Do you feel isolated in your local communities? Does it seem like everyone around you is religious, and had no problem with pushing their beliefs on you?
You are not alone!
Let other atheists and freethinkers know where you are by adding yourself to the Map of Kentucky Freethinkers! Especially if you live far from the major metropolitan areas, your presence is needed to help us connect you to other freethinkers and to let others know that they are not alone either.
In just about 1 week since the map was published, we have had over 80 responses, and we know there are more out there.
The May meetup was extra an extra special meetup for the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers. During her tour of the US, Shelley Segal stopped in Louisville, Kentucky to give a stunning live performance at our meeting. The lineup included songs from her first album An Atheist Album and her project with Adam Levy called Little March. If you are familiar with An Atheist Album, the stories behind the songs are particularly fascinating (at least they were to me).
Lee Dugatkin discusses his new book, "The Prince of Evolution." The topic of the book is Peter Kropotkin, a Russian anarchist and biologist. Kropotkin's observations of villages and wildlife in Siberia let him to the conclusion that Darwinian evolution can lead to altruism, or mutual aid as he called it, and not only to competition.
University of Louisville biology professor Michael Perlin was our guest speaker with a presentation entitled Misuse of Biology in Film and Pop Culture. This fun and informative presentation pokes fun at the misuse of biology and evolution in particular in popular shows and movies. Toward the second half of presentation, Perlin goes into a discussion of the Intelligent Design movement, and how it takes advantage of common misunderstandings of science and evolution.
Michael Perlin earned a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Chicago in 1983. His areas of interest include molecular genetics; structure and function of the gene; molecular biology of drug action; gene mapping and splicing, fungal phytopathogens, host/pathogen interaction. Perlin has been published in many leading scientific journals.
In the January 2013 meetup of Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers, Suzanne Lamb spoke to the group about a situation in a Muhlenberg county high school. When challenged about letting the Gideons distribute bibles in the school during class time, the school board decided to implement an "open forum" policy to allow any group to distribute literature, but did not originally put the policy in writing nor publicize it. Suzanne Lamb discovered that the school board was using the policy to allow special access to the the Gideons (but not necessarily any other group) by examining the school board minutes, and decided to do something about it. With the help of the Secular Student Alliance and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, she put pressure on the school board to honor the "open forum" policy by allowing her to distribute FFRF materials on the school grounds.
Here are a few important points from the presentation:
Open Forum policies regarding access to public schools by outside organizations can be used as loophole strategies to give religious groups privileged access. It is important to know of these policies and be sure they are being implemented appropriately.
If you become aware of potential Church/State violations in your district, you can contact groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Secular Student Alliance for legal advice. Oftentimes, it only takes a letter from a national organization to solve the issue. These situations do not always have to lead to a lawsuit.
If children are raised from K-12 with consistant endorsement of religion in the schools, they come to see such Church/State violations as normal and to be expected.
We need to remember that this is not an issue for atheists only. We have religious allies in Church/State Separation issues. In her presentation Suzanne speaks of a Baptist minister who spoke out strongly in favor of her case.
You can read more about the case at Suzanne's blog, What to Tell the Neighbors. Posts specific to the Muhlenberg County case may be found under the label "Gideons" in the right sidebar.