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Stone-A-Heathen (for Charity!)

Planning Time2-3 Weeks
Group Size10+ probably
Staff #At least 4
Event DateWarm months

Activity Overview:
Originally done on September 30th, 2010 for Blasphemy Rights Day at the University of South Carolina, Stone-A-Heathen is a protest to stoning in countries such as Iran. In 2010, a current issue was the man in the Maldives who came out as an apostate (non-Muslim) which means that if he didn't recant, he would've been executed. While it isn't necessary to bring up this issue, or to do it on Blasphemy Rights' Day, we at USC felt that this event coordinated well. To Stone-A-Heathen (so to speak), you need water balloons to act as the "stone", willing participants to have water balloons thrown at them, and a charity to donate the funds you collect. You may also choose to do this event as a publicity stunt (as it works very well on campus for this, especially for smaller groups)

Planning timeframe:
This doesn't take too long to physically set up. Plan about three weeks in advance so you have time to  build the background for the balloons (You don't want to hit random people in the street.) You may need more time if you are coordinating with another group. (We paired with Amnesty International at South Carolina and that's where our proceeds were donated.) Make sure to clear the fundraiser with the person in charge of designating areas and approving functions at school. Also make sure if they are ok with Bible verses or other religious symbols/things. At USC, it was very specific - we couldn't have it on our backdrop (where people would be throwing balloons), but it could be on a sign where it wouldn't be getting wet. They were careful to make sure there wouldn't be TOO many people offended.

At the very least, four people need to be working the tables at all time. One to take money, one to pass out flyers, one to hold signs, and one to have water balloons being thrown at them. It would be best to have five (someone to control water balloons/fill them up when you need to have more). Have members and officers sign up for specific hours, and have as many people come and show up as possible. The more members there, the more samples for people to throw things at! Be sure to coordinate with the other group as well, if you are working with them.

Material requirements:
Have your usual tabling supplies just in case people are curious about your organization. Make sure to have a cashbox and possibly a receipt book. Create flyers that explain why you're there and why stoning is a big deal and why people need to care, and to include to the purpose as to why you're throwing things at people. If you're working the Blasphemy Rights' angle, make sure to include background information on the day, why it's connected to stoning (check the Maldivian man: that's a good example). If you want to have flyers on human rights' violations and stoning in particular, Amnesty International (again, we are stressing that you work with a group - forming intercampus bonds never hurts) already has flyers and whatnot from their national organization and they are very nice. Also, create a background/backdrop, etc for people to stand in front of when they are being pelted with waterballoons. It creates less of a liability on your group because people randomly pegged with a water balloon are typically not happy. You can decorate it, make it look like a village (or make it pretty with kittens and rainbows if that's your style). Create signs with Bible verses (if you're allowed). Reference ones in Leviticus about stoning blasphemers in particular. WATER BALLOONS - MAKE MORE AND KEEP MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER NEED. Even if people don't go through all of them, you could have a fun end-of-the-day event with your members. Also, if you forget this, then you don't really have much of a fundraiser.

Look through the Group Promotion resource for ideas. You'll want to use a few different forms of advertising. When deciding how to promote the event, consider how the event will appear to the audience. Students may be confused at first glance, so include information to help give background and meaning to your event. If you write a press release, go over your wording to make a clear message.

Suggested Walkthrough:

1. Select a human rights charity to donate funds to (if you are not going the publicity stunt way). We recommend Amnesty International, as it is the most well known, and most schools have a chapter that you can coordinate with.

2. Solicit volunteers to be stoned or pass out flyers or explain your cause. Have trustworthy people run the cashbox. Have people that are ok with holding signs and asking people for donations. This is a big event and will get a LOT of attention.

3. Draft a press release to give to local and campus media. Go big if you want to; send one to the state newspaper if you think that you'll get their attention. You'll want to give this to them about a week before the event - this will give their reporters a notice to cover it, both before and after the event. The SSA has some resources on media relations.

4. Plan to set up your table in a high-traffic area for a few days if you'd like. We only plan to be out there one day. But, put up signs on your campus advertising. Let the school newspaper run an ad about it if they're interested. Create a lot of buzz around it beforehand. This is an easy, slightly inflammatory event (but it's for a good cause, so it's ok!) so it shouldn't be hard to get peoples' attention, even if you're just out there for a day.

5. STONE THOSE HEATHENS. Get out there, yell, have fun and throw things! Don't be too mean though. Raise lots of money!

6. After your event, thank your coordinating group, the people who help set up everything, and don't forget to donate your funds. :)

One of our best resources to find out what works and what doesn't is you - our student leaders! If you've employed a strategy that worked well, let us know about it so other groups can also use that idea. If you've learned a lesson of caution about something we suggest, point out the pitfalls. You can email us at organizer@secularstudents.org!

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