Atheist News by Edwin Kagin


KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: April 25, 2008


Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091; Email: [email protected]

Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky/

Editor’s personal web site: www.edwinkagin.com

Editor’s personal blog: http://edwinkagin.blogspot.com

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

I WAS BORN AN ATHEIST JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE

To Unidentified Recipients:

American Atheists Speakers

http://www.atheists.org

FRANK ZINDLER SPEAKS TO CINCINNATI

FREE INQUIRY GROUP SUNDAY 4/27

The Myth of Nazareth

FRANK ZINDLER, Editor of American Atheist Press will speak to the Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this Sunday, April 27, 2008.

Frank will discuss The Myth of Nazareth, the controversial new book by Rene Salm that explores the archaeological and historical data showing that Nazareth was not inhabited at the time of the alleged figure Jesus Christ. Frank muses: “Can the Wizard of Oz be real if there was never a land of Oz?”

Frank Zindler is a profession linguist and historian with expertise in ancient languages. He is the author of numerous books and articles about Atheism, religion and related topics. He is also a member of several learned societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the New York Academy of Science; Society of Biblical Literature; and the American Schools of Oriental Research. Frank is also a nationally recognized lecturer and debater in the ongoing battle of creationist pseudo science and evolution.

Copies of Renee Salm’s “The Myth of Nazareth” published by American Atheist Press will be available for purchase.

The lectures takes place April 27, 2008 (Sunday) beginning at 2:00 PM at the Vernon Manor Hotel, 400 Oak St. in Cincinnati, Ohio. The event is free and open to the public, and is parking at the Vernon Manor. For further information including detailed driving directions, visit http://www.gofigger.org .

WHO & WHAT: Frank Zindler speaking on The Myth of Nazareth

WHEN: This Sunday, April 27, 2008 beginning at 2:00 PM

WHERE: Vernon Manor Hotel, 400 Oak St. in Cincinnati, Ohio. The event is free and open to the public, and is parking at the Vernon Manor.

MORE INFO: http://www.gofigger.org

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

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Repelled by “Expelled.”

Ben Stein’s self proclaimed “documentary,” “Expelled. No Intelligence Allowed” vies with “The Passion of the Christ” for the most stupid and intellectually dishonest cinematography travesty released upon a vulnerable public since “The Ten Commandments.”

Apart from some excellent statements by Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, and other thinking humans, the only redeeming aspect of this work of media whoredom was the inclusion of some footage of our very own “Rally for Reason” protest against the museum of nonsense in Northern Kentucky known at the “Creation Museum.” See: www.rallyforreason.com . Thank you for that Ben. But this does not in any way make up for the damage done by the movie’s shoddy attempt to show that “Intelligent Design” is something that can be on the same intellectual and scientific thermometer as what Brother Stein incorrectly terms “Darwinism.”

The effort to obey the U.S. Constitution and to keep the religious views that are the only basis of this ignorance, that attempts to dress up and put lipstick on the pig of “Creationism,” out of public education and scientific research funding is portrayed as a horror of the same character as those shown in doctored black and white film clips of Nazism and the Berlin Wall. In this unethical propaganda, proponents of “Intelligent Design” are portrayed as the innocents who are being repressed in their search for truth by the thugs of scientific orthodoxy and the repressive demands of the scientific method.

For an outraged and well thought out responses to “Expelled” see:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3X8aifay678

Yes, you need to see this movie. Just as you need to visit the Creation Museum. You need to do this so you can become informed on what they really are and what they are attempting to foist upon innocent people, including impressionable children. And the movie and the museum are worse than you think. Get over the idea that you don’t want to give these people money. That is certainly understandable, but gaining knowledge and education costs money.

Let the other side express views on movies and books they have neither seen nor read—like “The Golden Compass.”

The movie “Jesus Camp” was shown at Camp Quest.

by Edwin Kagin

April 25, 2008

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From reader Z:

Subject: Florida Senate passes anti-evolution “academic freedom” bill

http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/8731.article

Senate passes evolution academic freedom bill, 21-17

House sponsor committed to his version

By JAMES A. SMITH SR.
Executive Editor

Updated 11:30 a.m. April 24

TALLAHASSEE (FBW) – The Florida Senate adopted on April 23 by a vote of 21-17 a bill to permit academic freedom for teachers and students addressing evolution in Florida’s public schools. The prospects of the measure remain in doubt after the House sponsor of its academic freedom bill said he will push his significantly different version in the House next week.

