Category: Education

Hundreds Turn Out for Grand Junction’s March for Science


A crowd of about 900 people turned out for Grand Junction’s March for Science on April 22, one of about 600 such marches held across the globe on Earth Day to show support for scientific research and scientifically-derived information that enhances life.

The weather was clear, sunny, and around 70 degrees. The march started at the old R-5 High School at 7th and Grand, went east to 12th Street and then turned north to Lincoln Park, where an Earth Day celebration and festival was being held. The crowd was big enough to fill the sidewalks for most of the distance.

Rep. Scott Tipton Faces Upset Liberal Crowd at Montrose Town Hall


The western slope’s U.S. Congressional Representative Scott Tipton (R) faced a packed and overwhelmingly liberal/progressive crowd in the gymnasium at Montrose High School Friday evening, April 7, 2017, at his town hall meeting. Citizens came from Montrose, Crawford, Paonia, Ouray, Grand Junction and other locations. They asked Rep. Tipton about topics including where he stands on health care, why Congress is failing to recognize that the existing for-profit health care system isn’t working, why he hasn’t introduced any legislation to deal with climate change, where he stands on plans to de-fund the EPA, U.S. involvement in foreign wars without Congressional approval, the threatened end to student loan forgiveness promised to people who went to work in the public sector after graduation, the $3 million per weekend it costs taxpayers to protect President Trump on his golf trips to Mar-A-Lago, and more.

Overall, it appeared the audience was decidedly unhappy with Rep. Tipton’s responses, in which he stated that health care in the U.S. was a privilege, not a right, that he sided with big corporations and businesses and the oil and gas industry when it comes to climate change. When asked about the tremendous expense to taxpayers of President Trump’s many weekend golf trips to Mar-A-Lago, Rep. Tipton won howls of anger from the crowd when he said merely that the same protection was afforded to President Obama.  There was plenty of booing and foot stomping in response to Rep. Tipton’s answers throughout the town hall. A lot of people came equipped with (and used) signs that said “Disagree” and “Answer the Question!”

She’s Back! Self-Styled Grand Junction Missionary June Fellhauer Returns to Pitch her $99 Religious Video Series to D-51 Girls

Self-styled G.J. missionary June Fellhauer, giving a talk on “Women’s Purpose” July 12, 2015 (Photo credit: YouTube)

June Fellhauer is back, once again taking advantage of School District 51’s “PeachJar” literature distribution system to plug her $99 video evangelism series to girls 11 years and up.

Fellhauer is kind of like Grand Junction’s own Shelly Donahue, but without the plastic bags of full of spaghetti and waffles, and titillating talk about masturbation. And unlike Donahue, Fellhauer apparently preaches only to girls, not boys, at least when she preaching for money.

Several days ago Fellhauer sent out a flier to D-51 families promoting another free sales-pitch event, this one called “Becoming Love,” aimed at girls 11 and up. The purpose of the event is to recruit kids’ families to pony up $99 for their daughters to view Fellhauer’s online, four-week video series in which she teaches biblical myths to girls with the primary message that women are subservient to men rather than qualified, able individuals in their own right. Fellhauer warns girls not strike out on their own, and tells girls if they remain helpers underneath the “cover” of their men, the men will “lift them up,” and they will get their power that way.

Long Ballot? Don’t Worry. Use AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide!

The entire November ballot is in today's Daily Sentinel, and it takes up 6 pages of fine print, like these two.

The entire November ballot is in today’s Daily Sentinel, and it takes up 6 pages of fine print, like these two.

Ballots were mailed today in Mesa County, and it’s a long one. The Daily Sentinel has published the entire November ballot in today’s paper, and it takes up six full pages of the paper, in fine print.

If you are worried about all the time it’s going to take to figure out how to vote on all this stuff, worry no more. We’ve done the research for you! We’ve looked into where the big money and corporate influence are coming from on all the issues, and how wealthy corporations are using ballot initiatives to try to trick you out of your rights, and weaken your influence and your ability to protect yourself and your families from their activities. We’ve looked at the ins and outs of all the issues, what’s fair and what’s not, and figured out how people can cast votes in their own interest.

Just go to AnneLandmanBlog Voter Guide 2016 to see the recommended votes on the local, state and federal candidates and ballot issues. The rationale for the votes is toward the bottom of the post.

