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This week on the God Discussion Show:  Freethinking Voices from the Foxholes

This week on the God Discussion Show: Freethinking Voices from the Foxholes

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 roomhttp://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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Justin GriffithOur 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 ZameckiJoe 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.

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  • skater60

    Religious things in our military, chapels, sermons, chaplains and the like, should be banned, as well as Atheism. Religion (including Atheism) and government do not mix. Military folks can practice religious or Atheistic beliefs off-base or off-ship. Government, including the military, must have no opinion regarding religion or lack of it.

    • Deborah_B

      I agree that government and religion do no mix. Atheism, however, is not a religion. It is a lack of beliefs in gods. It does not have rituals and sacred ceremonies.

      The chapels and chaplaincy serve an important purpose. I am going to assume — perhaps incorrectly — that you are a religious person based on your comments. Imagine you are out on a warship somewhere, have been shot and are dying. Would you not want a chaplain with you? Similarly, do you have a reason why a Humanist or a Buddhist or Pagan or Muslim should be be denied chaplaincy service that matches his/her faith? Some of the chaplains are cross-trained in different religions, which seems like a good idea, but my understanding is that they are not equipped to deal with Humanists/non-believers. There are a lot of elements to the chaplaincy that serve a very important purpose, not just end of life rituals.

      As to concerts, I agree with you that they are better off base, regardless of whether they are religious or not. The Rock Beyond Belief was held on base only because the door was opened to the Billy Graham concert. It would have been a non-issue except for the fact that taxpayer dollars were being used to partially fund a proselytizing event on base.

      • skater60

        I'm glad you asked! I get to prattle!

        Yes, I am a religious person, a small c christian, in fact. But no, I would not want a chaplain particularly, because I fully understand that I know as much (or as little) about God as a chaplain does (see STORY below). I would appreciate a friend though, someone with whom I had worked side by side, so as to be able to go out with a smile or a chuckle (if possible) – that would be very nice. See, I trust that God is never more than 1.25 inches away from each of us, so I'm not concerned about dying, it's not like He's going to drop the baby.

        Hmmm… if a chaplain is not equipped to deal with "Humanist/non-believers" then he's in the wrong business. If a person (chaplains included) is compassionate, understanding, forgiving and loving then that person is fully-equipped to deal with anyone. God expects us all to be "chaplains" to each other, so there should be no need for specialists, actually. "I'm just a Gunner's Mate, Lord, so I sent him to the chaplain" is not a valid argument to make before God. Amusing but not valid. God would laugh and then you'd understand.

        Oh yeah, The Story! Almost forgot.

        Story:

        In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.

        The stories differ primarily in how the elephant's body parts are
        described, how violent the conflict becomes and how (or if) the conflict
        among the men and their perspectives is resolved.

        In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate
        to "see" the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the
        entire elephant all at once, they also learn they are blind. While one's
        subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth. If
        the sighted man was deaf, he would not hear the elephant bellow. Denying
        something you cannot perceive ends up becoming an argument for your
        limitations.

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