During the debate senators on both sides of the evolution divide invoked cultural depictions of America’s evolution debate – from the play “Inherit the Wind,” about the so-called Tennessee Scopes Monkey Trial, to the currently playing documentary film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.”

The Evolution Academic Freedom Act, SB 2692, sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms (R-Brandon), was offered in response to new statewide science standards that have been the subject of debate since its release last October, with critics asserting the standards require a dogmatic acceptance of evolution.

Storms, a member of First Baptist Church in Brandon, read e-mail in support of her bill from two teachers who are concerned about the lack of academic freedom in the teaching of evolution.

One teacher, requesting anonymity, told Storms that students who reject evolution are routinely ridiculed by teachers as “religious idiots” and “rednecks.”

“One [teacher] says it’s his duty to free these sheep … from the chains of religion,” the anonymous teacher said in the e-mail message Storms read.

Storms likened such religious ridicule to comments made earlier in the debate by Sen. Steven Geller (D-Hallandale Beach), the minority leader in the Senate.

Geller spoke about his participation in a high school production of “Inherit the Wind” when he and other students laughed “at how backward those folks were” and warned that some day there may be a future play made about the Florida Senate for engaging in an evolution debate in 2008.

Storms also read portions of a three-page e-mail from Wayne Gerber, a Pinellas County science teacher, who noted a biology textbook currently in use in his school includes erroneous information about evolution that remains in the book because it supports evolutionary theory.

“Note, there’s no reference to religion here,” Storms told her colleagues. “This is just a scientific basis for objecting to evolution.”

Geller asked Storms twice whether her bill permitted the teaching of Intelligent Design, revisiting an issue he repeatedly pressed her about during the April 17 floor debate on the bill.

Intelligent Design has been held by one federal court to violate the U.S. Constitution’s first amendment, ruling it is a version of creationism, rather than a valid scientific theory.

Intelligent Design postulates that the intricate design evident in human beings and the natural world undermines Darwinism’s argument of a common ancestry for all living things evolving over billions of years by means of natural selection.

“I know you want me to deviate” from answering with the language of the bill, Storms told Geller, “but I can’t do that because it’s not appropriate.”

Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach), however, noted in his comments in support of the bill that Storms answered “no” when he asked during the April 17 debate whether the bill permitted Intelligent Design or creationism.

“And the simple text of the bill supports her answer,” Gaetz told his colleagues.

Gaetz said if the subject matter of the bill was controversial literature, liberals would support it, but since the bill permits differing views on evolution, they oppose the measure.

“There’s nothing wrong with inquiry, there’s nothing wrong with debate, there’s nothing wrong with discussion, and that’s what this bill does. And that’s why it should be supported,” Gaetz said.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) insisted the Storms’ bill, contrary to her claims, was indeed about religion.

“What this bill is, is an attempt to bring the controversy of creationism versus evolution into our science classrooms,” she said.

Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville), a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said the new documentary film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” currently in theaters starring Ben Stein, demonstrated the need for academic freedom by featuring credentialed scientists who have lost their jobs or been denied tenure for questioning evolution.

“Students ought to have the opportunity to talk about both sides of the issue,” Wise said.

Sen. Nan Rich (D-Sunrise) said the Senate’s job was to support the experts who wrote Florida’s new science standards, rather than interfere with their work by passing Storms’ bill.

Sen. Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden), majority leader in the Senate and member of First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando, said the bill encourages the proper question, “Could it be?”

Noting that scientific
advancements have come from those who were willing to ask that question, Webster said of teachers and students, “Can’t we ask that question?”

Speaking to his colleagues, Webster said, “Maybe King David was right … when he looked up and said, the heavens declare the glory of God.”

A companion bill in the Florida House of Representatives, HB 1483, was approved by a House council April 11 but differs significantly from Storms’ bill.

