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25% of all donations in April to SecularFM goes to PA Nonbelievers!

We are pleased to announce that 25% of your ongoing patron support in the month of April to SecularFM goes to PA Nonbelievers! SecularFM is a new project to offer 24/7 online podcasting with entirely freethought content!

SecularFM has already collected around $1,000 in monthly patronage. When you offer your support there, it is a monthly obligation, but can be cancelled at any time. Your pledges help support freethought content on the internet, and of course secular organizations like this one. You can offer as little as $1 a month to as much as you like.

Please note that pledges to SecularFM are not tax-deductible, but they are an easy way to keep getting money to organizations like the Foundation Beyond Belief, and the Richard Dawkins foundation (The first two recipients of their program).

We are honored to be selected to be this month’s recipient, and pleased to be a part of supporting freethought media.

To become a patron of SecularFM, click here.

Atheists and Secularists clarify the record and ask for an apology from Rep. Rick Saccone

Links:

HB 1728: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2013&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1728
Reference CBS 21 Broadcast: http://local21news.com/news/features/face-the-state/stories/face-state-rep-rick-saccone-57.shtml

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

HARRISBURG, PA, January 20 — Despite the claims of bill sponsor Rep. Saccone, atheist groups in Pennsylvania strongly oppose HB 1728, the “In God We Trust” bill that seeks to force public schools to display a discriminatory and unconstitutional religious message. So do many liberal Christian (and other religious) groups because it is an encroachment on the Constitutionally-mandated separation of government and religion.

On Sunday, January 19th, 2014, CBS 21 (WHP, Harrisburg, PA) aired a program called “Face the State with Robb Hanrahan.” During this program, Rep. Saccone claimed that “the head of the Pennsylvania Atheists” (a non-existent group) came to him after his last rally offering support for his bill. However, he never identified this person by name and no atheist group leader, to our knowledge, attended that event. We ask Rep. Saccone to name this leader, as we cannot imagine an atheist group leader supporting this clearly divisive bill.

In addition, Rep. Saccone misrepresented the bill as “bipartisan” – indeed, it did pass the Education Committee, but with only two exceptions (one Democrat and one Republican), the vote was directly down party lines.

It’s absurd to claim that this bill includes language that is “inclusive.” “In God We Trust” does not represent anyone who does not worship “God.” This includes Buddhists (who do not have a god), Hindus, and many other religions. It also includes atheists, who do not worship any deity. In the program, Rep. Saccone claimed that atheists can make “God” be “whatever god that they worship in the form of maybe it’s [sic] materialism or something else in life that they look at [sic].” This shows an ignorance of atheists generally and is offensive to us specifically because of the misrepresentation of our community as “materialists” or the assumption that we would feel worship is a positive activity. None of us have a “God” to trust, thus this motto does not represent us.

Rep. Saccone knows that there is strong opposition to his bill. His presentation on the program includes gross misrepresentations of our community at the least and we feel he at least owes us an apology. Rep. Saccone should talk to the atheist and secular community to learn our positions before actually representing them to the state at large.

This bill is divisive. It misuses classroom resources such as money and education time. This bill promotes a specifically religious message. Contrary to what Rep. Saccone claims, nothing in his “In God We Trust” bill is remotely patriotic. It also creates a strong impression that the government supports a particular idea of a “God,” which is not permissible under the First Amendment. Because of the latter, if passed this bill will likely be challenged in court, adding court costs to the list of expenses that our already cash-strapped school districts and ultimately the taxpayers would have to bear.

Many additional people in the atheist community cannot sign their names below because, sadly and angrily, they fear personal and professional repercussions from their public support of non-religion. Their situation aptly demonstrates the divisiveness of HB 1728.

We respectfully request an apology from Rep. Saccone for misrepresenting the atheist community and equal time from WHP 21 to represent a secular perspective of HB 1728.

