[Editor's note: This post is by Ellery Schempp, plaintiff on the 1963 Abington v. Schempp Supreme Court case against school prayer and soon-to-be recipient of the UU Humansts' 2014 Religious Humanist of the Year award. The graphic is by member Brian Lofgren.]
I am extremely disappointed in today's Supreme Court decision (Greece v. Galloway) affirming that sectarian prayers at city council meetings do not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The 5-4 decision severely diminishes the non-establishment principle and effectively endorses majoritarian displays of public piety. Read more about The Business of Government -- Prayer and Pledge Go Hand-in-Hand »
The Mission of your Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association (HUUmanists) is two-fold:
1. Promote a broad acceptance of Humanism in our society, particularly throughout the Unitarian Universalist Association and its congregations; and
2. Provide an active interface between Unitarian Universalists and the secular community.
Your extraordinary Board of Directors and I strive to make sure that all of our initiatives are clearly mission-based.
In December, 2013, Maria Greene, formerly the HUUmanist Association secretary, took on the position of Director of Development and Communication for our Association. Maria is a graduate engineer, an entrepreneur, and an active local leader in the eastern Massachusetts area Humanists and secular groups. Thanks to Maria we now have up-to-date and active communications mechanisms, including a vibrant web and Facebook presence. Activity in our local groups projects and special events have taken off under Maria’s guidance. You will learn about some of the results of her efforts later in this newsletter. Read more about President's Corner »
We hope we will see you at the UUA GA next month. We have a big presence planned:
- Come visit us in the Exhibit Hall, booth 416.
- Attend our program, "Reaching Out to the Nonreligious" and find out how to make your congregation welcoming to non-theists.
- Join us at our Annual Meeting for some brief but important business items, including:
- officially changing our name to the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association,
- adopting new bylaws that allow for more modern forms of voting in the future.
Make sure your UU Humanist membership is up-to-date so you will be included in the quorum.
- Express your support for the Separation of Church & State at the "Schempp Schindigg".
Drink deep from the latest books by our own Humanist Press authors and other Humanist writers; dive into a pool of nationwide social justice opportunities - immigration reform and opposition to censorship; quench your thirst for updates on cooperative projects on leadership training and humanist community.
All this and the latest info on local Humanist groups and programs in the UU universe; engagement with representatives of local and regional secular organizations; the latest copy of the Journal of Religious Humanism and a collection of freethought wit and wisdom on stickers, pins and magnets.
Plus the chance to meet and greet HUU Board members and booth volunteers - experts tell us they are the liveliest folks at the General Assembly!
Stop by - refresh yourself, ask a question, give your opinion, renew your membership, get a UU Humanist namebadge ribbon to show your Humanist pride, peruse the displays, purchase a pin-on, stick-on slogan or some more substantial reading, make a new commitment to humanist values, make a new friend, make your day at GA! Read more about Humanist Oasis in the GA Exhibit Hall »
Friday, June 27, 5:00 -- 6:15 pm, RICC -- Hall D
People (especially young people) who profess no formal religious affiliation make up one of the fastest growing segments of our population. Three approaches to carrying our message to a large fraction of these so-called "NONEs" will be described and celebrated: The Humanist Congregation, The Humanist Service, and the Humanist Community. Read more about Our GA Program: "Reaching Out to the Nonreligious" »
Friday, June 27, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, RICC – Hall D
Come celebrate the lifetime achievements of UU Humanist Ellery Schempp during the "Schempp Schindigg" immediately following our Annual Business Meeting. We will honor Ellery with our 2014 Religious Humanist of the Year Award, hear from prominent leaders in the secular movement who are fighting to maintain the wall of separation between church and state, then hear from the man himself.
This meeting will be open to the public and invitations are being sent to secular local groups throughout the New England area. The evening will include light food and much laughter as we celebrate past Supreme Court victories, like Abington v. Schempp, that determined that school prayer was unconstitutional, while we network with each other to increase our resolve to continue the fight! Read more about Ellery Schempp Accepts the "Religious Humanist of the Year" Award »
The fabric arts/social justice project that began prior to last year's GA, and was featured at the HUUmanists booth in Louisville, began its second spring tour in April. Two dozen panels on various immigration themes have been shown in seven venues over the winter including three midwest UU fellowships, a minister's study group and and a Democratic party dinner. Recent and upcoming presentations in three humanist groups in Michigan and Kentucky, Regional and District UU Meetings in Bloomington and Vero Beach, and three UU congregations, including a month long show in the gallery of Thomas Jefferson UU Church in Louisville. Read more about "Ribbons Not Walls" Social Justice Project Update »
Since shorthly after the State of Arizona outlawed Public School courses in "Ethnic Studies," and removed some 80 books, mostly by Hispanic authors, from Tucson classrooms, HUUmanists has been involved with opposing these acts of censorship and cultural oppression. Partnering with Puente (a community organizing group in Phoenix) and "Librotrafficante" Tony Diaz of Nuestra Palabra, we had well over 300 people each "smUUggle" one of these banned books into the UUA's 2012 General assembly in Phoenix.
Over the next year we helped establish community libraries based on banned books at Puente's new headquarters, and in Tucson, El Paso and Louisville. This year we are giving individuals the opportunity to "spread banned books around:" buying a low cost copy of one of the titles, and after reading it, passing it on to a friend, or dropping it in a public location. Labels on the cover and fly leaf of each book explain why it was "banned," and how the reader can participate. Read more about HUUmanists Continue the Fight Against Classroom Censorship »