Saturday, April 13, 6:30 PM
6:30 PM Reception
7:30 PM Program
The Community Church of Boston
565 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116
Questions? Contact Ron Madnick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, will speak on "Three 800-Pound Gorillas Enter the Church-State Arena: And it's No Joke." Barry will emphasize three major church-state issues that are popping up around the country: illegal political activity by churches, government funding for religious groups with discriminatory hiring practices, and for-profit businesses with owners claiming religious objection to covering birth control for their employees.
The event also features Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. She has written for the New York Times, Reuters, and the Guardian.
Ellery Schempp, famous for being the primary student involved in the landmark 1963 United States Supreme Court case of Abington School District v. Schempp which declared that required public-school-sanctioned Bible readings were unconstitutional.
And Jessica Ahlquist, a high school student, who was the plaintiff in a case where the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island ruled that a "School Prayer" banner posted in Cranston High School West was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution and ordered its removal. She will receive the 2013 Religious Liberty Award of the Massachusetts Chapter.
The reception and program are free and open to the public.
For more info contact Ron Madnick, Chapter President, at
email@example.com or 508-982-1722. rg
Ellery Schempp at Harvard Divinity School
Following is an article
about Ellery Schempp, Vice-President of the Massachusetts Chapter of AU, highlighting his recent talk at the Harvard Divinity School. The article, "Bypassing the Bible" appeared in the Harvard Gazette. It points out that "For years, Dr. Moore and her students have debated the implications of landmark Supreme Court decisions in her “Religion, Democracy, and Education” course but they rarely get to dig past the scholarship to the actual names attached to those decisions - people like Ellery Schempp, a freethinking 16-year-old who, more than 50 years ago, decided to protest his suburban Pennsylvania high school’s mandatory daily Bible readings....“There are very few people who have won a Supreme Court case about First Amendment topics who come to Harvard Divinity School, and most of us are dead,” Schempp told his audience with characteristic bluntness. Schempp’s case, Abington School District v. Schempp (1963), effectively overturned laws in more than 30 states that endorsed or required Bible readings in public schools. You can read the entire article at:
House Bill H.2715 is Stealth Anti-Science Legislation
The statement below on House Bill H.2715 was presented to the Massachusetts State Legislature Joint Committee on Education on October 4th 2011 by Dr. Sam Kounaves, a Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Geology at Tufts University, and a former two-term member of the Winchester School Committee.
As clearly pointed out by Ronal Madnick, President of Americans United for Separation of Church & State, this bill does not give students any more rights than are already allowed under the U.S. First Amendment and the Massachusetts Constitution. However, what this bill will do is allow students and teachers to promote, to captive K-12 audiences, religion as science.
HB 2715 institutes a policy that "...allows for .... student expression of religious viewpoints at school events ...... , in class assignments..." It directs school districts to "...treat such expression ... in the same manner as the expression of a secular or other viewpoint and prohibits the district from discriminating against a student based on his or her expressed religious viewpoint."
Part of the motivation for this bill is clear. Bill 2715 (the same as H.376 introduced in 2009) was originally crafted by Ms. Evelyn Reilly, the former public policy director of the Massachusetts Family Institute, an organization affiliated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family (FOF), and a member of its "family policy council". Indeed, MFI has links on its web site to FOF's DVD series The Truth Project (TTP). In the “science” lectures the TTP presents evolution as a "demonic lie" that is in "direct conflict with the Christian perspective", and identifies it as an example of a "godless philosophy". These lectures present anything but The Truth, and are rather the "perspective" of fundamentalists.
For years, it’s been a tactic of these groups to push for teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution in an effort bring religion into the science classroom. Similar bills have been introduced in several state legislatures. These “viewpoint anti-discrimination” bills are just another backdoor effort to make the established fact of evolution appear as a "guess" and on equal footing as creationism.
According to one of the bill's sponsors, State Rep Elizabeth Poirier of North Attleboro, "If it becomes law, the bill would allow students to discuss religion with classmates as they would any secular issue in school" (which they already can), she then goes on, "Perhaps in science class, when evolution is discussed, a student would be able to bring up creationism."(Cape Cod Times, 10/7/2009)
This bill was written and promoted by the MFI with the apparent intent of intimidating teachers, especially science teachers. This bill will allow students (perhaps with coaching from their parents) to express religious views in science classrooms, exams, and assignments. It would force biology teachers to give equal credit to students who, when asked questions about evolution, answer with religious views about creation. It will allow the promotion of creationism, intelligent design, and non-scientific views, as equally valid science. This bill will intimidate and inhibit teachers from teaching accepted science content.
As a scientist, educator, and former school committee member, and as a citizen of this commonwealth who passionately supports freedom of religion, I strongly oppose this bill.
Please see the letter opposing HB2715 sent by AU-MA to the Joint Committee and seven reasons why this is an ill-concieved bill.
UNITED- MASSACHUSETTS CHAPTER - ACTIVITES
Ron Madnick (President AU-MA) at the AU-MA table during Worcester Pride Celabration set up behind Worcester City Commons, September 17, 2011.