The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

Join / Donate

SHL News

    September SHL Book ClubNew SHL Announcement posted by Yvonne Michel on Mon August 24, 2015.
    New Video with Herb SilvermanAs some of you may know, SHL's founding president, Herb Silverman, is recovering well from a stroke that he suffered in April 2019. But, back in 2018 he was in Michigan giving a talk about his run for governor of South Carolina (spoiler alert: he didn't win) and the Secular Coalition for America. You can see a video of the talk which was recently added to the SHL video library.
    The Separationist Needs Your Help!After a brief hiatus, the Separationist, the newsletter of the SHL is back! If you have interesting announcements, articles, letters, cartoons etc. please send to your newsletter editor team, John and Barb. You can reach us them at
    AHA to Argue Church/State Case Before Supreme Court!The American Humanist Association will for the first time be arguing a case before SCOTUS. The case ought to be an easy one to win -- a Maryland city that has used hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds on a giant cross monument with plans to spend a hundred thousand more -- but with the current make-up of the court, who knows what the outcome will be? You can find out more and donate money to help them at the AHA's website
    New Video with Herb Silverman: Would Society Be Better Off Without Religion?Our own founding president debates a Liberty University English professor on the question of whether we would be better of without religion in this video filmed at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on January 30, 2019
    Herb's 3/4/2018 Debate in Columbia Now Posted in SHL Video LibraryDid you miss the debate between Herb Silverman and Richard Howe? Not to worry, you can see it here now.
    SHL President Quoted in P&C ArticleFrom the article Should Charleston stop issuing parking tickets near churches on Sunday mornings?: "We all seem to agree that the government cannot persecute people because of their religions," said Alex Kasman, a math [professor] at the College of Charleston who is president of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry. "But, in practice, there is no difference between rewarding the followers of some religions and punishing the people with other religious views. This policy, which seems designed to exempt churchgoers from the usual laws, therefore runs against the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.".
    Herb's LTE in the P&C on Thom PaineOur founding president recently had a Letter to the Editor published in the Post & Courier in response to another letter writer's remarks concerning a bumper sticker about God.
    Herb's LTE in WaPo on BSAClick on the headline to read Herb Silverman's latest letter in the Washington Post.
    Debate Video Now AvailableDid you miss the debate on August 17th between Ed Buckner (Former American Atheists President) and Wallace Marshall (Reasonable Faith, Charleston)? Or, did you see it but want to watch it again? Then visit our video library to hear what they had to say about whether America is, ever was, or should be a Christian Nation!
    A Few Photos from AHASHL member Scott Weldon took tons of great pictures at the recent AHA Annual Conference in Charleston. I've posted just a few of the ones featuring SHL members on our Website. Check them out by clicking here.
    Action Needed: Help Stop Churches from Becoming Super PACsDuring the House Appropriations Committee markup of the Fiscal Year 2018 Financial Services and Government Operations bill, the Committee voted 28-24 to override an amendment introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) that would have stricken section 116 from the bill. Section 116 is a provision snuck in to gut enforcement of the Johnson Amendment specifically for churches (all other nonprofits would still be subject to IRS rules regarding engaging in partisan politics)

    The Johnson amendment prohibits nonprofits, including churches, from endorsing political candidates. Churches are the only nonprofits not required to file a Form 990, which discloses information about a nonprofit's expenditures and sources of revenue. It would effectively turn the puplit into a political arm of the Religious Right, with no oversight whatsoever.

    Because churches are exempt from these crucial transparency requirements, the repeal of the Johnson Amendment would effectively allow churches to function like Super PACs and unleash a new wave of religious 'dark money' into the political system.

    Passage of this bill and a full repeal of the Johnson Amendment is the Religious Right's #1 priority.

    Take action with the Secular Coalition for America (founded by our own Herb Silverman) by clicking here.

    Herb Silverman Interviewed in Post and CourierP&C Reporter Adam Parker talks to SHL's founding president about his life and his new book.
    SHL Founder to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from American Humanists AssociationSHL is thrilled to congratulate Herb Silverman on being chosen as the 2017 recipient of the American Humanist Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes the founding president of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry for his many achievements at the state and national level. Click here for more information (and use the big red button at the top of that same page to register for the AHA conference to be held here in June so you can be there when the award is presented).
    Day of Reason Resolution Introduced in CongressTed Lieu (D-CA) introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives, House Res. 263, recognizing May 4, 2017, as the National Day of Reason. The National Day of Reason is an initiative by the American Humanist Association to promote reason as a secular alternative to the National Day of Prayer.
    Herb Silverman in the Charleston City PaperA new article in the Charleston City Paper introduces SHL founding president Herb Silverman to its readers and briefly reviews his new book of essays.
    Congolese Refugees Coming to Charleston: A Different Sort of SHL COQAs you probably know, the SHL regularly collects voluntary donations from members and gives the total amount of money collected to four (usually local) charities each year. This "Charity of the Quarter" (COQ) program both allows us to work together to achieve some good in the world and allows us to publicly demonstrate our humanist values. The COQ for the first quarter of 2017 is something a bit different. And we are asking you not only to be more generous with your monetary donations, but also to consider providing other sorts of assistance!

    Refugee families from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be arriving in the Charleston area soon (possibly as early as this month), thanks to the efforts of the Lutheran Services Carolinas. Although our COQs tend to be entirely non-religious, this time we will be partnering with the Lutheran Services. SHL is just one of many organizations that will be working on the important but daunting task of providing those refugees with all that they will need to become independent.

    The easiest way you can help is by donating money to our COQ collections. Upon arrival, the refugees will need toiletries and first aid kits, and SHL will be using your donations to purchase the items that we will be purchasing and giving directly to these families. In addition, we are told that the families will be in need of winter clothing and blankets (new or "gently used"), and SHL will be collecting those items at any of our upcoming events.

    But, we are hoping to do more than just donate. The refugees will be in need of training, jobs, and housing. If you have time, knowledge, skills, or other resources that could be helpful, please consider volunteering those. In addition, if you'd like to go through the short orientation session that would allow you to work with the refugees, let us know and we'll put you in touch with Lloyd White of Lutheran Services Carolinas so that you can set up an appointment. In any case, if you are interested in providing any sort of assistance (or if you have any questions), write to us at

    Herb Silverman donates $15K to SHL!A notable day in the history of the SHL was December 18, 2006 when beloved member Bill Upshur bid $20,000 for a book at the annual potluck/book auction. (It was a copy of The God Delusion.) It was Bill's way of dramatically making a donation to our organization. On December 19, 2016, ten days and one day later, Herb Silverman reproduced that event by bidding $15,000 for a book at this year's auction. Thank you, Herb!
    First Law Mentioning and Specifically Protecting Non-theists Signed by President Obama!On December 16, 2016 the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act became the first law that includes the term non-theist. . This legislation supports freedom of thought and religion and protects both theistic and nontheistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion.
    Herb's Letter in the P&CCheck out Herb Silverman's latest letter to the editor in the Post & Courier which says things like "Indoctrinating public school students to salute a flag and mindlessly regurgitate a daily pledge is not patriotic, unless patriotism just means obediently following orders of those in power. And criminalizing flag burning, however unpatriotic most Americans consider it to be, is an unconstitutional attack on our cherished freedom of speech."
    SHL Store TipsWe've been selling t-shirts, mugs, stickers, and bags emblazoned with the SHL logo and sayings for a few months now. One thing we've learned is that these products are popular. Another, though, is that they are expensive. Here are a few tips:
    • Wait until there's a sale. Zazzle always seems to have a sale on something, and if you wait a month or two the item you want is sure to go on sale for 40% off or more. [For example, as I type this the code "CMDEALSRBACK" seems to get you some good deals.]
    • You can also buy some of these items at our meetings. Since we bought them on sale, we can sell them to you at a discount, and you don't have to wait for delivery!
    • Be careful when making changes to the products. Although it offers you the option of changing things like the color or cut of the shirt, it is up to you to check to make sure that it still looks right after that change. Nothing in the program makes sure that the colors match or that the logo will fit on the other shirt shape. Take a look at the displayed sample with any modifications you choose to make sure it still looks good before buying.
    Thanks for showing your pride and supporting SHL through your purchases of items in our Zazzle store!

    Check out Herb's New PodcastNew in November 2016, an A Science Enthusiast podcast featuring our own Herb Silverman.
    Family Group SurveyThe SHL Family Group is trying to improve attendance at its playdates. If you're a secular parent in the lowcountry, please help by completing this short online survey. Thanks!
    SHL Proud to be Part of Charleston Pride!A group of volunteers representing SHL marched in the Charleston Pride Parade on August 13th in support of our members and other friends in the LGBT Movement.

