The Cowtown Humanist - Part 2
The Official E-Mail Publication of the Humanists of Fort Worth
A chapter of the American Humanist Association,
and allied with the Council for Secular Humanism
March 2003 Volume 4, No. 12
E-mailed March 4, 2003
March Meeting to Feature Officer Elections
and Membership Decisions on National Affiliations and Other Serious
Issues for the Coming Year
meeting of the Humanists of Fort Worth will feature our annual election of
officers, in addition to other monumental decisions.
has other commitments, and won't be seeking another term as chairman. Your
current vice chair has neither the spare time nor the qualifications to move
into the top spot. Therefore, we must elect these and other folks to lead the
organization for the coming year.
is primarily responsible for monthly meeting arrangements, programs, and
speakers. However, these duties can be delegated to others. Currently, Past
Chairman Jeff Rodriguez chairs the Programs Committee, and another past
chairman, Russell Elleven, is our webmaster, as well as our
delegate/representative to other organizations. It's good to utilize the
talents of as many members as possible, especially our past chairs (but
hopefully without overworking anyone).
according to the bylaws, stands in for the chair in his or her absence, and is
responsible for the monthly newsletter. The latter duty can be delegated if the
veecee doesn't feel up to the task.
records the meeting events, publishes official minutes, and issues official
correspondence at the request of the chairman or the board.
The treasurer is
charged with collecting, caring for, and providing adequate records of the
Russell Elleven has opted for office -- Chairman (see more info below). And
David Wallace Croft has volunteered to be the roster and e-mail list-keeper, as
well as e-group moderator. The only difficulties here are that (1) Mr. Elleven
cannot attend Wednesday meetings, so we would have to vote to change meeting
days (likely to Thursdays) to accommodate Russell; and (2) Mr. Croft has
experience configuring egroups.com and yahoogroups.com mailing lists, but lives
in the Dallas area, and is not currently a member of HoFW.
rules do not preclude the possibility of volunteers or additional nominations
at the elections meeting.
positions of Secretary and Treasurer, incumbents Reed Bilz and Dolores Ruhs,
respectively, are candidates for reelection.
Also, there are
committees to chair or participate on, and other functions of service to the
organization. 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 new chairperson. Volunteers -- in ANY area -- are
THE CANDIDATE SPEAKS:
AN INTERVIEW WITH RUSSELL ELLEVEN
Elleven was the only person to accept a specific nomination to be a HoFW
officer. The position Russ seeks is that of chairman. Though he has not
attended meetings recently, he has maintained his membership, and his interest
in the organization. Mr. Elleven is one of the founders of HoFW, and is one of
eight members listed on our 1999 charter from the American Humanist
Association. He also served as the first president, and founded and maintained
the association's website.
asked Mr. Elleven to respond to questions about his proposed tenure as top
elected leader of our organization. The questions, and his responses, follow:
are a previous president of this organization. Why do you seek that position
There are couple of reasons I would like to help the organization in the
position of chairman.
foremost, it has been a little over a year since I began a counseling
internship that has taken me away from the group. Other than posting the
newsletter to our website (http://www.hofw.org) I've had little opportunity to assist the
group. Unless the state counseling board rejects my accumulated hours, my
internship should be complete. I think the position of chair would allow me an
opportunity to assist the group again after a lengthy absence.
think there is more we can do as an organization. I'd like to head up a group
that is growing and willing to try new things. I believe we have been
successful over the last few years in doing the same thing. I think we can (and
should) do even more.
Do you have a vision for where our organization should be headed, and do you
have any kind of plan for getting us there?
a group such as ours, I do not believe the chair has the ability to will
something into being. However, I do believe the chair has the ability to
facilitate discussion, bring up new ideas, keep the membership apprised of
national issues, and speak as the group's representative.
There are two
things I'd like to try. First, I'd like to do more socially as a group. We meet
once a month to listen to speakers, and that has been great. In addition to
that, I think we should attempt a monthly social outing of some sort. I have
heard interest in this expressed in the past. I'd like to devote time to making
Second, I think
our group must do something in the way of social justice or action. Groups like
ours often confront the public's perception that we are morally unfit and
social pariahs because we do not believe in a supernatural being. I think
social action can give our group something to rally around, and do something
for the community.
Do you envision making or suggesting any (other) changes in the operation or
direction of HoFW?
do think the American Ethical Union has a good model for groups like ours. I
think we could do more together, contribute to our community more generously,
begin a program of outreach to other like-minded folk. There will be some who
disagree with the AEU's religious connotation. I can understand that to a
point. At the same time I think we should try something new to see what we can
accomplish. We have stayed pretty consistent in our membership count. We can do
more with more people, and the AEU may provide us some real benefits that
neither the American Humanist Association nor the Council for Secular Humanism
If you know
nothing of the American Ethical Union, please check out their website at http://www.aeu.org/.
