Freethinkers and Atheists of Virginia Newsletter for February, 2005

 

Events and Milestones


Darwin Day takes place each year on February 12th. I’m not aware of any celebrations in our neck of the woods. Perhaps we can come up with ideas for next year. One resource can be found at www.DarwindDay.org, which lists events and offers suggestions. The countdown has begun for the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth in 2009.

 

FAVA’s February 2005 Meeting is on schedule for Saturday, the 19th at Lauren and Jan’s. As usual, bring a dish or beverage to share if you can; but don’t let that stop you if you can’t. There’s always plenty to go around. Directions are at the bottom of this newsletter.

 

On March 2nd there will be a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington DC in support of separation between religion and government. Two cases involving Ten Com­mandments will be argued before SCOTUS that day. Various organizations will participate. Find out more at www.atheists.org.

 

March 25-27: American Atheists holds it national convention in Philadelphia. Click here for details. Highlights: Jack Germond, Dr. David Eller, Pastor Deacon Fred (aka Chris Harper).

 

March 25-27: Across the country on the same weekend, Atheist Alliance, International holds its national convention in Los Angeles. Click here for information. Highlights: Penn & Teller, Julia Sweeney.

 

Member News


Sean and Michelle over at Tidewater Atheists hosted game night at their place in Norfolk on Feb. 5th. The food was delicious and the trivia challenging. Hats off to Lyle Sanders who single-handedly achieved a very close second-place finish against 3 bright couples. You da man Lyle!

 

Our very own Jeremy Martin, in his Reverend Jeremiah persona, has been heard “sermonizing” on Bob FM in the past few weeks. One of his sermons can be heard here. Jeremy’s website is developing nicely. Check out his complete line of Jesus clocks and watches and the Holy Ghost dart game.

 

Reverend Atheistar (aka Matt Edwards) continues his mission of “Carrying the Torch of Freethought into the Murky World of Religious Madness” at a new URL. Click here for a wealth of material for Freethinkers.

 

Jan and Lauren tied the knot on January 14th, which is also Jan’s birthday. We’ve been busy with that and moving to our new house in Castleton. We’ve managed to get the place painted, mostly, downstairs and replaced a few fixtures, added dimmer switches, etc. Now if we could just do something about the weather.

 

Virginia Legislation


It’s that time of year again when the General Assembly gives its citizens a few days notice to rush to Richmond and fight for freedom from religion. Here’s a list. You can click the links and find out the status (summary) and history of each measure.

 

HJ537 should be a Resolution familiar to most of us by now. No, not the droopy drawers bill, but the nasty proposal to amend the Virginia’s Constitution toTo secure further the people’s right to acknowledge their faith according to … yadda, yadda” HJ537 would allow prayer in public schools and other public venues. The measure was adopted in the house (69-27 … it’s an election year), but the Senate (not an election year) unceremoniously shoveled it to the Courts Committee (i.e. the graveyard) which looks askance at such Constitutional trickery.

 

HB2615 would amend the Code of Virginia to provide that:  During the time prior to the governing body's actual call to order or convening of business, any expressions by members of the governing body shall be held consistent with … freedom of speech.” One would presume that government official and educators could invite snake-handlers, tongue-talkers, and the Ten Commandments Dancers to perform for citizens attending court hearings, council proceedings, and school board meetings up until someone bangs a gavel. HB2615  passed the house (97-0). It’s on the docket before The Senate Local Government Committee on 2/15.

 

HB1992 would weaken Virginia’s Fair Housing statutes to allow religious symbols in advertising if accompanied by a disclaimer. It would make it easier to suggest that persons of the wrong religion, race, or ethnicity aren’t welcome. HB1992 passed in The House (62-32). It was on the docket of the Senate Committee on General Laws for 2/16.

 

HB1942 creates a tax credit for assistance to at-risk children but provides no mechanism to ensure that needy students are served. What it really does is provide a backdoor way to funnel tax dollars to private (e.g. religious) schools that are exempt from academic accountability and equal requirements of public schools. Insidiously, it reduces the overall pool of tax dollars from which our public schools are funded. HB1942 passed the House (56-41). Next stop: The Senate Finance Committee. No date yet.

 

Other News and Information


Dr. Michael Newdow was in town on February 4-5 serving as a judge for a moot court competition at Regent University (you read that correctly). He also debated Jay Sekulow from Pat Robertson’s ACLJ (The American Center of Liars for Jesus). A few of our friends met up with him at Pat’s Law Library and where Newdow soon had them researching the truth behind George Washington’s alleged utterance of “So help me god” after the oath of office.

 

Get a daily dose of news of interest to atheists from the Atheist News Service. ANS is provided by the Atheist Law Center and its founder Larry Darby. Larry was formerly the

Alabama State Director for American Atheists Visit their link and sign up for the newsletter.

 

Freethoughtradio continues to evolve. Now you can hear headlines from the Atheist News Service along with the usual commentary and satire. If you like what you hear, there's a link for donations there as well. Whether you can donate or not, listening is free. Spread the word about this one of a kind internet radio station for freethinkers and atheists. Broadband listeners, click here to listen now. Dial-up listeners click here.

 

Discussion Groups

Unless otherwise stated, these groups and countless others can be found at Yahoogroups.com. You can take part in discussions or read posts anonymously. It’s not chat! It’s email.

 

Click here for FAVA’s Yahoo group. You can expect 10-20 posts a day ... sometimes more. Goals: Discussion and Activism.

 

Click here for the  local Separation of Church and State group, which is an extension of the meetup group. This group has recently seen a burst of activity. You can expect 5-10 emails per day. Goals: Discussion and Activism.

 

Tidewater Atheists is dedicated to getting Freethinkers and Atheists out for social activities. You can expect less than 5 emails a day right now.  Goals: Organizing social activities.

 

Regular Notices


Norfolk Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, Brights, and Others Unencumbered by Religion. The meetup takes place on the Third Tuesday of each month. Visit http://atheists.meetup.com/88/ to find out more.

 

National Separation of Church and State Meetup Day takes place on the Second Thursday of each month. Visit http://churchandstate.meetup.com to join, vote on the venue and confirm attendance.

Science and Reason in Hampton Roads convenes on the second Thursday each month on the campus of Old Dominion University. The location is usually Room 130 in the Mills Godwin building. The time: 6:30 until 8pm or later. This is not a www.Meetup.com function.

 


FAVA gatherings take place on the Third Saturday of each month. Check www.fa-va.com or www.AtheistDominion.org for additional information.

 

If you live out past Newport News or in Suffolk or points west, please suggest a place to meet and some of us will try to get out there to meet you.

 

DO YOU KNOW of any upcoming opportunities for freethinkers and atheists to join a rally, a coalition, or demonstration? Perhaps speak at a gathering or put up an information table. Perhaps march in a parade. Drop us a line.

 

Lauren Floyd

President, FAVA