The December edition of the Mississippi Humanist Newsletter covers the holidays, events, and upcoming elections. Read the newsletter to find out what’s happening at the MHA and how you can help.
Last month, the MHA became aware that Governor Phil Bryant created a video endorsing the PULSE movement. The organization is coming to Mississippi in April 2019, and Governor Bryant used his position as a public official to endorse the event. This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state, and the MHA took immediate action.
Governor Phil Bryant has made a career of blurring the line between church and state. He has never been shy when it comes to endorsing Christianity, and even plans to add “In God We Trust” to all standard state license plates starting next year.
He isn’t stopping there, though. Gov. Bryant has taken his disregard of the Constitution to the next level by creating a video for the PULSE movement. This Christian movement is coming to Mississippi College next year, and Gov. Bryant used his voice to endorse the event.
On July 10th, Jim Helton, the National Field Organizer for American Atheists, came to Jackson to speak to the MHA. Jim provided the group with actionable steps we can use to make a difference in our state. These steps include partnering with other groups for specific issues, joining local school boards, running for city council, and increasing visibility.
We are pleased to announce that the MHA has scheduled an appearance by Jim Helton, National Field Organizer for American Atheists, for Tuesday, July 10.
The MHA is an affiliate of American Atheists and we are excited to have him visit us. Jim is the co-founder and President of Tri-State Freethinkers, this year’s American Atheists Affiliate of the Year winner, operating in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.
Governor Phil Bryant announced the State Seal of Mississippi, which includes the phrase “In God We Trust,” will be part of the standard license plate design, starting in January 2019. Those who do not want “In God We Trust” displayed on their vehicles will be forced to pay extra for a custom tag. This is essentially a penalty for non-religious Mississippians to pay.
Two MHA Board of Directors spots were up for election at the third annual Membership Meeting on February 24, 2018. Stephen Frank was re-elected Treasurer, and Amy Blue was elected Communications Officer.
The MHA has grown a lot this year, in many ways. On behalf of the MHA Board of Directors, many thanks to everyone for all of the support the MHA received this year, and welcome to all of the new members that joined the MHA this year! I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you for making this year a fantastic year for the MHA. I will try and keep it brief, but I just wanted to touch on some of the accomplishments and "high spots" for the MHA in 2017.
Greetings fellow humanists!
Summer is finally upon us! It has been a busy summer so far for the Mississippi Humanist Association (MHA)!
One thing that is going on right now, is the MHA interest survey. If you haven't already, please take the time to complete our survey here. The survey is aimed at better understanding the needs and interests of our fantastic supporters, such as yourself, so the MHA can be a more effective organization, and positively promote humanism in Mississippi. We will be closing the survey on July 31, so please go ahead and let us know how you want your MHA to move forward into the future!
And MHA members, please check out the secret Facebook group “Mississippi Humanists” and post about the things that matter to you. If you are a MHA member and are not a member of the secret group, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you. Post a pic and an intro, let your fellow members know you, and about the things you are interested in and that you support. You can post topics that may be of interest for discussion. Ask a question and draw on the group for answers. We hope this Facebook group can bring us all a little closer and help strengthen our community of members.
One matter that should be of concern to secular and religious communities alike is the current’s administration’s hostility to the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits non-profits and churches from participating in political activities, specifically the funding and endorsement of candidates. The MHA is opposed to this recent assault on the Johnson Amendment by Congress, that seeks to defund the investigation by the IRS of churches that violate the Johnson Amendment. Please, support the work of the American Humanist Association and all the members of the Secular Coalition for America to protect the Johnson Amendment.
A good number of the secular community was at the MHA Second Sunday brunch at Iron Horse Grill in downtown Jackson in June, and it was very well attended with approximately 20 in attendance.
We are pleased to see the consistent increase in attendance of families, as well as new faces, at Second Sunday Brunch. One of the MHA’s primary goals is to build a strong community for secular individuals and families, connecting humanists in Mississippi for socializing and support, and our monthly social events work to do just that!
