New Projects and New Leaders
by August Berkshire
The big news this past month is that Minnesota Atheists was asked by Michael Newdow to join his lawsuit, “Newdow v. Roberts,” to stop government-sponsored religious activities at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration on January 20. This came about because I had heard through national atheist sources that he was going to file a case and I contacted him to be on our radio show on January 4. He agreed, and asked if we would like to be added as plaintiffs to the lawsuit. After a quick consultation of our board of directors, we added our name. Newdow also asked me if I would like to join as an individual plaintiff, as president of Minnesota Atheists, and I was happy to do so.
Our January meeting 18 will feature Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) co-president Dan Barker talking about and selling and signing his new book Godless. Both Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, the other FFRF co-president, have been extremely generous with their time and talents towards Minnesota freethought groups.
We have renewed our contract for our radio program, “Atheists Talk,” for another six months at a reduced rate. This will give us time to set up a live podcast program, which may eventually take the place of paying for time on KTNF radio. Speaking of our radio program, I have turned over directorial duties to Mike Haubrich. I always feel great when I can lead a worthwhile project, do my best for a while, and then turn it over to someone else of equal or greater talent. It is a tribute to Minnesota Atheists that we have been able to attract such a great number of people willing to make contributions to our group.
Our December Winter Solstice Party, a joint project with the Humanists of Minnesota, was a huge success. After slow initial sales, we ended up with 80 people. There will be a complete report with photos in our February newsletter.
In December we did an experiment and issued an electronic newsletter. To be honest, as an old fogy, I had my doubts about the project, but I must say Bjorn Watland did a superb job. He also issued an electronic press release about the “Newdow v. Roberts” lawsuit. Again, someone new has stepped forward with fresh ideas, talent, and energy, to take Minnesota Atheists to the next level.
Our January 18 meeting will be the last one we will hold at Roseville Library for a while since they will be shutting down for remodeling. Our February 15 meeting will be at the Rondo Library (University Avenue and Dale Street in St. Paul), our March 15 meeting will be at Southdale Library in Edina, and our April 19 meeting will be at the Ridgedale Library in Minnetonka. That’s four libraries in four months. One way to look at this is that we are spreading the wealth of atheism to the four corners of the Twin Cities. Another way to look at it is that we really need a building of our own.
Speaking of a building of our own, our Building Committee is checking out a former restaurant in Richfield as a possibility. If we make a bid, it will be considerably less than the asking price. We could use more money for both the purchase and the maintenance of a building. Please make a donation to our Building Fund if you can. Even better, become a monthly donor of $10 or more. Every little bit helps.
Finally, at our January 18 meeting we have nominations for our annual February elections. I am proud to have been the Minnesota Atheists president this past year. However, my new duties as vice president of Atheist Alliance International mean that it is time for me to pass the baton of the Minnesota Atheists leadership to the next generation. Accordingly, I look forward to nominating Bjorn Watland as the next president of Minnesota Atheists. If elected, he will be the only leader under 30 of a freethought group in Minnesota (excluding student groups). He will also head the state’s largest and most active group. It is no coincidence that these two facts go hand in hand. But running Minnesota Atheists takes all of us working together. If you are interested in serving on our board of directors and would like more information, please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, oh yes – Happy New Year everybody!