Weekly update for Jan 26

We will discuss the ubiquity of prayer at our meeting on Thursday Jan 29 at 7pm in room 3219 of the Memorial Union. As many of you may have noticed, President Obama’s Inaugural Day began and ended with prayer. In his inaugural speech, President Obama said “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers” (USA Today). He also included at least one each Muslim, Jew, and Hindu in his prayer service (US News note the description of Rev. Sharon Watkins’s sermon). However, all four religious leaders who spoke at the Inauguration were Protestants (Beliefnet). What do you think about President Obama’s choices of words and religious speakers? What do you think about the number/type of prayers offered at the inaugural events? Does this say anything about our President, or about our society?

Sunday Feb 1 is another Sunday Brunch 11am in the Heritage room of the Union Drive Marketplace on campus. Brunch is all you can eat for $8.75 for students and non-students.

Please see the AAS Google Calendar for more upcoming events, such as seminars and workshops from the Wesley Foundation and the belated Winter Solstice Soiree from the Iowa Secularists.

We are getting ready to order AAS shirts for this semester. The shirts are light blue with “The ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society” on the front and “The deepest sin against the human mind is to beleive things without evidence. – Thomas H. Huxley” on the back (see the AAS shirt page for images). They are $15 each and help to fund AAS events. Please email isuaas at gmail dot com with your name, phone number, and shirt size no later than Monday 2 Feb so we can get the shirts ordered quickly. Apologies to those who already put in requests – we didn’t get enough requests to place an order, so you will need to resubmit your request.

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Joy and Frustration at the Inaguration

20 January 2009 was certainly a significant day, no matter your political affiliation.  I was unfortunately in class during the inauguration (Evolutionary Genetics followed by Professional Practice in the Life Sciences) so didn’t get to see or hear it live. The clips I heard on NPR after class made me want to stop everything and simply revel in the moment. I’m happy to see Obama in office for many reasons, but one in particular resonates. As of now, anyone can be president. Anyone can rise up from any upbringing, and with a little work, reach for the stars.

Well, almost anyone. While our new president himself gave a shout-out to “Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers”, even inviting one each Muslim, Jew and Hindu to his prayer service, Christians definitely took center stage. Prayer after prayer, breakfasts and benedictions made it clear to me that non-believers (and non-Christians in general) are not welcome. Would Christians have noticed or minded if there had been a little less praying and a little more secular celebration? Was it really necessary to reinforce the idea that Christians are in charge and that the rest of us are little more than an afterthought? Continue reading

What does Obama think about SOC?

Separation of church and state (SOC) is a major issue for secularists. That’s why we invited Gordon Fisher, Iowa lawyer, volunteer with the Obama/Biden campaign, and former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, to speak with us at our Oct 23 meeting.

Surprisingly, the most lively conversation was on education. The idea suggested by a club member was: should we spend less on struggling students and more on the gifted?

Gordon is willing come out and speak to us again after the election. He asked to be added to our mailing list and was invited to come to future meetings, along with his wife, Monica. His blog on Iowan and national politics is Iowa True Blue. He will get back to us on Obama’s stance on three topics: the defense of marriage act, federal funding of boy scouts, and flag burning.

Here is approximate transcript of the Q & A…

Continue reading