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The Freethought Books Project, originally started in 2005 by RSA President, Leslie Zukor, has found a new home.  The Center For Inquiry, one of the nation’s oldest freethought groups, has been coordinating the project since December of 2013.  

“CFI is a great fit for the Freethought Books Project,” Zukor explained.  “The Center For Inquiry has access to the foremost thinkers in the movement and has the resources to grow the project by leaps and bounds.”

If you have books that you would like to donate, you can contact the coordinators at freethoughtbooks@centerforinquiry.net or mail them USPS to:

Freethought Books Project
Center for Inquiry
PO Box 741
Amherst, NY 14226.

The Reed Secular Alliance is excited to announce that Phil Zuckerman, the author of “Society Without God” and contributor to the Huffington Post, has been rescheduled for this coming Friday.  Come listen to his talk “Faith No More”!  The lecture is on Friday, April 22, 2011, at 5 pm in the Psychology Auditorium at Reed College.  The room is also known as Psychology 105.  For directions, go to http://www.reed.edu and look at the map.

During his 2009 inaugural speech, President Obama described the United States as a nation of “Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus—and nonbelievers.” It was the first time an American president had acknowledged the existence of this rapidly growing segment of the population in such a public forum. Indeed, so many Americans claim no religion (16%, up from 8% in 1990) that this category now outranks every other religious group except Catholics and Baptists.

And yet the reasons why more and more Americans are turning away from religion are still poorly understood.  Based on in-depth interviews with nearly ninety people who have left religion, Zuckerman discusses what’s really behind the process of losing one’s faith.  He shows that rejecting religion is a highly personal, complex, and drawn-out process.  And rather than the cliche of the angry, nihilistic atheist, apostates are life-affirming, courageous, highly intelligent and inquisitive, and deeply moral individuals.

Phil Zuckerman has an impressive resume, including a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Oregon in 1998.  He is currently a professor of sociology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, where he teaches courses in religion, secularity, and social theory.  He is also a regular visiting professor at the University of Aarhus, in Denmark.

He is the author of several books, including Faith No More: How and Why People Reject Religion (Oxford, 2011), Society Without God (NYU, 2008) and Invitation to the Sociology of Religion (Routledge, 2003), and the editor of several books, including Atheism and Secularity (Praeger, 2009) and The Social Theory of W.E.B. Du Bois (Pine Forge, 2004).  He has also written numerous essays and articles, and is a regular contributor to Free Inquiry and Huffington Post. He lives in Claremont, California, with his wife and three children.  His favorite Beatles album is “Revolver.”

Freethought Books Project Logo

The Freethought Books Project, split off from the Reed Secular Alliance in 2010, has a new address.  Please send inquiries to the following location:

Freethought Books Project
P.O. Box 259
Mercer Island, WA 98040.

You can also email leslie@secularstudents.org.  We appreciate your continued interest.

The PDX Humanist Film Fest

The Reed Secular Alliance will be attending the 2010 Portland Humanist Film Fest.  Showings will occur on October 8th, 9th, and 10th, and the festival will be a great place for atheists, humanists, and freethinkers to gather and enjoy skeptical cinema.

The production is underwritten by the Center For Inquiry, the Freethinkers of Portland State University, and the Humanists of Greater Portland.  It is sponsored by Cinema 21 and a number of other Oregon freethought groups.

For more details, please contact Elad Gilo at egilo@reed.edu.  We hope you will join us at the screening.

Why Are You Atheists So Angry?

Greta Christina speaks at the SSA Conference; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

Come join the Reed Secular Alliance as we welcome atheist blogger, Greta Christina ’83, to speak at Reed. Christina, a Reed alumna and Religion major, has been a freelance writer since 1989. She currently blogs at http://gretachristina.typepad.com about atheism, sexuality, and her queer identity.

Christina will discuss the atheist movement, which is often accused of being driven by anger. She will address the validity of this assessment, as well as why some atheists seem so angry. Among the questions she asks are “Is this anger legitimate?” and “Can anger be an effective force behind a movement for social change?”

The lecture is on Monday, September 13, at 7 pm in the Biology Lecture Hall (Bio 19). We hope to see you there.

