Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

March 2023 

First Sunday Meeting

March 5   Sunday 10:30-12:30 

IN PERSON at Pellissippi State Community College

This month we will have a "Bring Your Own Topic." There is much going on in the world and we always have interesting topics suggested by our members. 

We meet in the Cafeteria Annex of the Goins Administration Building. Please enter from the rear of the building to avoid going through the regular cafeteria where a church holds their children's program. 

Coffee will be served and you may bring snacks to share if you wish

RET Skeptic Book Club

March 12 Sunday         4:00 – 6:00 pm EST

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 810 5377 3655

Passcode: 476254

Assassination Vacation

by Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrums of American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other—a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue—it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and—the author’s favorite—historical tourism. Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are all kinds of lighter diversions along the way into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult.

Third Sunday Meeting

March 19 Sunday 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Meeting via ZOOM

We will view and discuss two videos from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. One is about the recent change in the National Prayer Breakfast and is an interview of Bishop Joseph Tolton, the Faith Engagement Coordinator for the Council for Global Equality and the president of Interconnected Justice. The Council for Global Equality and Interconnected Justice were key partners in FFRF’s efforts to remove Congressional support for the National Prayer Breakfast. This interview also covers how Christian Dominionism threatens the global LGBTQ community. 

The second video is  FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line and FFRF Co-President Dan Barker taking a critical look at the "He Gets Us" ads that have been popping up everywhere. Most recently, these ads were part of a billion dollar campaign that included two ads during the Super Bowl. 

Bring your own snacks and coffee. 

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 836 1617 6772

Passcode: 351777

RET Reflections Meeting

March 26 Sunday 4:30 - 6:00 pm

Meeting via ZOOM

Why all the backlash against the LGBTQIA+?

We are seeing a lot of laws and rules being written to restrict the liberty of this community after a period of what seemed like greater openness.  Is this just red meat for the conservatives in a run up to an election year or were oversights and strategic mistakes made by the supporters?   Political headwinds or social change fatigue?  Why all the concern about books no one heard of or read before all this hit the fan?  The conservative judicial infrastructure was a great move by the conservatives; what can the progressives do to counter this and prevent a decades long process of social liberty disassembly?

Join us in a discussion about what happened and where we can go.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 872 3083 2181

Passcode: 268841

Opportunities to contribute to Rationalists of East Tennessee

RET's board of directors would like to invite members to serve on any of the following (newly re-established) committees:  Outreach, Scholarship, and/or Merchandising.  Additionally, if you have topics for future meetings, or would like to present at an in-person meeting, we would love to hear from you. Members are also asked to submit suggestions for our Annual Speaker.

Email: bod@rationalists.org.

Victory for Nick Fish,  American Atheists

For decades, we have called for the end of the National Prayer Breakfast.

Just as disturbing, the National Prayer Breakfast has served to harm human and civil rights abroad. The organizers, The Family, have strategically used this event to peddle influence and connect religious extremists from around the world.

This year, we took a strong stand against the National Prayer Breakfast, alongside a broad coalition of secular, religious, Black, LGBTQ+, and civil rights groups. Our community called on members of Congress to skip the event—with more than 2,000 actions by supporters like you. And it appears to have worked! 

This Christian nationalist event is dangerous. Every year, lawmakers from both parties have come together and promoted the myth that the U.S. is a Christian nation. That ideology helps justify the Supreme Court’s and state legislatures’ attacks on our human and civil rights. This week, after 70 years, "The Family" has dropped the National Prayer Breakfast, President Biden isn’t attending, and almost every lawmaker is sitting it out.

There's no question that this is a victory we should celebrate. Without our combined efforts and hard work, "The Family" would have continued using this event to advance its extreme agenda.

Yet the work's not over. While "the Family" has ceded control and most lawmakers now see just how toxic this event truly is, the National Prayer Breakfast will continue.

The “new” organization that’s taking over running the Breakfast is made up of many of the same people who ran the event in the past. Members of Congress and the President are still gathering for their own religious event on Capitol Hill. And while they may pretend that these events are about unifying Americans and that everyone is welcome, it’s simply not true. 

These performative, government-endorsed religious events send the unmistakable message that atheists and other nonreligious people are second-class citizens and that religion—rather than reason—has the power in government. 

Christian nationalists must not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power in the  federal government—or in the states. That’s why it’s so important for us to expose the extremists behind these supposedly “interfaith” events and shine a light on the anti-equality, anti-secular, and anti-democracy laws they support.

It’s also vital for us to offer an alternative. Our new state advocacy teams are working across the country in states like Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado to ensure that atheist voices are being heard by state lawmakers.

The opportunity to defeat radical Christian nationalism is there. But unless we take advantage of this opening, extremists will continue to hold—and even gain—ground.


Copyright © 2020 {Rationalists of East Tennessee, Inc.}. All rights reserved. Please request use of any material at contact below.
Contact email: info@rationalists.org
Edited by Sharron King: newsletter@rationalists.org.
Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET

© Rationalists of East Tennessee
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software