Archived Issue of the Separationist

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ISSUE: February 2003

Edited by Sharon Fratepietro and Sharon Strong


February Speaker

"You Can't Reason With Them: The Chinese Finger Torture of Reason and Religion" will be Bobbie Kirkhart's theme at the SHL meeting on Sunday, February 16, at 4 p.m. As usual, the meeting will be open to the public and take place at Gage Hall, next to the Unitarian Church, at 4 Archdale St. in downtown Charleston.

Ms. Kirkhart's talk will present a trinity of reasons religionists resist logical argument about theological matters, and she will suggest other ways to respond to religious proselytizing.

Bobbie Kirkhart grew up a very religious child in a devout, liberal, Protestant family in Enid, Oklahoma. At the University of Oklahoma, she majored in journalism and taught a Sunday school class. During this time, she had her first national publication, “I Protest: A Santa Claus God,” published in Christianity Today.

After college, she became a social worker in South Central Los Angeles, serving mostly black and Latina single mothers. In that experience, she saw that her god, if such existed, treated his most loyal servants with contempt. That observation eventually caused her to reevaluate her belief in an omnipotent, omni-benevolent god. As she studied other god ideas, the only thing that she found reflected the world as she saw it was atheism. In 1982, she joined Atheists United and has been an energetic worker in that and other freethought causes ever since. She served as co-president of Atheists United, the largest democratic atheist group in the country, for five years. Now Ms. Kirkhart is president of the Atheist Alliance International, an alliance of democratic atheist groups with members in ten countries, including thirty-six organizations in the U.S.

She is proud to be listed in a book called Who's Who in Hell, an index of prominent freethinkers. Her television appearances include Stun, Food for Thought, and Oh Drama! She has been a guest on several radio programs, including NPR’s To the Point, the nationally syndicated America Live, BBC news, Minnesota Public Radio’s All Things Considered, KCRW’s Which Way LA? and KRLA’s The Spiritual Seeker.

(Editor's Note: Please see the flier attached to this newsletter promoting the Atheist Alliance International Conference in Tampa, Florida, on April 18-20.)

National Day of Reason

By Herb Silverman


Many who value the separation of church and state have sought an appropriate response to the federally funded National Day of Prayer, an annual abuse of the U.S. Constitution. Nontheistic Americans (including freethinkers, humanists, atheists and agnostics), along with many traditionally religious allies, view such government-sanctioned sectarianism as unduly exclusionary.

A consortium of leaders from within the Community of Reason recently endorsed the idea of holding a National Day of Reason. This observance will be held in parallel with the National Day of Prayer, on the first Thursday in May (specifically, May 1, 2003). The goal of this effort is to celebrate reason—a concept all Americans can support—and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship.

Many organizations are planning special events for May 1. We would like to hear your ideas for what SHL could do to commemorate this day. Once determined, our event will be posted at If you would like to endorse the National Day of Reason, you may do so at this Web site. There is great potential this year to give voice to our shared concerns about the serious threats to the wall separating church and state.


Herb Silverman Contributes to New Book

The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America, will surely cause a stir when it debuts across the nation on September 1. Written by seven freethought authors, the carefully documented narrative exposes the full spectrum of issues on the Christian fundamentalist agenda. Contributing to this expose is SHL President Herb Silverman, whose chapter, “Inerrancy Turned Political,” describes frightening attempts to subvert church-state separation by the extreme religious right. It also contains the saga of Herb’s candidacy for the office of South Carolina governor in 1990 and his State Supreme Court victory in 1997.

Another chapter in the book addresses the fundamentalist right’s oppressive treatment of women and children, as reported by Bobbie Kirkhart, visiting speaker at the SHL meeting on Feb. 16.

The book has drawn enthusiastic endorsements by advance reviewers who include British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong. The Fundamentals of Extremism will be published by New Boston Books ( and distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada by the Independent Publishers Group. For an advance copy in paperback or hardcover, see Herb Silverman, who has a few advance copies for sale at discount prices.

How About a Pickup?


It’s time again for our Adopt-A-Highway pickup on Saturday, February 15, starting at 9 a.m. We need all the pickers we can get—it makes the job go fast—so plan to meet at the small parking lot across from Drayton Hall on Highway 61 a little before 9:00 a.m.

The State Highway Department supplies nearly everything we need, from bags to orange vests and pointy sticks. Gloves are not provided, so if you don’t have a trashy pair, stop by Sherwin Williams on the way and buy a cheap pair of painting gloves.

The cleanup never takes more than two hours, and less than that if a bunch of folks help out. And if you work up an appetite, join the folks who go to brunch after the pickup at the Hominy Grill on Rutledge Ave. For more info, phone Gill Krebs at 763-4505, or e-mail him at

Humanist Book Discussion Group

By Sharon Strong


Our next meeting will take place on Sunday, February 23, in the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., 3:00-5:00 p.m. We are reading another classic, Bertrand Russell’s influential 1957 book Why I Am Not a Christian, and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Herb Silverman will lead the discussion. The book includes such provocative essays as “Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?” and “Our Sexual Ethics.” It concludes with an account of how Russell—one of the most eminent philosophers of the 20th century and a Nobel Laureate—was judicially declared “unfit” to teach philosophy at the College of the City of New York on the grounds that Russell was an “immoral character.” The book is available at the West Ashley Barnes and Noble.



