June 2014

American Atheist Convention

Chapter members Sally Jo Fuller and Robert Frahm attended the recent Atheist Conference in Salt Lake City. Here is the second report from their experiences.

Why would an ordained minister accept an offer to speak at an Atheist Convention?

Surprisingly, they both believe strongly in the Separation of Church and State. As a minister of the United Church of Christ, Reverend Barry W. Lynn, is also Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

As its activist he has “butted heads” with many of The Religious Right who want to demolish the wall of separation between church and state by mandating an ideology-based social agenda (such as, teaching “creationism” in public schools).

Reverend Lynn actively supports a clean and clear separation between religious institutions and government entities. He supports complete religious/philosophical freedom for all faiths. Not a state based on any one specific religion; such as, those who make up fundamentalist group of the Religious Right.

Both in his presentation at the Atheist Convention and his book “Piety and Politics – The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom”, he argues that politicians need to stop looking to the Bible to justify their actions and should consult another source instead: the United States Constitution.

Thank you Reverend Lynn for continuing the fight educating the American public about this important issue.

—Sally Jo Fuller

Chasing Ice: First Step

At our May meeting we watched James Balog’s film Chasing Ice. Basically, this movie shows how global warming is eating up the glaciers and ice sheets of the earth. But more, it was gorgeous. The photographs of ice from crystals to gigantic sheets with all shapes of ice sculpture in between were breathtaking. The film also showed how the photographer positioned himself to get those pictures. The word foolhardy comes to mind but I am grateful for his persistence.

We were also shown time lapse photography of the ebb and flow of glaciers. Balog, and his team, mounted cameras in Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Montana for years at a time. These cameras took photos every hour or so when they were functioning. The editing showed us the retreat of glaciers as well as huge glaciers calving and was painstaking and immaculate. One scene consisted of a piece of ice the size of Manhattan falling into the sea. It took them three weeks of waiting on site to get that video even though it was pretty clear that that hundreds of foot thick sheet of ice was about to calve.

In light of the climate crisis, our horrible Utah air, and the injustice that will result to those affected by the crisis, your board is going to broaden the mission of the Humanists of Utah to bring to light more climate issues.

For starters, we have listed some intriguing and useful web sites to aid in understanding of the issues.

Let’s get involved!

—Lauren Florence, MD

Summer Reads

To me nothing is more enjoyable than on summer day sitting with a glass of ice tea and good book. With that in mind I was discussing this idea with my Dad and we both came up with suggested books to help you in enjoy the upcoming summer months. So here are five suggested books: “Death Comes to Pemberley,” by P. D. James. Ms James has over 30 years in British Civil service but this greatness only helps in the development of the story line. The best part is her use of the English language. We would suggest having a dictionary handy; you might find your own language improving.

Following the similar lines of a government worker, “The Dark Hour,” by Robin Burrell has 20 years as a police officer and forensic artist with the FBI. This work comes into play with conspiracy theory affecting different countries.

George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved American Revolution,” by Brian Kilemeade and Dan Yaeger. This book helps codify the fact that women (or we should say one woman) helped George Washington in the Revolution as one of the six spies. This book is the basis for the television show “Turn” on AMC.

The Story of Beautiful Girl” by Rachel Simon; is a book about the stigma of society’s misgivings and treatment of individuals as they develop though young children to adults and how society changes with prevailing attitudes.

The last suggested read is “Only One Change: How Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development” by Philippe Grandjean. Mr. Grandjean explores one question throughout the book: will managing chemical brain drain require a level of thinking that is no longer possible? Yes, this is one I read; in exploring this one question it addresses the need for radical changes and what they might be. Enjoy your summer reading; my Dad and I will hopefully have additional suggestions for fall.

—Cindy King

President’s Report

Hello Everyone

As I write this message for our newsletter, I am in the middle of getting our booth equipment ready to set up at the Pride Festival. As this is our first time to have a booth at the festival, I’m sure it will be a learning experience in setting up and running a booth. But while I am a worry-wart about having everything we need, I’m looking for to meeting and discussing the issues and humanism with a diverse bunch of people attending this year’s Pride Festival. Also, as we have one Annual event, Darwin Day, we plan to make our presence at the Festival annual as well.

I’m sure all you freethinkers will agree that advocating for gay rights, civil rights, and indeed simple human rights is a worthy cause and one that we want to participate in. I am hopeful that the tide toward equality will prevail, as more states change their laws and Federal Judges in various States rule that State laws denying citizens their constitutional rights are unconstitutional. It has always driven me a bit crazy that those opposed to gay marriage don’t understand the basic idea of the Constitution to protect every ones rights and to strive for equality. They don’t seem to get it that it is the secular nature of our society that insures our religious and other human right, for all of us, not just those they approve of.

Not to forget, we will be having another movie night on Thursday June 12. This month we will be watching and discussing Robert Reich’s documentary “Inequality for All.” I haven’t seen it yet, but I suspect it will be interesting and quite maddening.

I’ll be there with the popcorn and other refreshments. Hope to see you there.

—Robert Lane,
President, HoU