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President's Message: NPR Fund Drive 2015
I ran across a folded newspaper last week while doing some needed spring cleaning in my office. The paper was the Metro section of the Florida Times-Union newspaper dated March 25, 2010. The large, bold headline said, “Billboards say atheists are here.”
I reread it for the first time in over five years. The article concerned our 2010 billboard campaign associated with the United Coalition of Reason. The billboard message was benign and simply and succinctly stated, "Don’t believe in God? You are not alone." Several local ministers were quoted. One said he was concerned that the message on the billboards “…throws confusion out to the people…who are not solidly grounded in their faith.” This was from the Reverend Armand Egnew, pastor of Crosswalk Community Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Fleming Island. Egnew went on to say, “the church needs to step up and show these people there is a god.”
I had to laugh. I sat there, newspaper in hand, wondering what was going through Egnew’s mind when he gave his statement to Jeff Brumley, the Times-Union reporter who interviewed him. His and most other churches have been attempting to prove the existence of a god or gods throughout recorded human history. Was Egnew’s statement a subconscious confession that the attempt by his and all other churches to prove the existence of a god or gods had been a failure? Was he throwing the intelligence of the masses under the bus by saying our billboard would confuse them? Was he saying people are easily swayed by billboards?
Rereading the 2010 article immediately brought thoughts to my mind of how important freethought organizations, like the First Coast Freethought Society, are to North Florida. Getting the Jacksonville Atheist meetup (JAM) was a welcome breath of fresh air, along with the freethought groups that have sprung up in St. Augustine. We need them all screaming at the top of their lungs for the need to respect diversity and to stop the zero-sum game being played out in the arguments and wars over who’s right and who’s wrong about the existence of a god or gods. While people and nations are busy arguing and fighting over whose god is the one true god, people are starving, people are being murdered, people are dying from curable diseases, people’s freedoms are being taken away from them, and our planet is being raped by environmental degradation.
The First Coast Freethought Society has been screaming, politely, since 1998, for respect for sound science, reason, diversity, freedom of speech, justice, and environmental sustainability. We do it through our monthly speakers, our special events, and our NPR radio announcements.
Our NPR announcements are our strength. We have established a sustained secular presence in our community for seven years with the regular occurrence of our NPR announcements. Unfortunately, every year the NPR announcements are in danger of going away unless we raise enough money to keep them afloat. The NPR announcements do more than merely tell the community who our next monthly speaker will be. The NPR announcements tell the Reverend Egnew and his colleagues something they need to hear for the rest of their lives: we don’t all think alike and that’s okay.
I don’t like asking for money any more than anyone else, but the NPR announcements are the most important thing we as freethinkers working together have done and continue to do. I am asking you to give to this year's fund drive so that our presence will continue to be what it always has been: a voice of reason in our community.
This year, we are striving to raise $6,700, which, combined with membership dues, would enable us to have our full complement of 13 announcements per month, for the period of July 2015 through June 2016. If 115 folks would each buy one announcement, at $58, we would reach our goal! But whether you give more or less, please contribute if at all possible. Every bit helps, and if we all pull together, we can succeed!
To Donate on a Monthly Basis
You can now set up automatic monthly donations which you may find very convenient and easy on the budget. You can do this in two different ways.
- Use the PayPal button, above, to schedule automatic monthly donations to our NPR fund. Automatic monthly donations via PayPal require you to have a PayPal account.
- Set up automatic payments through your online banking system.
To Donate on a One-Time Basis
Should you prefer to donate on a one-time basis, here are the ways.
- Use one of the PayPal buttons, above. You do not need a PayPal account to use a major credit card.
- Send a check payable to the FCFS to P.O. Box 550591, Jacksonville, FL 32255.
- Bring your contribution to a meeting or another FCFS event and give it to a board member.
Whichever method you select, you will receive a letter from the treasurer, suitable for your IRS records, acknowledging your tax-deductible contribution.
Thank you for your support!
