v "The Cowtown Humanist" v

The Newsletter of the Humanists of Ft. Worth

A Member of the American Humanist Association &

Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies


Volume 2, No. 01 webalias.com/humanism March 2000


April 12th



Our April 12th meeting will feature P.A. Humphrey from the FW Weekly. P.A has followed the exploits of Sheriff Williams for quite a while.


She will talk about "The Sheriff’s god-pod and Other Strange Things." This will be especially interesting in light of the Sheriff’s recent defeat in the Republican primary.


Last Month’s Meeting


Last month’s meeting was the first annual business meeting. Elections were held and our group will see some positive changes coming. You hope you will agree these changes are positive.



Russell K. Elleven – Chair

Jeff Rodriguez – Vice Chair

Bruce Berggren – Sec/Treas.

Joel Bailey – Publicity



The new board approved a dues structure of $20 per year. Russell has sent in paperwork to the IRS for recognition as an organization. Upon receiving recognition Bruce will start a bank account for the organization at Norwest Bank which will charge us no fees. We will pay chapter assembly dues of $50 this year making us eligible for grants.



Our meeting in December will be set around the time of the Winter Solstice. This will be an end of the year fun event rather than a speaker. We will also entertain the idea of a "banquet" business meeting next year to elect new officers.





Our meetings will now take place on the second Wednesday of the month. This was done to accommodate folks who would like to attend from the Peace Action group.



Community Service

The Cowtown Humanists are going to Adopt-A-Highway. Look for a report from Jeff Rodriguez at the April Meeting.


Other Possibilities

We may purchase a more recognizable URL for the web page to increase exposure. We may seek non-profit status. We may establish a roster of membership.


As you can see, the officers have some big ideas. We hope you will support our efforts and contribute where/when you can.






This feature to the Cowtown Humanist was written by a member of the Campus Freethought Alliance. While the articles will not always be about the university Humanist movement, they will be written from a college student’s point of view. More information about the organization can be found at the new website: http://www.campusfreethought.org/or by sending e-mail to the editor, Austin Dacey, at Fiaustin@aol.com



By Martha Knox, Ohio State University

As the Internal Vice President of Students For Freethought at OSU, I find myself constantly defining and defending the word "freethought". Such frequent examination of the term at first made me doubt its effectiveness at labeling our eclectic group of atheists, agnostics, skeptics and other sorts of non-believers. However, the conclusion I keep returning to is that this word is more descriptive of our group than anything else shorter than a paragraph.


The historical definition of freethought has meant freedom from dogmatic ways of thinking. Simply put, that which we can all repeatedly verify with our five senses and logic is considered fact, and that which is revealed only through subjective experience or intuition is not necessarily false, but remains a personal belief. True freedom from dogma is not outright rejection of religious ideas, but rather it is not putting absolute trust into anything that cannot be proven.


Are all freethinkers therefore atheists? Certainly not. No more than all atheists are freethinkers. (As much as Dan Barker would hate to admit it.) It is possible to be a dogmatic atheist, subscribing faithfully to the bold statement "There is absolutely no God!" Freethought is a way of thinking, not a set of beliefs.


Imagine you have a friend named Joe who has bad eyesight, and Joe gets laser surgery to cure his sight. Is he still the same person? Most of us would say "Of course!" Then Joe has a heart attack and gets a new heart. Still Joe? What if the heart is made of synthetic materials instead of organic ones? Then a new technology develops and Joe acquires an implant that allows him to compute most mathematic equations instantaneously, like a calculator. Later on he acquires another implant that allows him to read as fast as he can turn a page. Another implant increases the speed at which he thinks, and then enhances memory. Finally Joe's body has grown so old that he will not go on much longer, so his brain, with all his memories is scanned and uploaded to an artificial body. If that body opened its eyes and claimed to be Joe would you believe it? What made Joe, Joe? His memories? His personality type? A culmination of many small things or some one essential part?


Defining personhood is just one of many philosophical questions mankind has sought to answer through religion, art, literature and discussion. But as soon as one question is answered with something mysterious and absolute, no more meaningful questions follow. Satisfied with an answer even more mystical than the original question, we stop thinking about it altogether and stand no chance to discover we were wrong. Very often questions are more valuable than answers.


It is curiosity and skepticism, not righteousness, that characterizes a freethinker. They think without overconfidence, realizing the limitations of an individual's senses. A freethinker exudes careful contemplation over philosophical matters because they realize that beliefs affect actions. They attempt to be as objective as possible, simultaneously remembering that no human is completely free of personal bias. And finally, the true freethinker acknowledges the difference between believing something and knowing it.


