Category: Atheism

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce linked to racist comments at City Council meeting

 

Michael P. Anton, Chamber member and owner of Emtech, Inc.

Grand Junction citizens who attended the August 5, 2020 City Council meeting to promote racial justice and propose solutions were met with openly racist comments from Michael Anton, a local business owner and representative of the Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA), a subgroup the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber formed WCBA in 2012 to serve as the Chamber’s lobbying and political arm. WCBA is a 501-c-4 “dark money” group, so-called because it does not disclose its donors, but according to 2012 article in the Business Times, WCBA is funded by local business owners. In 2013, an anonymous former Grand Junction mayor told AnneLandmanBlog that WCBA was initially financed with a $50,000 donation from Doug Simons, owner of Enstrom Candies.

The social justice groups Right and Wrong (RAW) Grand Junction and Black Lives Matter (BLM) Grand Junction invited citizens who have felt discrimination locally to join them in an “Oppressed People’s March” to the Grand Junction City Council meeting at City Hall Wednesday evening to propose policies for Council to consider that would benefit minorities, like incentives for minority business owners and funding for the Latino Chamber of Commerce.

But in response to the groups’ presence at the meeting, WCBA member and local business owner Michael Anton made it clear that in his view, racial minorities were unwelcome in Grand Junction, stating in his public comments to Council:

“This RAW. This BLM. They need to go away. They’re not Grand Junction and you need to send them down the road because, believe me, there’s a lot more of me here in this valley than there is of you. I guarantee it and it will not be a pretty day if that comes forth.”

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters takes exception to atheists on social media

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ biased comment on the “Transparency in Mesa County” Facebook page.

 

Embattled Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters expressed contempt for atheists yesterday in a comment on social media, sowing further doubt about whether she can truly conduct her office in an impartial manner.

Here is how the comment came about:

Participants on the public group Facebook page “Transparency in Mesa County” had been discussing the County Clerk’s office after it was found that they forgot to collect and count 574+ ballots from the November, 2019 combined general election.

Western slope nonprofit group encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state

The western slope’s nonprofit watchdog organization Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state in places like public schools and at local government meetings, so they can address the violations.

Past violations reported to WCAF have included a Mesa County Commissioner praying to Jesus Christ at the start of public hearings, a Delta county middle school student being forced to watch a nativity play after asking to opt out, a Delta County middle school teacher hosting weekly Bible study classes in his own classroom immediately before school and handing out free doughnuts to students who attended, Fellowship Church promoting its youth indoctrination center in a Mesa County middle school by showing a video about it during gym period and handing students admission slips to the facility afterward, a Mesa County elementary school student being told by a lunch aide in the cafeteria in front of her friends that she MUST believe in God “because God created everything,” a Delta County high school student having her grades slashed and college grant applications sabotaged for reporting Christian proselytizing going on within the  school system, Colorado Mesa University students having Gideon Bibles foisted on them as they stepped off the dais at their graduation ceremony, a Delta County Middle School teacher telling her class that “non-Christians are bad people” and “the bombers aren’t Christians,” quoting the Bible in class, and much more.

Winter solstice billboard graces entry to town, thanks to Grand Junction’s growing secular community

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) is running it’s annual wintertime billboard celebrating the solstice on the digital billboard facing west on I-70 Business Loop in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A at Rimrock Marketplace. At a recent meeting, WCAF members estimated that approximately 15-20% of western Colorado residents are non-religious and identify as atheists, agnostics, humanists or freethinkers.

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers’ 2019 Student Essay Contest is ON, and the prizes are terrific.

Kids: want to make some easy money?

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF), is announcing its 2019 Student Essay Contest. The winning high school student gets $500 and the winning middle school student gets $250, and all this just for writing a short but insightful essay.

This year WCAF invites students from Delta County middle and high schools to participate, as well as all middle and high school students from Mesa County. Students in DeBeque, Plateau Valley and Gateway are all eligible to enter, as long as they are in middle or high school range.

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers’ spring message

Billboard by Sprouts

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) has a message for Grand Valley residents this spring: Atheism is “a personal relationship with reality.”

