June 2015 – BAH Newsletter

June 2015 Newsletter


UPCOMING EVENTSJune 28 – San Francisco Pride Parade
Join us on this historic occasion to show your support for the LGBTQI movement and marriage equality. Enjoy being part of the atheist, humanist, agnostic, etc. contigenet at the Pride Parade,
as we march down Market Street Sunday morning.

July 8 – Volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank

July 25 – Volunteer at the San Francisco Food Bank

July 11 – Worker/Owner Co-ops: A More Human Way

July 29 – Volunteer at the Crossroads


Jim Barnett & Vanessa Gomez Brake
During the second quarter of 2015, Bay Area Humanists continued to support a variety of programs to meet the needs of Humanists in our area.  From the beginning of the organization, the board has felt it important to support those who have a passion for an activity that is aligned with our purpose (building community, advancing knowledge about humanism, and making the world a better place).  As a result we have added hiking and other outings, a book group, community service and parties to our activities over the last couple of years.  If you have ideas about these activities or things we are not now doing, please contact a member of the board.  We want to hear from you (bayarea@sfhumanists.org).  We are particularly interested in extending our activities into the East Bay.


Great news!  Earlier this year, the board applied for a grant from the American Humanist Association.  We were granted $500 to advance our programs in the next few months.This grant indicates to us that the American Humanist Association has confidence in our chapter.  To some degree, we think grants are given to local chapters that demonstrate growth in membership.  This is an important reason for being a dues paying member of Bay Area Humanists.  If you are not now a member, please consider becoming one.  Send us an e-mail and we’ll tell how to join up (bayarea@sfhumanists.org).  You not only help us pay for our activities but you will help us be competitive for larger grants in the future.

The organization, Compassion and Choices, is working pass a law that would make it legal for terminally ill people who are in unbearable pain to be assisted to end their life with dignity in California.  The bill has passed the state senate (SB128) and is now in the state assembly.  The board unanimously voted to support this effort.  We urge everyone to contact your state senator to support this law.



Volunteers Needed
To support a multifaceted organization such as Bay Area Humanists there are many tasks that have to be done; produce the newsletter, manage our online presence, manage our membership lists, research future programs (e.g. speakers, volunteer opportunities), advertise our activities.  If you have any interest in helping with any of these, please let us know.

Past Programs
Lectures and Discussions in San Francisco.  During the past quarter Jacie Rowe and
Nancy Jacobsen, of Compassion and Choices, updated us regarding efforts to pass a measure in California that would make it legal for a physician to provide assistance to the terminally ill to end their suffering with dignity.  After hearing what they had to say, the board decided to support this measure (see above).  We also heard form Even Gran, a journalist for the Norwegian Humanist Association (NHA), about secularism in Norway and the role the NHA plays in this.  For our June program, we joined SkeptiCal in Oakland and heard several excellent presentations on science and public policy, supernatural beliefs leading to human suffering, and how to integrate logic and intuition in the thinking process.  We staffed a table, handed out literature and got contact information for those interested in Bay Area Humanists.In the coming quarter we’ll discuss the co-op movement as an alternative to corporations, how molecular biology affects our daily lives, and the emerging transsexual movement.

Lectures and Discussions in Berkeley:  We successfully launched a series of events at the Berkeley main library entitled “Humanism Examined”.  So far there have been three lectures; John Figdor discussed his book, Atheist Head, Humanist Heart; Jim Barnett led a discussion of the defining principles of humanism and their historical development; and Katryn Wiese lectured on Earth Science.  We are taking the summer off on this series but hope to begin again in the fall with a discussion of morality from a naturalistic viewpoint.

Humanist Book Group
The book group selected Meditations for the Humanists; Ethics for a Secular Age by A.C. Grayling as our next book.  We plan to read the book, which is a collection of short essays on various ethical issues, over a three-month period.
From the American Humanist Association
In May, the American Humanist Association had its 74th annual conference in Denver. Some of the highlights and emerging trends of the AHA is an increased interest in serving the needs of groups that have not been well represented in the past.  There were sessions on “Black Lives Matter”, the increasing number of Hispanic non-believers, and the threats that Ex-Muslims endure.  The Appignani Humanist Legal Center continues to vigorously defend discrimination against non-believers and the separation of church and state.   The recently created Center for Freethought Equality, a PAC seeking to support secular candidates for office, is beginning to gain momentum.HR290 calls on President Obama and the State Department to work to eliminate blasphemy laws around the world.  These laws are used to persecute atheists and religious minorities.  Particularly troubling are the recent gruesome murders of freethought bloggers in Bangladesh.  The AHA urges everyone to contact your representative and let them now you support this resolution.

Eihway Su led a hike to discover Oasis in our Urban Jungle (May 23).  It was great to find these hidden-away patches of greenery and art.  You can see photos on our Facebook pageand Meetup site.  Thanks for Eihway for suggesting and leading this hike.

In addition to our regular monthly Walk and Talk outing, BAH facilitated a variety of other special events in the past year, several open to the general public. We hosted a screening of the movie “Happy” and took a day long excursion to Angel Island where we developed a happiness intervention that we will execute this Fall.We continued our quarterly ‘tradition’ celebrating of our community, coincidental with the solstice and equinox, in members’ homes. We joined thousands to commemorate Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama. We observed Darwin Day at SFCC with a lecture on on the history of life on Earth. We also participated in major secular events like the Sacramento Freethought Day and the SkeptiCal Conference held in Oakland.



Volunteer Group


The BAH Volunteer activities at the SF Marin Food Bank continue to draw in new people.  It is very apparent that people really want to give their time to helping others, and that they are very glad to have an opportunity to do this with a secular group of likeminded people.  We are starting to see more substantial bonds forming among the “regulars”.We are starting talk of other projects we would like to take on.  There are people who really would like to do more around the issue of farming and food security; others have mentioned work with seniors.

Please share your ideas about projects you feel are worthwhile.  We would like to support you.

We recently launched a closed Facebook page where we can share ideas and activities with one another, or just say “hi”, without having to wait for an organized event.  If you would like to be able to join in this, please go to facebook.com/groups/BayAreaHumanistsCommunity