    Australian Atheists Urge Fellow Aussies Not to be Jedi Knights This TimeMany Australians list themselves as Jedi Knights in the religious demographic section of the Australian census. This is, admittedly, funny. But, some atheists worry it leads to a low estimate for the percentage of the population who are really non-religious. (BTW I found this on Wikipedia: According to a 2004 study by Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, 25% of Australians do not believe in any gods.)
    Watch Herb's Positive Atheism TalkIn April, Herb gave a lecture at the UU Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. You probably weren't there, but you can watch it now in the SHL Video Library.
    June 2016: Berkeley County School Board No Longer Reciting Lord's PrayerAlthough some board members shared their dislike of the new policy with the Post and Courier, the board has replaced the prayer that used to begin their meetings with a moment of silence "[s]o each of us can reflect on our own faith and its place in our work here this evening".
    Judge rules that Pastafarianism is not a religion!In a very nicely (and carefully) worded statement, a judge has determined that an inmate's request for dispensation to obey the teachings of the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" is not constitutionally justified. In particular, though he acknowledges that many of us would contend that the religious texts of accepted religions are works of fiction like the foundational documents of Pastafarianism, the judge concluded that the latter is obviously only a parody of religion and that sincerity of belief, not truth, is the deciding factor in this situation.
    Bible may become official symbol of TennesseeAn interesting article from NPR about this Church/State controversy in the Tennessee legislature includes great quotes like:
    "My constituents tell me that they want us to respect the diversity of faith traditions in the state of Tennessee, not just a single view or a single religious tradition," Harris said. "And I think they're right about the diversity of faith traditions in our state. One in five Tennesseans are not Christians. This group includes Tennesseans that are Jewish, Buddhist, and also those that do not identify with a religion."
    Herb in Worcester MAThey may not know how to pronounce the name of their own city, but soon the Unitarians of "Woostah Mass" will know a lot about Positive Atheism, as this news article about SHL's vice-president and founder, Herb Silverman, explains.
    A Leading Presidential Candidate Who is Openly Non-ReligiousAlthough he is surely not the only presidential candidate in history who is non-religious, Bernie Sanders is getting press for openly admitting that he is not. He has stopped short of declaring himself an atheist, saying instead things like "I am not actively involved with organized religion" and "I think everyone believes in God in their own ways. To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together".
    A New Article in the P&CA very nice new article by Sybil Fix discusses the growing number of non-religious people in the country and region. It mentions several members of our group and our January 2016 monthly meeting.
    FBB's Humanist Disaster Recovery Team at work in Columbia, SC Foundation Beyond Belief, a secular humanist organization known for its role in organizing charitable giving, is now taking action. The Humanist Disaster Relief Team, led by Rebecca Vitsmun and featuring a few volunteers from the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, is right now helping to rebuild homes damaged by flooding.

    Click here to volunteer with future humanist disaster relief efforts.

    Americans United: Judge's attempt to block marriage equality in Alabama doomed to failAlabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore today ordered all probate judges in Alabama to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and suggested that a state constitutional amendment and a law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples remain in force. This is a pathetic gesture that is doomed to fail, and it should be ignored by state officials, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.
    Book Group UpdateWe had a large and engaged group at our November Book Club meeting reviewing Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. It proved prophetic with the climate change meetings in Paris starting this week.

    As it is customary to not hold a Book Club Meeting in December, our next meeting will be January 24, 2016 at 4pm to discuss the new book Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition Around the World. The author, Seth Andrews, is the host of one of the largest online atheist communities in the world, The Thinking Atheist.

    Barb Childs checked after the meeting at Barnes & Noble and they do not have copies in their store for sale. So, she arranged for 4 copies of the book ($15.95) to be placed in reserve at the store under her name for our reading pleasure.

    Yvonne Michel, Book Club organizer

    Caring for our ownAn SHL Member suffered a stroke last Sunday. She has no insurance and her partner is disabled and cannot drive. Donations can be given to the treasurer at the back table today, or you can check the SHL Facebook group for information on how to send a donation by PayPal or U.S. mail. Also, anyone who can help give her family a ride to and from the hospital, please check the SHL Facebook site to sign up.
    An International Study Finds Atheist Kids are Nicer!A research study of 1,200 children around the world recently published in Current Biology found that even though their parents rated them as being more sympathetic, the children raised in religious homes were less generous and just plain meaner than their atheist peers.
    A Charity of the Quarter Inspired by TragedyAlong with donors from other South Carolina secular groups, SHL members recently gave $13,747 to a fund for the families of the victims of the recent horrific murders at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. That collection drive is now complete, but for our Charity of the Quarter for October through December 2015 SHL has chosen the Charleston chapter of the NAACP. This is an organization deserving of our support at any time, but especially at this moment. Please help them and demonstrate the support of our community by making a donation through SHL.

    SHL Volunteers in ActionIn September, a team of SHL volunteers built twelve planters for the new community garden at Medway Park on James Island. It was hard work, but also fun, and left us all with a great sense of accomplishment. To be part of our next volunteer activity, be sure to sign up for the Volunteer Network e-mail list.

    To make a point about tax exemptions, John Oliver forms his own church!Existing solely for the purpose of collecting tax-free donations (and, perhaps, to make a point about how easy that is to do by merely making potentially bogus religious claims), John Oliver has formed The Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption Church. He has it all: clergy (portrayed by an SNL cast member), rituals (silent contemplation of the consequence of fraudulent churches), and a request that viewers with lupus touch their televisions during his broadcast. But mostly, he has a way to collect money. (Read the fine print, however, and you may find that the money will end up at Doctors Without Borders...)
    A Night at the JoeJoin the SHL at the Charleston RiverDogs baseball game as we root, root, root for the home team... and ourselves (they will announce the SHL over the PA). It will be Bike Night, so bicycling to the ballpark is encouraged. Be sure to stick around for the fireworks afterward! We have a block of seats set aside in the covered Upper Reserved section.
    SHL Volunteers Make a DifferenceAs you may know, June 13th was officially a national "Day of Prayer". Of course, being secular humanists, we don't believe there are supernatural beings answering people's prayers. Instead, we believe that to make the world a better place people have to actually do things. So, on June 13th, two groups SHL volunteers were out in the community achieving that goal. One group of volunteers worked at the Lowcountry Food Bank and another was building a wheelchair ramp with Operation Home up in Saint Stephens (see photo).

    SHL Press Release / June 18, 2015
    Last night, a lone gunman murdered nine innocent people gathered at the historic Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street in Charleston. The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry join the rest of the Charleston community and the world in condemning this senseless act of violence and in sympathy for the families of the victims. As humanists, we value the inherent worth and dignity in all people and express our condolences to the African-American community of Charleston that this space which is sacred to them was violated.

    Slides from Janssen's Talk Available for DownloadOn April 19th, William Janssen delivered a fantastic talk to the SHL entitled "Religious Refusals and American Religious Liberty: How Did We Get Here?" It was so full of useful and surprising information that many of us who attended asked him if we could have copies of his slides for reference. Well, he has kindly agreed to let us post them here on our Website. Download them here in PDF format.
    Check out this CNN Article on AtheismA very nice piece on atheism includes the a diversity of well-stated opinions from members of the movement.
    DD2 UpdateAs you may recall, SHL raised money for the food pantries at Dorchester District Two schools. Oakbrook Elementary originally was raising money from its students for "missions" at a nearby church. When parents complained and the school received a letter from a national legal center regarding possible church/state separation issues, the school board decided to redirect that money to programs run out of the schools themselves. In support of this decision, SHL took up a collection and raised $2850 (almost three times the amount originally raised by the students). Bureaucratic delays at the school board have prevented the schools from obtaining that money in a timely fashion, but it looks like that is all worked out now (March 2015). SHL will give $1500 directly to Oakbrook Elementary and the remaining $1350 to the DD2 general PTA fund with the stipulation that all funds be used for food services for students. Thanks to all of those who donated!
    SHL's Evolution Necklaces a Hit with Kids at CofC's Darwin WeekFor the second year in a row, the SHL activity at Darwin Week was popular with children who strung beads corresponding to evolutionary history. (See photo at right.)
    New Video: Herb on Darwin DaySHL founder and vice-president Herb Silverman gave a talk about creationism to the Tampa Bay Coalition of Reason on February 7, 2015. If you missed it (and you probably did), don't worry. You can watch it now right here.
    Help SHL make a statement about the DD2 public school church fundraisersSHL is asking you to donate money through us to the needy students of Dorchester District Two schools. During the controversy surrounding Oakbrook Elementary School's fundraiser for a Baptist church, many people and even a newspaper columnist falsely claimed that humanists do not believe in charity. This will prove them wrong. It will also support the school board's decision to give money directly to the needy instead of to a church. And, of course, it is also a way you can help people in need. It is a good idea in three ways, so please take action before December 31st.
    Humanism Op-Ed in the P&CCheck out SHL President Amy Monsky's excellent piece in the 3 Dec 2014 issue of the Post and Courier. It begins:

    In a column published on Nov. 28 entitled Nice lesson you're teaching the kids, humanists, The Post and Courier's Brian Hicks described how students collected food for a local church food bank and then implied that humanists should - but apparently do not - understand the concept of helping people. . . Despite his intended sarcasm, the title is actually quite apt; we humanists do indeed teach our kids nice lessons.