In an attempt to reconcile the differences between her bill and the version approved by the Florida House’s Council on Schools and Learning, Storms offered an amendment to replace her two-page bill with the 12-word, one-sentence House bill sponsored by Rep. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla). Hays is a member of First Baptist Church in Umatilla.

Hays’ bill amends the current statute listing “approved methods of instruction” for public school teachers by adding, “A thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory of evolution.”

Since the amendment was offered during final consideration of the bill on the Senate floor, a two-thirds majority was needed for passage. The measure failed on a voice vote.

The Herald-Tribune.com reported April 24 Hays planned to ask his colleagues in the House to vote on his version early next week, leaving just a few days after that to forge a compromise that could be approved by both chambers.

“We’re not going to just get something in,” Hays said, reported Herald-Tribune. “We want to get something right.”

Storms warned the legislature is running out of time in its session scheduled to adjourn May 2.

Sen. Wise told the Herald-Tribune Hays “must be hitting the sauce if he thinks he’s going to send the bill back here.”

In addition to praising Storms for her leadership on the issue, Florida Baptist Convention legislative consultant Bill Bunkley told Florida Baptist Witness he is thankful that Senate President Ken Pruitt (R-Port St. Lucie) scheduled a vote on the controversial issue late in the legislative session, even though it takes more time.

“I cannot emphasize how important his support and leadership was to this legislation moving forward,” Bunkley said of Pruitt.

Bunkley also singled-out Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) for breaking with his party to support Storms’ bill, calling his vote “exceptional statesmanship.”

Kim Kendall, a stay-at-home mom and activist who has lobbied against the new science standards since October, told the Witness she is “very pleased” with the Senate’s adoption of the academic freedom bill.

“We are very disappointed” Kendall said of her two area senators – Sen. Jim King (R-Jacksonville) and Sen. Tony Hill (D-Jacksonville) – who were unwilling to meet with her and other concerned citizens, in contrast to other senators who ultimately opposed the bill.

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Forwarded from the Michigan State Director for American Atheists, Arlene-Marie.

MICHIGAN ATHEISTS TO COUNTER “NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER”
WITH BLOOD DONATIONS


Positive Life-Saving Action, Not Passive Prayer, Is the Message

What will you do on May 1, 2008, the “National Day of Prayer?” If you are an Atheist and do not accept prayer as an answer to human suffering, join us.

On May 1st, groups of Atheists in scores of American cities will go to their local Blood Banks to donate blood and sign up for organ-donor programs.

We call our blood donation program B.L.O.O.D., an acronym for Benefiting Lives of Others Donations.

It’s simple. Here’s what you do:

1) Find your local blood bank by accessing http://www.americanblood.org/ (Bottom left corner, type in your zip code to find your local blood bank.)

2) Tell your local Red Cross Donation Center that you are donating on behalf of the Michigan Atheists Blood drive. Then………………

3) Report your donation to Michigan Atheists B.L.O.O.D chariman, Chris McLaughlin at [email protected] who will report your donation to national B.L.O.O.D

4) If you live near the Detroit Metro area, please join Michigan Atheists

WHEN: May 1, 2008

TIME: 4:00-6:45pm

WHERE: American Red Cross Donation Center, 1605 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

Directions: North of Square Lake Road, E side of Telegraph, at Wagner Rd, 1st street past the Kawasaki-Honda sign, behind Allstate Billiards & Patio Furniture, 1/4 mile S of Orchard Lake Road.
Map: http://www.mapquest.com/mq/7-UPceNF3rHHFMr2wZ

The Bloomfield Hills facility is clean and spacious, with a comfortable waiting area that can easily accommodate dozens of people. Here, we can celebrate together with coffee, juice and light refreshments supplied by the Blood Bank. Just show up to the facility any time between 4:00-6:45, and you will be greeted by other Atheists. Even if, for some reason, you can’t donate, you may wish to attend to show your support. All donations will be counted and logged on a national website that tracks Atheist blood donations.

Be sure to Email me [email protected] ASAP if you plan to donate; the Red Cross needs to know how many donors will arrive so that they may have enough staff on hand to take care of us. We will notify local news media about this event.
If you have ANY questions about donating blood, you may call the American Red Cross’ confidential donor hotline at (877) 835-5736.