Happy voting, and remember, after this you can mute all those annoying election TV ads!

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.

Why Average People Shouldn’t Listen to the Grand Junction Area Chamber

chamberIt’s election time again, and soon the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce will issue it’s “2016 Voter Guide” in an attempt to try and influence how people in Mesa County vote on ballot measures and local elected offices.

If you’re an average, hard-working working citizen in Mesa County, there is only one thing you need to know about the chamber’s voter guide: ignore it.

Why?

Because the chamber doesn’t represent Mesa County’s working population. It exists solely to promote the financial interests of the few Mesa County businesses who pay its dues, and nothing more. What’s more, most businesses oppose measures aimed at helping workers and their families, so the chamber reflexively opposes any ballot measures that would benefit the thousands of workers and residents who spend money locally and really keep this area humming.

Don’t Be Fooled: Saying the Pledge of Allegiance, Now a Religious Oath, is Always Optional

pledge-of-allegiance-1892

The text of the original Pledge of Allegiance, as it existed until 1953. In 1954, Congress added the words “under God” to it, effectively changing it from a purely patriotic statement into a religious statement.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem has spurred debate over coerced and often perfunctory recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance.

In reaction to the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, people started reciting the Pledge more frequently, on more occasions and in more venues than ever before. Many U.S. public schools starting requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily. Mesa County’s District 51’s student handbook (pdf, at page 35) says students get an “opportunity” and have the “right” to say the pledge, but it never expressly says in a neutral manner that students also have a legal right not to say it. Rather, the manual practically sneers at students who choose not to say the pledge by using language that infers such students are likely to be disruptive and disrespectful in doing so:

“If you feel, based on personal convictions or religious beliefs, that you do not want to recite the Pledge or salute the flag, we ask you to remain respectfully silent, not interfering with the
rights of others to recite the Pledge and salute the flag.”

WCAF Hoping to Run 2016 Winter Holiday Billboard

The billboard WCAF hopes to run this December in Grand Junction. To donate to help make this board happen, go to WesternColoradoAtheists.org and click on "Donate."

WCAF members hope to run this billboard in December in Grand Junction. To donate to help make this billboard a reality, go to WesternColoradoAtheists.org and click on “Donate.”

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, the western slope’s longest-established secular advocacy group, is hoping (NOT praying) to run a winter solstice billboard on Grand Junction’s I-70 Business Loop this holiday season. The group voted unanimously to gather enough funds to make the board happen. They need only $265 to run it for one week, and they hope to run the board from December 18-24, 2016. One donor has already pledged $100 to make it happen, so the group is quickly moving towards making its goal a reality.

WCAF was established in 2007, and will be ten years old next February. The group now has hundreds of Facebook followers.

People wanting to donate towards the billboard can go to WCAF’s “Donate” page and donate through PayPal. There is no minimum donation, all donations are tax deductible and 100% of donations go to WCAF. You can use a credit or debit card, and you don’t need a PayPal account to donate.

WCAF Awards Delta Student $4,325 Scholarship

Cidney Fisk gets her scholarship from WCAF. She is flanked by two family friends, WCAF Vice President Michael Avila and WCAF President Aleksandr Kolpakov

Cidney Fisk is flanked by family friends Robert Manley and Kim Pursell, WCAF Vice President Michael Avila and WCAF President Aleksandr Kolpakov, as she receives her scholarship August 15

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) today awarded Cidney Fisk, the former Delta High School student who drew the public’s attention to the rampant Christian proselytizing in Delta County Schools, a $4,325 scholarship towards her college education.

Fisk, an A+ student and captain of Delta High School’s Speech and Debate Team, contacted WCAF for help last spring with the in-school proselytizing in the Delta County public school district. Cidney knew the proselytizing was illegal and told WCAF that the school had hired Shelly Donahue, a Christian missionary, to give abstinence-only-before-marriage “sex ed” talks to high school students. Donahue’s talks were based on religious ideology, all of the slides in her talks contained religious crosses, and the talks did not contain any of the information the state requires be included in a sex ed curriculum, like information on contraceptives, STDs or HIV. Cidney also highlighted other problems with separation of church and state occurring in the Delta County School District, like youth pastors roaming campus and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting during class time.

