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If government of the people is to be by and for the people, then we, the people, need to reclaim it before it slips away. Marginalized groups and women already are denied equitable influence in social polity. Voter suppression targets people of color, women are underrepresented, and money in politics threatens democracy by giving corporate interests such as the NRA disproportionate power. As Ethical Humanists, we commit ourselves to democratic process in our lives, our local societies, and our global community. Join us at the AEU’s 104th Assembly to consider the issues and the strategies to reclaim democracy—for all. And join us on social media with #ethicalassembly.
In an effort to nurture greater diversity at our annual AEU Assemblies, we established a Voices at the Table Fund. These funds are intended to help those for whom the financial cost of traveling to, and registering for, the Assembly are prohibitive, particularly younger members, people of color, and other marginalized groups. Click here to donate and designate your gift to the Voices at the Table Fund. Or make a check out to the American Ethical Union and write “Voices at the Table Fund” in the memo.Donate to Voices at the Table Fund
To make your hotel reservations please call 800-465-4329 and make sure to mention our group rate code: (AEU). Discount ends May 24.
Enjoy Early Bird Registration until May 17, 2019
Bobette Spence, Meeting and Planning Travel Consultant, is available to help you book your transportation. Remember to book flights early to get best possible rates.
Office: (516) 773-3700 or (800) 437-9685 Ext. 301
Mobile: (347) 495-8742
Come take a break, hold a meeting, exchange ideas, or relax with friends.
9:15am-9:55am: Welcome & State of the Union
10:00am-11:30am: AEU Business Meeting
10:00am-11:30am: Morning Workshop
Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t: A Critical Conversation with Generation Z about Truth, Realness, and Reason
Elijah Whitson, Kynneath Moss, Adrien Gojko, and Shay Eaton
Learn from Generation Z (born 1994-2012) freethinkers about the future of freethinking and non-theism. Other generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials) were the springboards for the reconstitution of “justice for all” and provided cultural shifts in politics and human ingenuity. So, what does the call look like for Religious Humanism with Generation Z? Felix Adler, the founder of Ethical Culture was a visionary in his 20s when he established the Ethical Culture Movement. In this session, we look to Generation Z to provide a new contextual language and concepts for reimagining the frontier of emerging humanism. To include them in the Ethical Culture Movement, we’ll need to change. To not include them, we risk dying out. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
11:45am-1:00pm: Anna Garlin Spencer Volunteer Awards Luncheon
1:15pm-2:45pm Workshop Session I
How is democracy practiced in Ethical Societies?
From Eight Commitments of Ethical Culture: #7. Democratic process is essential to our task. The democratic process is essential to a humane social order because it respects the worth of persons and elicits and allows a greater expression of human capacities. Democratic process also implies a commitment to shared responsibility and authority.
This workshop will review democratic theory and how democracy is practiced in Ethical Societies and the AEU. The challenge of opening democracy to increased diversity and inclusion will be discussed. Participants will develop models for an ideal Ethical Society.
DARE TO UNDERSTAND: How to Listen to Others Whose Opinions Differ from Yours
We can learn how to listen to understand instead of convert, convince or cajole the other. Today’s polarized world needs more listening for understanding, to broaden our minds and hearts so we can bridge the gaps that divide. Most important lesson is that every person wants to feel “safe and seen.”
Has the Wall of Separation of Church and State Collapsed?
The Danbury Baptists sent a letter to then-President Thomas Jefferson expressing their concern over “religious liberty” in America. Jefferson famously responded: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The judicial understanding of Jefferson’s “wall” metaphor has changed over the past 40 years. Is it still good law? Was it ever good law? The workshop will review what I believe to be a fundamental foundation of this country: an understanding of the separation of church and state that prohibits the government from promoting or prohibiting religion. The separation of church and state pre-dates the Constitution by at least 100 years. We’ll look at the early American development of separationism and discuss the progression (or regression) of the law on church/state separation.
3:00pm-4:30pm Workshop Session II
Take a Stand: Using Ethical Action to Promote Ethical Culture
By taking stands on social and environmental justice issues on which our congregations agree and for which they care, we can increase our visibility in our communities. Being more visible, we can attract more potential members, become recognized as thought leaders on important issues, and help educate our communities on matters of common concern.
The Humanist Case for a Caring Ethic: Using the Sanctuary Model as a Window into Conflict Resolution and Empathy
Using some works by writers and philosophers on the place of an ethic that is based on recognizing and abiding suffering we will look at a trauma informed model that non profits use as way to create healing spaces and communities for those that serve and are served by individuals who have experienced violence or mental health issues. What can these approaches teach about humanism and also crafting our own societies/congregations?
Engaging Your Group—and You—in Electoral Politics
Ron Millar, Sarah Levin, David Williamson, Rep. Jennifer Webb
This will be an interactive presentation and discussion on what individuals and non-profit organizations can do to be fully engaged in the electoral process. Florida State Representative Jennifer Webb and leaders from the Secular Coalition for America, Center for Freethought Equality, and Central Florida Freethought Community will share their experiences and insights in this area, and discuss with the participants how they can create a plan of action to be full participants in our political process.
8:00pm-10:00pm Movie and Music
Come take a break, hold a meeting, exchange ideas, or relax with friends.
