Aug 16 2013


August meeting tomorrow

From 2 to 4 pm tomorrow (Saturday, August  17), Corvallis Secular Society will have its monthly meeting. It will be at Corl House here in Corvallis: http://www.corvallisoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=1144 .


I am looking forward very much to getting back to Cambridge, and being able to say what I think and not to mean what I say: two things which at home are impossible. Cambridge is one of the few places where one can talk unlimited nonsense and generalities without anyone pulling one up or confronting one with them when one says just the opposite the next day.

[Bertrand Russell, as a college student in the 1890s: Letter to Alys Pearsall Smith (1893); published in The Selected Letters of Bertrand Russell, Volume 1: The Private Years (1884–1914), edited by Nicholas Griffin.]

Issues for discussion:


Preaching to the Nones: The Sunday Assembly


Upon entering a Sunday Assembly, held in historic York Hall in East London, one could easily assume that these gatherings are yet another attempt to plant a holy hipster church. If you stick around, however, it becomes clear that these atheist services take on the upbeat tempo of an evangelical praise service, sans any signs of Jesus junk. Described by its founders as “a godless congregation that’s part atheist church, part foot-stomping show, and 100 percent celebration of life,” the Sunday Assembly is the brainchild of British comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones.


Switzerland wants a secular national anthem


Switzerland wants to get rid of its old-fashioned “hymn-like” national anthem and replace it with a modern, secular version. Beats “God Save the Queen.”


France considers banning religious symbols in universities


A French Government-funded research institute is recommending that the wearing of religious symbols — such as crucifixes, Jewish Kippahs and Muslim headscarves — should be banned in the country’s universities to ease “escalating religious tensions in all areas of university life.”


City to publicly address Memorial controversy


The City of Coos Bay, Oregon, maintains a “war memorial” in a city park. It is a Christian cross. It is telling that the City Council has engaged the Liberty Institute to advise them in two executive sessions (sessions closed to the public). The Liberty Institute is a conservative Christian advocacy and legal defense organization – hardly a neutral source of legal advice for a secular government body.

Vietnam War Cross in Coos Bay, Oregon, as shown in this March 20, 2013 report.


From Messiah to Hitler, what you can and cannot name your child


Legal decisions about children must weigh parents’ right to raise their children however they see fit, an implicit freedom the Supreme Court has grounded in the Constitution, against the government’s “parens patriae” authority — Latin meaning father of the country — which allows officials to intervene on behalf of vulnerable kids. Though many states have laws governing what a parent can name their child and there are times when a child’s name might warrant action, family law professors say “Messiah” didn’t put the infant in harm’s way.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.corvallissecular.org/2013/08/16/css-august-2013-meeting/


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  1. John

    Letter to THE WORLD in Coos Bay:

    Latin Cross not a Christian symbol?

    The City of Coos Bay maintains a war memorial in a city park. It is in fact a Christian cross.

    It is telling that the City Council has engaged the Liberty Institute to advise them in two executive sessions (sessions closed to the public). The Liberty Institute is a conservative Christian advocacy and legal defense organization – hardly a neutral source of legal advice for a secular government body.

    The separation of government and religion is a founding principle of this country. Respect for this revolutionary concept is necessary to ensure that all citizens are treated equally by their government. This prevents a tyranny of the majority and the establishment of a theocracy.

    It is certainly disingenuous of supporters of a memorial of this configuration on public property to claim that the Latin cross is not a Christian symbol! How desperate they are.

    1. John

      (2) Comments

      PastorRL – 1 hour ago

      I agree with Mr. Dearing that the use of the Cross in this context is an expression of Christianity. I will support efforts to build a better memorial that includes all Veterans, not just the Christian ones.

      Kathy100 – August 19, 2013 1:10 pm

      Bravo, Mr. Dearing.
      Well said.
      Let’s hope the Coos Bay civic leaders have a clear unbiased mind like you.
      (The Liberty Institute is a joke. I hope no public money was spent on them.)

      1. John

        Another comment:

        Denton – 11 hours ago

        Separation of church and state was wrote into the Constitution so that we would not end up with the church being the government like in ancient Rome. But, you have taken the writ out of context. The country was based on Christian principles and faith. The government is not supposed to be able to tell the church what in can or cannot do. The government was accountable to God-this is the true idea behind the separation of church and state. When God isn’t the focus, we fall apart.

