Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate
Topics
Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Atheists and the ‘Aints’ — seeking to dispel preconceived notions about our (non)beliefs

The Minnesota Atheists are grateful that the St. Paul Saints have shown exceptional tolerance in allowing us another opportunity to showcase our happy and spirited character.

photo
Courtesy of MN Atheists
Minnesota Atheists chair Heather Hegi, with an Aints
player in 2012.

Atheism and baseball is an unlikely combo, but nevertheless, the Minnesota Atheists organization is celebrating the atheist community with America’s pastime for the second year in a row. The Minnesota Atheists will again be secularizing the St. Paul Saints to the Mr. Paul Aints during their Aug. 9 game against the Sioux City Explorers. The purpose for the atheist-sponsored game isn’t to proselytize atheism or to disparage other people’s beliefs. Like last year, our agenda is simply to have fun, build camaraderie, and exhibit our happy and friendly disposition.

According to some recent studies, and a mountain of anecdotal evidence, atheists are perceived to be untrustworthy, unethical, and immoral. Atheists are also thought to be unelectable for public office and many have been shunned by work colleagues, friends, and even family for revealing their identity.

Article continues after advertisement

We atheists clearly have a public-relations issue we need to address. Intellectual arguments about the existence of a god(s) and church/state separation have an important place in public discourse but they don’t help portray our happy and friendly nature in the public eye. One of the major functions of Minnesota Atheists is to promote positive atheism partly through community outreach and volunteerism and partly by providing a safe and positive outlet for other freethinkers, whether they identify as “atheist” or not so they can talk freely and socialize with those who share their identity.

jayne
Courtesy of MN Atheists
Eric Jayne

By partnering with the St. Paul Saints, for what is being billed as “A Night of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming,” Minnesota Atheists is working to dispel unfavorable and unfair preconceived notions about atheists while emphasizing our desire and ability to have fun like everybody else.

Part of the fun on display will be the unique Mr. Paul Aints jerseys the players will wear during the game. These secularized jerseys will be auctioned off at the end of the game and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Family Place homeless shelter in St. Paul. There will be several other atheist-themed gags during the game which I don’t want to fully disclose at the moment, but don’t be surprised if you see a Doubting Thomas at Midway Stadium questioning some of the calls from the evening’s umpires.

There were nearly 300 atheists in our group section at last year’s atheist-sponsored ballgame and it was great to see that a large portion of that number consisted of families with children. It’s oftentimes difficult for these families to connect with other freethinking families even though Minnesota Atheists holds several family events throughout the year. Publicly celebrating our atheist identity with other families at a popular local venue was incredibly empowering and I am certain that it will be the same experience this year.

The Minnesota Atheists are grateful that the St. Paul Saints have shown exceptional tolerance in accepting us as a business partner again this year and allowing us another opportunity to showcase our happy and spirited character.

Our hope is that soon all of our family, friends, and colleagues will be as accepting and will also want to play ball with atheists.

Eric Jayne is the president of Minnesota Atheists.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at salbright@minnpost.com.)