REASON RALLY 2016 – SATURDAY JUNE 4 2016
Reason Rally 2016: The Wait is Over!
In 2012, people from all across America assembled together on the National Mall in D.C. for an epic event in the history of our country. Standing in the rain, we declared to the world, “We are many! We are strong! We are united! And we are here!” Four years have past and we’re ready to do it again!
We’re converging on Washington D.C. once again, but this time we’re at the Lincoln Memorial. In this historic place, we proclaim our dream of a future where people are free to express rational and reasonable views without the fear of reprisal, retaliation, or retribution!
We’ll see you at the Reason Rally on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC! Make your LFS or Atheist signs! Wear your Atheist t-shirts! Make your travel arrangements now! Scroll to bottom for Rally Bus tickets and information.
What a great lineup Reason Rally 2016 has! Highly respected scientists, civil rights activists, musicians, comedians, and bloggers, devoted to the cause of science-based public policy, will be on hand to provide intellectual stimulation and entertainment. Don’t miss your chance to see all of these great personalities! Keep an eye on the Speaker List to see who might still be joining the lineup of speakers!
Johnny Depp – Johnny Depp is best known for his 30-year acting career. Perhaps one of the greatest character actors of our time, Depp is a devoted father and a humanitarian. He has been known to donate time, money, and even dress as Captain Jack Sparrow at children’s hospitals.
Bill Nye – Best known for making science cool to generations of kids, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, is an engineer turned comedian, an environmentalist, and CEO of the Planetary Society.
Penn Jillette – The speaking half of Penn & Teller, Penn Jillette is the ever outspoken activist whose passion for atheism and scientific skepticism knows no bounds.
Carolyn Porco – Carolyn Porco is leader of NASA’s Cassini Project to Saturn, is a planetary scientist who specializes in planetary rings and their interactions with orbiting moons. Carolyn has been a frequent guest on Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Star Talk”.
John de Lancie – John de Lancie is an actor, singer, and comic, is best known for his role as Q in the “Star Trek” series.
Cara Santa Maria – Cara Santa Maria is a biologist, is co-host and contributor to many science shows. She recently joined the cast of “The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe”, a highly popular skeptical podcast.
Maryam Namazie – Maryam Namazie is a civil-rights activist, is spokesperson for Fitnah, the Movement for Women’s Liberation.
James Randi – James Randi is a magician who unmasks pseudoscience and faith healers. Founder of James Randi Educational Foundation and “The Amazing Meeting”, an annual gathering of skeptics in Las Vegas.
Yvette d’Entremont – Yvette d’Entremont, otherwise known as “The SciBabe”, is a chemist and forensic scientist who fights against pseudoscience, using social media and humor.
Killah Priest – A musician who started out as an affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan, Killah Priest has worked with Ol’ Dirty Bastard and GZA, infusing much of his work with religious references.
Eugenie Scott – Eugenie Scott is theformer executive director and current chair of the advisory council for the National Center for Science Education, combats the teaching of creationism.
Paul Provenza – Director of the movie “The Aristocrats,” Paul Provenza is a comic, skeptic and was emcee of the 2012 Reason Rally.
Lawrence Krauss – With a Ph.D. in physics, Lawrence Krauss is a strong advocate for science-based public policy and a proponent of scientific skepticism.
Kelly Carlin – Daughter of the late comedian George Carlin, writer, screen writer for movies and TV.
Margaret Cho – Comedian Margaret Cho is an advocate for LGBT and an outspoken source on issues of race.
Julia Sweeney – This Saturday Night Live alumna has explored god and religion, sharing her experience in the monologue “Letting Go of God.”
Amber Heard – Actress and self-described atheist, Amber Heard is involved with issues of social activism, from LGBT rights to the United Nations program Girl Up.
Mark White – Mark White is the bass player for the Spin Doctors and an active member of the atheist community. Mark is a passionate musician, and plays with several bands in several genres.
Baba Brinkman – Baba Brinkman is a hip-hop artist who brings his passion for science and literature alive through rap.
Leighann Lord – Former face of the African Americans for Humanism Campaign, actress and comedian Leighann Lord is a co-host on the Emmy-nominated StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Andrés Roemer – Dr. Andrés Roemer is Mexico’s consul general in San Francisco, a journalist, and author. Dr. Roemer is both outspoken and passionate about critical thinking and reason.