The MHA’s Humanist Happy Hour in June at the Bulldog was a great time, with approximately 20 attending and having a great time taking a break from the work week worries! If you have any suggestions for a happy hour or a brunch venue, please let us know!
With our consistent growth in attendance at Second Sunday Brunch and Humanist Happy Hour, it would be helpful to have a good idea of the number of attendees, so we can make sure the venue can properly accommodate us, so please RSVP if you plan to attend these events!
The next MHA Board of Directors Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 27th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Rainbow Co-op in Fondren. Members are always encouraged to attend. Member participation in our regular meetings enables the board to better serve the needs and desires of the membership, and aids in the productivity and creativity of the board, as evidenced by the most recent meeting, where attendees had great ideas for new potential vendors and software to further increase the effectiveness of the MHA.
And with summer activities, there is a severe blood shortage and The Mississippi Blood Service is desperate need of donations. Check out their Facebook page here for locations and more information. Please, donate if you are willing and able, and credit the MHA when you donate. Our code is DJ01; just let them know when you sign in that you want your donation to be credited to the MS Humanist Association.
Thanks so much for your interest and your support of the MHA! Stay cool and enjoy your summer!
Kim Gibson - President
Mississippi Humanist Association - We Believe in Good!
The Mississippi Humanist Association (MHA) Board of Directors is always working to serve its members, its prospective members, and the general public more effectively. To that end, we have created a short survey that we hope will give us a better idea of what matters to you!
If you would, please take a moment, well, approximately 4 minutes or so, and complete the survey. The survey is located at - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LKZQZRH.
Thank you so much for your time and interest, and we are looking forward to your response to the survey, so we can find out what you want from YOUR MHA!
We’re now VERY close to our first big event - Seth Andrews, the host of The Thinking Atheist podcast on May 21st, at 2:00 PM!
Mississippi Humanist Association
Newsletter - April 2017
Greetings, humans. We’re getting closer and closer MAY 21st and our first big speaking event - Seth Andrews, host of The Thinking Atheist!
Greetings, humans! As 2017 rolls in, we need your support! We’ve got our second annual membership meeting coming up TOMORROW - February 11th, and along with the chance to meet and eat with your favorite fellow humans, you’ll have a chance to change up our leadership, approve of our new bylaws, and hear a presentation by Godless in Dixie blogger and vice presidential candidate Neil Carter titled “Why Darwin and Jesus Can’t Get Along.” It’s Darwin Day themed, as we’re meeting the day before Darwin Day.
These activities aren’t free - though they are free to attend - and that’s why we need your support now, more than usual. Feel free to drop by our website and join or donate - most of our operations are funded by your membership fees, and the rest are funded by your donations. We don’t receive any grants or sponsorships, which means that we don’t have to spend time on the grant-writing and sponsorship pursuit treadmill. We can spend that time better by coming up with new things for humanists to do in Mississippi.
Despite your efforts and interest, the governor’s office declined to issue an official proclamation for Darwin Day in 2017. Maybe next year!
Maybe Phil Bryant would never have approved such a proclamation - but that is indicative of our need to visibly organize in 2017. The AHA was on capitol hill last week, explaining to legislators the importance of the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment, which was enacted in 1954, and named after then-senator Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibits 501(c)3 non-profit organizations - like most churches and, incidentally, the MHA - from endorsing or campaigning on the behalf of candidates for public office.
The current presidential administration has the Johnson Amendment in its crosshairs. The AHA, and by extension, local organizations like the MHA, rely on the parity provided by the amendment to prevent our message from being swamped by the campaign donations funneled through churches.
Additionally, a nation-wide attempt for Mississippi-style “religious freedom” bills are seeking to legislate dubious freedoms - pretending that discrimination and spite are protected, core tenants to religious beliefs. This ignores the importance of actual religious freedom, the separation of church and state, the freedom that allows us to live in a nation free of religious influence from the state.
We have fought these laws in Mississippi, and with your help - and the help of allied organizations and individuals - we will continue this fight in Mississippi and beyond. We need your help and we need your support to keep this going. Email us with any news of protests, actions, rallies, and the like! We are limited by the Johnson Amendment, and cannot support any candidate or political party, but we can help educate and enlighten.
