Bridget R. Gaudette is the Executive Director of the Humanists of Florida Association and the Marketing & Grants Manager for Foundation Beyond Belief. Bridget was a contributor to the book, BlackNones, a book highlighting black atheist conversion stories and is currently writing a book, Grieving for the Living: Effects of Disownment in Adulthood.
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Makeda Pennycooke, executive pastor of operations at Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, sent an email to church members this week introducing a new policy regarding which people she wanted to welcome newcomers at the front door. White people. “Only white people.” Carmen Thomas, a volunteer at the church for two years, couldn’t believe it: “I was floored. Like it was a jaw dropper. You can put a white face all over the front door. But when you come through those doors, you’re going to see African Americans, you’re gonna see Asians. You’re going to see people of color.” The justification for Pennycooke’s new policy was that “first impressions matter.” Her email explained that she wanted “the best of the best on the front doors.” Apparently the non-white parishioners didn’t make that cut. One has to wonder if skin color was the only criteria for being “the best.” What about attendance levels? Volunteer frequency? Personality traits? Complicating this story even more is the fact that Pennycooke herself is black. [Click headline for more…] Read more
According to “King of Queens” star Leah Remini, the latest celebrity to leave the Church of Scientology, millions of Scientologists have it wrong. Anonymous sources for the New York Post had plenty to say about Remini’s departure. They claimed that she suffered through years of “interrogations” and “thought modification” after she allowed herself to engage in a bit of freethinking and then — gasp! — question the church leadership about their policies and practices. (Questioning the leader, David Miscavige, is simply not allowed.) Remini didn’t stop there; she went a step further and spoke up about the abuses at Sea Org. [Click headline for more…] Read more
On June 2nd, Peter Heck, a social studies teacher at Eastern High School in Greentown, Indiana, gave a controversial commencement speech at the school’s graduation ceremony. Among other things, he made several comments about female students’ future responsibilities regarding work and family: Ladies, I challenge you to a life of rebellion. To recognize that your body is a temple that is deserving of honor, not indiscretion. I challenge you to be women of virtue, finding beauty not in how many unprincipled men you can attract, but rather finding beauty in modesty and self-respect. I challenge you to devote yourself to family, to your children. If you choose to have a career, God’s blessings upon you, but I challenge you to recognize what the world scoffs at… that your greatest role of your life will be that of wife and mother. That the greatest impact you will ever contribute to our world is a loving and devoted investment into the lives of your precious children. To solve the problems plaguing our society, we don’t need more women as CEOs, we need more women as invested mothers. That excerpt comes from his website, which, if you visit, shows you this pop-up: The link leads to a portion of his speech. It’s interesting that he doesn’t offer the speech in its entirety on his own website. One would think that printing the whole speech, with full context, would be beneficial to Heck in refuting the “irresponsible reporting,” but I digress… [Click headline for more…] Read more
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Traci-Lynne Harden grew up in the affluent black community of Cascade Heights in southwest Atlanta. Her parents and family were educators and business owners. As a baby, Traci-Lynne was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church and attended a Catholic school until she was in eighth grade at which point her parents allowed her to attend a magnet high school. [Click headline for more…] Read more
Robert Peoples is the CEO of Affinis Apparel (pronounced uh-FIN-is) — a clothing company promoting human rights and freethinking through urban indie fashion. Undoubtedly, Robert has been an atheist for more than half of his life, an aspect he concealed from family and friends until recent years. His childhood rearing was geared toward a Christian (specifically Baptist) upbringing in central New Jersey. Although Robert’s mother was involved in the church, her perspective was not a fundamentalist position. Like his mother, Robert believed during his adolescent years that Jesus Christ was his Lord and personal savior and did not condemn others for possessing alternative views about “God.” Robert remembers saying as an adolescent: “I know what the preacher says about homosexuality [and other worldviews], but some of my closest friends are lesbian, gay, Muslim, and atheist, and guess what? They are human beings with love just like me.” [Click headline for more…] Read more