August 12, 2005

SECULAR STUDENTS ORGANIZE (and a new book on Tom Paine).

Here's an encouraging development, of which I've only just learned: secular students are organizing, and they're naving a national conference this weekend, August 11-14 at Ohio State University. This is the fifth national conference sponsored by the Secular Student Alliance, whose slogan is "Mobilizing for a New Enlightenment." The SSA's extensive website is filled with organizing tools, useful links, a history of the organization (it's an outgrowth of the old student arm of the Council on Secular Humanism, but is now independent), and describes the group's efforts to raise some $30,000 to fund a full-time campus organizer. This sounds to me like an extraordinarily worthwhile project, and if there are any of you DIRELAND readers with pockets deep enough to send these kids a healthy check, I urge you to do so. In these days when the Christers are crawling all over our campuses, attacking the teaching of evolution, and trying to impose their "intelligent design" theocratic pap on students at every educational level, it's good to see students resisting and organizing systematically against the god-botherers. (Chapeau to the very useful and informative blog God is for Suckers for leading me to this encouraging evidence of anti-clerical and anti-theist student ferment)....And, if you haven't done so, check out the little essay "Atheists and Agnostics Arise!" by my friend Sam Smith, editor of the indispensable daily press review Undernews. (Should you not be an online subscriber to Undernews, become one -- it's free, and you'll find it an addictive daily read, as do I.)

By the way, our friend Bill Moyers (whose presence on PBS is much missed) has been kind enough to send me a wonderful new bookTom_paine_1_1 on one of America's founding fathers who was himself a great freethinker and opponent of institutionalized religion: it's  Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, by Harvey J. Kaye (Professor of Social Change at the University of Wisconsin--Green Bay and the author of a number of good books on radicalism, including Thomas Paine: Firebrand of the Revolution, and an homage to the great radical historian E.P. Thompson) This new book of Kane's reminds us that, despite efforts to homogenize his image and sanitize him,   Paine "was a radical, a revolutionary democrat. He fought to liberate men and women from the authoritarianism of states, classes, and churches and to empower them to think for and govern themselves." Along with the great English radical essayist William Hazlitt (about whom I've written previously on this blog) , Paine is one of my favorite historical figures. Kane's book on him is chock full of insight and a great read to boot. I heartily recommend it -- especially to those secular students, who should find this precursor of their resistance to theocracy an inspiration. You can order this valuable new book on Tom Paine by clicking here -- and you should. As an appetizer, check out an excerpt from the book on The American Prospect.

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Actually, the SSA already has two full-time staff (I'm one of them!)--of course, we'll still take donations from any DIRELAND readers with deep pockets. We're a 501(c)(3) so you'll even get a tax break for doing so.

What we really need though, is someone to update our web site more often. ;-)

Posted by: August E. Brunsman IV | Sep 22, 2005 2:21:01 PM

This book will discussed this weekend on BOOK-TV on CSPAN-2. I think someone from the Hoover Institute will question Prof.Kaye

Posted by: richard lo cicero | Aug 13, 2005 3:48:52 AM

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