Thanks for your support. For additional information contact, Chris McLaughlin, Michigan Atheists B.L.O.O.D Chairman [email protected]

FORWARDED
MESSAGE BY:

ARLENE-MARIE, Michigan Atheists Affiliate Director
(313) 938-5960 [email protected] http://www.michiganatheists.org/
P.O. Box 0025, Allen Park, MI 48101

Michigan Atheists is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social and educational organization defending Atheists civil rights and dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of state and church.

Action without discussion is dangerous. Discussion without action is futile.

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From reader Jan:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Southern Baptists ‘in decline’

The Southern Baptist Convention is “a denomination in decline” due to drops in baptisms and membership, one of its lead researchers says.

Southern Baptist churches reported their third straight annual decline in baptisms last year and are down to their lowest rate of baptisms in two decades.

Baptisms dropped five percent to 345,941, while membership dropped less than a quarter of a percent, to 16,266,920, according to newly released figures for 2007.

“This report is truly disheartening,” said Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, the SBC agency that gathers the statistics. “…We are a denomination that, for the most part, has lost its evangelistic passion.”

Ed Stetzer, director of research at LifeWay, said Southern Baptists used to take comfort in seeing steadily rising membership numbers, especially compared to the moderate and liberal Protestant denominations that have been bleeding members for four decades.

But now, “Southern Baptists are a denomination in decline,” Stetzer wrote.

Some statistical categories are up slightly, such as total numbers of churches (up 1 percent to 44,696) and church attendance (0.16 percent to 6,148,868). But Baptists have always viewed baptisms as a central measure because it represents bringing new believers in Jesus Christ into the congregation.

But even as the denomination had been growing in membership in recent years, the rate of growing had been slowing, he said.

Among Stetzer’s diagnoses: a failure to recruit leadership among the young and among racial and ethnic minorities. “Vacant seats still exist at the SBC table for the ethnic and generational diversity that matches the America we are attempting to reach,” he wrote.

He also cited Southern Baptists’ well-known propensity for infighting and a failure of evangelistic fervor to match the doctrinal fervor that led to the rightward shift in the denomination in the last two decades of the 20th century.

“We must battle to build upon our Conservative Resurgence and make it a Great Commission Resurgence,” he wrote. “If we don’t, why did we bother with the Conservative Resurgence in the first place?”

http://www.courier-journal.com/blogs/faith/2008/04/southern-baptists-in-decline.html

David Ryan on Answers in Atheism by Edwin Kagin

Tonight. Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 7:00 pm ET.

Atheist parent David Ryan will appear live on the interactive Internet radio call-in talk show Answers in Atheism.

He wants the court to order his child be sent to a secular school rather than to a religious school.

See: www.answersinatheism.net for details and call in information on the show.

You can call in to rant or rave.

David’s story can be read here:

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080406/NEWS01/804060502&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

Y’all tune in y’hear.

Edwin

Atheist News from Edwin Kagin



KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: April 06, 2008


Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091; Email: [email protected]

Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky/

Editor’s personal web site: www.edwinkagin.com

Editor’s personal blog: http://edwinkagin.blogspot.com

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

I WAS BORN AN ATHEIST JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE

To Unidentified Recipients:

Atheist father sues to keep son out of St. Xavier High School

By Andrew Wolfsonawolfson@courier-journal.co[email protected] • April 6, 2008

As a practicing Catholic whose eighth-grade son, Michael, has always attended parochial schools, Susan Bisig says it would be best for him to attend St. Xavier High School.

The 144-year-old Catholic secondary school also happens to be Michael’s first choice.

But Bisig’s ex-husband, David Ryan, an atheist who has joint custody of their 14-year-old son, wants Michael to attend a nonreligious high school.

And he says the Kentucky Constitution is on his side because it says no one shall be “compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed.”

The battle between Ryan and Bisig, both commercial pilots, has landed in Oldham County Family Court, where Judge Tim Feeley has said he will decide within the next couple of weeks where 14-year-old Michael Ryan will attend high school next year.

Whichever parent wins will pay Michael’s tuition, Feeley said.

The bigger picture

The case presents broader questions about both the separation of church and state and the freedom to practice religion, say lawyers for both parents, as well as experts on family and constitutional law.

