Voices United Concert featuring
Holly Near & Catie Curtis
Thursday, May 14, at 8:00 PM
Center for Arts Natick 14 Summer St.
Natick, MA 01760 508-647-0097
$45 ga / $100 Preview, Q&A, Best Seats
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
Holly Near has made a career speaking to anyone in the world who believes in peace, justice, and feminism .Respected around the world for her music and activism, her joy and passion inspire people to join in her celebration of the human spirit. Equally compelling at her shows or through your speakers, her music fully engages listeners in the world around them.
Catie Curtis, who lives in Boston, is a Special Projects Manager for AU. She produces the national Voices United Concert series, all of which benefit AU. She is a veteran of the singer/songwriter folk scene, touring throughout the US for 20 years and releasing 13 CDs.
Voices United Concerts benefits Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), a crucially important non-profit which lobbies, litigates and educates to protect us against religious extremism. Our shows have included such greats as Sarah Silverman, Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, Louis Black, Kate Clinton, John Gorka, Roy Zimmerman, Melissa Ferrick, and countless others.
Since 1947, AU has advocated on issues including: Religion and Public Schools, Creationism in Science Classes, Voucher Subsidies for Religious Schools, Fighting the ‘Faith-Based’ Initiative, Partisan Politics in Churches and more.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Strongly Urges Opposition to Massachusetts House Bill H369
Similar to House Bills H.391, H.2715, and H.317, in previous years!! (See Below)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State supports the right of students to voluntarily profess their religious beliefs, where that expression falls within the confines of constitutionally-protected speech. However, neither the state legislature nor the public school system should be in the business of promoting speech that violates the First Amendment, nor should they seek to promote policies that would coerce school children into particular beliefs. The Massachusetts legislature should not encourage schools to create policies which will lead to unconstitutional state promotion of religion.
Ronal Madnick, the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State spoke in Opposition to House Bill H369 "Promoting Unconstitutional Religious Expression in Public Schools", before the Joint Committee on Education May 5, 2015 in Boston. The letter and testimony can be viewed HERE.
How A High School Student Working with AU National and
AU Massachusetts Changed A Fifty Year Tradition
Just a little before 9:00PM on Tuesday night (2/24/2015) the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee voted to strike the Baccalaureate Service from the student handbook, and replace it with an "Evening of Reflection".
On Wednesday morning the principal and student Douglas J. Ciampi, Jr.I had a sit down interview on the issue, and the next morning (Thursday) the local newspaper, The Gardner News, carried the headline "Oakmont Ending Tradition" on the front page of both their print and online editions.
The change has already been formalized, and the next morning all Senior Class parents were sent an email alerting them of the change.
According to student Douglas J. Ciampi, Jr. It cannot be said enough how much Americans United assisted in this matter. It took the knowledge and information that AU provided to swing this from an issue for the Student Council to an issue for the School Committee, and bring it to a level where it was discussed community wide.
Douglas J. Ciampi, Jr. thanked AU very much for all of our assistance and advice over the past several months, Douglas J. Ciampi, Jr. said that we surely wouldn't be in the same position we are today if it wasn't for AU.
From The Gardner News - 2/26/2015
Oakmont Ending Tradition
By Joseph Benavidez
After 50 years of hosting a senior baccalaureate, Oakmont Regional High School will end the religious tradition. Instead, a more inclusive, student-driven program will take place this spring.
“Some people were resistant to the change,” Oakmont senior Douglas Ciampi said.
“In the end, we were able to come to a reasonable decision and agreement.”
“There will be aspects of the old tradition and we’ll create new traditions,” said Oakmont Principal David Uminski. Mr. Ciampi had suggested that school officials might want to replace the baccalaureate with an evening of reflection, saying the wording in the Oakmont handbook could be interpreted as a First Amendment violation.
According to the school handbook, the baccalaureate is "a non-denominational religious service. ...All seniors, parents and guests are welcome to attend. Semiformal attire is requested." This is a violation of the Establishment Clause in the Constitution, Mr. Uminski stated. The First Amendment, which prevents Congress from making laws enforcing a religious belief, also prohibits government and public organizations - including public schools - from sponsoring religious services. Since a graduation counselor with the high school had the responsibility of coordination the church-held baccalaureate, the event was said to have violated the students' Constitutional rights. "The first time (I read the handbook)," Mr. Ciampi said, "I didn't really think about it, but after remembering some Constitutional information something clicked."
Read the full story at: http://thegardnernews.com/main.asp...
Massachusetts Department of Revenue Given Additional Time to Respond to AU that Massachusetts Communities Must Stop Giving Taxpayer Aid to Houses of Worship
June 30, 2013 - The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has been given additional time to respond to the Massachusetts Chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) that Massachusetts communities must stop giving taxpayer aid to houses of worship and that officials in Massachusetts must stop allowing communities to use taxpayer money to renovate houses of worship. The churches in question have active congregations and regularly hold worship services.
Earlier this year, Americans United received several complaints that Massachusetts municipalities were using funds under the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act to repair churches. This practice, Americans United asserts, violates both the U.S. and Massachusetts constitutions.
Massachusetts officials did not respond to AU’s April letter. On June 27th, 2013 the organization sent a follow-up letter to the officials requesting a response within 14 days or “we will be forced to consider further action. This is a serious and ongoing problem on a large scale, and deserves your prompt attention,” observes the letter.
In the April letter to officials at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, AU Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan and Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser cited several examples of tax money being awarded to houses of worship.
Among them were the First Parish Church of Cohasset, which received $65,000 to restore its windows and three churches in Monson – one Catholic, one Methodist and one Unitarian Universalist – which received grants totaling $317,000 for things such as steeple renovations, interior work and repair of structural damage. Another church has received tax funding. Officials in Acton approved two grants totaling $45,000 to the West Acton Baptist Church.
Americans United points out that a provision of the Massachusetts Constitution clearly states that tax money may not be used for religious purposes.
The provision reads, “No grant, appropriation or use of public money or property or loan of credit shall be made or authorized by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof for the purpose of founding, maintaining or aiding any infirmary, hospital, institution, primary or secondary school, or charitable or religious undertaking which is not publicly owned and under the exclusive control, order and supervision of public officers or public agents authorized by the Commonwealth or federal authority or both…and no such grant, appropriation or use of public money or property or loan of public credit shall be made or authorized for the purpose of founding, maintaining or aiding any church, religious denomination or society.”