St. Louis Favorite Bill McClellan Will Speak at Our September 21 Picnic

Bill McClellan

Bill McClellan

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist and Donnybrook founding member Bill McClellan will be our speaker at our annual picnic on September 21 in Shaw Park, Clayton.  Not only has Bill agreed to risk our cooking, but he also wrote an amusing commentary about our organization  on July 4 (fittingly). The title was “Finally – A Group That Won’t Break My Heart” -that’s us!  Click on the link to read the whole column.

Details on the picnic will be available soon, but it will feature burgers, dogs, and drinks provided by us. Side dishes would be welcome. Join our mailing list to get the specifics. We suspect that the Wally Wharton Society will also be holding an unofficial meeting.

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Creationism by Another Name by AU Board Member Kwame Mensah

Most Americans will agree that academic freedom is important in any educational setting.

Kwame

Kwame Mensah

In 1987, the U.S Supreme Court handed down a ruling that invalidated a Louisiana law that required public schools in that state to offer a “balanced treatment” between the theory of evolution and creationism in their science classes.

It has been 27 years since the Edwards vs. Aguillard ruling. Since that time, several lower federal courts have struck down the idea of teaching creationism in public schools.

Unfortunately, the issue is still alive and well.

Some religious fundamentalists have began to regroup and change the language of creationism to make it sound more appealing.

The terms and strategies to reintroduce creationism back into the sphere of public education are as follows: “evidence against evolution,” “the theory of abrupt appearance” and, of course, “intelligent design.”

Whatever the repackaging scheme, the core ideas consist of the same old biblical fundamentalism fronting as legitimate science.

In addition to the new terms, creationists have attempted to adapt the strategy of wanting to only have a discussion about this supposedly “controversial” issue called evolution.

The assertion of the religious fundamentalist is that they serve as spokespeople for “academic freedom,” a claim made in proposed legislation in many states this year.

So the question becomes, what’s the endgame? The answer is quite old and simple.

It seems to be a pernicious attempt to sway young people who are already disillusioned with science or more difficult concepts, who would now be offered an easier answer to “where did we come from?”

The fundamentalist answer is, “God did it.”

Just having that creationist option in the science classroom would lead to further confusion and distortion of what we as a civilization know about the physical world.

As a teacher I know that the future of our nation depends and belongs to the scientifically literate, specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Students who enter college without the rigorous enrichment of evolutionary theory and its principles suffer a disadvantage.

The good news is that with the exception of a few Christian fundamentalist schools, colleges and universities teach evolution unapologetically and without controversy.

That is, for now.

.Appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch May 2, 2014: Mensah is a contributor to STLtoday.com/religion. He serves as a board member on the St. Louis Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

 

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AU and Church/State Separation Loses with the Supremes

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on May 5 that sectarian (inevitably Christian) prayers before town hall meetings are not violations of the separation of church and state.  It is hard to believe that a Jewish or Muslim citizen seeking a zoning change or a lodging a complaint with his local officials would not be disconcerted when the proceedings at which he is making a request are begun with a prayer to Jesus Christ.  The AU national  office has comments about this unfortunate development at https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-disappointed-that-us-supreme-court-ruled-in-favor-of-sectarian

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Earth Day 2014, April 27

EarthDay2014

Four Board members at our booth in Forest Park

What does Earth Day have to do with separation of church and state?  We’re not sure, either, but we are sure that we meet lots of our members and others interested in becoming members at the booth we have had the last three years.  We met a lot of nice people again this year – we hope you were one of them, on Sunday, April 27. We were advised to leave about 4:30 because of impending dangerous storms, but the windy day was otherwise quite pleasant. Everybody wore AU shirts except the Pres.

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Annual Dinner March 20

rev barry lynn_AU

Rev. Barry Lynn

On March 20, 2014, we enjoyed a dinner talk by Rev. Barry Lynn, the national Executive Director of Americans United. He was our special guest at our approximately annual dinner meeting at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, 3415 Olive Street. Food was catered by the Triumph Grill, that is right downstairs. It was a great evening. If you missed it, you shouldn’t have!

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Movie Night! January 23

god-loves-uganda-poster

God Loves Uganda Poster

We had a good crowd for our showing of “God Loves Uganda”, an award-winning documentary by director Roger Ross Williams. It was premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and has been nominated for an Academy Award. The story is about the influence that American Evangelicals have had on the Ugandan government, encouraging them to adopt severe penalties (including the death penalty) on gay people. We screened it at the Ethical Society.
This issue remains in the news:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26320102

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