If you would like to respond to

Ms. Knox's column, please write to:


Camp Quest 2000




It's Beyond Belief!


One week in the summer of 1996, at a camp in Northern Kentucky, twenty remarkable kids and a few adult volunteers made history.


In 2000 C.E., Camp Quest, the first U.S. residential secular humanist summer camp will open for its fifth year. It is sponsored by the Free

Inquiry Group, Inc. (FIG), of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and endorsed and supported by the Council for Secular Humanism, Inc.

This year's camp will be for boys and girls, ages 8 to 13, Counselors in Training (CITs), ages 14-15, Assistant Counselors, ages 16-17, and

Campus Freethought Alliance members, ages 18-above.


The dates are July 22th--July 30st, 2000.


This year we expect the demand to be great, so register early to avoid missing out. There will be swimming, hiking, campfires, fishing, singing, crafts, magic show, science workshops, games, and other fun camp things, all in a manner consistent with secular humanist principles. We are going to hunt for fossils, see stone age artifacts, camp outdoors, take airplane rides, paddle canoes, ride horses, and try to figure out whether people were created or evolved.


The two invisible unicorns, introduced in our first year's "challenges" to campers, will be at camp (some say), and there will again be a prize--yet unclaimed--for anyone who can prove they aren't there.


The camp takes place again this year at the excellent YMCA Camp Kern, northeast of Cincinnati, near Lebanon, Ohio, King's Island, and Fort Ancient, in wooded hills that hold Indian burial mounds. The children will stay in clean, air conditioned, bathroom equipped cabins, with dedicated adult counselors.


Food is prepared by the licensed staff of the Camp facility.


Sign up early before it's too late.


Cost this year is $495 ($470 for additional siblings) if paid in full by May 21, 2000. $100 non-refundable deposit with application. If fees are

not paid by May 21, the total fee is increased to $545 for one child ($520 for additional siblings).


FIG is a non-profit organization; tax deductible contributions and scholarships will be gratefully accepted. We can get kids to camp from the nearest airports. Our secular staff includes a physician, a nurse, certified lifeguards, and artists, scientists, and educators. The camp director is a lawyer and an Eagle Scout.


The Boy Scouts won't accept nonbelievers. Camp Quest will.


Camp Quest 2000




Camp Quest

P.O. Box 264

Union, KY 4109


Fax: (606) 384-7324

Phone: (606) 384-2324

Email: CampQuest2@aol.com

Website: http://www.edwinkagin.com/campquest/



of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

P. O. Box 8128

Cincinnati, OH 45208

Telephone: (513) 557-3836

Email: gocreate@csi.com




Think about sharing your ideas about humanism with the readers of The Cowtown Humanist. No doubt we all have opinions we’d like to let others know about…do it in your newsletter



Time: 6:30 pm

Dates: 2nd Sunday of each month

Location: Westside UU Church

Leader: Dick Trice (446-3840)


This group follows the Great Books format of advance reading of a selection and discussion at the meeting. Discussion is varied and lively. Participants include Cowtown Humanist members and others from the community. Newcomer’s are welcome to "sit in" before making the commitment to purchase materials.



Humanists of Ft. Worth have two wonderful possibilities. First, we can sponsor a SMART Recovery Group. SMART Recovery benefits non-theists in abstaining from alcohol through a rational basis. It would be wonderful to have one of our members coordinate this program! For more information please contact Russell Elleven (see contact info under "Rites of Passage"). There is a great deal of information and support available for this project.

Our Meetings!


WHO: Humanists of Ft. Worth

WHAT: Monthly Meeting

WHERE: First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church

WHEN: Second Wednesday of Each Month - 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.



How do I get to the meeting?




First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 1959 Sandy Lane between Meadowbrook drive and Brentwood Stair Road. Anyone needing assistance to the meeting should contact Russell.



American Humanist Association


Humanists of Ft. Worth are encouraged to join the American Humanist Association. A special introductory membership rate of $25 is now available. The Humanist magazine and Free Mind newsletter are benefits of membership.



7 Harwood Drive

P.O. Box 1188

Amherst, NY 14226-7188

(800) 743-6646


Russell Elleven is certified as a Humanist minister by the Humanist Society of Friends. He can officiate weddings, commitment ceremonies, naming ceremonies, and other life celebrating events. He is also available during periods of grief and to officiate memorial services.

817.370.2171 – hm

817.257.7870 – wk


The Humor File


A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender says, "What is this, some kind of joke?"


Humanists of Ft. Worth Officers



Russell Elleven


Jeff Rodriguez


Bruce Berggren


Joel Bailey


Be sure and Check-out our upcoming speaker list!!