Events and Milestones

 

FAVA’s March 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.

 

Sunday, May 22 at 1:00 PM The Virginia Chapter of American United for the Separation of Church and State is honored to present the National AU President, Dr. Paul D. Simmons, as its keynote speaker on at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk. For information about this special event click here.

 

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.

 

April 29 & 30: An important conference on Dominionism takes place at the New York Open Center. The Theme: Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right. Highlights: Karen Armstrong, Joan Bokaer, Chip Berlet, Frederick Clarkson, John Sugg, Katherine Yurica, Charles Strozier, Skipp Porteous, Jeff Sharlet, Hugh Urban.

     

November 11, 2005: A rally and march is planned for the Mall in Washington, DC on Veteran’s Day to acknowledge and honor Atheists in Foxholes. Mark your calendar and check for updates in upcoming months.


Member and Local News

 

The Meetup for Norfolk Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists, Brights, and Others had a fantastic turnout on Tuesday, March 15th at Cora’s, a restaurant in Norfolk’s Ghent section. I saw many new faces among the 15 people who attended. This meetup is being hosted by Sean and Michelle over at Tidewater Atheists.

 

Jeremy Martin (aka Reverend Jeremiah), has “Tickle-me-Sweet-Baby-Jesus” up and running! His wife provides the giggles. Jeremy’s website is expanding steadily. Check out his complete line of Jesus clocks and watches and the Holy Ghost dart game.

 

James Allison lives in Virginia Beach where he researches and maintains the Separation of Church and State Home Page. Mike Newdow is one of many who frequent this award winning site. Jim recently received a request for information an how to cite his material from a sitting judge on the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Check it out and see if you can you find the answer to: Is Christianity part of English Common Law? You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn (and unlearn) on this site!


Virginia Legislation

 

Wallace Harrison updated the email group on some bills we told you about last month.

 

HB2615 (PASSED) amends 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.” HB2615 passed the house (97-0) and the Senate (38-0). I guess we can look forward to sectarian shenanigans prior to city council and school board meetings prior to the gavel; so don’t arrive too early.

 

HJ537 (Failed) proposed to amend the Virginia’s Constitution toTo secure further the people’s right to acknowledge their faith according to … yadda, yadda” 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. It’s dead for this year but its sponsor vowed to re-introduce it next year.

 

HB1992 (Failed) would have weakened Virginia’s Fair Housing statutes to allow religious symbols in advertising if accompanied by a disclaimer. It would have made it easier to suggest that persons of the wrong religion, race, or ethnicity aren’t welcome. HB1992 passed in The House (62-32). The Senate killed it (31-7).

 

HB1942 (Failed) would have created a tax credit for assistance to at-risk children but provides no mechanism to ensure that needy students are served. What it really set out to do was to 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). It never made it out of The Senate Finance Committee for a vote.

 

HB1912 We somehow missed this one. This bill would have required the State Board of Education to issue guidelines to schools on notifying parents when their children decline to recite or stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. HB1912 passed the House on a 93-4 vote. It stalled in the Senate 7-7. The ACLU pointed out that “the Third Circuit Court of Appeals last year struck down a Pennsylvania parental notification law.” The Court said the Pa. law was intended to "chill speech by providing a disincentive to opting out" of Pledge recitations.


Other News and Information

 

On March 2nd a rally took place on the steps of the Supreme Court building in Washington DC in support of separation between religion and government. Two cases involving Ten Com­mandments were argued before SCOTUS that day. What will the outcome be? You’ll find opinions at American Atheists, You can read about it at Voice of America where you can also listen to the audio report containing comments from Virginia’s Rick Wingrove.

 

Wife Swap is a reality TV show on ABC. You may have heard they were set to feature an Atheist family swapping wives with a fundie family. It turns out the Atheist family was that of Georgia’s Reginald Finley, host of the Infidel Guy internet radio show. His wife and co-host, Amber Finley spent ten days with the Stonerock family of Flint, Michigan. Pastor Stonerock's wife spent ten days with Mr. Finley. It was recorded, edited, and set to air on March 16th, but was suddenly replaced with another Wife Swap episode. Was it fear of fundies? Pressure from sponsors? Or perhaps an attempt to inspire higher ratings by airing the episode around an upcoming religious holiday. Keep those rabbit ears adjusted and hop on over to Finley’s site for an update.

Without a Prayer is the name of an upcoming episode on Court TV’s Forensic Files about the murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Madalyn Murray O'Hair was the head of the American Atheists group - and she was once called ‘America's most hated woman’ … The full story of her abduction … might never have been told, had it not been for the discovery of a headless, handless body, and the serial number on an artificial hip.” Visit their website and click to find out when it will be airing.

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.


Fun Stuff

 

The Brick Testament won the 2002 award for “Worst Bible Art on the Web” from Bible Review. Its creator, Rev. Brendan Powell Smith,  originally received positive reviews from believers regarding his depiction of Old Testament scenes using Lego blocks. However his unflinchingly “accurate” depiction of the tales underlying the Judeo-Christian cults earned accolades of a different sort. To see what I mean check out Bestiality and When To Stone Your Whole Family.

 

Every day you can count on Guy Smith to deliver his Compassionate Conservative Terrorism, Social Conservative Terrorism, Daily Inspiration, Holyshit, posts and more. If you receive emails from our YahooGroup then recently saw his post about flatulent fish (serious science folks) titled “Farting Fish Fingered”.

 

Read the Bible. Become an Atheist
You’ll find bumper stickers like this along with shirts, mugs, suppositories (just kidding) and other fine freethought/atheist/feminist merchandise at the Freethought Lingo shop. It’s a labor of love by our own Yvette Edwards who keeps the prices as low as possible and earns almost nothing on each sale.   

 

The Passion has inspired a few parodies. For a parody poster and links to parody videos click here.

 

Raven Magazine You may have heard humor from on Raven Magazine on FreethoughtRadio. For the next three days you can get the 12 months of Raven for $18.97 (66% off). Read the Lost Dog Crank Call. Or see private thoughts revealed - read Mel Gibson’s scratch pad. Visit the site for samples.

 

Freethoughtradio continues to evolve. Get headlines from the Atheist News Service along with the usual commentary and satire. 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 a meetup group by the same name. 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 Meetup.com 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 me a line.

 

 

Lauren Floyd

President, FAVA