

the Reptilian brain,



K I L L.

When did slavery end?

When did it end?

Physical fact,


State of mind?




As law?


Law enforcement?

But only the sightless believe

It ended in 1864.

Jim Crow’s reign, segregation, culture of terror, KKK, politicians, Good-White-Men-with-Family-Values. Black ink on White paper records 3,437 African-American lynched up to 1951. Not recorded: every Beating, Stabbing, Crippling, Broken bone, Fried human, Burnt house, Vigilantes Hunting in packs…..

Rising in the pride of the South, strong in their conviction, pleased with their Tradition, Southern Governors and Senators spoke out for what their cold, lizard hearts and squalid eyes and fetid brains claimed as Truth. the “Negro” is inferior. With God (& their ‘way of life’) on their side, they made sure no African American sat on a jury; lynchings took place with impunity as community picnic entertainment, photographed with pride—placed in the family album next to the wedding reception.

(and the country whispers….but that was so long ago… that was not us; I’m not to blame…. but mark and listen and understand it is here now; it is racism; it is killing you, me, the haters and the hated—the Lovers and the Loved—and yes, even most, the ones that stand by, doing nothing)

Woodrow Wilson, a racist Enforcer, segregated the federal government: 1902-1910. One man—the country followed.

1955, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting in Mississippi crossed an invisible “white’s only” boundary he didn’t even know existed. His punishment: eyes gouged out, beaten to death, then, finally, shot in the head, thrown into the Tallahatchie River, a 75-pound fan tied around his neck with barbed wire weighing his small body down. Only 54 years ago (and the country pretends… it was so long ago…but oh how wrong we are. It happened during my lifetime. And it was not the end.). Two men arrested, not held or punished; the haters enforced their reign of terror, and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI promulgated hate, intimidating civil rights workers, giving aid to lynchers, discrediting Martin Luther King, Jr., serving him up to the murdering mob.

1968, only 41 years ago, racism killed Martin Luther King, Jr.

1981, two KKK members in Alabama randomly chose to lynch 19-year-old Michael Donald. For the very first time, the killers were found guilty, but the prosecutor has been number 1 on the Aryan Nation hit list ever since. 1981, Only 28 years ago, during the lives of my children.

I beheld my caring, open-hearted lover


Every month, every week, every day, every hour

We strolled through a store

Sat together for coffee—or more.

Eyes glided blankly past her to see only me,

Ask me what I wanted

Fuss over me

Serve me

While she stood next to me:





Except in the Glares of the Police.

The Stares of the Guards

The Malevolence of the Whites

Sniggering, Blithering

As we passed by.

I learned to read

The nerve-quickened pulsing

at the edge

Of her jaw,

The muscles set










her throbbing, open heart


1998, three men, all members of a white supremacist prison gang, murdered James Byrd, Jr., a 49-year-old Texas father of three, who had accepted an early-morning ride home from work with the three men. Because it’s what white racists do, they attacked him, dragging him to his death behind their truck, then moseyed off to a barbecue. 1998, only 11 years ago, as the radical Christian Right gained its stranglehold on the Republican party, fought for religion in politics, anti-immigration, anti-gay, anti-everything “not them.” They’ve perfected the attack ad, blaming the “other,” hunting the scapegoat, preying on and harnessing the collective ugliness within us. And as they’ve discovered, there is more than enough to destroy this country without the need of a nuclear bomb. (and the country ignores….IT is not going away…IT grows on hate, and the agony is ascending once again, again, and again, flooding the land.)

Finally, on June 13, 2005, the US Senate formally apologized for its failure to previously enact a Federal anti-lynching law. All earlier attempts had been defeated by filibusters by powerful Southern senators. 2005, only 4 years ago (and the country sighs, it is over…Oh, how very wrong are we. Look anywhere; there IT is).

And once again the lynching comes

as mobs find courage in numbers.

Have Faith for Faith’s sake,

preserve Tradition for Tradition’s sake

Hate for Hate’s sake

With God, Government, and Police on their side.

