The Hottest Spot and the Coolest People in Alabama: Alice C. Shiver

By Alice C. Shiver

The 15th annual 4th of July celebration at Lake Hypatia Freethought Hall in Talladega, Ala., the southern headquarters of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, was a rousing event. Registration was held in beautiful Fearn Park under pine and sweetgum trees, in view of the Women’s Freethought Star, which was alive with brilliant, colorful flowers.

Following registration, Pat Cleveland and Clark Adams welcomed guests in the Willa Mae Whatley Auditorium, dedicated in 1999. This year’s event brought 118 people from 15 states.

Our lineup of speakers offered diverse subjects and informative opinions. Ed Buckner gave an update on former Judge Roy Moore, he who owns the rock. Bob Truett spoke on animals and evolution, and demonstrated his knowledge and love of snakes with the assistance of several brave children. Barbara Forrest warned of the danger to education posed by the teaching of Intelligent Design and the Wedge Theory.

Delos McKown delivered some powerful ammunition to be used against fundagelicals” in debates and letter-writing. Susan Sackett focused attention on the prevalence of humanism in the Star Trek series. John A. Henderson presented a humorous discussion of fear and faith in religion, based on his own childhood experiences. And last, but surely not least, Fred Whitehead entertained with an informative slideshow on freethought in Germany, based on his travels.

Bernard Bray, the association’s scholar-in-residence, and Anna Blumenthal, a Foundation member, presented a dramatic performance which explored the relation between politics, body and theater. They were assisted by the audience and three student actors–Maurice Winsel, Courtney Denney and Garrett Holliman–in this hands-on delight.

Other events included a poetry reading with presentations by Fred Whitehead, Ed Kagin and Alice Shiver; the traditional softball game between the Atheists and the Agnostics; and an activist workshop led by Joe Odeneal. Early risers on Saturday morning participated in a nature hike led by Michelle Michaels into the Cheaha Mountain wilderness. Clark Adams hosted a freethought trivia game, complete with prizes.

The night was filled with the sounds of acoustic guitars and harmonizing vocals provided by Dale Pack and Joel Gibson on the Lakeside Pavilion. A bonfire lit the darkness of the lower campground on Cady Creek, as people joined the campers to roast marshmallows.

Another particular treat was the great food: deli luncheon, BBQ with fixings, Mexican fiesta, and broiled Italian chicken. Of course, sweet tea was served with every meal. Sunday morning began with the traditional non-prayer breakfast, the favorite meal of many. Just southern good! Y’all come back!

Alice C. Shiver is a Foundation member from Alabama.

Freedom From Religion Foundation