Author Archives: BE. Orlando

About BE. Orlando

BE. Orlando is a Humanist service & social organization that creates opportunities for volunteerism, learning, and networking. Openly inclusive of all diversities, including minority faith, non-faith, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Together, our impact is greater

In God We Trust bill to be heard on Feb 7th

The vote is tomorrow.  Below is the email contact information for all committee members – write to them tonight.

A couple weeks ago, we shared our thoughts on HB839 with you.  This bill would require K-12 public schools to display “In God We Trust”.   Require.  Every public school.  [READ POST]

Thank you to the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for the updated information below.

“In God We Trust” Should Not Be Displayed In Florida Schools

Act TODAY to tell Florida lawmakers to vote against bill that would put “In God We Trust” in every public school building.

Tomorrow morning, the Florida House Education Committee will consider HB 839, a bill that would require every school board in the state to place the phrase “In God We Trust” in all public schools. Even though the phrase is, disgracefully, both the national motto and the Florida state motto, there is no question of this bill’s religious intent. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kimberly Daniels, is a preacher with a history of using her public office to promote her personal religion.

Please take action TODAY to oppose this attempt to insert religion into Florida public schools. The Education Committee will consider this bill tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., so they need to hear your voice this afternoon. Please call or email these lawmakers and urge them to vote against HB 839.

More information about HB 839.

Your Message:

Please use the below as a guide and personalize your own message. It is okay to be brief, but passionate.

I am writing as a concerned Floridian to strongly oppose HB 839, which is scheduled for a hearing at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, Feb. 7. Even though “In God We Trust” was adopted as our national motto in the 1950s, it carries a clear religious message that has no place in our secular public schools.

The sponsor of HB 839, and legislators at the bill’s hearing in the PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee, have gone on the record saying that the intent of this bill is to promote belief in a religious deity, not to encourage patriotism.

This clear religious goal is anathema to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and marginalizes the 21 percent of young Americans who are either atheist or agnostic, according to a recent study. These students do not trust in any gods and no message to do otherwise should be expressed to them by their government.

Please vote against HB 839 tomorrow morning.

Who to Contact

Contact the members of the House Education Committee today to voice your strong opposition to HB 839.

 

CFFC is a friend and partner to BE. Orlando. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on the separation of state and church and building a thriving secular community in the Greater Orlando area.  Visit them at http://CFLFreethought.org for more information

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BE. Inspired – February Newsletter

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January Highlights  | AnnouncementsFebruary EventsFebruary Observances
Member’s Favorite Positive Life Quotes | January Photo of the Month

JANUARY HIGHLIGHTS

Distaff day is one if our favorite days!  The Orlando Distaff Day organizers welcome our Warmies Project™ each year.  This year they donated more than 130 warm items and more than 70 items of non-perishable food that went to the Coalition for the Homeless.  It was a designated “cold night” when we made the delivery and the parking lot and lobby were full of people needing help. “Warm up cold folks” is the Warmies motto, and that day we sure did! Read more: https://beorlando.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/thanks-orlando-distaff-day/

Secular Invocation at the Florida House of Representatives – As far as we can tell, this is the first Atheist, and the first intentionally secular, invocation given at the Florida Legislature.  Thanks to Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith & the Central Florida Freethought Community for making it happen!  Read more: https://beorlando.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/atheists-invocation-florida-legislature/

MLK Weekend was AWESOME!  Thank you to our volunteers who recycled mattresses at the Mustard Seed and sorted food donations at Second Harvest Food Bank. We’re also grateful to the UU Congregation of Lake County for welcoming us to share the message of Humanism.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

Pi Day is coming! Join us for an awesome tradition – members engage in math & science activities with at-risk youth at our Math, Science, & Pi(e) Fest at the Coalition for the Homeless.  Recent Pew Research data shows that a major reason why kids aren’t pursuing STEM education and careers is because of the perception that the subject matter is too difficult.  Volunteers at MS&P spend an afternoon doing fun activities that hopefully inspire youth to think about STEM possibilities for their futures.

RSVP for Pi Day: https://www.meetup.com/BEOrlando/events/246657725/

Thanks to member Dan for the article from Pew.  Read it here: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/17/half-of-americans-think-young-people-dont-pursue-stem-because-it-is-too-hard/

Darwin Day is next month – get your Darwin Day gear!  Links here: https://www.meetup.com/BEOrlando/events/243878251/

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February EVENTS

Details & RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/BEOrlando/events

  • Feb  7 – last day to RSVP for the 2/14 meal serve at SafeHouse!
  • Feb 10, 5:50 p.m. – BE. Orlando Board Meeting
  • Feb 14, 6:00 p.m. – Food from the Heart – prepare and serve a heartwarming meal for the residents of SafeHouse of Seminole on Valentines day.
  • Feb 21, 6:00 p.m. – Humanist Peer Support and Discussion Group
  • Feb 26, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – workshop at UCF on Humanism. Learn more here: https://srmaucf.wordpress.com/find-a-workshop/ or RSVP to nonreligion@ucf.edu.

