The Cowtown Humanist - Part 2
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
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

        The March meeting of the Humanists of Fort Worth will feature our annual election of officers, in addition to other monumental decisions.
        Chairman Mike 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.
        The chairperson 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).
        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 can be delegated if the veecee doesn't feel up to the task.
        The secretary 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 association's funds.
        Currently, only 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 and mailing lists, but lives in the Dallas area, and is not currently a member of HoFW.
        However, the rules do not preclude the possibility of volunteers or additional nominations at the elections meeting.
        For the 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 solicited.

        Russell 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.
        Your editor asked Mr. Elleven to respond to questions about his proposed tenure as top elected leader of our organization. The questions, and his responses, follow:
        Q1: You are a previous president of this organization. Why do you seek that position again?
        A1: There are couple of reasons I would like to help the organization in the position of chairman.
        First and 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 ( 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.
        Secondly, I 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.
        Q2: Do you have a vision for where our organization should be headed, and do you have any kind of plan for getting us there?
        A2: In 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 something happen.
        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.
        Q3: Do you envision making or suggesting any (other) changes in the operation or direction of HoFW?
        A3: I 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 can provide.
        If you know nothing of the American Ethical Union, please check out their website at
        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.

        Chairman 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 Chairperson
        (8) Elect the Vice-Chairperson
        (9) Elect the Treasurer
        (10) Elect the Secretary

        Currently, 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?

        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.
        Humanism 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.

        The AHA offers three types of group interaction: Affiliates, Chartered Chapters, and Membership Chapters.
        AHA 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).
        AHA Chartered 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.
        AHA 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.

        What is Secular Humanism? Secular Humanism is a term which describes a world view with the following elements and principles:
·       A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
·       Commitment 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.
·       A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
·       A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
·       A 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.
·       A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
·       A 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 our children.

        The CSH does not have "chapters," per se. It has three types of group affiliations: Cooperating Local Group, Allies, and Primary Allies.
        CSH 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.
        CSH Allies: 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.
        CSH Primary 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 status.

        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.

        Current Chairman candidate, Russell Elleven, made the following comments on the situation:
        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 ( 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.   

        The following few paragraphs are culled from abundant information on the website:
        Ethical 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 society.
        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.
        Our commitment 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.
        Members join 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.
        The religious 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."
        Critics who 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.
        Although each 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.
        We believe, 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.

        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 year.
        Additionally, I 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

        The "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.
        The "Raise 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.
        The 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.

Bulletin Board

        Mark your 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.

        Chairman: 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;