Adopt a Highway Cleanup on May 22nd

This is Mid Ohio Atheists sixth 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. We now are a Gold Star group, recognizing five years of dedication to the Adopt a Highway program.

This will be our 1st 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 AM on Sunday May 22nd. 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.
You will have to sign the release form for the State of Ohio in order to participate. If you haven’t already signed this, we will have one the morning of the cleanup and you can sign it then.

MOAAH

Director and Officer Nominations for 2016

At the monthly board meeting today, nominations were received for directors and officers of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc for 2016.

Directors (3 positions available)- Brad Boothe, Curtis Donley, Marisa Hills, & Christina O’Millian
President- Ron Stephens
Vice-President- Marisa Hills
Secretary- Candice Boothe
Treasurer- Ron Stephens

A vote will be held at the December 13th board meeting for the three director positions from among the four nominees.  All current MOA members can vote either at the December meeting or via email.  If you can’t make it to the meeting, send your three picks for director to midohioatheists@gmail.com by 12:00AM on December 13th.

Winners will be announced on the day of the meeting.

EDIT– The Board Meeting date was changed to the correct date of December 13th and not December 20th as was previously posted.

Announcing the 2015 Picnic & Fundraiser

Our group is proud to announce the 7th Annual Regional Atheist Picnic & Fundraiser 2015, sponsored by Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. We are inviting groups from all over Ohio and surrounding areas to our annual get together at South Park inMansfield, Ohio. The general public is also invited to come 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 19th, 2015 starting at 12:00 pm.

This is a new location for the picnic, and we are happy to have this gathering in our home town! South Park is located at 100 Brinkerhoff Ave, Mansfield, Ohio.

Contest

We again are happy to help two local charities with our donation drive contest, Harmony House (a local homeless shelter) and the Humane Society of Richland County. The contest is slightly different this year based on the needs of each charity. All items donated for Harmony House and Humane Society will be included in the contest. Harmony House is in need of non-perishable/canned food items and all hygiene items (soap, shampoo, deodorant, razors, toilet paper, feminine items, toothpaste/toothbrushes, etc). Items for Humane Society most needed are Dry/Wet Dog or Cat Food, Clay (non clumping) Cat Litter), Canned Pure Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), Dog/Cat Treats, and Paper Towels. These items are what is most needed by these locations and what they run low on the most. Other items outside of these can be donated. 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 something to one or both of these great organizations! Even if you don’t want to participate in the contest, all donations are important to these organization. Please make sure you check in your donations if you want to enter the contest. GRAND PRIZE: Basic Family Pass to the Center of Science & Industry (COSI).

Fundraiser

This year we will once again have a Raffle for some great items. Gift cards, books signed by the authors, kids items, and a few special surprises. We are truly excited about the various items and look forward to announcing the winners. There will also be a 50/50 Drawing this year. We have new merchandise items for purchase. Newly designed t-shirts, pens, key chains, and a few new items to help support MOA. All money raised goes to Mid Ohio Atheists Inc general fund to help us to continue with our community involvement and to help us to educate about secular rights in our area. Membership forms will also be available so you can become more involved with MOA as a voting member and involvement in our future events. Cash & Credit Card will be accepted.

Speakers

Once again we have 2 special guest speakers:

Christina McDuffie- Co-chair for Secular Coalition for Ohio, Event coordinator for Columbus Coalition of Reason (COR) and co-organizer and steering committee member for Central Ohio United Non-Theists (COUNT), will discuss Community Volunteerism, COUNT’s upcoming award from Foundation Beyond Belief for their volunteer efforts, and giving groups ideas of how they can be more involved in the betterment of their communities through volunteer projects.

Jennifer Lovejoy- Affiliate Services Manager for Atheist Alliance of America and host of Atheist Avengers podcast, will share with us “Cinched in the Bible Belt: An Atheist Mom’s Journey”and will have a Q & A session afterwards.

Fantastic Food

This year MOA will be providing the food items for the picnic. In lieu of bringing items we are asking for a suggested $5.00 donation per adult. Menu will be posted on our website soon, and will include some vegetarian items as well. Other items anyone would like to share are welcome, but not required.