    Click here to read the rest.

    Good Works in Non-Mysterious WaysA new message from SHL appears on an I-26 billboard. The message itself is not intended to be mysterious. Read this press release to learn more about it.

    Get your Festival of Lights tickets through SHLSHL is a proud sponsor of this fun family event featuring lighted displays and a marshmallow roast at James Island County Park. So, we are selling tickets at a discount to SHL members. Order yours here.
    SHL's Caw Sagan wins 2nd PlaceThe Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry entry won second place for civic groups at the 2014 Scarecrows on the Square in Summerville. This was a fundraiser sponsored by the Junior Service League and all proceeds to to support school supplies for students in Dorchester School Districts 2 and 4.

    Our scarecrow, Caw Sagan, was holding his book "Cawsmos" next to a sign that reads "We are made of straw stuff." He is located at site #25 on Main Street, in Hutchinson Square.

    New Video: Herb Silverman and 20 Years of SHLIf you were not able to attend our fantastic 20th Anniversary Celebration at Cypress Gardens, there are a lot of things you missed: some great food, music, a very memorable speech by Mike Newdow, and some large aligators. However, you can share one thing with those who were there, this wonderful video. In it, notable figures (including Hemant Mehta, Barry Lynn, Amanda Metskas, Dale McGowan, and Maggie Ardiente) comment on Herb Silverman and SHL
    Celebrate 20 Godless Years in the Holy City with SHL!On September 20th the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry will be celebrating our 20th anniversary with a huge "blow-out" party at Cypress Gardens. There will be free events, games, music and activities followed by a private dinner party featuring special guest Michael Newdow. Tickets are required for the dinner, but free to paid members of SHL. To find out more or to get tickets, click here.
    SHL Receives Award at Inspiring Humanism at Work Conference in ChicagoClick to read a description of exciting news on humanist social action from the Foundation Beyond Belief's July 2014 conference, including what you can do to help!
    Silent Heroes: Herb SilvermanA Dutch film crew made a wonderful documentary about atheism in Charleston. Herb Silverman is the star and protagonist, but many other SHL members appear in it as well. Venues include the College of Charleston, our own Reason Fest at Gage Hall, and Charleston's Prayer Rally. Watch it online to see what people and places you recognize!
    Please help the children of an atheist who was killedSadly, the situation is as Greta Christina has stated in her blog: "a member of our community has been murdered. She was a victim of domestic violence. And we have a lousy safety net in this country, which is going to make things even harder on her kids in this already terrible situation." You can help by making a donation to the college fund for her children. Donations collected by SHL will be pooled and given to Angie's Legacy Fund.
    SHL President Amy Monsky Named Atheist Alliance of America Executive DirectorYes, our own Amy Monsky is now (as she put it) a professional atheist. In addition to continuing to be SHL President, Amy will be working for this national organization whose mission is to develop and provide educational, advocacy, and community-building programs for the atheist community that assist towards the transformation of society into one that supports and respects a worldview based on the values of reason, empiricism and naturalism, and respects and protects the separation of religion and government.
    SC Legislature Set to Select State Fossil using Creationist Language At the request of a young girl who noted that South Carolina does not yet have an "official fossil", the state legislature was considering a bill to designate it as the Columbian Mammoth. As other states have official fossils and as this one is named for a historic discovery (by slaves) of fossilized mammoth teeth near our state capital, Columbia, this seems vaguely reasonable. However, after State Senator Kevin Bryant tried unsuccessfully to get an explicit mention of the mammoth's creation by God into the law, he was able to have the bill modified so as to read:

    Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the 'Columbian Mammoth', which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.
    It is not clear yet whether this bill will be passed in the end, but at this point it seems likely to.

    According to The Greenville News, Bryant claims that this reference to the creation myth in the Jewish Bible is legal "because it doesn't point to a single religion". In our opinion, of course, making the beliefs of some religions into law is not consistent with the Constitution, even if it is the shared belief of more than one religion. The wording of the bill seems to require people to refer to the sixth day of creation when all "beasts of the field" were created, even if those people do not hold this religious belief. That seems like an obvious violation of Church/State separation even if fundamentalist Christians and Jews both agree on it.

    Video of Herb's Latest Debate Added to SHL Video LibraryOn March 20, SHL's Herb Silverman debated Reasonable Faith's Wallace Marshall at the College of Charleston. If you missed it, or if you were there but want to relive the experience, you can now watch a recording of the entire event right here.
    SHL Member Involvement SurveyWe are looking for people with skills, motivation, vision and experience to help run and guide SHL in the future. If you would like to be more involved, please complete this survey.
    SHL Selected Beyond Belief Network Team of the MonthEach month, SHL volunteers help out at a local charity and each quarter SHL members donate money to a local charity. We do these things because we want to make the world a better place, not because we're looking for appreciation. On the other hand, appreciation is not a bad thing either! So, we are happy to announce that the Beyond Belief Network has selected us as their Team of the Month for February 2014! Way to go team!
    Stipends Available for SHL MembersTo encourage participation at atheist/humanist conventions and summer camps, the SHL board is offering a limited number of stipends to reimburse costs for members. Click here to learn more and apply now!
    SHL Board Member Letter in P&C The following letter concerning the supposed oppression of Christians in this country appeared in the December 29, 2013 issue of the Post and Courier:

    In a Dec. 19 letter, "Pray for nation," a woman writes about how troubled she and her friends at Jacksonboro Baptist Church are because Christians in this country are losing their rights and being persecuted.

    Not surprisingly, she offered no examples.

    Even stranger, she said that Christians did not vote in the last election. Since over 90 percent of those elected were Christians, with an overwhelming majority of voters identifying as Christian, I can't imagine what she has to complain about.

    Although I'm an atheist, I almost always vote for a Christian, not because I'm impressed by their declared God beliefs, but because I usually have no other choice.

    So I look for, but don't always find, Christians who support church-state separation, favor the teaching of evolution, oppose the use of public funds for religiously affiliated organizations, and back gay rights and abortion rights.

    If Christians are being persecuted and, presumably, atheists are advantaged, why is it that atheists in all walks of life are afraid to come out of their non-religious closet and no acknowledged atheist serves in Congress?

    Herb Silverman

    SHL Board Member Letter in P&C The following letter concerning the Shaw Air Force Base controversy appeared in the December 23, 2013 issue of the Post and Courier:

    The U.S. Air Force recently drew controversy for its decision to relocate a Nativity display from the entrance of its Sumter base to the chapel following a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Some people suggested that this was somehow a threat to religious freedom. We in the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (SHL) see it differently.

    First, nobody is trying to discourage or eliminate Christmas displays from private homes, businesses, or churches. We are happy to see those displays, not only because they are pretty, but because we believe in the right of individuals to have public displays reflecting their religious beliefs.

    The thing that makes this situation different is that the USAF is a governmental agency. The U.S. Constitution's non-establishment clause is interpreted by the courts as requiring the government to remain religiously neutral. The writings of Madison and Jefferson make it clear that this is exactly what they intended. However, it is not because it is written or because it was the intent of the Founding Fathers that we support the separation of church and state; it is because it remains important in ensuring religious freedom.

    If a family places a Nativity scene in front of their house, it is reasonable to assume that they are Christian. The problem with the display at Shaw AFB was that it implied that the Air Force itself is Christian. The MRFF deals regularly with real and serious problems that follow from this assumption: high ranking officers claiming that ours is a "Christian army" fighting against Islam, officers who order soldiers to participate in Christian prayer regardless of their beliefs, and institutionalized harassment of non-Christians. In fact, the U.S. military belongs equally to all Americans (including non-Christians) and fights with our allies against our enemies (neither side being identified by their religion).

    Our view is that for each individual in the military to have religious freedom, the military itself must not endorse or reject any religious view. Even if they do not entirely agree with us, I hope that those upset by this news story may be comforted to realize that this is not at all a threat to the religious freedom of individuals or private businesses, and arguably helps to protect those freedoms.

