Below is the testimony by August Berkshire, representing Minnesota Atheists, at a Minnesota House Civil Law Committee hearing, in favor of the bill HF 1054, changing state law to allow for marriage equality. March 12, 2013, 6:00 p.m. The bill passed the committee on a 10-7 party line vote – Democrats for, Republicans against. The 9 p.m. “FOX at 9” local TV news on channel 9 reported that the bill’s “supporters ranged from Catholics to atheists.” Earlier that day a companion bill passed a Minnesota Senate committee. The bill now moves to the full legislature, which will vote on it after they have passed a budget.
Thank you, Mr. Chair; Committee Members. My name is August Berkshire and I represent Minnesota Atheists, our state’s oldest, largest, and most active atheist organization.
Read more: MN Atheists Testitfies in Favor of Marriage Equality
Our guest speaker for March will be Ken Kressin. Ken organized the Cannon Falls Freethinkers group about three years ago – shortly after an episode at his daughter’s high school set him on an unexpected journey. Before that, Ken was an apathetic atheist and was unfamiliar with the basic tenets of skepticism, humanism, or atheism. Ken now considers himself an atheist acDvist and organizer in Cannon Falls. He has helped motivate dozens of residents to write over a hundred printed letters to the local newspaper on the subject of religion and non-belief. Much of his summer and fall was spent protesting against the Minnesota marriage amendment--eventually becoming a conspicuous counter to the activities of the local Catholic Church.
Read more: Atheist Organizing and Activism in Small-Town Minnesota
By Steve Petersen
Minnesota Atheists President Eric Jayne discussed the importance of giving time, energy, and money by volunteering for important causes. Eric first cited reasons why humans, whether or not they are religious, feel impelled to volunteer. He also provided reasons for rejecting the claim that religion is what makes people want to help their fellow humans. Next, Eric detailed many of the organizations and events that Minnesota Atheists has helped to - and continues to - support. He mentioned a few upcoming volunteering events and offered resources for how freethinkers can find out more about volunteering for non-religious charities. James Zimmerman hosted.
Read more: February Cable Report: Atheist Volunteerism
By August Berkshire
In the early days of the atheist/humanist movement, we looked to the Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches for some of our new members. This made sense because, until our groups formed, the UU churches were the most nontheistic organizations around. They offered humanistic programs and tended to use words like “god” and “spirit” metaphorically. Some of their members embraced a more openly atheistic group like ours and joined us.
Today, as the UU membership ages and dwindles, we find them looking to our atheist and humanist groups for members. But the problem is is that atheists and secular humanists are neither Unitarians (believing in one supernatural god) nor Universalists (believing in supernatural salvation for all). So, while politically most of us would vote the same way most UU members would, UU churches really aren’t a good fit for most atheists.
Read more: Unitarian Universalists?
By George Kane
I was pleased to learn before this election that my polling place had moved from Como Park Lutheran Church to the North Dale Recreation Center, even though it is a couple of miles from my home. When I lived in California, I always voted at a public school. I don’t know if California ever uses churches as polling places, but I found the practice here in Minnesota to be an unsettling mix of the sacred with the civic act of voting. This election provided considerable evidence that it is time for Minnesota to end the practice. Many churches are activists in political issues these days, and cannot be trusted to provide a politically neutral environment.
Read more: News and Notes