The booth for the Kentucky Secular Society and Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers is now up and ready for the Kentucky State Fair to start! We will be there the whole time, from the morning of Thursday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27.
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The Kentucky State Fair is our biggest outreach activity. Our goals are to reach out to atheists among the general public, to normalize atheism, promote the separation of church and state, and support accurate science education.

We are in booth 1436. Our location is marked in red in the map at the link below.

South Wing map showing LAF booth location

Yesterday we joined with Tri-State Freethinkers to protest the opening of the Ark Encounter theme park. It was a very well attended protest and a great time! But perhaps more importantly, we got lots of media attention.

The day before the protest, Ed and I were interviewed by WDRB and the story aired the same day at 4pm. You can read the story and see the video here.

http://www.wdrb.com/story/32385364/atheists-planning-to-protest-at-public-opening-of-ark-encounter

They also did a follow-up interview at the protest itself, and the story can be seen here.

http://www.wdrb.com/story/32395779/ark-encounter-opening-draws-passion-from-both-sides-of-biblical-argument

Due to the protest, rather than news stations doing fluff pieces on a new theme park in Kentucky, they also covered the opposition and reasons that we oppose it. And that is good news!

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A view of the Washington Monument and some fellow ralliers on their way to the Lincoln Memorial. Note the verse on the t-shirt.
The walk to the Rally from our hotel was long, but fun. Ed and I were wearing our “LouAville Atheists and Freethinkers” shirts which got a lot of notice and comments and also signaled to all the other rally people to where we were going. We had some good company and interesting scenery on the way, including a pass right by the Washington Monument. I’d seen it from a distance before, but never so close up.
We arrived at the Rally at about 10:30am, about 1/2 hour after the official start time. Once we got there, we found a nice grassy shady spot under the trees alongside the reflecting pool and settled in. We were far enough from the stage to just barely be able to see what was being projected on the large screens, but we had no problem hearing everything as long as the sound system didn’t glitch.
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Bill Nye is addressing the Reason Rally crowd about the need to take climate change seriously.
There were several speakers at the Reason Rally that I had not heard of before, which was fine for me since I’ve been to enough conventions that I’ve heard many of the well-known speakers many times before. It was good to hear fresh voices. One of my favorite talks was the guy from Hollywood Squares, John Davidson. (Yea, I had to look up his name since before the rally I had not heard of him.) He talked about how he’d been an atheist though much of his career, but spent most of that time hiding that fact. He talked about how he’d turned down a gig once because the sponsors wanted him to either pray or sing a gospel tune at the end of it — though he didn’t tell them why he backed out. It was very interesting to me to hear the ways that being a closeted atheist had affected his life and his career. It was only fairly recently that he came out as part of the Openly Secular project.
Another top moment for me was when Penn Jillette did a duet with the singer who had been berated for being an atheist on Ecuador’s Got Talent. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen the video, Google “atheist on Ecuador’s Got Talent. She shows some amazing composure and courage though the whole ordeal.)
And I loved yelling “ATHEIST!” with about 15,000 other people during Dave SIlverman’s talk, too.  🙂
I was at the Reason Rally in 2012 so I can’t help but make a few comparisons. The 2012 rally had a more tightly packed crowd, and more of a “We’re here, we’re atheists, get used to it!” type of feel. More like what I’d expect of a rally. The 2016 Rally had a bit more of a toned down feel which was more like “We’re here, we’re atheists, now how do we make the world a better place?” vibe. There was a large crowd, but it was spread out — especially at our distance from the stage — and we were able to sit on our blanket on the banked area and still see the stage. This time I am a mom, and I welcome the more “family friendly” aspect of the rally. As the movement matures it becomes not only about knocking religion off its pedestal (though that aspect is not going away) but also about the scientific and humanistic concerns like social equality and climate change. I think this is a good thing, and a sign that the moment is maturing. After all, atheism is only about the a rejection of the claims of theism, but atheists — real flesh and blood atheists — have concerns that go well beyond that.
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Fan of Reason in one hand, and Sonic Screwdriver in the other. That's my girl!

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by Lyz Liddell
Executive Director
Reason Rally 2016

The latest polls show that the percentage of people who don’t care about a candidate's religion is increasing, and that “nones” are an ever-growing segment of the under-45 population — key voters! That’s great news for those who support separation of church and state, critical thinking, and just plain good sense. As the Pew Research report [http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/] states:

Meanwhile, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by roughly 19 million since 2007. There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S., and this group – sometimes called religious ‘nones’ – is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.

We all have the opportunity to celebrate our increasing numbers — and build our power as a voting bloc — by attending Reason Rally 2016, June 4, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. You’ll hear great speakers and entertainers — Carolyn Porco, Bill Nye, Julia Sweeney and more — as well as comedians, lots of music, and a good time for all.

It’s a Voting Bloc Party for those who believe that public policy should be made based on scientific evidence, not religious beliefs. It’s also an opportunity to take the message of science-driven public policy directly to your own members of Congress on the lobbying days that precede Reason Rally 2016. The focus of the lobbying will be sex education and the wasted money devoted to abstinence-only curricula that have been shown to be counter-productive. IN fact, abstinence-only sex ed correlates with increased teen pregnancy!

So check out the speakers, hotel and travel deals, and sign up to lobby at our website, reasonrally.org. Bring your friends, then go home and vote in every election, from school board to president. Let’s Speak Up for Reason! Let’s make the media and politicians court us as much as they court the religious right.

 

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Attention Kentucky Atheists and Freethinkers!

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.

To see more detail about the map and to add yourself visit http://kysecularsociety.org/map-of-interest/.

 

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Shelley Segal singing for the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers Meetup

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).

Whoever said that atheists have no songs? 🙂

See the full performance here.

You can find more information about Shelley Segal at her website http://www.shelleysegal.com/.

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.