President’s Column: The New Year

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

By August Berkshire

Headshot of August Berkshire, smiling.

I’m very excited about our upcoming year. We start out having restored our membership to the level it was at two years ago, mostly through lapsed members having renewed, but also through gaining many new members (welcome!).

We will once again have a strong, talented board of directors, supplemented by numerous other leaders and volunteers. Nevertheless, we can always use more help. At the moment, we could use a volunteer to help lead an advertising campaign. We also need someone to submit listings of our activities to media calendars. It’s not very hard and we will provide the necessary information.

We are very pleased to announce that our new public relations officer is Emily Matejcek (, who takes over from George Kane. Emily has professional experience in writing and distributing press releases, as well as experience with the internet, websites, and fundraising, and she has hit the ground running.

In addition to an ad campaign, I anticipate that we will enlarge our Speakers Bureau and be more pro-active about seeking opportunities to present atheism and related topics to the general public.

We are also investigating the possibility of co-hosting a conference with our friends and colleagues, the Humanists of Minnesota. We will also solidify our connections with the Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists (C.A.S.H.) at the U. of M. and other student freethought groups in the state. We should also work more with Camp Quest of Minnesota to reach out to families with children. I would like us to do a better job at creating a sense of “freethought family” among our members and among the various groups in Minnesota.

On April 22 and 23, 2011, American Atheists will be hosting their national convention in Des Moines, Iowa. Check out their website ( to see the great speakers they have lined up, including Christopher Hitchens.

Finally, one of our long-time members and volunteers, Matthew Richardson, has an article in this month’s newsletter. He proposes that Minnesota Atheists, as an organization, officially take a position that the United States end its War on Drugs and legalize drug use for adults. One of the arguments he makes is that the ACLU has already taken this position.

There are two main issues to consider regarding this proposal. First, is the issue itself something that merits support? Second, is this the type of issue that falls within the parameters of what we should be addressing?

This issue brings up a good point. Minnesota Atheists belongs to its members and any member can bring forward an idea, make a motion, and present it to the rest of the membership for a vote. For an item that might be controversial and needs a good conversation before a vote takes place, it’s good to allow time for that, as Matthew is doing. He is soliciting opposing viewpoints before we vote on the matter.

Should our April or May meeting have speakers on both sides of the debate on the War on Drugs and their legalization, after which we will take a vote as to Minnesota Atheists’ official position on the matter? This seems like a reasonable approach. What do you think? Send your responses to or let us know by phone or at our monthly meetings.

Minnesota Atheists

Positive Atheism in Action Since 1991