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May 03 2012

#FTF1 Session 3: Church and State

More reports from the Freethought Festival! I live-tweeted most of the sessions–strangely, gaining followers instead of losing them–so you’ll get mostly tweets with notes. (Brianne is doing her own set of summaries, starting here.)

This session suffered badly from a facilities problem that had the hall at about 10 degrees cooler than the hallways just outside it. There was cold air blowing into the room the entire time, causing major drafts. People were wearing their winter coats inside. I hadn’t brought mine. Instead, once I got to the point of shaking in my seat from the cold, I went for a mile walk in the 45-degree damp outside. I warmed up. Still, the talks themselves were good and important. Watch them on video somewhere warm.

“Debunking the ‘Christian Nation’ Myth”
Andrew Seidel
Freedom From Religion Foundation

  • Andrew Seidel up to demolish the Christian nation/founded on Judeo-Christian values claim.
  • God added to government not to start, but in times of turbulence, when civil rights were being rolled back generally.
  • The idea that governments derive their legitimacy from the governed is antithetical to subservience to god.
  • Seidel comparing 10 commandments (Judeo-Christian values) to Constitution. Personally, I like the Constitution better.
  • Yes, we were founded on one Judeo-Christian value: slavery.
  • Another founding value: anti-covetousness. We can intrude on your privacy all we like. Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Loving.
  • “Universal” bits of 10 commandments may only be meant to apply to “neighbors”, i.e., Israelites.
  • “It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.” — James Madison We must act.
  • RT @abiodork “Jesus died for your sins” is a complete abrogation of personal responsibility. – Andrew Seidel

“God Fixation Won’t Fix This Nation”
Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation

  • Yay! Get to hear Annie Laurie Gaylor.
  • When she started in atheist activism as a UW Mad college student, she was the only one. Gratifying to see so many students here.
  • Ended a 140-year tradition of graduation prayer with a brief presentation to a student group. It isn’t always that hard.
  • Removed religious preference checkboxes from entrance paperwork, Gideons from the university hospital patient entryway.
  • FFRF born out of feminist activism. Pro-choice and contraception work. Annie and her mother.
  • Religion is the greatest impediment to civil rights and to social justice.
  • FFRF representing an anonymous 16yo in Virginia. Liberty counsel trying to out the student so they can get them to drop the suit.
  • “Life begins at excommunication.” Sadly not included in FFRF open letter to nominal and liberal Catholics.
  • RT @disillusiondrew Link to the @FFRF Quit the Catholic Church ad: http://ffrf.org/news/releases/nyt-ad/

“Belief Is Motivating; Separation of Church and State Is Vital”
Ellery Schempp
Secular Coalition for America

Sadly, this is the session I had to get up and walk during. I missed it almost exactly. I will be watching the video, however.

“Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All–And What We Can Do About It”
Sean Faircloth
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

  • My next phone will have to be chosen for a battery that will let me live tweet a full-day conference. *sigh*
  • Sean Faircloth showing video from Reason Rally. Highly passionate delivery.
  • Faircloth saying we should highlight the fact that we are championing justice and freedom for all, not just those like us (atheists).
  • Claiming justice issues allows us to separate faith from virtue.
  • “Atheism should be seductive. To bring this back to this college audience, guys, you know how….” *sigh* #erasingpartofyouraudience
  • But when it’s time to rouse the rabble to organize, it’s “There are people in this room who can….”
  • The Out Campaign now has a Facebook page for its Afghanistan project.
  • Promote 10-Point Vision for a Secular America.
  • Does your state have a Coalition of Reason to unite local groups’ efforts? Amazing things being done in Arizona.

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