As a final note, our regular activities for the month are cancelled in order to let us concentrate on the annual meeting. We know you love our regularly scheduled brunches and happy hours, but this month we’re not only planning our annual meeting, we’re working hard on the Seth Andrews appearance in May, and an additional speaking engagement in March or April.
Thanks, we’ll see you soon!
Mississippi Humanist Association
Hello, fellow humans!
It’s 2017! Welcome to the future! It’s a good time to renew your commitment to your local humanist group, and renew your membership! The Mississippi Humanist Association (MHA) relies entirely on your membership dues and donations to exist. We are the only chapter of the American Humanist Association in Mississippi and we appreciate your support! We’ve made it easier than ever to donate with our splendid new website - which costs money to run and host! We put all our event info, news, and past newsletters here, as well. The money goes from everything from paying local artists for our graphic designs, to buying the shirts, bumper stickers, and pens that we give away at our events, to hosting speakers, running our meetup group, and of course, our Annual Membership Meeting.
Yes, the annual meeting is right around the corner, on February 11, 2017! We desperately need new nominees to serve on the Board of Directors. As of this moment, THREE of our FIVE directors are NOT running for re-election. Without nominations, the Board of Directors may downsize to a three person board. Nobody wants this. Nobody wants a three person MHA board - the current five are all working quite hard to keep things rolling, and having a three person board would hamper our efforts to continue building a strong secular community here in Mississippi. There is only so much each board member can do, and we want to continue to grow!
So how can you help? Simple. Nominate someone to run for the Board of Directors! Yes, you can nominate yourself. The only caveat is that you must be a member of the MHA in good standing. Just submit your nomination via email by January 28, 2017 so we can prepare the ballots. However, if you can’t make this deadline, write-ins will be accepted at the annual meeting.
At the annual meeting, we’ll also be proposing two amendments to the bylaws to be voted on by the membership:
First, an amendment to elect members to officer positions. Currently, the membership simply chooses individuals to run for the Board of Directors, and then the directors appoint positions. This change would make the election a bit more important, as the membership would directly choose who was in what position - instead of simply electing a director, you would elect a president, a vice president, and all the other positions. This would lead to a brand new election of directors NEXT YEAR in 2018.
Second, due to the confusing nature in which memberships are currently being kept track of, we are also proposing a change in the way dues are administered. Instead of membership being due on January 1st, we want to move to a more traditional "year of date" membership, in which your membership is due one year out from the date you joined. Because of this change, and the confusing nature of our current membership structure, we will propose that all lapsed members be considered "paid-in-full" for voting purposes at the annual meeting. If this change is approved by the majority of the voting members in attendance, the rule will go into effect retroactively, allowing year-to-date memberships to become the norm.
If you become part of the Board of Directors, you’ll get to do things like “remind the membership that we’re ending the book drive with Big House Books!” EXCITING!
By the way, we’re about to end our book drive with Big House Books. We have 20+ books donated and more on the way, so we’ll need to have a packing party with BHB volunteers sometime soon. Get ready, and if you haven’t donated a few books from the list, do so now! You’re also barreling toward the Humanist Happy Hour on the 18th, at Buffalo Wild Wings off of Lake Harbour in Ridgeland. You can check out the details here and if you don’t know if you’d like our events, check out the last one: The Second Sunday Brunch, which was at the Corner Bakery in Flowood this month. It’s always on the Second Sunday of the month, and you can always find the details on our Facebook page and our website and meetup dot com.
Finally, our state leadership is attempting to mandate, at the point of fines for a school, the Pledge of Allegiance. Even without the anti-humanist addition of “One Nation, under God,” the forced ritual of obedience is against freedom of thought and individuality. You know what to do - it’s not a law yet, so get in there and make your voice heard.
Mississippi Humanist Association
Mississippi Humanist Association Newsletter
It’s been a busy month for all of us, and more is yet to come. We’ve launched our big new website. (You're here already!) You can find out what events are coming up, what’s in the works, and read up on humanism in Mississippi and beyond.
