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
January 2003 Volume 4, No. 10
E-mailed January 1, 2003

        The December get-together was not a business meeting, per se, but was about the business of friendship and sharing -- sharing good food and sparkling conversation.
        Don and Dolores Ruhs did most of the planning, and brought along ample contributions to the food table.  Many folks brought gourmet food and wine offerings which were appropriately devoured. Don even serenaded the group with his melodic voice and twanging guitar (or was it the other way around?).
        The affair was well-attended, and fun. (We're not telling you who participated, because your editor misplaced his list of attendees. Perhaps we'll get it together in time for the next edition.)

        The next meeting of the Humanists of Fort Worth will be held Wednesday evening, January 8, at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church at 6901 McCart Ave., Suite 125 in Fort Worth.
The start time will be 7 PM. Chairman Mike has scheduled a group discussion of "What Humanism Means To Me."
        There are many forms of "humanism," including religious and secular. Some of our members attend various churches (primarily Unitarian Universalist, but also some others I assume). Other members are fully atheistic and some even vehemently anti-religion. And we have some middle-grounders. The folks who attend this meeting will try to civilly share information about the various beliefs, and to respectfully highlight the differences.
        Additionally, Chairman Mike wants us to explore several administrative issues. He wants the group to decide whether to affiliate more closely with either of the two national Humanist organizations. Also, should we publicize our Darwin Day meeting and/or try a different location. (More on Darwin=20 below.)
        Editor's Comments: There are other decisions we need to make as a group, whether at this meeting or in March. These include -- but are not limited to: (1) do we want to continue with the Adopt-a-Street cleanup campaign?; (2) should we participate in or contribute to other community, social, charitable, or "humanistic" endeavors?; (3) should we contribute to the Westside UU Church's rebuilding fund as a charitable contribution, or as a way of reimbursing for our free monthly meeting space and overhead?, and if so, how much (the sum of $25 has been proposed, as has the amount of $350); (4) how much should our dues be, and how should they be structured (how much for secondary/spouse members, and how much if any for partial year memberships, etc.)?; (5) should we change our association name (from Humanists of Fort Worth to maybe Humanists of Tarrant County, or Metroplex Humanists, or maybe to even to Secular Humanists of ... wherever?; etc.

       This is the time of year when many organizations and individuals take a close look at their goals and plans. Why should the Humanists of Fort Worth be any different? Our January meeting will be devoted to a discussion of Humanism and Humanist groups.
       Both the American Humanist Association and the Council for Secular Humanism have made offers of closer ties and increased support. We will review what these groups stand for and make a decision as to whether or not to affiliate more closely with them. Anyone interested in the future of Humanism in this area should not miss this meeting.
       For February, Jeff Rodriguez has found another excellent speaker from TCU.
       In March, we hold elections for new officers. Because of other commitments, I do not intend to hold an office next year, so begin thinking about who you would like to see assume the leadership roles in our association. -- Mike Haney

        (Editor's note: The following is repeated from the December issue because of it's relevancy to the upcoming meeting.)
        Several articles in the fall issue of Free Inquiry, which is published by the Council for Secular Humanism, shed some light on one aspect of this question: the difference between Secular Humanism and Religious Humanism. This in turn relates to the question of what is a =93religion=94.
        In the view of these authors, the use of the word "religious" implies a belief in the supernatural, which of course, they reject. The Council for Secular Humanism draws a clear distinction in this regard between itself and the American Humanist Association.
        I am sure we have Humanists of Fort Worth members in both the religious and the secular camps, which might make for an interesting discussion topic at a future meeting.
        The religious versus secular humanism issue is also particularly relevant at this time because both of the national Humanist organizations have made proposals for a closer association with our local group.
        I believe we should try to reach a decision on whether or not to accept either of these offers by the end of our fiscal year in March. -- Mike Haney

Bulletin Board

        Mark your calendar: The Humanists of Fort Worth will hold it's monthly meeting Wednesday, January 8 at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in south Fort Worth (Just south of the first traffic light south of Alta Mesa). The business meeting will begin at 7 PM. The pre-meeting dinner/get-together will be at Luby's Cafeteria,  5901 S. Hulen Dr. (in southwest Fort Worth).

        Prof. James Chambers of TCU has agreed to speak at the February meeting. His topic will be Darwinism and Creationism.
        Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He was the British naturalist who became famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection.
        From 1831 to 1836 Darwin served as naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a British science expedition around the world.
        Upon his return to London, Darwin conducted thorough research of his notes and specimens. Out of this study grew several related theories: (1) evolution did occur; (2) evolutionary change was gradual, requiring thousands to millions of years; (3) the primary mechanism for evolution was a process called natural selection; and (4) the millions of species alive today arose from a single original life form through a branching process called "specialization."
        Darwin's theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism's ability to adapt to its environment. He set these theories forth in his book called, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" (1859) or "The Origin of Species" for short. After publication of Origin of Species, Darwin continued to write on botany, geology, and zoology until his death in 1882. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
        "I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection." =97 Charles Darwin from "The Origin of Species"
        (Info from: n.html )

