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Earl Coggins

Written by

Earl City Council Invoc Cropped 20160322Earl Coggins
Jacksonville, Fla.
City Council
March 22, 2016

Good afternoon.

Thank you members of the Jacksonville City Council for this opportunity to give the invocation prior to today's City Council meeting.

As I start, we've had a bad week, and I just want to remind everyone to please keep in your hearts and minds our good friends and allies in Europe — and in particular, in Belgium.

In 1903, a poem called "The New Colossus," written by Emma Lazarus, was inscribed on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In part, it said:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Many people, past and present, have accepted the invitation on that bronze plaque. They come from a multitude of cultures. Some of their descendants might be in this room today.
We are gathered today, both religious and nonreligious, young and old, liberal and conservative, with the shared belief that we must treat our fellow human beings with respect and dignity, and equally important, treat each other as colleagues in the day-to-day business of living together and amongst each other.

Each of us in this room is a member of a minority in some way, whether it be a minority view related to politics, society, race, religion, or any other aspect in which we may be regarded as different. It's a very lonely feeling when you are regarded as different.
At the same time, each of us is also a part of a majority. Each of us, in some way, is a part of something big. It's when we are wearing our majority hats that we need to be most mindful of how we treat each other.

We must pledge our best efforts to help one another, and to defend the rights of all citizens of this city.

This afternoon I invoke humanity's potential to use intellect, empathy and cooperation as a way in which to make this city a great and peaceful place to coexist.

Today I also invoke the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, especially the First Amendment, as a compass to govern by: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech; or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble; and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

And lastly, I invoke the essence of teamwork and collaboration to help us put aside inclinations to fear each other, and instead, find common aspirations and goals where we can work together for the betterment of our city.

As a Humanist and an atheist, it is a great feeling of inclusion to be up here. It is my hope that we can find representatives of all worldviews for future invocations.
Thank you very much.

• • •

Coggins would like to give credit to the following people:

Emma Lazarus, author of the poem "The New Colossus," part of which was used in this invocation.

James Madison, author of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all of which was used in this invocation.

Herb Silverman, part of the first paragraph of his 2006 invocation was used in this invocation.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State sample invocation for their Operation Inclusion project. Their invocation was not used, but was inspirational in creating my invocation.

Ken Hurley, for suggestions on what to include in my invocation.

Earl Coggins in the founder of First Coast Freethought Society in Jacksonville.

%250 %America/Chicago, %2016

Show Your Atheist Pride!

Written by

1AskTurq 1JoinTurq 1DonateTurq

LOOK FOR FFRF AT REASON RALLY AT JUNE 4

The Freedom From Religion Foundation invites you to make your plans now to attend the June 4 Reason Rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., being sponsored by a coalition of secular groups, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The world's largest gathering of nonbelievers and freethinkers will get to hear some of the most well-known freethinkers in the country, including Bill Nye, Johnny Depp, James Randi, and of course, FFRF's own Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker. Hotel rooms reserved for Reason Rally participants are still available, but please book now because the special rates are only good through mid-May. We have secured special rates with these nearby hotels: Washington Court Hotel, Liaison Capitol Hill, Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Crystal Gateway Marriott and Sheraton Pentagon City.

The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion.

VIew all ads here


 

1ReasonIconicabout the freedom from religion foundation

In modern times, the first to speak out for prison reform, for humane treatment of the mentally ill, for abolition of capital punishment, for women's right to vote, for death with dignity for the terminally ill, and for the right to choose contraception, sterilization and abortion have been freethinkers, just as they were the first to call for an end to slavery.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church.
What is FFRF's purpose?

The purposes of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the constitutional separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Incorporated in 1978 in Wisconsin, FFRF is a national membership association of more than 23,000 freethinkers: atheists, agnostics and skeptics of any pedigree. FFRF is a non-profit, tax exempt, educational organization under Internal Revenue Code 501 (c)(3). All dues and contributions are deductible for income tax purposes.

why is ffrf concerned with state/church entanglement? 

First Amendment violations are accelerating. The religious right is campaigning to raid the public till and advance religion at taxpayer expense, attacking our secular public schools, the rights of non-believers and the Establishment Clause.