If I'm elected,
I hope the group will graciously change it's meeting nights to Thursday so that
I can attend. (As chair that could be important:-) I have gone through my
calendar to mark those second Thursdays of the month. However, I obviously
won't be able to make the March meeting (on Wednesday), and I'll be in
Washington DC on April the 10th for diversity training.
So if I'm
elected, and if the meeting nights are changed to accommodate me, I'll see and
thank everyone at the May meeting.
Haney has submitted the following list of items for discussion and decision at
the March 2003 membership meeting:
(1) Become a
Primary Ally of the Council For Secular Humanism
(2) Become a
Membership Chapter of the American Humanist Association
(3) Renew our
Adopt-A-Street Commitment to the City of Fort Worth
(4) Adopt other
programs of community service (No official proposals have been put forth, but
ventures previously mentioned have been the Heifer Project, Northside
Inter-Church Agency, Habitat for Humanity, AIDS Walk, Library Tutoring, etc.)
(5) Establish or
retain dues structure (Proposal for $20-individual, and $30-member-and-spouse)
(6) Move the
Meeting Night to the Second Thursday of the Month
(7) Elect the
(8) Elect the
(9) Elect the
(10) Elect the
CHAPTER AFFILIATION, OR NOT?
as we declare on our masthead each month, we are "A chapter of the
American Humanist Association, and allied with the Council for Secular
Humanism." Proposals have been made to have the Humanists of Fort Worth
become more closely affiliated with one of those national associations, and
even suggestions to possibly align ourselves with others.
So what are the
differences between these organizations, and what changes are being proposed,
and what are the requirements and benefits of each?
AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION (AHA)
AHA is the
largest democratic organization in the nation that is promoting the Humanist
lifestance. Humanism is a progressive
lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and
responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the
greater good of humanity.
is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by
compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization
of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary
responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the
expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice.
Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and
holds that values — be they religious, ethical, social, or political — have
their source in human experience and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals
of life from human need and interest, rather than from theological or
ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility
for its own destiny.
offers three types of group interaction: Affiliates, Chartered Chapters, and
Affiliate: The requirements of being an Affiliate are: agreement
with the mission of AHA. The benefits are (1) Affiliate's contact
information made known to AHA members, and on the AHA website; (2) receive
bi-monthly field action packets; and (3) access to AHA resources (pamphlets,
magazines, books, and speakers).
Chapter: The requirements are the same as Affiliate, plus:
substantial agreement with AHA goals and missions. The benefits are: the
same as Affiliate, plus: (1) priority access to AHA resources; (2) a seat on
AHA's Chapter Assembly; (3) information (labels) on AHA members in the local
area; and (4) assistance with press releases, speeches, and prospective-member
mailings, if desired.
Membership Chapter: The requirements are the same as a Chartered
Chapter, plus: (1) All members of the chapter must be members of AHA (dues are
$47.50 per year/$57.50 for joint membership), and (2) the chapter cannot share
its membership lists with other organizations. The benefits include all
the preceding, plus: (1) individual subscriptions to Humanist magazine
and Free Mind newsletter; (2) $15 of each member's national dues goes to
the local chapter; (3) all AHA members are offered the opportunity to affiliate
with the local chapter; (4) the AHA will maintain our membership records and
mailing lists, and will respond to inquiries and send out renewal notices on
our behalf; (5) They will provide the chapter with an up-to-date mailing list
on request (to include any non-members that we have identified to them), and
(6) the chapter is free to affiliate with other national organizations.
THE COUNCIL FOR SECULAR HUMANISTS (CSH)
Secular Humanism? Secular Humanism is a term which describes a world view with
the following elements and principles:
conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political
or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted
to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of
inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human
problems and answers to important human questions.
primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the
individual and humankind in general.
constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge
and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better
understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic
achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical
conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and
conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and
tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and
The CSH does
not have "chapters," per se. It has three types of group
affiliations: Cooperating Local Group, Allies, and Primary Allies.
Cooperating Local Group: The requirements are: (1) agree to the
minimum statement of CSH principles; (2) mention the CSH in literature and on
website; and (3) send newsletter copy to CSH library. The benefits are:
(1) occasional listing in Secular Humanist Bulletin; (2) listing by
state on website; and (3) limited assistance with speakers/programs.
