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Action Alert:
Atheists, Freethinkers, Nonthtiests and All Those Who Believe in Social Justice


June 8, 2003

Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia

Making sure the media does not neglect us!

A call to action by FSGP president, Margaret Downey:

At the FSGP meeting last night (Tuesday, June 3, 2003), I voiced my concern about The Philadelphia Inquirer's blatant exclusion of Atheist concerns with the Boy Scouts of America's bias membership policy. Two articles written by Linda K. Harris only mentioned discrimination against gays. She left off any reference to discrimination against Atheists.

I called Ms. Harris on Monday, June 2, 2003 to speak to her directly about my concerns. She said that she only has a certain amount of space in which to report a story. I told her that the addition of two little words would not take up that much space and would be a more accurate report of the issue. The two little words needed to complete the picture 'and Atheists.'

Ms. Harris said that the story is being defined by the people who make the policy (BSA) and those who are most vocal (the gay community). She said that Atheists are 'under the radar screen.'

I said that the lack of attention by the media and her comments now contribute to the Atheists perception that we are considered the 'lowest of the low,' and that we don't count at all. The media and the BSA are the one's that place us 'under the radar screen.'

I also pointed out to Ms. Harris that Atheists co-sponsored the BSA protest and press conference. There were many Atheist speakers and protestors yet we were not acknowledged in the press at all.

Meeting attendees decided that what was needed was a letter writing campaign, an op ed piece, and further contact with Linda K. Harris. A simple letter to the editor (one or two paragraphs from as many people as possible) highlighting the fact that Atheists are discriminated against too would help create public awareness. We now ask those of you on this FSGP Action Hot Line to take a moment to send a letter to the editor and/or op ed piece using the contact information provided below:

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Letters to the Editor
Box 41705
Philadelphia, PA 19101
E-mail: (215) 854-4483


Ms. Harris can be easily contacted to voice your concern about her lack of attention and concern for the Atheist community. She can be reached at:

Phone: (215) 854-4417
E-mail: Lharris@phillynews.com


FSGP member Peter Hance has already written a letter to Ms. Harris. He did a fine job (see letter below) of representing our concerns, but she must hear from others. Please follow Peter Hance's example and let Ms. Harris that we are no longer willing to remain a 'silent' minority.

Linda,

I was one of the speakers at the press conference at the Philadelphia Ethical Society last Thursday. I saw your report in the paper. Thank you for staying for the entire press conference. By the time I got to say anything, I think you were the only member of the press left.

Anyway, I was hoping that you could mention "atheists" or "non-believers," more in the future. We were a significant portion of
that issue. Many of the news media did cover the complete story and that was nice of them. The Harrisburg paper carried the story on page 1 and mentioned the atheist part of the issue quite explicitly. So did the Allentown Morning Call as well as the AP.

There are a lot more people these days claiming non-belief. We are not saying we are better than anybody else, but we certainly are not worse.

We appreciate and encourage any understanding of that issue.

Some study data that you might find interesting on the religion subject:
Forgive me if you've already seen these...

American Religious ID Survey (ARIS): http://www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/studies_index.htm#aris_1

Harris Poll on beliefs: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=359

USA Today based on ARIS: http://www.usatoday.com/graphics/news/gra/gnoreligion/flash.htm

Thank you,
Pete Hance
Secular Humanists and Atheists of the Lehigh Valley
Eastern PA Regional Director - American Atheists
610-285-2682

FSGP
Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia
Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia
P.O. Box 242
Pocopson PA 19366-0242
Phone: 610.793.2737
Fax: 610-793-2569
fsgp@freethought.org




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