During a one-day trial last Wednesday, both parents said they had the best interests of their child at heart.

Bisig said that she thought Michael would have an easier time transitioning to St. X, given that he’s attended St. Aloysius, a Catholic school in Pewee Valley, since kindergarten.

“It’s a natural progression, and I think he will thrive in that environment,” she said. “And it is where he wants to be.”

But Ryan, who professes not to believe “in any god nor the existence of a supernatural world,” said that Michael will be better off in a school without religious ties that promotes free inquiry, not “a certain belief system.”

In court papers, Ryan has said that “Any parochial school controlled by the Catholic Church will teach and attempt to indoctrinate my son into a belief system which I reject.”

Ryan said his son’s choice of St. X is to be expected, given that “his frame of reference is the Catholic school system.”

Secular vs. Spiritual

Testifying as an expert witness for Ryan, retired Georgia educator Edward Buckner, who has been active in atheist causes, said that Michael would be better off with a secular education, rather than one whose catechism teaches that his father’s beliefs are sinful.

Ryan testified that his comparison of student-teacher ratios and other factors at local high schools showed that that Kentucky Country Day or South Oldham High School would be better for his son.

But a therapist and a “parenting coordinator” appointed by the court both testified that Michael would do better at St. X, in part because he wants to go to that school.

Robert Stenger, a University of Louisville professor who has taught constitutional and family law, said that while an eighth-grade student doesn’t have “final decision-making authority,” the law increasingly recognizes the autonomy of adolescents, especially where the minor “makes what appear to be well-founded decisions. Attending St. X is such a decision.”

Stenger said that Ryan’s case would be stronger if his ex-wife and son had chosen a school with a poorer academic reputation, such as a new school that forces religion “into classroom offerings in every subject” and where a judge could seriously question the academic integrity of the education the child would receive.

A double-edged sword

Stenger, who previously taught in the school of religion at University of Iowa and has a doctorate of theology from Catholic University of America, also noted that the father’s constitutional argument cuts both ways.

“The mother has equal constitutional rights not to have the court forbid a school because it is religious,” he said.

“If the father were to win, it would put the authority of the court against religion, which both the federal and state constitution forbid,” Stenger said.

“It could be called establishing atheism.”

David Friedman, the general counsel for the ACLU of Kentucky — which is not involved in the case — said that judges have to be neutral toward religion when determining a child’s best interests.

“A judge who always thinks it’s in a child’s best interests to go to a religious school would stray from that principle,” he said, “just as would a judge who never thinks that’s in the child’s best interests.”

Case a long time coming

Ryan and Bisig were married for eight years before they divorced in 1999, said Bisig’s lawyer, Sandra Ragland.

Ryan objected a few years ago to sending Michael to St. Aloysius, but Feeley told him then to take up the issue when the family was considering high schools.

Ryan is represented by Ed Kagin, a Boone County lawyer who is national legal director for American Atheists, an advocacy and education group founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, best known for a lawsuit which led to the Supreme Court ruling that ended the practice of daily prayer in American public schools.

The Ryan case has been followed closely on atheist and secular humanist Web sites, including NoGodBlog.com.

Kagin noted that the section of the Kentucky Constitution that Ryan is relying on has been cited by fundamentalist home-schooling parents in successful fights against having to send their children to public schools.

Section 5 of the state Bill of Rights says that “no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect … nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed.”

Ryan said the legal dispute has given him and Michael “a greater understanding and acceptance of each other’s beliefs.”

Bisig said that Michael, an excellent student, toured several high schools before picking St. X.

“This is something he wants, and I definitely support it because it would be great for him,” she said. “It is what is in his heart.”

Reporter Andrew Wolfson can be reached at (502) 582-7189.

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080406/NEWS01/804060502&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

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AMERICAN ATHEISTS ACTION ALERT

http://www.atheists.org

April 2, 2008

AMERICAN ATHEISTS ACTION ALERT ~ April 2, 2008

FLORIDA LATEST BATTLEGROUND IN EFFORT TO

UNDERMINE EVOLUTION, GOOD SCIENCE IN CLASSROOMS

LEGISLATORS NEED TO HEAR FROM US NOW!

