The 2014 Philadelphia Tree of Knowledge event 12/7/2014

The 2014 Philadelphia Tree of Knowledge

Book This Event for a Secular Holiday Season

ToK2014Please plan to celebrate the 2014 winter season in a festive freethought fashion by attending a Tree of Knowledge decorating special event! The Tree of Knowledge will be placed in the lobby of the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia (EHSP) at 11:00 AM on Sunday, December 7, 2014. The Freethought Society (FS) is proud to join with EHSP for this celebration of openness, education, and freedom of conscience. EHSP is located at 1906 South Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The event is free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome!

The Tree of Knowledge will be decorated around noon following an EHSP program featuring an address by Hugh Taft-Morales entitled, “Great Awakenings.”

Taft-Morales will explore the First Great Awakening that brought an angry god to America at the beginning of the 18th century, the Second Great Awakening fueling public social reform early in the 19th century, and the 20th century wave of progressivism that woke government up to its responsibility for ordinary citizens. Taft-Morales will conclude by advocating for a contemporary “great awakening” of secular government and a culture of humanism and freethought.

The Tree of Knowledge became a winter symbol for the nontheist community in 2007, originally placed on the lawn of the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Despite appeals for openness and acceptance, Chester County Commissioners have prevented the nontheist community’s symbol from being included in any the traditional winter holiday display since 2010. EHSP welcomed The Tree of Knowledge display with excitement and full support for the diversity it represents.

Margaret Downey, President of FS said, “This is the fourth year that we’ve celebrated the winter season with a Tree of Knowledge at the Ethical Humanist Society. It started as a symbol of inclusion and sharing in this region but The Tree of Knowledge has since become a tradition, not just in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but throughout the world.”

Visitors are encouraged to bring two color copies of the front of a favorite book to the December 7th event. A laminator and other craft materials will be available for those color copies to be made into an ornament. The ornament can be placed on the Ethical Society’s Tree of Knowledge or used for a home display.

Downey and FS board members Jennifer Taylor and Patti Butcheck will be making the ornaments at 1:00 PM in the upstairs meeting room.

Enjoy the Taft-Morales EHSP presentation on Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM, and stay for The Tree of Knowledge decorating party and noon! Both events are free and open to the public.

 

To view photos of previous Tree of Knowledge displays, see:       https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xaadwcswcszxvij/AAA2JyLkjtUEpQJq6lV72DZta?dl=0

For more information, contact:

Margaret Downey, FS President

Phone: 610.793.2737

Email: Margaret@FtSociety.org                                              

Hugh Taft-Morales, EHSP Leader

Phone: 215.735.3456

Email: LeaderHugh@phillyethics.org

Ron Lindsay on the Necessity of Secularism Dec. 8, 2014

The Necessity of Secularism; Especially During the Winter Holiday Season

ronLindseyRon Lindsay, noted author, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), will be hosted by the Freethought Society (FS) and the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia (EHSP) at 7 PM on Monday, December 8, 2014. Lindsay’s presentation on The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do is based on his book of the same name. This event takes place at the EHSP building, located at 1906 South Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is a free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome!

Lindsay’s presentation is based on his recently published second book, which has garnered extreme praise by many notable reviewers.

“For some,” Lindsay states in his book, “secularism has become the ultimate scare word. …What’s interesting and ironic about this hysteria over secularism is that secularism, properly understood, is the best protection religious believers have, particularly in a society they no longer control. Secularism protects freedom of conscience, including freedom of religion; it doesn’t threaten it. One reason some may have such dread of secularism is that they mistakenly equate secularism with atheism… But secularism and atheism are distinct views and don’t even belong in the same category.

“The fact that I have been both a believer and a nonbeliever also gives me a heightened awareness of the novel, challenging situation in which the United States and many other countries now find themselves. For the first time in human history, we have substantial numbers of nonbelievers living side-by-side with believers. Moreover, this is a situation that is likely to persist for some time. The number of nonbelievers is going to increase in developed countries, but religion is not going to disappear in a few years, if ever.”