8:00am-9:00am: President’s Council Meeting
9:15am-11:30am: Keynote Program (bios in Speaker tab)
A Progressive Legislative Agenda for Florida with Carlos Guillermo Smith, House District 49 in Florida House of Representatives
Defending the Right to Vote: Florida and Beyond with Howard Simon, former Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida
11:45am-1:00pm: National Ethical Service Luncheon & Felix Adler Lifetime Achievement Award
Edward L. Ericson led the Washington Ethical Society from 1959–1971 and the New York Society for Ethical Culture from 1971–1984. In 1981 he started the Center for Moral Democracy, which shortly became Americans for Religious Liberty. Ed is the author of several books including American Freedom and the Radical Right (1982) and The Humanist Way (1988). Felix Adler Lifetime Achievement Award officially recognizes our members who have stimulated the growth of the Ethical Culture Movement during their many years of active participation.
1:15pm-2:45pm Ethical Culture Play: “Outing with Family” by Kimberly Eaton
The time is the present, the place is anywhere. A family is thrown into turmoil by the unexpected, and frankly troubling declaration made by one of their own. This one-act play explores the immediate fears and emotions of a traditional family whose foundations have just been shaken to the core. We will get a glimpse of how, or IF, their long-held beliefs hold up under a new challenge to love one another inclusively.
“I wrote this One-act play from a position of personal empathy, from the perspective of the main character, Paxton. My hope is that this vignette of everyday life speaks to the ubiquitous experience of holding intimate, defining personal beliefs which flow against the tide of assumed consensus. It is with encouragement and love for anyone who has been, or may find themselves in ANY place at this family’s table that I offer this dramatic creation. In it, I hope that you will find compassion and peace.”
3:00pm-4:30pm Workshop Session
Dealing with Elephants, Jackasses, and Dodo Birds in the Room: Contesting the Tension of Political Ideology for the Sake of Diplomacy
The Ethical Culture Movement prides itself on progressive thinking and welcoming communities. But when extremist political views split our nation, how do we heal together? What do you do when you are off the political grid, an exotic or extinct political concept no longer recognized. How can we cultivate a meeting of the minds and enter into the wisdom and compassion of both sides? This workshop will help us push for collaboration and avoid compromise. We need diplomacy for our nation.
Corporate Rule Vs Democracy
Long before the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, corporations have successfully claimed rights under the US Constitution. Learn and discuss how corporate constitutional rights have blocked democratic process and why we must move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
Effective Advocacy for Reproductive Rights
An interactive workshop to help guide people throughout the country on how to advocate effectively for reproductive rights. Amy will clarify the facts and send attendees home equipped to engage in multiple actions in their home geographic area. Preparing for a “Post-Roe” America will also be discussed, along with recent activities within the Florida State Legislature, Congress, the Courts, and the Democratic Party related to reproductive rights.
6:00pm-7:00pm: Reception to meet AEU Board Members, Board Candidates, and Staff (cash bar)
7:00pm-8:00pm Elliott-Black Award Dinner (cash bar)
8:00pm-9:00pm Elliott-Black Award Ceremony
Representative Smith currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee, Health Quality Subcommittee, Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee and the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
He is a graduate of the City College of New York; he received a Ph.D. in legal and political philosophy from the University of Minnesota. Prior to his work at the ACLU he taught at the University of Minnesota and DePauw University.
During Howard’s tenure, the ACLU played a central role in issues addressing school vouchers, religious practices in the public schools, abortion rights, the Terri Schiavo case and “end of life care issues, and numerous other controversies involving separation of church and state and freedom of speech. The ACLU of Florida has also been in the forefront of efforts to resist many of the anti-civil liberties initiatives of the Legislature and the Administration of former Gov. Rick Scott. Legal action by the ACLU overturned Gov. Scott’s Executive Order mandating drug/urine tests for state employees. ACLU litigation in the federal courts in Florida led to the overturning of the ban on marriage for same sex couples that, in January 2015, preceded the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The organization also successfully sued to end Florida’s ban on adoptions by lesbians and gay men.
The ACLU filed numerous lawsuits challenging efforts by Florida officials to restrict the right to vote—legislation that makes it more difficult to register new voters, to reduce the number of early voting hours and days and restrict early voting on Sunday, and more difficult to have your voted counted by requiring more people to vote by provisional, rather than regular ballot. Howard and the ACLU were also active in securing passage of the Fair Districts Amendments in 2010 to curb partisan Gerrymandering.
Howard has been an advocate for the right to vote for more than 50 years, since his work as a college student in Selma for the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He led the ACLU’s efforts to end Florida’s Civil War-era system of lifetime felon disfranchisement, and secure passage of Amendment 4 that restored the right to vote for those with a felony conviction but who have completed the terms of their sentence.
In her career life, Kimberly received a Master’s degree in Aquatic Ecology from Bucknell University and studied fluvial geomorphology at Colorado State University. She worked with various agencies to identify streams impaired or endangered by human activities, developed remediation plans and wrote grants to restore them to health. The wellness of the environment then led her to pursue her curiosity for a different path in the biological sciences, and she obtained a Master’s degree in Medical Science from Penn College and Nova Southeastern University. Assisting in Pediatric Surgery was the highlight of her foray into healthcare. With her daughter, Shay, now a freshman in Pre-law and Diversity Studies at Susquehanna University, Kimberly is currently deciding between returning to medical practice or pursuing her inclination for narrative writing. She hopes someday to publish an historical fiction trilogy based on her ancestry, beginning with their immigration to the Appalachian region in the early 18th century from Wales and Scotland.
Media members interested in reporting on Assembly can contact Law’nence Miller at email@example.com or call the AEU office at 212-873-6500.
Family Friendly Attractions
Museum of Science and Industry
Lowry Park Zoo
Glazer Children’s Museum
Sports and Concert Venues
Beaches and Recreation
St. Petersburg Treasure Island Beach
Old Hyde Park
AMC Westshore 14 Movie Theater