Aided by a prominent pundit and commentator, anti-evolution groups in Florida are pushing legislation that would ban any action against a teacher who “objectively presents scientific information” critical of “biological or chemical evolution.”

Ben Stein, quiz show MC and former speech writer for Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, hosted a press conference recently at the Florida capitol to rally support for bills in the state legislature. The measures are seen as a reaction to new teaching standards for public schools which emphasize greater use of the word “evolution” instead of euphemistic phrases like “biological change over time.” They also mandate that schools place greater emphasis on teaching evolution as a unifying principle in all scientific fields.

Opponents of evolution, though, deny that the proposed legislation is meant to smuggle creationism or so-called “Intelligent Design” into public school science classes. The sponsor of the House version, HB 1483, Rep. Alan Hays(R-Umatilla) claimed that the purpose of the bill is to discourage “harassment, undue penalties and any other type of ostracism. The Senate version is SB 2692.

Stein insisted that he was in Florida not to lobby for the legislation but to demonstrate his “star power.” Reporters at the press conference were invited to attend a private screening of his forthcoming film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” in which he states that scientists questioning evolution are often harassed and intimidated for their views. According to an AP report, the film includes footage of Adolf Hitler and extermination camps to news of current efforts to punish opponents of Darwinism.

The National Center for Science Education (http:///www.natcenscied.org/ ) is one of many groups speaking out against the legislation. An NCSE spokesperson said that the bills were “introduced to satisfy the demands of Florida creationists disappointed by the state Board of Education’s vote on February 19, 2008 to adopt a new set of state science standards in which evolution is presented as a ‘fundamental concept underlying all of biology.’ “

The Florida Citizens for Science (http://www.flascience.org) is also opposing the two bills, and have on-line resources which allow you to communicate with state lawmakers.

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists warns that the Florida bills could become “boilerplate” legislation for other states where creationists are working to promote their religious views in public schools. “These measures are trying to erode the idea that our schools should teach sound science,” said Johnson. “No one would propose similar bills that would apply to ‘questioning’ mathematics or the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The Florida legislation is just a ruse to introduce creationism and other religious doctrines into our public schools.”

This isn’t about “free speech,” or presenting students with legitimate “alternatives” in the classroom.

UPDATE: Last Wednesday, SB2692 cleared the Florida Senate’s Pre-K Through 12 Education Committee in a 4-1 vote, and now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There has not been subsequent action on the House version. Members of the entire Florida Senate need to hear from us now to stop this damaging legislation!

You can help defend the teaching of good science in our public schools. We urge you to reach out to lawmakers in Florida, or any other state where this type of legislation is introduced. Visit the FCS web site, as well as the Florida Senate page at http://www.flsenate.gov . Also express your opinion in public forums — radio call-in programs, town meetings, and of course the “letters” column in your local newspaper. By taking action now, we can stop efforts to erode good science programs and our public school system!

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

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THE POPE IS COMING AMERICA…

AND WE’ll BE READ
Y TO PROTEST THE VATICAN’S

OPPRESSIVE AND THEOCRATIC AGENDA

FOR OUR COUNTRY AND THE REST OF THE WORLD!

POPE BENEDICT, a/k/a Joseph Ratzinger — formerly head of the Holy Inquisition and now Pope of the Roman Catholic Church — is coming to visit the United States/ Leading clerical and political figures — including President George W. Bush — will be meeting in him during papal visits to Washington, DC and New York City.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS will be hosting peaceful demonstrations in both cities to protest the papal agenda for cultural, social and political hegemony. We invite all Atheist, Freethought, Secular Humanists and other nonbelievers to join us in speaking out. Whatever label you use to describe your nonbelief and opposition to clerical authoritarianism of all denominations – whether you’re a Rational, a Bright, a Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist, or a strict Separationist — we welcome you!

WASHINGTON, DC.