Annie Laurie Gaylor – Annie Laurie Gaylor is a third-generation freethinker, co-founded FFRF with her mother Anne Gaylor as a college student in 1976. She has been co-president of FFRF since 2004.
Dan Barker – Dan Barker is the current co-president of Freedom from Religion Foundation alongside Annie Laurie Gaylor. He is also a former minister and evangelist, and became a freethinker in 1983.
Ian Harris – Ian Harris’ satirical, skeptical take on everything from religion to global warming-deniers, has also earned him comparisons to favorite thinking-man’s comics like Lenny Bruce, Bill Maher and George Carlin.
Keith Lowell Jensen – Actor, producer and comedian, Keith Lowell Jensen has starred in such specials as Atheist Christmas, and was part of the Coexist Comedy Tour.
Victor Harris – Raised by his mother to be a skeptic and critical thinker, Victor Harris is a poet, a DJ, and (perhaps most importantly) a cheesecake baker.
Shelley Segal – An artist, an activist and an explicit story-teller, Shelley uses her music not only to express the way she sees the world, but to create the world that she wants to see. Since releasing ‘An Atheist Album’ and performing at the 2012 Reason Rally, Shelley’s music has resonated with and empowered freethinkers around the world.
John Davidson – John Davidson is a former game show host, a singer/songwriter, and actor. Davidson has come out as Openly Secular and is a self-described atheist.
Robyn Blumner – President and CEO of The Richard Dawkins Foundation, Robyn Blumner is a writer and expert on matters of civil rights and liberties. Blumner was a nationally syndicated columnist prior to her work for RDF.
JT Eberhard – JT Eberhard is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He is also a trained opera singer who has worked under the directorship of two-time Grammy award winner James Billings.
Lizz Winstead –Lizz Winstead is the co-creator of and former head writer. “The Daily Show”. The comedian, writer and producer also performs an ongoing comedy tour for the benefit of Planned Parenthood.
Dr. Anthony Pinn – Dr. Anthony Pinn is the author of “Why Lord?” and founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. Dr. Pinn is also a professor of religious studies at Rice University.
Sophia Kameron – 15-year-old songwriter and artist Sophia Kameron is set to release her debut single “Connected” this summer. The inspiring new single showcases the young artist’s undeniable commitment and passion in helping raise awareness for equality and opportunity for all, regardless of race or religion.
Lyz Liddell – Lyz Liddell, executive director of the Reason Rally Coalition, holds a Masters degree in music performance, specializing in bassoon and early music. She co-directs the Columbus-based performing ensemble The Early Interval.
Professor Richard Dawkins, originally scheduled to speak, will unfortunately not be appearing. His doctor will not allow him to fly after his recent stroke.
You may be planning on staying for multiple days in order to take advantage of all the Reason Rally has to offer, but for those who are only planning on spending Saturday for the main rally day events, there are Rally Buses that will be leaving from select points. No worrying about parking in DC! We’ll be sharing the Harrisburg and York buses with PA Nonbelievers. LFS President, Scott Rhoades will be riding the York Rally Bus to DC.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
R/T FROM 275 PAULINE DRIVE, YORK – $40
OUTBOUND TRIP DEPARTS: JUN 4, 6:36 AM
FROM: 275 PAULINE DRIVE
NOTES: THE GIANT PARKING LOT
OUTBOUND TRIP ARRIVES: JUN 4, 9:00 AM
AT: WASHINGTON, DC
RETURN TRIP DEPARTS: JUN 4, 7:00 PM
*BUS DEPARTS 45 MINUTES AFTER EVENT ENDS
FROM: WASHINGTON, DC
RETURN TRIP ARRIVES: JUN 4, 9:23 PM
Saturday, June 4, 2016
R/T FROM 3405 PAXTON ST, HARRISBURG MALL – $45
OUTBOUND TRIP DEPARTS: JUN 4, 6:02 AM
FROM: 3405 PAXTON ST
NOTES: HARRISBURG MALL, NEAR TOYS ‘R US
OUTBOUND TRIP ARRIVES: JUN 4, 9:00 AM
AT: WASHINGTON, DC
RETURN TRIP DEPARTS: JUN 4, 7:00 PM
*BUS DEPARTS 45 MINUTES AFTER EVENT ENDS
FROM: WASHINGTON, DC
RETURN TRIP ARRIVES: JUN 4, 9:57 PM
Feel free to use the comments section to let your friends know which bus you will be using!
