About Ron Stephens

President of Mid Ohio Atheists

Oh, the Irony

Todd Starnes, of Fox News. has a story of a school discriminating against a group of students that want to form a Christian club at their school called Students United In Faith (SUIF).  The school in question is Ward Melville High School, part of the Three Village Central School District on Long Island New York.

SUIF was denied the ability to form a club last year and the school was threatened with a lawsuit by Liberty Institute, “a law firm specializing in religious liberty cases.”  Starnes reports that Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich reversed the ban after an investigation.  She said the reason for rejection was inaccurately conveyed.

Again, this year, the school denied SUIF a club at the school.  John Raney, the founder of SUIF, told Starnes-

“I feel like they have something against me and my faith.  I feel marginalized.”

Starnes writes, “Nearly 20 young people wanted to join the club – but the school said no.” The story says the SUIF club is being refused support from the school due to their Christian faith.

When Starnes contacted the school they sent a prepared statement to him.  The statement said-

The religious club called Students United in Faith was denied because contractual guidelines regarding minimum participation (20 students) in student co–curricular programs was not met, nor did Ward Melville High School have the financial means to fund this program. The district does not have a practice of discrimination of any kind. We embrace our diverse school community and strive to maintain an environment that promotes tolerance, understanding and respect for all.

So, the truth is not that the school is discriminating against Christians, it’s just that the number of students that want to form the club does not meet the minimum number of 20 that the school’s contractual guidelines mandates.  This 20 member guideline is confirmed on another story on newsday.com.

This year, after the school district denied the SUIF group from being a school club once more, Liberty Institute again threatened a lawsuit based on religious discrimination.  This is based on the fact that the school allows other student clubs but has tried to deny the SUIF club which the Liberty Institute says violates the Equal Access Act.  That act requires all groups be treated the same.   It doesn’t seem to matter to the Liberty Institute, SUIF, or Todd Starnes, that the club does not have the required number of students in order to qualify for a club.

Of course, the school district caved and is allowing SUIF to form a club even though they are short a few students from complying with the guideline.

The ironic part comes in when Starnes writes this about the school district-

It seems to me they’re just engaged in a bit of bullying and intimidation.

It seems to me that the bullies here are the students of SUIF and the lawyers of Liberty Institute who are bullying the school into going against contractual guidelines in order to give the “nearly 20” persecuted Christians a school club when they don’t meet the minimum number of members.  This club is not being treated like other clubs, they are being allowed to form without the required number of students.  Sounds like special privilege instead of religious discrimination.

The intimidation comes in the form of a federal lawsuit staring the school district in the face.  The district must have decided it is less expensive to give into the demands of Liberty Institute and the SUIF students than it is to fight this out in court.

Who are the bullies again Todd?

The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways

When strange and seemingly illogical events transpire, God is sometimes given the credit, or blame, depending on the circumstances.

A prime example of this happened in Indiana recently when, according to WANE, Prionda Hill was driving and decided to give in to the Lord and literally give him the wheel.  I know there is a popular song out with a title along this same vein and it is a euphemism among Christians to let God take control of your life but rarely do people actually do this in real life.  This would be an opportunity to see what happens when one willingly takes this leap of faith.

When Hill heard the call from the Lord, she decided to throw caution to the wind and let Him have His way.  According the WANE, Hill told police “she was driving and out of no where God told her that he would take it from here and she let go of the wheel and let him take it.”  No one knows exactly why but the first thing the Lord did was to steer the car into motorcyclist Anthony Oliveri.  The car knocked Oliveri over and ran over both him and the motorcycle.

Oliveri said he was confused at first when his bike went out of control.  He said, “I looked back around my left shoulder, all I see is her tire and the left bumper getting ready to run my face over. Literally I was inches from that bumper and I just said to myself today is the day I die. I just shut my eyes and said if this is the way that God wants to do it then I guess that this is the way we’re going to do it.”

It appears the Lord wasn’t done with Oliveri quite yet as 10 seconds later Oliveri realized he was in pain and that was a good thing because that meant he was still alive.  Meanwhile, the Lord and Hill continued down the street in her car for several blocks.  Hill was later found at the same Rally’s restaurant that Oliveri said he was heading for when the accident occurred.  The report does not indicate where the Lord was when the car and Hill were found.

