Category Archives: call to action

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.


 

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Happy World Humanist Day!

World Humanist Day is celebrated every year on June 21 by declaration of the American Humanist Association and the International Humanist Ethical Union.

It is an opportunity for humanists and humanist organizations to celebrate and inform communities about the positive values of Humanism and to share the local and global concerns of the Humanist movement.

The 50th anniversary World Humanist Congress in 2002 unanimously passed a resolution known as “The Amsterdam Declaration 2002″. Following the Congress, this updated declaration was adopted unanimously by the IHEU General Assembly, and thus became the official defining statement of World Humanism.   Read the Amsterdam Declaration: http://iheu.org/humanism/the-amsterdam-declaration/

The Humanist Manifesto, first written as a version of religious Humanism in 1933, was subsequently revised as a secular-specific perspective in 1973.  The third version, “Humanism and its Aspirations,” was adopted by the American Humanist Association in 2003:

Humanist Manifesto III, a Successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

Humanist Manifesto is a trademark of the American Humanist Association
© 2003 American Humanist Association

Additional resources:

• Humanist Manifesto I

• Humanist Manifesto II

• Humanist Manifesto III in Spanish

• Humanist Manifesto III in Portuguese

• “Life without God (An American Sign Language translation of the Humanist Manifesto III)” translated by Justin Dean Vollmar

• Notable Manifesto Signers

• Print Version

 

 

Thank you, donors!

We are grateful to the donors who contributed 15 units of blood at Saturday’s blood drive and 97 books to support summer literacy initiatives!

IMG_20170603_1253255071 – BLOOD DRIVE

On Saturday, in partnership with Target (Oviedo) and OneBlood, we joined the Central Florida Freethought Community to host the first Pulse Remembrance blood drive in Central Florida; the 15 donors were the first to earn the STILL STRONG donor shirt.  We enjoyed  a great day making a difference with the CFFC and members and friends who came to support the efforts.  Fifteen units of blood collected will impact 45 lives in our community.

donor3Our blood drives to date have collected more than 182 units of blood, impacting 546 lives.

 

 

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2 – BOOK DRIVE

The event was also the final drop-off for our annual STEM-themed summer literacy book drive.   In support of local literacy initiatives of the Heart of Florida United Way and its partner agencies that focus on bridging the summer reading gap, we collect new science, technology, engineering, and math-related books, and books that highlight women and minorities in successful leadership roles, that will be given to youth as gifts.  The Central Florida Freethought Community joined the effort again this year.  With their help, we reached a total of 97 high-quality new books.

IMG_20170603_102219674This year’s collection included multiple copies of Women in Science, an autographed copy of Astronomy Saves The World from its author Daniel Batcheldor, Chasing Space, and many more fun and visually stunning books that will be sure to ignite the imagination of young readers.

Our next STEM-themed collection will be the holiday toy drive – BE part of it! Follow us at http://STEM4youth.wordpress.com.  We’re proud to be a part of STEM4Youth, a collaborative effort of local secular and Humanist organizations.  Initiatives include the summer book drive, holiday toy drive, and an annual Math, Science, & Pi(e) Fest.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Click here to become a member and RSVP:

  • Make a Difference in Under a Minute (sign online thank-you letter to a local university for their Humanist inclusion efforts)
  • Monthly meal serve in Sanford
  • Solutionary Festival & Peace Walk at Lake Eola
  • Park & Lake Cleanup event
  • Food donation sorting at Second Harvest
  • Living shoreline stabilization project at Canaveral National Seashore
  • Professional Development – free diversity workshop on faith in the workplace
  • Mattress recycling project at the Mustard Seed

LINKS

 

BE. Orlando Remembers Pulse

We are still heartbroken for the victims, families, and communities devastated by this act of violence.  Yet we are uplifted by the resilience and courage around us, and we’re proud to stand with our community, empowered to make a positive difference together.

The FIRST pulse remembrance blood drive of 2017 will be hosted tomorrow by BE. Orlando and the Central Florida Freethought Community. The #OrlandoUnited blood donor shirts will make their official debut tomorrow at Target in Oviedo, 10 am – 3 pm.

Rain or shine, the bloodmobile will be parked at the Target entrance; our tents will be there as well as long as weather allows. If you don’t find us outside, look for us inside at the snack area or at Customer Service.

Come donate blood with us tomorrow in honor of those impacted by the Pulse tragedy last year.

We will also be collecting new, STEM-themed books to support summer literacy initiatives in our community.  Help us support programs dedicated to the educational wellness of at-risk youth.

I hope to see you tomorrow.

Thank you for your commitment to our community.

LINKS

Remembering Pulse: Blood Drive, Book Drive, & More!

You’re invited to join us on June 3rd, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Target in Oviedo for our Pulse Anniversary Blood Drive event.