FFRF recognizes that the United States was first among nations to adopt a secular Constitution. The founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution wanted citizens to be free to support the church of their choice, or no religion at all. Our Constitution was very purposefully written as a godless document, whose only references to religion are exclusionary.

It is vital to buttress the Jeffersonian "wall of separation between church and state" which has served our nation so well.

what are ffrf's accomplishments? 

FFRF and its growing legal department act on countless state/church entanglements on behalf of its members and the public, ending hundreds of violations each year through education and persuasion, such as: Prayers and proselytizing in public schools and events, public funding for religious purposes and religious symbols on public property.

FFRF keeps several challenges in the courts at all times, and has ended a variety of violations of the First Amendment including: Removing a devotional Jesus painting from a public middle school (Ohio), ending a city chaplaincy and prayers (Pismo Beach, Calif.), removing a Ten Commandments display from schools (Virginia, Pennsylvania), halting a school Child Evangelism subsidy and removing a nativity scene from a city hall entrance (both Wisconsin).

Other victories include:

  • Winning a legal challenge ending 51 years of illegal bible instruction in Rhea County (Dayton, Tennessee) public schools.
  • Winning a federal court decision overturning a law declaring Good Friday a state holiday.
  • Barring direct subsidy to religious schools, in a federal lawsuit upheld by an appeals court.
  • Declaring unconstitutional the creation of a state post to "assist clergy" to save marriages.
  • Stopping public financing of an annual nativity pageant at a state capitol.
  • Ending commencement prayers at a Top Ten university.
  • Halting religious postal cancellations.

what else does ffrf do? 

  • Publishes the only freethought newspaper in the United States, Freethought Today.
  • Sponsors annual high school, college and grad student essay competitions with cash awards.
  • Funds a separate Nonbelief Relief charity.
  • Conducts annual national conventions, honoring state/church, student and freethought activism.
  • Sponsors an online forum for members.
  • Bestows "The Emperor Has No Clothes" Award to public figures for "plain-speaking on religion."
  • Promotes freedom from religion with educational books, literature and music CDs.
  • Provides speakers for events and debates.
  • Maintains a website at ffrf.org.
  • Broadcasts Freethought Radio.
  • Places freethought billboards and bus signs.

how can i join ffrf? 

FFRF's modest membership dues (single $40; household $50) include 10 issues annually of the newspaper Freethought Today and the biannual "Private Line," which reports financial and organizational information.

Help strengthen the freethought movement and maintain the treasured wall of separation between state and church.

Complete the membership form here and mail it in or go to ffrf.org/join!

Shop ffrf's new store today

Click on images to view high-resolution. 

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Juan Mendez

Written by

1mendezRep. Juan Mendez
Arizona Statehouse
March 3, 2016

The traditional opening prayer given prior to the start of the session of the Arizona House was given by atheist Democrat Juan Mendez, but since it did not reference a higher power, Republicans in the House were upset and had a Baptist minister give another prayer that gave thanks to God.

After Mendez' invocation, House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro said the decision not to pray to God didn't meet the rules he issued for the opening prayer.

Earlier this year, Mendez signed up to give an invocation, but Montenegro blocked him, citing an unofficial rule that all invocations had to be made to a higher power.
"Prayer, as commonly understood and in the long-honored tradition of the Arizona House of Representatives, is a solemn request for guidance and help from God," Montenegro wrote. He said anything else, including a moment of silence, does not count.

Seráh Blain was at the meeting and told Hemant Mehta what happened, which he published on his Friendly Atheist blog: "Immediately after Mendez gave it, House Majority leader Montenegro rose for a point of order saying that the rule calling for the House to open with a prayer was not fulfilled. Speaker of the House [Andy] Tobin said the point was well taken and called on a minister waiting in the wings to give a prayer to our heavenly father. Representative [Rusty] Bowers took a point of personal privilege to accuse Mendez of impugning people who pray."

Here is the invocation Mendez gave:

"We are here today, as everyday, to represent our pluralistic society — of which I am grateful to again be included in.
To represent that beauty of our multi-cultural state that reflects our diversity of color, of heritage, of religion and lack thereof.

Spanning across communities both urban and rural; we are the same. Yearning to better our lives. Looking to better the lives of others.

