I’ve been actively working with the atheist community since we moved to Oklahoma in 2001, and in all that time I’ve never seen a year quite like this past one. Here follow some of the most memorable skeptical/atheistic events of 2013, as subjectively judged by myself, from a narrowly parochial and generally first-person perspective.
Rebecca Vitsmun (May) – A former Mormon comes clean on CNN about her lack of faith in the face of adversity, prompted by a befuddled Wolf Blitzer who just cannot seem to stick the ending of the news segment.
After this interview, she was instantly afflicted with a case of sudden onset internet fame, and subsequent to this there were various fundraisers to help her family get their life back in order. They have recently moved on to Seattle, where the family will doubtless be warmly welcomed by the local atheist community and there will be no tornadoes.
Camp Quest Oklahoma (Jun) – Now in its second year, Camp Quest Oklahoma is going strong. They picked up some positive mainstream press this year and bounced back from an unfortunate fundraising debacle with help from the Stiefel Foundation and loads of individual donors. I have it on good authority, from several trusted campers, that this year was better than ever.
FreeOK 2013 (Jun) – Best. Lineup. Ever. (For a one-day freethought event, that is.) Here is my recap, my review, and here are the videos. It was an amazing time! If you are anywhere in the Midwest, I’d strongly suggest looking into this event next summer, when it returns to Tulsa.
The Amazing Meeting (Jul) – No list of skeptical highlights is complete without a slew references to The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. Here are my write-ups: 1, 2, 3. Here is a post from Russell, one from Caleb, and a slew of posts from Edward. Also, check out the live-blogging from Skeptical Abyss, which was excellent, if a bit harsh at times.
Halloween Parade (Oct) – It’s not every day that you get to walk in front of a massive horde of atheists, some of whom are maneuvering a ginormous spagheffigy of the FSM, all the while being alternately cheered and booed by the assembled throngs. It was more unnerving than encouraging some of the time, but I honestly believe atheist groups need to strive for this sort of visibility in communities where anti-atheist bigotry is still the norm.
Skepticon (Nov) – I know people see this event as the Mecca of “social justice” callout culture within American atheism, and there is something more than mere rumor to that perception. With that caveat in place, Skepticon remains for the most part a convention about atheism, science, and other topics in the general vicinity of freethought, and we still had a great time just as in years past. Here is my review post from this year, and here is the updated topical breakdown chart.
Holiday Humanism (Dec) – I wanted to share the heartwarming story of an atheist group stepping up to save Christmas for a particular local family, but I’ve been asked not to spread that story any further on account of an upsurge in online harassment from angry Christians, who have (paradoxically) been using nasty personal threats to try to keep their faith from looking bad. At any rate, there is still a heartwarming holiday tale to tell, because of the Gifting Project run by the people behind FreeOK, which sponsored over 100 children, in various ways, during this season of good will and cheer. It is wonderful to see us humanists moving into the field of charitable giving, since we claim to have compassion as our central ethos.
There were no doubt many other highlights in the way of skeptical and atheist activism this year, but either I wasn’t there to see it or else my memory has somehow failed me. What were your personal highlights of 2013?