The Brights' Bulletin
March 12, 2004
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
SUPPORTING THE BRIGHTS' ENDEAVOR IN 2004
"THE PLEDGE" AND "THE PASSION" ( USA)
BRIGHTS INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES
BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSTITUENCIES (BLC)
WEB SITE -- After the turmoil of January, our technological picture is much improved (Whew!).
WHO ARE THE BRIGHTS? - For a straightforward answer to this oft-asked question, check out an essay newly added to the Web site. Feel free to convey the essay to others or republish it elsewhere.
HOW PEOPLE HEAR ABOUT BRIGHTS:
From our recent new signups, February's winners are: "a friend" and "Psychology Today" (a popular magazine). Sample the diversity (a few of the many other ways the word gets around): Wikipedia, club meeting, sister at college, Blog China, newspaper article, James Randi Educational Foundation, letter to editor, e-mail signature line of a Bright, Wired Magazine, googling, a reply on Q&A session on John Edwards (ABC), web site link, Irish Skeptics
NATION COUNT TOPS 100 -- thanks to Fiji and Benin
BRINGING IN BRIGHTS -- Perhaps the TINIEST article ever proves that just a few words on the Brights in a major publication can pack lots of punch! One short piece appeared in the January-February issue of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY magazine and engendered a rash of new U.S. signups, almost all of whom remarked enthusiastically on the concept and the goals and, yes, the name! We added the link to the home page listing, and you can read the entire article in about a minute.
A WORD OF APPROVAL: I appreciate that someone finally coined a term that doesn't define my lack of religious belief by comparing it to their 'positive' faith. I hope it catches on. J.D.
HOT SPOTS FOR BRIGHTS: What's happening in Italy? -- lots of new signups there, seemingly due to two mention in two different publications there.
SUPPORTING THE BRIGHTS' ENDEAVOR IN 2004
The Brights' Net has decided to try as its funding model a method used by National Public Radio, which limits requests for support to two times a year.
Brights! Welcome to the Brights' Net's "SPRING FUND DRIVE" of 2004!
It is simply a fact that financial support is required for this endeavor, and it needs to be spread more evenly among the Brights. Surely Brights would not prefer illusions to reality (no free lunch). Reality-->The statement of what it will take to keep The Brights' endeavor growing and active in 2004 is presented, along with documentation, at:
The Brights' Net now has Internet PayPal, a secure way of sending contributions internationally. PayPal accepts major credit cards in U.S. Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling, and Yen.
The Brights' Net would like to see some individual offer a CHALLENGE MATCHING GRANT for this first fund drive (a promise to match - to some set figure -other Brights' donations). If you are that person, please e-mail and let us know the amount you are willing to match. If you think you just might be that person, then please re-examine the aims on our home page. We want to achieve real worthwhile change!
BRIGHTS WEB SITES
Are there others we don't know about?
ATTENTION UK BRIGHTS (ANNOUNCEMENT FROM QUENTIN)
UK Brights have decided to use the e-group setup on Smartgroups.com as our web-based community and collaboration facility whilst continuing to use Meetup for handling meetings. If you're UK based and keen to be active in promoting awareness of The Brights, increasing membership numbers, and having fun whilst doing so, you can sign up to the Brights UK at
PAY PAL AVAILABLE FOR VARIED CURRENCIES
You can support The Brights' Net in Euros, Pounds Sterling, Canadian Dollars, and Yen by using the secure PayPal VISA/MasterCard/ service.
INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST YOUTH CONFERENCE 2004 IS IN AFRICA
The International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organization announces that its 2004 youth conference, "Global Humanism for Peace and Social Justice," is being co-hosted with the Ugandan Humanist Association (UHASSO). The conference will take place between the 20th and 24th of May in Kampala, Uganda and bring together between 70-100 youth from all around the world. The conference is for young persons between 15 and 35 years, especially humanists and Human Right activists. For details, go to:
"THE PLEDGE" AND “THE PASSION” ( USA BRIGHTS)
MARCH 24 PLEDGE HEARING OFFERS OPPORTUNITY TO "TURN UP BRIGHTNESS"
The case of physician Michael Newdow, whose protest of the wording "one nation under God" in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance caused an immense stir in the U.S., will be heard before the United States Supreme Court this month. This event will bring the contentious issue to the media forefront once again. The occasion is likely to offer to Brights abundant opportunities to express their own points of view by way of letters to the newspaper or call-ins to radio talk shows. Should you choose to write, then before and after you do so, keep in mind the "Turn up the Brightness-2004" contest! Review criteria at:
BEING KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE PHRASE "UNDER GOD" IN THE CURRENT PLEDGE
Do you know...
...when, how, and why "under God" was put into the current pledge?
...the name of the Baptist minister who wrote the original secular pledge?
...when, how, and why the pledge was first modified?
...how it was modified the second time?
One essay summarizing a history of the U.S. is available at
PLEDGE RALLY ON COURTHOUSE STEPS
The American Atheists organization plans a Pledge rally in Washington, D.C. on March 24 outside the Supreme Court building. Their rally, as the Court hears the case, supports removal of the phrase "under God" from the Pledge wording. Another rally is planned in San Francisco at the 9th District Court. If you are interested, you can get information at
CO-DIRECTORS WRITE AMICUS BRIEF TO U.S. SUPREME COURT
At very late notice, Dr. Newdow sought urgent help to make the Court aware of testimony he had received from individuals (children and adults) who considered Pledge wording to be harmful. Dr. Newdow had received many letters attesting to personal conflict and to coercive situations arising from a "patriotic exercise that acknowledges God." On a Monday Dr. Newdow beseeched Mynga and Paul to prepare an Amicus Curiae brief centering on some of the available testimony and get it printed and mailed by Friday afternoon of that same week. Mynga and Paul responded to his plea and, with approval of and on behalf of Sacramento's Atheists and Other Freethinkers organization, prepared and submitted the brief by the deadline. Needless to say, Brights' activities ceased for five days except for the "emergency" e-mails that came in.
