PA House Bill 1728 “In God We Trust”?

House Bill 1728  passed the committee and will be scheduled for a vote.  The purpose of the bill introduced is to place “In God We Trust” in all public school buildings.  The bill is supposedly meant to support an historical message when, in fact, it is a religious message.  The PA House Representative Saccone has again decided to push the religious agenda upon the secular and the sectarian citizens of Pennsylvania by continually breaching the “wall of separation“.  Not all citizens of PA wish to have religious messages displayed in public schools.  An unofficial poll (view results) at Pennlive.com cites an 84% disapproval of Mr. Saccone’s idea or should I say personal ideal!

Article 6 states :“To increase student understanding of and familiarity with American historical documents, historically important excerpts from or copies of the documents should be prominently displayed in public school buildings.”

How about if Mr.Saccone places the Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, that was ratified unanimously in 1797, into all public schools?

Article 11 states:  As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

This is an historic document and would teach the students what the founders REALLY thought!  This is an historically important “excerpt” that would fit into HB 1726.   This would also give an “alternate view” to the fallacy that this nation was founded as a “Christian” nation.  Would Mr. Saccone add this as an amendment?

Two national constitutional church/state watchdog groups have commented on this bill:

  1. The Freedom from Religion Foundation has placed this “action alert” on their web site.
  2. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has criticized Mr. Saccone’s bill to place this “motto” in public schools.

This bill will be the main topic of our Meeting on 11/04/13 at Isaac’s in the Granite Run Shopping Center at 6:00 PM EST.

We hope to see you there!

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Ask an Atheist on Penn Square 10/19/2013

An “Ask an Atheist” informational event was held at Penn Square in the City of Lancaster. LFS members were on the square from 9 AM until 2 PM. It was a very nice day and we had many conversations with both religious and non-religious passers by. We hold these events to provide a human face to positive atheism and to emphasize the constitutional concept of the separation of church and state, as well as let other non-believers know they are not alone.

We received encouragement from people telling us that our “low key” presence is a refreshing change from the proselytizing street preacher who is active on the Square on Fridays. We were also told several people that we are “brave” to do these public events. The positive feedback we receive is uplifting to us and reinforces our desire to continue doing them.

Some of the religious questioners were attempting to convert us, prove us wrong, pray for us and ask that their deity show us “the light“. We reinforced that we were not here to convert anyone to atheism and that we have thought through our position and arrived at atheism due to our questioning and not finding the answers in any scripture. We did want to point out the extremely important concept of the “wall of separation” between the church and the state. We also tried to dispel the pervasive myth that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation”. This seems to be a prevalent concept within some Christian circles that is not able to be substantiated. We reminded our questioners that we have a secular constitution that benefits everyone when this “wall of separation” is maintained. For Christians that would like to see the wall weakened, they may want to think about this quote that was posted from the Freedom From Religion Foundation facebook page:

“In a Christian Theocracy, you’ll never be Christian enough. There’s always going to be somebody there with another version of Christianity that is more Christian than you and you’re going to lose the freedom to make the choice because you didn’t defend the Separation of Church and State when you had the chance.”
~David Silverman, President of American Atheists

Our informational event was due to end at 1 PM but due to continuing public interest, we stayed until nearly 2 PM.

Upcoming Events:

10/19 – Pub Night at Loxley’s @ 6 PM
11/4 -LFS Monthly Meeting at Isaac’s Granite Run Square location

All of the above are advertised at MeetUp.com. Please RSVP for these events.

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Meeting Minutes – 10/7/2013

Approximately 18 persons attended a meeting of the Lancaster Freethought Society held on Monday, 10/7/2013 from 6 to 8 PM at Isaac’s Restaurant, Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA.

The meeting began with the LFS President, Scott Rhoads, welcoming the new attendees and asking them to introduce themselves, followed by current members’ introductions to facilitate the group discussion for this meeting. Attendees shared how they came to their current beliefs.

Scott reviewed the purpose of the LFS and the primary focus of providing a community to freethinkers, secular humanists, non-believers, agnostics and atheists. A review of current LFS events and activities was announced for the upcoming month along with membership benefits and how the society is seeking charity/volunteer opportunities.