Conversation & Community

The main reason to attend the picnic is for the company. We hope to see all of our members and guests from all around the state and beyond. It’s great to talk and interact with the ever growing secular community. Share ideas, catch up with old friends, and make some new ones. This event is a showcase of like-minded individuals who care about their local community, as well as educating others about secular viewpoints. You can RSVP on our social media pages below. Please share the event with others and work out car pools to help others who would like to attend. Any questions, please feel free to email Marisa Hills at marisa@midohioatheists.org See you all in July!

Facebook

Meetup.com

 

Election results for Directors for 2015

The voting is over and the final results for the three directorships for Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. are in.

There were 7 people who voted.

The candidates for director received these votes-

Brad Boothe – 7 votes
Marisa Hills – 7 votes
Christina O’Millian – 4 votes
Drenn Workman – 3 votes

So, the board members for 2015 are Brad Boothe, Marisa Hills, & Christina O’Millian.

I want thank everyone that accepted the nomination to be a director, unfortunately there are only three positions available.

Amendment to MOAI Constitution proposed

There is a proposal to change the MOAI Constitution.  The proposal is to give the Board of Directors more leeway in determining when the Members Meeting (the board meeting which includes elections for directors and officers) will be held.  Currently it is the third Sunday of the last month of the fiscal year.  The proposal is to change that to say the Board sets the date and time each year for the members meeting.  Here is the exact wording of the amendment- Continue reading

Members Meeting Election Results – Directors Election Date Changed

Due to some nominations not being announced before the Members Meeting today, the Board decided to announce the new director nominations to the membership via email and postpone the election of directors for one week.

Therefore, the election deadline for directors will be 12:00 PM, Saturday December 20th.

If you are a paid member in good standing, send your votes to midohioatheists@gmail.com before the deadline. Include the names of 3 different people you wish to vote for out of the 4 nominees below.

Bradley Boothe
Marisa Hills
Christina O’Millian
Drenn Workman

Also the 4 people nominated for officers for 2015 were affirmed by the members present and via email. They are-

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

Thanks to all the people who are willing to help guide Mid Ohio Atheists Inc. into the future.  It is greatly appreciated.

Ten Commandments plaque in Marion City School District

Credit @jbtaylor / Flickr Creative Commons

Credit @jbtaylor / Flickr Creative Commons

In today’s Marion Star there is an article about a 10 Commandments plaque hanging in the Marion Harding High School.  Principal Kirk Koennecke received complaints about the plaque, that clearly doesn’t belong in a public school, and decided to do the right thing and removed it.  I think Marion City School district has a principal it can be proud of in that he knew that there is no way the district could win a court case over this plaque if the district were to be sued.

Now comes the inevitable push back from religious students and parents that do not know the legalities of displaying the 10 Commandments in a public school. The courts have never upheld the right to display them in a public school but instead have consistently held that the 10 Commandments do not belong in a public school.

Notice I keep saying public school. That makes all the difference in the world. All children are forced to go to school and for those that cannot afford a private or religious school or just choose the public school system; they should not be subjected to the majority’s religion.

That is what religious freedom is about.  It is not about being able to display your religion on public buildings for all to see, but rather it is about not being made to feel you are an outsider by the school administration or other students because your religion is different from theirs or you have no religion at all.  Also this religious display makes a public statement that the school administration endorses the particular religion represented by the display.  This goes against the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment.

Superintendent Barber says he and the students will be working with faith-based ministers and others in the community in deciding an appropriate home for the plaque. I hope he includes some secular voices in those discussions. As president of Mid Ohio Atheists Inc., dedicated to supporting the separation of state and church and the rights of atheists, I would gladly work with the Superintendent in deciding where the display should be placed.

Nominations for 2015 Announced

ballot_box_blue

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.

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?

MOA 2015 Calendar

We are now taking artwork submissions for the 2015 Mid-Ohio Atheists calendar!  See the MOA 2015 Calendar page for details.  Here are the basics:

  • Submit any artwork (even digital) that fits on an 8.5″ x 11″ page by September 30th.
  • Designs must be related to an Atheist theme in some way, and positive in some way, no negative submissions will be accepted.
  • 12 designs will be chosen by MOA Directors.
  • Calendars will cost $15, but there are only 100, so get your orders in early.

We look forward to seeing how creative our fellow Atheists can be.  Please submit designs to midohioatheists@gmail.com or bring them to an MOA event.  If you scan your design, please use high settings to maximize scan quality.