Let us embrace those that want to help our society grow. Let us accept each other for our differences. Let us work to help those we represent flourish.

We need not tomorrow's promise of reward, to do good deeds today. For some may seek the assistance of a higher power with hands in the air, there are those of us that are prepared to assist directly, with our hands to the earth.

Take these words to heart as we move this great state of Arizona forward: It is our responsibility to honor the Constitution and the secular equality it brings.
And so shall it be."

%250 %America/Chicago, %2016

What does the Bible say about Abortion?

Written by

Purchase the nontract here.

Nontract #7
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Absolutely nothing! The word "abortion" does not appear in any translation of the bible!

Out of more than 600 laws of Moses, none comments on abortion. One Mosaic law about miscarriage specifically contradicts the claim that the bible is antiabortion, clearly stating that miscarriage does not involve the death of a human being. If a woman has a miscarriage as the result of a fight, the man who caused it should be fined. If the woman dies, however, the culprit must be killed:

"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

"And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . ."--Ex. 21:22-25

The bible orders the death penalty for murder of a human being, but not for the expulsion of a fetus.

When Does Life Begin?

According to the bible, life begins at birth--when a baby draws its first breath. The bible defines life as "breath" in several significant passages, including the story of Adam's creation in Genesis 2:7, when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Jewish law traditionally considers that personhood begins at birth.

Desperate for a biblical basis for their beliefs, some antiabortionists cite obscure passages, usually metaphors or poetic phrasing, such as: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Psalm 51:5 This is sexist, but does nothing other than to invoke original sin. It says nothing about abortion.

The Commandments, Moses, Jesus and Paul ignored every chance to condemn abortion. If abortion was an important concern, why didn't the bible say so?

Thou Shalt Not Kill?

Many antiabortionists quote the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex. 20:13) as evidence that the bible is antiabortion. They fail to investigate the bible's definition of life (breath) or its deafening silence on abortion. Moreover, the Mosaic law in Exodus 21:22-25, directly following the Ten Commandments, makes it clear that an embryo or fetus is not a human being.

An honest reader must admit that the bible contradicts itself. "Thou shalt not kill" did not apply to many living, breathing human beings, including children, who are routinely massacred in the bible. The Mosaic law orders "Thou shalt kill" people for committing such "crimes" as cursing one's father or mother (Ex. 21:17), for being a "stubborn son" (Deut. 21:18-21), for being a homosexual (Lev. 20:13), or even for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-35)! Far from protecting the sanctity of life, the bible promotes capital punishment for conduct which no civilized person or nation would regard as criminal.

Mass killings were routinely ordered, committed or approved by the God of the bible. One typical example is Numbers 25:4-9, when the Lord casually orders Moses to massacre 24,000 Israelites: "Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun." Clearly, the bible is not pro-life!

Most scholars and translators agree that the injunction against killing forbade only the murder of (already born) Hebrews. It was open season on everyone else, including children, pregnant women and newborn babies.

Does God Kill Babies?

"Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."--Psalm 137:9
The bible is not pro-child. Why did God set a bear upon 42 children just for teasing a prophet (2 Kings 2:23-24)? Far from demonstrating a "pro-life" attitude, the bible decimates innocent babies and pregnant women in passage after gory passage, starting with the flood and the wanton destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, progressing to the murder of the firstborn child of every household in Egypt (Ex. 12:29), and the New Testament threats of annihilation.

Space permits only a small sampling of biblical commandments or threats to kill children:

Numbers 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones.
Deuteronomy 2:34 utterly destroyed the men and the women and the little ones.
Deuteronomy 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.
I Samuel 15:3 slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
2 Kings 8:12 dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
2 Kings 15:16 all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.
Isaiah 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled and their wives ravished.
Isaiah 13:18 They shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.
Lamentations 2:20 Shall the women eat their fruit, and children.
Ezekiel 9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children.
Hosea 9:14 give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
Hosea 13:16 their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
Then there are the dire warnings of Jesus in the New Testament:

"For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the womb that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck."--Luke 23:29

The teachings and contradictions of the bible show that antiabortionists do not have a "scriptural base" for their claim that their deity is "pro-life." Spontaneous abortions occur far more often than medical abortions. Gynecology textbooks conservatively cite a 15% miscarriage rate, with one medical study finding a spontaneous abortion rate of almost 90% in very early pregnancy. That would make a deity in charge of nature the greatest abortionist in history!