    Alex Kasman
    SHL Board Member
    Mount Pleasant

    Buy Festival of Lights Tickets through SHLSecular Humanists of the Lowcountry is again helping to sponsor the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. We are offering tickets for sale, including discounted tickets for SHL Members. Buy yours here.
    SHL Sponsors Blood DriveThanks to the hard work of SHL Treasurer Jason Gregory, Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry is the sponsor of the Red Cross Blood Drive in Charleston and Mount Pleasant for the week of October 14th - October 19th. Click here for more information about how you can help.
    Donate to SHL in honor of Frank HayWith sorrow and pride, we are currently accepting donations in honor of Frank Hay, who was an active member and supporter of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry. Frank's obituary bravely asks for donations to our organization in lieu of flowers.
    Pope Francis says good atheists can get to heaven tooThe pontiff writes in an Italian newspaper: You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don't believe and who don't seek the faith. Given - and this is the fundamental thing - that God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart, the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience.
    SHL/Camp Quest Light the Night TeamLast year, SHL joined in raising money for the Lukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night fundraiser with other secular organizations through Foundation Beyond Belief, generating so much money for this charity that we were recognized as generating the fourth largest amount of any team in the nation. So, this is a chance for your contributions to really make a difference. Not only will you be helping to pay for treatments for blood cancer patients, but you will be helping to prove that non-religious Americans really care about making the world a better place. Click here to make a donation or to join the team.
    Indian Atheist/Activist MurderedNaredra Dabholkar was like India's Amazing Randi: he would debunk faith healers and dark magic practitioners so that everyone could see that they were frauds. However, in that "superstitious" country, such con artists are a powerful group. So, he probably knew he was endangering himself, not with his "guru busting" but also by championing a controversial anti-black magic law now under consideration. Sadly, he was murdered last week when he was shot at close range by two men on a bridge who escaped. According to his son, quote in the New York Times, Dabholkar thought of himself as part of a larger movement: "He knew this kind of battle is fought across the ages. The journey we have chosen is one that started with Copernicus."
    SHL is Begin With Books' Sponsor of the MonthOf course, we give money to our Charity of the Quarter and volunteer at monthly activities mostly because we want to make the world a better place. But, it is nice sometimes to receive a little recognition as well. So, we are pleased to announce that Begin With Books has selected us as their sponsor of the month for August 2013. They tell us "This is just a small way to let you know how much we appreciate your financial support, and to let the community know of your support." BWBs sponsor of the month is announced on their Website and also on a sticker in every book that they distribute during that month.
    Camp Quest SC VideoCheck out this great new promotional video for Camp Quest SC made by Ethan M. Sigmon and Sam West.
    AHA and MAAF Help Air Force Officer Trainee Get Option of Secular OathAlthough previous graduates of the Air Force Academy were required to take a religious oath, thanks to one brave student (with the help of some larger organizations), future graduates will have the option of a secular oath.
    Secular Humanist Character on Orange is the New BlackAlthough you may have some concerns ("should we object to the fact that she is an inmate?" and "is a Netflix-only show really a TV show?"), AHA communications intern Sam Mauceri argues that we should be pleased and interested in this new show featuring a character who describes herself as a secular humanists and says things like "I believe in science, I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit, he could be kind of an asshole."
    Atheist originally told she must join church to become US citizen now granted citizenshipMargaret Doughty, an atheist and permanent resident of the U.S. for over 30 years, was told by immigration authorities earlier this month that she had until today, Friday June 21, to officially join a church, because her conscientious objections to war were only valid if those beliefs came from religion. On Thursday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services retracted their demand that Doughty show proof of religious affiliation and informed her that her application for naturalization had been approved.
    Supreme Court to hear challenge to Christian prayers before town meetings in Greece, NYAlthough it is not our state one one side of this battle nor our organization on the other, it is a case SHL members should be very interested in. Specifically, we should be supporting Americans United (AU) in its argument that through its policy, the town board of Greece is indicating that it has a preferred religion, and that this is simultaneously unwise, unfair and unconstitutional.
    Nontheists Applaud 150 U.S. Reps for Votes on Nontheistic Military ChaplainsThe Secular Coalition for America applauded the 150 member of Congress who voted in support of an amendment to allow nontheistic chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces. The amendment, which was voted on today by the full House was sponsored by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).
    SHL Participates in Summerville Cares Day of ServiceOn 4 May 2013, eighteen volunteers from the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry worked at Palmetto House Family Shelter in Summerville, SC. Since it was part of the Summerville Cares Day of Service, we were joined by six volunteers from the Church of Latter Day Saints. Together, we served breakfast and lunch to the residents and staff, painted a flower box, more than doubled the size of the patio behind their building and added a pergola.

    It was a tremendous success. Thanks to everyone involved, especially Roger Prevost, without whose expertise we would never have been able to do such a professional job of building the patio. (Click on the image above to see the results.)
    The Videos are Back!The SHL Video Library includes recordings of our debates, some of the guests at our meetings, and Herb Silverman's appearance in the 1990 Gubernatorial Debates on SCETV. However, because of a change in policy at YouTube, they were unavailable for a while. Now, thanks mostly to Todd Frech who reposted them in the new format, they are available again. So, finally, you can see Herb wearing a tuxedo. Thanks, Todd!
    Humanism and the Boston BombingsWe heard from this month's guest speaker, James Croft, about the need for humanists to be more actively involved in charity and politics. We also learned from him that, even though some of the victims of the bombing at the Boston Marathon were humanists, the humanist community was excluded from the official ceremonial response. For both of these reasons, we urge you to use the button below to donate money through SHL which will be given to offer aid and support to those hurt by the bombing in the name of Charleston's secular humanist community:
    Buy Andy Thomson's Why We Believe...Please consider buying the book Why We Believe in God(s) by the very popular speaker from our March meeting. If you purchase it through the link above, SHL earns a small amount from Amazon.
    Dawkins Brunch on YouTubeIf you missed the brunch with Richard Dawkins when he was here in Charleston (or if you were there and want to relive the experience), you may want to check out the video of the event that we just added to our Video Library.
    City Paper Interview with Richard DawkinsRichard Dawkins, the celebrated evolutionary biologist and author of books including The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, will be in a public conversation with SHL's Herb Silverman Sat. March 9 at 7 p.m. Topics will include challenges of promoting secularism in the United States, why the American public views evolution as controversial, whether religion and science are compatible, and why he feels it's important for atheists to come out of the closet. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Dawkins was gracious enough to do a phone interview from the road. Here's a preview of what you might hear if you come out to the Physicians Memorial Auditorium at the College of Charleston Saturday night . The auditorium has 516 seats, and they'll go on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early.
    NEWS FLASH: Humanist Legal Center Succeeds in Getting Flowertown Festival to Accept SHL Application!The Festival's policy permits all types of community groups, including non-profits and civic organizations, to apply for a booth, so long as the group has 'inclusive membership' and supports 'community building.' Although SHL meets both of these requirements, the YMCA Festival Coordinator originally told the SHL president not to apply, stating, 'We are a Christian organization.' However, a letter from the AHA's legal center got them to reconsider. As they should, since we are an inclusive, community building organization!
    SHL/CQSQ Team is Wins Award as Top Fundraiser for ``Light the Night''!The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry and Camp Quest South Carolina raised $7400 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this year through the society's popular Light The Night Walk fundraising program. On January 22, 2013, the SHL/CQSC was named top corporate fundraising team in the Lowcountry.
    Darwin Week 2013: February 7-13The annual Darwin Week festivities at the College of Charleston include a talk entitled `Why Evolution is True' by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, a showing of Flight of the Dodos, lectures on human prehistory and evolution, and a debate on the question of whether science and faith are compatible.
    Is atheism a religion?Thought provoking discussion on this interesting question in the New York Times (Jan 22, 2013).
    Video: God or Atheism, which way does the evidence point?In November 2012, SHL's Alex Kasman debated Reasonable Faith's Wallace Marshall on this topic. Now, finally, those of you who were not there can watch the debate in our Video Library
    How Atheists Respond to TragedyFantastic article by Susan Jacoby in response to the common misconception that `faith' is the only reasonable response to meaningless tragedies.
    December 14 NYT: Discussion about Celebrating the Holidays AtheisticallyA written debate between two viewpoints: can Christmas and Hanukkah be celebrated without mentioning God (as many secular or even somewhat religious families seem to do these days) or should celebrating those holidays be necessarily theistic?
    December 11 NYT Article: Senator Bob Kerrey is agnostic and there are church/state separation violations at West PointCheck out this mainstream news story presenting the viewpoint of non-religious Americans and of all of those worried about religious freedom.
    After-Debate Thoughts from Alex KasmanDuring his debate at the College of Charleston on November 28th, Alex Kasman promised to post additional arguments that he did not have the time (or presence of mind) to make during the debate itself. Click here to see those additional arguments. The debate, it seems, continues!
    Post-election analysis: what does it all mean for humanists?Now that the election is finally over, the American Humanists Association's Matthew Bulger reviews what the results mean for non-theistic Americans.
    Thanks to the Pet Helpers Volunteers!On October 6, a team of 27 SHL volunteers met early at the private Pet Helpers no-kill animal shelter on James Island and helped with a variety of tasks such as cleaning cages, putting together pet carriers, doing paperwork, and walking dogs. Of course, we also had a chance to play with the animals, to talk to each other and to talk to the wonderful staff at Pet Helpers. All in all, it was a great success! Thanks to all of you who came. If you didn't join us for this volunteer activity, perhaps you should come to the next one. Make sure you're signed up for our volunteering e-mail list and write to with any questions or comments.

