July 26, 2013 by kittynh
I have to thank my friend Don Lacey for writing this blog post I requested! He isn’t the type to usually share his feelings, but I wanted a personal take on what it is like for an atheist leader like himself to involved in atheist activism.
Just back from TAM (The Amazing Meeting) my 7th. While at the meeting, I got a chance to talk with Kitty at the Del Mar Bar, which you all know it is THE hangout when not attending workshops and presentations. She asked me to send her something on how it feels to do religious activism in Tucson. What it’s like to be “out there” in front a primarily hostile audience defending the apparently radical secular principle—the separation of church and state. Seriously, she wanted ME to write about my feelings.
The FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) sent a complaint to the Tucson city manager about shrines located on city property. The original complaint came from a local citizen. However, FFRF is located in Madison, WI. Local television news picked up on the story and interviewed a sitting city councilman. He said, “The complainant should find something better to do with his time.” He also said that the shrines don’t represent an endorsement of religion by the city and that they’re “not going anywhere.”
What does it FEEL like become an activist and put oneself “out there”? If there is ONE thing that most Atheists agree with, it’s the idea of separation of church and state. Allowing the existence of a religious shrine with no secular purpose on city property is an obvious separation of church and state issue. As a representative of the Tucson Atheist community, I must see the complaint addressed even though it wasn’t my original complaint. The fact that we have a city councilman telling a fellow freethinker to “Get a life!” is additional motivation. I FEEL “duty bound.” I was contacted by the local television station to do an interview on the subject. They were on a deadline so it had to be that day and soon. I FELT slightly nervous and apprehensive about the possibility of a religiously motivated editor making me look bad. By the way, that fear was unrealized. You can judge for yourself here. The part of the interview that they used did not put me in a bad light. However, someone on the Atheist side thought that using the word “trinkets” was disrespectful to Catholics. That made me FEEL betrayed and bit angry. I was expressing the point of view of “someone not steeped in the faith.” I could have used another word, I suppose, but “trinkets” does not in itself have pejorative connotations. The first definition is: “a small ornament,” which is completely and accurately descriptive. I could have used baubles, curios, doodads, gewgaws, knickknacks, ortchotchkes but “trinkets” was the word I used and I stand by that selection. Taking fire from people on my own side didn’t help with my FEELINGS or motivation.
So far, I FEEL pretty good. The blog articles (1) (2) (3) are getting the appropriate responses. My address to the city council (Preview) went well in spite of how nervous I FELT. There’s nothing going on now. Summer is a slow season in Tucson and we won’t have another city council meeting until the first week in August. Dr. Gil Shapirowill give his address and I FEEL hopeful that in the end, the Secularists in Tucson will come out on top.
- ‘A’ Mountain’s religious shrine needs to be moved (azstarnet.com)
- National Atheist Party Changes Its Name to Secular Party of America (patheos.com)