Along with the pain, the Lord caused Oliveri to have several broken ribs, bruising and road rash.  Curiously, the bruising and road rash are in the form of a heart and angel wings according to nurses and Oliveri’s fiancé (name not given in report).  Oliveri’s fiancé said “His guardian angel was watching over him, and she gave him her wings. Then she went on vacation, because he’s put her through the ringer.”  One has to wonder if the guardian angel was ever on the job in the first place.

There is nothing in WANE’s reporting that indicates if WANE interviewed the Lord to get His side of the story or whether He made Himself available for questioning by police.  It would be very interesting if He would explain His actions, but it seems He never sticks around to go into the nuance’s of being a Supreme Being.

As for Hill, she’s now facing several charges.  I wonder if one of these is letting an unlicensed driver take the wheel of her car.   I suggest that with the recent Supreme Court rulings, she plead not guilty due to the 1st Amendment freedom of religion and her fervently held religious beliefs.  She may want to incorporate herself first though.

One positive thing that has come from this incident is Oliveri and his mother hope the crash creates more awareness for motorcycles on the road.

“People stop for squirrels they stop for chipmunks, who would not stop for a human being,” Francesca Oliveri, said.

Apparently, the Lord.

“Look twice, we’re out there. Realize hey you’re in a car, we’re not,” Oliveri said.

I hope the Lord is listening.

Seriously though, I hope that Anthony Oliveri has a speedy and full recovery.

Guest speaker at the Board Meeting this weekend

Join us at our monthly meeting to hear our good friend Barbara Williams, founder of Great Lakes Atheists in Toledo, Ohio, speak about her book, “Welcome to Camp Quest” , which was recently written about in the Toledo Blade. She will also speak about Edwin Kagin, founder of Camp Quest.  Barb always has the best insights and stories and we always enjoy her trips down to visit with us!

We will take care of some other business for the group, have some lunch, and have a few other discussion topics, as time permits.

We will also have a couple of Barbara’s books to give away as door prizes.

We look forward to seeing everyone there!

** Please bring canned or non-perishable food item to the meeting. These will be donated to the local homeless shelter.

Highway Cleanup this Saturday

This is Mid Ohio Atheists’ fourth year as a participant in the Ohio Dept. of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway Program.  This is a way for our group to demonstrate to the public that atheists are good citizens too.

This will be our first cleanup of the year.  We will meet at the Ohio State Highway Patrol post on Main St. near the I-71 and State Rt 13 interchange at 8:00 AM.  The post is on the same road as Burger King.  We will park our cars there and we should have 2 drivers to chauffeur the rest of us to the highway.

It is recommended you wear boots, gloves, a hat, and use sun screen.  We will have a mandatory safety meeting just before the cleanup right there in the parking lot at the Highway Patrol post.  We will go over the list of safety rules and then pass out the safety vests and trash bags.

We estimate it will take about 2-3 hours, depending on how many members show up.  If we can get 9 people to participate, it should go quickly.

Go to our meetup.com page and let us know you are going to help.

Changes to the leadership of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc.

I’ve received inquires as to the current makeup of the leadership of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. (MOAI).  Indeed, our leadership team has changed during this past month.  

Due to personal reasons, Drenn and Carol Workman have decided they no longer wished to continue in their leadership roles with MOAI and have resigned.  I wish to gratefully thank them for their past service and support of MOAI.

During our monthly Board of Directors meeting on March 16th, Ray Greenbank was appointed to the empty directorship by the two remaining directors.  The directors of MOAI are now- Brad Boothe, Marisa Hills, and Ray Greenbank.  

Also, Marisa Hills was appointed by the board to the office of Vice President and Candice Boothe was appointed Secretary.  The Officers are now- President Ron Stephens, Vice President Marisa Hills, Secretary Candice Boothe, and Treasurer Ron Stephens.

I also want to thank the newly appointed leaders for their willingness to step forward and lend their talents to help our organization grow and become better than ever.