For as far back as we have evidence, humans have practiced human sacrifice: scapegoats, the pariah, the “other” to put upon them the blame and shame of the community, to be the sacrifice for the sins of all, originally to drive them out of the community and leave them to die—or ritually kill them in cleansing ceremonies. Human sacrifice for the rest of our sakes; human sacrifice to the gods. The one we know best is the dying/rising god, the god that promises immortality. The names may change but the promise of sin-free immortality remains the same: Osiris, Dionysus, Tammuz, Odin, Ishtar, Persephone, Baal—Jesus. Christians say Jesus is the last; THEY say Jesus took the sins of all so no one else would have to suffer; THEY say they follow him….and yet…and yet….and yet, THEY continue scape-goating—sacrificing others, projecting fears, hatred, anger, perverted thoughts onto entire populations.

What an excuse to commit genocide (Indians, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Immigrants—take your pick).

What an excuse to kill ( so many to choose from).

What an excuse to be a vigilante (a buffet of life to slaughter).

What an excuse for murdering in the name of love.


The psychosis of humanity made manifest, running amuck, ranting, wrecking, reeking havoc, assaulting, lynching, Effacing to avoid facing themselves.

Playing God, they slaughter.

The herd hunts again,

Rulers of Deceit:

The Rogue and the Righteous

—The McPalins of the World—

Forging the grandiose


To Feast,


in rancid lies




Sludge in the drains—the slime—

Lining the social plumbing,

Lurking in the twisted shadows

Out of sight



Out of mind.

Left too long to rot and mold

In the grime

of history


Bubbles in repression,

Churns sour in our souls,

Flings out its tentacles for the light of day

Births hate from guilt,

Pain from shame,

Displaced blame gobbles the refusal to atone

No matter how hard we try to scrub the claims of conscience away,



Our Nemesis,

Our cyanide rage,

Our Gangrenous hate.

Crawling on the unmasked:


Church members,







Beasts craving to be fed Again




Their Country,


Their Young.

(With God on their side)

Thanks to:

Abel Meeropol for the lyrics Strange Fruit

The Southern Poverty Law Center:

Morris Dees, Joseph J. Levin, Jr., and Julian Bond,

Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, all those who’ve been hurt & still will,

All who’ve fought and still continue to

Charging Shame to:

All that aid & abet fear of those who are different

All that feed off hate

All that incite violence against those who disagree

All that are complicitous, consciously or not

By riki mathews, The Trickster

(Some aspects of original format have not been preserved)

October 30, 2008 Posted by | god, Poetry, Politics, religion, The Trickster | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Campus Inquirer: News, Announcements, & Events

I got to write an article in the campus inquirer about our hosting PZ Myers last moth, so I’m posting it here. If I for got to thank anyone, please let me know. A lot of people helped us out with this event, and I don’t want to forget anyone.

Campus Inquirer October 2008

Metro State Atheists Hosts PZ Myers
by Chalmer Wren
Vice President, Metro State Atheists

Professor PZ Myers was the first guest speaker Metro State Atheists arranged to bring to our campus and our first Center For Inquiry co-sponsored event. Although we started this group some 3 years ago, we had never before taken the steps to bring an event like this from speculation to reality. Despite short notice, technical difficulties, and our lack of experience, everything came together and Professor Myers’s presentation turned out to be entertaining, informative, and enlightening. Although the weeks leading up to the event were stressful, new friendships were developed and the things we learned were well worth the hardship.

Preparations for the presentation began about three weeks prior. We spent the first week creating a proposal for funding from Metropolitan State College of Denver, which was subsequently approved, and advertising the event. During the second week of preparations, though, our campus was closed completely for a week due to the Democratic National Convention being held in the Pepsi Center across the street from our campus. This completely hindered our ability to take care of any preparations that required the school’s involvement; however, because of help from CFI with organizing and funding the event, and from various local groups in promoting the event, the week was not a complete loss.

Once campus reopened we resumed work and managed to get just about every loose end tied up. All we had to do now was wait for Myers to arrive and hope that nothing unraveled. We greeted Professor Myers several hours before the presentation and finished off some last-minute paperwork, then socialized at a nearby café until it was time to head over the lecture hall for the event. Once at the venue we worked with Marvin Voelker of Freespeech TV, who filmed the event, to work the kinks out of the video and audio equipment. Finally, our guests arrived and we were ready to begin.

Joel Guttormson, President of Metro State Atheists, gave a brief introduction and then invited Professor Myers to the podium. Myers discussed the state of science education today and introduced us to a multitude of characters whose religious agenda has influenced the current state of science education. After the lecture concluded, we received a great deal of positive feedback and gratitude for hosting the event. It was uplifting to hear that the weeks of turmoil we incurred led to the production of something our audience could enjoy and appreciate.

