We couldn’t have said it better

Kerri Levine of St. Louis wrote a Letter to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that was published on Saturday, May 2. It expresses the AU point of view perfectly. Here is the link: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/mailbag/dangerous-to-mix-religion-and-government/article_0bf62fbf-d4e6-557f-9d8f-b14e2963d6f8.html

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Earth Day 2015 was April 26

EarthDay2014Many of our Board members were at the annual Earth Day celebration on a beautiful Sunday, April 26 in Forest Park (in front of the Muny), on Sunday, April 26. We have enjoyed interacting with members and non-members at Earth Day for several years now.  It is always a positive experience, whether or not the weather cooperates.  This year, it was a perfect day.

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Membership Meets April 16 with State Representative Tracy McCreery

TracyMcCreery

Tracy McCreery

State Senator Jill Schupp, Missouri District 24, was unable to meet with us as we had planned on April 16, to update us on issues and happenings in Jefferson City, especially those that impinge on church/state separation.  A capable replacement, State Representative Tracy McCreery (Missouri 88th District) took Jill’s place and provided an informative and lively discussion of happenings in the capital. We met at 7:00p at “The Heights”, the Richmond Heights Community Center, on April 16, 2015. The membership voted to adopt the revised Constitution and Bylaws, that were on the Web a month before the meeting.

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Interfaith Alliance Initiative on Public Support for Private/Religious Schools

Our friends at Interfaith Alliance have a convenient Web link to be used to contact your Representative about the threat to include language that would allow public school monies to be diverted to private schools when No Child Left Behind’s successor legislation is reauthorized.  Their link is http://www.interfaithalliance.org/get-active/action-center/item/17-keep-public-money-out-of-private-parochial-schools.  You may find other Actions that you will want to participate in, on their “Get Active” menu.

Posted in Legislation, Uncategorized

Recommended book

GoodNewsClub  AU Board members have been reading a very interesting but very depressing (from our point of view) book, “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children“, by Katherine Stewart.  Because of a 2001 Supreme Court ruling, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, public schools are largely defenseless against evangelical organizations (GNC being the most active, best-funded, and nefarious) who are taking over public schools for activities aimed primarily at children between 4 and 14.  Even more alarming is that churches are being “planted” in public school buildings across the country, including here in St. Louis. If you are wondering what “planting” means, it is just as bad as it sounds.  Public school buildings, including auditoriums and classrooms are taken over (at minimal ‘rent’, usually covering only utilities) for regular Sunday church services and Sunday schools.  Katherine Stewart’s book describes these movements in detail, and the picture is not pretty. Read the book.

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Movie Night!

IGWTWe viewed and discussed Vic Losick’s Award-winning documentary film, “In God We Teach” on Thursday evening, February 5 at 7:00p. Our host was again the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road.

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Ballwin Rejects Endorsement of Religion Sign

Partially in response to our President, attorney Cynthia Holmes, (there were others also encouraging  in this direction), the Ballwin City Council voted September 23, 2014 not to accept a “free” sign saying “In God We Trust” to be posted in their Board Room.  The Post-Dispatch story on this can be found at http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/ballwin-rejects-in-god-we-trust-sign/article_ed39ceaf-242c-509d-aed6-1f9892489ae3.html

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St. Louis Favorite Bill McClellan Spoke at Our September 21 Picnic

Bill McClellan

Bill McClellan

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist and Donnybrook founding member Bill McClellan spoke at our annual picnic on September 21 in Shaw Park, Clayton.  Bill 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.

We have photographs of some of the glamorous people in attendance. They will be posted in this space very soon.

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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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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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