It was a beautiful fall day in late October when we wrapped up our first year for Adopt a Highway. We also had our largest turn out of the year. This was our first time returning to the same area, and repetition is a good thing.
Also a huge thanks to PAN members who came and helped with our clean up, slightly out numbering LFS members. Our challenge for next year is to have at least matching numbers with PAN.
On to next year and towards our 10 year participation addition to our sign, one year down.
I’ve been told that belated birthday wishes, thank you notes and the like are better late than never. Hopefully those who volunteered and supported our last Adopt a Highway clean up heard the same thing.
Our last clean up was a fantastic success. The weather was far better than our first. The signs were squared away. Everyone was armed with extended grabbers. Our territory was clarified, and smaller than last time. Our long pants were practical. Our trash bags were filled.
So to all those who showed up or supported, thank you all very much. For those who missed out on the chance, there’s another one coming up.
Planning ahead, the State Conference is coming up and we don’t want to take up too many weekends all together. So we’re looking at the end of September for our next clean up. Probably September 26 or October 3. Let us know if one weekend works better than another.
Come join us for our Adopt A Highway Cleanup!
Please visit Meetup for location and meeting details.
Our clean up area is the interchange at PA-222 and PA-30. This is a great location! Not only will we all be cleaning up in one area instead of walking 2 miles of roadway, but we will be safely off the highway and our sign is located alongside the PA-222 exit onto PA-30. Cars slow down to navigate this sharp bend, and during rush hours, cars move by our sign at a crawl. Not so great for commuters but great exposure for us!
This is where we need YOU! Having a good turnout of volunteers is vital!
More hands to share the work. More people, more fun. Lancaster Freethought Society was founded to build community. This is a great chance to get outside, talk with people like you and get a little exercise to burn off the Pub Night calories.
If you wish to be involved in this service project, you must RSVP by June 25nd. Currently the meet up time is 11am, there is some flexibility – mostly later. If we’ll get more people by moving the time, that is definitely possible. Just leave comments. The only time constrain is we need to be finished by 1 hour before sunset, PennDOT rules.
Please do not go directly to the intersection! Safety rules state that we need to meet at a nearby location and carpool to the interchange so that there are not too many vehicles parked alongside the road. Those with vehicles that can fit a lot of people are encouraged to bring them as carpool vehicles.
All that RSVP “Yes” will be sent directions to our meetup place where we will hand out vests and show a short safety video before we head out. Directions to this location will be provided June 26th to those who sign up by the deadline.
Please sign up and we hope to see you there!
In March we had our first Adopt a Highway clean up. There was a bit of learning curve in the whole process. We only got to one of our four sections at the interchange, due to an issue with road signs. However, thanks to PennDOT that issue has been resolved and we can now get to the other sections that are desperately in need of attention.
The clean up is a very simple – see trash, walk around and bag it. We’re ready to proceed with our second clean up, we just need to set a date. Probably May or early June, bring your weekend plans to the next meeting – we’ll be discussing dates!
Vaccine Exemptions Leave Pennsylvania Children Vulnerable
- Vaccines help prevent countless deaths by eradicating deadly diseases. The immunizations children receive, especially those for measles, pertussis, and mumps, help prevent them from catching life threatening diseases. A concerted vaccination campaign can lead to the elimination of certain deadly diseases, such as smallpox, if momentum is maintained at home and abroad.
- Religious and personal belief exemptions are surging. Currently in Pennsylvania, religious and personal belief exemptions from vaccines vastly outnumber medical exemptions. Numbers from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health show that in kindergarteners, there are nearly 510 medical exemptions compared to 2,552 nonmedical exemptions, 1,133 of which are religious exemptions and 1,149 which are personal belief exemptions.
- Lower vaccination rates lead to more children and vulnerable populations getting sick with preventable diseases. Children with medical exemptions or who are too young to receive vaccines depend on their vaccinated peers and communities to keep them from catching these potentially fatal illnesses. When children are opted out of vaccines for nonmedical reasons, they put those who can’t receive them at risk for severe illness and possibly death. Pregnant women who catch measles can also be at risk for miscarriages since their immunity is lowered.