The requirements are as preceding, plus: (1) may not share membership
list with other national group; (2) send newsletter also to CSH field director;
and (3) display CSH literature at meetings, and promote CSH to members. The benefits
are as preceding, plus: (1) listing in every Bulletin, and occasionally
in Free Inquiry; (2) two free issues of Free Inquiry, and three
free issues of Secular Humanist Bulletin each issue; (3) frequent
program assistance; and (4) some assistance with PR.
Allies: The requirements are as preceding, plus: (1) share mailing
list at least once per year with CSH; (2) "Secular Humanism" or
"Secular Humanists" must be part of local name; (3) endorse the full
CSH "Affirmation of Humanism"; and (5) must not ally with or share
membership list with any other national group; The benefits are as
preceding, plus: (1) limited number of mailings to Free Inquiry readers
in area at cost; (2) limited $ grants for help with local promotion, and
specific help with PR; and (3) use of CSH's 501 (c)(3) tax exempt umbrella
In spite of
the obvious number of choices, there seems to be but three practical ones for
our diverse group:
(1) Become a
Membership Chapter of AHA, making all local members also members of AHA at plus
or minus fifty bucks dues per year, each. If you are a member of AHA, or want
to be, that would be a savings of the current local dues. It would also provide
funds for the local group, and open up to greater membership opportunities. It
would also provide list-keeping and mailing services. But it might also lose
many members who either don't want to pay the higher dues, or align the
organization with the AHA.
(2) Become a CSH
Ally to get helpful assistance with few strings attached. But a major
"string" would be the inability to share our membership list with any
other national group (although we don't seem to do this anyway).
(3) Make no
changes, and remain a Cooperative Local Group with the CSH, and a Chartered
Chapter of the AHA. We can (and should) promote individual membership in both
organizations (and others), and should solicit from them the names of prospects
in our area.
Chairman candidate, Russell Elleven, made the following comments on the
If we must
choose one group with which to affiliate, I would choose the AHA. Our chapter
was founded originally as an AHA group, and we have had some fairly good
support from them since then. I think the exclusionary stance that CSH takes is
a major drawback. CSH is (in my opinion) too fundamentalist in its thinking.
Still, CSH does some worthwhile things, and many of those are done better than
what the AHA attempts.
As for exposure,
I do not think affiliating with either group will do much for us. My phone
number has been in CSH’s Free Inquiry for a couple of years as our
contact. I’ve received two calls during that two years, and I've only received
about five from our AHA listing. Most prospects come through our website.
I feel there is
another option: the American Ethical Union. There are some AHA affiliates and
AEU affiliates pooling their resources. The Humanist Association of Los Angeles
(http://www.hala.org/) is the
most well-known. I have personally found myself being pulled towards the AEU
idea, and away from the UU idea. I’ve been invited to give a “Platform” to the
Ethical Society of Austin. We’re still working on dates but April or May is
most likely. I’ll be working to, at some point, bring Ethical Culture to the
Metroplex. If anyone is interested in learning more about this third option,
just let know. If no one is interested, I’ll not push the issue at all.
A LOOK AT THE AMERICAN ETHICAL UNION
following few paragraphs are culled from abundant information on the www.aeu.com website:
Culture is a humanistic religious and educational movement inspired by the
ideal that the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane
Our faith is
in the capacity and responsibility of human beings to act in their personal
relationships and in the larger community to help create a better world.
is to the worth and dignity of the individual, and to treating each human being
so as to bring out the best in him or her.
together in ethical societies to assist each other in developing ethical ideas
and ideals ... to celebrate life's joys and support each other through life's
crises ... to work together to improve our world and the world of our children.
philosophy known as Ethical Humanism (also called Ethical Culture) is a moral
faith based on respect for the dignity and worth of human life. It is a
practical, working religion devoted to ethical living, without imposing ritual
obligations or prescribing beliefs about the supernatural. Thus it is purely a
religion "of this world."
accuse Humanists of being "man-centered" and of disregarding the
larger world of nature speak in ignorance of the comprehensive philosophy that
buttresses our moral and religious faith, a school of thought known in academic
circles as Naturalistic Humanism. The restrictive and sometimes divisive label,
"secular humanism," (which suggests that Humanists exclude religious
values and ignore nature) only recently came into vogue as the special bogey of
Humanism's fundamentalist critics. An artificially inflamed religious hysteria
has been fanned by the less scrupulous Fundamentalist evangelists, who
deliberately falsify Humanism's humanitarian ethics and social philosophy to
portray the bogey of "a godless, Satanic religion" of lawless
hedonism and self-indulgence.
member association retains its independence and historic identity, all are
linked in a worldwide community for the promotion of Ethical Humanist
principles and ideals. Some IHEU organizations, like the American Ethical
Union, are structured as religious bodies in the inclusive meaning of religion
described above. Others, reflecting quite different histories and interests,
are purely secular (in the nonreligious application of that term). But all
share the common denominator of loyalty to human values, respect for the
scientific method and intellectual liberty, and commitment to a free democratic
society. All vigorously resist both secular and religious authoritarianism.
however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place
revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a
disservice to the human species ... As nontheists, we begin with humans, not
God; nature, not deity.
