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2008-09 in Review

The innovative Reed Secular Alliance website

The innovative Reed Secular Alliance website

For the Reed Secular Alliance, this has been the most active year since 2005-06.  And there have been many accomplishments.  Firstly, we moved our blog from Blogspot to WordPress, which was a great move.  With the new software, we can now see how many people visit the site, have our own customized pages, and carry out a blog-type website on our homepage.  And it is wonderful to have much more control of the widgets, design, and layout of the new site.

The RSA is #23 on 03/21 for WordPress.com's Fastest Growing Blogs

The RSA is #23 on 03/21 for WordPress.com's Fastest Growing Blogs

Moreover, the Reed Secular Alliance now has our four major lectures from the last four years – Daniel Dennett, Chris Mooney, Austin Dacey, and Lori Lipman Brown – on the site, through Vimeo full-length video hosting.  This has allowed access to our lectures far beyond the walls of Reed College in Portland.  For example, after publicizing the Chris Mooney “Republican War on Science” lecture video on Reddit, the RSA website was named one of WordPress’s top fifty “Blogs of the Day”, under the category of “Fastest Growing WordPress.com Blogs”.  Likewise, a link to our club’s Daniel Dennett lecture is now on the philosopher’s Tufts University homepage.

Leslie Zukor counter-protests the Westboro Baptist Church

Leslie Zukor counter-protests the Westboro Baptist Church

Additionally, the RSA participated in the Secular Coalition for America’s Values Voter campaign, by tabling during the fall election cycle.  Furthermore, club President, Leslie Zukor, counter-protested against the Westboro Baptist Church when the Phelps clan came to Portland.  Through Reddit promotion, Zukor’s piece, “Reflections on the Westboro Baptist Church’s Protests in Portland”, spearheaded the RSA site to a ranking under WordPress.com’s top 50 “Blogs of the Day” for the “Fastest Growing WordPress.com Blogs” for two consecutive days.   After her experience with Westboro, Leslie Zukor also wrote her final paper in the Anthropology of American Christianity on the WBC, which was shared through the RSA website.

Michele Ulriksen speaks about The Perils of the Faith-Based Initiative

Michele Ulriksen speaks about The Perils of the Faith-Based Initiative

During second semester, the Reed Secular Alliance brought a couple of speakers to Reed College, including Lori Lipman Brown.  Brown, the Founding Director Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, gave a great talk on secular lobbying to an audience of 45 people and had a nice pre-event dinner with 10 people in a Reed classroom.  A month later, the RSA brought Michele Ulriksen to speak on “The Perils of the Faith-Based Initiative”, where she talked about her experience as the survivor of a religious boot camp in Ramona, California.

The RSA ranks at #45 for 4/17 Top Posts at WordPress.com

The RSA ranks at #45 for 4/17 Top Posts at WordPress.com

In addition to hosting lectures, Leslie Zukor of the Reed Secular Alliance also blogged about a Humanistic Jewish Seder she attended, the Atheist Comedian Sam Singleton’s comedy show that she volunteered at, and Bill Nye the Science Guy’s lecture at Reed College.  For the final event, her writeup, complete with up-close and personal pictures, led to the RSA’s blog being named as one of WordPress.com’s “Blogs of the Day” for “Top Posts” on the site.

RSA members with Lori Lipman Brown, Michele Ulriksen, and friends

RSA members with Lori Lipman Brown, Michele Ulriksen, and friends

This has been a fantastic year, and we at the Reed Secular Alliance hope that next year is equally as good.

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Leslie's favorite picture that she took of the Seder

Leslie's favorite picture that she took of the Seder

Pictures that Reed Secular Alliance President, Leslie Zukor, took at Kol Shalom’s Passover Seder were featured in the congregation’s May newsletter.  Kol Shalom, Portland’s Community for Humanistic Judaism, hosted a Passover Seder without the God element. 

About half the pictures in the Passover spread were taken by Zukor, and the other half were taken by the congregation’s official photographer.  “It was neat to get so many pictures in the newsletter,” Zukor said.  “Especially since it wasn’t an official assignment.”

Zukor, who will be a Anthropology Senior next fall, is an avid photographer.  She features a “Squirrel of the Week” every Wednesday, in the Quest, Reed’s student newspaper, and her work is forthcoming in Reed Magazine, the quarterly alumni magazine of Reed College.

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Last week’s Lori Lipman Brown lecture is now online.  Brown, the former Lobbyist and the Founding Director Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, discusses secular lobbying in D.C.  She also reveals how many non-theists are legislators in our nation’s Capitol.  We hope that you’ll enjoy the talk; Lori is a great speaker, and we are glad to have hosted her at Reed College.

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In April of 2008, the Reed Secular Alliance hosted Austin Dacey, author of The Secular Conscience.  60 people were in attendance, and it was a great night for a freethinking lecture.   Dacey’s speech is now online, for readers’ viewing pleasure.  We hope you’ll enjoy the video.

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Back in September of 2006, the Reed Secular Alliance hosted a book talk by bestselling author Chris Mooney.  Mooney spoke on his work, The Republican War on Science, which is about the GOP’s attempts to suppress scientific research, when it supports corporate or socially conservative interests.  Now, for the first time, readers can enjoy the lecture from the comfort of their living rooms.  We hope you’ll enjoy the lecture.

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The Reed Secular Alliance is pleased to announce that we acquired DVDs of 75% of our old lectures.  First of all, we had to show our most important and well-attended lecture, Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell:  Religion as a Natural Phenomenon book tour appearance. 

In the coming days, the RSA will make available a number of old talks in video format, including Chris Mooney, Austin Dacey, and Lori Lipman Brown.  For your listening pleasure, we will also have an audio file of David Detmer’s Challenging Postmodernism lecture.   Thanks for checking these files out.

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The Christian documentary film, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, is being shown at Reed this Thursday, January 29th.  The fun begins at 7 pm in Vollum Lecture Hall.  Oh, For Christ’s Sake – Reed’s Christian club – and the Reed Secular Alliance are cosponsoring the event, which is complete with a Q & A session with the film’s director, Dan Merchant.  Come to Vollum and see Reed’s “Agnostic Scholars” team dominate the Culture Wars game-show; RSA founder Leslie Zukor is one of the contestants.  Hope to see you there.

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