Adopt a Highway Cleanup Tomorrow

 

The pickup this Sunday, May, 3rd at 8:00 AM, will be our first highway cleanup for 2015!  This is the year we get our gold star for 5 years of continuous service.

We will meet at the Ohio State Highway Patrol post on Main St. near the I-71 and State Rt 13 interchange.  The post is on the same road as Burger King.  We will park our cars there and one of us will chauffeur the rest of us to the highway.

It is recommended you wear boots, gloves, a hat, and use sun screen on exposed skin.  The temperature is forecast to start out in the 50’s and climb to the mid 70’s. The forecast is for sun and clouds, so make sure you use sun screen.

We will have the mandatory safety briefing just before the cleanup right there in the parking lot at the Highway Patrol post.  I will go over the list of safety rules and then pass out the safety vests and trash bags.   You can read the safety briefing information HERE and HERE.

I’m estimating 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.

You need to sign the release form for the State of Ohio in order to participate.  If you haven’t already signed this, I’ll have one the morning of the cleanup and you can sign it then.

Thanks to everyone for participating and helping to show everyone that atheists are good citizens too.

-Ron

Nominations for 2015 Announced

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Election for 2015

Nominations for directors and officers for 2015 were taken today at the monthly board meeting of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc.

There are three positions for directors.  These members were nominated:

Ray Greenbank
Marisa Hills
Bradley Boothe

For Officer, these members were nominated-

President – Ron Stephens
Vice-President – Marisa Hills
Secretary – Candice Boothe
Treasurer – Ron Stephens

Voting for these offices will be held at our board meeting in December which will be held at the Ashland Public Library on December 13th at 10:30 AM.  You must be a member in good standing to vote in this election.  Members can vote via email if they can’t attend the meeting.  More information on voting by email will be posted soon.

Halloween Costume Party

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Please join us for a frightfully fun evening this Saturday, October 25th at 6 PM!  We will be meeting at Brad & Candice’s for our Halloween Costume Party again this year.

We are asking everyone for a $5.00 donation per person as well as a covered dish to share. There will food, scary movies, games to play, raffle prizes, and great conversations. We will also have a Halloween Costume Contest for those that would like to dress up, with a prize for the best costume. As always, alcohol is permitted but not provided. Please bring beverages of your choice, and as always if partaking of alcohol please do so responsibly.

As with all of our events, please bring canned goods or non-perishable items to donate to Harmony House, our local homeless shelter or items to donate to the Humane Society of Richland County.

This is a private residence so if you are new to our events, please contact Marisa Hills for directions or any other questions you may have.

We look forward to another fun event and hope to see you all there!

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?

Awesome August Events

MOA ended July on a great note with another successful regional picnic and a great event where we spoke with Dennis Penaluna, president of Nottingham Secular Society, via Skype. Visit Nottingham Secular Society for more information about Dennis and all his group’s hard work on separation of church and state issues in their area. We also received some great news to top off our July. Our letter from the IRS arrived, and we are now officially a 501(c)(3) charity organization. All donations given to Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. are tax deductible as allowed by law.

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August is already shaping up to be a fun and busy month for us and we have some great events planned. We already started off on August 2nd with our Atheists in the Pub event. We tried out a new location, The Phoenix Brewing Company, to change up the venue a bit. Thanks to everyone who attended. Our next one is scheduled for September 6th. Click here for more details.

 

Upcoming Events:

 

 August 9th 8:00AM     Adopt A Highway Cleanup

 

August 9th 6:00PM      Atheists Around the Fire & Celebration

 

August 17th 11:00AM  Monthly Board Meeting & Recycling Drive

 

August 17th 2:00PM      Canoe/Rafting Trip to Mohican

 

August 28th 11:00AM Involvement & Community Fair(NC State/OSU Campus)

 

For other event info join us on Meetup.com and Facebook.

Picnic Perfection: Mid Ohio brought their “A” game in 2014.

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On Sunday, July 20, 2014, we once again gathered for our annual Regional Atheist Picnic. We met at the beautiful Mohican State Forest North Park Shelter, where festivities kicked off at noon. The weather was perfect for us once again this year, with no rain and sun all day for everyone to enjoy all the day’s planned events.

We had 55 attendees this year, plus a German Shepard and an African Grey parrot! Our friends traveled from as near as the Mansfield and Ashland area to as far as the Cleveland and Columbus areas. We are always thankful for such support that everyone comes back year after year.

Once again, our charity drive was another success! This year we had two great charities that people could donate to, Harmony House, a local homeless shelter, and The Humane Society of Richland County. Overall, we collected over $400 in donations between the two charities! Each location was very appreciative of the donations received, so “Thank You” to everyone who donated to such worthy causes. Grand prize this year for the donation drive contest was a $30 gift certificate to the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, OH and a $20 gas card.

