The Cowtown Humanist
The Official E-Mail Publication of the Humanists of Fort Worth; E-mail:
A chapter of the American Humanist Association,
and allied with the Council for Secular Humanism
April 2003 Volume 5, No. 1
E-mailed March 28, 2003

Fort Worth Humanists Elect Russell Elleven as Chair;
"Clique" Controlled the Annual Membership Meeting;
Dues Structure Changed for Slight Increase/Decrease;
Meeting Night Changed, Might be Changed Again;
Present National Association Affiliations to Continue
VC, Sec'y. and Treas. Incumbents Reelected; Adopt-a-Street to Continue;
Haney Lauds FW Public Library; Studies of Evolution Contemplated

        The March membership meeting of the Humanists of Fort Worth was a sham. Most members were totally without a voice in the present or future operation of the organization.
        From the opening gavel, 'til the ultimate adjournment, the meeting was completely controlled by the people who comprise a "clique" within the organization.
        My American Heritage Dictionary defines "Clique" as: "An exclusive group of friends or associates." But that doesn't even begin to describe the group of people who bent the association to their will on Wednesday, March 12, 2003. They're also intelligent, opinionated, industrious, humanistic, and dedicated to the future of the organization. The fact that they are so "exclusive" is neither their desire nor their fault.
        The "sham" is that only nine people braved the beautiful springlike weather to add their voice and their vote to decisions that would mold the future course of this Humanist organization. And most of these nine people are part of the dozen-or-so who attend almost all meetings, and participate in most of the projects of their association.
        There are 59 names on our E-mail list, and nine additional people on our mail-only list; we announced the issues well in advance; we made it so that prospective members (non-members) could vote with our 25 members (plus spouses); we prayed for perfect weather and our prayers were answered (well, forget the last sentence) -- and still only nine people showed up. That's lousy arithmetic: 59 + 9 = 9.
        No, I'm not chastising anyone who didn't come to the meeting. Most -- and probably all -- had important other engagements or priorities. But "thank heavens" (or at least, be glad) there is a "clique" to do the things that you would like to take care of but didn't.
        The folks who attended were: Joel Bailey, Reed Bilz, Jim Cheatam, Mike Haney, Wallace Harrison, Pam Hughes, Sandra Langley, and Dolores and Don Ruhs.

        The discussion on possible affiliation touched on each of the organizations described in the March newsletter. Most of the meeting attendees (but not all) felt more akin to the Secular Humanists, but there was ample bonding to the American Humanists. (No support was apparent for the Ethical Union.) But, of course, only nine people were in the discussion group.
        The prevailing opinion was that the Humanists of Fort Worth is a diverse group which currently encompasses a huge part of the free-thought spectrum. Our members range from almost rabid Atheists to Spiritual and Religious Humanists (some of whom believe in some form of supernatural forces), and the vast territory between them.
        After considerable weighing of issues, the group decided to: "maintain the current affiliations as they are." This means continuing as a "Chartered Chapter" of the American Humanist Association, and an "Ally" of the Council of Secular Humanists. The members, however, did leave open the possibility of forming committees, sub-associations, or cells to align interested groups of members with specific national organizations.

        The Adopt-a-Street program was approved by a large majority of the participants. Our adopted thoroughfare remains both sides of Old Granbury Rd., from the intersection of University Drive, westward to Trail Lake Drive. Outgoing Chair, Mike Haney, agreed to head up a committee of volunteers to get this particular task done quarterly. It was agreed, again by a majority of voters, to eliminate the practice whereby the association provides breakfast for the volunteers. (This does not preclude Dutch-treat get-togethers, or prohibit volunteering hosts from providing vittles on "trash day.")
        Since the meeting, Mr. Haney executed a new one-year agreement with Geena Brown of the Transportation and Public Works Dept. of the Traffic Services Division of the City of Fort Worth (pshew) on behalf of "The Cowtown Humanists."

