Thursday night, we'll be speaking with some of the trailblazers in the freethought movement — Justin Griffith and Joe Zamecki. We've titled our show, "Freethinking Voices from the Foxholes."
A "foxhole" is defined as "a pit dug usually hastily for individual cover from enemy fire." For a non-believer, enemy fire can take place not only in the military battlefield, but in civilian life, too.
Details follow our show notes below.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SHOW NOTES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Show Time: Thursday night, July 26, 2012, 6 Pacific / 7 Mountain / 8 Central / 9 Eastern / GMT=Friday, July 27 @ 2 AM
Call-In Number: 914-338-0452 (or, when show is live, simply push the SKYPE button that appears on the show page.)
To hear the show live and participate in the web-based chat room: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/god-discussion/2012/07/27/atheists-in-foxholes-and-grief
How it works … When you visit the show page (linked immediately above), the podcast will automatically play out of your computer speakers when it is live. A SKYPE button will also appear that you can simply press and connect with the host (if you have SKYPE, that is). A web-based chatroom will be running contemporaneously with the show, where you can post questions and comments.
More info about time zones, the chat room, archive downloads and hosts: The God Discussion Show Page.
Our first guest, Justin Griffith, is a self-described foxhole atheist and currently an active duty soldier stationed in Ft. Bragg, NC. A trailblazer in his own right, Justin envisioned the "Rock Beyond Belief" festival at Ft. Bragg in response to a Christian proselytizing event called "Rock the Fort," spearheaded by the Billy Graham Evangelical Ministries. After Justin and his associates fought an almost two-year battle that caught the attention of Constitutional rights advocacy groups nationwide, Rock Beyond Belief was celebrated on March 31, with appearances from celebrities such as Richard Dawkins and the popular rock band Aiden.
Justin is now the Military Director for American Atheists and works tirelessly in demanding equal treatment for foxhole atheists – including local groups that are currently banned from even meeting on post. After failing the Army's mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing, the remedial training told Justin he could improve his Spiritual Fitness by starting an 'online blog'.
"Foxhole atheists are fighting for your rights. Please return the favor," he says in his popular blog. We'll catch up on what Justin is doing and some of the ongoing forms of discrimination against non-believers that he sees taking place within the military.
Joe Zamecki is also a trailblazer. A military vet, Joe was one of the first hosts of the popular Austin, TX, television show, The Atheist Experience. For years, he served as the Texas State Director of American Atheists and then branched out to focus on another project that he helped create – Atheists Helping the Homeless.
He and two other atheists founded Atheists Helping the Homeless in September, 2009. The three discovered that "not only was Austin becoming the homeless mecca of the state, but that a lot of preaching at the homeless was going on. On Sundays, homeless folks gather under I-35 at 7th Street in downtown Austin, for a little help. Several church groups go there on Sundays for a day-long series of sporatic giveaways of food, clothing, etc., and to dish out a heaping helping of preaching and religious music. We wanted to help, but without adding to the preaching, so instead of donating to a religious help group working there, we decided to start our own help group. A totally secular approach, and an effort to fill a need that we saw wasn't being addressed enough: Toiletries and more, under the freeway – without the preaching."
Volunteers are running an "Atheists Helping the Homeless" program in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area now, and Joe hopes the movement will continue to grow. We'll catch up on what's happening with Atheists Helping the Homeless — and address another issue in the freethought community that Joe says really needs to be addressed: hospitalization and dying.
If you're sick and plugged into life-giving tubes and IVs at the hospital, you can't run and hide when priests or ministers or even family members show up at your bed, trying to "save" you or convert you to their faith.
Not only did Joe have to deal with this on a deeply personal level when his own son died, but when he was working for American Atheists, noticed that there were countless communications from families of American Atheists' members who were either dying or already dead, and the things they said were "jaw-dropping."
Is it time to start creating support groups for non-believers who are dying or facing tragedy? We'll discuss this with Joe, as well as issues surrounding the concepts of "illness as a result of sin," unwarranted proselytizing at hospitals, and dealing with death.
We really would like people's personal stories and observations about death, dying and tragedy. If you have a personal story but do not have Skype or unlimited long distance, please contact the host, Deborah, by noon your time and we can call you from the switchboard. If you wish, we will make sure that your identity is anonymous.
If you miss the show, archives are available about 5-10 minutes after the show and are hosted on BlogTalkRadio and iTunes. There's a BlogTalk Radio widget on the bottom of this and every other page on GodDiscussion.com for quick access.