      2. John

        Yet another:

        TEP – August 22, 2013 9:27 am

        This would be a good time for the community to come together, and build a more suitable memorial to honor the sacrifices of the veterans who fought in Viet Nam. Rather than bicker over the current memorial, we should all be enrolled in building a more suitable one. Peoples lives were lost and torn apart by this brutal war. Our veterans and all of us deserve better than this. We don’t need to relive the pain and divisions of the past.

    2. John

      A letter in response:


      I just read the letter published in The World by John Dearing from Corvallis concerning the city of Coos Bay maintaining a war memorial in a city park. I certainly want to thank Mr. Dearing for taking time out of his monitoring of the affairs of the community in which he lives, to offer some useful advice on the affairs of our community.

      It seems that a small cross on top of a war memorial has morphed into a city-mandated establishment of religion. No doubt Mr. Dearing has read the United States of America’s First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads in whole, as pertains to religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — then it goes into free speech. Now, my rube friends and myself, being also a rube, were actually hoodwinked by our city government and their handlers — the dastardly religious fringe. We didn’t realize that our rights to erase all religious symbols from our sight had been trampled upon by a collusion of religious people and politicians. I hadn’t really thought about it, but maybe those religious people are actually the politicians themselves. Wow, what an eye-opener!

      By the way, who can guide me to part of Mingus Park where the city is holding their religious meetings for the religion that the city has established? And a phone number of the minister, so I might attend those services? You also mention the city being in bed with the Liberty Institute, that being a conservative religious organization. Perhaps you would contact the ACLU and persuade them to represent the city in this matter. Oh, I forgot! They’re rabidly anti-religion and anti-patriotic to this nation and everything that it stands for.

      Just one more thing. Showing all due respect for your voicing of your opinions of our community affairs, I solemnly promise to keep my opinions on your community’s communistic, socialistic, repressive ways to myself, and not publish them in your community newspaper, since I would consider those issues to be your concern, not my concern.

      Ted Weidenhaft

      Coos Bay

      (1) Comments

      PastorRL – 7 hours ago

      Mr. Dearing expressed the thoughts of many Coos Bay residents, myself included. The extremist language of your opinion shows how this issue cannot just be left to local bullies. The City owns and maintains a prominent Christian Cross on public land. That is wrong. Those with genuine faith do not trample the rights of those of different faiths or of no religion. The memorial needs to be replaced or modified. This controversy will not go away unless action is taken. I am a Veteran too.

      1. John

        Another comment:

        Denton – 11 hours ago

        I am baffled with comments like this. This country was founded on Christian faith and principles. Our Common Law comes from Leviticus. Our major colleges and hospitals have Christian roots that started them. How can you take the Constitution itself and twist this to say that having this memorial is cramming religion down someone’s throat? This country was based on Christianity. The Constitution was written to protect that fact & not shove it down people’s throat. Someone needs to look at history

      2. John

        And again:

        60something – August 22, 2013 12:24 pm
        To Commenter Denton:

        This country was not founded on Christianity or any organized religion. The founding fathers were Deists.

        Deism is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge. Deism gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment—especially in Britain, France, Germany, and in US.

        veracity – August 22, 2013 5:09 pm

        George Washington was Episcopalian, and Deists can be Christian, and Christians can be Atheists, for all that it matters, but this country was clearly not founded by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or any other atheist church non-profit dedicated to using absurdities in the practices of law to sue small communities for profit and to destroy tiny memorials the kids built 40 years ago with sincere feeling toward the deceased.

  2. Hilary

    Hi, All!

    So I am a not-yet resident of Corvallis; my partner moved here for his career in July, and for better or worse, my job contract at another university isn’t up until next May. I visit once a month, and, luckily for me, usually the third week, so I can hopefully attend some CSS meetings. I would be there with you this month, but this trip I have to fly back on Saturday instead of Monday for work, so…see you in September.

    That said, once I do relocate to Corvallis, I am interested in starting a “chapter” of Sunday Assembly, the organization mentioned in the second article, “Preaching to the Nones.” I would love to start a conversation with anyone interested in doing this, too!

    Have a great meeting, and I’ll see you in September.

    1. Reed

      Hi Hilary! And welcome!

      I believe you’ve already chatted with John, so I’ll just apologize for taking so long to approve your message on our blog. This was the Great Move-Out Weekend for my wife and me (we had to get everything out of the house; we’re staying at a hotel while our house is remodeled) — and I just got my computer online again.

      Hope to see you at a meeting soon!

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