For those of you who don't know, "The Good News Club" is a massive and growing evangelical force whose mission it is to use "church planting" techniques across all public schools in the United States. They are doing this quite successfully now, facilitated in large part by the 2001 Supreme Court ruling that requires public schools to make their resources available for FREE to religious groups during non-school hours. (I learned this by reading Katherine Stewart's book, "The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth assault on America's Children"). 

In recognition that American atheists are starting to come together into community groups (with similarities in many ways to church groups and fellowships), and seeing that we are beginning to effectively fight our way to realize rights that we are already legally entitled to, it seems that the time is ripe to request and get the same level of favored treatment that the evangelicals are capitalizing on.

To pick a specific example, the North Texas Church of Freethought (NTCOFT) meets in the Dallas / Fort Worth area in Texas. Why should NTCOFT (and similar free-thinking groups) have to pay large sums of money to rent meeting spaces, while the evangelicals get theirs for free via the public school facilities? While I don't think free-thinking groups would target the schools with proselytizing motives like the evangelicals do, from a purely financial fairness standpoint it seems right that free-thinking groups take advantage of the Good News Club court ruling, so that they can enjoy the same government-provided resources that the evangelicals do now.

What I'd expect to happen if any free-thinking group does apply at a public school is that they would be immediately rejected, or if not, there would be a pubic outcry. But this is perfect court fodder to establish equal rights for atheists, and in a big way (I would think the groups like the ACLU and American Atheists would jump to the plate to help).

Have any free-thought groups thought about leveraging the current legal situation to level the playing field regarding rent-free meeting places, or for those reading my thoughts on this do you think it is a good or bad idea to seek equality in this matter?

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Yet my "recognise the rights of atheists and agnostics" White House petition is dying on the vine with only sixty signatures and two weeks to go.

Atheists don't even care about atheists, and there is a huge segment of the atheist community that thinks it ought not get involved in politics.

If it doesn't, we will be swept away as irrelevant, just as the Democrats swept us away in the Defense Bill yesterday. (If passed, it will allow discrimination based on "strongly-held religious belief" and require the Department of Defense to accommodate those beliefs.)

So of course let the religious in to preach. We should accommodate them too. We can even be doormats for them.

I fear for our country.




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