    Help free Alexander AanEarlier this year, Indonesian civil servant Alexander Aan posted on Facebook that he doubted the existence of God. He was then attacked and beaten by an angry mob, and arrested for blasphemy. On June 14, Aan was convicted of disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility, sentenced to 30 months in prison, and saddled with a large fine. Now many Indonesians are calling for his death. Click on the headline to this news item to sign a petition at
    HNN Lists the Top 10 Atheist TV CharactersThere have been famous atheist celebrities for a long time, but only recently have non-theists shown up as regular characters on TV. The Humanist Network News counts down some notable examples.
    Purchase SHL T-Shirts onlineWant to show off your SHL pride or just love our punny "non-prophet organization" t-shirt? Now you can purchase your own official SHL shirt(s) right here on our Website.
    What's New With Religion and Politics?An article in the NYT reviews some surprisingly good poll figures from recent surveys on this topic, and some surprisingly horrific remarks from North Carolina pastors about homosexuality!
    New SHL Officers ElectedAmy Monsky is president for 2012-2013!!
    Bishops' Lawsuits Seek To Impose Birth Control Ban Through Health-Care Policy, Says Americans UnitedChurch-State Watchdog Group Blasts Phony Religious Freedom Claims Of Catholic Hierarchy
    IRS Should Investigate Kentucky Church For Opposing Obama Re-Election, Says Americans UnitedChurch-State Watchdog Group Says Baptist Pastor Violated Federal Tax Law By Calling For President's Ouster During Services
    Camp Quest South Carolina 2012 Camp Quest is a residential summer camp based on humanist values. Amid traditional summer camp activities like swimming, boating, sports, and campfires, campers put their science and critical thinking skills to the test to examine the natural world, collaborate on team challenges, and explore their developing worldviews from a secular perspective. To register for Camp Quest South Carolina and for more information, please visit our website at or CQSC's Facebook page.
    Donate to SHL's Light the Night Team Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's annual fundraising walk to pay tribute and bring hope to people battling cancer. SHL and Camp Quest South Carolina have joined up with Foundation Beyond Belief as a team to raise money for their cause. Click here to make a contribution through's Website.
    Two new videos in the SHL Video LibraryAlong with all of the other interesting speeches, debates and presentations already in our video library, you may be interested in the two latest videos. There is a video recording of Mandisa Thomas, president and co-founder of Black Non-Believers, Inc., giving a presentation to our group in March 2012, and clip of SHL board member Jason Gregory reading a quotation from Carl Sagan at a 9/11 memorial event.
    `God Told Me to Run': Analyzing the Divine Calling to Run for President Representative Michelle Bachmann, for instance, said she felt "that calling and that tugging on my heart that this (running for president) is the right thing to do." Surprisingly, God hedged his bets by telling other candidates that they too should run for President. Former candidate Herman Cain said, "I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do" while Texas Governor Rick Perry claimed he didn't want to do it, but he felt the Lord was calling him. God, apparently, seems to have a problem with commitment.
    Candidate Without a PrayerHerb Silverman's autobiography, focusing especially on his run for SC's governorship to challenge the law prohibiting atheists from holding public office, is now available for pre-order at Amazon, although Herb has already been selling autographed copies at SHL meetings.
    Reason Rally in Washington DCThe Reason Rally is an event sponsored by many of the country's largest and most influential secular organizations. It will be free to attend and will take place in Washington, D.C. on March 24th, 2012 from 10:00AM to 4:00PM at the Washington Mall. There will be music, comedy, speakers, and so much more.