The meeting then turned to an animated group discussion on topics concerning how a non-believer would or could handle situations where they might feel uncomfortable. These situations included being asked to lead a prayer at a family dinner to telling your family and friends that you are a non-believer and the ramifications within your social and employment sphere.

Scott then discussed the upcoming “Ask An Atheist” event at Penn Square in the city of Lancaster. This event is held to introduce people to the LFS and to give people a chance to meet an atheist. The event is not done to argue or debate, but to give a face to atheism and provide a opportunity to ask us questions. One of the goals of this event is to let believers see that atheists are non-threatening, easy to talk with and not people to avoid.

The final discussion was about Church and State issues. We had a visitor from Ireland who was curious to ask Americans how a non-believer feels in a nation that has such a vocal Christian community. He shared his experiences with European countries in which non-belief is no longer an issue.

The meeting ended at about 8 PM with some attendees remaining to discuss relevant issues.

Upcoming Events:
10/13 – Coffee & Conversation at the Prince Street Cafe @ 9 AM
10/19 – Ask an Atheist at Penn Square @ 9 AM
10/19 – Pub Night at Loxleys @ 6 PM
11/4 -LFS Monthly Meeting at Isaac’s @ 6 PM

All of the above are advertised at MeetUp.com. Please RSVP for these events.

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Interfaith Panel “Why Marriage?”

On Sunday at 2pm, LFS President Scott Rhoades, will be taking part in an interfaith panel called “Why Marriage?” at First United Methodist Church, E. Walnut St, Lancaster. It will take place in the 2nd floor worship space volunteers will be at the door to direct people to the proper area.

Scott was asked to take part in this panel due to the fact that he performs secular marriage ceremonies as a Humanist Celebrant and will be the lone atheist on a panel full of ministers.

Please come out and support Scott during this thought provoking discussion about marriage!

RSVP at http://www.meetup.com/lancaster-freethought-society/events/141283172/

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Meeting Minutes – 6/3/2013

Approximately 10 persons attended a meeeting of the Lancaster Freethought Society held Monday, 6/3 at Isaac’s Restaurant, Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA.

Pres. Scott Rhoades initiated an informal discussion regarding feminism withing the Freethought movement, and how it’s effects may be described as a, “fracturing”, or, “layering”. Rebecca Watson (skeptic, feminist) and Skepchicks are associated with “Elevatorgate”. Certain POVs have arisen based on an incident, and there is some debate over whether these are reasoned or emotional- (for ex., an anti-homosexual stance taken by an atheist group in Atlanta).

Upcoming Events:

6/9 – Coffee & COnversation, Prince Street Cafe
6/15 – Lancaster Pride Festival
6/22 – Ask an Atheist at Penn Square

All of the above are advertised at MeetUp.com.

Scott idsucssed that group members are welcome to advertise for their businesses at meetings. Scott briefly discussed that he has recently started, “New Traditions”, (a secular wedding officiant service).

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LFS Meeting Minutes – 5/6/2013

LFS Meeting Minutes – 5/6/2013

Approximately 14 people attended a meeting of Lancaster Freethought Society help Monday, 5/6/2013, 6pm at Isaac’s Restaurant, Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA.

Scott Rhoades began by discussing the upcoming Atheist/Humanist conference in Philadelphia. Cost will be $113, (to include the Friday PM party). The admission fee covers dinner and lunch.  Embassy Suites Hotel has reserved a block of rooms.  Room fees will include complementary breakfast and happy hour.  Suites include two queen-sized best and a pull-out couch.

Scott discussed conference volunteer opportunities, (inquire via the web site), also gave a run-down of speakers including:
Shelly Saegal (comedian)

George Hrab

Jerry DeWitt (Clergy Project)

Jamila Bey

Ropb Boston

Mark Cohen

JT Eberhard

(and many others)

VIP tickets will be available.  Student tickets will be availbale for $40, (ticket price to include a piza party – in lieu of lunch/dinner).

Board Member Reports:

Dan Mercer briefly discussed recent Habitat for Humanity volunteer events. 

Claire Larson discussed that Pub Night will be held in May, also a Coffee and Conversation event, (possibly at the Pillar Hookah Lounge).

Scott Rhoades discussed Ask An Atheist, (held recently in downtown Lancaster).  The next will be held 6/22w, hosted by Dan & Lisa Mercer.

