July 2015 Newsletter

First Friday FreeUp, July 3, Open discussion: How "free" is religious freedom?

In This Issue...

• From the President

• Open Discussion  at Friday FreeUp, July 3: How "free" is religious freedom?

• Secular scuttlebutt: what's been hot on social media

• Online program at U of Buffalo: "Science and the Public"

• Your dues at work helping homeless and hungry

• Upcoming secular events on the Gulf Coast


From the President...


Hello members and friends:

We begin our third operating year of our chapter on July 1st with the placing of  the Board of  Directors into office.  They will need to create a working budget and find funding to support the programs of choice.  Stay tuned for the coming plans. We still have some members that have not renewed in June.  We need your support so I ask for you to please renew and stay with us.

The month of June saw us offer a FreeUp on Guardian ad Litem, a program to help the most vulnerable children who are in dysfunctional homes.  It was presented by one of our own members, Sandra Carroll, and was very interesting and very concerning for anyone who would volunteer.  If any of you are interested go to their website at www.GuardianadLitem.org

We supplied dry goods supplies to Sean's Outpost to have when they distribute daily lunches to the area homeless.  We gave them batteries for their radios, bug spray, and socks to stay dry.

We also for June chose Saturday the 20th, to celebrate World Humanist Day which is always the 21st, by holding a Mobile Food Pantry distribution in central Pensacola.  It was held at the Rosewood-Camila housing commission property that supports low income seniors and the disabled.  We gave out 8,500 pounds of food and produce to over 130 family units.  A big thanks to those who came out to help work.  The crew was small, but were all hard workers and we were done by noon again.

I want to thank all of you for your caring and assistance during the last year of which I was president of your chapter.  We cannot continue to build this community without your help and any way you could help us this coming year please do.

Don't forget to watch for our monthly FreeUps at Sluggo's Vegetarian Bistro.  We always have spirited conversations and good food and drink.  

Buz Ryland, President

Humanists of West Florida


First Friday FreeUp:

Open Discussion: 

How "free" is religious freedom?

Friday, July 3

6:00-8:00 pm

Sluggos Vegetarian Restaurant and Bar
101 S Jefferson Street, Pensacola, FL 32502

What are we giving up as we condone religious privilege, and what acts could we (or should we) take to protect our rights as free citizens? We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about religious freedom lately with Indiana and Arkansas legislation and the imminent Supreme Court ruling—a provocative TED Talk reminds us that the issue is not our unique national property. Join the Humanists of West Florida​ for a glass of wine or a pint of the good stuff and weigh in with your opinion.

Meet and Greet at 6:00 in the backroom at Sluggos, Pensacola, short TED Talk at 6:30, then open discussion. Note: Sluggo's is a VEGAN restaurant--that means no animal products. You can handle that for a night, right? 

Please place your orders as soon as you arrive, and let the servers know you'll be in the back room at the HWF FreeUp. We're informal--we each will eat as our meal arrives.

Sluggos menu


Secular Scuttlebutt

We've got a healthy number of facebook groups giving vent to secular concerns here on the Gulf Coast. Be sure to check out

Pensacola Secular Society
Gulf Coast Freethinkers
Gulf Coast Coalition of Reason
Secular Student Alliance at UWF
Eglin/Hurlburt M.A.S.H (Military Atheists and Secular Humanists)
Southeast Alabama Freethought Association

Lots of discussion about the Charleston tragedy, the Confederate flag, and guns:

"The blind stupidity of some people in this country never ceases to amaze me. The woman who called the police when she spotted Dylan Roof is now saying we should thank God because he was working through her. God should get the credit because without him she would not have spotted the killer. Are you effing kidding me? In what fantasy world does a god allow his followers to be gunned down in a place of worship simply so that he can work his magic through another follower so the killer can be caught? If you believe in a god like that, you might as well just worship a door knob, because your god is a sociopathic maniac."