One of the first things we used the website to do was announce a fundraising partnership with Big House Books. BHB is a local, Jackson-based charity that provides books to prisoners. It’s a simple system, where prisoners request reading materials and BHB provides them.
They’ve constructed a special wishlist just for our members - the books that have been requested here are exactly the sort of thing we should be sending to people in prisons - and not only that, each of these was requested by someone behind bars.
So far we’ve only gotten THREE books to Big House Books. That’s a sad number. Sad! We were planning on having a packing party at the end of the fundraiser and matching membership donations out of the general fund, but at this rate, one person will simply go to the BHB headquarters, put your donation in a shopping bag, and hand them fifteen bucks. I don’t want to be that person, so please, donate more books.
Don’t want to use Amazon? You don’t have to if you don’t want to - you can bring your books to any of our social gatherings and someone will carry them to Big House Books directly.
Social events? There are three a month - one brunch, one happy hour, and one Atheist Experience meetup. You can bring a book donation to ANY of these. Or ALL of these. Just check the list.
Don’t forget to use Amazon Smile and designate your official charity as the Mississippi Humanist Association when you’re shopping on Amazon, and we’ll eventually receive a small portion of the profits.
Speaking of profits, we operate entirely on donations from the members - and from their membership dues. If you haven’t signed up, you can use our website to do so, and you can also use it to sign up for the mailing list.
But if you’re reading this on our website, why not get great content like this (and much more)? Signing up for the emails is free - and automatically part of your membership.
You’ll find out about stuff like our annual meeting, potential speakers, and hopefully, forums, lectures, and more for the future.
We’re currently interested in booking Seth Andrews, of “The Thinking Atheist,” during his May 2017 tour. If you’d like to help out, or express support, concerns, or let us know how you can help, or even what would make or break this event for you (day of the week, length of the event, etc) please, just reply to this email or use the “contact us” form on the website.
Our coming events are:
Wednesday, November 30th, 6:00 pm - Humanist Happy Hour at Green Ghost Tacos in Fondren (NOTE: This is NOT the County Line/Ridgeland location) Join the MHA for planning, eating, and drinking, plus our always-scintillating conversations. BRING A BOOK and maybe we’ll give you a T-shirt. Maybe.
If you want to be more informed about our wonderful events, please find us on meetup.com and join up there, we'll keep you busy!
Finally, let’s talk about the end-of-year holidays. Something that always comes up? The blessing of the food. Well, last week, MHA communications officer Patrick Jerome (that’s me) was asked to give a blessing at the annual Farm and Food Summit by the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network. The lavish feast on hand was prepared by local chefs, who were in attendance, and from local materials from Mississippi farms - and the farmers were also there - giving me the perfect opportunity to ask, quite directly, for a welcome thanks.
Given that this time of year often demands words of thanks over family meals, and that no one of any belief should be anything less than thankful for the privilege of plentiful food that we enjoy, I would like to include the well-received speech for those who might need it. Your beliefs should not preclude you from participating in family traditions.
Basic Humanist Blessing:
First, I would ask for a moment of silence in quiet contemplation of those who are not here today, and for those who may not have enough food, or any at all.
Let us not speak now of what we believe, let us give thanks for what we know.
We know how hard it is to get these crops from the Earth. So let us thank our farmers and their families. Let us thank them with our words and our deeds in the days ahead.
We know how difficult it is to turn those crops into the food we see before us. So let us thank the chefs and cooks here with us today, thank them with our words, our support and assistance.
We know that there were many others who gave much to feed us today. Let us thank the truck driver, who drove all night, the repairman who fixed a cooler or a tractor on a holiday or weekend. Let us make their lives better in any way that we can.
Finally, let us thank one another for our presence. May we make one another’s lives better with all that we do.
In these hard times, we need more than thoughts - though thoughts are welcome. We need more than prayers - though prayers are welcome. We need one another, and we need this food we are so thankful for.
Well, I hope that comes in handy, and I hope to see you soon. Bring a book! Join the MHA!
Mississippi Humanist Association