PASSION AND PRESS
Contrast [cool heads, rationality, objectivity, knowledge. depth, nuance] with [overheated hype, simplicity, black/white positioning, bias, exaggeration]. Got a preference? Must we choose? How best should American Brights proceed to “get press attention” and “play the media” while spreading the word about the Brights AND ensuring a constructive movement overall?
Stimulus example (received from Rob): With all of the frenzy swirling around "The Passion"... this is your chance. Get in there! Tonight in the Crossfire ....A Priest, a Rabbi and a Bright square off and give their perspective on Mel's controversial film.
If you have what you think is sound advice to offer regarding general strategies for Brights, you may send your counsel in 100 WORDS OR LESS to email@example.com. Put “MEDIA ADVICE” in the subject line. Depending on what we receive, we can post a link to a sampling of the guidance in a coming Bulletin to distribute the received wisdom.
BRIGHTS INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES
NAME THE BULLETIN?
Do we need a new name for the "Bulletin"? Submit your suggestion. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You MUST put in the subject line BULLETIN NAME.
BANNER LINK TO BRIGHTS - FOR YOUR WEBSITE
Thanks to Quentin of the UK Brights who has made available a "banner link" that anyone can obtain and use. Simply copy and paste the banner into your web, and visitors to your site will be able to click and arrive at the Brights' Net home page.
ICONS POLL AND SECULAR CELEBRATIONS
The Brights’ Net is welcoming advice from constituents regarding the basic image it should use to incorporate into jewelry, logos, etc. to represent the Brights. Well over a hundred submissions arrived to screen, and the field has been narrowed to 43. Everyone is welcome to participate in driving down the candidates to a mere handful at best!
Around the equinox (March 20) you will receive a separate e-mail with directions and a link to the icons poll. Thanks to Kevin for locating polling software and getting it up and running. The images are being installed and the poll setup being tested right now.
So, take some time out from your equinox celebrations to view the set of icons submitted and vote your favorites (up to three). What, no such celebrations? Perhaps you should check out “Secular Seasons” site at: http://www.secularseasons.org
BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSTITUENCIES (BLC)
A number of Brights have requested e-mails of other Brights in order to gather together some sort of "local constituency". Note, however, that e-mail addresses of Brights would never be revealed to others unless a Bright asks us outright to release his/hers for such a purpose.
[Example: Juan in Brazil wants to meet other Brights in San Paolo. The Net could send out an e-mailing to the San Paolo Brights to say that, if a person wants to gather locally, then to directly contact Juan, who has volunteered his e-mail.] We have done this in the past, as time permitted, but the process is very time-consuming. Hence, we are starting Brights Local Constituencies (BLC).
Instead of using e-mail from the Net, we will take one-time "advertisements" for the Bulletin. Anyone interested in a BLC can respond directly to the initiator/organizer. Here is the first set of “originators” of Brights Local Constituencies looking for interested members:
Quentin in London at: email@example.com
Dani in Israel at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonie in Pretoria, South Africa at: email@example.com
Neal in Grand Junction at: NeilC@webtv.net
Michael in San Francisco at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan in New York City at: email@example.com
Merle in West Palm Beach at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to start a BLC, you may send us an e-mail giving us specific permission to make public your first name and e-mail address, along with the local area you want to organize. You must put in the subject line BRIGHTLOCALCONST or BLC
ACROSS A DEEP DIVIDE (PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER)
For a Bright in any society, it may be challenging to articulate and stand FOR principles held dear. To ostensibly be positioned AGAINST is exasperating.
The January meeting of the Humanists of Florida Association, which the Co-Directors attended, was flush with calls for joining forces with religious people wherever there are common interests. There were many appeals by speakers to write, telephone, contact radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines with attention to what is happening in relationship to religion and government.
Our own presentation in Florida -"What is Secular?"- delved into a "usage muddle" that leaves all too many mistaken impressions (e.g., legal neutrality or naturalistic worldview?). We (think we) clarified the situation, and we exhorted attendees to exercise great precision and sensitivity in their use of the term “secular” in order to help diminish misunderstandings between religious and nonreligious. We can certainly be FOR that!
WHY WE HAVE BRIGHTS (JUST ONE STORY)
From Rex (upon signup): “I am in High School, and people have little respect for me, because most of them have been raised conservative Christian. They do not mind asking rude, accusational questions about my "Satanism". Apparently, I am evil, because of the God vs. Satan mindset. Evil, and consequently, oppressed. I don't start arguments, but when arguments are brought to me, I stand my ground. I am a bright, and proud to be ! one. Thank you for inspiring me-- and it feels good to be part of a community.”
You can read all prior and current Bulletins and "Brighten Ops" in the archive at www.the-brights.net/broadcastarchive.htm
If you prefer to read the Bulletin on line at the above link, or not to receive future Bulletins, please reply to this e-mail by placing in the SUBJECT line the word UNSUBSCRIBE.
Why does the Bulletin use simple text? Many Brights around the world do not have the capability to receive e-mail in any other form. When we redo the Web site in the spring (our goal), we will add html capabilities.
Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
Webmaster: Kevin Schultz