Please email Elad Gilo at egilo@reed.edu with any questions.

Bill Nye receives Humanist of the Year Award; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

Editor’s Note:  This year, Reed Secular Alliance founder and former President, Leslie A. Zukor, had the opportunity to attend the American Humanist Association conference in San Jose, California.  It was a great opportunity and her reflections are presented below.

Roy Speckhardt introduces awardees; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

Although I have been to American Humanist Association conferences in the past, each time I attend I have a better experience than the time before.  That pattern held true as I attended this year’s AHA conference in San Jose.  After going to the Portland convention in 2007, I have been to three out of the past four AHA conferences.  From meeting PZ Myers in Phoenix to bracing for Bill Nye’s lecture in San Jose, the AHA’s annual convention has allowed me to connect with the biggest names in secular humanism.

Author Tom Krattenmaker and Activist Margaret Downey; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

And this year, Bill Nye did not disappoint.  Although I had heard him speak before, I loved the experience of getting Nye to interact with an explicitly humanist audience.  Both of the times that I’ve seen Nye present, he made it clear that “science [is] the best idea humans have ever had.”  In his view, it is the discoveries of science that can give us great insights into man’s place in the cosmos.  And it is through employing the scientific method that we can enhance our understanding of even the most mundane of phenomena.

Bill Nye's award acceptance speech; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

According to Bill Nye, his third grade teacher explained that there were more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the beach.  This was remarkable to a young Nye, as he could hardly conceive of that many stars.  However, as he got older, he realized that even though we are as insignificant as grains of sand, we are still humans who can understand our role in the cosmos.  And that’s what’s so great about science and the scientific method – they are tools people can use to better understand their place in the universe.

Hemant Mehta speaks to Humanist crowd; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

In addition to enjoying Nye’s presentation, I was also impressed by the speech of Hemant Mehta.  Mehta, known in the blogosphere as The Friendly Atheist, works as a high school Mathematics teacher by day.  And in his presentation, he emphasized making math relevant to real-world problems and situations.  After all, according to Hemant, it’s not enough to merely plug numbers into equations to arrive at answers.  To the contrary, a good teacher needs to make his or her students think beyond formulas.

Hemant Mehta and Leyan Lo solve Rubik's Cube; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

As someone who is not particularly mathematically inclined, I had always been the student who wanted a quick answer.  For me, the goal of math class was to get an “A” – if I were lucky.  However, Hemant’s presentation opened my eye to how I was cheating myself as a student who prided herself in critical thinking.  Having a greater understanding of mathematics cannot merely be achieved by memorizing formulas and plugging in numbers, but by understanding how math applies to the real world.

Sean Faircloth speaks about secularism; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

In all, I had a great time at the American Humanist Association convention.  In addition to meeting Mehta and Nye, I also enjoyed presentations by Tom Krattenmaker on Christianity in sports, Sean Faircloth about secular lobbying, and by Jason Frye on LGBT issues in humanism.  I also had the privilege of asking a question on Sunday’s live recording of NPR’s Philosophy Talk, where I inquired about humanistic values and moral relativism.  I am eagerly anticipating attending next year’s AHA conference in Boston.

Jason Frye discussing LGBT issues; Photo By: Leslie A. Zukor

[Vimeo 10607780]

Leslie Zukor’s acceptance speech

Congratulations to Reed Secular Alliance founder and former President, Leslie Zukor.  Zukor won the 2010 American Atheists Founders’ scholarship.  The award, which was founded in 2002, is a $2,000 prize, based primarily on activism.

Zukor’s devotion to freethought activism is far reaching.  In addition to founding the RSA, Zukor has been instrumental in bringing speakers such as Daniel Dennett, Lori Lipman Brown, Chris Mooney, and Greg Epstein to Reed College.

Leslie Zukor's Scholarship Certificate

Furthermore, she is the founder of the Freethought Books Project, which gives atheist, humanist, and freethinking literature to prisoners across the country.  As a photographer, Zukor’s work has been on the cover of The Humanist magazine.

Congrats to Leslie.

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