Locally, Pensacola's graffiti bridge became a site of dueling paintbrushes: "Confederate flag vs Rainbow flag on Graffiti bridge" reports on the issue, but online discussions about the subject were a good bit more interesting. From the SSA facebook:

"I will never understand people defending the confederate flag, now that something tragic has happened official government buildings are removing it and everyone loses their shit. Come on southerners, get your shit together, at least educate yourself slightly and understand what the flag represented. Yes, you guys will still be able to clutter your yards and trucks and represent the flag as you please, but it is not something that belongs in current official government buildings, it is a part of history that is something we should acknowledge in history books and history museums, but not to be endorsed by the government. I was born and raised in a racist homophobic town in Georgia and can only imagine what the hell is going on there right now, especially at my old hate filled christian high school."

"Whatever the Rebel flag may or may not have ever symbolized, there can be no doubt that it now represents racism, hatred and white supremacy. It has no more business being displayed in official government settings than the German National Socialism (NAZI, for short) flag does today. Paint it on your car, hang it on your house, or even wear it on your ass, if that's your thing - but don't fly it next to Old Glory at the state capital."

The Young Turks video-clip "Charleston Shooter Given Gun On 21st Birthday" generated a lot of shares and likes.

On the Southeast Alabama Freethought Society page, one commenter summed up a problem we've all noticed whenever these issues are raised: "Am I, the onle 1 seeing most peeple MAD bout taking away flags,, Rite like this!!?? GOD BLESS THE SOUTH. Liberals, b offended. Obumma gonna take my guns and flag. (That was really hard to type.)"

News you may have missed:

Discussion about "the WalMart out by the [Pensacola] fairgrounds is now allowing churches to set up Bible displays and accost the customers as they go into the store."

From Crestview: "I don't know if anyone pays attention to Crestview, but our town is in am uproar. If you visit the Crestview Bulletin Facebook page you can see all the "opinion/faith" pieces about how the city council board member can no longer lead the invocations and they have to allow more than christian prayers. Also, they have changed rezoning laws for downtown and no longer allow churches to expand or rebuild to anything other than their current building plans and no new churches. People are freaking out!! These are letters from the editor, but all articles and comments can be seen on the webpage or Facebook."

Update on Jason Heap, HWF's May FreeUp guest speaker and the exec director of United Coalition of Reason, which funded the godless billboards on the Gulf this past winter: "Navy lawyers defend rejection of atheist chaplain" provides the perspective from MilitaryTimes.com. See also the Patheos article on same topic: "Navy Officials Go to Court to Defend Their Rejection of Potential Humanist Chaplain."

While we're on the subject of religion and the military, check out: "U.S. Army Responds to Atheist Activist’s Prayer Complaint: ‘Graduates Are Not Required to Bow Their Heads" WWW.THEBLAZE.COM

And on the local-ish yet far-out bizarre front: "Dothan Pastor Kenny Glasgow Accused of Sexual Assault and Practicing Satanic Rituals"

In the "Isn't this a crazy democracy?" category:

Michigan Bill Would Require All Marriages To Be Sanctioned By Religion
"I believe that the traditional marriage is really God's model for marriage. I don't believe that government has a role in it," says the Republican from Lapeer.

John Hagee Calls For “Prosecuting Women Who Say God’s Name During Intercourse
“There is no greater sin in terms of wrongly using God’s name”

Pat Robertson Says God Killed Baby To Stop Next Hitler
Right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson wants grieving parents to know that it's okay if their children die, because God was just taking them before they grew up...

Popular reads:

"Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America" Social dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason. PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM

"Fighting Back Against Anti-intellectualism" We shouldn't rely on intellectuals to eradicate anti-intellectualism. PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM

"Advancing the Atheist Movement: Dawkins, Dennett, and the Second Wave" Instead of fighting the old battle of atheism versus religion, the second wave will fight a battle against religious intolerance of atheism. When I was in college,... THEHUMANIST.COM

"Stop Applauding the Pope: A Word on the Misguided Praise from Progressives" One day I’ll wake up and the liberal love fest with Pope Francis will be over—but until that day... THEHUMANIST.COM

"Why Americans Hate Atheists: Understanding secularphobia" WWW.PSYCHOLOGYTODAY.COM

"5 facts about prayer" For the National Day of Prayer, we rounded up survey data on Americans’ prayer habits, as well as historical instances of prayer intersecting with the government. PEWRESEARCH.ORG


Your dues at work:

Helping the homeless and hungry in Pensacola

More than FOUR TONS of food were distributed on June 20 at HWF's second food distribution this year, bringing our total for the year to well over eight tons. Many thanks to the volunteers who made this possible—you guys worked your tails off!—and to American Humanist Association for co-sponsoring the event.  