The State Has an Obligation to Public Health
- The state has a duty and compelling interest to ensure a healthy population. It is the state’s primary responsibility to enact laws related to ensure public well-being, safety, and order. This includes a commitment to public health through regulating food and medicine, licensing medical professionals, and working to eradicate deadly diseases through education and mandatory vaccination. Maintaining public health standards is necessary to ensure a prosperous society.
- Mandating vaccinations passes the rational basis test articulated by the Supreme Court. Mandatory vaccination laws do not single out one particular group, instead focusing on making sure that everybody who can be vaccinated is vaccinated to protect those whose immune systems are weak or compromised. A federal judge in New York City recently ruled “that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.”
- The more people who get sick, the higher the burden is on the rest of the populace. When a child becomes sick, it not only disrupts their education but also the education of any unvaccinated classmates who are forced to stay home by the school district. It impacts parents, who need to stay home from work to supervise their children or find somebody who can take care of them. The Centers for Disease Control, looking at the data from 2011 when only 107 were infected with measles, estimated that the outbreak cost taxpayers up to $5.3 million dollars. With the current measles outbreak nearly reaching that number in Pennsylvania, taxpayers can expect to pay at least that much if not more before the outbreak ends.
Religious Exemptions Must Be Removed Too
- Leaving the religious exemption privilege’s one religious group over another. Very few religious groups object to vaccinations on religious grounds. Leaving religious exemptions intact could lead to parents attempting to gain exemptions by claiming a religious belief. This would leave the state in the uncomfortable position of having to judge which religious beliefs are sincerely held and which are not. The best way to ensure fairness across the board is to eliminate all nonmedical exemptions.
- Two states currently have no religious or personal belief exemptions for vaccines. Mississippi and West Virginia are the only two states without any vaccine exemptions for religious or personal beliefs. An attempt to add religious exemptions to Mississippi’s statute failed, highlighting how important protecting the public health is.
- A child’s health and well being takes precedent over a parent’s beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the right to practice one’s faith does not extend to the point where children’s health and safety are jeopardized. The Court ruled in Prince v. Massachusetts that parents’ religious beliefs do not give them a constitutional right to engage in practices that compromise a child’s health or safety.
Contact your state representative right away and let them know that you are against religious vaccine exemptions!
By LFS Contributor Brian Gibson
One issue that comes up often, whether in debate or legal actions, is the question of whether public school teachers and administration officials should be permitted to engage in religious activities with their students during school. I’ve had this debate with fair frequency in discussions with religious friends and acquaintances, who often take the position that denying teachers this venue is an imposition on the instructors’ religious freedoms. This is frequently supplemented with the argument that everyone, teachers and administrators included, should be permitted to express their religious views at school as a means of furthering debate. These are both, in my opinion, highly specious arguments.
Firstly, when a teacher attempts to lead their students in any religious activity, this does not constitute an exercise of their own religious freedoms so much as it is an imposition on those of the students. Like it or not, when acting as a teacher in a public school, the teacher does not speak merely for themselves. They represent the authority of the government in the most tangible manifestation most children encounter prior to adulthood. And that authority is constitutionally barred from being used to tell people what religious position they should adopt.
Teachers, on their own time and as private citizens, are entitled to have and promote whatever religious position they like. But when they are “on the clock” as government authorities, they are bound by the strictures the law places on government.
Secondly, the “fair debate” argument holds no water because it simply is not possible to have a fair debate in a school setting when the teachers and administrators are allowed to take a side. You have to realize what teachers and school administrators are: they are trained public speakers, often with years of experience and specialized education specifically aimed at persuading young people to accept what they are saying. The “fair debate,” argument proposes to take such people, cloak them in government authority, and set them loose against children in an environment where they are isolated from their parents and guardians for hours at a time and their future success is perceived to be dependent on the good opinion of their instructors. To grant that teachers and administrators can advocate their religious positions under such conditions can be nothing more than an indoctrination exercise.
One might argue that, so long as everybody is allowed to advocate for their beliefs, it will all even out. That might be true if all views were evenly represented in the population, and no social pressures existed to favor adherents of one view over another. But that doesn’t reflect reality. The fact is that the vast majority of Americans are Christian of some denomination or another, which emphasizes proselytization to a greater degree than many other religious positions. Furthermore, many people live in communities where real social penalties are enacted against those who express minority religious opinions, which would further suppress their ability to advocate openly for their views. The sheer weight of numbers slants the debate. In most schools throughout the US, an “open debate” policy allowing faculty to advocate their religion to students would be a de facto government endorsement of Christianity.