WCAF is the area’s longest-serving secular group, and their billboard is to help encourage people come to logical conclusions based on verifiable facts rather than basing conclusions on dogma, fables, mythology, superstition or sheer faith. That’s the message of the group’s spring, 2019 billboard, which went up today on I-70B by Rimrock Marketplace in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A. The board is west-facing and visible to traffic coming into town. It will be up for one week. Take photos with it while you can.

Atheist billboard graces entrance to Grand Junction for Christmas

WCAF’s 2018 winter billboard in Grand Junction, up now in front of Hobby Lobby on I-70 business loop (on the board facing west).

The non-profit group Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) has a digital billboard up on I-70 Business Loop in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A for Christmas that says “Make Christmas great again. Skip church!”

The sign is a reminder that the holiday focus should be more on kindness, humanity and ethical treatment of others than on organized religion, which has been proving problematic lately, and to a horrific degree.

Local atheist group puts on student essay contest! Top high school student gets $500, top middle school gets $250

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) is holding it’s first-ever student essay contest this fall.

The contest is open to all Mesa County middle and high school students, whether they attend regular public school, a charter or online school, or are in a school district outside the Grand Valley, like in Gateway, Plateau Valley or DeBeque.

Students are asked write on the topic of “What is separation of church and state, and why is it important to maintaining our democracy?”

Essays should be a minimum of 700 words and a maximum of 1,000 words.

The winning high school student gets $500, and the winning middle school student gets $250.

Celebrate the National Day of Reason Thursday, May 3, 2018

The first Thursday in May of every year is the National Day of Reason, a celebration that coincides with the National Day of Prayer, which encourages Americans to pray to God for peace and prosperity for the nation. A big problem with the National Day of Prayer, though, is that it excludes almost a quarter of the U.S. population that doesn’t belong to any religion or doesn’t believe in God. That’s a whole lot of people to leave out of a national celebration.

Atheist billboard graces entrance to Grand Junction at Easter, 2018

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) has a new digital billboard up in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A at Rimrock Marketplace on I-70 B just in time for Easter. It shows a child with a shocked look on his face holding a book that looks very much like a Bible. It says “Belief without proof is gullibility.” You can see the board as you are heading west on I-70 B.

WCAF wanted their spring billboard to have an educational component this year. The group wanted to emphasize that people deserve proof before believing what they’re told. They also want to urge people to come to logical conclusions based on verifiable facts rather than on lore, mythology or pure faith.

WCAF’s mission is to educate the public about atheism, promote acceptance of atheism as a rational belief system and preserve and promote the wall of separation between church and state.

The board is up through Tuesday, April 4. WCAF says anyone who takes their photo with the billboard and posts it on WCAF’s Facebook page will get a free package of M&Ms.  To donate to more billboards like this, go to WCAF’s Donation page.

People entering Grand Junction greeted by atheist billboard

Digital billboard currently on I-70B in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A

In another sign of how Mesa County’s culture becoming more diverse and welcoming, a bright digital billboard is greeting people entering downtown Grand Junction and reassuring them it’s okay if you don’t believe in God.

The billboard, located on a busy section of I70-B by Rimrock Marketplace in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A, was put up by Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) as a big a “thank you” gift to all the people in western Colorado who have had the courage to come out as atheists in the last year. It’s also a celebration of the progress made by western Colorado’s growing secular movement in advancing rational thought and reason in all our endeavors.

Cidney Fisk Sues the Delta County School District

Cidney Fisk, speaking at California Freethought Day last fall

Cidney Fisk filed a lawsuit (pdf) Monday, September 25, 2017, against the Delta County Joint School District 50J for sabotaging her grades and college scholarship opportunities because of opinions she expressed publicly while in their school system, and due to her atheistic beliefs. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for economic and emotional distress.

Cidney appeared on the front page of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on April 1, 2016, criticizing the Delta County School District (DCSD) for persistent Christian proselytizing on school grounds during school hours. After she was quoted in the paper, her counselors threatened to tank her college scholarships and her teachers gave her failing grades. Cidney was an A+ student throughout her time in high school, was on the debate team, served in student government as treasurer, wrote for the school paper and had amassed over 400 hours of community service by the time she was a senior.

Grand Junction’s Satanic Invocation a Success, More Diversity Likely Coming Soon

Grand Junction, Colorado’s first Satanic invocation went off without a hitch yesterday evening, with an audience of about 50 interested onlookers and five out of seven city council members present.

