September 2015 – BAH Newsletter

September 2015 Newsletter

Upcoming EventsOctober 3 – Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart (Berkeley)October 10 – Volunteer at Strawberry Hill, Golden Gate Park (SF)

October 10 – Humanist Reading/Discussion Group

October 17 – Walk N’ Talk to Anchor Brewery
(RSVP now!)

October 25 – Good Without God? (Berkeley)

November 21 – Members Meeting, Lunch & Outing (SF)

Jim Barnett & Vanessa Gomez Brake

As we complete the third year of our existence, the board has planned some momentous and important events for Bay Area Humanists (BAH).  We will be having our first membership meeting in November and election of three board members in January.  At the membership meeting, the members will have the opportunity to evaluate our ongoing programs and propose new ones.  BAH is a membership organization and is ultimately governed by the members.  Members are those who agree with our mission of promoting humanism, serving the needs of nonbelievers and making the world a better place and have make a financial commitment to the organization by paying annual dues.  The dues enable us to sponsor a wide range of activities including lecture-discussions, volunteer activities, a book group and outings including social activities to build a sense of community. For BAH to continue to thrive and serve the needs of more people in our area, we need to grow our membership.  This is the best way to insure that BAH has staying power and will continue to carry out its mission, even after the founding members are no longer on the board.  If you agree that it is important that organized humanism
have a strong presence in the Bay Area for years to come, we urge you to become a member if you have not already done so.  We have a sliding scale of dues and these are listed below.

You have the option of paying through PayPal.  Our account designation is our e-mail address (   Alternatively, you can send us your check (payable to Bay Area Humanists, PO Box 14464, San Francisco, CA 94114-0464).  You may select the membership dues that most reflects your situation.

Individual $25.00
Sustaining $45.00
Household $40.00
Student $12.00
Limited Income $10.00
Sponsor $100-500
Benefactor >$500

Lectures & Discussions

We have some really exciting lectures and discussion planned through the end of the year.

At the San Francisco Glen Park Library (Saturday, 3:00-4:30):

  • Oct 3.  Jonathan Figdor will discuss his book Atheist Head, Humanist Heart.
  • Nov 7  Tentatively, we will have a discussion of the state of health care in the U.S led by Dr. Tom Hall.
  • Dec.  5 Richard Hobbs will lead a discussion on Worker Owned Cooperative that are based on the successful Mondragon Co-ops in Spain.

At the Berkeley Main Library (Sunday, 2:00-3:30)

  • Oct 25.  Good Without God? A discussion led by Jim Barnett about the origins of
    morality from an evolutionary and developmental viewpoint.
  • Nov 22.  A discussion of recent scientific studies of happiness led by Phil Crawford.

Keep a lookout for more information on our Meetup and webpage.

Humanist Book Group
The book group is reading Meditations for Humanists by A.C. Grayling.  The book is divided into a number of short chapters each dealing with a practical issue such as trust, honesty, happiness.  These provide a great way to start a conversation where each of us draws on our life experiences and personal viewpoints.  We get to know one another better and expand our thinking. We expect to spend 2 or 3 more months on the book.

News from the American Humanist Association
The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center reached a favorable settlement with the Federal Bureau of Prisons regarding its lawsuit brought on behalf of Jason Holden, a humanist inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon. Holden was denied the right to form a humanist study group and identify as a humanist for official assignment purposes.

“This settlement is a victory for all humanists in the federal prison system, who will no longer be denied the rights that religious individuals are accorded,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

Under the terms of the enforceable settlement, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will acknowledge humanism as a worldview that deserves the same recognition as theistic religious beliefs. The Manual on Inmate Beliefs and Practices will include a section on humanism, and inmates may identify as humanists for official assignment purposes. The prison will also authorize humanist study groups and permit humanist inmates to annually observe Darwin Day.

“The constitutional rights of humanists have been vindicated, and humanist inmates will no longer face discrimination simply because they lack a belief in a god or gods,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

The settlement comes eight months after the court refused to dismiss the claims brought by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, which demanded that humanists be given the same treatment as theistic inmates under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection mandate of the Fifth Amendment. Denying the Bureau of Prison’s motion to dismiss, the court ruled that prison accommodations must treat atheism and humanism just as favorably as they do theistic religion.



In 2015 Bay Area Humanist events continued to provide fun and enlightening outings for our
members and guests. This year we formed an Outing committee and divided the dates among the committee members. Aside from BAH board member Phil Crawford, the committee is currentlyKatryn Wiese – geology and oceanography professor at SFCC and Eihway Su – board member for the San Francisco Tenants Union.  All three have very different experiences and perspectives to bring to the events.We had lots of great hikes and discussions over the last year including an excursion to Angel
Island. Assuming we are not rained out we’ll have two more Outings this year. In December we are looking forward to the year-end party. If you would like to get involved in planning and
coordinating the events just drop us an email. The committee will be meeting again in January to plan next year’s Outings.

You can see photos on our Facebook page and Meetup site.


unnamed(2)Volunteer Group

The Bay Area Humanists’ has continued to expand—both in numbers of people volunteering and in events in which we are participating.

Since our last newsletter in June we have volunteered at the San Francisco Marin Food Bank 7 shifts, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.   When asked, our new volunteers say they were looking for volunteer opportunities in their community and some were looking for Humanist activities.  The Meetup site has shown to very effective in giving us exposure.  The SFMFB distributes food for more than 100, 000 meals to agencies, food pantries, hot meals programs and more, EVERY day!!!  The work that volunteers do would require them to hire 70 people.  Our work means more food for people who need it.

We also participated in 3 Prep Nights at At The Crossroads.  This is super popular and ATC often has to turn people away.  I have had to put a cap on the number of people who can volunteer, and maintain a waitlist.  At The Crossroads does on the street counseling for homeless youth.  They distribute backpacks filled with hygiene kits and snacks.  Their work meets those they serve, where they’re at.  There are no deadlines or conditions to access the services they provide.  In addition to the backpacks and the counseling, ATC maintains a clothing closet and clients can come in once a week for clean clothes.  They also take clients out to eat for a simple and hang out and listen.

In September, we started our newest endeavor.  We volunteer at Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park, pulling weeds and planting local plants in an effort to restore the habitat of local butterflies.  We started our first outing on the day they were having their 5th anniversary celebration of the work they are doing there.  So, after digging in the dirt we were treated to lunch and cake.  After that, there was a speaker, well known for his study of butterflies.

As the Volunteer Coordinator I encourage you to suggest other opportunities that you may be interested in so that we can consider and support them.  Our continued presence, in our bright green shirts, is getting us noticed.  It’s a wonderful way to “walk the talk” about what a Humanist is.

Seeking Volunteer Liason


Hi awesome Humanists! The Bay Area Humanists will be looking for someone to act as Volunteer Liaison for the 2nd Wednesday shift at the San Francisco Food Bank, 12:30-3:30. It’s easy, fun, rewarding and a great way to support our group and our community. Please contact BAH member Michelle Grise’ at for details.


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