    Darwin Week Events at CofCThe College of Charleston's special events during the week of Feb 6-12 may be of interest to SHL members.
    Farewell to Christopher HitchensChristopher Hitchens, an outspoken atheist and political commentator, died on December 15, 2011 at the age of 62 from cancer.
    Watch Herb's Latest Debate OnlineDid you miss The Great Debate at the College of Charleston on September 29th? No worries. You can watch Jack Hoey Jr. and SHL Vice President Herb Silverman in our Video Library.
    Court Rules NC Sectarian Prayers UnconstitutionalSeparation of church and state is no surprise to us; it is both the law and a good idea. However, it is sometimes still a surprise to us when a court is brave enough to say so in an official ruling. If you agree, look here for a pleasant surprise.
    Purchase Tickets for the Lewis Black showComedian Lewis Black will be performing his show In God We Rust in North Charleston on February 10th. although the SHL has nothing to do with the show you can buy tickets through us here.
    Website Repairs Underway - Apologies for any inconvenienceDue to technical difficulties, the SHL website is being moved from one Web hosting company to another during Summer 2011. We hope this can be done transparently so that users do not even notice the difference. However, these things do not always work out as planned, and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this activity may cause.
    SHL Board Member and Son in Washington Post PieceAmy Monsky, an SHL board member, and her son Jake were mentioned in a recent Washington Post article about Camp Quest.
    NEW: SHL Video LibraryThanks to Todd Frech and YouTube, a collection of speeches and debates featuring SHL Vice-President Herb Silverman is now available for you to watch. See Herb in a Tuxedo at Oxford, in a gubernatorial debate on SCETV, giving the speech he wrote in high school but had to wait 50 years to give, presenting a sermon in a (UU) church, and more!
    Action Alert: Contact your Representative to oppose H Con Res 13On March 17, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved House Concurrent Resolution 13, a measure that would unnecessarily reaffirm the divisive phrase In God We Trust as our national motto and encourage its display in all public and government buildings. The resolution will now go the full House of Representatives for a vote. You CAN help to prevent them from treating us like second class citizens. Click on the link above to send a message to your representative urging them not to support the resolution.
    CofC Darwin WeekThe College of Charleston hosts a number of Darwin Week events in February 2011, including a debate between Herb Silverman and Karl Giberson on whether science makes it easier or harder to believe in God.
    New Washington DC Mayor Off to a Bad StartSHL Vice-President Herb Silverman also has a DC connection as the president of the Secular Coalition for America. Read his Washington Post blog entry on that city's new mayor.
    Pope Blames us for Catholic Clergy Pedophelia!Though it has not received much attention in the press, the Pope has tried explaining that the child abuse in the Church was somehow the fault of `secular society'.
    New SHL Info LineCall 843-277-0948 to hear recorded information about upcoming SHL events!
    Action Alert!!! Help prevent Spartanburg from making a mistake...Spartanburg is about to vote on the question of whether their council should select an official chaplain to pray before their meetings by a vote. Praying before governmental meetings is bad enough, but picking the chaplain by a vote is a HORRIBLE idea. Religion should not be determined by majority vote. Help out by following the link and writing to the council members.
    SHL Picnic!Our summer picnic is coming up on June 13th at the Wando Shelter at James Island County Park.
    Charitable Causes Do Not Take a Summer VacationMost SHL activities are presently on "summer hiatus". This includes our regular monthly meetings as well as the "Charity of the Quarter" and "Volunteer Network" activities. But, deserving charities need our help 24/7! Of course, you can always do good deeds on your own without the SHL, but if you'd like to make a donation to a worthy cause through the SHL (which helps us both), follow this link to donate to "The Teacher's Supply Closet".
    MAY POTLUCK PARTY -- MAY 23RD! (Note Special Time)There has been some confusion because our monthly meetings are usually on the third Sunday of the month, but note that this month's Potluck Party will be on Sunday the 23rd! See here for more information.
    New E-mail PolicyIn the hopes that it will allow us to better communicate with our members, the SHL has implemented a new e-mail policy. Our electronic announcements will now go out to topic specific mailing lists. Since you have the ability to subscribe or unsubscribe from any of these lists, this puts the power in your hands. Click here to set your preferences.
    Herb Visits the White House!In his Washington Post blog, Herb Silverman (SHL vice-president and president of the Secular Coalition for America) explains what went on during the recent SCA briefing.
    March 6th Volunteer OpportunityHelp the SHL help the Children's Garden Project.
    Feb 28: Book Group Moves Back to B&N!After trying a few alternative locations, the Book Group returns this month to West Ashley's Barnes and Noble on Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
    Great Day of Volunteering at Pet Helpers!Recently the SHL sent some volunteers to Pet Helpers on James Island where we had a great time doing good deeds.
    TIME TO RENEW!Membership dues for 2010 are due this month. Please follow the instructions here to either pay by mail or online.
    January Book ClubJoin the SHL book club to read David Leavitt's book about mathematician Alan Turing, one of the unsung heroes of the 20th century.
    Help Needed!As you know if you have attended any of our regular meetings, we provide some refreshments that people can enjoy along with discussions during the break. However, we are in need of volunteers to help with purchasing and/or setting up the refreshments. (We need your time, but not your money. The SHL will pay for all of the food.) If you can help, please write to us at
    Potluck Party!Our potluck party on Sunday December 20th is getting some national attention! It was mentioned in the Washington Post and on the website. You can't miss a party like that, can you? See you there!
    Volunteers going to the cats and dogs...On January 30th, the SHL Volunteer Network will be working at Pet Helpers on James Island, sorting donations, walking dogs and having deep intellectual discussions with the cats (or something like that). Come on, you know you want to join us!
    Similarities and Differences between Atheism and Agnosticism - DiscussionA currently active topic on our discussion board, started by a new member, concerns the meanings of the words atheist and agnostic. Apparently, there is some disagreement. Join in the discussion and add YOUR thoughts!
    Book Guy's New BookThe River in Winter is a new novel by Matt Dean, coordinator of the SHL's Book Discussion Group. According to Matt, it "touches upon religious/secular issues". Check it out by clicking here.
    Family SurveyAre you a parent raising children without religion in South Carolina? Please participate in our survey so that we can better serve your needs.
    Parliament of the World's Religions invites Humanists to their Australia ConferenceThe SHL received a specific invitation to help ensure that the humanist worldview is represented at their December 2009 conference in Melbourne. Although the title may at first sound as if it would exclude us, the invitation specifically mentions religions and non-faith traditions.
    New Option for Joining/Renewing SHLThanks to PayPal, it is now possible to renew an old SHL membership or start a new one without writing a check. Using either a PayPal membership or credit card information at their secure Website, you can register your membership completely electronically.
    SHL Summer PotluckJuly 19 at 5:00PM at the home of former SHL President Sam Moskow.
    FFRF Sues Upstate SchoolFreedom From Religion Foundation and two District 7 parents claim that public school credits offered to Spartanburg High School students for religious education at a church are illegal.
    What can you do?Many SHL activities are on `summer break', but many of the items on this list of things to do to support the goals of the SHL still apply.
    New York Times piece mentions SHLA front page story entitled More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops focuses largely on our organization and its members.
    SHL Family Picnic - May 9, Wannamaker ParkThe SHL is throwing its first ever family picnic on Saturday May 9th from 11-3. Join us for a fun afternoon of food, games (freeze tag, frisbee toss, tug of war, etc.) and friendship.
    Herb's Retirement SpeechHerb Silverman, SHL's founding president and current vice-president, is retiring from the College of Charleston at the end of this semester. At his party, he gave a speech that he has literally waited 50 years to give. You can watch it here in QuickTime format. Also, here is a link to the article in The Humanist magazine that he mentions.
    SHL Potluck PartyJoin us on May 17 at 5PM for a potluck dinner party at Roger's house on Folly Beach. See the newsletter for details and directions.
    Volunteer Opportunities for AprilLooking for ways to help out the community and spend time with some fellow freethinkers? Join us at some of these events.
    Family Picnic Planned for May!The SHL is planning its first-ever picnic for non-religious families with kids (and those who support them). Current plan is to have it on May 9th at Wannamaker Park. See /picnic2009.html for details and check back for updates.
    Herb Silverman regular panelist for Washington Post's On-Faith ForumEach week, a panel of experts answer religion related questions in the Washington Post's On Faith forum. Beginning later this month, SHL Vice-President Herb Silverman will be featured as a regular panelist alongside contributors including Deepak Chopra, Richard Dawkins, John Shelby Spong, Chuck Colson, Susan Jacoby and Rick Warren.
    Volunteer Opportunities for MarchLooking for ways to help out the community and spend time with some fellow freethinkers? Join us at some of these events.
    March Meeting: Dr. Walter Limehouse on the Principles of BioethicsOur meeting on March 15th will feature a lecture on bioethics from Dr. Walter Limehouse of MUSC. The meeting will begin at 4PM at Gage Hall (4 Archdale Street). It is free and open to the public and will include refreshments. Please join us.
    Billboard CampaignThe purpose of the campaign is not to offend, but to let people know that it is OK to be openly nonreligious and to introduce people to the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry.
    February Meeting Features Dan BarkerOur next meeting will be held on February 15, 2009. We are proud to present a talk by Dan Barker, co-president of the FFRF. He has written two books documenting his fascinating journey, the latest being "Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists." We will have copies of this book for sale at the meeting and a book-signing will follow his talk.
    Lori Lipman Brown to leave Secular CoalitionBrown, who has worked for the Secular Coalition for America as director and lobbyist will be leaving soon. We wish her well and hope that the organization can find a replacement even half as good as she's been. Thanks Lori!
    IRWT Plates Now Available Without Membership CardUntil recently, the state required an SHL membership card from people before they would give them one of the license plates we sponsor. Recently, that requirement was dropped, making it easier to get. (Note, however, that unlike the `In God We Trust' plates and the `I Believe' plate sponsored by the state, ours is sponsored by our private organization rather than the government and consequently requires the payment of an extra fee (which goes to the state and not to us).
