Freed & Robert Ingersoll v. Florist Barronelle Stutzman and WA State v. Florist Barronelle Stutzman

religious_freedomCalling all secular people in the Southeastern Washington area who want to stand up for separation of religion and government, civil rights, and equality and stand against Christian privilege and bigotry. There is a very important court date coming up, and you are encouraged to attend. Arguments in the nationally known Arlene’s Flowers case will be heard at 1:30 pm on Friday, December 19th at the Benton County Superior Court.

All previous court hearings on this case, including one last Friday, have been heavily attended by Barronelle Stutzman’s religious supporters. Comparatively few have attended to support the cause of equality and freedom from religion. Stutzman’s smug defenders believe that because they have the numbers they have the right of way in this.

A lot of misinformation and propaganda has been produced by the legal entity defending Stutzman, the Alliance Defending Freedom (the same legal entity behind the infamous Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case), to twist the facts of the case, turn public opinion to sympathize with Stutzman, and demonize the couple that was wrongfully and illegally discriminated against.

Secular people are needed to turn out in force to show that government cannot show preference to religion, that a religious person’s beliefs cannot trump the rights of others, and that bigotry will not be tolerated in the Tri-Cities or elsewhere. Please show support for this couple and the laws that protect not only the rights of the LGBTQ community, but the rights of all of us, by lending your secular presence to the courtroom.

Here are links to additional information about the case:

http://www.marriageequality.org/washington_lawsuits_pending

http://www.atg.wa.gov/pressrelease.aspx?&id=32467#.VISnFzHF8bM

UPDATE:

If you will be attending the court hearing this Friday, please heed the following advice if you don’t want to damage the case and the cause in general:

Please sit in the pews with your poker face on. It is important that the judge not feel like he is being influenced by people’s reactions in the court room. It is likely that the Alliance Defending Freedom attorney for Stutzman will say derogatory, outrageous, and offensive things about gay and lesbian people. We must not roll our eyes, make gestures, or  display any verbal or nonverbal court outbursts.

This case is a BIG DEAL, and there will be media there. In the event you are approached by media to comment, please do not make disparaging, villainizing, or hateful comments against Ms. Stutzman. The ADF has framed this case as an attack on a poor sweet grandmother from the big evil gays and liberals. As you know, they have claimed she is being persecuted by the public and the government for expressing her religious views, so it is not helpful to attack her or express any anti-religious views. Don’t play into their religious persecution narrative. That’s what they want. They want a reason to play the victim in this. We must take the high road. Instead, we need to stick to the facts of the case, that she was in violation of the law, that if you open a business to the public, that means all of the public, that discrimination is wrong and hurtful, and that gays and lesbians are our friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors who are decent human beings just like anyone else. Point out that real people have been hurt by her actions.

It is also not helpful to compare LGBT rights to the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s and the plight of African Americans, so it’s best to avoid making this comparison. Focus on the positive message of fairness and equality.

There may be demonstrations outside the courthouse. Should you choose to also demonstrate, please keep the positive messages in mind if you will be carrying a sign or making any statements.

Finally, the court is certain to be packed with supporters of Arlene’s Flowers. Please arrive by 1 pm. Leave yourself plenty of time to get through security at the court house. Be careful to leave anything that might slow you down in your car. I think sealed bottles of water are allowed, but no other food or beverages. As has been pointed out elsewhere, remember to dress appropriately for court in business casual attire. If you are wearing a hat, you will be asked to remove it. 

Thank you to all of you who are attending this. It’s a very exciting day as we anticipate that justice will be served and real American values will be upheld that all men are “created” equal and will be treated as such in our great country.

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Shop at Amazon and Support the Tri-City Freethinkers

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Want to avoid holiday shopping crowds and shop online at Amazon, all while benefiting the Tri-City Freethinkers? Amazon’s Smile program donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. You can support the Tri-City Freethinkers by going to smile.amazon.com and selecting our organization from the drop-down menu. These small contributions add up and help us to bring guest speakers to our community, sponsor events, and more. We appreciate it!

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Tri-City Freethinkers Winter Solst-ish Celebration

This year we will hold our annual winter festivities after the actual Winter Solstice, so it’s a Solst-ish party! On Saturday, December 27th at 6 pm, we are taking over Zinful Panini Grill & Wine Bar in downtown Kennewick Winter Solst-ishfor the entire evening. Join us for delectable hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Wine and beer will be available for purchase. Enjoy music, Cards Against Humanity (and any other games people might want to bring), and great conversation with fellow freethinkers.

A suggested minimum donation of $20 members/$25 non-members is requested to offset the cost of the event, but if you can’t pay the full amount, please do still attend and give whatever you are able. Cash and checks will be accepted the night of the event. Not a member and interested in becoming one? Email jennifer@tricityfreethinkers.org for details.

The maximum attendees Zinful can accommodate is 75, so please get your RSVPs in early via the Meetup event page and if your plans change and you can’t make it, please remember to change your RSVP so someone else can take your spot.

We will be collecting school supplies at the party to donate to a local elementary school (Amistad Elementary in Kennewick) with children and teachers in need. Lots of attention is paid at the beginning of the school year to donating school supplies, but at this time of year these consumable supplies have been exhausted and teachers often end up paying out of their own pockets to replenish the tools their students need. I think we can all agree that education is important and we should support our teachers and students, so lets show them our appreciation!

