Mark W. Gura Interviewed by United Coalition of Reason

MarkGuraAtheist Alliance of America is pleased to announce that our Acting President, Mark W. Gura was recently interviewed by the United Coalition of Reason in Washington D.C.. Click here to read the exclusive interview on Secular Buddhism, (http://unitedcor.org/interview-mindfulness-meditation-and-secular-buddhism/) atheist activism and the increasing role that Atheist Alliance of America is playing in the secular movement. Check out our Spring 2016 edition of Secular Nation focusing on Mindfulness Meditation and Secular Buddhism…coming out soon!!!

Meet Some of Our Officers!


Vice President, Mark W. Gura

Mark W. Gura  is the Vice President of the Atheist Alliance of America and co-presenter of the Richard Dawkins Award, which was recently given to Dr. Lawrence Krauss at “Reason Rally 2016” in Washington, DC. Mark is also the media spokesperson for the United Coalition of Reason in Atlanta, the host of the “Blind Faith Vaccine” TV show, and the author of the book, Atheist Meditation Atheist Spirituality. Throughout his life, Gura has lived in and explored nearly 80 countries. He has more than 20 years’ experience in practicing mindfulness meditation/Vipassana. He is also the Executive Director of the nonprofit Association of Mindfulness Meditation and Secular Buddhism

 


Secretary, Dustin Kemper

Dustin is obsessed with the ocean and spends most of his free time on the beach. Dustin joined AAA a few years ago and has been a big asset and support to our group and Board. Dustin currently lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Dr. Lawrence Krauss: Winner of the 2016 Richard Dawkins Award

Atheist Alliance of America and the Richard Dawkins Foundation of Science and Reason are pleased to announce Dr. Lawrence Krauss as the 2016 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award.

Lawrence Krauss

Dr. Krauss was born in New York City, N.Y. but grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He received his undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics with full class honors at Calelton University in Ottawa, Canada. He was awarded his PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Dr. Krauss is not only a great theoretical physicist but he is also a passionate advocate of atheism and reason known throughout the world. Because of his remarkable ability to make a very complicated subject not so daunting, he engages many audiences easily and makes them want to learn more about the subject of physics and the laws surrounding the formation of our universe,” says Melissa Pugh, President of Atheist Alliance of America. She also says Krauss “is a light of reason in a world darkened by the excess of religion.”

The Richard Dawkins Award will be given this year by Mark W. Gura and Melissa Pugh to honor an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who, through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage, advocates increased scientific knowledge; who, through work or by example, teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy; and whose public postures mirrors the uncompromising nontheist life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins. Previous recipients are James Randi, Ann Druyan, Penn and Teller, Julia Sweeney,  Daniel Dennett, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Bill Maher, Susan Jacoby, Christopher Hitchens, Eugenie Scott, Steven Pinker, Rebecca Goldstein and Jerry Coyne.

More details on the Reason Rally are available at http://reasonrally.org .

Click on the names below to read more about past Richard Dawkins Award Recipients:
2003: James Randi
2003: James Randi
2004: Ann Druyan
2005: Penn & Teller
2006: Julia Sweeney
2007: Daniel Dennett
2008: Ayaan Hirsi Ali
2009: Bill Maher[3]
2010: Susan Jacoby[4]
2011: Christopher Hitchens[5]
2012: Eugenie Scott[6]
2013: Steven Pinker[7]
2014: Rebecca Goldstein[8]
2015: Jerry Coyne
2016: Lawrence Krauss

RDawardTweet IMG_3168
Melissa Pugh and Mark W. Gura Present the Richard Dawkins Award to Dr. Lawrence Krauss. Reason Rally 2016.

Please join our mailing list and receive a free copy of Secular Nation magazine as well as our updates.

atheism, persecution, asylum seeker, refugees

Atheist Refugees Doubly Vulnerable

Atheist asylum seekers fleeing persecution for their lack of belief in the dominant religion of their culture are at high risk of danger.

by Scott Jacobsen

As reported by DW, “Mahmudul Haque Munshi’s name was on a hit list in Bangladesh. After five of his friends and associates were murdered, the authorities warned the blogger: ‘There’s nothing more we can do for you.’ Munshi had to leave the country in 2015.”

Often, atheist refugees or asylum seekers will have to travel through several nations simply to find a safehaven. Some have seen what is labelled, purportedly, a “Global Hit List” of nonbelievers or those who left their faith who must be killed.

Many atheist refugees fear being killed by other refugees or those who feel personal resentment for individuals who leave religion.

Especially at risk are those who publicly speak out against religion, becoming the targets of reactionary violence.

One refugee organization devoted to the plight of the non-religious is the Atheist Refugee Relief organization. It has helped 37 nonreligious refugees since November 2017 and continues to do important work for them. 

Dittmar Steiner of Atheist Refugee Relief stated, “We are actually dealing with assaults, exclusion, threats and violence.” 

