Sunday, 10 April 2011

EXPELLED from Creation Ministries International!

So here's how it went down. CMI was doing its creationist thing at UWA, and then later at Curtin. As members of a guild club (UWA Atheists and Skeptics), we had approval to attend and hand out information about evolution.


We made up quite a crowd -- I'd say 15 or 20 of us from the UWA Atheist and Skeptic Society and the Perth Atheists.

It started well enough. Before the event, we had a discussion with Dr Silvestru himself, who is an affable guy, although it's scary what must be in his mind. Chatting about science with believers was also quite nice. Strangely, the believers seemed to be almost exclusively young and Asian, and they didn't talk to us. Only the older CMI helpers did.

When it was time for the lecture to get started, the door was suddenly blocked by about five Christian door blockers, who told us we weren't welcome to attend.

That blur in the middle is Kylie Sturgess, working to secure our entry.

We explained that we just wanted to attend the lecture, assured them that we weren't interested in causing any disruption, but it was no go. We explained that it was a public event, advertised on campus, and we wanted to hear the lecture. (Even Dr Silvestru had no problem with us attending.) They said it was a private church service. Now don't you think that if it were a normal church, they'd love the chance to save an atheist like me?

Negotiations were to no avail, so it was off to Curtin for the second round.

Someone must have phoned ahead to warn the organisers at Curtin, because we were greeted by more security blocking us from entry. I guess when they realised that infiltrators were trying to walk right in to a public event, they decided to tighten things up.

We took this as a challenge to see if one of us could get inside. Kylie tried brazenly walking in, but got stopped and was subjected to a long grilling. David from Perth Atheists was able to breach the first level of security, but was nabbed by the more vigilant second tier. Curses!

The hilarious thing was that Asians were admitted without question, while any Caucasians -- even Christians who had no idea what was going on -- were given the third degree by security. (Where are all the Asian atheists, by the way? Must remember to get some.) They were actually asking people what church they belonged to! One guy refused my handout, but was then interrogated at the door. I heard one guard say, "Are you sure you go to Victory Life?"

I think it's revealing that they don't seem to think that their view can sustain the mere presence of non-believers. So much for peer review.

I'd say it was successful. We handed out all 200 flyers. The CMI people were even complaining that in the UWA lecture, people were reading the flyer all the way through the service, instead of watching the presentation!

I don't know if we changed anyone's mind, but that wasn't the point. The point was to raise the cost of spreading misinformation, which we did.

And we didn't have to attend a silly and fact-challenged lecture.

UPDATE: Ash from UWAASS questions the legality of the church's actions. Kylie Sturgess gives her take, and I'd like to say that she stole part of my title, right there as we were having coffee. Atheists have no morals.

6 comments:

  1. Can I both grr and yay? And yes, I blatantly stole your post title (and what's a photo of me trying to be diplomatic doing online? Did you hold up your laptop?) :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's from my mobile. You came out well.

    You can have all my titles! I can't stay mad at you, protest buddy. We have to meet up in a non-protest capacity.

    Be sure and post that photo by (not of) Dr S. I still can't believe you asked him to take a picture of all of us!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, you rebels! Next time maybe a back up group of atheists could hang back and be called in to act as true believers when the muscle steps in. A stealth operation I'd be happy to undertake! (Was busy with kiddlets today but I hope to help out sometime)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a theory which may explain all this nonsense.

    Based on some quick sleuthing, it would seem that ZPH (Zion Praise Harvest) have a weekly church service at UWA/Curtin/Murdoch at the exact same time that they had it today. (http://zion.org.au/)

    I would guess that Emil was just a visiting speaker who appears at different local community churchs. (This community church just happened to be a university - http://creation.com/caveman-returns-down-under-ministry-tour-with-dr-emil-silvestru)

    It was probably never intended to be a public or open lecture, it was probably always going to be part of their church sermon.

    Obviously this doesn't excuse their behaviour (which included racial profiling - http://twitter.com/NinaConway) and forbidding the public from attending, but it might go some ways to explaining the confusion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well, that's the thing, Maureen. You're white. You would have been given the third degree and turned away.

    Asians, on the other hand, were admitted without a fuss.

    Long and short of it, Zion Praise Harvest acted like idiots. Formal complaints are being prepared.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting theory, Aaron.

    I have another theory. They intended it to be public, but then chickened out when they saw us and made a snap decision to refuse us entry.

    Why do I think that? They made posters. Do they make posters for their regular services?

    (Actually, that's a real question. Do they?)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! If this comment is on a post older than 60 days, your comment will go straight to moderation, and I'll approve it if it's not spammy.