Group seeks to counter religion-motivated killings
Students stoned heathens in front of the Russell House Wednesday, but instead of rocks, water balloons were the weapon of choice.
From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., passers-by could pay $1 to pelt a Pastafarian with a water balloon in the second-annual Stone-a-Heathen event, aimed at raising awareness of execution by stoning.
The USC Pastafarians are an award-winning affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance. The religious satire group, founded in 2007, jokingly worships the Flying Spaghetti Monster and focuses on raising awareness of problems that can be caused by religion and how members of the USC community can help end such problems.
“The goals of the Pastafarians are for the betterment of the atheist cause,” said Patrick Mitchell, an electrical engineering graduate student and first-year member.
Mitchell further described the “atheist cause” as the need to “raise awareness of some inherent problems of believing anything dogmatically without reason.”
The organization sponsors up to six large service projects per year and many more events, such as Stone-a-Heathen.
Kelley Freeman, USC Pastafarians president, said last year’s event was a success and raised $140 for Amnesty International. Pastafarians Membership
Director Dustin Tucker said this year the event raised $100 for the charity.
“A lot of people disagree with our group and will not participate in throwing a balloon,” Freeman said. “We’re not trying to get into an argument out here. Today, we’re trying to raise awareness for a much bigger cause.”
This “bigger cause” is one intended to end the suffering of people like Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow, whose story was told on the Stone-a-Heathen fliers.
Dhuhulow, a 13-year-old Somali girl, was buried up to her neck and stoned to death for adultery. Only, according to reports from Amnesty International, she didn’t commit adultery; she was gang raped by three men and had the courage to report it.
Pastafarians held up signs reading “I rebelled against my parents. Stone me!” and “I blaspheme and cuss. Stone Me!”
Both are crimes punishable by execution by stoning in countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan.
“People don’t realize that stoning is still used as a form of execution in the Middle East,” Tucker said. “It’s unacceptable. This is the 21st century and we should be moving past things like this.”
Many students commend the organization for Stone-a-Heathen while others “despise” the group and the event.
Tucker said that the Pastafarians received an e-mail last year from a professor who was upset about Stone-a-Heathen. She did not like the fact that the Pastafarians were making jokes about the stonings.
“Sometimes you have to make light of a bad situation,” Tucker said. “You can’t deny that satire works.”
USC Pastafarian meetings are held on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. in LeConte College room 112. People of all religious backgrounds are welcomed.