Below are the activities for 2017
- Interview on WTSP – Jim Peterson, from our board of directors, was interviewed by WTSP about the Pew report on hidden atheists.
- Cottondale Elementary School – contacted by a citizen of Jackson County about a teacher lecturing first graders on the meaning of Easter.
- City of Longwood, Fl – supported the Freedom From Religion’s request to have a cross removed from the City Commission chamber.
- Religious Expression in Public Schools – Senate Bill 436 and House Bill 303 – notified members about these bills, supplying contact information for committees.
- Added tracking of Florida Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) – The CRC meets every 20 years to review and suggest changes to the state’s governing document.
- SB 1006 – Humanity of the Unborn Child – Restricts free speech
- Polk County Bus driver handing out religious literature – told a young boy that he was going to hell because his he has two mothers.
- HR 610 is the start of dismantling of the public school system, requiring states to fund vouchers for private schools.
- Opposition to Devos – Contacted Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio about DeVos. Read More…
- Skepticamp – Critical thinking for everyone – We had almost 50 people attend the afternoon session on critical thinking, with discussion leaders Barry Silber, Dave “Doc” Dockerson, and Ryan Cragun. We had a great time, had snacks and lots of talk, met some great people.
- Senate Bill 288: Relief of the Justice-2-Jesus Charitable Trust by the State of Florida – Contacted Senator Perry Thurston concerning the bill he submitted to give $280,000 to Justice-2-Jesus. Read more….
- Meeting with Bill Nelson’s Staff to express concerns about Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General – We joined with a number of groups to ensure that Senator Nelson knew of our concerns about Jeff Sessions. Read more….
- Palm Beach County teacher threatened for putting up Satanic Display next to nativity scene – the “Liberty Counsel” of Orlando has requested a copy of all the email of this teacher to try to get him fired. We countered with a request for email from all employees of the school district that was religious in nature. Read more…
- School Character Development based on religion – Manatee High School is using religious material for Character development, against Florida law as well as the constitution. We have contacted them with our concerns. Read more….
Below are the activities for 2016
Protecting the rights of non-believers and religious minorities
We spent many hours on the following activities, including doing Freedom of Information Requests and going through hundreds of emails to ensure there were no other intrusions.
- Coach says success = number of students brought to jesus.
This year we had to contact a public school about their football coach making the statement in a newspaper that he measured his success in how many students he brought to jesus rather than how many football games he won.
- Jesus Pizza Day
We contacted several school districts around the state of Florida about the group First Priority that sponsored jesus pizza day at their schools. Among other activities this group did that did not follow the Equal Access Act, including having adults run “student led” groups, having their meetings in the cafeteria, where all students had to listen to them and using teachers in videos on their website to endorse this group, whose only goal was to bring students to jesus. We even met with the superintendent of schools in Hillsborough county about this issue.
- Public school staff appeared to work for a church
In Hillsborough county, a local church gave teachers and staff a t-shirt to wear on opening day. As you can see from the picture, it had the big letters of STAFF then in partnership with the church, along with the church logo (crosses). Not that this would have been ok in any school, but this was in an elementary school so the students could easily have been misled that the school was a part of the church. We cooperated with representatives from the Jewish community, the Islamic community, and the ACLU to get this issue addressed.
- Religious theme park used public property to advertise
We contacted orange county government concerning the use of a public fence by the Holy Land experience. They decided the fence could be used for a mural depicting religious images.
- Secular invocations Members gave invocations to open the meetings in several cities and have been added to the rotation list in most of those cities, so they now contact us when we are up for another invocation. The public has been very accepting of these events and we are not aware of any complaints having been filed about our participation.
- School Board site listed religious text as requirement for students contrary to Florida law we found a school board site that listed religious text as required reading. After contacting them, they assured us this was an error and corrected the site.
Keeping you informed
- Atheism in the news We added news feeds from 5 different sources to keep you up to date on what is going on in the atheist community.
- Communication central We submitted letters to the editors regarding issues of concern to atheists, such as the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights (Dec 15th), response to the call for the return of prayer to public schools and the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. We also published a newsletter and various other email communications about issues important to atheists. Our webcast production continued, with discussions on various topics. (The webcast is on hiatus until we find a new office where we can setup the studio.)
- Tracking Legislation in Florida – we kept a list on our front page of all bills of interest to Atheists, encouraging friends and members to call their representatives to register their support, or concern, of a particular bill.
These activities took place in Tampa Bay, but we will gladly work with people around the state to set up similar activities in their community.
- Member of Tampa bay Coalition of Reason We are one of 13 groups that joined together to form the Tampa Bay Coalition of Reason. We participate in such events as Darwin Day and Winterfest.
- Times Festival of Reading This year we resumed the practice of having a booth at the Times Festival of Reading, which attracted many visitors and friends, resulting in a growth of our mailing list.
- Family Fun Days and Potluck Most of you have said you joined the group to meet other people. Our quarterly potluck is the place to do this. We have good food, good company, a relaxing atmosphere for people to develop friendships with other like-minded people.
- Atheism 101 To introduce people to the history of atheism, we held a class which allowed people new to the idea of no gods to learn about the history of atheism, as well as the personal history of other atheists.
- Monthly Meetings We had public monthly meetings, sometimes with outside speakers, other times just a discussion with those that attended.