Are Bible Teachings Kind to Women?

The bible is neither antiabortion nor pro-life, but does provide a biblical basis for the real motivation behind the antiabortion religious crusade: hatred of women. The bible is anti-woman, blaming women for sin, demanding subservience, mandating a slave/master relationship to men, and demonstrating contempt and lack of compassion:

"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."--Genesis 3:16
What self-respecting woman today would submit willingly to such tyranny?

The antiabortion position does not demonstrate love for humanity, or compassion for real human beings. Worldwatch Institute statistics show that 50% of abortions worldwide are illegal, and that at least 200,000 women die every year--and thousands more are hurt and maimed--from illegal or self-induced abortions. Unwanted pregnancies and complications from multiple pregnancies are a leading killer of women. Why do antiabortionists want North American women to join these ghastly mortality statistics? Every day around the world more than 40,000 people, mostly children, die from starvation or malnutrition. We must protect and cherish the right to life of the already-born.

Do Churches Support Abortion Rights?

Numerous Christian denominations and religious groups agree that the bible does not condemn abortion and that abortion should continue to be legal. These include:

American Baptist Churches-USA
American Ethical Union
American Friends (Quaker) Service Committee
American Jewish Congress
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Episcopal Church
Lutheran Women's Caucus
Moravian Church in America-Northern Province
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
United Synagogue of America
Women's Caucus Church of the Brethren
YWCA
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Catholics for Free Choice
Evangelicals for Choice
Belief that "a human being exists at conception" is a matter of faith, not fact. Legislating antiabortion faith would be as immoral and unAmerican as passing a law that all citizens must attend Catholic mass!

The bible does not condemn abortion; but even if it did, we live under a secular constitution, not in a theocracy. The separation of church and state, the right to privacy, and women's rights all demand freedom of choice.

Nontract No. 7.
© 1995 by Annie Laurie Gaylor. All rights reserved.
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
PO BOX 750, Madison WI 53701
www.ffrf.org

Purchase the nontract here.

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FFRF. v Brewster County Texas

Written by
%291 %America/Chicago, %2016

Peter D. A. Wood

Written by

PeterD.A.WoodLeon County (Fla.) Commission
April 28, 2015

Words matter. As we gather here today, like many Tuesdays, we stand ready and eager to unite and conduct business as usual. Most meetings use this time to begin procedure with prayer. To some, prayer is a staple of public works. To others, it is a deviation from what our government is constructed to do. Whatever side you may fall on, what we say and how we say it can have implications that extend beyond our immediate surroundings.

Thoughts matter. We all have our convictions, some of which are identical, others which conflict and contradict. That secularism, atheism and even non-Christian belief systems are overwhelmingly underrepresented in Leon County should worry all of us. That today this history changes is cause for optimism.

Actions matter. Rather than bow, fall prostrate, or look inward to connect ourselves to the heavens, let us focus on the one tangible reality we all know and share: each other. Whether we agree with one another or not, it is through cooperation and sacrifice that this county churns, burns and thrives. Ask yourselves: Why are you here, and how do you care to express this motive? Through what you say? How you think? What you do? Today I open our County Commission meeting suggesting we reassess what unity is so that our community can truly grow strong together. E pluribus unum. For it is out of many that a unified voice comes into being.

Peter D.A. Wood is a PhD candidate at Florida State University. Raised in Davenport, Iowa, Peter volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, is treasurer of the Secular Student Alliance at FSU, and serves as a board member for the Center for Inquiry's Tallahassee community. His essay, "Religions are responsible for their unclear teachings" earned him a fifth-place award in FFRF's 2015 Brian Bolton graduate college essay contest.

%291 %America/Chicago, %2016

Aleta Ledendecker

Written by

1ledendeckerOak Ridge (Tenn.)
City Council
Jan. 11, 2016

Here is the full transcript of Aleta's invocation. The mayor of Oak Ridge cut her off in mid-sentence when she still had more than 30 seconds to go. 

Good evening, council of Oak Ridge.

