Monthly Archives: January 2012
It pays to complain. After CNCAH members sent a deluge of emails to the Cumberland County School District office, the principal of New Century Elementary School was ordered to remove the illegal and inappropriate advertisement. When asked why it was put up in the first place, a district employee claimed the school’s PTA was promoting a fund raiser. It’s odd that the FaceBook page for the Christian online store didn’t mention the PTA fund raiser; not that it would make using our schools to promote religion any more exceptable.
New Century Elementary School which also houses the West Regional Branch Library has decided to use their announcement sign to advertise a Christian store, Blessings Unlimited. The sign reads “VISIT BLESSINGS UNLIMITED WWW.FB.COM/DEUT288″. The Facebook page advertises a business selling Christian gifts and home decor. Your tax dollars at work!
Not to let a Constitutional violation go unchecked, I sent the below message to the Cumberland County School Ditrict asking for the immediate removal of this sign. You can voice your objection, too, by sending a comment to http://www.ccs.k12.nc.us/Email/GeneralInformationContact.htm.
Cumberland County Schools: “Request removal of the advertisement for a Christian products store (Blessings Unlimited) from the sign in front of New Century Elementary School and West Regional Branch Library. This sign, supporting both a religious entity and commercial enterprise, is a clear Constitutional violation. Public schools are not allowed to promote either. If the New Century ES principal and staff are not aware of this basic Constitutional law, they should be educated. If they are aware and choose to ignore it, then sterner measures should be taken.”
Army Major Ray Bradley is currently stationed at Ft Bragg, North Carolina, served in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005, and is a committed Humanist. He is an officer on the board of the local humanist group, is active with local MAAF affiliate, and is recognized as a Humanist Lay Leader by the Humanist Society. His wife, Rene’, and he plan to renew their wedding vows on their 20th anniversary in a humanist ceremony. He has even applied to be an Army-recognized humanist lay leader. Despite all this, he’s not a humanist, at least according to his military identification tags and official records. He isn’t now, and can never be, according to the Army Chaplaincy’s director of personnel, Chaplain (Colonel) Scottie Lloyd. Read on
On Saturday, 14 January 2012, Fred Edwords, renowned Humanist and activist with the United Coalition of Reason, kicked off Central NC Atheists and Humanists’ first event coordinated through the Carolina Secular Conference network of organizations. Thanks go out to the members of the Military Atheists and Secular Humanists and the Fayetteville Unitarian Universalist Church who joined CNCAH to make the evening a tremendous success.
Fred spoke of the three phases that controversial topics go through; unspeakable, fascinating, and then mainstream. That every controversial subject goes through these phases is demonstrated by the once unspeakable issues of gay rights and interracial marriages. At first, the controversy is taboo and not discussed in polite conversation. But then, as stalwart activists refuse to give in to majority pressure, the controversy surfaces as a fascination which regularly captures media attention. This is the “sweet spot” where change occurs before the subject becomes mainstream and accepted.
It is this sweet spot that we find the secular movement today. Whenever the actions of a secularist group catch the ire of those in opposition, the media response magnifies the issue and multiplies the impact within the area; all at no extra cost to the organization!
Fred’s challenge to organizations like ours is to seek out opportunities to catch the public’s attention and then wait for the inevitable response that allows us to take advantage of the sweet spot we are in as we press forward with the ultimate goal of full acceptance for ourselves and the sanity of reason within our society.
Fred’s appearance in Fayetteville was paid for by the generous donations CNCAH received at the end of last year. Please help us continue participating in the Carolina Secular Conference 2012 speakers series by making a tax deductable donation to our group simply by going to: CNCAH Donations.
January 8, 2012 marks the end of my role as President for CNCAH, and I’d like to say a few words before I step back and let our new officers take over. We have had a very successful year thanks to the efforts of our dedicated members and the local secular community. Together, we hosted the first public Humanist event in Fayetteville, NC – The Rapture After Party – which received international press coverage and made CNCAH a pioneer for the local secular movement. We followed up with a table at Pembroke Day on the UNCP campus, again making history as the first group to offer information and resources for the non-theistic community at this annual event. CNCAH officers also participated in the 1st Annual Carolina Secular Conference, which brought together non-religious groups from North and South Carolina who worked together towards coordinating a larger, collective movement.
I am very proud and excited to have had a role in transforming our small social group into an organization of dedicated advocates whom I am confident will continue to pave the way for the secular community and inspire others to join the movement. I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to our Officers, Board of Directors, members, facilitators, and supporters, for giving me your confidence and dedication, and for the promise of continued success for our organization. While my personal goals may not allow me to be physically present, I will be cheering you on with pride and admiration for what we have built together. Thank you very much. – Geri Weaver
“Sailing the Rising Tide of Reason”
Saturday January 14th, 2012 @ 7pm
5509 Yadkin Rd, Fayetteville, NC, 28303
Over the past few years, with the rise of the “New Atheism,” interest in freethought and humanism is growing. And the more recent billboard and bus ad campaigns have stoked the fires of enthusiasm. So how can we benefit from this secular “coming out?” And how can our groups capture this interest to help their memberships grow? This lecture and PowerPoint presentation provides an illustrated history of the exciting, sometimes amusing, and stunningly successful advertising and media campaigns of various organizations in the community of reason. And it points the way for taking advantage of the exciting times in which we live.