        The March meeting will feature our annual election of officers, in addition to other monumental decisions.
        Since Chairman Mike is prevented by other commitments from seeking another term as chairman, and your current vice chair has neither the interest nor the qualifications for moving into the top spot, we must elect these and other folks to lead the organization for the coming year.
        The chairperson is primarily responsible for monthly meeting arrangements, programs, and speakers. However, as Mike demonstrated, these duties can be cheerfully delegated to others. Currently, Jeff Rodriguez chairs the Programs Committee (and he has been aided by Joel Bailey and Don Ruhs, and perhaps others). It's good to utilize the talents of as many members as possible, but especially our past chairs (without overworking anyone, of course).
        The vice-chair, according to the bylaws, stands in for the chair in his or her absence, and is responsible for the monthly newsletter. The latter duty, of course, can also be delegated if the veecee doesn't feel up to the task. However, it is an ideal situation if the vice chair expects to proceed as a candidate for the Chairmanship, and uses the term to prepare for that eventual responsibility.
        The secretary, of course, records the meeting events, publishes official minutes, and issues official correspondence at the request of the chairman or the board.
        And the treasurer gets to abscond with ... er, collect, care for, and provide adequate records of the association's funds.
        Let's be thinking about these positions. If you have a vision for where this organization should be headed, and can develop a plan for getting us there, and can lead others to help enact that plan, then please place your hat in the ring. In my opinion, it would be good to have preannounced candidates who can offer a "platform" for the members to see and study prior to the elections.
        (Please don't just submit the name of someone ELSE you believe ought to fulfill a particular position. Talk to that person first to see if he or she wants the position. If so, then do the nominating.)
        Additionally, there are committees to chair or participate on, and other functions of service to the organization. (Representative to the national organizations, webmaster, roster/mailing list maintenance, etc.) If you have interest and/or expertise in a particular area, and want to see more or better activity in that direction, bring it up at a meeting or mention it to the chairperson. Volunteers -- in ANY area -- are solicited.

Mike Haney, 924 Roaring Springs Rd., Fort Worth 76114; Ph. 817-737-7047;
Vice Chair and Newsletter Editor: Wallace Harrison, 4163 Sarita Dr., Fort Worth 76109;
Secretary: Reed Bilz, 6316 Walburn Ct., Fort Worth 76133; 817-292-7974,
Treasurer: Dolores Ruhs, 1036 Hilltop Pass, Benbrook 76126-3848; 817-249-1829,
Immed. Past Chair: Shane Taylor, 3922 Rawlins, #113, Dallas 75219; 214-526-8258;
Past President and Programs Director: Jeff Rodriguez, 4901 Bryce Ave., #5, Fort Worth TX 76102; 817-732-4235;
Past President and Webmaster: Russell Elleven, 6120 Comfort Dr., Fort Worth TX 76132; 817-370-2171;


        Following is a listing of some national organizations which offer solace to the questioning mind:

        The mission of the American Humanist Association is to be a clear, democratic voice for Humanism in the United States, to increase public awareness and acceptance of Humanism, to establish, protect and promote the position of Humanists in our society, and to develop and advance Humanist thought and action. Humanism is a progressive life stance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.
        American Humanist Association, 1777 T Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009-7125; Phone: (202) 238-9088; Toll free: (800) 837-3792; Fax: (202) 238-9003;; Email:

        Secular Humanism is a way of thinking and living that aims to bring out the best in people so that all people can have the best in life. Secular humanists reject supernatural and authoritarian beliefs. They affirm that we must take responsibility for our own lives and the communities and world in which we live. Secular humanism emphasizes reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation. The Council for Secular Humanism is committed to free inquiry, reason, and science, the separation of Church and State, civil liberties, nontheism and humanist ethics.
        Council for Secular Humanism, P.O. Box 664, Amherst, NY 14226-0664; VOICE: (716) 636-7571; FAX: (716) 636-1733;; E-mail:

        American Atheists is a nationwide movement which defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.
        American Atheists, Inc., P.O. Box 5733, Parsippany, NJ; (908)276-7300;

        The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., is an educational group working for the separation of state and church. Its purposes are to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism. The Foundation is a national membership association of freethinkers: atheists, agnostics and skeptics of any pedigree.
        Freedom =46rom Religion Foundation, Inc., PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701; (608) 256-8900;

        Church-st= ate separation stands as one of the foundations of our Nation. Because of it, Americans enjoy unparalleled religious liberty and nurture one of the most vital religious communities in the world. Separation guarantees the freedom to worship or not to worship as you choose. But today, powerful religious leaders and misguided politicians have joined forces to undercut the First Amendment. Since 1947, Americans United has worked to protect the constitutional principle of church-state separation, a vital cornerstone of religious liberty. Americans of many faiths and political viewpoints, individuals from all walks of life, have come together to defend freedoms.
        Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 518 C Street, NE Washington, D.C. 20002; 202-466-3234; fax 202-466-2587;