As I solemnize these proceedings, I want to acknowledge the service of the council members and share appreciation for their willingness to be a part of the governmental process. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who take on the burden of public office. Thank you for your service to the citizens of Oak Ridge.

Now, let us not bow our heads, but hold them high with eyes open so that we may keep them focused on the issues facing Oak Ridge in order that they may be considered with reason and compassion.

When this body comes together to govern, they do so with the consent of the citizens of Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge is a very diverse community with many different views and opinions. I urge the members of the City Council to face the future and their civic duties with full recognition of their responsibilities to all the citizens of Oak Ridge. I urge you to maintain our trust that you will recognize and serve equally the growing diversity of your constituents with favoritism toward none. Realize that this growing diversity encompasses not only many religions, but a growing contingent of those who have no religious affiliation, the "nones."

This community is made stronger by the diversity within it. Over 200 years ago our Constitution established a principle of inclusion as a shining example for the rest of the world, which has contributed to the astonishing success of our nation. When we forget or ignore it, we turn our backs on the wisdom of the founding fathers and tarnish their legacy, weakening our society in the process.

It is incumbent upon this council to make the best decisions for the community — the entire community. In this regard, I ask that you use reason, wisdom and empathy in your deliberations today, taking into account the implications your decisions will have now and into the future.

As this new year begins, remember that in honor of separation of church and state, no deities need to, nor should be invoked at the openings of your meetings. Doing so gives the appearance if not actual governmental preference to one group of citizens over others. The council is a civil body not a religious one, so should recognize that secular authority in government is not only sufficient, but preferable. James Madison, founding father and 4th President said it well:

"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion & government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

Mayor and council members I appreciate the opportunity to offer an inspiring start to your meeting.

Now let this honored council proceed with its business, remembering also to honor all of its constituents, while upholding the principle of separation of church and state. Thank you.

Aleta is an FFRF Life member and secretary of the Rationalists of East Tennessee.

Currently, "The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God." BSA formally discriminates as nonreligious boys and their families, officially excluding atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers from membership. Social disapproval prompted BSA to drop a similar ban on membership against gay Scouts. But BSA persists in stigmatizing those who use reason and critical thought to evaluate religious claims, rather than relying on faith, tradition or authority.

To earn this badge, based on the Richard Dawkins' "A," help disprove BSA's bigotry against the nonreligious and its misguided claim that nonbelievers cannot be good citizens. Learn about secularism and the rich history of dissent from religion.

Because this "badge" is intended to protest BSA policy, you likely will not be able to go to your typical merit badge counselor to demonstrate you have completed the requirements. Please ask a parent, guardian, sibling over the age of 18, teacher or other adult in your life to serve in this counselor role and to sign the form attesting that you have completed the requirements.

Note: FFRF will also offer this badge to other freethinking boys (or girls) who may have decided not to join BSA because of its discriminatory policy, but otherwise would have wished to take part in Scouting activities. This badge will reward you for critical thinking, and be a freethought keepsake.

Requirements

1. Read the Scout Oath, which says you will do your best "To do my duty to God and my country," and suggest how it could be rewritten to be more inclusive. BSA policy formally states: "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members." Explain to your counselor what you think is wrong with this statement.

2. Do TWO of the following:
a. Interview a veteran or current member of the military who is not religious, and ask about their experiences as an "atheist in a foxhole."
b. Interview three individuals who are not religious. These could include family members, students, teachers or activists in the freethought movement. Ask these individuals why they reject religion and what their experiences have been as a nonreligious individual in a society that stigmatizes nonbelief.
c. Select two nonreligious individuals from U.S. or world history who have contributed to social or moral progress. Find out about their accomplishments and discuss whether their absence of religious belief was relevant to their accomplishments.
d. Read the U.S. Constitution. Discuss with your counselor the references that exclude religion and why you think the U.S. framers thought it was so important to adopt the world's first godless and entirely secular written constitution.

