University of Wisconsin–Madison

Mass Email Draws Mass Ire

Today, we sent out a mass email to all of the 40,000 – 50,000 students on campus.  This is a service provided to all registered student organizations willing to cough up $100 for it… and it was worth every penny.  In less than 24 hours, we recruited 86 new members to our email list, added 63 people to our Facebook group, and our blog traffic spiked by about 100x.  Hey new people!
For those who missed it, here’s what our mass email looked like:

Are you an atheist, agnostic, skeptic, pastafarian, or otherwise nonreligious student?
Come join Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at UW-Madison this Fall!
AHA is a great way to meet fellow nonbelievers here on campus, all while getting involved in the secular movement.  Our meetings will be every Wednesday at 7 PM in 155 Van Hise.

We hope to see you there!

In the meantime, join our email list for info regarding upcoming
meetings and events by simply sending a blank email to this address.
And be sure to check out our Facebook group.
Additionally, if you’re blog-savvy, we have one of those as well.

Pretty innocuous, yes?  Tens of thousands of people calmly tolerated this minor intrusion into their life, deleted the email, and then proceeded to move on with the rest of their day.  Others could not resist the urge to share their disagreement, pity, and anger with us.  I’ve taken the liberty of organizing the best of these replies into a few rough categories.  As you will see, some messages unfortunately could belong in multiple groupings.
No attempt was made to correct grammatical errors.

Group 1: Seems to have a problem with the shift key.

  • Never send this e-mail to me AGAIN!
  • GOD ROCKS! Good luck on judgment day!
  • I do believe in God, please REMOVE ME FROM THIS EMAIL LIST!

Group 2: It’s the thought that counts, I suppose.

  • I’ll pray for you.
  • I am not interested, but will keep you in my prayers.
  • Hello. Please remove me from your email list, thanks. Also, I am sorry that your club has such beliefs, that is an unfortunate way to live. I will pray for you.
  • Take me off of your email list…. God loves you.
  • just want to let you know that GOD still loves you, and we are all his children. 

Group 3: Looks like someones got a case of the Mondays!

  • why is this being sent to my email. do you even know if i’m religious or not. your club is stupid.
  • You’re group sucks. You’re going to Hell!
  • Ummm…. I’m a religious jew. Don’t send this crap to me.
  • I am a Christian. Take your ignorance elsewhere.
  • This is bull shit. Evil only exists in this world because of the absence of GOD. Take me off this email list please. Hope you enjoy your non-belivers party, losers. 

Group 4: Missing the point, badly.

  • Don’t email me these requests.  If you choose to be “atheist,” then you call yourself god. Please take me off whatever list you have created.  Thanks.
  • Why is a group like this needed?  Is it something you fear or do you just hate christians that much to want to exclude them?
  • the secular movement? really? more like popular culture- lolkatz- don’t send your stuff here 
  • Feel free to never send me emails again. I don’t need to hear this kind of stuff showing up in my mailbox. I’m a faithful Christian and I’m sorry that you’ve lost your way.

Group 5: Bat shit crazy.

  • You live in a nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  His miracles surround you every day. Open your eyes.  The only person that would die for you are the men and women of the US Armed Forces and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Get with the program fools and stop spreading this useless shit.  There are real problems out there.
  • I just wanted to let you know that Jesus loves you and he is coming back soon. All will bow down and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Have a blessed and wonderful day!<3 

Keep in mind these messages are all coming from students at the University of Wisconsin.
Folks, we have a lot of work left to do.

22 thoughts on “Mass Email Draws Mass Ire”

  1. Chris, I'd suggest making sure you have documentation saved of the times religious groups on campus have used the same service.

    Very often the next step in these situations is that the service all of the sudden is shutdown or restricts access to "controversial content".

    Start digging up the archives and plan on a fight. Happens over and over and over again.

  2. I consider all the reasons they give (Unfortunate way to live, ignorance, evil) as good reasons to be atheist. Even the Christian that said Jesus is coming – because if he does show up now he has a lot of questions to answer that only atheist would ask.

  3. Further information for our off-campus readers: The sent field of the email was from "Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics at UW-Madison via" The doit portion is an acronym which stands for for the Division of Information Technology. The DoIT mass email service is widely used by student groups as a method to reach out to new members – I've probably received 10 mass emails from other organizations this semester alone. In the future we will make it more clear that the recipients haven't been subscribed to any lists, but really, all the people who received the message should be used to the system by now.

    I would also add that sending these messages is not considered "spam," and that the mass email service is not in any danger of being shutdown.

  4. You do indeed have a lot of work to do. What is disheartening is that these are not old folks sitting on their porch holding a shotgun and drinking their beer, these are college students. College should be a time of intellectual stimulation, learning and getting exposed to different viewpoints.

  5. Nice job about making non-theist people aware that they are not entirely alone on your campus/local area. It seems to be sometimes overwhelming of how many theists there are spouting and repeating what they hear in Sunday services. Let us all go to Reddit for comfort. UMD,MN

  6. Hey there, fellow atheist here and I live in Madison. I'm a student at MATC and we don't have a club for secular students at this time. Is it cool if I, or others at MATC, stop by for a meeting?

  7. @Erin: Absolutely! We have a few regular members who are MATC students, and also a few non-students as well. To get more involved you can also join our Facebook group, but the most important thing is to get your address added to our email list. The instructions for joining are described in the mass mail post. I hope to see you at a meeting soon!

  8. this. is. hilarious. and as a "believer" (oh god, what a terrible word), i just really wish these people would go under a rock and never come out.

    i hope i never have to talk to these people…ever.

  9. I am a Christian and I just don't understand why it has to be a fight between Christians and Atheists. What happened to agree to disagree? I'm so not a fan of tearing down people no matter who they are and to see that on both sides saddens me. I can have different beliefs than you and still care for you. Unfortunately a lot of Christians don't live the way they should and they aren't very good examples of the true followers of Christ. I apologize on their behalf and ask you not to judge us all, or our beliefs based on those examples.

  10. "You do indeed have a lot of work to do. What is disheartening is that these are not old folks sitting on their porch holding a shotgun and drinking their beer, these are college students. College should be a time of intellectual stimulation, learning and getting exposed to different viewpoints."

    Don't you think there's something a bit hypocritical about this?

    If you guys were so accepting you would have "calmly tolerated this minor intrusion into their [your] life, deleted the email, and then proceeded to move on with the rest of their [your] day."

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