Sincerely,

Brian Fields – Newville, PA – President, PA Nonbelievers and Co-Chair, Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania
Scott Rhoades – Lancaster, PA – President, Lancaster Freethought Society and Co-Chair, Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania
Darren Smith – Center Valley, PA – Vice President, Lehigh Valley Humanists
Paul Tucker – Dillsburg, PA – Organizer, Dillsburg Area Freethinkers
Margaret Downey – Pocopson, PA – Founder and President, Freethought Society
Stephen Hirtle – Pittsburgh, PA – Steel City Skeptics organizer
Timothy and Tina Havener – Lock Haven, PA – Organizers, PA Wilds Freethought Society
Shannon and Linda Turk – Wrightsville, PA – Organizers, PA Nonbelievers
Staks Rosch – Philadelphia, PA – Coordinator, Philadelphia Coalition of Reason
Cathryn Smith – Lebanon, PA – Director, PA Nonbelievers
Janice Rael, Organizer, Philadelphia Atheists Meetup
John Murray – Pittsburgh, PA – Organizer, Pittsburgh Atheists Facebook Meetup

PA Nonbelievers 2014 Annual Meeting Announcement

Hello everyone,

This is an important reminder to all members that the PA Nonbelievers annual meeting will be on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 10am at the UUCY Carriage House in York. Our annual meeting is the members’ opportunity to contribute to the organization by helping us pick our officers, raise issues of concern to the organization, and meet and greet members from all over Central PA! You must be a member as of January 29, 2014 in order to vote in our general elections. You also must be a member for at least 6 months to serve as an officer (Officers are elected by the board membership at the board meeting that follows the annual meeting.)

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! If you haven’t received our membership form, you can download it here.

I will be sending out information about the elections in the coming months. Hope to see you there!

Brian Fields
President
PA Nonbelievers

PA Nonbelievers 2014 Membership Drive

It’s time once again for our 2014 Membership Drive!

As you may already know, PA Nonbelievers memberships operate on a calendar basis. That means all current memberships will expire on December 31, 2013.

Here is the 2014 PAN Membership Form! We’re working hard to protect your rights in PA – As well as to provide a welcoming community for Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, and all other non-believers in Central PA. We need your support, however, as we can’t operate without your donations. If you aren’t already a member, please – Join us!

Take time and fill out this form and become a member. Take a stand against religious fundamentalism, and for the Separation of Church and State. We are a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, and your donations are tax deductible to the extent that the law permits.

Chambersburg Meeting Change

We will be moving our monthly meeting in Chambersburg to the Supreme Buffet across the street, as the Jade Garden is closed for remodeling. We will continue to meet there the third Tuesday of each month at 7pm. Hope to see you all there!

July Annville Meeting location change

July’s Annville meeting will be at the Batdorf Restaurant at 245 West Main Street, Annville, PA in the Mustard Room. It will, as usual, be on the second Wednesday (July 10) at 7pm. This is a meeting to try out a new place, and may not be a permanent change.

PA Nonbelievers to Co-Sponsor Ellery Schempp Presentation

PA Nonbelievers will co-sponsor “An Afternoon with Ellery Schempp” with the ACLU on Sunday, June 9th, 2013. It will be at 2pm at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, PA.

Dr. Schempp’s case was one of the two cases decided by the Supreme Court (The other was Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s case) that removed compulsory prayers from the public school system. This event is in honor of the 50th anniversary for that case.

On Monday, June 10th, Dr. Schempp will be at the PA General Assembly. We are hoping that he will have the opportunity to address the Assembly. At 11am, he will take part in a press conference to discuss the “Public School Religious Freedom Month” resolution, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Abington V Schempp and Murray v Curlett cases. The press conference will be in the Media Room at the Capitol, and feature other speakers as well, including David Silverman, President of American Atheists and Brian Fields, President of PA Nonbelievers, and others as we can arrange it.