The Public is Invitedto the Third Annual observance of Darwin Week in Charleston. There’s an exciting line-up of events on the schedule! All are free. But arrive early - seats fill up fast!
All Talks are Scheduled for late afternoons or evenings on the College of Charleston campus. The CofC Science Center is located at the corner of Coming and George Streets. The address of the Education Center is 25 St. Philip Street. Parking is available in the City Garage on the corner of St. Philip and George. Each talk will be followed by an opportunity to meet the speaker over refreshments. Birthday party for Charles Darwin on Wednesday!

The Events:

Monday, Feb 10- Dr. Milford Wolpoff: A Neandertal in Your Closet?
Neandertals are the best known of the human fossils, the most widely characterized and caricatured, and “Neandertal” is the only word from paleoanthropology to work its way into common speech. Most people have an image and an opinion about Neandertals - ask your postman - and there are probably no ancient humans that evoke a wider range of interpretations. Who were these people? Are the swirling conflicts about them, or about the history of their discoveries? And most importantly, is there a Neandertal in your family tree, and is it on a branch, or on the main trunk? Dr. Milford Wolpoff is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He has firsthand experience with virtually the entire human and pre-human fossil record, from evidence of hominid origins to the appearance of modern humans and their evolution.
5:30 - 6:30 pm, Science Center Room 123. Refreshments afterward.


Tuesday, Feb 11- Dr. Timothy A. Mousseau: Contemporary Adaptations: Explaining the Past and Predicting the Future.
Recent advances in molecular biology and ecology have generated a wide range of comprehensive case studies that provide tremendous insight to phylogenetic patterns and the evolutionary processes responsible for the generation of biodiversity. Using examples drawn from molecular genetics to ecosystems studies, Professor Mousseau will explore the recent developments in biology that are helping to refine our understanding of past evolutionary events and generate predictions concerning biological responses to environmental change in the future.Dr. Tim Mousseau is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina. His research focuses on the evolution of life history, physiology, and behavior in crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and love bugs.
4:30pm - 5:30 pm Science Center Room 123. Refreshments afterward.
6:40 - Repeat performance
at The Citadel, Grimsley Hall Auditorium, Room 117.

Wednesday, Feb 12
- Dr. Paul D. Fullagar: Age of the Earth: From Darwin’s Time to Now
Scientists have determined that Earth is 4,550 million-years-old, based on the decay rates of radioactive isotopes. However, in the 19th century, Charles Darwin and especially his contemporaries, had quite different ideas as to the age of the Earth. We will consider some of the early efforts to determine the age of the Earth, and see how the discovery of radioactivity in the late 1800’s changed views regarding Earth’s age, and led to the development of much improved methods for determining ages. Dr. Paul Fullagar is Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His research focuses on the evolution of the crystalline rocks in the southern Appalachians and elsewhere.
4:30pm - 5:30 pm Science Center Room 123. Birthday cake & refreshments afterward.

Happy 194th Birthday, C.D.!


Thursday, Feb 13- Dr. David S. Mann: In Court: Teaching Evolution and Creationism--Deja Vu all over again
Are public elementary and secondary schools permitted by law to teach two truths: the history of the earth according to science AND the history of the earth according to Judeo-Christian religious theology? Is that question itself a contradiction? Dr. David Mann is Professor of Political Science at the College of Charleston. His research interests include state government policies, judicial politics, criminal justice, and political behavior.
6:00 - 7:00 pm, Education Center Room 118.
Repeat Performance
at The Citadel - 6:40 pm, Thursday Feb. 20. Grimsley Hall Auditorium, Room 117.


Thursday, Feb 13 - Inherit the Wind
Join the College of Charleston Film Club for a screening of Inherit the Wind, a dramatization of the “Scopes Monkey Trial.” This 1960 Hollywood classic (starring Spencer Tracy) recreates the sensational 1925 courtroom battle betweenWilliam Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow that Bryan called a “contest between evolution and Christianity.” The defendent was John T. Scopes, arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution to his high school biology class in Dayton, Tennessee. This event is held in conjunction with The Jazz Age project at the College of Charleston.
7:00 - 9:20 pm, Education Center Room 118

Tampa  means springtime!

 It means meeting old friends and finding new.

It means educational experiences, fabulous food, provocative programs, and exciting excursions.*

In other words, a spring break for grown-ups!

It’s the Atheist Alliance International Ninth Annual Convention

April 18-20, 2003

(Yes, it’s the holiday weekend named after the Roman Goddess Easter)

Featured Speakers include

Richard Dawkins

The Amazing Randi

Meet us at the Tampa Hilton Airport Westshore. For special convention rates of $69 a night, with free airport transfer, call 800-445-8667, before March 27, and tell them you’re with the AAI convention. This deal is a real steal at the top of the season!

*These are group add-ons or on-your-own activities to be announced later. Florida is known for Disney World, Epcot Center and wonderful beaches. Tampa itself boasts Busch Gardens and several great museums...and is just minutes from sparkling Gulf beaches.

For more info and an application form, see the printed version of the Separationist, write or call 813-662-6612.

SHL Calendar


February 10-13: Darwin Week at the College of Charleston.


Saturday, February 15: SHL Adopt-A-Highway trash pickup, meet opposite Drayton Hall on Highway 61 at 9 a.m.


Sunday, February 16: President of Atheist Alliance International, Bobbie Kirkhart, speaks at the SHL monthly meeting. At Gage Hall, 4 Archdale St., downtown Charleston, 4:00 p.m. Followed by optional dinner at Vickery’s.


Sunday, February 23: Humanist Book Discussion Group, Barnes & Noble, 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (West Ashley), 3-5 p.m.


April 18-20: Atheist Alliance International Conference in Tampa, Florida.


For more information, please visit our Homepage at LOWCOUNTRY.HUMANISTS.NET.