3. Activism. Engage in some form of secular or freethought activism of your choice, Do one of the following:
a. Attend a secular convention, speech or event, staff a table for a secular organization, write a letter to the editor on freethought or state/church separation, or submit an article about freethought or state/church separation for your student newspaper.
b. Speak up if you hear atheism being derided or misunderstood, or if you hear such erroneous claims as "America is a Christian nation" or evolution attacked. Defend nontheism or the secular underpinnings of the United States in some public context, whether in class, at lunch with friends, a public event, etc.
c. Join and participate in secular student club (or if one doesn't exist in your school, apply to start one).
d. If your local governmental board regularly opens meetings with prayer, ask to be allowed to give a secular invocation and deliver one. (Be sure, if you choose this form of activism, to also enter FFRF's Nothing Fails Like Prayer contest!)
e. Sit down during the religious U.S. Pledge of Allegiance at your school or otherwise protest or challenge the religious pledge (in a nondisruptive manner).

4. Choose one the following:
a. Research the history of the Pledge of Allegiance and how "under God" was first added. Discuss with your counselor how it makes you feel to be asked to take a religious pledge at school.
b. Research the history of "In God We Trust" as a relatively new motto and how it gradually was placed on U.S. coins and currency along with the secular motto, "E Pluribus Unum." Discuss with your counselor how it makes you feel to be excluded as a nonbeliever from the nation's motto.
c. Research the song "God Bless America" (originally written in 1919 for a character to sing in a musical by the secular composer Irving Berlin), and how it makes you feel when you have been at a school, sporting or other event where this is played, or when you've otherwise encountered this slogan.

5. Do one of the following:
a. Watch one of these movies: Monty Python's "Life of Brian," "Contact," "Religulous," "Letting Go of God" DVD of the play by Julia Sweeney or any version of "Inherit the Wind," then discuss the merits of the movie's treatment of religion or atheism, and your reactions.
b. Learn and perform John Lennon's "Imagine" by instrument or voice. Discuss what the lyrics mean to you.
c. Read a biography about an author, artist, scientist or other famous individual who was not religious. Discuss this individual's contributions to the world.
d. Visit a museum that teaches about evolution, or design an experiment to test a religious claim, such as the power or prayer to change the physical world. Or discuss with your adviser the validity of untestable claims (such as Russell's celestial teapot or the existence of invisible mythical animals).

6. Write and submit a 200-300 word essay. Choose one of two following themes and write a persuasive essay about why BSA is wrong to claim "that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God."
a. Select a nonreligious person or secular organization, either current or historic, whether it's someone famous or someone you know personally, and explain why you believe they were or are "good without God."
b. Write why you are "good without God" and/or why you are a good citizen without believing in a deity, including at least one or two reasons why you are a nonbeliever. You may wish to add how it makes you feel to know that BSA regards you as an undesirable member.

Submit your essay and this form from an adult attesting that you have completed the requirements, which should include your full name, mailing address and contact information, to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(Your application and identity will be held in confidence.)

RESOURCES

BOOKS

  • Appleman, Philip. Darwin. (Norton Critical Edition)
  • Appleman, Philip. Darwin's Ark
  • Barker, Dan, The Good Atheist
  • Barker, Dan, GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction
  • Barker, Dan, Godless.
  • Barker, Dan, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
  • Boghossian, Peter. A Manual for Creating Atheists
  • Dawkins, Richard. A Devil's Chaplain
  • Dawkins, Richard. Climbing Mount Improbable
  • Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion
  • Dawkin, Richard. Unweaving the Rainbow
  • Dennett, Daniel. With Linda LaScola. Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind.
  • Dennett, Daniel. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.
  • Gaylor, Annie Laurie. Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So
  • Gaylor, Annie Laurie. Women Without Superstition: No Gods – No Masters. The first anthology of women freethinkers
  • Green, Ruth, The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible
  • Harris, Sam. The End of Faith
  • Hirsi Ali, Ayaan. Infidel
  • Hitchens, Christopher, God Is Not Great
  • Konner, Joan. The Atheist's Bible
  • Lindsay, Ronald. The Necessity of Secularism
  • Mehta, Hemant. The Young Atheist's Survival Guide
  • Morgan, Robin. Fighting Words: A Toolkit for Combating the Religious Right
  • Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian
  • Smith, George. Atheism: The Case Against God.
  • Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. The Woman's Bible
  • Sweeney, Julia, "Letting Go of God" (DVD)
  • Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason
  • Pinn, Anthony, Writing God's Obituary
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