Monday, August 17, 2015
TITLE: “Colonization of the Inner Solar System”
SPEAKER: Jay S. Huebner, BSEE, MS & PhD, Physics; Professor of Physics from 1972 to 2014, Visiting Research Professor from 2005 to 2014, now Physics Professor Emeritus, University of North Florida
DESCRIPTION: The resources of energy and materials in the inner solar system dwarf those available on Earth, and we, as scientists and engineers, know enough about how to use them in ways that will be described and illustrated in this presentation. Ways in which we can build manufactured planets that can allow us to live there in larger numbers, and with higher living standards than we will be able to have on earth. It also seems likely that in these habitats, humans can live longer and healthier lives than on earth.
LOCATION: Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church, 8447 Manresa Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32244. From the I-295 Roosevelt exit, go north to the first traffic light, Collins Rd. Turn right. Go 400 ft. The church driveway will be on your right.
MEETINGS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC • NO TICKETS REQUIRED • FREE PARKING
Welcome to the First Coast Freethought Society. Now in our seventeenth year!
Founded in 1998, we are a group of freethinkers dedicated to promoting science and reason over dogma, faith, and belief in the supernatural. Our purpose is to serve the needs of the nonreligious population of Northeast Florida, promoting secular humanism, a non-theistic outlook and approach to everyday life.
We provide a place where agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, and secular humanists can gather to hear speakers, discuss philosophy, science, and other topics of interest. We offer support to those who have rejected or are questioning their religious beliefs.
At our meetings, you will find a forum for individuals interested in learning more about humanism and freethought. Through lectures and informal discussions, we explore topics of interest and enjoy fellowship with like-minded people. Meetings are free and open to the public. In addition to monthly meetings, we offer a variety of other activities. See below. We hope to see you at a meeting or another activity that appeals to you!
The First Coast Freethought Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization under IRS Chapter 501(c)(3).
- When: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., the THIRD MONDAY of every month
- Where: Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church, 8447 Manresa Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32244. From the I-295 Roosevelt exit, go north to the first traffic light, Collins Rd. Turn right. Go 400 ft. The church driveway will be on your right.
- What: A formal program, usually a guest speaker, followed by questions and answers.
- When: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m., the FIRST SUNDAY of every month.
- Where: Books-A-Million, 9400 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32225.
- What: Follow the link above to see current book selection, past book selections, and contact information.
- When: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., the SECOND THURSDAY of every month.
- Where: Clubhouse at a private condominium in St. Augustine (Anastasia Island).
- What: Follow the link above for current book selection, past book selections, and contact information.
Monthly Olive Garden Social
- When: Drinks at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 7:00, the FOURTH TUESDAY of every month
- Where: Olive Garden Restaurant, 10144 Philips Highway, Jacksonville, FL 32256, across from The Avenues Mall Order from the menu.
Secular Sunday in the Park
- When: 10:00 a.m., the FOURTH SUNDAY of every month
- Where: Losco Regional Park, under the pavilion, 10851 Hood Road South, Jacksonville, FL 32257
What: Conversation and coffee in the fresh air
Dignity U Wear
- This activity has been discontinued for the time being.
- Everyone can receive The First Coast FreeThinker via e-mail, view it in your browser, or download it from our website. Members are entitled to receive the U.S. Mail hard-copy version.
- A trial subscription of the hard-copy version is available for three months at no charge, following which, you need to join to continue to receive it.
- Join the FCFS Yahoo! Group, Jaxfreethought, to exchange e-mail with other freethinkers. You need not be a member of the FCFS to participate.
- To subscribe, send a blank email to jaxfreethought.
Dinners for Doubters
- Dinners for Doubters is a convenient, easy way to create an instant dinner party, get to know other freethinkers, and make new friends in intimate surroundings. It works like this: Someone decides to host a Dinner for Doubters. The host or hostess picks a date and decides how many people he or she would like to invite. A party totaling eight seems to work well, but this is entirely up to you. You may want only four! We then put a sign-up sheet at the back table at our monthly meetings, and guests sign up to attend. When the guest list is filled, the host or hostess contacts each guest to arrange the menu and who will bring what. Often, the host or hostess provides the entrée, and the guests provide a salad, beverage, vegetable, dessert, etc. But again, who brings what is entirely up to the participants. In fact, if a person whose house is very small wanted to host a dinner, they could pick a restaurant and all go Dutch. The goal of Dinners for Doubters is to allow mixing and mingling, getting to know new and different people, and to allow freethinker friendships to flourish. Consider hosting a dinner. Be watching for a Dinners for Doubters sign-in sheet at the back table!