Category Archives: Humanism

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

 

 

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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

 

 

A great day in the park

BE. Orlando members joined 50 other volunteers and the parks and recreation team with Seminole County (SERV) for a park cleanup on June 24th.  Teams of volunteers removed 17 bags of litter and trash, and approximately 60 bags of invasive plants (9 cubic yards of primrose willow, Caesarweed, alligatorweed, torpedo grass) from Red Bug Lake and from the edge of the park.

BE. volunteers canvassed the park for three hours, filling bags with trash and talking to the younger volunteers about the impact of trash – especially deadly shiny items like confetti, Mylar balloons, and tin foil.

Our youngest volunteer, a 3rd grader, said this was her second time volunteering. When asked what she learned from the project she said, “I learned not to litter.”

Our gratitude to the SERV program leaders!  SERV stands for Seminole Education, Restoration, and Volunteer program.  They lead citizens in projects where we learn about environmental impacts and are then empowered to work together to make a difference.

LINKS

Seminole County SERV

Join BE. Orlando for future events

SERV photo album from this event

 

 

 

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

 

 

Rice Bar!

For our June monthly meal serve event, we prepared a Rice Bar for the residents of SafeHouse of Seminole.  With rice as our base, we prepared creative toppings for residents to choose from.  These included cheesy veggies, steamed fresh veggieVolunteersRocks, spiced Mexican beans, tomato basil sauce, sweet & sour chicken, portobello alfredo, and chicken & gravy.  There was also an Indian section with chana masala (curried chickpeas), Methi melai mutter (green peas and spiced cream), Dal curry masala (lentils), baghara baingar (eggplant), and palek paneer (spinach & cheese).  And for dessert?  Rice pudding, of course!  We also had peaches and strawberry yogurt (both good on rice!).

We’re looking forward to our Summer Picnic theme in July!

LINKS

Join us for an event

SafeHouse of Seminole

 

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.

 

 

book banner

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