The Daily Sentinel featured Cidney on the front page of the paper in an April 1, 2016 expose’ about the Delta County School District. Cidney endured threats and harassment as a result, and not just from her fellow students. Her high school counselor said she would “hate to see” Cidney’s chances to get scholarships harmed if Cidney kept criticizing the school, and her student government teacher gave her Fs on her projects immediately after the Sentinel article appeared. When Cidney asked her teacher why she had gotten the Fs, he told her her grades would go back up when she stopped criticizing the school. The Fs threatened her ability to get grants and scholarships to attend college. WCAF set up a scholarship fund to help Cidney, and the donations toward her scholarship poured in from all across the United States and four foreign countries, after a local blog about her predicament went viral.

Cidney will attend Denver University in September. This scholarship made it unnecessary for her to take out any loans for her first year at the school.

FFRF Warns Delta County School District to End Shelly Donahue’s “Sex Ed” Talks

Donahue with her bag of spaghetti, which she uses to illustrate what girls' brains are like

Donahue with her bag of spaghetti, which she uses to illustrate what girls’ brains are like

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a letter (pdf) to the Delta County School District’s attorney warning that Shelly Donahue’s “sex ed” talks in schools there violate laws that prohibit religious proselytizing in public schools and require specific information be included in public schools’ comprehensive sex education courses.

Andrew Seidel, staff attorney with FFRF in Madison, Wisconsin, wrote to Aaron Clay, legal counsel for the Delta County School District 50J in the two-page letter that:

“Shelly Donahue’s biography on her website prominently includes her personal ‘salvation’ story and how she came to accept Jesus and the Holy Spirit into her life. While discussing her relationship with her ex-husband, Ms Donahue writes that ‘I believe that because Dave and I didn’t begin our relationship with a foundation of Biblical purity, we never connected heart-to-heart.’ That belief, and her subsequent desire to ‘fill that hole in [her] heart,’ led Ms. Donahue to develop her abstinence-only program. She also claims that a preacher and divine intervention healed her brain tumors. Finally, she proclaims, ‘I am passionately committed to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to ALL things, including teen sex.’ Her sex education program relies on her religiosity, not science, medical training, or specialized knowledge of the subject. Her website includes several videos of her TALL Truth presentations, which feature emphatic references to her religious views, but no discussion of STIs or contraceptives, which are essential, and state-mandated, elements of sex education.”

Seidel points out how easy it is to discern Donahue’s religious agenda from her website, and says that it is “well settled that schools may not advance or promote religion.” He cites several nationally significant legal cases in which rulings have reinforced this legal point.

Seidel wrote that,

“…In this case, it would have taken only a cursory glance at Ms. Donahue’s website to verify her religious agenda. Merely skimming her ‘About’ page reveals her inappropriateness as a speaker on sex education. It is difficult for us to understand how this event could have been approved. Your community undoubtedly possesses many secular experts who have experience, training, certification and/or degrees and would be delighted, usually at no cost to the district, to discuss the topic of sex education before your student body, and whose presence would not raise constitutional red flags.”

WCAF to Award $4,325 to Student Who Exposed Christian Proselytizing in Delta Public Schools

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

On Monday, August 15, 2016 Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) will award a $4,325 college scholarship to Cidney Fisk, the newly-graduated Delta High School student who exposed the pervasive Christian proselytizing in Delta County’s public schools. WCAF will hand over the check to Cidney at noon in front of Delta High School in Delta, Colorado.

Cidney is an award-winning, A+ student who excelled in speech and debate, but was punished for her opinions about the school.

The scholarship is WCAF’s largest to date. The group gave a $1,000 gift to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation in July of 2013 to help with construction of the new downtown Central Library, and in spring, 2016 donated $100 to Delta Middle School to help with minor repairs in the girls’ and boys’ restrooms in the school’s cafeteria.

Cidney graduated from Delta High School last May and was outspoken about the school bringing in Christian-based speaker Shelly Donahue, who gave an abstinence-only-before-marriage talk to students. This talk was nominally secular, but contained crucifixes in all the slides and Donahue told the students that having premarital sex “puts

A slide from Shelly Donahue's "WAIT" program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

A slide from Shelly Donahue’s “WAIT” program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

them further from God.” This talk the only “sex ed” most DHS students ever received from the school district, but it contained none of the state-required information about contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS or other information the state says public schools must give students if districts choose to teach sex education.