The audience and was quiet and respectful as the speaker made the following statement to Council:

Grand Junction City Council to Host Satanic Invocation Wed., August 2 at 6:00 p.m.

Grand Junction, Colorado will host the state’s first Satanic invocation at their regular City Council meeting on Wednesday, August 2 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is at City Hall Auditorium, 250 N. 5th Street. It will be only the second Satanic invocation ever to occur in the continental United States.

Grand Junction became a national trailblazer in alternative invocations after the city crafted an invocation policy in 2008 that welcomes all comers. City Council agreed to open up the invocation opportunity to anyone who wants to say it (rather than just religious groups), refused to censor what is said at the invocation or place a time limit on speakers. The policy led to the City hosting the state’s first-ever atheist invocation (video) on January 5, 2011.

Cidney Fisk’s First Year at University: An Update

Cidney Fisk, speaking at California Freethought Day last fall

Cidney Fisk, the former 4.0 GPA Delta High School student who risked everything in 2016 to publicly expose the pervasive Christian proselytizing and other injustices going on in Delta County’s public schools, has completed her first year at University of Denver and will soon start her second year.

Cidney paid dearly for speaking out about her public school district. She lost grants for college tuition from local funders after the Daily Sentinel published a front page article about the proselytizing which bore her photo and contained extensive quotes about what she had experienced at school. Cidney’s teachers and counselors suddenly turned their backs on her and refused to write letters of support for her applications for scholarships, effectively tanking her chances of getting those scholarships. After speaking out, Cidney struggled to cobble together enough money to attend university. Cidney is from a low income family and completely dependent on grants, loans and scholarships to fund her tuition.

No Prayers Permitted at D-51 Graduation Ceremonies, and Schools Cannot Participate in Religious Baccalaureates. Period.

 

There is no doubt left on the matter of prayer at School District 51 graduation ceremonies:  School-sponsored prayers are not permitted at District 51 graduation ceremonies.

Some parents this year objected to prayers being included in Palisade High Schools’ graduation ceremony, and rightly so.

It violated federal law, and school district policy.

Non-Religious Holiday Message Graces I-70 Business Loop in Grand Junction

Billboard celebrating the 2016 Winter Solstice graces I-70 B, in front of Chick Fil-A and Hobby Lobby. The board will be up until December 26th.

Grand Junction’s growing secular community wishes people well this holiday season with a bright, 12 x 24 foot digital billboard on I-70 Business Loop that says “Merry Winter Solstice.” The digital billboard is by the Rimrock Marketplace, in front of Chick Fil A, a fast food chain with a history of anti-LGBT activism, and Hobby Lobby, a craft store with a reputation of catering to an evangelical clientele. The board runs until December 26th and was purchased by the members of Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, a local nonprofit group whose mission is “to inform and educate the public in Western Colorado about atheism,” and “promote acceptance of atheism as a valid, rational belief system.” WCAF also advocates for separation of church and state, and has served as a sounding board, exposing and confronting illegal religious proselytizing in public schools and local governments on the western slope. WCAF also gives western Colorado’s atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and humanists a way to connect with each other, share information, enjoy social activities, develop new friendships and enjoy freethinking conversation. It is the oldest secular advocacy organization on the western slope, and will celebrate its 10 year anniversary in February, 2017.

Cidney Fisk Meets Madeleine Albright, and is a Featured Speaker at Freethought Day in Sacramento

Cidney Fisk was one of a small group of DU students who were privileged to meet and be able to converse at length with former U.S. Secretary of State Madelyn Albright on October 12

Former Delta High School student Cidney Fisk (second from right) was one of a small group of DU students who were privileged to meet and  converse at length with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on October 12

So far in her freshman year at Denver University, Cidney Fisk, the “A” student who was slapped with a slew of Fs by her Delta High School student government teacher after she publicly criticized the school district for its illegal Christian proselytizing and disproportionate funding of athletics over academics, has met former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and is a featured speaker at California Freethought Day in Sacramento, today, October 16, 2016. Albright was the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. Freethought Day organizers are footing the bill to bring Cidney to Sacramento for the event, and are paying her an honorarium for speaking. The theme of this year’s Freethought Day is #SecularPride.