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Monday, September 22, 2008

Critical Mass Newsletter No1

CRITICAL MASS
Newsletter of the Sydney Atheists

#1 September 08

Hello everybody and welcome to the first edition of the Sydney Atheists' newsletter.

We have been really busy over the last few months planning the direction that this group is going to be taking and there have been a lot of interesting developments coming out of the committee meetings (formerly SAAG). The major shift has been in growing the group from being a meetup group to becoming an actual organisation, with a variety of different pursuits and chances for people to be involved in more productive ways. The branches and projects that have been identified are:
• The development of a survey to gather information about the group members and non-believers in general.
• Education and Syllabus, which is looking at the possible introduction of atheist teaching in educational environments and could include doing talks for schools, productions that demonstrate scientific and rational topics in ways that are accessible to all levels of audiences and influencing syllabus in the educational system.
• Charity, which is looking into both outgoing and incoming charity. A blood drive is being organised, see below for details about how you can get involved. A book drive and community service events are also being considered. Then there is the possibility of doing some fundraising for our group, which will develop as the need for funds increases.
• Media, which is involved in the production of a blog and this newsletter. A podcast will also be developed and is expected to be launched by the October meetup event.
• Vision and Values, which has been working on the core principles that the Sydney Atheists will be built on.
• Networking, which involves increasing awareness of Sydney Atheists amongst various organisations, communities and other such outlets.
• Legal, which have been looking into the details of becoming an incorporated body, applying for a tax exempt status and discrimination against atheists.
• T-Shirts, which is a continuation of the production of the t-shirts being made around world youth day.
• Lobbying, which will be responsible for organising and producing press releases, letters to government officials and other opportunities for the Sydney Atheists to make their voice heard.
On top of these new directions, the Sydney Atheists will also continue holding monthly Meetings and various social events throughout the month.

We are all really excited about the future of this group and are looking forward to the increased opportunities to make a difference.


Articles by members:

Here's a hand-picked selection of articles from members of the Sydney Atheists. To submit an article for inclusion in either this newsletter, or the Critical Mass blog, email criticalmass@live.com.au. We would like to use this newsletter to share what members have been up to, so get writing!
1. Hill$ong Crosses the Line... Again!
2. Poisoned by Secular Dinosaurs
3. Shermer vs. Lennox: Does God Exist?
4. Does Atheism Entail Materialism?


Further reading:

There's a lot going on out there, and this section will collect the best and most relevant content from the web and funnel it down for you. In the meantime, here's a collection of interesting stuff to keep you busy. Again, content suggestions can be emailed to criticalmass@live.com.au
1. Dale McGowan receives the "Harvard Humanist of the Year" award
2. How to be an atheist activist
3. Carnival of Evolution #1
4. Humanist Symposium #24
5. The Skeptics' Circle
6. Tooth or Consequences
7. Tips for Dating Believers
8. Swift Bulletin


Blood Donation

We have been working on some charity and community service events for members of the Sydney Atheists to get involved with. The first charity event we will be holding is an atheist blood drive. It’ll be a chance to do something really positive and spread the notion of positive atheism.

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service Sydney CBD blood donor centre is at 20 Elizabeth St, Sydney – right near Martin Place.

The Sydney Atheists encourage all members to take time out of their day on Saturday the 4th of October to participate in the first Atheist Blood Drive at the Elizabeth St Donor Centre.

Blood donation is completely safe and won’t take much time out of your Saturday. If you are interested in taking part in our Club Red donation day please contact Alan Conradi at criticalmass@live.com.au for details on how the program works, eligibility information and what happens on the day of the blood drive.

Blood is not only needed during times of emergency, but for many people in the community, including cancer patients, burns victims, expectant mums, premature babies, and people with blood disorders who need blood on a daily basis for their survival and quality of life. Help save lives and share the positive message of the Sydney Atheists.

If you would prefer to donate at the alternate Sydney donor centre in Clarence Street please call 13 14 95 to make your individual appointment.


Sydney Atheists Charter

The Sydney Atheists committee have been working on the charter and have come up with the following as the core of the organisation:

Vision, mission and values
Our vision is of a society that lives and grows through evidence-based reasoning and secular values.
Our mission is to be:
• an active atheist resource for the wider Sydney community; and
• an open and welcoming community for atheists and atheist-friendly people.
We work through education, charity and by representing the voice of reason in public debate. We also get together to celebrate life and have fun.
Our values are:
• an open and inquiring attitude
• evidence based reasoning
• inclusiveness and diversity
• respect, compassion and goodwill.
The above is based on three core positions:
• we want to engage the wider community, not isolate ourselves from it;
• we seek a level playing field with religious organisations —we donʼt want to discriminate against religious people or seek special status ourselves; and
• we are also about the wonder and awe of existence.


Other stuff
A selection of links that members might find interesting. Each month there will be a different selection of sites.

Atheist Foundation of Australia
The James Randi Educational Foundation
Richard Dawkins. Net
Atheist Nexus
The Atheist Community of Austin
The Infidel Guy


Contributors to this newsletter

Sydney Atheists
Critical Mass Blog
Engaging Preachers
A Drunken Madman

Please forward this newsletter to all of your atheist, agnostic, secular, humanist, freethinking, critical thinking, rationalist, open-minded or generally interesting friends and help to spread rational thinking.

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