        No new suggestions were spurred by this agenda item.
        Two members said that they and many other Humanists were already engaged in a plethora of civic and humanitarian activities, and didn't believe that this was what Humanism was about. Their opinion was that Humanism was about meetings, and discussions, and free-thought, and that there were ample other organizations to provide "do-gooder" projects. Another member asked if these projects weren't a good way to get the Humanist organizations associated with positive deeds in the minds of the public? Another questioned why, if we are not engaged in Humanitarian projects, an Atheistic person should belong to a Humanist organization rather than an Atheistic organization? The answers given were that (1) since we are not all Atheists, a Humanist member could associate with a broader range of non-believers, and (2) Atheist organizations are usually militantly anti-religion.
        There was little further discussion, and no motions, before abandoning this subject.

        The following motion was entered: "(1) that the annual dues be established at $24 for an individual, and $12 per each additional immediate-family member (spouse and any child up to age 18 living at home); and (2) that each member who chooses to receive his or her newsletter and other official notices via E-mail instead of postal mail, receive a discount of $6 per year off their annual dues."
        This was amended through discussion (and subsequently via E-mail) to read as follows: "annual dues be established at $24 for an individual, and $36 for a household (including all family members living at the single address); and (2) that each member (or household) who chooses to receive the newsletter and other official notices via E-mail instead of postal mail, receive a discount of $6 per year off their annual dues." This was approved by a majority of the voting attendees.

        Individual members who require mailed newsletters and notices will see a slight dues increase -- from the previous $20 to the current $24 for individuals. For couples, who also previously paid the same fee of $20, there will be a larger increase to $36 -- but this will include all family members who desire membership.
        Individual members who opt to receive E-mail notices and newsletters will actually pay less dues, only $18 annually. Couples or families who receive E-mail rather than postal mail, will pay $30 per year.

        It was moved that (1) people who show an interest in Humanism, or the association, be placed on a rotating list to receive designated copies of the HoFW newsletter, and that they be regularly invited to join and attend meetings; (2) each name on our mailing list be categorized, and after a certain number of mailings those who are eligible to join but don't, receive only periodic issues of the newsletter; and (3) that those outside the area who wish to receive informational copies via mail pay an annual maintenance and mailing fee of $12 per year."
        Some felt that non-members should not receive any issues of the newsletter, while others argued that the newsletter should be used to spur organizational growth by informing prospective members of our whereabouts and activities. An alternate motion was submitted that: "The newsletter only go to members and those showing an interest in the group." This was approved, while also directing that the details of distribution would be left to the Executive Committee to decide.

        The only person nominated for Chairman was Past President Russell Elleven, who was not present, but was elected "by acclamation" (if there can be acclamation by nine people).
        The incumbent Vice Chair, Wallace Harrison, reluctantly accepted reelection and newsletter responsibilities.
        The incumbent Secretary, Reed Bilz, and Treasurer, Dolores Ruhs, were the only candidates for their positions, and were also unanimously reelected.

        Chairman-Elect, Russell Elleven (a professor at the University of North Texas) was not in attendance because his schedule and travel requirements precludes his availability on Wednesdays. He did say that he would be available on the second Thursday,and asked that we change the meetings to that day. However, it was discovered that our meeting site, the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, hosts yoga classes on Thursdays. So the group decided to change the meeting day to the second Tuesday in the hope that Mr. Elleven could attend. (We all thought it would be a good thing to have our chairman attend most meetings.)
        Subsequently, however, we learned that Mr. Elleven is also not available on the 2nd Tuesday, but is available on the 3rd Tuesday (except for July). His best availability that is compatible with Westside UU's availability would be on Sunday afternoon at 3 PM.
        So, a decision will have to be made by the attending membership at the next meeting (the usual 2nd Wednesday of April) to: (1) change our monthly meeting dates to the 3rd Tuesday, or (2) move it to Sunday afternoons to accommodate Professor Elleven; or (3) retain our current meeting day (ugh).

