Category: Secularism

Delta County right wingers fight the prospect of teaching medically-accurate sex ed in Delta schools; Gay groups to rally in support this Thursday

Conservatives in Delta are working to oppose the teaching of medically-accurate sex ed in Delta County schools

Delta County conservatives are in a tizzy over the prospect that their school district may implement a medically-accurate, comprehensive sex education curriculum in compliance with a new Colorado law passed in 2019.

Until recently, the Delta County Schools’ only consistent “sex education” curriculum consisted of presentations by a woman named Shelly Donahue, a Christian abstinence-only speaker whose talk relied heavily on shame, guilt and medically-inaccurate information. Donahue likened girls brains to cooked spaghetti and boys brains to toaster waffles. The slides in her show were sprinkled with crosses, and she told kids that having premarital sex put them “further from God.” Donahue’s $2,000 speaking fee was picked up by a Christian missionary group. One Oklahoma school district has banned Donahue from speaking because students said her talks were demeaning to girls and children from broken homes. (For more on Shelly Donahue and the Delta County School District, search on “Shelly Donahue” in the AnneLandmanblog search box on right side of any page.)

Election worker at Clifton Christian Church polling place tells voter he should “attend church on Sundays”

This is what we were afraid of when it became known that Mesa County was using churches as polling places.

When a local man went to the polling place in the Clifton Christian Church and mentioned he preferred that the county use non-religious locations as polling places, the poll worker pulled out the snark and told him he should “attend church on Sundays.”

Government is strictly prohibited under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment from promoting specific religious beliefs, like this poll worker did while she was representing County government.

The poll worker violated the voter’s right to be free from religious coercion in a polling place. 

But we knew this would happen.

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.

Colorado bill would prohibit teaching religious doctrine in public school sex ed curriculum

Colorado State Senator Don Coram

Delta County School District, are you listening?

Colorado State Senator Don Coram, a Republican who represents Montrose and Ouray counties, is a sponsor of HB19-1032, “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education,” a bill to prohibit sex ed instruction in K-12 public schools from “explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”

The bill would appropriate least $1 million annually for a grant program to carry out the new law, and it would give highest priority for the grant funds to rural public schools.

Why is this bill needed? Because of the Delta County School District.

Community Hospital to stay secular, independent

Community Hospital in Grand Junction is a non-religious hospital where the only concern about medical care is what is best for their patients.

Community Hospital issued a press release today announcing it has ended discussions to merge with Centura Health, a religious hospital management company. Community Hospital’s board of trustees has decided to stay secular and independent for now.

Here is the hospital’s statement:

“After thoughtful consideration and thorough due diligence, Centura Health and Community Hospital have agreed to discontinue merger discussions. Although this was a difficult decision and one the Community Hospital Board of Trustees (BOT) did not take lightly, the board has made the decision to remain independent. The board wants to do what is best for the hospital and the community. The entire BOT and leadership team at Community Hospital were impressed with the Centura Health organization and the great work they are doing across the state and region. Likewise, Centura leadership respects the tremendous growth and physician partnerships that have been developed by the team at Community Hospital. Both parties remain open to discussing future partnership opportunities.”

Grand Junction may soon lose its only secular hospital

A previous blog discussed why Mesa County residents should be glad to have an alternative to a Catholic hospital in the valley and why it is so important to people’s health to have a secular hospital option available for medical care. But our valley’s one non-religious hospital option may disappear, and soon.

In October 2018, Community Hospital and Centura Health Network signed a letter of intent to merge. It provided each party with a 120 day-long window to evaluate the deal and decide whether or not to go ahead and finalize it.

Those 120 days are almost up, and a final decision on the merger must be made by February 10th.

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.

City Council chooses to keep mostly Christian prayers at public meetings

“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015

At their workshop Monday evening, Grand Junction City Council decided mixing religion with government was a good thing to do, and they would continue to do it.

City Manager Greg Caton told council members the City’s invocation policy dates back to 2008, saying they all inherited the practice. Council had an opportunity Monday at their workshop to discontinue prayers at City Council meetings and avoid further controversy over the City’s persistent endorsement of religion, modify the current policy or substitute a moment of silence instead.

But history shows the City of Grand Junction always has a hard time coming into the 21st Century.

Hobby Lobby, a corporate criminal

Hobby Lobby, a craft store owned by evangelicals and known for pushing it’s owner’s Christian religious beliefs onto it’s employees, is running a full page “O-come-let-us-adore-him” Christmas ad in today’s Daily Sentinel with a camel and all the trimmings, that urges people to download a free Bible at a website.

So this seems like a perfect time to make people aware that Hobby Lobby was fined millions of dollars by the U.S. government in 2017 for illegally importing thousands of ancient Iraqi clay artifacts into the U.S. that were likely  acquired by ISIS (the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”) as the terrorist group criss-crossed the country destroying and looting Iraq’s cultural heritage sites.

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.

What Roy Moore and Grand Junction City Council have in common

Roy Moore

Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican senatorial candidate accused of sexual predation, brings thoughts right back here to Grand Junction, because Moore and Grand Junction have two big things in common.

They are 1) the Ten Commandments, and 2) an eagerness to defy U.S. law.

Moore was twice thrown out of his job as Chief Justice for the state of Alabama for defying U.S. law. After the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage, Moore ordered the state’s probate court judges not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. A commission charged him with violating federal judicial orders and kicked him off the court in 2016. That was the second time Moore was ejected for violating the law.

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.