Since it was so successful last year, we again invited a few guest speakers to join us and talk about life in atheism. Mark and Marni Tiborsky and Sam Salerno, from the Cleveland area based Northern Ohio Freethought Society, a Freedom From Religion Foundation chapter, spoke first. They filled us in about the recent billboard campaign in the Cleveland/Akron area their organization was able to do with the help of their FFRF affiliation, their member’s donations, and a lot of hard work. They also went on to tell us about the media coverage and public reaction both in person and on social media outlets. Was it worth it? Yes, according to them. They were able to convey to the public at large positive messages and most importantly show people in everyday neighborhoods in their community that freethinkers are there, they are positive, wonderful people, and are just normal everyday folks, just like everyone else. They put up 11 billboards in all during this month long campaign.

Our second speaker this year was JT Eberhard.  JT is a writer, gay rights activist, and co-founder of Skepticon.  JT wanted to share with us his take on how to debate common religious arguments against atheism,  using plain English. He had some very insightful views about how we as atheists can get our views across without having to have a doctorate of some type or to constantly be trying to remember stats and numbers. Using logical and reasonable arguments, a few jokes, and a tad bit of slight of hand magic, JT really got his point across. He really had the crowd engaged with his talk and laughing with his Ken Ham jokes and his ongoing fight with technology during his speech. We all really enjoyed our speakers and thank them for taking the time to spend the day with us and share their experiences with everyone this year.

As an added bonus, our friend Frank Zindler  had a special treat in store for us. He brought a comical video to share of an interview he had worked on that will be showing on the upcoming launch of the Atheist TV channel, set to start on July 29, 2014 on Roku. The crowd really seemed to enjoy the sneak peek offering and hearing from Frank.

This year, as a way to thank all of our friends, who attended, we had a ton of raffle prizes to give out throughout the day. Numerous atheist related books, gift cards to restaurants, t-shirts, and a 19” LCD flat screen TV were handed out this year to the lucky winners. We appreciate everyone who donated items to us to be able to do this, and hope that we can do it again next year.

This event takes a lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people to be so successful year after year. Why do we do it? We do it for our community. We want to show people that we are here. If people are either questioning their beliefs or are non-believers already and feel stuck thinking nobody around is like them, they are not alone. Those are the people we are trying to reach out to, and get the word out to, to know that there is a haven (not heaven) and they are accepted for what they think, feel, and see as reasonable knowledge in front of them to be true. Atheism really is about promoting a personal relationship with reality and not being afraid to think. Whatever you call it, atheism, humanism, freethought, skepticism, or all of the above, its all around us and people will slowly start coming out of their closets, standing up from the church pews, and finally start looking for a places were they can talk about science and reason instead of fairy tales. When they are ready, Mid Ohio Atheists Inc, will be there. Until then , you will see us on I-71 picking up trash for Adopt A Highway, collecting food and supplies for Harmony House and The Humane Society of Richland County, having a beer at a local pub and discussing separation of church and state issues, and meeting once a year in a forest with awesome people from all over Ohio for some great food and even better conversations.

~ Marisa Hills, MOA Vice President

 

2014 Picnic Food List

Our annual picnic will be held on July 20, 2014 starting at 12:00 PM at the Mohican State Forest.  We will be meeting at the North Park Shelter.

We ask that everyone bring a dish to share. Below is a suggested food list. Please let us know what you can bring. We anticipate 70 to 80 people will attend throughout the day. You DO NOT have to bring enough to feed this number, just please let us know an approx number (i.e. 2 bags of chips, 4 packs of buns, 1 large watermelon, etc.) so we can update our numbers and we have enough food for everyone.

The list below is just suggested for those unsure of what might be needed, but we welcome anything you would like to share.

Please email us at picnic2014@midohioatheists.org with your items you intend to bring. It’s a picnic! Have fun and enjoy and we look forward to seeing you there! 🙂

  • Hamburger Patties
  • Hot Dogs
  • Bratwursts
  • Veggie Patties
  • Hamburger Buns
  • Hot Dog Buns
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Cole Slaw
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Baked Beans
  • Watermelon
  • Fruit Salad
  • Garden Salad
  • Potato Chips
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Pies/Desserts
  • Dips
  • Hummus
  • Cheese Slices
  • Sliced Onion (for burgers)
  • Sliced Tomatoes (for burgers)
  • Veggie Platter
  • Pickles
  • Condiments (Mustard, Ketchup, Mayo, Relish)
  • Bottled Water
  • Pop
  • Tea/Sweet Tea
  • Lemonade/Punch
  • Juice
  • Ice
  • Charcoal/Lighter Fluid

We hope to see you there!