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FEBRUARY HUMANIST OBSERVANCES

Humanist Calendar: http://HumanistCalendar.wordpress.com
Email suggestions to BEOrlando@live.com

Birthdays: Teller (1948) Darwin (1809)
Founding Dates:  Coalition of Reason (2009)

  • Black History Month– From the Library of Congress: “As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.”
  • 2nd – Wear Red Day is the first Friday in February. Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds. This national campaign to wear red and raise awareness informs women about risk reduction and raises funds for research and treatment. Learn more: goredforwomen.org
  • 7th – e Day / Euler’s Number Day–  a day where people recognize the significance of the number e, which is approximately 2.71828 (so, celebrated on 2/7). Popularized in use by Leonhard Euler in the early 1700’s, it is an irrational number that represents the idea that all continually growing systems are a scaled version of a common rate. The constant e is mostly used in logarithms, exponential growth, and complex numbers.
  • 11th – International Day of Women and Girls in Science: In order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/70/212declaring 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
  • 12th – Darwin Day– February 12th – celebrates Darwin’s immense intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, and ravenous hunger for truth.  The Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) is planning a special event for the Orlando area that will feature nationally known speakers and informational tables. Visit CFFC’s Meetup for more information. Learn more about Darwin Day and find a map of events: darwinday.org
  • 14th – #OneBillionRising-Held annually on February 14th, this international solidarity against the exploitation of women is based on the staggering statistics that one in every three women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. Learn more: onebillionrising.org  Here in Central Florida, the SafeHouse of Seminole joins forces with UCF Victim Services and other organizations and task forces for a #OneBillionRising event at the University of Central Florida.
  • 16th – Freedom of information Day– celebrates the birthday of President James Madison on March 16.  Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution” and as the foremost advocate for openness in government.  He was instrumental in the drafting of the United States Constitution and was the key champion and author of the United States Bill of Rights.  Individual rights and freedom of information were of high importance to Madison. The holiday is a yearly reminder of the importance of transparency in the American government and the public’s right to information.
  • 17th – National Random Acts of Kindness Day– A day to celebrate and promote kindness!

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Members’ favorite positive life quotes

Contributed by Susan, new member:

“In life and in the universe, may your signal be high and your noise be low.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

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January Photo of the Month

MLK Weekend Banner

In G/god(s) some trust.

1/25/18

Florida House Bill  839 / Senate Bill 1158 – a proposal that K-12 schools would post “In God We Trust” in all buildings.

It was just a couple weeks ago that the Florida House of Representatives welcomed an Atheist to deliver a secular invocation.  That’s progress, and i’m grateful.  But there’s so much more to be done – and pending bill 839 is a symptom of the deeper issues.

The preamble of the constitution of Florida begins with a statement that IS NOT TRUE.  It asserts that “we” (all citizens of Florida) are “grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty.”  I’m not represented in that statement, and many others are excluded as well. Pew Research Center data indicates that 76% of Floridians hold Christian or non-Christian faiths.  The Florida population is about 20 million.  That’s 4.8 million who do not claim identity with a religion when asked in a poll.

Not all of those who do claim a religion in polls are believers in God. Some may be Atheistic, Humanistic, Secular, or otherwise culturally or in ritual practice aligned with a faith without belief in the supernatural.  Some nonbelievers are “out”, but others are silently waiting in the “closet” for the world to be a safe place for people of all faith and non-faith identities to be open about who they are.

Pew data also shows that only 64% of Americans believe in God with certainty; based on that statistic, more than 7 million Floridians have some level of doubt. This “in God we trust” language demonstrates willful ignorance and disrespect of the diversity of our citizens.

We shouldn’t be allowing religious radicals to advance normalization of faith expectation in schools and other public domains.  In fact, the right thing to do is to remove references to G/god(s) and faith expectation so that all citizens can be free to exercise their own faith or non-faith without harassment.

A motto is a guiding principle expressed in a few words.  “In God We Trust” was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956, replacing “e pluribus unum” (from many, one) which had been on the Great Seal of the United States since its creation in 1782. It was also in the 50’s that God language was added to the Pledge and our currency.

The change was a response to communism as a systemic statement of exclusion of citizens of  minority faith perspectives and secular identities. “In God We Trust” has been officially the motto of the State of Florida only since 2006.   Belief in the supernatural isn’t a guiding principle, and faith bias shouldn’t be our state motto.