But even if you could ensure the debate would truly be fair and representative, it would be problematic for another reason. And that is that people would be using the authority of their government position to wage ideological campaigns for the religious sensibilities of other people’s children. It pits educators against each other, and against the parents of the children, in ways that are totally inappropriate for the furtherance of public education.
Now, to many who advocate in favor of having teachers carry on such debates, the fact that they can’t possibly be fair is a benefit, because their real goal is to use the school setting to indoctrinate other people’s children into Christianity. To many others, the idea simply seems benign because they are already Christian and don’t mind having that idea reinforced to their children at school. Many have discovered, though, that just because two people share the same generic religious label does not mean they actually believe the same things. Imagine how a religious parent would feel to have their child come home and tell them that their teacher says they’re going to hell because they are the wrong kind of Christian. That sort of thing tends to shed a whole new light on the debate for those parents.
These arguments are equally applicable to atheism. An atheist teacher should no more be using their position in school to tell children their gods don’t exist than a religious one should be using it to tell them they do.
Government neutrality, the separation of church and state, exists for very good reasons. It protects the rights of religious minorities, and it also protects the rights of the majorities. Not least because people may perceive themselves to be in the majority when they actually aren’t, but also because demographic changes all but guarantee that no group remains the majority forever. It is not safe for anyone to assume that the power to enforce a religious viewpoint on a population will always be used to enforce their viewpoint, no matter how much they think they enjoy the majority position at the moment. Battles for religious supremacy can only be harmful, and nowhere is this truer than when the battleground is the halls that are meant to shelter and educate our children.
The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of the Lancaster Freethought Society or any of its members.
If you are very alert while driving around Lancaster, this will not be news. If you’ve been following the application updates at meetings over the past year or so, this is a wonderful announcement.
We’ve been looking for an ongoing community-based service project. Adopt-a-Highway programs are well known and in nearly every state. Local groups (Scouting troops, Chambers of Commerce, Rotatory club or your friendly neighborhood gathering of reality enthusiasts) pick up little along a section of road or highway interchange and in exchange get that group’s name on a sign by the road.
Our piece of road is the interchange at PA-222 and PA-30. Pennsylvania’s version of Adopt-a-Highway operates in 2 year terms. So as long as we do our required four clean ups a year, and I do the paperwork with PennDOT. Then the sign will look like that for the next two years. This is where we need YOU!
Having a good turnout of volunteers is vital. More hands to share the work. More people, more fun. Lancaster Freethought Society was founded to build community. This is a great chance to get out, talk with people like you and get a little exercise to burn off the Pub Night calories.
The first pick-up is scheduled for Saturday March 28th, we’ll meet up about 11am near the intersection. All groups that have adopted a highway have a pick-up in March or April to support the Great American Clean up. There are a few logistical details to decide over the coming meeting and two Pub Nights. However, we have our date. So mark the calendar, put a reminder on your cell phone or just plain save the date.
Come be a part of the first Highway clean-up and a big group picture under out sign. Oh! I nearly forgot, the wonderful announcement I mentioned at the top – we finally got approved, the sign is up.
2015 Pennsylvania Atheist Humanist Conference (PASTHACon) – Harrisburg, PA September 11th – 13th, 2015
September 11th-13th, 2015
BEST WESTERN PREMIER
800 East Park Drive
Come join us for the fourth annual PA State Atheist Humanist Conference (PASTHACon)! We’ll be back in Harrisburg this year and are working on making this year the best one yet!
Our speakers for this year include the members of the “Unholy Trinity Tour”, master debater Matt Dillahunty of the popular “Atheist Experience” TV show, vlogger Aron Ra whose YouTube channel has over 100,000 subscribers, and Seth Andrews of the vastly popular “Thinking Atheist” Podcast. Keep an eye on our great speaker list as we add to it as we get closer to the conference.
Standard tickets include full access to the plenary conference (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday), as well as the entertainment Friday and Saturday.
VIP tickets include a special meal with the stars of the conference as well as a T-shirt, goodie bag, and access to our hospitality suite with snacks, refreshments, and the occasional opportunity to hang out with the speakers in a more personal setting.
Although Lancaster is only a short drive from the hotel, we have also arranged for a special room price of only $99.95/night for those choosing to stay at the hotel during the conference! Just enter our special group code when booking online or on the phone.
Hope to see you there!