    AU Suit Update: Judge Blocks Christian SC PlateA federal judge has ruled that South Carolina's plan to issue a license plate featuring a cross and the words "I Believe" would be an unconstitutional promotion of one particular religion by the government. (Of course, if it was sponsored by a church or club and cost extra like our IRWT plate, that would be a different story.)
    December Potluck PartyJoin us for a party at the home of Frank and Frances Hay on December 21st. Featuring a book sale to raise funds for the CYDC and preceded by a meeting of the Humanist Book Discussion Group. See the newsletter for more details.
    Another Evolution Lecture at Charleston Music HallBill Bancroft Productions, which brought the paleontologist who discovered a very important fish fossil to Charleston earlier this year is continuing the series with Donalt Prothero discussing his book What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters at the Charleston Music Hall on January 14th.
    Kendyl Gibbons QuotationMany SHL members expressed interest in the quote from UU Minister Kendyl Gibbons with which our November guest, Michael Werner, ended his presentation. For your convenience, it has been posted here online.
    November Meeting: History of HumanismJoin us on November 16th for our monthly meeting featuring guest Michael Werner.
    Adopt-a-Highway PickupOur last trash pickup for 2008 will be on November 15th. Contact Roger Prevost for more info.
    Another Volunteer Opportunity at CYDCWe'll be helping out again at the Carolina Youth Development Center on November 22nd. Write to Nancy Worley if you can join us.
    Charity of the Quarter: CYDCOur Charity of the Quarter for September-October 2008 is the Carolina Youth Development Center. On September 27th, a team of 14 volunteers from the SHL went to this North Charleston home for children healing from abuse, neglect, abandonment and emotional disturbances where we spent 5 hours painting the bedrooms in one of the dormitories. Not only did we solve the problem of the old and worn paint, but prepainting the rooms in the bright colors selected by the residents made it a more personalized and cheerful environment. We are also collecting monetary donations for the CYDC. If you are an SHL member, please bring a check to the next meeting (or send it by mail) so that we can make a big donation in the name of the SHL at the end of October!
    World Famous Paleontologist to Speak at Charleston Music Hall / Oct 18, 2008In the first of a new series of lectures aiming to bring an appreciation of science to the Carolinas, Neil H. Shubin (University of Chicago) will be giving a talk based on his popular book Your Inner Fish.
    Bad News: SHL Adopt-a-Highway Pickup CancelledDue to the threat of tropical storm/hurricane Hanna, our trash pickup for September 6th has been cancelled. The next scheduled SHL pickup is on November 15th.
    WEBSITE MOVED!Our previous location at was the victim of repeated episodes of `hacking'. As a result of this, and the likelihood that the IHS which provided us with that webpage may not be hosting webpages much longer, we have moved to this new location. The site is still somewhat under construction. Please report any problems with the site to me a Also, please update your bookmarks and links and help to spread the word that the SHL has a new home on the internet!
    New SHL Officers ElectedAt the meeting of the board members which took place during the potluck party in May, Jonathan Lamb was elected as the new president of the SHL and former SHL president Herb Silverman was elected as our new vice-president!
    MySpace DISCRIMINATES AGAINST ATHEISTS!At the urging of other users who find atheism offensive, has deleted an atheist group which followed all of the rules and regulations of the site. Click here for more info.
    Darwin Week VIIIA week of interesting talks and lectures from distinguished guests at the College of Charleston.
    Should Hate Speech be Free?A lecture at College of Charleston on a controversial topic that may be of interest to SHL members.
    January Meeting features talk from Bill MooreOur first meeting of 2008 features a discussion of `Extremist Groups'.
    December SHL Potluck Party / 5PM December 16thAs is our tradition, the December meeting of our group will not feature a guest speaker but instead will take the form of a potluck party at the home of a member. This year, the party will be at Sam Moskow's house. Follow this link or see the newsletter for details.
    October SHL Meeting: Ed Buckner on Secular SchoolingThe next meeting of the SHL will be held at 4PM on October 21st in our usual location (Gage Hall). Our guest speaker will talk about Secular Schooling.
    Bible Studies Dorchester Public SchoolsAlthough it is being presented as a "literature" or "history" course, the selected textbook and some quotes from officials have us concerned that the new course at Dorchester Public Schools is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to use public resources to proselytize. When the government is used in this way, it is always un-Constitutional, but it is especially troubling when it is aimed at impressionable children. The freedom of religion of the parents is violated when public schools are used to push the teacher's religious views on the students. At least, that is my opinion! Click on the link to see what others have to say, and feel free to enter the discussion yourself. (By the way, coincidentally, our October speaker will be discussing exactly this topic in in a talk called Secular Schooling!)
    September MeetingOur first meeting for Fall 2007 will be held on September 16th. The meeting will feature a lecture by John Huddleston (College of Charleston), who will be speaking about "misconceptions and abuses of the bible on both sides of the aisle".
    New OfficersThe SHL has new board members and new officers for Fall 2007. Most notably, our new president is Sam Moskow and our new vice-president is Jonathan Lamb.
    PotlucksThe SHL will be having potluck parties in May and July. Click for details.
    Someone Else Concerned about IGWT PlatesThe SHL has introduced "in reason we trust" plates to SC...but the "in God we trust" plates still have the advantage of being free. In Indiana, the ACLU is apparently suing over this discrepancy.
    A Freethinking Congressman Comes Out of the ClosetThanks to the Secular Coalition for America, a US Congressman has for the first time publicly admitted to being an atheist.
    Barry Lynn Visits Charleston!Barry Lynn, from Americans United for Church and State will speak to the SHL on 18 March and also will speak on 19 March at the Circular Church.
    Darwin WeekPlease consider attending Darwin week activities Feb.12-18. Check the website at
    Bright Revolution in Charleston City PaperThere is a terrific Feature Story about us by Will Mordock in the City Paper. You can read it online at There is also a place there for your comments.
    January MeetingThe first monthly SHL meeting of 2007 will be held on January 21 at 4PM in our usual location, Gage Hall next to the UU Church in downtown Charleston. Our guest speaker will be the Reverend Vance Polly, pastor of the Sunrise Presbyterian Church on Sullivan's Island. Rev. Polley will present a talk on his view of the compatibility of faith and reason.
    Potluck Party December 17thSunday 17 December at 5:00PM we'll be meeting for a party at the McCarl's Coosaw Creek house. Click for more info or check your December newsletter.
    Charleston School Board to Open Meetings with PrayerArthur Ravenel Jr., recently elected to the school board with no expertise in education or school management has conclusively demonstrated that he has no place in this body by taking an intial action that will not help teachers or students but rather will waste the school board's time with legal challenges to a first amendment violation.
    Mount Pleasant Votes to Rename Holiday ParadeThe Mount Pleasant Holiday Parade was an inclusive event that invited all of the town's citizens to participate in a celebration. But, things have changed. The town council just voted to rename it the Christmas Parade. Aside from excluding those citizens who do not happen to be Christian, this new approach raises several legal questions. If it is a religious holidy, what business is it of the town government to be making any decisions about it, let alone what to call it? And, although the Christians of Mount Pleasant can certainly have a parade if they want one and handle the costs and appropriate paperwork, we have to wonder whether the town or the public schools which participate in the event are spending tax dollars on it?
    November Speaker: Wendy Kaminer on a Sympathetic Approach to Belief for HumanistsNovember 19th at 4PM, Gage Hall, Downtown Charleston.
    Speaker for October Meeting CancelsUnfortunately, we were informed very late that Roberta Combs of the Christian Coalition will not be attending our meeting as she had promised to do. Instead, members of the SHL will present us with some of the speeches they have given elsewhere recently to popular acclaim.
    Peace Rally in Marion SquareThe SHL will be participating in a Peace Rally in Marion Square Park, 2-4PM on October 7th
    October MeetingJoin us on October 15th at 4PM for a monthly SHL meeting and a visit from Christian Coalition of America President, Roberta Combs.
    September MeetingJoin us on September 17th at 4PM for a monthly SHL meeting and a talk by Ted Rosengarten.
    Beyond MysticismCheck out this new book by SHL member Max Cohen, available from PublishAmerica. From the blurb: "The moral codes that derive from religions have engendered the terrorism that has marked the last two decades. These religions originated in the Neolithic Age when knowledge was believed to spring whole from mystic sources accessible only to a special few. The highest principle of such religions is their own preservation. Any means seem just. Now, because of the great strides in science, politics and economics, the champions of mystic religions perceive their base of power to be under assault. Their answer is terror".
    August Potluck!Following the successful July potluck at the home of Frank and Frances Hay, Bill and Jane Upshur has invited us to their home for a potluck at 5 PM on Sunday, August 13. Follow the link for more details
    SHL Adopt-A-Highway PickupOur Adopt-A- Highway group will have their summer trash pick up this Saturday, July 15. We will meet at 8:50 AM at the parking lot of the First Federal Bank on Harbor View Road on James Island. If you need directions or have any question call Roger at 224-9360. Hope to see you there.
    The May Meeting is a Potluck PartyOur May meeting will take the form of a Potluck Party at the home of Roger Prevost on May 14th at 5PM. See the newsletter for more details.
    Dialogue, Debate and Disagreements at this month's SHL meetingIn what is now a tradition of the SHL, our April meeting will feature an open discussion on controversial topics hosted by ouur own Dave Brown and Roger Prevost.
    April 14-16: Atheist Alliance Conference in Kansas City, MOFeaturing Julia Sweeney and Lori Lipman Brown.
    April 14-16: American Atheist Convention in San Antonio, TXFeaturing Michael Shermer and a debate on the existince of God between Edwin Kagin and Bog Siegel.
    Darwin Bowl CXLVIIThe speaker at our March meeting (3/19/06 at 4PM in Gage Hall) will be Rob Dillon, speaking about evolution, Intelligent Design, and the way in which the present debate resembles a sports match of a baseball team versus a football team.
    Dates to RememberMarch 11: Litter pickup at 8:50AM on Harborview Road. March 12: Americans United meeting 5-6:30 at Fellowship Hall of first Christian Church. March 26: Book Discussion Group 3-5 at West Ashley Barnes and Noble. April 1: Movie Club.
    Psychological Views of Governmental PrayerProfessor Benjamin Stephens gave us a very interesting and throught provoking talk at the February 2006 SHL meeting. It outlined the results of his survey of students and fans at Clemson football games about the legality and morality of institutionalized prayer at these games. Professor Stephens has provided the "slides" from his lecture in the form of a PowerPoint file. Click here to download it.