2014 Mid Ohio Atheists Regional Picnic Announced

Our group is proud to announce the Mid Ohio Atheists Regional Picnic 2014, sponsored by Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. We are inviting groups from all over Ohio and surrounding areas to our annual get together at the Mohican State Forest. The general public is also invited to come out and meet us, as long as they are respectful and do not try to proselytize to us.

This year the picnic will be held on Sunday, July 20th, starting at 12:00 pm.  We have met at the Mohican State Forest before and had a great experience each time. This year we will meet at the North Park Shelter once again. Once you are in the forest, follow the signs to the shelter. There will also be a map available soon as well. You will want to use the St. Rt. 97 entrance to access the park for the event. Detailed directions will be available, as GPS is not always accurate in forest locations. The accurate coordinates for the location are (40.614548N 82.312439W), if you put that in GPS you will find it without much issue. The physical address always gives GPS issues due to county numbering of roads.

The picnic will be held rain or shine since we have a nice covered shelter, so please don’t let that stop you from attending.

Contest
This year we are happy to announce 2 charities we are involved with for our donation drive contest. Harmony House(a local homeless shelter) and the Humane Society of Richland County. The items that qualify for the contest for each charity are as follows: Harmony House: Toilet Paper, Trash Bags, Paper Towels, and Laundry Detergent and the Humane Society: Dry/Wet Dog or Cat Food, Clay (non clumping) Cat Litter, Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), and Paper Towels. These items are what is most needed by these charities or what they run low on the most. Other items outside of these can be donated, but these item only count towards the contest. A full list will be available of items they accept. Whoever donates the most of these items will win the Grand Prize. We will also have a second prize for the runner up. We encourage everyone to bring items to one or both of these great organizations! Please make sure you check in your donations when you arrive (there will be signs). GRAND PRIZE: 2 Tickets to Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio and $20 Gas Card.

Prizes
To say “Thanks!” this year we will have some fun raffle prizes. Please make sure you check in when you get to the event and get your raffle ticket for the random prize drawings. We will also have a kids “prize pack” as well so they will have their own chance at some kid type goodies to take home with them. This is just small way for us to show our appreciation to our friends who support us by coming to visit us each year, volunteer at our events, or support our many different educational and social endeavors we undertake.

Games & Activities
This year we have made an effort to make this event more kid friendly. We hope everyone brings their children so we have plenty of kids for the activities Meri and Tiffany have planned for the event. There are plans for a Scavenger Hunt, Marshmallow Toss (who’s not up for that?) and a Watermelon Eating Contest…(who wouldn’t want to take some photos of that!? We will have goodies and prizes for the kids so its a fun day for them to meet new people and have a fun day as well. :)

Speakers
This year we are happy to invite a few speakers to join us for some entertaining and educational insight on life as an atheist:

Mark & Marni Tiborsky– from Northern Ohio Freethought Society, a chapter of Freedom From Religion Foundation, will speak about their groups recent experience with the billboard campaign in Northern Ohio, pros and cons of media coverage, and being “out” as an atheist in the community.

JT EberhardWriter and public speaker on atheism, gay rights, and other topics, over 2 yrs with Student Secular Alliance as the first high school organizer, and co-founder of Skepticon. JT will give us his insight on “How to beat the most popular arguments for god’s existence in plain English.”

Fantastic Food
What would a picnic be without good food? We estimate we will have about 80 people in attendance this year. We will have a suggested food list posted on the website, but any items are welcome that you would like to share. The list of items will be updated as we receive emails and commitments from people volunteering items. Please send a quick email to picnic2014@midohioatheists.org to let us know what you intend to bring. You don’t have to bring enough to feed the total number we anticipate, just let us know the amount you can bring so we can update our numbers. Visit our website for a list of ideas of what to bring.

Good Conversation
The main reason to go to the picnic is for the company. We hope to see all of our members there and people from all around the state and beyond. It’s great to talk with like minded people and so refreshing to have conversations that aren’t stuck at the ‘does god exist’ level.

Public Invited
We also invite the members of the general public who wish to meet atheists. This is not an invitation to have people come out and proselytize to us but rather a chance to meet with atheists and learn more about our beliefs and see that we are normal people too.

We hope to see everyone make it out this year again. We had a great time last year and really look forward to seeing our friends each year and meeting new people every year as well. Please share the event with others and work out car pools if possible to get those to the event that would like to attend. Any questions, please feel free to email Marisa Hills at marisa@midohioatheists.org

We will see everyone soon!

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

 

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.