31-one-year-old Worood Zuhair, a biologist from Karbala, Iraq, stated that she is under police protection and continues to receive death threats because of the lack of personal religious belief. 

“When your own father gives your soul to Azrael, the angel of death, that is enormously painful,” Zuhair told DW. “He did it so often. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Zuhair speaks about the abuse of women refugees, not simply as refugees but in virtue of their criticism of religion and their work for the rights of women within standard human rights frameworks. 

Mahmudul Haque Munshi, founder of the Shahbag movement in his home country in 2013, became a target of Islamists as his movement called for war criminals to be held accountable for their crimes during the Bangladeshi war for independence. 

With a prominent blog and network, Munshi garnered about half of a million followers. There were mass protests in the streets with subsequent death threats directed at him.

Atheists are not the majority of refugees and are not the majority of the world’s population, but atheists are a struggling minority within the global and refugee population. They suffer from fear and ignorance-based stigma held against them by the religious.

According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), ‘Origin from a particular country or a particular reason for fleeing, such as religious affiliation or atheism, does not automatically lead to a protection status.’

Turkey, Erdogan, atheism, Islam

Atheism on the Rise in Turkey

Despite Erdogan’s measures to push Islam, a growing number of people in Turkey are non-religious.

by Scott Jacobsen

There has been a continuous growth in the number of non-religious people in the Turkey, a dramatic development in the theocratic state known for working to keep evolution out of the classrooms.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to push theocratic politics, but the rise in atheism would call into question the effectiveness of the measures he has been imposing.

As reported, “According to a recent survey by the pollster Konda, a growing number of Turks identify as atheists. Konda reports that the number of nonbelievers tripled in the past 10 years. It also found that the share of Turks who say they adhere to Islam dropped from 55 percent to 51 percent.”

The official directorate of religious affairs in Turkey, Diyanet, declared in 2014 that 99% of the Turkish public identifies as Muslim. However, in light of the recent survey data from Konda, this has sparked debated within the country.

Ahmet Balyemez, a 36-year-old computer scientist, states, “There is religious coercion in Turkey… People ask themselves: Is this the true Islam?… When we look at the politics of our decision-makers, we can see they are trying to emulate the first era of Islam. So, what we are seeing right now is primordial Islam… Fasting and praying were the most normal things for me.”

Cemil Kilic, a theologian, considers both statistics correct: 99% of Turks may identify as Muslim, but only do so from a cultural or sociological perspective.

He states, “The majority of Muslims in Turkey are like the Umayyads, who ruled in the seventh century… The prayers contained in the Koran reject injustice. But the Umayyads regarded daily prayer as a form of showing deference towards the sultan, the state and the powers that be… Regular prayers have become a way to signal obedience toward the political leadership… And prayers in mosques increasingly reflect the political worldview of those in power.”

President Erdogan has been in power for almost 16 years, as prime minister until 2014 and then as president onwards.

Ateizm Dernegi, the central organization for atheists in Turkey, has, through its leader, Selin Ozhoken, stated that the desire by Erdogan to produce devout Muslims has, in fact, failed in a number of ways.

Dernegi explains, “Religious sects and communities have discredited themselves… We have always said that the state should not be ruled by religious communities, as this leads to people questioning their faith and becoming humanist atheists.” 

alt-right, compassion, empathy, New Atheism, ethical atheism

Aggressive versus Gentle Atheism: Which Approach Works Best?

Atheist Alliance of America President Mark Gura and Blog Director Sarah Mills debate trends within the atheist community and constructive approaches.

by Sarah Mills and Mark Gura

Sarah:

Like many people who were once involved in religion, and for whom the experience was less than positive, I became eager to distance myself as much as possible from it. Religion, for me, was synonymous with conformity, mind control, repression, stunted creativity, guilt, and a community that was only as good as your unwavering, unquestioning commitment to abide by its stringent rules. In hindsight, I can appreciate that I might have leapt a bit too far to the ‘other’ side–a reaction, one could argue, that was understandable circumstances considered. Leaving religion meant I could more fully embrace humanity. Where I once excluded people from my life on the basis of faith, I now included them, forming relationships and friendships that were grounded in mutual compatibility and genuine love, rather than perfunctory duty as members of a shared belief system. Where I once formed ties conditional on uniformity of thought, I could now love unconditionally. I could become politically involved, I could stand up for the rights of those I had previously thought sinners simply because of whom they loved, I could occupy myself with the here and now, living fully in the present without self-flagellating in penance for arbitrary sins and in anticipation of an afterlife.

Continue reading

ex nihilo, big bang, fallacies, science, philosophy

The Fallacy of Nothing: Can Something Come From Nothing?

Since antiquity, philosophers realized the concept of ‘Nothing’ was inherently nonsensical. How can we approach the Big Bang without factoring in a deity?

by Christopher Hansen

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Something cannot come from Nothing,” before? I would be shocked if you hadn’t, because it is a favorite in today’s culture (predominant among those who contest scientific realities like the Big Bang Theory, i.e. Young Earth Creationists).

Continue reading