by August Berkshire
The big news this past month is that Minnesota Atheists was asked by Michael Newdow to join his lawsuit, "Newdow v. Roberts," to stop government-sponsored religious activities at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration on January 20. This came about because I had heard through national atheist sources that he was going to file a case and I contacted him to be on our radio show on January 4. He agreed, and asked if we would like to be added as plaintiffs to the lawsuit. After a quick consultation of our board of directors, we added our name. Newdow also asked me if I would like to join as an individual plaintiff, as president of Minnesota Atheists, and I was happy to do so.
Our January meeting 18 will feature Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) co-president Dan Barker talking about and selling and signing his new book Godless. Both Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, the other FFRF co-president, have been extremely generous with their time and talents towards Minnesota freethought groups.
by George Kane
Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) won an important skirmish against South Carolina promoting religion on license plates. Last month, the legislature authorized issuing "I Believe" auto license plates for a fee, embellished with a Christian cross and the image of a stained glass window. AU initiated the suit Summers v. Adams on behalf of three Protestant ministers and a Rabbi who are South Carolina residents, as well as the Hindu-American Foundation and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The state filed a motion to dismiss the suit, but U.S. District Court Judge Cameron Currie ruled that the suit should proceed to trial. The judge issued a temporary injunction restraining the state Department of Corrections from producing and the state Department of Motor Vehicles from distributing the plates until the suit is decided.
by Crystal Dervetski
Last month, we talked about where atheists can meet people online, which is one of the easiest ways to meet people. That leads us into the safety concerns for meeting someone, and other places to meet people who share your beliefs.
When meeting someone online, first, assess their profile. Does it seem legitimate? If you can, have a trusted friend take a look at it. This is another advantage of meeting people online: it's quite easy to email that profile to a second party!
Email or text message the person for a period of time. Become comfortable with who they are in writing, and their personal style. You can learn a lot from how a person writes, both formally and informally. Ask some questions, and get to know them over the net.
According to Beliefnet, more than one fifth of Americans self-identify with the label "spiritual but not religious," which I've always interpreted as "religious but lazy." Stepping back and viewing the phrase in a slightly less judgmental tone, it is more than likely an attempt to distance oneself from the dreaded term "organized religion;" a personal declaration of "I'm not one of them." But, as we atheists have long ago realized, it's not the act of organizing that's bad, it's the unfounded beliefs. "Oh I'll keep the irrationality, thank you. I just don't want to be organized."
As I've become aware of this mass diaspora of coordination, I began to realize than I'm, in fact, surrounded by people with completely indefinable beliefs. Many of them find it difficult to even verbalize things that they feel strongly about. The most entertaining way I've had someone describe their belief system to me was with a wrist twisting motion; as in, "I believe in (holds hand next to head, flicks wrist a bit)". At first, I thought that he had become distracted by a fly, but once I realized that the little wrist twitch was intended as a description of his religious beliefs, my heart sank a bit.