Lindsay is by training and experience the quixotic combination of lawyer and philosopher. He has a PhD in philosophy from Georgetown University specializing in bioethics, and a JD from the University of Virginia. He is the author of the essay “Euthanasia” in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics, as well as articles in many other prestigious publications, and of the book Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas.

FS President Margaret Downey stated, “We are honored to have Dr. Lindsay give his presentation here in Philadelphia because this is the city where an unprecedented secular government began.  The Constitution includes a very important statement. Article VI explicitly states that ‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’”

Hugh Taft-Morales, the EHSP Leader added, “The ‘no religious test’ Constitutional tenet was affirmed many times in court cases, including the United States Supreme Court in 1961 in its unanimous decision in Torcaso v Watkins.”

After the presentation, at 8:30 PM, visitors are invited to attend a birthday party for Dr. Lindsay in the upstairs EHSP community room. Birthday cake and beverages (wine, coffee, tea, and water) will be served. Donations for the party are appreciated.

For more information, contact the following event organizers:

Margaret Downey, Freethought Society President

Phone: 610.793.2737

Email: Margaret@FtSociety.org   

                                           

Hugh Taft-Morales, EHSP Leader

Phone: 215.735.3456

Email: LeaderHugh@phillyethics.org

Sunshine Meeting on 10/7 CANCELLED

NB: The Chester County Commissioners’ Sunshine Meeting where FS planned to discuss the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE has been cancelled by the borough. We announced via this discussion group, Meet Up and the newsletter that we wanted readers to deliver testimony in support of The Tree of Knowledge that day at 10:00 AM.

Read more here: http://www.ftsociety.org/2014/08/27/chester-county-sunshine-meeting-re-tree-of-knowledge-1072014/

Chester County Sunshine Meeting re Tree of Knowledge 10/7/2014

NB: The Chester County Commissioners’ Sunshine Meeting has been cancelled by the borough. We announced via this discussion group, Meet Up and the newsletter that we wanted readers to deliver testimony in support of The Tree of Knowledge that day at 10:00 AM.

Since the Sunshine Meeting has been cancelled, FS is trying to notify everyone who had planned to attend — not to arrive in West Chester on Tuesday, October 7, 2014. Please spread the word.

We instead encourage supporters of The Tree of Knowledge to send an email, make a telephone call, or write a letter to the Commissioners. You can use the information in the announcement article below to help prepare your letter or call.  All contact information is listed below:

Commissioner Ryan Costello
rcostello@chesco.org

Commissioner Kathi Cozzone
kcozzone@chesco.org

Commissioner Terence Farrell
tfarrell@chesco.org

All letters and phone calls go to the same address and phone:

313 West Market Street
Suite 6202
West Chester, PA  19380
610.344.6100
610.344.5995 (fax)

We apologize for any inconvenience. We did not anticipate any changes in the schedule of the Commissioner’s Meeting.

Call or email the Freethought Society if you have any questions.

610 793-2737
Margaret@FtSociety.org

 


BY MARGARET DOWNEY:

• The Freethought Society (FS) has decided that FS must make another appeal to the Chester County Commissioners to allow the display and inclusion of the nontheist symbol – The Tree of Knowledge.

Please see the FS website (www.FtSociety.org/menu/tree-of-knowledge) for complete details and history of The Tree of Knowledge efforts. We must not give way to the bigotry and prejudices that the Commissioners have against the nontheist community.  FS board members will attempt to convince the Commissioner that nontheists are indeed an integral part of the community and that our symbol must be included in the 2014 Winter Holiday Display. We need your help. The more voices we get, the more convincing we can be.

tree2The Commissioner ignored a petition with over 350 signatures in 2010. A Chester County attorney figured out a free speech loop hole and rendered the ACLU efforts on our behalf useless in 2011. They dismissed us again in 2013. Get this folks, the Chester County Commissioner take ownership of the  Free speech zone for two full months in the winter — displaying things that theydeem  Important — nothing more!