CNCAH is proud to announce the very first event in our Speaker Series which aims to bring regional and national speakers to our area for the benefit of Humanists and the nontheistic community as a whole. Therefore, we are excited to welcome our first speaker, Fred Edwords. Mr. Edwords is a long time contributor and a highly respected leader in the Humanist community, who’s devotion and dedication is remarkable. Mr. Edwords’ contributions and successes are lengthy indeed as evidenced by his bio:
From the American Humanist Association website:
A leading voice for humanism in the United States and abroad, Fred Edwords is recognized as an outstanding lecturer, debater, and inspirational speaker on human rights, humanist philosophical issues, and humanist lifestyle concerns. He has appeared on national and local television in the United States and Canada, has been interviewed on radio and for newspapers around the world, and has lectured in North America, Europe, and India. He has also written for several publications in the United States and elsewhere.
Fred Edwords began his humanist activism in 1977 as vice president of the Humanist Association of San Diego. He became president the next year, expanded his reach as American Humanist Association West Coast regional coordinator in 1979, and became national administrator for the organization in 1980. He then served for fifteen years as AHA executive director (1984-1999) and twelve years as editor of the Humanist magazine (1994-2006). Edwords subsequently shifted his attention to bringing humanism to a wider public as AHA director of communications. Today he serves as a management and PR consultant to the AHA while taking on a new role as the head of the United Coalition of Reason, a new organization that promotes local cooperation among humanist and freethought groups in cities across the United States.
Fred Edwords is also seen as a leader in the broader community of reason. He was the first president (2002-2005) of Camp Quest, Inc ., a summer camp for freethinking children, and served in various leadership roles on the staff of the Ohio camp from 1998 to 2008. He has also served on the boards of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the National Center for Science Education, served as vice president of the North American Committee for Humanism, and is currently a co-mentor of Class 16 of the Humanist Institute. In 1980 he was the founding editor of the Creation/Evolution journal—the only publication dedicated to answering the pseudoscientific, philosophical, educational, and legal arguments of creationists—serving as its editor for eleven years. For such work Edwords was recognized in the mid-1980s as Rationalist of the Year by the American Rationalist Federation and as a Humanist Pioneer by the American Humanist Association. He continues as an advisor to the Secular Student Alliance and as a humanist celebrant in the Humanist Society.
Clearly, Mr. Edwords possesses an astounding array of accomplishments and achievments that have resulted in being a powerful influence that we eagerly welcome to our community.
Don’t miss out, so we hope to see you there!
In my travels as president of the American Humanist Association, I am often asked to explain the difference between atheism and humanism. Since the question gets raised so frequently, I thought it might be a good idea to provide a short explanation here.
To understand the difference between the terms atheism and humanism, realize first that the former refers to a view of only one specific issue (the existence of gods) whereas the latter is a broad philosophical outlook. From that premise, the rest falls into place easily.
When Sally describes herself as an atheist, she is revealing only one fact about herself: she does not believe in any gods. Note that she is saying nothing about other supernatural beliefs, and she is saying nothing about her ethical/moral principles. Although atheists, being without any god-beliefs, usually do not accept other supernatural claims (such as belief in astrology, reincarnation, or life after death), technically Sally could believe in such notions and still wear the “atheist” label. Moreover, while some might be inclined to make certain presumptions about Sally’s ethical principles upon learning that she identifies as an atheist, such presumptions, based on her atheist identity alone, are unwarranted. Because the atheist identity refers only to the singular issue of god-belief, it says nothing about her moral stature, good or bad.
When Patty describes herself as a humanist, on the other hand, she tells us numerous things about herself. For one, she tells us that she approaches the world from a natural standpoint, meaning she rejects all supernatural beliefs, not just the singular issue of divinities. In seeking truth and knowledge, she accepts empiricism, science, and reason as her guides. Identifying as a humanist, Patty is declaring that she holds certain values, including a support for human rights, peace, democracy, and personal liberty with a sense of social responsibility. These principles are subject to some interpretation, of course, and humanism rejects outright the notion of dogma, but the general thrust of humanism is a progressive, forward-looking lifestance that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and personal fullfillment within the context of social well-being. The AHA sets forth a vision of humanism in its document Humanism and its Aspirations, which has been signed by 21 Nobel Laureates. The International Humanist and Ethical Union also has a short statement of humanist principles called The Amsterdam Declaration.
The atheism/humanism comparison shouldn’t be seen as an either/or situation where one must choose sides. Many humanists, but not all, also identify as atheists; many atheists, but not all, also identify as humanists. For many years I identified as a humanist but not an atheist, much preferring the broad philosophical label of humanism to the more narrow definition of atheism. In recent years, however, I’ve come to the opinion that the “atheist” label is wrongly stigmatized in American society, so nowadays I’ll also identify as an atheist mainly to push back against the unfair prejudice. My humanism is more important to me than my atheism, but I realize that the Religious Right draws much strength from marginalizing atheists, so we’re doing a service if we can help the public to realize that atheists should not be feared.
This brings me to my gentle criticism of Nigel Barbers’s various posts on “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.” As an activist in the secular movement, I’m hopeful that Barber’s general vision, of a more humane world where dogma and superstition dwindle in importance, is correct. I would simply point out that, if this comes to be, the important element will be the broad, affirmative values of humanism, not a singular notion of nonbelief.
Originally Published: July 21, 2011 by David Niose
Original Psychology Today Article
Dave Niose is an attorney, activist, and president of the Washington-based American Humanist Association. His book, Nonbeliever Nation, is schedule for release in July 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.