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February Radio Show Report

By Mike Haubrich, Director, Atheist Talk Radio Show

I appreciate that August has shown the confidence in me to turn over the directing and scheduling duties to me. I wish to salute August for the hard work he has done in building this project. I think our shows are getting stronger by the month.

Stephanie Zvan is now the regular host, and I will remain as the backup host. In recent shows we have had science discussions with Perry Hackett and PZ Myers over the top life science stories of 2008; we have had Michael Newdow on to explain the suit to enjoin Chief Justice Roberts from appending "so help you god" from the inaugural oath and we had Dan Barker on the show to talk about his new book Godless. It was a pleasure for me to meet Dan and Perry in person and that is one of the benefits I take from being on the show.

Todd Allen Gates, finally, got his full show as we had two previous appearances cut short or cut out because of technical difficulties. Please listen to upcoming shows, as we will have shows on living morally as atheists, the humanism of Star Trek and a special show discussing Darwin and the Bell Museum. We are trying to schedule Richard Dawkins for the March 1 show.

For the remainder of this contract with KTNF, all of our sponsors renewed their contracts, but we appreciate further donations as sponsors don't cover all of the costs. I have proposed an incentive for donations, and I think it is very special.

If you would like to dedicate an entire show to a special person, all you need to do is donate $175.00 to the radio fund. We will announce the dedication during the show, and it is similar to a fundraising technique used for Minnesota Public Radio. It's a great way to tell someone you really think highly of them.

Planning is still in the works for where we will take the show when the current six month contract ends. More details as we start to solidify our blueprint.

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The Pledge of Allegiance Can't Wait Any Longer for a Remedy

By Eric Jayne

In the last decade of the 19th century, when the Golden Age of Freethought was at its peak, Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance shortly after his tenure as a Baptist minister. It was published in the popular periodical The Youth's Companion as part of an 1892 celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America. The pledge went like this: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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In Memorium - David Irwin

Founding and Life member David Irwin died on January 13, 2009.  He was 89.  David lived a long life highlighted with many accomplishments.  David was born on January 1, 1920 in Des Moines, Iowa; he served in the air corps during WWll, went to divinity school for two years and eventually realized he was an atheist.  From 1976 to 1984 he shared his life with his lover Dick Hewetson (a fellow Minnesota Atheist member).  Together they co-founded the Quatrefoil Library, dedicated to the collection and preservation of information about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other sexual minorities (GLBT).  They started the library with their own collection of 1,500 books relating to homosexuality.  In 1986 Matt Stark, also a Minnesota Atheists member and director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union (MCLU), rented them space in the MCLU building to display their books. The library never looked back.  This is only one of three such lending libraries in the country dedicated to GLBT issues.  It is open to the public daily and has educated the public and saved many GLBT lives over the years. The first part of David's life was that of a gay man trying to live as a straight man.  He married his high school sweetheart, a woman, and had two children.  This was in the 1940s and after a few years they divorced. David lived as a closeted gay man until the start of the Quatrefoil library.  When the public announcement of the library was made, he used this as an opportunity to let his family know about his sexuality.  The reaction was mixed.  His two children rejected him. Others reacted with love and understanding. For two of his family members, who David cared for deeply, it was a non event.  After that David and Dick came out to the GLBT community as atheists. But they still had more educating to do.  They both have won awards for their work founding the Quatrefoil where they always mentioned their association with Minnesota Atheists.  David and Dick separated, but worked together on the library and remanded good friends.   David was an avid book reader. He played Bridge as often as possible and was a regular at the Quatrefoil.  His legacy is he lived his life to its fullest and he eventually freed himself from the shackles of society conformity and used his experience to make a difference for the lives of others.  The world is a better place because of David.  We were honored to have him as a member.  Memorials are requested for the Quatrefoil Library, 1619 Dayton Ave., Suite 105, St. Paul, MN 55104 (651) 641-0969.  www.quatrefoillibrary.org.

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February News and Notes

By George Kane

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stumbled over the words of the presidential oath, momentarily confusing Barack Obama, but he predictably tagged "so help me god" onto the end. Reverend Rick Warren provided for an invocation a prayer in Jesus' name. Reverend Joe Lowery implored the audience to shout "Amen!" to close his benediction. It all made the inauguration of our 44th president a tediously religious affair, like every other presidential inauguration that I can remember. But, had a District Court judge exercised a little judicial courage the week before, it need not have been so.

Michael Newdow, the Sacramento emergency room doctor who has gained fame for his suits to ban group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, brought an Establishment Clause challenge to the Obama administration before it even took office. Along with 30 other plaintiffs, he filed suit to prohibit appending the words "so help me god" to the presidential oath, and to prevent sectarian prayers at the inauguration ceremony.

Joining Newdow in the suit are many of the nation's leading atheist organizations and church/state separation watchdog groups, including Minnesota Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the Atheist Alliance International, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Notable individually named plaintiffs are the top officers of the plaintiff organizations, including Minnesota Atheists president August Berkshire. Another is Ellery Schempp, the named plaintiff in the 1963 case Abbington County School District v. Schempp, in which the Supreme Court outlawed classroom prayer in public schools. The list of plaintiffs also included "unnamed children," as their parents have a right to take them to view their government in action without being forced to confront the official endorsement of religious dogma with which they disagree.

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January Meeting Review

Dan Barker had a busy day on January 18. He began the day at the KTNF studio for an interview on Atheists Talk Radio, filled the afternoon with an appearance at the Roseville Library as the speaker at our monthly public meeting, and after dinner with some meeting attendees, presented a reading of excerpts from his new book at the Midway Borders Book Store.

The public meeting was by far our largest ever, with attendance estimated at 140. Barker began by informing us of some recent activities of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the nation's largest church/state separation watchdog organization. Barker and his wife, Annie Laurie Gaylor, are co-presidents. They ran a quarter-page ad in the Washington Post on Inauguration Day, headlined "Mr. President, Rebuild that Wall!"

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