April 16, 2008

The Pope will join Bush for a reception on the south lawn of the White House. Join us beginning at 10:00 AM across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. Bring signs and banners conveying a polite but firm message in opposition to the Vatican/Ratzinger agenda. There will be a brief program of speakers including:

* ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists

* ARLENE-MARIE, President of Michigan Atheists and State Director, AA

* MARGARET DOWNEY, President of Atheist Alliance

* FRED EDWORDS, Director of Communications, American Humanist Association

* CHRISTOPHER ARNTZEN, President, Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists

* RICK WINGROVE, Capitol Hill Representative, Virginia Director, American Atheists

Lafayette Park is convenient to the McPherson Square station of the METRO (http://www.wmata.com/metrorail/Stations/station.cfm?station=36).

For further information, contact RICK WINGROVE at [email protected] .

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NEW YORK CITY, NY.

April 18-20, 2008

The pope is scheduled for two days of events in New York City, and so far the police have not announced specifics on when or where demonstrations will be permitted. We will post that information as soon as we have it.

In the meantime, stay in contact with KEN BRONSTEIN of NYC Atheists. Reach Ken through [email protected] .

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

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Grayson County display banned

10 COMMANDMENTS RULED RELIGIOUS ENDORSEMENT

By Brett Barrouquere
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A federal judge has permanently barred a Kentucky county from using the Ten Commandments as part of a “Foundations of American Law and Government” display.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley said the Grayson County display has the “effect of endorsing religion.” McKinley’s ruling upholds a preliminary injunction issued in 2002 that resulted in county officials taking down the Ten Commandments, but leaving the frame on display.

No public money was used to set up the display in the county courthouse in Leitchfield, 75 miles southwest of Louisville.

The Rev. Chester Shartzer put up the display, without a public ceremony or public prayer. Two Grayson County residents and the American Civil Liberties Union sued in 2001, claiming the intent of the display was religious and therefore unconstitutional.

The display originally included the full text of the Mayflower Compact, the full text of the Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the full text of the Magna Carta, the Star Spangled Banner, the National Motto together with the Preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights, a picture of Lady Justice together with an explanation of the significance of each of the documents.

McKinley found that the intent of the display was religious, not educational, in part because it came after the county failed to put up only a Ten Commandments display and Grayson County Fiscal Court members discussed what to put with the Ten Commandments to avoid objections from the ACLU.

“An objective observer would understand that the Foundations Display’s sponsor desired to post the Ten Commandments in the Courthouse for purely religious reasons and counseled the Grayson County Fiscal Court on how to accomplish this to avoid Objection by the ACLU,” McKinley wrote in a 23-page decision filed Friday.

David Friedman, general counsel for the ACLU of Kentucky, said the government shouldn’t endorse or promote a specific religious belief.

“People should not be made to feel like second-class citizens in their own community because they may not share the prevailing religious view — especially in a courthouse,” Friedman said.

Mat Staver, who heads the conservative Christian legal group Liberty Counsel and represented Grayson County in the case, said McKinley’s decision will either be appealed or a modified display will be put up. Staver said the county is on sound legal ground because appeals courts, including one that oversees Kentucky, have upheld “the exact same display.”

“One thing is clear,” Staver said. “This is not the end of this case. It’s just the beginning.”

The case was filed in 2001, but put on hold while other legal disputes involving public displays of the Ten Commandments were heard in court.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 ruled that displays inside the McCreary and Pulaski county courthouses were unconstitutional, but the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals said a Mercer County Courthouse display that incorporated other historical documents was constitutional.

http://www.realcities.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/states/kentucky/counties/franklin/18524327.htm

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AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC.

http://www.atheists.org

http://www.americanatheist.org

For more information, please contact:

Rick Wingrove, Capitol Hill Representative (703) 433-2464 Ken Bronstein, NYC Atheists (212) 535-7425

ATHEISTS CALL FOR DEMONSTRATIONS AS POPE BENEDICT VISITS WASHINGTON, NEW YORK

Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other secularists will be on hand when Pope Benedict XVI visits Washington, DC and New York City as part of his visit to the United States April 15-20, 2008.

Peaceful demonstrations in both cities will focus on numerous issues related to the Holy See.

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said that the group was organizing protests “to speak out against the Vatican’s faith-based cultural, political and social agenda for America and the rest of the world.”

“The United States is based on civil liberties and the separation of church and state,” said Johnson. “The Vatican has been in the forefront to oppose secularism, rights for women, intellectual freedom and other enlightened values.”

