The Minnesota Atheists and the Humanists of Minnesota have
established the First Amendment Watchdog
committee which has been meeting
monthly since 5/27/08. The committee purpose is to focus on church-state separation
violations in the State of Minnesota.
Early in its existence our committee
addressed the matter of a large Christian banner hanging from the ceiling in
the high school cafeteria at Kimball, Minnesota. It was
observed by one of our members while attending a basketball game there in the
This matter was referred to ACLU-MN
by the committee.
Chuck Samuelson, Executive
Director of ACLU-MN, immediately sent a letter to the Superintendent of that
school district, pointing out the potential violation of the law and
recommended remedial action.
incident is an example of the role our committee can play in addressing such
Other issues addressed by the committee include: 1. Questionable practices of Charter Schools
in relation to church-state separation.
2. Tax supported programs like Positive Alternatives (anti-choice
counseling services for pregnant women).
3. Tax credits and deductions for Christian home schools. 4. Tuition
write-offs for parochial school tuition.
5. Property tax exemptions for church property. 6. Creationism in public high school science
classes (an estimated 25% of our students are being taught creation science in
public school biology classes as an alternative to evolution). Due to our actions FFRF might be interested
in Positive Alternatives.
The committee has decided to develop a network of watchdogs
throughout the state. Any member of a Freethought group can volunteer.
They would report violations observed in their area to the committee
which would offer consultation on how the issue might be addressed. Other resources such as ACLU-MN, FFRF and
American's United would be utilized. If legislative issues arise that the
committee believes should be addressed, the watchdog advocates may be asked to
contact their respective legislators.
Our goal is to establish a watchdog
advocate in each of the 67 Senate
Districts. If there are more than one in a district we will connect
you with each other. We have come to the realization that the
Freethought community needs to organize to make their voice heard.
If you are interested in becoming a watchdog contact us at email@example.com (MN Atheists) or firstname.lastname@example.org (H of M). We will need your name, email address, phone
number, Senate district #, State Senator or State Representative if known. If you do not know who represents you or what
district you are in we can supply that information based on your address.
Bob Schmitz, Chair
First Amendment Watchdog Committee