Sunny Skeptic - Atheists Ask Atheists Part 2

crystal_small.jpgby Crystal Dervetski

In the course of writing publicly about atheism, I have come across some questions, and many times opposition, regarding belonging to a formal organization for freethinkers. As with most questions, they are repeated multiple times by a variety of people, and oddly enough, many times they come not from religious persons but from fellow atheists. I plan on sharing a few great statements and questions I have received over the last year, and my answers to them.

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ACLU MN vs. AV TiZA

Put the energy from the Day of Reason to good use on May 17, as Chuck Samuelson, Executive Director of ALCU MN drops by the Ridgedale Library at 2 p.m. for a presentation on ACLU MN's current lawsuit against a charter school in Apple Valley known as TiZA. Those who are not familiar with the case will learn about how this charter school has violated the separation of church and state and what steps the ALCU MN takes leading up to a lawsuit to attempt to resolve issues without litigation.

TiZA is accused of violating the separation of church and state on several issues. The school has a prayer posted at the entrance, girls are prohibited from wearing short sleeves, and school buses don't leave until the hour after school ends, which is when religious studies classes are held, which most students are enrolled in.

This case is important for several reasons. There are clear concerns at the school, with regard to the endorsement of a particular religion. However, when the Minnesota Department of Education investigated claims, they did not see any violations, but urged the school to better separate religious expression from the school day. What this means is that the rules for Charter Schools in Minnesota need to be written more clearly to protect the separation of church and state so litigation becomes unnecessary. Other religious groups are also watching the outcome of this lawsuit to see how the court will rule. If ACLU MN is not successful, this could mean that your tax dollars could be used to fund other schools with shared religious service facilities, daily worship, and after school religious studies classes.

After the meeting, we will be gathering for an early dinner to discuss the meeting further.

For more information, visit meetup.com.

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Rota Fortunae

george_head_small.jpgby George Kane

I have a new job with a financial services company that provides a lot of training that I have to attend. One recent training session dealt with theoretical mechanics of the market system. As you might expect in a business-training session, the presentation was freighted with assumptions, such as that the self-correcting mechanisms of the market will always return to the way they were before an episodic crisis. I consider this to be a superstitious view of the market economy.

But while listening to the lecture, I was thinking how market precepts apply to the marketplace of ideas. We are involved in a marketplace battle on several fronts, or products: atheism vs. god-belief, evolution vs. creationism, science vs. superstition, reason vs. belief, and ethics based on consequences in peoples' lives vs. divine declaration. We are confident that we have already won the intellectual arguments on merit, but the question is: why can we not drive our opponents out of the marketplace?

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Positive Atheism is not Friendly Atheism

watland_gardens12.jpgby Bjorn Watland

Face it. Just by identifying as an atheist, you will offend some people. If you go one step further and voice your opinion and one more step to actually question what someone means when they say, "I'm a believer," you've already turned a lot of people off.

This is the main reason why people engage in self-censorship. I've done it myself. I would rather keep my mouth shut than cause a rift between friends or family. However, how can we benefit from keeping quiet? How can we benefit from speaking out?

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