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Our Local Activities and Achievements

7/3/2013 (revised 7/4/2013)

The Northwest PA Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State is pleased to announce that we'll be hosting a prominent guest speaker. Barbara Forrest, Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and a noted critic of intelligent design creationism, will lecture at the H. O. Hirt Auditorium on Saturday, September 21, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Forrest served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the 2005 case of Kitzmiller v. Dover, which was the first legal case involving intelligent design. Judge John E. Jones III, Middle District of Pennsylvania, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that presenting intelligent design as science in public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Forrest has served on the Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and is a member of the Louisiana AU chapter. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center for Science Education. Both organizations provided vital assistance to the Kitzmiller plaintiffs.

She is the author (or co-author) of numerous publications debunking the notion of intelligent design and has lectured extensively on this subject. You may view her faculty page at http://www.selu.edu/acad_research/depts/hist_ps/faculty/bio/forrest.html. She is also the co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science and writes for the LCFS website at http://lasciencecoalition.org. 

Please plan to join us for this exciting event!
Invitation to meet-up with local folks concerned about church-state separation!
Are you concerned about Christian clergy delivering invocations to open government meetings or public school commencements?

Please attend an important meeting on Wednesday evening,
April 24, 7 p.m.
at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
The meeting (which is free and open to the public) will start with viewing ACLU's 26-minute documentary on Religious Freedom.  It features parents who challenged the teaching of intelligent design as science in the classroom, and a Native American who was punished for adhering to his religious tradition while in prison.  It’s a crucial reminder of the Founders' intent -- that religion be a matter for individuals, not the government.
Susan Woodland, Bob Rhodes, and Atty Dick Ruth, members of the Board of the Northwest PA ACLU Chapter, will answer questions about ACLU’s position on this topic.
Then you will hear an exciting Proposal to form a Coalition of individuals like yourself who are concerned about never-ending threats to church-state separation in northwestern Pennsylvania. This discussion will be led by Jim Wise, Gary Sykes, and Al Richardson.
We need your input on the proposed Coalition.  If you’re interested but can’t attend, please let Jim Wise know (jim.l.wise@gmail.com).
Please share this message with others who might want to know.



Unfortunately, Monday afternoon we received bad news: Barry Lynn is unable to come to Erie tomorrow.

There's some good news: this morning JES was able to book a replacement speaker (see below) to talk about the future of church-state separation.

When you arrive at JES on Nov. 14, you will have a choice of staying for lunch and Tom Flynn's talk, or getting a $20 refund.

The 9:30 Continental Breakfast and other things prior to 11:30 are cancelled.


Tom Flynn is editor of FREE INQUIRY, the largest-circulation magazine for and about men and women who live without religion. [www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=index]
      He is also executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, a national educational and advocacy organization based in Amherst, New York. [www.secularhumanism.org/] Since 2007 his organization has been pressing a lawsuit challenging public funding of faith-based charities in the state of Florida. A ballot initiative to remove the provision in the state constitution on which this lawsuit was based was voted down in the recent general election. His books include The Trouble with Christmas, a call for fairer treatment of non-Christians during the holiday season. 
      Flynn is an Erie native and graduated from McDowell High School in 1973.

We have sent letters to the 17 school districts in our area and found several that have had the Power Team present assemblies. Many have said that they do not plan to do it again, but a few have not. One district even lauds the assemblies as exemplary. We have written to some and are composing a letter to this most egregiously proselytizing district. Additional information on the Power Team can be found on the web and at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Team . The Erie AU chapter view these assemblies as a covert attempt to inject religion and in particular evangelical christian beliefs into our diverse public schools and is viewed as a violation of separation of church and state. We will continue to monitor and if need be, protest these types of public school activities.