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Mississippi ACLU rejects atheist aid re. lesbian prom (Merged)
Posted: 01 April 2010 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]
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See HERE:

Mississippi A.C.L.U. Rejects $20,000 for Alternate Prom
By STEPHANIE STROM
Published: March 31, 2010
To avoid further controversy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has rejected a $20,000 gift intended to underwrite an alternate prom replacing one canceled by a local school district after a lesbian student demanded that she be allowed to attend with her girlfriend.

<snip>

“Although we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist,’ ” Jennifer Carr, the fund-raiser for the A.C.L.U of Mississippi, wrote in an e-mail message to Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the humanist group.

That’s a shameful reaction from a group devoted to protecting civil liberties.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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This got my attention.

Regarding the A.C.L.U. move, Ms. Carr wrote to Mr. Speckhardt: “Our staff has been talking a lot about your donation offer and have found ourselves in a bit of a conflict. We have fears that your organization sponsoring the prom could stir up even more controversy.”

I would think stirring up controversy would be a good thing in this case. Maybe, just maybe, it would get a few people to think and examine their prejudices.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yes, in most organizations I would understand it as a pragmatic approach to cultural reality. But the ACLU thrives on challenging prejudice and irrational hatred and fear of minority groups, so it is a particularly disappointing reminder that non-believers remain the only minority it is still widely acceptable to despise.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What a strange decision for that group. That is almost the same reasoning the school used to cancel the prom which they are having the lawsuit over.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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mckenzievmd - 01 April 2010 08:44 AM

Yes, in most organizations I would understand it as a pragmatic approach to cultural reality. But the ACLU thrives on challenging prejudice and irrational hatred and fear of minority groups, so it is a particularly disappointing reminder that non-believers remain the only minority it is still widely acceptable to despise.

Yes, it’s common for non-profits to reject ear-marked donations for specific projects, requesting instead they be general donations. But for this group, it’s so odd.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Jules - 01 April 2010 09:29 AM

What a strange decision for that group. That is almost the same reasoning the school used to cancel the prom which they are having the lawsuit over.

Yep, I agree. It’s really odd and disappointing. After all, if the ACLU won’t stand up for freedom of expression and conscience, who will? Not many.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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CFI CEO Ron Lindsay has a strong statement on this issue in his most recent blog post “Atheist money is terrifying”.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The group organizing the prom has stated that the ACLU did not have the right to reject the monies, and the ACLU has publicly apologized. The man who donated them $20,000 said that he has donated many times to the ACLU without a problem and did not know why his donation was rejected this time.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 03:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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A few years ago I was the president of a local ACLU chapter.  That caused me to have to deal with their hierarchy.  I quickly saw that for an organization that was devoted to democracy it was completely devoid of that philosophy internally.  I resigned both the presidency and from the organization, and now throw away the constant requests that I renew my membership.

So, I don’t find anything unusual about their behavior here.

Occam

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Posted: 01 April 2010 05:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Response of the Secular Coalition of America.

The Secular Coalition for America is disappointed in the rebuke of one of our member organizations, the American Humanist Association, as it offered its assistance to the Mississippi ACLU in the execution of a “second chance” prom on behalf of a gay student. This is the latest indication of how much work lay ahead for the secular community, and the SCA promises its supporters they will receive more e-mails, action alerts, and press releases on the issues they care about. ...

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Posted: 01 April 2010 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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dougsmith - 01 April 2010 05:24 PM

Response of the Secular Coalition of America.

The Secular Coalition for America is disappointed in the rebuke of one of our member organizations, the American Humanist Association, as it offered its assistance to the Mississippi ACLU in the execution of a “second chance” prom on behalf of a gay student. This is the latest indication of how much work lay ahead for the secular community, and the SCA promises its supporters they will receive more e-mails, action alerts, and press releases on the issues they care about. ...

In the link, it says ACLU blames the rejection on the actions of one staff member who was mistaken to do that, and the ACLU has apologized to the Humanist Association:

Mississippi ACLU, of all organizations, refused the AHA’s help, claiming that Mississippians would be ‘trembling in fear’ at the inclusion of a nontheist group. They have since apologized, explaining it was a mistake on the part of one staff member.

If true, in fairness, there will always be cases of good organizations with one person who screws things up royally.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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asanta - 01 April 2010 02:08 PM

... the ACLU has publicly apologized.

I was waiting to see the apology. It seems well put, and appears to have been a mistake made by a local staff person. Still and all it does illustrate the cultural problems we face.

See the apology HERE. In particular:

On behalf of the ACLU of Mississippi, I would like to offer our sincere apologies for the inappropriate e-mail you received from a member of our staff regarding your generous offer to sponsor and donate to a prom for Constance McMillen.

As I believe you’ve heard from the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, MSSC makes the final decision about which sponsorship related offers to accept. It was an error for our staff member to insinuate to you that our organization had that decision-making power.

Furthermore, please understand that the sentiments expressed in the e-mail you received from our staff member do not reflect the views of our organization in any way. The ACLU of Mississippi is a stalwart defender of freedom of belief and expression for all, and we are appreciative of your commitment to protecting those principles, as well.


Nsombi Lambright
Executive Director, ACLU of Mississippi

I wonder if the $20,000 offer still stands, and if so, whether they will accept it.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I hope they fire - or seriously re-educate - that staff member.

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Posted: 01 April 2010 06:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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If there hadn’t been any blow-back I wouldn’t be surprised if they said it was done by general consensus of the adminisration.  Since they were criticized, they blame it on one (unidentified) staff member. 

Occam

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Posted: 01 April 2010 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Occam - 01 April 2010 06:36 PM

If there hadn’t been any blow-back I wouldn’t be surprised if they said it was done by general consensus of the adminisration.  Since they were criticized, they blame it on one (unidentified) staff member. 

You may be right to be cynical ... but FWIW although they didn’t identify the staff member in their apology, she was named in the NYTimes article I cited in the OP.

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Posted: 02 April 2010 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Humanists Feeling Sting of Rejection by ACLU Chapter, Contribution to Alternate Prom Remains Uncertain

Washington, DC, April 1, 2010

http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2010-04-humanists-feeling-sting-of-rejection-by-aclu-chapter-

Humanists across the nation are still reeling from a surprising refusal of their offered donation of $20,000 to underwrite an alternate prom replacing one canceled by a local school district after a lesbian student asked that she be allowed to attend with her girlfriend. As reported in today’s New York Times, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has rejected the assistance of the AHA due to its nontheistic worldview. Said the ACLU spokesperson, “Although we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist.’ These Southern Baptist types are mainly what makes up the town of Fulton.”

With that letter it seemed that the AHA may have earned the distinction of being the first organization to be too controversial for the ACLU. However, the ACLU seems to recognize the shortcomings of these comments, and has since apologized.

...

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