        Vice Chair Wallace Harrison noted his own interest in further studying Darwin and the theory of Evolution. He said that he had purchased a series of VCR lectures on the subject from The Learning Company, and was interested in getting together with others who might have a similar interest.
        The course, "The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy," chronicles the history of organic evolution in 12 one-hour lectures. The first four lectures notes how mainstream western scientists conceived of origins prior to 1858, and details the life and work of Charles Darwin. The middle lectures reveal the period from 1875 to 1925 when biologists struggled to come to terms with the theory of evolution, and determine how the process operated. The final lectures carry the debate over evolution to the present, including increased resistance from conservative Christians.
        The course is open to any of our Humanists, but also to any others who are interested in learning more about this fascinating topic. (However, if you are not a member of HoFW, you are likely to encounter some proselytizing and arm-twisting.) Because it would be advantageous to complete the gathering of information prior to next year's Darwin Day exercises (Feb. 12), the instruction will progress at the rate of two hours per session, per month. The times being considered are: (1) the second Wednesday of each month, from 7 to 9:15 PM; (2) the second Saturday of the month from 10 AM-12:15 PM; or (3) the second Sunday from 3-5:15 PM. (Either allows for a 15-minute break between lectures.) The meetings would run from May through October (or possibly November, if the actual group wishes to take off during June or July). (The presentation of other such videos could follow in subsequent months if there is continued interest.)
        The ultimately selected date will be determined by majority vote of interested persons. If you wish to be a part, respond promptly -- by April 9 -- to the vice chairman. (Do NOT "reply" to THIS E-mail, but reply to the vice chair at the address, phone, or E-mail information included in the officer-listing below). Provide your name, address, phone number, and E-mail address, and LIST ONLY those three date/times that are listed that you CANNOT be in attendance.
        The meeting place will be determined by the number of participants. If just a few people are interested, we can gather at the home of the vice chair, or at some other member's house. If the number is (hopefully) substantial, we will arrange other suitable venues, including possibly at Westside UU.

        Outgoing chairman, Michael Haney, noted that the Fort Worth Central Library was originally chartered as both a library and art museum in 1892. It was built on donated land with money contributed by Andrew Carnegie. The building was opened in 1901. Eventually, the art function became autonomous as the Modern Art Museum.
        The Fort Worth Public Library Foundation was chartered in 1993 to bring together public and private funding in support of the public library. When structural flaws endangered the Central Library as the City Council instituted years of budget cuts, the Foundation Board worked with elected officials and city staff to restore the public library to a place of prominence in the community.
        The "Raise Your Voice for the Library Capital Campaign" brought $5,000,000 in private funding to the Expansion and Enhancement Project. The funding also provided for a 6,600 square foot gallery suitable for exhibitions, receptions and small performances in the former plaza area, and a 900 square-foot office for The Fort Worth Public Library Foundation within the Central Library. The Foundation helped secure funding for a Long Range Services Plan, identified $200,000 in private funding, then worked to get the city to provide the remaining $175,000 to fund the plan through city and library funds. The Plan will be completed in June 2003.
        (Editor's note: The preceding is heavily condensed from Mike's article in the previous "Cowtown Humanist," as well as from his informational delivery at the March meeting.)

        The next meeting of the Humanists of Fort Worth will be on our regular day, Wednesday, April 9, at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, 6901 McCart Ave., in Fort Worth.
        The speaker will be Dan Carson who will present "A Skeptical View of the Rapture." The talk will focus on how the people who are pushing the "Left-Behind" interpretation of scripture are perpetuating an idea that is not only misguided, but also not developed until about the 17th century.
        Additionally, we will have a brief membership meeting preceding the talk to resolve the issue of meeting days -- and possibly discuss the Evolution studies. If anyone has a topic he or she wishes added to the agenda, please contact the chairman, or vice chair as soon as possible.
        Since Chairman Elleven will not attend, the vice chair will preside. He is an ogre who does not allow butting-in to presentations or cross-talking. So be prepared to raise your hand to get permission to address the chair or the body, and to direct all questions and comments in an orderly fashion through the chair.

