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ASHS Roundup
News from the Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies

by Erika Hedberg


The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 16, Number 1.


Since the last ASHS Roundup column appeared in Secular Humanist Bulletin (Spring 1999), we've had many positive changes within the ASHS population and are pleased to welcome the following new groups: Freethinker Society of Sarasota Bay (Sarasota, Fla.); Humanists of the Nature Coast (Crystal River, Fla.); Humanist Friendship Group of Central Indiana (Indianapolis, Ind.); South Central Kansas Chapter of the Council for Secular Humanism (Wichita, Kan.); Heartland Humanists (Johnson County, Kan.); Louisville Association of Secular Humanists (Louisville, Ky.); New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (New Orleans, La.); REASON (Omaha, Neb.); The Sect of Zarathustra (Bloomfield, N.J.); Red River Freethinkers (Fargo, N.D.); Oklahoma Atheists (Oklahoma City, Okla.); Humanists of Greater Portland (Portland, Ore.); Skeptical Humanists at the Grand Strand (Pawley's Island, S.C.); Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex Secular Humanists (Ft. Worth, Tex.); Secular Humanists of the Great Basin (Salt Lake City, Utah); Humanists of North Puget Sound (La Conner, Wash.); Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.); North East Wisconsin Humanists (NEWH) (Green Bay, Wis.).

In addition to the 20 new groups listed above, the Council for Secular Humanism is especially pleased to welcome our first Canadian secular humanist group, the British Columbia Humanist Association, based in Vancouver, B.C.

ASHS is now 91 groups strong, with half a dozen more groups in the process of formation. At the start of 1998—when the Council added an ASHS coordinator to its staff—ASHS had 47 groups. This virtual doubling of local groups in two years is a wonderful testament to the energy of secular humanist activists and the importance of our message in today's society.

If you know of a secular humanist group in your area that hasn't affiliated with ASHS, or if you are interested in forming such a group, please contact: Erika B. Hedberg, ASHS Coordinator (716) 636-7571 ext. 218, e-mail to: erikahedberg@hotmail.com

Building Darwin Day Bridges

With the seemingly ever-increasing presence and power of religion in mainstream society, there is no time more crucial than now for defending freedom from religion and promoting rational, free inquiry. Within the last year, secular humanist groups across the country have involved themselves in issues ranging from public school curriculums to Boy Scout membership requirements to defending the rights of the nonreligious at every opportunity.

This year, as ASHS and Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA) groups cooperate to jointly sponsor events, we expect to participate in an even-larger defense of secular values. CFA' campaign "S.O.S.: Save our Science, Save our Schools," is the first of many cooperative ventures between student and community groups. S.O.S. is a celebration of science and progress, and presents a strong, student-based (but community-echoed) voice supporting responsible, secular education.

The highlight of the S.O.S. campaign is the nationwide celebration of Darwin Day, on the anniversary of the biologist's birth on February 12. Many ASHS groups have events planned for Darwin Day. Massimo Pigliucci, a member of the Rationalists of East Tennessee, has proven enormously helpful by providing suggestions for successful Darwin Day celebrations. Pigliucci has successfully organized Darwin Day events at the University of Tennessee for the past several years.

Students at the University of Maryland-College Park, with the encouragement and financial support of the Washington Area Secular Humanists (WASH), have planned a Darwin Day Dance (what a great idea!). The Rationalist Society of St. Louis, in cooperation with the Family Freethought Alliance, Gateway Skeptics, and Washington University League of Freethinkers (WULF), is sponsoring a weekend conference, featuring speakers such as: George Johnson (Post-Dispatch science writer); Massimo Pigliucci (Professor of Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville); Fred Bradley; Jim Strayer; Steven Schafersman; and the Council's very own Tom Flynn.

The Center for Inquiry West will feature Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Council for Science Education, as a speaker for their Darwin Birthday Celebration in L.A. on the night of February 12, and will feature Howard Paris, speaking on evolution versus religion, at its Orange County meeting on February 13. Elsewhere in California, Sacramento's Atheists and Other Freethinkers will also celebrate Darwin Day. The Maryland-D.C. Chapter of WASH plans to celebrate Darwin Day early—on February 5, and the Northern Virginia Chapter of WASH will feature a presentation entitled "Darwin and the Beagle" on the 12. Both the Houstonians for Secular Humanism and the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association are in the process of planning their Darwin Day celebrations and hope to make them extraordinary events.

The Council is currently planning other national events that will provide an opportunity for ASHS groups and CFA groups to come together. The next big date is June 21, World Humanist Day. Please contact Erika Hedberg at the Center for Inquiry International if your group already has plans for World Humanist Day or would like some ideas for suitable activities for that day.


Please send your local group news to: Erika Hedberg,  P.O. Box 664, Amherst, NY 14226-0664.


Erika Hedberg is the new ASHS coordinator


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