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We have a lighter event schedule this month, but still a lot going on. Please don't forget we are collecting toys for the 2016  STEM Toy Drive H elp us make a difference in the lives of children and families in local shelters by donating  new, unopened gifts that can help a child discover an interest in Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM). 

We have  events on the 11th, 12th, and 13th where you can drop off toys. If you want to get something to us later (but before the 16th) you can email us at  donate@cflfreethought.org  so we can work it out

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Upcoming CFFC Events
Mark your calendar and set a reminder!

Sat, Dec 10, 10 AM to 3 PM - STEM Toy Drive & Blood Drive
Join the CFFC as we team up with BE. Orlando to fill up the bloodmobile with donors and our toy drive with STEM toys for local families in shelters for the holidays. Come join us!

Sun, Dec 11, 9 to 10:30 AM - CFFC Adopt-A-Park Cleanup
This is our regular monthly park cleanup event. We bring doughnuts; you bring the family!

Mon, Dec 12, 3:15 PM - Secular Invocation and Coffee
Meet us at city hall for another secular invocation in Winter Park and a quick coffee break on Park Avenue afterward.

Tue, Dec 13, 7 PM - Discussion Group & Book Club
This month's discussion is on immortality and human engineering.

Fri, Dec 23, 5:30 PM - Winter Solstice Party
This is our annual potluck and gift exchange. RSVP on Meetup or reply to this email to get the location information since this is at a private residence.

Find all our CFFC events on   Meetup and most of them on  Facebook.
Orlando Coalition of Reason Events
Check out all the local community events in one place
 

News You Can Use
Local or regional news that matters to you!

Coaches and Their 'Great Commission'

Sometimes it seems like public school athletic coaches are being told by their religious leaders or by their religious organizations to bring Christianity into the schools and proselytize.  Maybe we're just being paranoid, but it  is almost like it there is a long-term plan to take over the world or something.  (Be sure to read the links above.)

Here's a recent  story from Wakulla County, up in the Florida Panhandle. A complaint about illegal participation by a coach in team prayer was addressed by FFRF in a letter to the school superintendent. In this case, the school took the complaint seriously and addressed the violation. Violations like this happen in many high school athletic programs all across the country. Fortunately, this is the kind of violation they seem more eager to fix than others.

Just last week, the free (free for now) press did a story on Manatee High School's longstanding and illegal tradition of having a post-game prayer with the players and coaches together. Additionally, the coach has a team chaplain meets with the players before their pregame meal each week. Perhaps the coach thinks this is permissible when done in conjunction with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. If so, he is wrong about that. 

It kind of reminds us of a soup kitchen where they give you the food, sit you down at the table, then ask you to pray before the meal. Completely voluntary, right? 

In this case, the one who controls whether or not you make the team and whether or not you ride the bench is the one standing there watching you pray to the god of his choosing.  I wonder how compliant the players are in those types of situations. Completely voluntary, right?

This violation in Manatee was just reported to FFRF last week as a direct result of the news story. The fallout has yet to occur, but we'll be sure to keep you posted on our Facebook page

Shop From Liberty Counsel's Naughty List

Every year, Liberty Counsel jumps into the War on State/Church Separation and drags the fight (kicking and screaming) from the public spaces belonging to our shared secular government into the marketplace. After it makes the narrative about a supposed "War on Christmas," LC sets it sights on those stores who have the nerve to say "Happy Holidays" far too often for their liking.

In case you'd like to support those businesses who are most considerate of our pluralistic society and have the nerve to be inclusive (gods forbid), we've got that list for you right here

Happy Holidays, Heathens!

We Came Out With Pride

Thanks to everyone who marched with us in the Orlando Pride parade on November 10th. We had an amazing time and the parade was enormous! We don't see many videos online yet, but  here is one of the longer ones. You can see us our group at around the  26 minute mark.



The CFFC Sign is up at Kewannee; Playground Restoration Underway

After several months of cleanup events including dozens of hours of volunteering, our sign is up at Kewannee Park in Casselberry!  Our next cleanup event is coming up this weekend. Can you join us there for a little while?

It's a pretty quick job. We chat with friends and make some new ones while doing good in the neighborhood.  The cleanup is actually pretty easy.  We bring the doughnuts from Donut King, gloves, and bags for trash. All we need is you!

