Tree of Knowledge 2009 Installation Details

A Special Winter Celebration Invitation!

Please join members of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP) on Monday, November 30, 2009 at 9:00 AM to help install and decorate FSGP’s 2009 winter display:

The Tree of Knowledge

The Tree of Knowledge will be placed on the lawn of the Chester County Courthouse located at the corners of High and Market Streets, West Chester, PA 19380. After the morning installation (at approximately 11:30 AM), volunteers will lunch at Kildare’s Irish Pub located at 18 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380.

If you miss the day time festivities, please plan to celebrate the spotlighting and opening ceremonies at 5:00 PM at the same location mentioned above. After the ceremony, participants are encouraged to dine together and continue celebrating this historical event. A local restaurant will be selected by those in attendance. Please call if you have any questions:

Coordinator: Margaret Downey (610) 793-2737 or (610) 357-9432

Tree of Knowledge 2009

Margaret Downey has found two donors to meet the $5,000 bond requirement to put up The Tree of Knowledge at the Free Speech Zone in Chester County, Pennsylvania. If the application is approved, the tree will be installed on Monday, November 30, 2009. Everyone is welcome to help. Meet at the Chester County Courthouse located at 2 High Street, West Chester. We will get started at 9:00 AM. Will know by Monday, November 23, 2009.

The following are two news stories recently published about the Tree of Knowledge for this season.

First Request Denied:

"I have no objection to the Freethought Society putting a banner up," said Councilwoman Carolyn Comitta. "My only concern is that it promote a community event, and I don't see this banner doing that."

LAPD Cuts Ties with Boy Scouts Because of Their Bigotry

The following is a repost from Hemant Mehta the Friendly Atheist.

Go, LAPD!

The Los Angeles Police Department wants to stop working with the organization that runs its Explorer program for youths because the group is linked to Boy Scouts of America, which bans gays from becoming members.

The organization, Learning for Life, was spun off from Boy Scouts of America.

A department official told the Police Commission Tuesday that the Boy Scouts policy is “inconsistent” with the city’s policy of non-discrimination. He suggested that the department manages the Explorer program itself.

Learning for Life officials say the organization does not discriminate and does not take funds from the Boy Scouts.

They ban atheists, too, even though that’s not mentioned in the piece above. And that that last comment from Learning for Life officials skews the truth. There may be no funding from the Boy Scouts directly, but there is definitely a connection with them.

Margaret Downey responds to a rude post on this site...

Hey, this is Brian Sapient here posting some views from Margaret to her blog. I should take this moment to inform you that to the best of my knowledge Margaret hasn't blogged on this site and she currently uses her facebook page to communicate with people. A few supporters and I have posted her views to this site on her behalf with her permission.

I recently approved a comment to be posted on this site that I found to be hateful, but indicative of the type of behavior I've seen from "True Christians" over the years. I don't like comments of this nature to go without a response as an uninformed reader may be led down the wrong path. I asked Margaret to comment and the following is the comment and her response.

Original comment:
I am so glad that bitch lost

Submitted by Modious on Fri, 2009-01-30 22:26.

Teller and Margaret Downey

The Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Nurse at TAM with Teller.

Urbana, Illinois Mayor Prussing

Urbana, Illinois Mayor Prussing read and presented a "Thomas Paine Day" city proclamation. I wrote the proclamation highlighting all the things Thomas Paine did in the month of October.

Complaint Letter to Brevard County School Board Members

Below is a sample of the letter I wrote to all school board members (printed on my letterhead):

August 10, 2009

Dr. Brian T. Binggeli, Superintendent
Brevard County Public Schools
Fax: (321) 633-3432

Dear Dr. Binggeli:

Please allow me to introduce myself through this email message. I am the founder and president of the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN). ADSN is a watchdog organization established to act on complaints of discrimination against the atheist community. ADSN has tracked the activities of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) since reports of discrimination were first received in 1991.

It has come to my attention that on Tuesday, August 11. 2009, the Brevard County School Board will be discussing whether or not the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will be allowed to hold a recruitment drive through the Brevard County public school system.

American Airlines Complaint and Response Regarding Religious Music on Flight

My letter of complaint to American Airlines:

My husband and I always use American Airlines to travel and have had wonderful experiences until the April trip.

We flew on a red eye from Kona, Hawaii to Los Angeles, California. We flew first class for more comfort and service. We awoke to music playing and the lights coming on when the pilot announced that we were about to land. The music was a shock to me in that it was specifically Christian music. The words of the song being played praised Jesus and God and instructed listeners to pray and "adore him."

The next song was even more religious. I said to the stewardess that the flight had become a church service. She ignored me completely.

The next song was also an overtly Christian song, this time with a message about the "glory and the power of God."

In total we had to listen to three songs about a religious doctrine we find disturbing. I'm sure that a Jewish family, a Hindi family and nontheist people such as my husband and I were equally offended that American Airlines was promoting the Christian doctrine in a space that could not be escaped from. We were a captive audience!

News Articles about the BSA's Case regarding ADA Accommodation for the Handicap

From the Orlando Sentinel, Sunday, November 18, 2007

Disabled Scouts Left Without Troop
Group loses charter after leader’s discrimination suit

By Kate Santich - Sentinel Staff Writer

Perhaps the Scouts of Titusville's Unit 700 don't quite fit the historic mold. Perhaps, they admit, you couldn't picture some of them strapping on a rucksack and hiking through the wilderness. After all, one has cerebral palsy. Another suffers from the effects of a rare childhood stroke. Several have learning disabilities or asthma.

In Unit 700, though, they seemed to thrive. One of their leaders was a strong-willed woman in a wheelchair. But after the woman filed a lawsuit charging the Boy Scouts' Central Florida Council with violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, things began to get very, very unpleasant for Unit 700.