Pending House Bill 839, if passed, would “require, in all of the schools of the district and in each building used by the district school board, the display of the state motto, ‘In God We Trust.'”  It would take effect July 1, 2018.  Freedom to express (or not express) faith or non-faith is not a license for religious bullies to force their beliefs on others.

“But it is our state motto”, right?  The real question is, why isn’t there a move to  change our state motto?  The current motto is untrue, blatantly disrespects and marginalizes people of non-faith, fosters divisiveness and hate, and demonstrates ignorance about the diverse people it represents – and doesn’t represent.

The bill to force display of religious messaging in K-12 schools was heard in the Education Committee, PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee, on January 23rd, 2018, with 10 “yes” votes and ZERO “no” votes.   

I don’t address political issues very often.  I get criticized for that a lot, but it’s not in my wheelhouse & others do it much better. However,  this caught my eye and i wanted to ask you to write to your representatives today.  Only about 5% of bills end up becoming law, but just its introduction as a bill should be addressed. Let them know what you think about this bill.  Even if this only reaches a couple people, your voices make a difference.

LINKS & REFERENCES

 

 

Humanist Peer Support and Discussion Group in Orlando

On the third Wednesday of each month, 6:00 p.m., the Humanist Peer Support and Discussion Group, hosted by Humanist and Secular Services at UCF, will meet in east Orlando, near the University of Central Florida.

The group is for those experiencing personal or professional challenges related to their worldview, coming out as an Atheist or other marginalized perspective identity, coping with transition from a religion, seeking meaning and purpose in secular life, and more.

If you have specific topics or questions you’d like us to cover, please send them to nonreligion@ucf.edu.

This is a peer support group, not a therapy group.

Dates: Spring 2018 dates (third Wednesdays): 1/17, 2/21, 3/21, 4/18, and 5/16
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Location: 3280 Progress Drive, Suite 100, Orlando, FL, 32826
Parking at the building is free. Follow the signs in the parking lot to the Human Resources suite; we are in room 105.

For more information contact nonreligion@ucf.edu or visit  http://SRMA-UCF.org/support.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Atheist’s Invocation, Florida Legislature

January 12, 2018

We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by investing time this coming weekend to make a positive difference for our communities through volunteer service (Join us!!). However, we must also honor his vision of a world where people are judged on the content of their character.

There are many Humanists, Atheists, and other secular citizens concealing their non-religious identity.  Living in the glare of hate that is ignited by ignorance isn’t easy. We might fear damage to professional relationships and even impact to job security.  We might fear loss of friends and family.  Many feel alone, isolated, or unrepresented in our community.

Dr. King said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.  As compassionate people concerned with the well-being of others, uplifting and serving our community must include valuing and creating a world that is safe for everyone.

Picture4It is extremely important that non-religious people– and all underrepresented identities – have a voice. We are grateful to Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a champion for his constituents, for inviting a secular invocation for the House of Representatives.  As far as we know, this is the first Atheist to deliver an invocation, and the first intentionally secular invocation, for the Florida Legislature.

The invocation focused on diversity and inclusion, reminding us all that there are many identities around us whose voices are seldom heard.   As Humanists,  we are “concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views.” (Humanism and Its Aspirations).

All leaders of our state need to be aware that nearly a quarter of the people they represent identify as unaffiliated with a religion, and more than 1.4 million Floridians identify as Atheist or Agnostic*.  This invocation was an amazing opportunity for our voice to be heard, for our existence to be noticed, and to work toward normalization of inclusion for people of all perspectives.

A special shout of gratitude to the Central Florida Freethought Community for their support and coordination.  And thank you to House Chaplain Tim Perrier for his kindness and hospitality.

LINKS

 

Below is the transcript of the invocation.  You can watch it here: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/1-11-18-house-session/

It is an honor to represent your Humanist, Atheist, and other non-religious constituents and colleagues with a secular invocation.

 Those you serve and those around us today include people of different cultures and races, gender identities, levels of financial stability, and backgrounds. They vary in physical and cognitive abilities. They speak many languages. They include people of many faiths and non-faith perspectives. But while we are diverse, we are united by our common humanity.

 The deliberations in this chamber are of the highest consequence to the people of Florida. As you work together toward solutions that address challenges facing our state, may you have the fortitude to make difficult choices while holding the needs of the diverse public at the forefront of your decisions.

 As we seek to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month, I am reminded of his words: “The time is always right to do what its right.”

 May your leadership be guided by integrity and compassion to uplift all people today and every day of this legislative session.

 Thank you for your service and your work today to make a positive, meaningful difference for all.

 

*Based on US Census Bureau v2107 Florida Population (20,984,400) and Pew Research Center data identifying 7% of Floridians as Atheist or Agnostic.


 

Thanks, Orlando Distaff Day!