        The newly elected Chairman of the Humanists of Fort Worth is Russell K. Elleven.
        Mr. Elleven was born on Robert E. Lee's birthday on January 19, 1965 in Fort Worth, Texas.
        When he was 13 years old, he was diagnosed with astio sarcoma (bone cancer) in his left arm. The arm eventually had to be amputated, and young Russ had to endure two years of chemotherapy. Nevertheless, he graduated from Joshua High School in1983. He went on to attend Texas Christian University, graduating in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History/Religion. He continued his studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School (Master of Theological Studies - World Religions, 1991) and the University of North Texas (1996 - Doctor of Education - Education/Counseling; and 1998 - Post Doctoral Master of Science - Applied Technology, Training & Development).
        His employment credentials begin at the University of North Texas Department of Housing and Residence Life as a Residence Life Coordinator, from 1991 to 1998. For the next four years (1998-2002), he was engaged by Texas Christian University's Office of Residential Services as an Associate Director. From 2002 to the present, he serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Technology and Cognition at the University of North Texas, College of Education.
        Mr. Elleven is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and a National Board-Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (NBCCH). He was also certified in 1999 as a Humanist Minister by the Humanist Society of Friends, and performed 52 weddings in 2002.
        In 1992, Mr. Elleven married the former Gayle Sivess, and they have two "children," Cassie and Cornelius, both of whom are Beagles (dawgs). Russell enjoys travel (especially Hawaii), SCUBA diving, and honing his speaking skills at Toastmasters.
        Mr. Elleven says that although our local Humanist association he helped found in 1999 has done well to exist over these past few years, he feels we can and should do more as an organization.
        As excerpted from last month's newsletter, Mr. Elleven expresses his vision for the Humanists of Fort Worth:
        "It's good to meet once a month to listen to knowledgeable speakers on topics of interest to us. However, I have heard what I think is substantial interest in participating more socially as a group. I'd like to help develop a monthly social outing of some sort. Also, I think our group must do something in the way of social justice or action. Such involvement can do something beneficial for the community, while providing a rallying point for us, and confronting the public's erroneous negative perception of non-believers."

Bulletin Board

        Mark your calendar: The Humanists of Fort Worth will hold it's monthly meeting at 7 PM, Wednesday, April 9 at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church. It's in the northeast corner (in the rear and to the left) of a small shopping center at 6901 McCart Ave., Suite 125, in south Fort Worth. It's the first left turn (east) off McCart, just south of where W. Cleburn Rd. and Southpark meet (the first traffic light south of Alta Mesa).
        The current agenda includes: (1) Change or confirm monthly meeting day; (2) Determine interest in Evolution study group; (3) Determine interest in, and choose a site, for next month's pre-meeting dinner/get-together; and (4) Hear a presentation on "A Skeptical View of the Rapture" by Dan Carson.
        There will be a pre-meeting, Dutch-treat  dinner/get-together at Luby's Cafeteria, 5901 S. Hulen Dr. at 5:30 PM. Luby's is on the east side of Hulen, just north of Granbury Rd.

        The American Atheists will hold its 29th annual National Convention at Indian Lakes Resort, near Chicago IL, April 18-20, 2003. The organization is planning speakers, workshops, awards banquets, tourism and more.
        The line-up of speakers includes the following:
        * Kimberly Blaker, Editor of "The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America"
        Dr. Robert T. Pennock, Philosopher and author of "Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism."
        * Eddie Tabash, Constitutional Attorney, candidate for public office and a key voice speaking out to encourage Atheists and other nonbelievers to enter the electoral arena.
        * Jonathan Levy, Attorney suing the Vatican Bank for restitution of World War II looted funds
        * Gottfried Nimietz, Attorney and former member of the Freiburg (Germany) City Council speaking on "blasphemy" and human rights.
        * Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, Chair of the Godless Americans Task Force
        * Normal Bob Smith, Irreverent and humorous host of
        * Helen Radkey, Researcher and author speaking on post-mortem Mormon Baptism abuse
        * Frank Zindler, Linguist and Historian unveiling his new book on the alleged historicity of Jesus
        * Conrad Goeringer, Editor of AANEWS, speaking on "Muhammad Is From Mars, Jesus Is From Venus -- Secularism, Pluralism and Taming Organized Religion."
        For more info, contact AA: 908-276-7300