    What ever happened to the cults?A public lecture at the College of Charleston which may be of interest to some SHL members will look at cults in the 21st century. The talk will be given on Tuesday Feb 7 at 3:30PM at the Jewish Studies Center on the corner of Glebe and Wentworth Streets.
    Movie ClubThis Saturday February 4, 2006 a group of SHL members will go see Brokeback Mountain and talk about it over a meal at a nice restaurant. Want to be part of it? Then write to Jonathan ( for more info about when and where.
    Movie ClubThis Saturday January 7, 2006 a group of SHL members will go see a movie and talk about it over a meal at a nice restaurant. Want to be part of it? Then write to Jonathan ( for more info about when and where.
    The Year In ReviewCheck out the Humanist Network News' summary of the year 2005 from a humanist perspective.
    Interesting EditorialRabbi Stephen Julius Stein wrote an interesting piece in the LA Times praising the separation of church and state and outlining some of the threats it currently faces.
    December NewsThis month, the SHL Meeting will take the form of a Potluck Party at the home of Warren and Pat McCarl on December 18. There will not be a meeting of the bookgroup this month. However, there will be a book SALE. Bring books you wish to sell to the party where they will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the SHL. For more information, see the December issue of the newsletter.
    Note: Special Date for November Meeting!Our November meeting, with special guest physicist Ellery Schempp who will speak about his law suit against prayer in public schools that reached the Supreme Court, will be held on NOVEMBER 13 (the SECOND Sunday rather than the third) to avoid conflicts with the Thanksgiving holiday.
    October Meeting: Alex Kasman talks about Archeology of Ancient IsraelDuring the past hundred years, archeological discoveries have reshaped our understanding of ancient Israel. From buildings and documents of the Israelites themselves, the monuments left by their contemporary neighbors and the writings of the Canaanites who preceded them, we have developed a picture of the biblical world which is in some ways stunningly different than the preconceptions we have gained from readings of the Bible. In this talk, Alex Kasman (who is not a professional historian or archeologist, just an interested amateur) will describe six controversial theories that have grown out of these discoveries and evaluate the strength of the evidence that support them.
    Trash Pickup Day!Don't forget to help out with our highway cleanup of Harbor View Road on James Island. Meet at the First Federal Bank (near Piggly Wiggly) at 8:50AM on September 17.
    Topic for September Meeting: Organ DonationWe're back [Homework assignment: write a three page essay on how you spent your summer vacation. Extra credit if it's written in Swahili.] and our first guest is TV News Anchor Vanessa Hill, who is an organ transplantation liason for MUSC.
    Silverman Receives Prize at Ohio MeetingSHL President Herb Silverman was awarded the second annual Freethought Backbone award
    Upstate ACLU Guest Speaker Darla Kaye WynneAt the May potluck party, Herb announced that the SHL had contributed money to a gift that will be presented to Darla Wynne at a meeting in Greenville on May 17th. (Ms. Wynne is a Wiccan who has challenged the Christian prayers required for participation in activities of the town government in her home of Great Falls, SC. As if to prove once and for all that they do not have the moral superiority they like to claim, the Christians of the town have responded by killing Wynne's pets, vandalizing her property and breaking her teeth with bricks.) SHL members expressed interest in the May 17th event and the possibility of contributing more towards the gift and I promised to post information here. Unfortunately, it appears that it may be too late. Click on the link to see information about the event (Time: 6:30 p.m. Place: UU Church on 1135 State Park Road in Greenville) including a note saying that reservations must be made by May 12th. Perhaps if you contact the organizers (call Ethel Piper at (864) 895-6715 or email an exception can be made. Or perhaps you can just get information on how you can help contribute more to the gift.
    Sharon Fratepietro Elected to IHS BoardThe SHL's Sharon Fratepietro has been elected to a five year term as member-at-large of the Institute for Humanist Studies. Click for more info.
    Herb Debates at the Oxford UnionHerb Silverman will be one of two members of a team arguing that "American religion undermines American values". (We do not yet know the makeup of the team arguing the contrary.) The debate will be held on May 26th at Oxford University in England, and we are anxious to see the results as determined by a vote of the students in attendance.
    Spring Potluck Party!The SHL's May meeting will be at Roger Prevost's house on Folly Beach and will take the form of a party instead of our usual lecture/discussion format. Be there on May 15th at 4PM, and don't forget to bring a dish or beverage to share.
    To keep up on the latest news...Look at our "news forum" for the latest regional, national, and international news of particular interest to members of the SHL. (Thanks to Mickie Mcclain and Nick Wright for maintaining it!)
    Highway Pickup / May 14thUnfortunately, we were notified of this event too late for it to get mentioned in the newsletter, but there is an SHL Adopt-a-Highway Pickup this month. Meet at 9am in the parking lot of First Federal Bank on Ft Johnson Road, James Island.
    DAN BARKER VISITS CHARLESTONThis April we are extremely pleased to have as our speaker Dan Barker, one of the most prominent freethinkers in America today. As the Public Relations Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation based in Madison Wisconsin, he has appeared on dozens of talk shows, radio programs and public forums as a passionate advocate for freethought, reason and humanism. Barker will be speaking on his book Losing Faith in Faith, which tells the story of his transformation from evangelical preacher to atheist activist.
    Herb has Op-Ed Piece in the P and CSHL President Herb Silverman was invited to write an opinion piece on government funds for `faith based' groups as part of a series in the Post and Courier.
    SHL Wins Award for Chapter of the YearThe SHL has been awarded the Chapter of the Year award for 2005 by the American Humanist Association!
    Save The DateDan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation will be the guest speaker at our April meeting (April 17th). Please mark your calendar so you don't miss this special lowcountry visit from a national figure in the atheist community.
    March MeetingJoin us on March 20, 2005 for our regular meeting where our guest lecturer will be Howard Elgison who will be speaking on the subjects of abiogenesis and evolution.
    ???? Atheist to appear on Wife Swap ???Amber Finley, co-host with husband Reginald Finley of the popular atheist radio/webcast show Infidel Guy will appear on the ABC-TV show Wife Swap on March 16 at 10PM. On the show, she will trade families with the wife of Christian minister. Note: We have recently learned that ABC has "chickened out" and is now afraid to show this episode!
    February MeetingJoin us on February 20, 2005 for our regular meeting where our guest lecturer will be Larry Jones, president of the Institute for Humanist Studies, who will be speaking on Humanism in the Developing World
    Herb Gives UU SermonSHL president Herb Silverman gave a fantastic sermon entitled Positive Atheism at the Unitarian Church's service on 6 February, 2005. Click here for the text of the sermon.
    Ten Commandments in SC Government Buildings?On Thursday, Feb. 3, there will be a House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee hearing on a bill allowing the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings. Public comment will be allowed only at this hearing. See to find the meeting location and schedule (always subject to change, so phone the Legislature before going, and also to find the full text of the bill
    Open DiscussionJoin us on January 16, 2005 for an open forum where we will discuss controversial and interesting topics selected by SHL members Roger Prevost and Dave Brown.
    Humanist Tsunami AidThe Institute for Humanist Studies has an affiliation with a reliable relief service in India. Click here to donate to tsunami relief in the region. (Or, if not, please consider donating to one of the many other organizations out there working to help.)
    Sticker Shock!You may have heard that the state of Georgia has mandated stickers warning that evolution is "just a theory" be placed on textbooks. Click here for a thought provoking (and entertaining) list of stickers from Colin Purrington, an evolutionary biologist at Swarthmore.
    Change of Plans! Dr. John Henderson to speak at November MeetingSince Roger and Dave will be unable to attend the next meeting, the planned "open discussion" has been postponed until the Spring. Intead, our November 21st meeting at Gage Hall will feature author John Henderson.
    Vatican Astronomer to speak at C of CBrother Guy Consolmagno SJ will give a lecture called "Astronomy, God and the Search for Elegance", November 18 at 7PM in Physicians Auditorium. The lecture's abstract claims that it will "dispel the myth" that there is a conflict between science and religion.
    Herb Silverman and Darla Wynne to appear in forumThe SHL president and a Wiccan priestess from Great Falls, SC will each speak on incidents of bigotry they have experienced due to their religious beliefs The forum will take place at the College of Charleston in room 100 Maybank Hall at 4:30 on November 1, 2004
    SC License TagsThe In Reason We Trust tags are now available from the DMV. Click for more info on how you can get one.
    Ellen Johnson to Speak at October MeetingAmerican Atheists President speaks at SHLs monthly meeting about the legacy of Madalyn Murray O'Hair
    Herb and Bill on the RadioSHL president Herb Silverman and member Bill Dusenberry will appear on the Rocky D show, 3PM on Wednesday October 13. This call-in show is broadcast on WTMA, radio 1250 AM. Questions of callers are likely to focus on our new In Reason We Trust license plates. SHL members are encouraged to listen...and to call in!
    Nice Editorial on CNN about PledgeA well written editorial about the House of Representatives and their attempt to prevent courts from hearing cases regarding the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance.
    Help Write to FCCHerb Silverman explains why you should write a letter to the FCC to help ensure that TV Evangelists are not given benefits intended for educational programming.
    Special Guest for our 10th AnniversaryBill Moore, who was the guest speaker at the very first SHL meeting in September 1994 will again be speaking to us in September 2004. His topic is the role of the religious right in American politics today. Please join us at the meeting on September 19, 4PM at Gage Hall.
    Lancaster City Councilman Vows to Break LawJohn Howard refuses to abide by a recent court ruling that supports the separation of church and state.
    Wiccan who sued to end illegal prayers threatenedSince challenging the Christian prayers used to start town meetings in Great Falls, SC, Darla Wynne has been the victim of vandalism, and now her pet parrot has been beheaded.
    State Enters FrayAfter a ruling declaring that prayers at town meetings in Great Falls, SC cannot be made specifically to Jesus, state Attorney General McMaster enters an amicus brief arguing that the ruling is unreasonable.
    New SHL E-mail AddressesAlong with this nifty new Webpage from the IHS, we've got new e-mail addresses such as and Can you think of any others we should have? Let me know!

    Webmaster: Alex Kasman 2016