Hi Niko! Thanks for leading me to the Nexus. I just moved to Laguna Beach and saw your add in the local paper. I look forward to running into you around town! I'll likely be with my lovely blond bombshell wife Christina Adams. She's a writer and also on the Nexus thanks to you. I know Gene Raun and attend UU.
The Laguna Beach Interfaith Council has no website, however a GOOLE search may yield some local newspaper articles about their activities. If you have the time and stamina, look at the attachments (below) to get a feel for their business and the list of participating representatives. Following is some information about the Council from my experience with them.
I was invited to join them in 2006 and was a participating member until 2008. As can be expected, the meetings always started with a prayer and, needless to say, I was never asked to give the prayer. Discussions were dominated by church plans for prayer breakfasts, prayer luncheons, and/or prayer dinners, and when public school seniors graduated, they discussed graduation prayers them.
I had no church or religion to discuss, so I offered, in several presentations, information about non-church goers, in general to give them some knowledge and hopefully, an appreciation for atheists.
In one presentation I made them aware that in the U.S. adult population, Americans who identify with no religion are the third largest group after Catholics and Baptists, and their size is rapidly growing. Also, that they, as a group, are larger than Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Mormons and Jews all combined (ARIS 2008). This news impressed them.
In another talk I offered statistics on Federal Prison populations in the U.S. that showed that atheists were least represented and theists, mostly Christians, were over represented.
And yet another presentation offered statistics on holy matrimony in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics, the highest divorce rates are in the southern “bible states” while the lowest divorce rates are in the northeastern, secular “blue states.”
Still another presentation was on a report by the PEW Forum on Faith in Public Life about the rampant musical chairs and defections between and out of traditional churches, and youth defections from their childhood faith.
These presentations were offered to be informative, to make them cognizant of their need to address these shortcomings. They politely listened and did nothing.
After a year and a half of prayer and church news, and speaking to deaf ears, Naughty Niko gave up and left the fold.
When Naughty Niko decided to come out as a nonbeliever in his community, he did so in a novel way (that’s why he’s called Naughty). He devised, printed and posted this bogus Wanted Poster in town:
The posters were placed wherever there were community boards, bulletin boards and, since the town still had overhead power and telephone lines, on street poles.
To Naughty Niko’s surprise, many closeted freethinkers later introduced themselves to him. His favorite was a little old lady who secretly pulled him aside at the library to whisper a confession that she too was a nonbeliever. Not to make anyone comfortable, Naughty Niko just thanked everyone but privately wondered why it is that they feel compelled to be closeted. Besides making new friends, Naughty Niko had two other surprises. The senior minister at the local Presbyterian Church invited Naughty Niko to meet with him in his church office. He accepted and they had a nice hour-long chat getting to know each other. The minister learned that NaughtyNiko was a human being, albeit, nonbelieving. The other surprise was that Naughty Niko was also invited to join the local Interfaith Council to represent the local nonbelievers, but that’s too long a story for this post.
The moral here is, nothing ventured, nothing gained.