Final talk – Margaret Downey

Margaret Downey makes the undeniable (surely!) point that holidays are fun, and secularists should take over the work of Doing Fun Holidays.

Let’s celebrate with a Tree of Knowledge.

Even Tom Flynn says that’s a good plan!

Hang books on the tree. Celebrate knowledge, and reading, and free speech.

Chester County: the human tree of knowledge.

Too often the non-theist community disappears in winter. If we don’t show up, it looks as if we’re not welcome.

Visit “It’s up to us to make sure that secular celebrations are meaningful and honest.”

Children from a non-theist home are faced with a lot of peer pressure.

This is a helpful thing for ex-clergy.

Margaret calls Linda LaScola up to join her on the stage so that she can answer questions later.

“Many public officials simply do not comprehend what ‘secular’ means.” They think non-denominational is secular, so “holy matrimony” and “in the eyes of god” are ok for civil marriage. Wrong!

Reba Boyd Wooden takes the stage. Secular Celebrants at

“Or the bride has to promise to obey. I think I did this 50 years ago, but I didn’t mean it when I said it.”

Indiana is well represented here. Reba at the mic right now, Jen in the audience a couple of rows in front of me.

Fox News in Indiana have been very good to CFI Indiana – very fair. Huh. Whaddya know.

Writers for secular ceremonies: Ingersoll, Keats, George Eliot, Thoreau. (Jennifer Michael Hecht name-checked Keats in her poetry reading last night. High five!)

“Our legacy is our afterlife.”

Question: does the trend for same sex marriage help or hinder the movement for secular celebration? Margaret and Reba: it helps!

Linda LaScola on what clergy are like. The one thing the ones she knows have in common: wherever they started out, they all end up as liberal.

Celebrating non-superstition. Friday the 13th. The Museum of Superstition. Great because the press love it. Next bash: September 13, 2013, in Pennsylvania. Mark your calendars.


  1. says

    Some of my atheist readers essentially called my guest blogger Eric Steinhart a lunatic for sketching a hypothetical calendar of atheist holidays. Unfortunately, there is a reflexive extreme anti-institutional/anti-traditional streak to many atheists that make such suggestions actually controversial (to my bewilderment).

  2. ernie keller says

    Holidays for atheists sounds like a really good idea, just like a quasi-church sounds good, or other substitutes for features of religion. They don’t get very far not because they are opposed but because atheists don’t have a felt need for them. Would it be good to have them? Yes, it would. Good enough to be worth the effort to create and maintain them? Evidently not. There must be some truth in the idea that since atheism is the absence of something, that involves the absence of all the associated something’s as well. This does appear to be the case, and even though we can see the disadvantages of not having parallel institutions we can’t fix it.

  3. says

    Celebrating non-superstition. Friday the 13th.

    At least that is one traditional day of superstition that is nowadays tongue in cheek. Most adults young and old know that the various superstitions of that day are done just for fun. The superstitions of that day are more comparable to the superstition of Santa tallying up your naughty and nice points than they are to the superstition of Jesus counting you as one of his sheep and deciding which of you get to enter the greener pastures. Heck, even superstitions about nights when the moon is full are taken more seriously than Friday the 13th superstitions, aren’t they?

    Question: does the trend for same sex marriage help or hinder the movement for secular celebration? Margaret and Reba: it helps!

    I don’t understand the connection between the success of the secular celebration movement and the success of the marriage equality movement, but I would like to be clued in. If anything, I would think that marriage equality would be helped by vocal and strident advocacy for secular marriage celebrations because it would help people separate what they do at church from the civil aspect of marriage, which is the only part of marriage that matters when it comes to what is legal and what is a human right.

  4. says


    “September 13, 2013, in Pennsylvania. Mark your calendars.”

    Will you be there, physically, in the flesh and in reality and person?

  5. Andrew G. says

    Celebrating non-superstition. Friday the 13th.

    I always love pointing out the (perfectly true) fact that the 13th falls more often on Friday than any other day of the week, in the long run.

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