Like what we're doing and want to contribute financially to the work HWF is doing?  We're a 501c3 organization so your donations are tax deductible! Thank you!

Not a member yet? Join us today!

Two ways you can join or renew your membership:

1. Go to the website at www.hwfl.org and join up again and check the box you are renewing,

2. Mail your membership check to Humanists of West Florida, P.O.Box 15328, Pensacola, FL 32514


"Science and the Public"

Online program at U of Buffalo

The ‘Science and the Public’ program from the University at Buffalo, NY, is a part-time and completely online Masters of Education degree.
This is America's only entirely online program for the secular promotion of science and science-based policy. Visit gse.buffalo.edu/online/science
Since 2006 this nearly unique graduate program has prepared professionals to better engage in public activities and debates related to science. Graduates promote science literacy and scientific understanding in the public at large, and promote scholarship in science and humanism, science and public policy, and science in the political, religious and secular environments.
This ‘Science and the Public’ program was founded by secular humanist Paul Kurtz, and currently led by John Shook, PhD. John can be reached for questions about the program at jrshook@buffalo.edu
Read John Shook's latest book about science's victories over religious ignorance, in
Discovering Our World: Humanity's Epic Journey from Myth to Knowledge, now sold at


Your Board of Directors:

President/Treasurer: Buz Ryland, president@hwfl.org

Vice President: Suren Shah, vpres@hwfl.org

Secretary: Kay Rudolph, secretary@hwfl.org


Charles Stauffer, charles@hwfl.org

Sedona Strong, sedona@hwfl.org

Amanda Kondrat'yev, amanda@hwfl.org

Michael Kimball, michael@hwfl.org


Upcoming secular events on the Gulf Coast

• First Friday FreeUp with Humansists of West Florida on Friday, July 3 at Sluggos, 101 S. Jefferson St., Pensacola, FL.

• Gulf Coast Freethinkers meetup at 6:00 pm on Saturday, July 18 at Bonelli's Cafe Italia, 1217 N 9th Ave, Pensacola, FL. 

• United Secular Association of the Emerald Coast meets at noon on first Sunday of each month at Helen Back Again, 1128 E John Sims Pkwy, Niceville, FL 32578 

• Mississippi Gulf Coast Atheist and Freethinking Association monthly meetup at 3:00 pm on Sunday, July 12 at Harmony Hall, 2514 19th Ave, Gulfport, MS.

• Southeast Alabama Freethought Association meets every Sunday at noon Dakota Coffee Works, 4440 W Main St, Dothan, AL.


Get Involved!


Want to get involved in some of our activities and help build our humanist community?

Contact the committee chairs and find out how you can help:

• Finance, Fundraising, and Membership

Chair/Contact Person: Suren Shah - Email: vpres@hwfl.org

Committee Members: Buz Ryland, Sedona Strong, Charles Stauffer

• Communications, Connections, and Promotions

Chair/Contact Person: Kay Rudolph - Email: secretary@hwfl.org

Committee Members: Michael Kimball, Amanda Kondrat'yev

• Projects, Programs, and Events

Chair/Contact Person: Buz Ryland - Email: treasurer@hwfl.org

Committee Members: Suren Shah, Kay Rudolph, Amanda Kondrat'yev, Sedona Strong


Would you like to guest post in our newsletter or our blog?

We want to keep our newsletter informative, and local. If you are interested in writing about local events and activities, inform readers about local personalities activities in our greater communities, or even have photos or artwork related to humanism you'd like to share, please submit your 500 words or less article by the 20th of each month for consideration. (Articles will be published as space allows.)

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The Mission of the Humanists of West Florida...

...is to facilitate the advancement of humanist thought and action in Pensacola and surrounding areas by interconnecting groups of humanists, atheists, agnostics and non-religious. We will strive for equal participation in government and societal life through building strategic partnerships with other humanist and freethought organizations and with our religious neighbors to advance the greater good of humanity.