By George Kane
We get far too little good news from the conservative Roberts Supreme Court. It was therefore a rare pleasure in December when it refused to consider a case that could have forced school boards to permit church groups to hold worship service in public school buildings outside of normal school hours.
The case was brought by the Bronx Household of Faith, an evangelical Christian church which wanted to use a local school for Sunday religious services. In 1994 they applied to use a New York City middle school for its Sunday morning church services, and were refused because the Board of Education had a policy prohibiting religious worship at its schools. The appeals court ruled that allowing the church services in schools would violate the constitutional requirement on the separation of church and state, and would send the message that government endorsed religion. However, a federal judge granted an injuction allowing the services, pending a ruling by the Supreme Court. SCOTUS rescinded the injunction and reinstated the appeals court ruling, which it declined to review.Add a comment Add a comment
By Eric Jayne
The Church of Scientology opened their new 82,000 square-foot building to the public last October. The building, formerly home to the Science Museum, sits kitty-corner to the Fitzgerald Theater and is currently the largest Church of Scientology in the Midwest. One month after its ribbon cutting ceremony about 35 atheists invaded the new building in spite of poor road conditions from the metro area's first significant snowfall of the season.
It wasn't truly an "invasion" since the local Scientology church agreed to host a Minnesota Atheists group tour, but only after some persuasion and a vetting process by a church leader named Karen. After I answered all of Karen's questions she said that she will need some time to decide whether or not to allow our group in. Two days after our conversation Karen confirmed our group tour for Saturday, 19 November.Add a comment Add a comment
By August Berkshire
Many, many people volunteered their time and talents to produce the great success Minnesota Atheists had this past year.
Nine people served on our board of directors (see list on page two), but this represents only a fraction of the leaders in Minnesota Atheists.
We produced ten newsletters with great articles and photos. For those receiving the paper copy, we have started mailing them in envelopes, which speeds up production (and thus delivery). Thanks to editor James Zimmerman, photographer Richard Trombley, Cedar Printing, mailers Steve Petersen and Shirley Moll (and others), and our many contributors.
Our website was redesigned by volunteers and has received good feedback from people who visit. Thanks to Steve Petersen, Eric Jayne, and Grant Hermanson for acting as webmasters.Add a comment Add a comment
By Steve Petersen
In part one of our November show, guest Ryan Sutter provided an overview of the popular fantasy series Discworld, by British author Terry Pratchett. During part two, Ryan offered a continuum of atheist approaches, from the fictional worlds of Pratchett, to the friendly scientist approach of Carl Sagan, to increasingly more polemical angles of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. James Zimmerman hosted.
For our December show, James Zimmerman interviewed Scott Lohman on the secularism of Star Trek. Scott provided an historical overview of the erstwhile show, from its origins to its becoming a cultural phenomenon. He then discussed how the series treats the ideas of gods, miracles, and immortality. Scott gave examples of specific episodes that dealt with these themes, including the original series' "Return of the Archons," The Next Generation's "Devil's Due," and "Death Wish," from Star Trek: Voyager. Scott also noted the treatment of omnipotence and afterlife as interpreted in the Star Trek motion pictures The Final Frontier and Generations.Add a comment Add a comment
Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Thomas Jefferson wrote this with great hope as he and the founders crafted the new Republic. But we have a huge problem in modern America because the value placed in science is losing its cachet. Politicians are ignoring or disputing the policy impacts that science is suggesting.
The challenges to our society are growing more dire as climate change and evolution denialism are badges of honor worn by many current potential presidential candidates, and in the meantime growing numbers of people are refusing to vaccinate themselves and their children against diseases for fear of a non-existent tie between vaccines and autism.
The United States has given up its leadership role in science and technology, and Shawn Lawrence Otto has been working to restore science to its rightful role of informing public policy. As one of the founders of the Science Debate 2008 program to urge the candidates in that presidential race, he has been analyzing the situation and proposing solutions that may save us all yet.Add a comment Add a comment