Seminole County (this is a county park) is replacing the children's playground area with new equipment so look for an up-to-date play area for the kids in the next month or so. Feel free to bring them along. This is a family-friendly event.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Every year, in cities, towns, and counties across the country, elected officials, government employees, and private citizens show their preference for their own personal religion by displaying nativity scenes on government property. For many years now, activists have fought (year-round, in fact) to keep our government secular. We win some and we lose some. Sometimes it is a toss up and it still feels like a loss.

In the case of holiday displays, the courts have ruled that sectarian holiday displays are permissible under some circumstances. Here's an excellent updated article from FFRF that talks about that and explains how you can help keep religion off government property during the holidays. Check it out!

The reason for this entry is Chaz Stevens' new holiday display in Deerfield Beach . You probably remember his Festivus Pole tradition which made it all the way to Tallahassee. 

This year, he's taking on politics and policy. In case you can't tell from the image on the left, his latest erection is wrapped in an upside-down flag (a sign of distress), adorned with a "Make America Great Again" ball cap which is fastened to the Festivus pole with a gigantic safety pin Lot's of symbolism there to get everyone worked up.  The CFFC is proud to see Chaz is keeping up the fight and ensuring that, if the government will have an open forum for religious displays, that he will have a display there as well.

Trump's Pick for the Dept. of Education Wants to "Advance God's Kingdom"

It might have seemed like Trump has backed off some of his extreme campaign promises already, but he's more than made up for it in his cabinet appointments. In particular, he has chosen Betsy DeVos, a woman who, in her own words, wants to make public schools compete with one another and has the desire to "confront the culture in which we all live today in ways which will continue to help advance God's kingdom. Not to stay in our own little faith territory."  

Her husband, Dick DeVos, goes on to talk about having "all parents...be able to educate their children in a school that reflects their [Christian] world view" and "to have the circle of church and school and family much more tightly focused and being built on a consistent [Christian] world view." The subtext here, of course, is schools that would be segregated by religion. I wonder how much work the Devos family would do to help the non-Christian schools they seem to wish for.

The word "Christian" is inserted into the quotes above because Dick DeVos talks about world view in other parts of the discussion in the context of a Christian world view. There is no mistaking his meaning here.  The idea of integrating a "world view" sounds all fine and good if your particular church or religion controls the government purse strings, but if you simply replace the phrase "world view" with "religion" it smacks of establishment.  Otherwise, concept of promoting separate religious schools as the only option would result in "tribalizing" primary and secondary education and isolating young people, their teachers, administrators, and entire communities,reversing nearly all the progress that the integration of cultures into a single system where we all are equal under the law.

While change happens slowly in government, unfortunately, it seems to happen at an even slower pace when it comes to litigation making its way through the courts. With those likely becoming more conservative at the federal level and more conservative at the state level, this means we have our work cut out for us in Central Florida and across the country.  We need you to be on the lookout for cracks and crevices in the Wall of Separation and let us know when you see anything that seems out of place.

Here's the take on DeVos' appointment from the Freedom From Religion Foundation and from  Americans United for Separation of Church and State, both allies of the CFFC. A good summary is on The Friendly Atheist blog, too.


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Friends of Ours. Friends of Yours.

Allied organizations which deserve your attention


So much of the good work done by the CFFC and other local freethought organizations is supported through, inspired by, and facilitated with BE Orlando. 

 

Since 2011, BE Orlando has led the way in getting many of you involved in volunteering to help our neighbors across Central Florida. Whether giving a day to help out at a local shelter or regularly donating blood at a Pint Club event, they continue to inspire us to provide opportunities for you to get out and do some good.

 

Show them some love by following them on (Facebook and Twitter) and take a few minutes to check out their website. The level of effort that goes into planning and executing everything BE does is amazing. 


 

Don't forget to see the CFFC and BE working together next weekend at Target in Oviedo!
 

Acknowledgements

Giving thanks to real people


Whether you volunteered to monitor local government meetings in your community, or marched in the Pride parade, or purchased a Flying Spaghetti Monster emblem for your car at our meeting, or donated to CFFC on a recurring basis via PayPal, or have us named as your charity on Amazon Smile, or just read this email each month, we are truly thankful for your support.

CENTRAL FLORIDA FREETHOUGHT COMMUNITY
PO Box 621123,  Oviedo, FL 32762
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on the separation of state and church
and building a thriving secular community in the Greater Orlando area.


 

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM
THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352)
WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT,
APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.