The Commissioners did not listen when representatives from the Secular Jewish, Hispanic Freethinkers and Nontheist Indian community spoke on our behalf in 2012.

Now we want to try again, but this time, we want a crowd of speakers to overwhelm the Chester County Commissioners’ Sunshine Meeting.

Meeting details are printed below. If you plan to attend –PLEASE DO NOT REMAIN  SILENT. Every voice is precious in this fight. Speak for one minute or five. Just please show that you are there for a reason and the reason is to support The Tree of Knowledge.

Here is a brief outline of what you need to say, should you attend:

My name is…

I am a resident of… (county and state)

The Tree of Knowledge is important to me because …

I will visit West Chester to see it (bring family/friends, shop and eat in West
Chester, celebrate the season, etc.)

Make a personal appeal if possible.

Say thanks for listening/considering, etc.

Have at least six copies of what you say (one for each Commissioner, one for FS, one for reporters)

It’s easy and can be very quick. You do not need to be eloquent or forceful. Just add your voice to the subject matter. If you would like assistance in formulating your statement, contact me ASAP. Your attendance is vital.

Location, date and time is as follows:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10:00 AM 6th Floor

313 West Market Street

West Chester, PA. 19380

–  Margaret DowneyFounder and PresidentFreethought Society

P.O. Box 242Pocopson, PA 19366

Phones:610-793-2737

Office610-793-2569

Fax610-357-9432

Email: Margaret@FtSociety.org

Websites: http://www.FtSociety.org

http://www.Friggatriskaidekaphobia.com

http://www.Secular-Celebrations.com

Sikivu Hutchinson on Feminism, Freethought, and the 99%; 7/24/14

The Freethought Society (FS) is very pleased to present noted author, blogger, feminist, and secular and human rights activist Sikivu Hutchinson on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM at the Ludington Library (5 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania). Hutchinson is a dynamic speaker and the author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Value Wars and Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, Sikivu Hutchinsonand Transportation Politics in Los Angeles. Her latest book, Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels has been a huge success. Hutchinson will speak on “Feminism, Freethought, and the 99%” at the event, which is free and open to the public.

Much of Hutchinson’s work focuses on the cultural and social history of African American secular humanist thought and its role in black liberation struggle.

“As part of the most religious ethnic group in the nation,” Hutchinson states, “African American nonbelievers are a tiny minority in a community which has borne the brunt of the economic downturn. While white atheist and humanist organizations go to battle over church/state separation and creationism in schools, black nonbelievers face a racial and gender divide precipitated by rollbacks on affirmative action, voting rights, affordable housing, reproductive rights, education, criminal justice, wages and job opportunities.

“Similar to the race/class schisms within feminism,” Hutchinson notes, “when progressive black atheists look to atheist and humanist organizations for solidarity on social justice there is a staggering disconnect.  In a nation where whites and people of color are still separate and decidedly unequal, culturally relevant humanism challenges colorblind myths of meritocracy.”

Hutchinson is a senior intergroup specialist for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. She received a Ph.D. from New York University and has taught women’s studies, cultural studies, urban studies, and education at UCLA, the California Institute of the Arts, and Western Washington University. She is a contributing editor for The Feminist Wire and was named 2013’s “Secular Woman of the Year.” In 2010, she founded Black Skeptics Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing outreach, advocacy and education for nonbelievers of color and their allies. She is also the founder and project director of the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist, humanist high school mentoring program based in South L.A. In addition to her three nonfiction books, Hutchinson is currently working on a novel based on the 1978 Jonestown massacre, where the 918 dead were overwhelmingly people of color.

Hutchinson’s presentation is free and open to the public and begins at 7 PM on July 24 in the main level large meeting room of Ludington Library. The library is located at 5 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr.

For more information, contact:

Tom Melchiorre
Freethought Society Board Member and Event Host
Email: Publish@TomMelchiorre.com
Phone: (610) 960-2558