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Secular Student Alliance "Origin Into Schools" Program


What's Going On?
What Can We Do?
Tell Us About It!
Additional Resources

If you've been following the blogosphere lately, you've probably heard about Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort's latest attempt to reach out to college students. This November, they will "celebrate" the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species with their "Origin Into Schools" outreach program: distributing free copies of a special reprinted edition of Darwin's work, complete with an introduction by the staunch defender of creationism, Ray Comfort himself.

As strong supporters of Darwin's work and proponents of science and reason, we encourage our affiliates to stand up and speak out! We've gathered as much information as we can get our hands on, and found some of the best suggestions we can for our groups to get involved.

What's Going On?
Comfort's Living Waters, the evangelical Christian ministry of Ray Comfort (Banana Man) and Kirk Cameron (sitcom star of Growing Pains), is on a mission to distribute 100,000 copies of a reprinted version of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, with an introduction by Comfort attempting to refute Darwin's theories. You can see Comfort's explanation of the project on their website. Or, you can download and read the Introduction in PDF form.

The highlights of the introduction, according to Kirk Cameron (who explains the project on YouTube), include "a timeline of Darwin's life, Adolf Hitler's undeniable connection with the theory, Dariwn's racism, his disdain for women and Darwin's thoughts on the existence of God." The introduction also "lists the theory's many hoaxes."

David Waters' column "Origin of the Specious" in the Washington Post, sums up the project quite nicely.

What Can My Group Do?

Several groups have asked us what we suggest for them to counter the Living Waters outreach. So we've compiled some of our best ideas as well as a few places to find and share more ideas.

Raise Awareness
Tabling is a great way to raise awareness of any issue. Get out on your campus and show the public how much evidence there is in favor of the theory of natural selection. Or include a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's work.

Host a Speaker
Every campus likely has a professor who would be happy to give a lecture or presentation on evolution. Advertise near where copies of Comfort's book are being given away or at your table!

Hold a Protest or Demonstration
Counter misinformation with a crowd of students and signboards refuting Comfort's claims. Protests and demonstrations are a great way to raise awareness and even get some media coverage.

Distribute the Original
On the Origin of Species is in the public domain, which means that there are plenty of version that you can reproduce and distribute freely. Check out Project Gutenburg's version, various e-book formats (for your Kindle or eReader), or an audiobook version (great for the trip home for Thanksgiving break!) There's also a great resource on Darwin's work at darwin-online.org.uk/.

Letters to the Editor
Raise awareness on campus or in your community through a letter to the editor. You might point out how underhanded an approach Living Waters is taking, or point out how the evidence for evolution is overwhelming.

Show a Film
There are several excellent films available for screening that are particularly relevant for this event. Judgment Day is a NOVA production focused on the landmark federal case of Kitzmiller v. Dover School District. Flock of Dodos is a fun, full-length film that examines both sides of the intelligent design v. evolution debate, and we have permission from the filmmaker to screen it publicly on campus (email organizer@secularstudents.org for details). You'll need to reserve a room in advance for these, so start planning now!

Share Ideas
There is a thread on the forums at the RichardDawkins.net site about what students can do (registration required). It's a great place to find and share ideas. There are also two Facebook groups dedicated to idea-sharing and brainstorming about how to best react. Join either or both "Keep Ray Comfort Honest" or "Kirk Cameron has gone too far - but we can stop him" to share ideas and get involved.

Let Us Know!
We love to hear what our affiliates are up to. If you pulled off a great protest, table or an innovative idea for how to handle the Origin Into Schools, we'd love to hear about it!

Additional Resources
We're working to collect resources to help your group. Check back often, as we'll be updating this page as we get more information!

List of Original 50 Schools: While we do not have a list of all the colleges & universities that Living Waters intends to target, we have tracked down a copy of the first 50. Check it out to see if your school is included!

Origin Into Schools in Canada: Many students have been asking for a list of the campuses where Comfort wants to distribute the books. So far, we do not have access to a U.S. list, but we do have a list of the schools in Canada. If you're a Canadian affiliate, check this list to see if your school will be targeted!

NCSE Resources: The National Center for Science Education has put together a plethora of resources for those who want to promote Darwin and his work, including some targeted specifically at the Comfort nonsense. Check out their website at DontDissDarwin.com.

Evolution and Outreach Journal: This free online publication contains lots of great articles written by scientists for laypersons. Great for sharing with your group or linking to on flyers and websites. Get full online access here.

On Hitler and Darwin: When Ben Stein's Expelled was first released, he issued a comment about the study of evolution being a cause for the Holocaust. The Anti-Defamation League put together a short-and-sweet response to that nonsense, which applies equally well to Comfort's distressingly similar accusation.

The Brights' Evolution Flyer: The Brights have put together a great "Did you know?" flyer outlining some of the most common misconceptions about evolution and listing some sources for further reading. It's a great resource to have available at tables, protests, and other events.

Flock of Dodos producer PSA: Randy Olson, the producer behind Flock of Dodos, has created a spoof "PSA" about the Comfort giveaway. Watch here and share with your group or campus!

TreeLobster Anti-anti-science bookmarks: The good comic artists at TreeLobster have created a printable, high-resolution, full-color bookmark that nicely compliments Comfort's book-and-intro combination. Download the image, print on cardstock and distribute the bookmarks alongside Comfort's Origin.

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