        The American Humanist Association will conduct its 62nd annual conference, "Making Humanism Count: Unity in Action," May 9-11, 2003, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington VA (just south of Washington DC).
        The American Humanist Association unites diverse groups and creates synergy among those who share the Humanist values of reason, democracy, and social justice. This year’s conference will be held in conjunction with the General Assembly Meeting of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which the AHA is hosting. Among the line-up of awardees and speakers, are Rabbi Sherwin Wine, Kate Michelman, and Ralph Nader.
        Special Events include:
        Release of Humanist Manifesto III,
Humanism and its Aspirations, the successor to Humanist Manifestos I and II.
        American Humanist Seminar on “Making Humanist Ethics Work,” led by Dr. Arthur Dobrin, Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. Two of Dobrin’s books include: Ethics for Everyone: How to Increase Your Moral Intelligence; and Teaching Right from Wrong: 40 Things You Can Do to Raise a Moral Child.
        Opening Plenary Panel,  consisting of moderator Levi Fragell of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Stefen Jonasson of HUUmanists, Rabbi Sherwin Wine of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, Jone Johnson Lewis of the American Ethical Union, and Mel Lipman of the AHA.
        AHA/IHEU Joint Symposium, “Humanism: Engaging the World—Confronting Injustice.”
        Humanist Lobby Day in DC, which offers activists an opportunity to visit national legislators and policy makers to further Humanist priorities.
        For more info, contact AHA at: 800-837-3792;;

        The annual conference of the Council for Secular Humanism, "One Nation Without God?; Secularism, Society, and Justice," will be held in Washington, D.C. April 11-13, 2003
        Internationally known speakers will include: Christopher Hitchens, Ibn Warraq, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Paul Kurtz, Eugenie Scott, Massimo Pigliucci, Barry Lynn, Nat Hentyoff, and Peter Beinart. Other speakers and activists will address topics like these:
·Who Fans the Flames of Hatred? -- Religious-Political Extremism in America
·Why I Would Never Vote for an Atheist! -- Discrimination Against Nonbelievers
·Will Islam Come into the 21st Century? -- Secularization of Islamic Societies
·Dogma 101 -- New Threats to Secular Education
·Spreading the Gospel with Your Buck -- Faith-Based Initiatives
·Love the Sinner? -- Secularism, Gay Rights, and Religious Extremism
·Can't Get No Respect - Media Roundtable -- Getting Access to the Media for the Nonreligious.
        For more info, contact CSH at: 716-636-7571;;

        The Objectivist Center will hold its 14th annual summer seminar at Bentley College in Waltham MA (10 miles west of Boston), June 28-July 5, 2003. The program will feature lectures, courses, and workshops covering a wide range of topics including philosophy, politics, culture, arts, and applications of Objectivism. For more info, contact TOC at: 845-471-6100;;

        The Freedom From Religion Foundation will conduct their 26th annual FFRF convention, October 10-12, 2003 at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill, in Washington DC. For more info, contact FFRF: 608-256-5800; freethoughttoday@ffrf.or;

        (Do you know of any local, regional, or national events that are pertinent to freethought, and of interest to our members and friends? If so, please notify the editor at 817-923-4698, or

        Chairman and Webmaster:
Russell Elleven, 6120 Comfort Dr.,
Fort Worth TX 76132; 817-370-2171;
        Vice Chair and Newsletter Editor: Wallace Harrison, 4163
Sarita Dr., Fort Worth 76109; 817-923-4698;
        Secretary: Reed Bilz, 6316 Walburn Ct., Fort Worth 76133;
        Treasurer: Dolores Ruhs, 1036 Hilltop Pass, Benbrook 76126-3848;
        Immed. Past Chair: Mike Haney, 924 Roaring Springs Rd.,
Fort Worth 76114; Ph. 817-737-7047;
        Past Chairman and Programs Director: Jeff Rodriguez,
4901 Bryce Ave., #5, Fort Worth TX 76102; 817-732-4235;