There are many unable to donate blood in support of their identity community; will you give a pint on their behalf? Blood donors of all types are needed to ensure adequate blood supply in our community for daily needs and to be prepared for unexpected emergencies.  One of the Pulse victims used 200 units of blood; help us make sure blood is available when it is needed.

Look for the Big Red Bus and our tents in the target parking lot, and if you can, please make an appointment to donate blood with us.

We will also be collecting new, STEM-themed books for middle and high-school students to support the Heart of Florida United Way’s summer literacy initiatives. Visit our book drive site for great book lists and other resources: http://stem4youth.wordpress.com/stem-book-drive.  Youth books in Spanish are needed as well to support the Latino/a Community in Central Florida.

And for our animal lover friends, we will be collecting cat food and cat litter to support an elderly man in our community who cares for two feral cat colonies (care includes TNR services, medical care, food, water, shelter, and copious love).

We hope you will support these efforts, but you don’t have to donate anything to stop by and say hello at our tents and meet members and leaders from the local secular community. Learn about what we do, take the opportunity to ask questions and have a great conversation, or find out how you can become more involved in the local secular and Humanist efforts.  See you there?


EVENT LINKS

Make An Appointment to Donate  |  Secular Community Blood Drives

FaceBook Event  | Flyer to Share  | RSVP with us on Meetup:  BE. Orlando or CFFC


We’re grateful to our partners, the Central Florida Freethought Community, the Humanist Community of the Space Coast (who think they can collect more book donations than we can – HA!), Target in Oviedo, and of course the dedicated, life-saving staff of OneBlood.

Remembering Pulse: Honoring victims and survivors

As Humanists, we seek the means to make a positive difference for others.  We respond to tragedy in our community by providing support, giving back, volunteering,  sharing a message of  – and demonstrating – inclusion, and working to provide fellow Humanists opportunities to be empowered to make a difference with us.

A week after the Pulse tragedy on 6/13/16, local secular and Humanist leaders joined in an effort to host a blood drive that honored our LGBTQ+, Latina/o, and Muslim members and friends.  Our efforts not only raised units to impact 80 lives in our community, but also provided healing empowerment for those who wanted to do something positive that would help others.

We have not forgotten our members or our community.  We’re looking forward to another heartwarming day spent working together to make a difference.  Will we see you there?

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A Mother’s Day Meal

For this month’s 2nd Wednesday Chef Team event, we wanted to share something special from our hearts to honor the residents at SafeHouse for Mother’s Day.  Volunteers enjoyed a wonderful evening preparing and sharing their mother’s or family’s favorite recipes.

Violence against women impacts mothers and their children in our community and around the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 in 3 (35%) women experience intimate partner or sexual violence in their lifetimes. Impacts include serious short- and long-term physical, mental, and behavioral health problems for survivors and for their children. [see Florida stats and US National stats]

WHO says that to  achieve lasting change, we must address discrimination against women; promote gender equality; support women; and help to move towards more peaceful cultural norms.

Reflection: What can you do in your daily actions and human connections to promote a culture of peace? How do you set an example of respect for the women in your life? What will you do today to make the world a better place – for women in general, or maybe for a woman in your life?

This Mother’s Day, let’s pledge intentional effort for lasting positive change for women in our own spheres of influence and those in our greater community.  Make a personal commitment to volunteer with or make a donation to SafeHouse of Seminole, or another organization that is working to support survivors and prevent intimate partner and sexual violence in our community.

We all work daily to expand our kindness footprint.  Thank you for all that you do to make the world we share a better place.

LINKS

 

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National Day of Reason This Thursday

BE. Orlando believes in the right of every American to have and practice their faith or non-faith.  We promote respect for diversity and inclusion, and recognize the importance of efforts like the National Day of Reason (NDoR) that are working to ensure true religious liberty and end divisive religious practices.  We appreciate local organizations like the Central Florida Freethought Community for their vigilance and active engagement promoting the separation of church and state in Florida.  And we actively support the Secular and Religious Minority Awareness initiative at the University of Central Florida, promoting respect for individuals of all faiths and non-faith and educating about the challenges faced by minority faith identities in our culture.

The first Thursday of every May is designated the National Day of Reason. It exists to inspire the secular community to be visible and vocal – on this day and throughout the year – so that we can overcome exclusionary practices, bigotry, hatred, and discrimination normalized by the National Day of Prayer (which falls on the same day). It brings an inclusive secular worldview into the national conversation on a day when there is so much effort to force Christianity into our schools, workplaces, and  government.

In our diverse society, including everyone of all faith and non-faith perspectives is imperative.  NDoR celebrates freedom of all from governmental intrusion into private faith practices and works to reduce stigmatization of those of non-faith and minority faiths. NDoR seeks to include ALL people, regardless of faith or non-faith, in a day to celebrate reason and religious liberty.

We are grateful for the efforts of the American Humanist Association and other secular leaders and organizations that spearhead NDoR efforts, and for local leaders who are working toward an inclusive Central Florida.

LINKS