More information about the case is available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abington_School_District_v._Schempp

Urge your PA State Representative to Co-sponsor the Public School Religious Freedom Month Resolution

Next month, June 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning teacher-led Bible reading and prayer in public schools throughout this nation. PA State Representative Mark Cohen (D-Phila.) is looking for co-sponsors of a resolution entitled Public School Religious Freedom Month which he plans to introduce shortly, commemorating the Supreme Court decision. So far, he only has garnered seven co-sponsors (out of nearly 200 representatives). Six are Democrats and one is a Republican.

This a resolution which PA Nonbelievers drafted, and that all citizens (religious and irreligious, Republicans and Democrats) who respect the U.S. Constitution should be able to support. There is no reason this should not be a fully bipartisan resolution, but we need your help.

Please contact your member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and strongly urge them to contact Rep. Cohen’s office offering to co-sponsor the resolution.

Amidst an ongoing series of right-wing resolutions declaring “Year of the Bible,” “Prayer Month,” “National Fast Day,” “American Religious History Week,” and several Boy Scouts resolutions, as well as a bill that, if passed, would prevent students from
anonymously suing their school districts in state courts if they feel their school is hosting an unconstitutional religious display, this new resolution celebrates the rights of ALL students to be free from coercive school-sponsored religious exercises.

If you know your PA State Representative, call their local office, identify yourself as a constituent, and express your support for Rep. Cohen’s upcoming Public School Religious Freedom Month resolution and ask that they co-sponsor the resolution. This is important even if you know they are an adversary. If the Representative does not take your call personally, ask that they respond to you promptly by phone, email, or letter. (And let us know what their response is!)

If you don’t know your State Representative, go to this page:
http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/#address
and look for the “PA House” or “PA Rep” listing for your street address, township, borough, or city. Please do not contact your State Senator regarding this resolution. This is a House, not Senate, resolution.

If you need help identifying your representative, or have other questions, please feel free contact us.

This effort will only require a few minutes of your time, and is very important in letting the legislators know that they have atheist voters in their district and we are watching how they will vote, even if they don’t co-sponsor the resolution. For those of you who are too shy to pick up the phone, look for the “envelope” icon under your representative’s photo, and click on it to send an email.

Please help, and please SHARE this message with your FB friends throughout PA.

Carl Silverman
Capital Area Director
PA Nonbelievers
Camp Hill

The 2013 PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference is now selling tickets!

We are pleased to announce that we are helping to produce the 2013 PA State Atheist/Humanist conference. This will be our second annual conference – We’re working very hard to top last year’s fantastic event!

TICKET SALES ARE NOW LIVE! Go here to purchase tickets for this event!

atheists_agnostics_blockIt will be located at the Embassy Suites Airport Hotel in Philadelphia, and take place the weekend of September 13-15, 2013. We have arranged a special price of $130 per night, and you can use code “113″ to reserve your hotel room at that rate. You can call the hotel at: (215) 365-4500. Your hotel reservation includes breakfast, internet, parking and Happy Hour.

The Freethought Society, Lancaster Freethought Society, PhillyCoR, and PA Nonbelievers are working together to plan this year’s conference.

The Freethought Society will be throwing one of its famous anti-superstition parties on Friday the 13th of September at 7pm to kick off the conference weekend. This party is not part of the ticket price and will cost the small additional fee of $13. General admission to the conference costs $100 for the whole weekend, and includes Saturday lunch and Saturday dinner. You can find out more about our other packages on the ticket page.

You can also help us out by sharing our handout cards on bulletin boards, and by sharing the webpage on social media!

Check out the main website for the event here. You can also catch us on Facebook, and join the event for updates as we get them.

Brian Fields
Co-Organizer
2013 PA State Atheist/Humanist conference
President, PA Nonbelievers

Richard Dawkins is coming to Philadelphia!

The Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania is hosting a Richard Dawkins speaking event, which PA Nonbelievers is proudly sponsoring! The event’s detailed information can be found here.

It is a free event, and the tickets are available here: http://annualoration2013.eventbrite.com/

It will be held at the Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania on March 12, 2013 at 6:30pm located at 3401 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA.

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