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.
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.
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.