11/19/14

When Mississippi's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Falls

Rainbow American flag promoting equality for e...
Rainbow American flag promoting equality for every American. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I hope to see Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage overturned soon as a result of Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant. While I recognize that overturning the ban on same-sex marriage is only one step toward equality and that we still need clear legal protections so people cannot be fired from their jobs, denied housing, or subjected to other forms of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, I do still consider it to be an important step in the direction of equality.

At the same time, I have to admit that I'm a bit worried about how some of our more conservative Christian neighbors may react when the ban falls (I'm being optimistic here and saying "when" instead of "if"). While it has been encouraging to see some pastors breaking ranks with the majority, many evangelical fundamentalist Christian pastors remain steadfast in their opposition to LGBT equality. They have had decades to convince their congregants that same-sex marriage is an affront to their god. As a result, I do not expect such attitudes to shift overnight. Recognizing that the anti-LGBT hatred runs deep leads me to worry about the possibility of retaliatory acts by outraged Christians.

I am not suggesting that any of us should allow fear of Christian reprisal to hold us back. Far from it. As atheists, I suspect we can agree that fear has kept us silent about too many things for long enough. What I am suggesting is that I think we should be prepared for some nasty reactions when the ban does fall. I hope that we are prepared to go out of our way to provide support to our LGBT neighbors who may need it.

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11/16/14

Add Your Group to the Secular Directory

English: Temple - of the secular sort Another ...
Temple - of the secular sort Another name that brings forth questions! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is going to be a short post, as I have already been trying to get the word out about this via Facebook and Twitter. Since I know not everybody uses social media, I figured a post would probably be a good idea.

I ran across a fairly new website I think might be of interest to many secular Mississippians: The Secular Directory. As you can guess from the name, they aim to connect people trying to find atheist, humanist, skeptic, or other secular groups with such groups in their area. Best of all, they allow people who are part of such groups to create accounts and list their groups for others to find.

At the time I am writing this, they only have three groups listed in Mississippi. I am reasonably confident there are more than three such groups in our state. So I wanted to make sure that those of you who are part of an active atheist, humanist, skeptic, or other secular group in Mississippi knew about this resource so you could add your group to the directory and make it easier for the rest of us to find.

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11/10/14

Secular Coalition Seeking Lobbying Help in Jackson

Another perspective of the "New" Mis...
Another perspective of the "New" Mississippi State Capitol building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you live in the Jackson area and are interested in supporting secularism in Mississippi, the Secular Coalition for America is seeking lobbying assistance in the form of people willing to meet with state legislators. No prior experience is necessary, as they will provide training, assistance in scheduling appointments with elected officials, prepared talking points, and materials for distribution.

The Secular Coalition is working with the Openly Secular campaign to oppose legislation that discriminates against atheists and other non-believers. Mississippi's law prohibiting non-religious persons from holding public office in the state is one example of discriminatory legislation.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please contact Sarah at sarah(at)secular.org. She has posted additional contact information on our Facebook page.

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11/5/14

Another Disappointing Election

English: Steven Palazzo, member of the United ...
Steven Palazzo, member of the United States House of Representatives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm hoping those of you who live in other Congressional districts had better outcomes than we did here in the 4th where Rep. Steven Palazzo (R) was re-elected. I can't pretend to be surprised by this result (or Sen. Cochran's re-election), but I was really hoping to see Palazzo defeated.

In his time representing us, he has opposed reproductive rights for women and the separation of church and state, just to name two of many important issues on which he has been on the wrong side. Rep. Palazzo, along with many other representatives of Mississippi, have received F ratings from the Secular Coalition for America.

I can't help thinking that Mississippi deserves better. Our representatives are not supposed to represent only the Christians in our state.

11/4/14

Time to Vote

Cropped version of :Image:Iraqi voters in Bagh...
Cropped version of Image: Iraqi voters in Baghdad.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I don't particularly want to vote today. I have a long day ahead of me at work, the polling place is not exactly convenient, I'm fighting mild flu symptoms, and I am at all sure that any of the candidates for senate deserves my vote. And yet, I plan to set all this aside and vote because I see it as an important part of my responsibility as an atheist living in Mississippi and who is frequently appalled by what our elected officials do.

There are many reasons for the sorry state of politics in Mississippi, but I cannot overlook the disproportionately low voter turnout among groups most likely to benefit from a very different approach to governing than what we have long endured. And when I see how those we elect continue to oppose science, education, and the separation of church and state year after year, I am even more determined to vote for their opponents.