Creating communities for non-religious South Floridians since 2004
KIDS, SUN, AND BLASPHEMOUS FUN!
That’s what the FLASH summer solstice was! Starting with burgers and dogs at 12pm until 5pm when the weather began to threaten. It was hot and the sun was out for the entire time, despite dire warnings from the weather forecasters. We had about 40 people all totaled, throughout the day. Bocce and bible toss created a festive atmosphere, especially for the children. Artie brought his guitar and there was a good old fashioned hootenanny… well a couple of old guys sang songs. The ocean was the objective for some, but for most, it was a day of relaxation, meeting new friends, and reacquainting with old friends. Special thanks to Chaya and Jim for their cake with our logo on it. Extra special thanks to Sean for being the cook of the day. Kudos for everyone for helping with the clean-up in record time! LOL
A personal observation: Despite what theists say, atheists raise wonderful children and it was evident by the generous, polite, happy children who attended!
Thanks to Carmine for the photos.
What I Did On My Summer Vacation (OK, Last Weekend At the Reason Rally) by Bob Senatore
FRIDAY, JUNE 3: After an uneventful plane ride, I arrived at my hotel in D.C. Who should I encounter at the first moment I arrive? Dave Silverman, President of the American Atheists. We briefly catch up and he hurried to a meeting. A quick lunch at the West Wing Café (good place to eat and reasonable prices) and none other than James Randi (The Amazing Randi) is greeting me in the exact same spot in the lobby when I return. We chat a bit.
The day was cloudy, but warm, so, to kill time, a walk about the city; first to the Capital, which was only a few blocks away. You could almost smell the hypocrisy and feel the money being shoved under the desks. Then, a walk down the Great Lawn. It starts to rain, so a quick walk back to the hotel is necessary. Outside, who should be standing there, but Penn Gillet, who has lost a TON of weight. I scream “REASON RALLY” and he shouts back. In the lobby is Christina Rad with an entourage.
I take the opportunity to meet an old friend who lives near D.C., for dinner. We meet at Union Station and proceed, in the rain, to a restaurant in the area; Le Bistro. We pick that one because we were getting soaked, PS…. $100.00 later our meal is complete. (D.C. is an expensive place). As we return to Union Station, it is now closing down and the shadow people take over. The cardboard living quarters and drunken sots abound. The place is filthy and not at all where you’d like to be at night, however, the sweet smell of grass is everywhere! LOL…
Drinks and discussion of atheist issues ensues, back at the hotel, until late into the night. Many express the relief to be around like minded people. I am encouraged to see many young people among the group.
Saturday JUNE 4: Breakfast, in the hotel, at completely ridiculous prices, but it was worth it when James Randi spies me sitting alone and invites to dine with him and his partner! Discussion of atheism, ageing, health, woo woo subjects and political conversation make up for the exorbitant price for a couple of eggs. James is gracious as several people request for pictures to be taken and he agrees, even as his pancakes cool.
In the lobby, I spy Eddie Tabash, a Constitutional Lawyer who has debated atheism for years, and, whom we’ve had down here (in conjunction with CFI) to debate theists. We discuss atheism, life, and how to get to the rally. Turns out that there are busses provided and we are on our way.
The prediction was for rain, but it held off all day… mostly cloudy and warm, but later, sunny. The crowd was rather sparse at the start, but swelled to, I estimate 5,000 people. Not at all what was expected, and rather disappointing. A carnival atmosphere pervades and people seem quite “up” for the experience. Theists roam the areas in small pockets, some accompanied by police who warn us away when we attempt to engage. However, there are a few who escape the clamp down and they are quickly engulfed in discussion. None of the encounters became more than loud shouting, as far as I know… It’s always fun to take them on, since all theists begin from a position of weakness, having “castled” themselves into a corner before the even start.
The speakers begin, people are watching enthusiastically, others walking about, buying things at the tabling tent, located waaaay too far from the action, but, as Ken Loukinen pointed out, it was a park regulation that had to be followed.
I meet several people with whom I’ve been chatting on Facebook. It was nice to put a face to the people who, for months, have been allies in your anti-theist arguments. Volunteers were everywhere and the details of transportation, seating, water, first aid, etc. were covered quite well… kudos to the committee. It was a satisfying day, to say the least, again, except for the turnout. Everyone is red with sunburn by the end of the day.
Back at the hotel, the “after parties” begin… There is more tabling and drinking and chatting with new friends. For me though, the music is always waaaay too loud, but you kids go ahead and play. I fall into bed at 2am… J
Sunday, JUNE 5: It’s 6 am… I’m off to the airport. As I am having one more overpriced breakfast in the airport, who should be sitting at the table next to me, but four men with christian crosses aplenty, shirts touting their allegiance to the fairy tale god, and discussions laced with “blessed” and “Jesus this and Jesus that”… It was all I could do to not puke. I was angry that I didn’t wear my AA shirt, but it was not as “fresh” after sweating in it for 8 hours the previous day. It did, however, bring into focus why I went… TO SHOW THE WORLD AND THE GOVERNMENT THAT THOSE KINDS OF FOOLS DO NOT REPRESENT THE TOTAL POPULATION OF THIS COUNTRY.
… and they’d better start listening to reason.
Lecture with David Silverman, President of American Atheists
We had 93 people show up to listen to David Silverman, President of American Atheists. David spoke about his new book, “Fighting God, An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World”. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see how large FLASH has grown and the enthusiasm Dave generated in the room was palpable.
Dave’s lecture hit on a few points, including the importance of using the word Atheist to describe oneself, how the American Atheist’s efforts have moved the Overton Window (a new term for me) and why we need to push it further, where Dave has found a silent minority of disenfranchised Atheists hoping to have their voices heard (spoiler alert, it was at CPAC), and why being silent about our Atheism is disingenuous and harmful to those we care about.
I cannot thank Dave enough for taking his time to come speak to FLASH, his generosity in donating a photo of his visit to be featured in American Atheist Magazine, and the book signings after his lecture. I also should thank James Randi who graced us with his presence at the Planation venue. It is always a pleasure to be in his presence.
More importantly than thanking Dave or Randi, I must thank the members of FLASH who made this happen. Your continued support is vital to the growth and activism of FLASH. We cannot operate without your support and I know that Dave was very pleased to see how many people were active in our community.
University of Miami to create department to studies Atheism
In an effort to find large venues for big name speakers and/ or debate halls, I bounced some ideas off the Board of Directors and suggested we start a scholarship fund with FLASH monies that would incentivize the formation, and hopefully, a sustainable presence of a Secular Student Alliance at one or more of the Universities. We considered many ways to structure a scholarship fund and I have been contacting the Secular Student Alliance, but all of our ideas shifted when this bit of news broke:
Louis Appignani of Miami has donated $2.2 million dollars to the University of Miami to form a chair for the study of Atheism. Through Louis incredible act of philanthropy and activism I believe we will have an opportunity to have a larger and more visible presence in the community. A lot of work is yet to be done, but it is most certainly an exciting opportunity. The Board of Directors and I intend to work diligently to establish a relationship with the new chair when the University has hired someone.
We have also secured a donor who has committed $500.00 a year for the next 5 years to be used a FLASH Scholarship Fund. He has requested to keep his identity anonymous.
Obviously, FLASH owes a tremendous amount of gratitude to both Louis Appignani and our annoymous donor. But, I also want to thank Ken Loukinen for the substantial amount of work he put in to help bring this all together.
FLorida Atheists and Secular Humanists