MESSAGE FROM THE OUT-GOING CHAIRMAN
My time as the
Chairperson for the Humanists of Fort Worth will end after the next meeting.
Actually, I have been serving out the term of Shane Taylor, who moved away last
summer. I have enjoyed the experience and hope I have contributed in some small
way to keeping our group alive and well. I will, of course, continue to serve
on the Board as the Immediate Past Chair.
I believe the
best thing I accomplished was to persuade Wallace Harrison to take over my job
as Vice-Chair and begin preparing the newsletter. He and I have not always
agreed on what to include, but I think most of you will agree that he has done
an outstanding job as editor. I hope he will continue in that capacity next
thank Jeff Rodriquez, the previous year's Chairperson, for organizing our
programs and finding great speakers. I'm also grateful to Russell Elleven for
maintaining our website, and to Dolores Ruhs and Reed Bilz, for serving so
diligently as our Treasurer and Secretary respectively. Finally, I express
appreciation to those members who supported us by attending the meetings, and
especially to our dedicated activists who participated in our projects, like
the street cleanup, and book promotion.
The Humanists of
Fort Worth will begin its fifth year of existence in April. I hope our little
group of diverse individuals, with your help, will continue to thrive for many
years to come. -- Mike Haney
MARCH SPEAKER: MIKE HANEY
"featured" speaker for the March meeting will be our outgoing
chairman, Mike Haney. One reason Mike can't continue as HoFW chairman is his
considerable volunteer work with the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation. Mike
will tell us more about the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation and the
Library's Long Range Services Plan.
Maintaining a Public Library
By Michael Haney
The Fort Worth
Public Library Foundation was chartered in 1993 to bring together public and
private funding in support of the public library. Community leaders grew
concerned when structural flaws in the existing Central Library facility had
resulted in more than 100 leaks into the main floor of the library, endangering
the collection and the computer center. At this time the library system was not
a priority of the City Council, and severe economic times had necessitated
years of budget cuts. This affected hours, staffing and ultimately materials.
The newly established Foundation Board worked with elected officials and city
staff to reverse this trend and restore the public library to a place of
prominence in the community.
Your Voice for the Library Capital Campaign" was successfully completed in
the late 1990's, bringing $5,000,000 in private funding to the Central Library
Expansion and Enhancement Project. New spaces at Central include the 33,000 square-foot
youth center, expanded media center, grand entrance hall, and 3rd Street circulation area. 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.
public/private partnership continued in the 2001 Centennial year of the
Library. The Foundation served as the catalyst in securing funding for a Long
Range Services Plan for the Fort Worth Public Library. The Foundation
identified $200,000 in private funding, then worked with city staff and elected
officials, who agreed to provide the remaining $175,000 needed to fund the plan
through city and library funds. The Plan will be completed in June 2003.
calendar: The Humanists of Fort Worth will hold it's monthly meeting at 7 PM,
Wednesday, March12 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 off
McCart just south of where W. Cleburn Rd. and Southpark meet (the first
traffic light south of Alta Mesa).
There will be a
pre-meeting 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.
YOUR OFFICERS, AND HOW TO REACH THEM
Mike Haney, 924 Roaring Springs Rd., Fort Worth 76114; Ph. 817-737-7047;
and Newsletter Editor: Wallace Harrison, 4163 Sarita Dr., Fort Worth 76109;
Reed Bilz, 6316 Walburn Ct., Fort Worth 76133; 817-292-7974,
Dolores Ruhs, 1036 Hilltop Pass, Benbrook 76126-3848; 817-249-1829,
Chair: Shane Taylor, 3922 Rawlins, #113, Dallas 75219; 214-526-8258;
President and Programs Director: Jeff Rodriguez, 4901 Bryce Ave., #5, Fort
Worth TX 76102; 817-732-4235; firstname.lastname@example.org
President and Webmaster: Russell Elleven, 6120 Comfort Dr., Fort Worth TX
76132; 817-370-2171; email@example.com