Ron Stephens,
President

 

Mid Ohio Atheist Season of Reason Donation Drive

Dear Friends* & Members,

We need your help!  As the end of the year draws near we are behind in our required yearly goal for donations to the organization.  We understand times are tight, but every donation helps us get to our $5,000 goal.  This fund is what goes towards all of our educational events we hold each year, the yearly regional picnic, and projects like the billboard campaign.  We are working towards our goal to be able to get another set of billboards, as well as another Darwin Day event in the first quarter of 2014.

So, how can you help?

Here’s the great news, all donations (up to $500 total) made now through December 31, 2013 will be matched by Brad & Candice! So, your $20 to the group really means $40, your $100 is $200 for Mid Ohio Atheists, Inc!  We are currently about $1,000 behind to meet our goal.  This goal is completely attainable with the generosity of the matching offer until the end of December . No amount is too small and every dollar counts.  This is a very important undertaking for us to be able to continue to get our name out to the public, help educate our community, and to show a growing secular presence in the area.

If you would like to donate please contact Ron Stephens at midohioatheists@gmail.com or Marisa Hills at mhills.moa@darkfalconx.net for more information on how to participate and make a difference.   Donations will also be accepted at our upcoming Atheist in the Pub event on December 7, 2013 at Old Bag of Nails, our Board Meeting on December 15th at the Ocean Buffet, and at our Winter Solstice Party** on December 21, 2013, held at Brad and Candice’s home.

We appreciate those who continue to support our initiatives throughout the year and we Thank You in advance for your support!

*Note to friends of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc., since only members can donate, the minimum donation for friends is the amount for annual dues for membership.  This is currently $10 for student/senior, $20 for regular, & $25 for family . But, even this money will be matched (up to $500 total) and counts toward the annual goal.  This is your chance to become a member of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. and have your dues and donation doubled.

**Winter Solstice Party donations beyond the usual $5.00 required will be doubled.

Christmas Parade

We have exciting news, we are going to be in the Downtown Mansfield Inc’s Christmas Parade. We will have two banners, one saying Happy Solstice, and the other with our name on it.
The parade line begins to form at 9:00 AM, on Saturday November 23rd, at the intersection of 5th and Main St.  The parade will then start at 10:00. 
We need at least 6 people to be in the parade. Four to carry the 2 banners we have and at least 2 more to give out candy.
We need more donations of candy to give out to the kids. Please contact Ron Stephens if you have candy to donate or if you want to donate money to buy candy.
This is a wonderful opportunity to let people know about us and to show Mansfielders that atheists are normal people just like they are.

Regional Atheist Picnic is almost here

Just two days to go until the Regional Atheist Picnic this Sunday at the Mohican State Park starting at noon.

The forecast looks favorable with the high temperature of 81 degrees and only a slight chance of rain.

We are going to have five speakers (all Ohioans)-  Frank  Zindler, Rachel  Johnson, Dan DeMurra,  Douglas  Whaley, & Shauna Strand  Sowga.  I know they will all have informative, and interesting things to say.  See this post for their topics.

I hope to see you all there, I’m sure we will have a great time!

See the original post for more details.

Picnic Sign-Up list 2013

Our annual picnic is coming up soon. The picnic will be at the Mohican State Forest, at the North Park Picnic Shelter on Sunday July 21st at Noon.

In order to track what people are bringing to the picnic, please send an email to picnic2013@midohioatheists.org with what you plan to bring.

I think we will have about 75 people show up.  Keep checking back here as I will update the number of people as more people respond.  I will keep the list of items updated as I receive emails also.  Feel free to bring anything you like even if it isn’t on the list or someone else already volunteered that item.

Thanks, Ron.

Things people have already volunteered to bring:

  • Hamburgers & buns
  • Hotdogs & buns
  • Condiments (Ketchup, Mustard, Relish, Barbecue Sauce, Mayo, Pickles, etc…..)
  • Potato Salad
  • Fruit Platter
  • Veggie Platter
  • Sweet tea
  • Bowl of Mixed Fruit
  • Chips and dip
  • Pop
  • Pasta Salad
  • Pie
  • Cookies
  • Bottled Water
  • organic Blue Corn tortilla chips and bean dip
  • Watermelon

Things still needed:

  • Charcoal & Lighter Fluid
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Macaroni salad
  • Brats
  • More Desserts (you can never have too many!)
  • Anything else you want to share.