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Lead Us Not Into Penn Station:Provocative Pieces

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October 7-9, 2016

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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

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A prayerful Indiana public school coach was given a talking to, following a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.

The girls' tennis coach at Bellmont High School in Decatur, Ind., led members of his team and their families in a Christian prayer at the last match of the year.

FFRF pointed out to school officials that it is illegal for public school coaches to guide their teams in prayer.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools," FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote to North Adams Community Schools Superintendent Brent Lehman. "The coach's conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his personal religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee. Therefore, he may not lead his team in prayer and he may not organize or advocate for students to pray." 

The school district got the message.

"I have investigated your report of June 16, 2016," Lehman replied in a letter. "The athletic director met with the coach about the allegedly improper behavior. The coach was reminded about rules and he expressed his intent to follow these rules in the future. The athletic director intends to issue a reminder to the entire coaching staff when school resumes this fall about such matters." 

FFRF is pleased at the swift reaction.

"Public school coaches have a responsibility to follow constitutional limitations placed against proselytizing a captive audience of students," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with nearly 24,000 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 300 in Indiana.

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You Are Invited!

A Two-Day Celebration for Robert Green Ingersoll
Dinner Party, Wed. Aug 10
Statue Restoration Dedication Thurs. Aug. 11
(Ingersoll Birthday)
Peoria, Illinois

Ingersoll1The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with our friends the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee, Peoria Secular Humanist Society, Center for Inquiry and Freethought Society, cordially invite you to attend the Peoria Park District's public dedication of the restored Robert G. Ingersoll statue:

Thursday, Aug. 11
(anniversary of Ingersoll's birth)
Glen Oak Park
Prospect Road and McClure Avenue
Peoria, Illinois
10:30 AM

FFRF, thanks to many generous donors, took on the fundraising responsibilities to restore this historic 1911 statue of "the Great Agnostic" — the man called "Peoria's most famous citizen." The city plans short speeches and some refreshments Thursday morning.

Plan to meet and mingle with other Ingersoll aficionados by RSVPing to attend a private pre-dedication dinner party, taking place the night before, Wed., Aug. 10:

The Lariat Club
2232 W Glen Ave
Peoria, Illinois 61614
(309)691-4731
6:00 P.M.

Robert Ingersoll, who once wrote, "A good dinner lost is gone forever," was known for his appreciation of good food. This family owned restaurant comes highly recommended by locals and has a private room.

Brief remarks will be given by FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor & Dan Barker; Jeff Ingersoll (an Ingersoll descendant) who directs the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee; Ken Hofbauer, with the Peoria Secular Humanist Society, Tom Flynn, for Center for Inquiry and Margaret Downey, for the Freethought Society.

Entertainment will include Dan Barker at the keyboard putting Ingersoll words to music, and musician Elliott Ingersoll (an Ingersoll descendant).

Individuals will order in person from a choice of 3 entrees and pay the restaurant directly. FFRF will supply complimentary cake to celebrate Ingersoll's 183rd birthday.

RSVP

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please include your name, mailing address, and total number of expected guests. Use subject: Ingersoll dedication. We'll email you dedication and parking details prior to the event. If you prefer, phone FFRF at 1-800-355-4021, 9-5 Central Weekdays to RSVP. 

Because the restaurant needs an advance headcount, please RSVP by Monday, Aug. 1 if possible. (If you're not sure of your plans until after Aug. 1, RSVP no later than Monday, Aug. 8.)

Entrees include baked potato, salad, rolls, iced tea or coffee and a choice of:

Top Sirloin (gluten free), $29.19
Salmon Filet (gluten free), $32.47
Wild Mushroom Ravioli (vegetarian), $23.84
Prices above include 10.5% sales tax and 20% gratuity. You'll pay for your meal directly. 

LOCAL ACCOMMODATIONS

A room bloc is being held for Wed., Aug. 10 and Thursday, Aug. 11 at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette, 501 Main St., Peoria Illinois 61602, for $129.00 plus tax through at least Wed., Aug. 20, so make plans now. The bloc will be extended as rooms are available after that date. Phone 800.228.9290 and mention "Ingersoll dedication" or use this reservation link.

The park with the statue is about a 35-minute walk from that hotel

LOCAL HOTELS

Mark Twain Hotel
225 NE Adams St
Peoria IL 61602
866-430-2692

Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette
501 Main St, 
Peoria, IL 61602
(309) 637-6500

Hampton Inn Peoria at the River Boat Crossing
11 Winners Way
East Peoria IL 61611
309/694-0711

Embassy Suites Hilton
100 Conference Center Drive
East Peoria IL 61611
1-309-694-0200

Click here to view the map

1ingersollmap

Hope to see you there! 

A mistitled bill before Congress should be immediately scuttled.

The perversely named First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is a proposed bill that would legalize discrimination against people in same-sex relationships as long as that relationship conflicts with the religious beliefs of an individual, business or government employee. This toxic bill would remove all consequences for a cake decorator or florist who refused to serve a gay couple and would embolden government employees to follow the lead of officials such as Kim Davis in denying gay couples equal access to services.

FADA (H.R. 2802) is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, July 12, in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The bill's supporters perversely believe that those who need protection are religious individuals discriminating against gay people. A federal judge in Mississippi recently quashed similar provisions in a state bill, but it will take the collective voice of the nation to snuff out attempts to privilege religious bigots above the rights of LGBT individuals and families.

"One month ago on Tuesday, a gunman shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando," Think Progress reports. "House Republicans plan to mark this milestone with a hearing on a bill that would enable widespread discrimination against LGBT people." 

TAKE ACTION

FADA (H.R. 2802) will be discussed in committee on July 12. Contact your representative now to voice your opposition to this bill! Personalize your statement if possible, or feel free to cut and paste the wording below.

I am writing as your constituent and a concerned citizen who supports marriage equality. The so-called First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802) would privilege those who choose to discriminate against same-sex couples due to their religious beliefs. Religious freedom means the freedom to believe what one chooses, not the freedom to impose those beliefs on others. Please oppose FADA and reject the perverse privileging of bigoted religious beliefs over the rights of loving families.

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