What it’s Like to be a Student with a Brain in the Delta County School District

Cidney Fisk, first row on the right, in red tennies, with a group of Delta High students last April, who were recognized by the Delta County Independent for displaying "exceptional leadership, service, academic excellence, and are outstanding citizens in their school and community."

Cidney Fisk, front row on the left in red sleeved shirt and red tennies, shown with other Delta High students last April who  the Delta County Independent recognized for displaying “exceptional leadership, service, academic excellence, and [for being] outstanding citizens in their school and community.”

No one disputes that Cidney Fisk, 18, of Delta, Colorado, is among the most accomplished graduates ever turned out by the Delta County School District. But some of Cidney’s personal characteristics, including her atheism, apparently rubbed Delta High School (DHS) officials the wrong way, and she has paid dearly for it.

City of Grand Junction Officially Endorses Gay Pride Week

The City of Grand Junction's official proclamation endorsing Gay Pride Week in town

The City of Grand Junction’s official proclamation endorsing Gay Pride Week in town

In a landmark action towards welcoming diversity in our community, at its Wednesday, May 4, 2016 meeting, the Grand Junction City Council will officially declare May 2nd through May 8th, 2016 “Grand Junction Pride Fest Week.”

Delta County School District Has Lots to Answer For

DDServicesThe Delta County School District is in serious need of help.

The recent exposure of the extent of Christian proselytizing in the Delta County school system has not just raised eyebrows locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally. It has encouraged Delta area residents to come forward with their own personal stories of proselytizing and discrimination in Delta public schools and their workplaces, and how it has affected their lives.

More Info Surfaces on Delta County School District’s Promotion of Religious Ideology

Shelly Donahue, an abstinence-only teacher from Elevate Youth, a religious ministry based in Plano, Texas, who was hired to give trainings to Delta County School District Students last October

Shelly Donahue, an abstinence-only teacher from Elevate Youth, a religious ministry based in Plano, Texas, who was hired to give trainings to Delta County School District Students last October. The sole funder of the program was a religious ministry.

News about the pending distribution of atheist and Satanic literature in Delta County schools April 1 is encouraging more students, parents and even teachers to come forward with information about what they say is a persistent pattern of state/church violations, religiously-based discrimination and even outright bigotry, harassment and demeaning of atheist and non-believing students occurring within the Delta County School system.

Parents from Delta County contacted Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) Tuesday morning (3/22/16) to alert the group to what they feel is pervasive Christian proselytizing occurring in Delta County Schools. They say they and their child have suffered to a great extent from the school district’s persistent embrace of religious promotion.

Delta County School District Gives Thumbs-Up to Handing Out Atheist and Satanic Literature to Students

Brochure to be distributed to Delta County High School students on April 1

Brochure to be distributed to Delta County High School students on April 1

The Delta County School District (DCSD) has approved the distribution of atheistic, secular and Satanic literature to middle and high school students throughout Delta County on April 1, 2016, and will carry out the literature distribution on behalf of the groups who have applied to do it.

ACLU Colorado to Put on “Know Your Rights” Workshop in Grand Junction

Police StopYou’re driving down the highway when all of a sudden you see a police car with it’s light on behind you.

Do you know your rights are when you get pulled over by law enforcement? What do you have to do? What don’t you have to do?

Encounters with police can be stressful, anxiety-producing and confusing for many people.

It’s more important than ever for all citizens to know how to assert their constitutionally-protected rights when dealing with law enforcement. Now you can find out what your rights are during searches and arrests, police stops, and when being questioned by law enforcement.

Free Workshop

Next Tuesday, March 8, from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., the ACLU of Colorado will present a Know Your Rights Training in Grand Junction. The training will be held at Colorado Mesa University, Houston Hall Room 139, 1100 North Ave., Grand Junction, and will be taught by ACLU speaker Kathleen Hynes, Ph.D. and will provide information and simple steps, based on constitutional protections and criminal case law, for handling interactions with police and other forms of law enforcement.