SPEAKER: The Scientific Methods, by David Kolesar

Key terms/ideas, (as per Claire Larson’s observations):

-Where did it come from?

-Scientific revelation

– Printing Press

– Descartes

– Rationalism-empiricism fusion, (people very susceptible to bias- force observer from the observed)

– Independent/dependent variables

– reliance on assumptions

– Scientism – belief that scientific knowledge is superior

– Two realms of reality we can be certain of – math & logic – cannot be proven by the scientific method.

– Sociological method

– The Moral Landscape – by Sam Harris –  Although we cannot use science to define morals, we can work toward more or less suffering….  Science works on behalf of morality to reduce suffering.  (Book available in LFS library for dues-paying members.)

– John Stuart Mill (Utiles, secular method of coming-out with morality)

– Jeremy Bentham

– The Golden Rule disrespects sadists & masochists

– “Always be skeptical.” – David Kolesar

 

Scott summarized the meeting by emphasizing that the first priority of LFS is community.

A summer LFS picnic may be scheduled.

 

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Hearing the Voice

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Meeting Minutes -04/1/2013

Approximately 16 persons attended a meeting of Lancaster Freethought Society at Isaac’s Restaurant on Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA.

Attendee Al Eckert presented readings from The Portable Atheist, (a compilation of thoughts from famous atheist thinkers through time).

Attendee Scott Bitzer presented a discussion of an article, “Hearing the Voice of God”, (see attachments). 

Attendees discussed continuing pub nights or having a coffee get-together at Prince Street Cafe in lieu of these.

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LFS Meeting Minutes – Monday, 3/4/2013

Approximately 18 people attended the LFS Meeting held Monday, 3/4/2013 at 6pm at Isaac’s Restaurant, Manheim Pike, Lancaster, PA.

Scott discussed his work with the Secular Coalition (lobbying organization) including arrangements for a luncheon with Richard Dawkins on 3/12 in Philadelphia. Lunch will be held at a colonial tavern and will include 4-courses. The event is $300/ticket. Intended to be a small group discussion, members will be able to converse with Dawkins as he gets a feel for the political landscape in Pennsylvania. Secular Coalition flyers were made available at the front of the room for interested parties.

Member Reports

Dan Mercer – Charity Director

Saturday, 3/9, LFS will volunteer at the Habitat for Humanity Restore.  All spots are covered, but interested parties should notify Dan.  Dan solicited three volunteers for a 3/30 volunteer session. 

 

Claire Larson – Secretary

21-22 persons attended the most recent Pub Night at Loxley’s Restaurant, Lancaster.  Attendees were given a private room, but commented that table arrangement made socialization difficult. 

 

Beginning in March, Ask an Atheist events will be scheduled monthly, (per recent board decision).  Scott Rhoades provided clarification regarding AaA:

10 or 11am start downtown with sign on the square

we should not consider ourslves alone in a sea of believers- they are not a cohesive group

AaA is not intended to be a debate session, but an invitation to people to ask questions.  Attendees may answer at will.

Attendees were encouraged not to, “gang-up” since others who approach us do so as a minority- we should not appear belligerent

bringing folding chairs is recommended

Use of the Socratic method may be helpful, i.e., asking instead of telling while the other party waits their turn to speak

stay calm and consider your presence there as a member of LFS, not as an individual. 

 

State Atheist/Humanist Conference – 9/13-15 in Philadelphia

Embassy Suites will host and offer $120/night room accommodations, (rooms include two beds and a couch, plus breakfast and happy hour)

Tickets will be $113 and include meals – reference the Meet-Up site for more info

Speakers to include Jamila Bey, Katie Seagel, (Australian singer), George Hrab, and a representative of the JamesRandi Foundation.  The conference will include a Humanist and an American Atheist panel. 

A $60-80/night budget hotel is located in the vicinity.

Discussion – 10 Commandments-styled lists for atheists, (three discussed):

 

1) Bertrand Russel’s Liberal Decalogue

2) Alaine Dey Patan (Swiss expat philosopher/writer in Britain, proposed athrist temple) – 10 Commandments/Suggestions

3) 12 Virtues of Rationality – Eliza Yokowski

 

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