Meet a Member: Justin Scott​

Name:​ Justin Scott​.

​​Where I live:​ Manchester, Iowa. ​

​​Where and when I was born:​ Maquoketa, Iowa, Dec. 21, 1981.​

​​Family: Wife, Brandi, and two sons, Kinnick, 4, and Peyton, 18 months. Baby No. 3 is due in July!​

​​Education: West Delaware High School, Manchester, 2000; associate of applied arts, specializing in photojournalism and portraiture (graduated with top photojournalism portfolio), Hawkeye College, Waterloo, 2012; associate of applied arts in graphic communications, Hawkeye College, 2005; associate of arts in general studies, Hawkeye College, 2002.

​​Occupation:​ Photographer and graphic designer, social media consultant. ​

​How I got where I am today:​ By the grace of science and a great wife. ​

​​Where I’m headed:​ However far the cosmos allows me to and however far the Christian Right pushes me.​

​​Person in history I admire:​ Madalyn Murray O’Hair, because of how courageous, outspoken and unapologetic she was. What Madalyn did for our efforts is out of this world and we owe a ton to her.

​​A quotation I like: “Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.​”​​​ (From “The Boondock Saints” movie. Of course it had to come from a Catholic priest — eye roll!)​

​​These are a few of my favorite things:​ My wife, my kids, the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs, Freethought Today showing up in my mailbox, the courage to do and say what’s not popular, being a leader in the atheist/secular movement.

​​These are not: Excuses, extreme conservatism, apathy, indifference, really slow drivers​.
​​My doubts about religion started:​ ​During my formative years. I noticed at Sunday school and confirmation in the Lutheran Church, which I was not given a choice in taking part in, that I spent more time quoting Chris Farley and Adam Sandler from the previous night’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” than paying attention to what the pastor was saying.
It wasn’t until my wife and I welcomed our second son in 2013 that I really acted on those doubts by challenging what I had been forced to believe and becoming the proud atheist that I am now. ​

Before I die: ​I’d like to ​see an openly atheist president of the United States and openly atheist member of the Supreme Court.

​​Ways I promote freethought:​ By creating and leading the Delaware County ​Coalition of Reason and hosting “Freethinker Gatherings” in my hometown, through posts on social media, by debating believers and apologists and challenging their firmly held beliefs, by being outspoken and positive about atheism.

Indiana’s loss = Iowa’s gain

Justin Scott was featured in a March 31 story in the Des Moines Register headlined “Iowa dad leads effort to lure Indiana business.” The story told how Scott came to the defense of a former Iowa resident and friend now living in Indiana with plans to marry his gay partner.

After an Indiana “religious freedom” bill sanctioning discrimination became law, “Scott, by all accounts a bundle of energy, was inspired to act,” the story said. “He began to fire off scores of tweets. He grabbed a list of Iowa cities ranked according to population and began phoning the directors of chambers of commerce.”

Actor and Iowa native Tom Arnold responded positively, as did members of advocacy groups. Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, suggested emphasizing “that Iowa is open for business” and is a state that embraces diversity and inclusion. The Register editorialized that discriminatory laws “give Iowa a selling point” in attracting businesses.

Scott followed up with an open letter:

To the countless businesses, organizations and events that are deciding to boycott the state of Indiana due to Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign SB 101, aka the “Right to Discriminate” bill into law: I would like to personally invite you to bring your business to Iowa!

Iowa is one of the gems of the Midwest that has been known for standing for equality and diversity and we would love to have your business here where our state motto is “Fields of Opportunities,” which is exactly what we hope you’ll take advantage of.

For the record, this letter has nothing to do with the fine people and businesses in Indiana. I have visited Indiana — Indianapolis to be exact ­— and had a wonderful time. The land is beautiful, the businesses are great and the Indiana people are very hospitable and friendly. I am not anti-Indiana. Instead, I am pro-Iowa.

. . . I have reached out to many elected leaders, businesses large and small, along with many advocacy groups for various interests and visitor/tourism groups seeking support for this letter and will continue to do so. I plan on adding their names to this letter to show you the outpouring of support from those that live in and love our great state!

Please let me know if you have any questions about Iowa or bringing your business to Iowa. We are #OpenForService! Thank you for your time and consideration!

Kyle Munson’s story in the Register includes, “Thus a lone Iowa dad and small businessman has become a leading voice among Hawkeyes reaching out to Hoosiers. I think history will judge him kindly.”

Back to the drawing board

Justin Scott made another recent effort on behalf of secularism by proposing that the Manchester City Counil adopt a provision similar to the historic ordinance adopted in April making “nonreligion” as well as “religion” a protected class in Madison, Wis. FFRF sent an Action Alert to Iowa members in the Manchester area asking them to urge support for Justin’s proposal.

After he had briefed city officials. the council made it an agenda item for its April 27 meeting. Unfortunately, the council decided not to move forward with it.

City Attorney James Peters called it an “interesting proposal” but recommended against adoption, writing that a city the size of Manchester (pop. 5,200) lacks the necessary resources and calling it overly broad.

Freedom From Religion Foundation