Johnson added that American Atheists organized the first protest against a pope in the United States in 1979 during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Chicago.

The demonstration in Washington, DC will take place on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 with a rally in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House beginning at 10:00 AM. Pope Benedict XVI will be at a reception with President Bush. Further information can be found at http://www.atheists.org/temp/popeVisit2008.html or by contacting Rick Wingrove, Capitol Hill Representative for American Atheists through [email protected] .

In New York City, Ken Bronstein of the NYC Atheists is organizing a protest. He can be reached through [email protected] .

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

American Atheists, Inc.

P. O. Box 5733

Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733

Tel.: (908) 276-7300

Fax: (908) 276-7402

Edwin Kagin on Atheist Rights in Kentucky

Atheist Goes To Court To Keep Son Out Of Catholic School

POSTED: 5:48 pm EDT April 2, 2008

UPDATED: 9:28 pm EDT April 2, 2008

LaGRANGE, Ky. — A father and mother took their battle to court Wednesday, asking a judge to decide whether their child should attend a religious school.

The father is an atheist and doesn’t want his son to attend a religious high school. But the child’s mother said there are several reasons their son should — including it’s what he wants.

“Instead of educating the child, they become indoctrinated,” said David Ryan, who argued this is one reason his son should not attend a Catholic high school.

Ryan has battled with his ex-wife over the matter previously, and without resolution, the case is now in front of a family court judge.

Ryan said as an atheist, for his son to attend a religious school would be a violation of his constitutional rights. He wants his son to attend a secular private school.

But the child’s mother, Susan Bisig, said she doesn’t believe Ryan is an athiest at all.

“I feel this is a last-ditch effort on his part to keep it from happening,” she said.

Bisig said the main reason her son should be allowed to attend a Catholic high school is because it’s what he wants.

“It’s important we do take that into consideration because it’s important to him and it’s what’s in his heart,” she said.

Ryan said since his son is still in eighth grade, it’s not just his opinion that should influence the judge’s ruling.

“There should be input from the child, but not decision-making authority with the child,” he said. “That’s what custodians are for.”

The judge didn’t make an immediate decision, saying he will now have to do his research.

“That’s part of the mandate of family court, is to protect those who truly can’t protect themselves,” said Judge Timothy Feeley. “This is a different situation. It’s not protection; it’s choosing among excellent options.”

http://www.wlky.com/news/15776331/detail.html

(Previous Story)

Atheist Sues To Prevent Son From Attending Catholic School

POSTED: 4:09 pm EST January 4, 2008

UPDATED: 5:40 pm EST January 4, 2008

LA GRANGE, Ky. — A father is in a courtroom battle, trying to keep his son from attending a Catholic high school.

The parents involved in this case are divorced. David Ryan, the father, is an atheist. The mother is a Roman Catholic. Their son, who is in the eighth grade, attends a Catholic school in Oldham County.

“This is something where it can’t be both ways,” said Ryan’s attorney, Edwin Kagin. “We think the constitution wins.”

According to Kagin, when Ryan and his wife got divorced, a judge ordered their son continue attending a Catholic school.

But Ryan is an atheist and wants his son to attend a public high school next year, so Friday, he took the issue in front of a judge in an Oldham County courtroom.

“David feels the orientation and the indoctrination of the church school is harmful to his child,” Kagin said.

According to court documents, Ryan believes if his son continues to attend a religious school, it will attempt to indoctrinate his son into a belief system that he as a parent rejects.

“A view that the world operates in conformity with supernatural forces and not with natural laws,” Kagin said.

Ryan’s attorney said this case may just be about one kid and where he goes to school, but there’s a much bigger issue at hand.

“The issue really does become one of what does church-state separation mean?” he asked.

Kagin said part of Kentucky’s constitution reads, “Nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to which he may be conscientiously opposed.”

Kagin said going by the law, the judge’s decision should be easy, but he doesn’t know how much the judge will consider Ryan’s son’s wishes on the matter.

“My client strongly feels that the best interest of the child is served by teaching the child the courts, as well as all citizens, must obey the law and the constitution under which we live,” he said.

Copyright 2008 by WLKY.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://www.wlky.com/news/14981101/detail.html