We owe a great deal of thanks to the numerous secular groups and activists who helped us organize and plan this event including CFI field organizer Debbie Goddard, The Colorado Coalition for Reason, Denver Atheists, Denver Atheists and Free Thinkers, and especially PZ Myers himself. It was an honor to work with and host as our first guest speaker someone with such a prominent and respected voice in the field of science and the practice of reason.

Chalmer Wren is Vice President and co-founder of Metro State Atheists and an undergraduate in chemistry at the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Reminder to Update Group Contact Information!

It’s time to update the CFI campus affiliate database for 2008-2009! If you are a campus group leader, go to the new CFI Campus Group Affiliation Form and fill it out as completely as you can. This information will be used to update the CFI Campus Groups Listing in the coming weeks. New groups also receive a New Affiliate Group box with complimentary issues of Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines, stickers, brochures and pamphlets, videos, and other educational and promotional materials.

Even if you have registered a campus group before August 2008, please fill out the new form if your group will be active in 2008-2009.

With about 200 active CFI-affiliated campus groups around the world, it’s difficult to keep track of current group contact info. Filling out the form is quick, it’s easy, and you’ll help CFI to best provide resources and speakers where needed. Thank you for helping us to keep our records up to date!

SAVE THE DATE! Join us for “Sources of the Jesus Tradition: An Inquiry”
Friday, December 5 – Sunday, December 7
Center for Inquiry Transnational
Amherst, New York

This conference is the inaugural meeting of The Jesus Project, launched in 2007 by the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. The first conference will answer the challenge laid down by CSER Fellow and Jesus Seminar cofounder John Dominic Crossan to decide what counts as “evidence” of the Jesus tradition.

Speakers include:

  • Paul Kurtz
  • R. Joseph Hoffmann
  • Ronald A. Lindsay
  • Dennis R. MacDonald
  • Justin Meggitt
  • Robert M. Price
  • James Tabor
  • and many others!

Section topics include:

  • The “substratum” of the earliest gospel
  • The legitimate use of noncanonical sources in reconstructing the Jesus story
  • Argumentum ad analogium in Christ-myth theories
  • Historical, theological, and value-driven approaches to the gospels
  • Rules of exclusion and evidence: what counts as “data”?

To register for the conference, or for more information, call 1-800-458-1366.

Become a Friend of the Center for Inquiry

As a new school year gets underway for many of us, now is a great time to become a Friend of the Center! Your membership entitles you to many benefits including discounted or free admission to CFI events, and it helps to support the continued development of the programs and services offered by the Center for Inquiry.

For just $60 a year, or $20 if you’re currently a student, you get:

  • Free or discounted admission to CFI events
  • 10% discount on national events sponsored by CFI and its affiliates (CSH, CSI, and CSMMH), including the upcoming CFI World Congress 2009 in Washington, D.C.
  • 15% discount on selected Prometheus Books titles
  • A colorful CFI vinyl decal

…And you get to feel good knowing you’ve made a contribution towards science and reason!

With your membership you will receive a membership packet, but please allow up to 6 weeks for processing. If you have any questions, please contact our Community Development Assistant Whitney Kemp at 1-800-818-7071 ext. 428.

Upcoming Events

Now that the fall semester is here, there are lots of great events being planned on campuses and at Centers and Communities for Inquiry across North America. Check out the new CFI On Campus Events Calendar for more information about these, and other, upcoming events of interest to campus freethinkers and skeptics.

Thursday, October 9, 7:00 p.m.
Dinner with Toni Van Pelt
CFI Community of Fort Lauderdale
Mythos Taverna, 2864 N. University Drive, Coral Springs, FL

Friday, October 10, 6:30 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
CFI Community of Fort Lauderdale, FL

Friday, October 10, 7:00 p.m.
D.J. Grothe: “A Nation of Suckers: Getting Duped in American Today”
CFI Austin
3418 N. Lamar Boulevard, Austin, TX

Saturday, October 11
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
CFI Community of Miami, FL

Saturday, October 11, 7:00 p.m.
PZ Myers and Richard Carrier
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster at Missouri State University
Plaster Student Union Theater, 901 S. National, Springfield, MO