If you can, please bring some sort of consumable school supply, such as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, colored construction paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, dry erase markers, colored pencils, erasers, boxes of tissue, hand sanitizer, etc. You can also give cash or a check and designate it specifically for school supplies and I’ll purchase Staples gift cards or you can just bring a gift card from your favorite office-supply store.

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Mid-Columbia Coalition of Reason launched in Tri-Cities this week with godless bus ads

NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-City Freethinkers president, Jennifer Goulet, is the coordinator of the Mid-Columbia Coalition of Reason and spoke to Don Granese at KNDU today about the bus ad campaign launched this week to reach out to the nonreligious population of the Tri-Cities. By late afternoon, comments on the KNDU Facebook post had exceeded 1,000. Many expressed outrage over the ads, but there were also a lot of supportive comments, including from people who do believe in god but support our First Amendment right to speak our minds. Find out more about the coalition at MidColumbiaCoR.org.

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Tri-City Freethinkers Presents: Greta Christina

Greta Christina For Mid-Columbia Pride Week, the Tri-City Freethinkers will host special guest speaker, Greta Christina, the well-known author and public speaker on atheism, sexuality, sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is co-founder of the Godless Perverts, a performance series and social community that promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion.

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Guest speaker Dr. Jason Heap, National Coordinator of Coalition of Reason

Dr. Jason Heap

Dr. Jason D. Heap (Jase) is the Coalition of Reason national coordinator who has helped make the upcoming launch of the Mid-Columbia Coalition of Reason bus ad campaign happen. He will be joining us via video conference from Washington DC.

Jase is the current applicant to become the first Humanist Chaplain in the history of the United States armed forces. After being away from America for nearly 15 years, he has recently returned to serve as the National Coordinator for the United Coalition of Reason, based in Washington, DC. Through his work with UnitedCoR, Jase nurtures almost 80 local Coalitions of Reason, in addition to supporting over 800 cooperating and affiliated groups within these local coalitions.

Jase took double majors in philosophy and practical theology at Howard Payne University before attending Brite Divinity School (Texas Christian University) for an MDiv. He then studied for an additional Master’s in history and religion at The University of Oxford before completing further post-graduate certification from Sheffield Hallam University that allowed him to teach in the UK’s state-maintained schools. Among the 9 subjects that Jase teaches, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, and personal/social/health education have been his favorites. After working in the UK schools for 5 years, Jase went on to give 6 years of experience as the Headteacher (the UK equivalent of a “Teaching Co-Principal” in the US) of UK-curriculum “international” schools, and throughout his work, he has lived in and visited nearly 40 countries. He has recently completed a Doctor of Education in administrator leadership and his dissertation focused on empowering non-Western grassroots schools and teachers.

Jase is a Humanist celebrant, a regular contributor at TheHumanist.Com, and gives regular volunteer time to chaplaincy work with student organizations at major American and British universities.

Come hear Jase speak at the Richland Public Library on Sunday, November 23rd at 1:30 pm. Please RSVP via our Meetup event page.

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Save the date!

Winter Solst-ish Celebration

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Meeting to discuss and vote on bylaws amendment

The September meeting of the Tri-City Freethinkers will be held at 3 pm on September 21, 2014 at the Mid-Columbia Library in Kennewick on Union. Please RSVP at the event announcement on Meetup.com. Some new and exciting things are in store for the Tri-City Freethinkers, which will be discussed at this meeting. We will discuss and vote on a Bylaws amendment, posted for your advance review here. Members eligible to vote are limited to those currently on the Tri-City Freethinkers’ email list (this is partially what the amendment will change, so even if you don’t currently have voting rights, it’s in everyone’s interest to be present). Must be present to vote. If you are not sure whether or not you are on the email list, please contact me at jennifer@tricityfreethinkers.org.

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Dr. Allen Johnson presents “The Tyranny of Ego”

Dr. Allen Johnson, author of several books including “The Power Within: The Five Disciplines of Personal Effectiveness,” will present “The Tyranny of Ego” at the Tri-City Freethinkers meeting on October 19th at 1:30 pm. The location is TBD.

Dr. Johnson’s description of this presentation follows:

“Since the 1970’s narcissism has been on the rise, while empathy has been on the decline. For decades educators and pop psychologists have advocated that high self-esteem among children is critical and that our children should be constantly reassured that they are “special and important and capable of accomplishing anything.” However, research overwhelmingly demonstrates that success is not a product of high self-esteem, but rather a product of focused self-discipline.

“Too often an overwrought ego spawns people who are self-absorbed and lacking in a sense of community. This presentation examines the impact of this cultural phenomenon in our personal and professional lives. Correspondingly, it also touches on the dangers of nationalism, which can be thought of as egoism gone awry on a global scale.”

Dr. Johnson has been a professional keynote speaker and professor of public speaking. He was a keynote speaker and trainer for the Covey Leadership Center, providing keynote presentations in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Principle-Centered Leadership. He is also a keynote speaker, trainer, and consultant for my own firm, Johnson Dynamics.

He has taught public speaking and interpersonal communication on the high school, university, and corporate levels. Dr. Johnson holds a BA in Language/Literature with an emphasis on speech from Northwest Nazarene University, an MA in Communications with an emphasis on oral interpretation from University of Washington, and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Washington State University.

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Climate Change: What We Humanists Can Do About It

Join the Tri-City Freethinkers on August 24th at 1:30 pm at the Mid-Columbia Library on Union in Kennewick to meet climate scientist, Dr. Steven Ghan, a representative of the local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby who will join us to discuss the proposed Carbon Fee & Dividend legislation.

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The Tri-City Freethinkers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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