Secularism to be represented at Va. university Founder’s Day Breakfast tomorrow

Green headshotThe Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog, is pleased to announce that Dr. Tiffany Green will represent FFRF and the Richmond Reason and Naturalism Association at Norfolk State University’s first-ever Founder’s Day Breakfast tomorrow, Sept. 18th, at the sold-out event. Rev. Al Sharpton is the keynote speaker.

First billed as the Norfolk State University Prayer Breakfast, this event celebrates the university’s 80th anniversary and Founder’s Day. The event was intended to be an interfaith breakfast where “[u]nder the theme of Forging Onward through Prayer, Education and Service, nationally acclaimed civil rights activist Revered Al Sharpton will be the featured keynote speaker. Additional prayer will focus on our youth, the less fortunate, world peace and social justice, and equality and reconciliation by our Faith Partners Network of religious leaders.” NSU was also selling tickets to the religious event.

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter of complaint on Sept. 3 objecting to the public university sponsorship of a religious prayer breakfast, to NSU Interim President and CEO Eddie Moore. “While Founder’s Day is certainly worthy of celebration, any events NSU puts together in commemoration of this day must conform to constitutional strictures … it is illegal and inappropriate for a public university to host, organize, support, or otherwise promote a patently religious event like a prayer breakfast.”

NSU responded quickly and took immediate action to remedy these violations. NSU changed the name of the event from NSU Prayer Breakfast to Founder’s Day Breakfast. NSU also changed the theme of the event from “Forging Onward Through Prayer, Education and Service” to “Forging Onward Through Education and Service.”

The biggest victory is that NSU invited a secular humanist to join the panel of interfaith leaders and represent secular humanism and nonfaith at this historic event. Dr. Tiffany Green, assistant professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, is excited to participate in this event. She notes, “As a proud graduate of an HBCU, Florida A&M University, I am delighted to participate in tomorrow’s Founder’s Day Breakfast at another prominent HBCU, Norfolk State University (NSU). By acknowledging the role of secular humanists in creating a better world for our children, NSU has demonstrated its commitment to inclusiveness and equality.”

Green, of Richmond, Va., is also the vice president of the Richmond Reason and Naturalism Association and certified as a Secular Celebrant via the Center For Inquiry.

FFRF is a national nonprofit state/church watchdog with more than 23,000 nonreligious members, including more than 485 in Virginia.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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