David Silverman over at American Atheists sent out a email today saying that,
“the Supreme Court has struck yet another blow against the wall of separation between church and state by allowing explicitly (and exclusively) Christian prayer to open town meetings in Greece, New York for more than a decade.”
Now I’ve been in the military for a while now and I am used to chaplains giving invocations, convocations and prayers at every ceremony we have. While I never take part in the the prayer and find them a bit annoying I understand that it’s a tradition and traditions are very slow to change.
The reasoning the Justice used for reversing the appeals courts decision was Marsh v. Chambers. March v. Chambers upheld the state of Nebraska’s practice of opening legislative sessions with a state-appointed chaplain.
Many of our members have been letting me know that our move to Saturdays has been a tough one. Sunday’s afternoons are a really convenient time to get together as a group. To that end I have been hunting for an alternate or new location for us to hold regular meetings.
Places of interest:
Appleton Public Library
Great location, great spaces available but they are close on Sundays from May 26 – September 1 every year.
Thompson Community Center
Again great location and rooms but the are funded by the Lutheran Social Services which I’m assuming would not be open to hosting an Atheist group.
Fox Valley Unitarian Universalists
Same thing here location rooms but I’m not fi we would fit in. On their site it says that welcome those of any creed or faith, but I’m not sure about those who have no faith.
If you missed the debate on Friday don’t worry there wasn’t any ground breaking evidence supplied that will shatter the faith of millions or anythings. Personally I like the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye a bit more than this one. One of our groups members (Greg Brahe) also wrote a great review on the event here on Inspiring Doubt. Greg did I far better job than I will really detailing the debate as it progressed. Reading his article I was reminded of certain parts of the debate and I was finally able to “laugh out loud” at some of the absurd things that were said. Thank you for such an in-depth write-up Greg.
Dan from FFRF did extremely well but did a bit too much Bible bashing for my tastes. Given his background I expected some and it was nice to see someone be able to argue with Apologists in their own language. From what I gathered Dan’s primary message was that Christianity is wrong because there is no evidence beyond the bible which he has studied in depth as a former preacher. He cited inaccuracies, contradictions and immoral verses all to support his points. He also took his time to refute common Apologist arguments before Jerry had time to make them. Dan took his time to focus the debate on the question posed and did a good job refuting it.
Jerry also provided some decent arguments however, many of them lacked substance… and seemed to draw more from personal experience than evidence which as a scientist I was expecting. And many times instead of providing evidence he often said things like, “I’ve read a lot of books” or “everyone should be doing their own research.” Which, don’t get me wrong I’m all about encouraging people to read and do their own research, however it felt a bit like I was being told to read his books. This coming form a guy who’s published over around 20 books (from what I saw on the tables) he sounded more like a salesman than a researcher. I really wish that instead telling us to read his books and saying there is evidence he would have had some available to show us.
I felt like Jerry’s primary message was that it is unfair for educators to be prevented from teaching Creationism in schools and that it is not right to discriminate against educators who have religious beliefs. To be honest I agree with part of his main point, educators should not be discriminated against for their beliefs however I am not convinced that there is a “witch hunt” going on in higher education as he claims. He has a book out there that details a list of educators that have been “discriminated against for their religious beliefs”. I might actually read this one if I get the chance. I’m interested to know if they were let go because of their beliefs or let go for other reasons. I am very skeptical that out of the hundreds of thousands of educators in this country that the couple hundred he has found and written about constitute the witch hunt he claims. I am fully expecting many account to have two sides the person who was let go “because of their beliefs” and the school that let them go for their “official reasons”. The biggest problem about his primary message was that it barely addressed the topic of the debate.
As we move into a mid-term election year it would be a good thing to educate people that it is against federal law for any 501(c)(3) to endorse any political candidate. This applies to all 501(c)(3) organizations, however, churches are the most common violators of this law. Any church that endorses a candidate on their signs, pamphlets, brochures or bulletins is violating this law. To learn more about this please check out this article at American’s United.
We had a good first meeting for the Political Action Group. I’m going to post notes from the meeting so that those who couldn’t make it but want to take part can still know what our current goals are.
We have determined that in order for outsiders to take our group seriously we need to formalize our group and make it official. We know that not every memeber of the meetup group wants to be politically active so this group will be seperate but affiliated with FVAAF. In short if you’re not interested in taking part in this part of the group you don’t have to. The main goal of FVAAF has and will continue to be providing a local community for Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers.
As our group grows and we move into the new year I want to introduce some of the new goals and sub-groups that our group will be hosting.
One big change from last year is that our meeting time is changing. Harmony Cafe is no longer open on Sunday’s so we will be meeting on Saturday from 4-6 pm on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month. I will always be posting meetups during these times so that we always have a presence when we are scheduled. Harmony Cafe has been a great way for local Atheists to find out about our group and I want to make sure that we are there when we are scheduled.