The fiber artist community contributed 136 hand-made warmies yesterday – blankets, scarves, gloves, slippers & socks, shawls, hats, and more.   They also donated more than 70 items of food and wrote postcards to warm hearts – a nice touch to add an extra sprinkle of kindness to their 2018 Warmies drive!

Last night was designated a “cold night” at the Coalition for the Homeless.  There were more people waiting at the gate and on the campus than i’ve seen there in a long time. The lobby was packed with men, women, and children.  After a week of unexpected freezing nights, people were looking for shelter and warmth.  The Coalition was in need of warmies of all kinds – and Orlando Distaff Day helped to answer their call for community support.

Thank you to the fiber artists and the organizers of Orlando Distaff Day – you make a difference!

We’re looking forward to Orlando Distaff Day 2019 on January 5th!

LINKS

 

 

BE. Inspired – January Newsletter

2018 is going to be AWESOME.

We’re starting off 2018 strong with some great events in January – join us & help kick off a GREAT year for Humanist service in Central Florida.  BE part of it!

Year-End Summary:

  • In 2017 we hosted 72 events and performed 880.5 hours of service;
  • Our 2017 blood drives collected 67 units;
  • Our 2017 summer book drive raised 97 books and our holiday toy drive raised more than 50 STEM-themed toys;
  • Our total 2017 expenses were $7,960.70; and
  • We achieved Gold team status with the Foundation beyond belief.
  • Detailed summary: http://JustGottaBE.org/service-impact 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

2018 Member Surveyhttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZPZGQKR

Board of Directors vacancies: There are three openings on our Board. Contact BEOrlando@live.com for more information.


 UPCOMING EVENTS

Details & RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/BEOrlando/events 

  • 6th – join us for Orlando Distaff Day!  A day of fiber crafts & philanthropy with the fiber artist community. We’ll host a vendor table collecting hand-made warm items and food for homeless people in Central Florida.  Volunteer with us or bring a project & just come enjoy the day. Learn more: http://orlandodistaffday.org
  • 10th – prepare & serve dinner at SafeHouse of Seminole.  Must RSVP by January 3rd.
  • MLK Service Weekend (MLK service pins for volunteers at these events)
    • 13th –  sort food donations at Second Harvest Food Bank
    • 14th –  prepare & serve lunch at Ronald McDonald House (Nemours at Lake Nona)
    • 15th –  sort destroy mattresses!  Prepare mattresses at the Mustard Seed for recycling.
  • 17th – Humanist Peer support and Discussion Group – This is hosted by Humanist and Secular Services at UCF; however, it is free and open to the public.  The location is just off campus and parking is free and adjacent to the building.
  • 20th – climb into the woods for the annual Invasive Species Raid with Seminole County SERV.
  • Online, anytime – 15 minute online Meal Serve training for those joining us to prepare and serve food at upcoming events. Electronic certificate upon completion.

Announcing our 2018 12x12x12 Challenge!!  Each month, make a care pack with 12 items.  You can turn them in at any BE. Orlando event.  Last year we used these items to support the Coalition for the Homeless as they served an influx of people who needed shelter during and after Hurricane Irma.  Whether there is a similar event or not, these care packs make a real difference for people in our community.  Item suggestions and agency wish lists are posted on the event description.


 JANUARY HUMANIST OBSERVANCES

Humanist Calendar: http://HumanistCalendar.wordpress.com

  • Birthdays: Stephen Hawking (8th)
  • Founding Dates: ACLU Founded (19th, 1920)
  • Half-Pi Day – If the Tau Day enthusiasts can call Pi Day “Half-Tau Day”, then we can have Half-Pi Day as well. Celebrate on January 5th!
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – The third Monday of every January is designated a national day of service by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light Foundation. We celebrate  “A day on, not a day off”: investing our day out of the office to make a difference in our communities. BE. Orlando hosts one or more service events on MLK Weekend.  Volunteer with us or visit NationalService.gov/MLKday for national projects & information.
  • Thomas Paine Day – One of the founding fathers of the United States and author of The Age of Reason, Paine promoted reason and free thought, and argued against institutionalized religion in general and Christian doctrine in particular.
  • January is National Mentor Month. Learn more about International Mentor Day, Thank Your Mentor Day, and other mentoring celebrations at Mentoring.org

Members’ favorite positive life quotes

Contributed by Amanda, member since May 2012:

“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” Anthony J. D’Angelo


Favorite Photos from Dec 2017:

Elfing Day – toy & blood drive – we collected more than 50 toys for SafeHouse and 11 units of blood.  In addition, BE. Orlando beat Oneblood at badminton.  Kind of.IMG_20171216_134113215.jpg

Christmas Eve hike on Klondike Beach: seven members & friends did a beautiful (but not easy) 6 hour beach hike starting at 6:30 a.m.  Near the end we slowed down to each fill a trash bag.IMG_20171224_071925595.jpg