Sunday, October 12, 12:30 p.m.
Voices of Reason: MAAF Founder Kathleen Johnson
CFI DC, 621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE (Eastern Market metro), Washington, DC

Sunday, October 12, 1:00 p.m.
On Global Warming and Climate Change with Geophysicist David Archer
CFI Chicago
UIC Room 613, University Center East building, 750 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL

Tuesday, October 14
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
CFI Community of Naples, FL

Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 p.m.
CFI Community of Portland Kickoff
Featuring Lawrence Krauss: “Science, Non-Science, and Nonsense: From the Classroom to the Capitol”
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, OR

Thursday, October 16, 12:00 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
CFI Community of Daytona Beach, FL

Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
Campus Freethought Alliance – Rollins College
Reeves Lodge, Rollins College Campus, Winter Park, FL

Friday, October 17, 4:00 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
Campus Freethought Alliance at UCF
University of Central Florida, Math and Science Building, Room 405

Saturday, October 18, 11:00 a.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
CFI Tampa, FL

Saturday, October 18, 2:00 p.m.
Ronald Aronson: “Living without God”
CFI DC, 621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE (Eastern Market metro), Washington, DC

Sunday, October 19
Eddie Tabash: “America at the Crossroads: The Threat of the Religious Right to Our Most Basic Freedoms”
11:00 a.m. at CFI LA, Hollywood, CA
4:30 p.m. in Costa Mesa, CA

Sunday, October 19, 1:30 p.m.
D.J. Grothe: “A Nation of Suckers: Getting Duped in America Today”
CFI Community of Southern Arizona

Sunday, October 19, 7:00 p.m.
Roy Zimmerman
CFI Indiana, Indianapolis, IN

Tuesday, October 21
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
CFI Community of Tallahassee, FL

Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.
Ron Lindsay: “Future Bioethics”
CFI Michigan
Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI

Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “Religion and Politics”
Gator Freethought Alliance
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Thursday, October 23, 3:00 p.m.
Astrobiologist David Grinspoon: “Why Denver Doesn’t Need an ET Commission”
Metro State Atheists at the Metropolitan State College of Denver
Auraria Campus, North Classroom Building, 9000 Auraria Parkway, Denver, CO

Friday, October 24, 5:00 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
Freethinkers at USF
University of South Florida, Marshal Student Center, Tampa, FL

Friday, October 24, 6:30 p.m.
Dale McGowan: “Parenting Beyond Belief”
CFI San Francisco
World Affairs Council Auditorium, 312 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA

Sunday, October 26, 11:00 a.m.
Texas Freethought Conference
CFI Austin
Saengerrunde Hall (Scholz Garten), Austin, TX

Sunday, October 26, 2:00 p.m.
Richard Carrier
CFI Indiana, Indianapolis, IN

Monday, October 27
Toni Van Pelt: “Promoting Science and Secularism”
CFI Community of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Tuesday, October 28
Toni Van Pelt: “The Dangers of Freethinking Women”
Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH

Wednesday, October 29, 7:00 p.m.
Toni Van Pelt: “How Do We Do It? Promoting Science and Reason in Public Policy Today”
CFI Community of NE Ohio
Case Western Reserve University, Strosacker Auditorium, Case Quad, 2125 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, OH

Friday, October 31, 7:30 p.m.
PZ Myers: “Caught in the Middle of the War Between Science and Religion”
CFI Ontario
University of Toronto, MacLeod Auditorium, 2158-1 King’s College Circle, Room 2158, Toronto, ON

Saturday, November 1
Jamy Ian Swiss: “Heavy Mental”
CFI Community of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Monday, November 10, 1:00 p.m.
Victor Stenger: “God: The Failed Hypothesis”
Metro State Atheists at the Metropolitan State College of Denver
Auraria Campus, North Classroom Building, 9000 Auraria Parkway, Denver, CO

Wednesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m.
Barbara Oakley: “Evil Genes”
Case Center for Inquiry
Case Western Reserve University, Strosacker Auditorium, Case Quad, 2125 Adelbert Road, Cleveland, OH

Friday, November 21, 7:00 p.m.
Monthly Forum with CFI founder Paul Kurtz
CFI Community of Long Island
Plainview – Old Bethpage Public Library, 999 Old Country Rd., Plainview, NY

News of Note

News items featuring the Center for Inquiry and affiliated campus groups:

Articles of Note:

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Center For Inquiry, Newsletter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment