July 2024

Being Repetitive

by Bob Lane

                 I’ve been submitting articles to our newsletter for well over twenty years now. That adds up to a lot of articles. So, I worry about being repetitive about the subject I choose to write about. I also worry about complaining and criticizing too much. It would be nice if I could more often write about educational subjects and sometimes maybe even something a little uplifting. But sadly, now is a time where a lot of complaining and criticizing is necessary.

So, this month I will revisit some of what I call bad religion. Namely, the decision to mandate the Ten Commandments in public schools in a growing number of states, and Christians renewing their war against secularism and the separation of church and state. They are two related subjects. 

A person could write a tome about either of these subjects, but I plan to be short. For what I suspect is a majority of us on the liberal side of politics, it is obvious that mandating into law the placement of the Ten Commandments in public school and on other government property is a clear violation of the idea of the separation of church and state. But, being emboldened in the last several years, the religious right has used their majority in many states to push these mandates through their various legislatures. Not only are they mandating the Ten Commandments, but I noticed recently that some in Oklahoma are trying to get the studying of the Bible put into school curricula. These new laws are simply bad, and they are also unfair and they violate the right of all those who may worship God with a different dogma or who worship not at all.

At this point I want to interject a criticism I have about those pushing the Ten Commandments. A long time ago when I was checking out the place in the bible, (Exodus Chapter 20) where the Ten Commandments appear, I noticed something that surprised me and made me chuckle. I saw that there are actually more than just Ten Commandments.

In Exodus 20: 24 it states, “An alter of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon, thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come and bless thee.” So, I want to ask, “why aren’t believers in the bible offering up burnt offerings? I suspect one reason is that it is a commandment that requires one to sacrifice tangible things like sheep and the like. That can get to be expensive.

  Plus, those chapters in Exodus have a lot of thou shalt and thou shalt nots. Anyway, getting back to secularism, I find it a bit baffling that so many Christians don’t understand that secularism in our society is what makes it possible for a person to worship the way they choose. Secularism protects religion from government intrusions and protects our government from intrusion by the “church.” Without this separation, eventually one religious sect or a group of sects would gain power and turn us into a theocracy. Through this country’s history the religious have mostly understood the need for secularism, but that seems to be changing recently. That’s my complaint and criticism for this month.

Ozone Hole Recovery

by Wayne Wilson

             In the early 1980s a hole in the ozone layer was discovered over Antarctica. Scientists determined that it was being caused by chlorofluorocarbons, which were used largely in spray cans as a propellent to use the product in the cans. When the evidence was seen as undeniable, an international committee was convened to address the situation in 1985 the Montreal Protocol was established which included a plan of what needed to be done to address the situation. Goals were set phase out a number of chemical compounds over time. The treaty was accepted by 28 countries that included larger, more scientifically developed countries to help poorer countries meet the goals.

  This year, for the first time, the fruits of the Montreal Protocol are beginning to show with the ozone hole showing signs of shrinking. To me this means that international cooperation to mitigate climate change can actually work. I find it disheartening that Utah seems to be heading in the opposite direction by extending the life of coal mining and power generation. I’m starting to be skeptical of the so-called Utah Way being a superior way to live.

Independence Month

by Melanie White-Curtis

             July is here! We are halfway through 2024 and in full swing of this unprecedented political cycle. For most of us, July represents independence, patriotic pride, BBQs, fireworks and the red, white and blue. For us Utahns, it also represents the 24th of July which is another huge holiday for our state and creates an entire month of patriotic festivities. 

This year, feels different. With all of the fun and celebration, there is a heaviness with the upcoming election, and the gravity in the importance of the outcomes. The past several years have been filled with a pandemic, the earth changing due to climate, TONS of information and technologies and so much angst and uncertainty that it can feel suffocating at times. It is in this condition that we can no longer live in complacency, ignorance and denial. We need to step into our power as voters, as friends/neighbors, as free people, as humanists and help our communities, our nation and the world.  Folks, even though these are heavy times, please understand that there is so much good, whimsy and happiness as well. It is literally everywhere and can be experienced on the daily.

The ideals of happiness and joy, and doing hard things are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it is very rewarding to have happiness and joy while doing hard things, like becoming politically active, standing up for human rights, speaking out against lies and malfeasance, living your lives as presently as possible and living the principles of humanism. While religion is definitely in the center of the entire polictial conversation, it is our duty to stand firm in our belief of separation of church and state. We must find our voices in this political climate and assist in the conversation that we are not a religious country. We are a country that respects the right for it’s people to practice religion. HUGE DIFFERENCE. People need to be reeducated to the truth of our history. This is important and necessary. 

My dear friends, for as scary as everything feels… I hope you are able to balance it out with joy and happiness. I find joy daily, even if it is in the little things, as it usually is. People are genuinely good. I see good people who have been manipulated, terrorized, scared to death with awful information (most of which are lies) and hurt. This fear is a powerful motivator and can influence outcomes, thoughts and actions and ultimately the course of history. The ones doing this, know this. It really is a war of the people for control. 

Now is the time for you to find your voice, whatever that looks like. Decide how you want to step into this fight and what that looks like. Feel the power of your humanist ideals and stand strong in them. They are good. They are consistent. They represent ALL people and living beings on this planet. They can guide your decisions. Only you can decide these things for yourselves. You are not alone and will not be alone in this endeavor. And as always, speak the truth, even if your voice shakes and you stand alone. Because, honestly, you will never be alone and every voice carries power that will change the world for good. 

My hope for you all is that this July is one of fun, enjoyment, play and pride in our wonderful country that we love. I hope that it will renew your faith in our nation and in its people to do the right thing for everyone who lives here and in the world. Find the hard things that call you or you feel like you need to align with and do it. I see you and would love for you to post your adventures of humanism on our FB page. I see many of you everyday and with the power of our people, we grow stronger. 

With love and respect, Happy Independence Month!

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