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Cinched in the Bible Belt! - Journey of an Atheist Mom

“Cinched in the Bible Belt! - Journey of an Atheist Mom” will be presented by Jennifer Lovejoy, an organizer of Western North Carolina Atheists, at the Sunday, July 21st meeting of the Ethical Society of Asheville 2:00-3:30 PM, at the Friends Meeting House, 227 Edgewood Road in North Asheville (off Merrimon Avenue near UNCA). Jenn, will share experiences she and and other atheists receive and how it affected her parenting. There will be a discussion period following the presentation. Following the meeting, there will be time for informal conversation. All are welcome!

Jenn is a wife, mother, activist, and disabled veteran.  Raised by an agnostic father and a  pentecostal Christian mother she entered adulthood seriously questioning the biblical teachings she heard as a child.  Jennifer enlisted in the US Army in 1997.  It was while serving in the Army that she got her first real taste of activism by marching in uniform in support of gay rights. 

When medical issues abruptly ended Jennifer's military career, she and her family moved to Asheville, NC.  Her early retirement brought newfound free time; she immersed herself in separation of church and state issues after being shocked by the amount of biblical references in her children's school work and the pamphlets sent home with her children that promoted local churches and discriminating organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America.    

Jennifer's activism took a back seat after 9/11 when her husband - also a US soldier was deployed to Afghanistan.  The needs of her children and family became her primary focus during her husband’s absence, but the hiatus from activism was short lived when her husband returned a year later with a spine injury.  Jennifer came to realize that, as the war progressed, the idea that to be a "good and proud American" meant supporting the war and the troops with "under god".  Jennifer then took up the fight to recognize atheists within the military. 

Jennifer's life was forever changed in the summer of 2010 when she agreed to become the Asheville spokesperson for the "One Nation Indivisible" billboard campaign in North Carolina.  The international attention catapulted Jennifer into the spotlight and under the microscope.  She had to learn how to juggle motherhood, being a wife, and being recognized as an atheist activist on a much larger scale.

While Jennifer has since stepped down as the WNC Atheist spokesperson, her eldest son, Steven Lovejoy, has recently taken on that role.  She is proud and amazed to see her children bravely following in her footsteps.

Jennifer Lovejoy is now busier than ever and wears many hats.  She is the founder and current president of WNC Humanists, the co-chair of the North Carolina Chapter of the Secular Coalition for American, and the president of the Carolinas Secular Association, a regional organization that supports secularity in North and South Carolina.  Jennifer also sits on many other boards in the region for organizations that focus on secular issues and humanist values. 

In the future we may see her name on a ballot for public office or running a national group.  Jennifer is determined to change the world and wants to serve her community.  Her dream is to have a secular community center in Asheville.  A center that feeds the homeless without having to hear a sermon first.  A center that can provide after school tutoring and activities for children.  A center that hosts potlucks, has game nights and nurtures the community.

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  • Jackie S.

    Though she is certainly right to speak to this issue in our schools I thought she really overplayed her points.

    There are a great number of teachers throughout our school system who are concerned daily, despite the pusch (sic) of the Southern Baptists, their anti-evolutionary stance, and so forth. Cecil Bothwell could not have been elected (hopefully to be repeated) if it were just the UU, Ethical Society, and a variety of humanists [voting for him].

    I go on to say that there is ignorance in general, that Ms Lovejoy should be aware of concerning the diversity of points of view in “theological” circles, beginning with Paul Tillich, the “Death of God” [spokesperson] that made TIME ages ago, and recent “atheist” Theologians such as the New Zealander Lloyd Geering.

    Best wishes,

    July 21, 2013

    • Jackie S.

      I am not sure what the writer meant by saying you "overplayed your points." I suspect he (as a Christian) just wanted some credit for the Christians who agree that these things should not happen in schools, who belong to liberal organizations (like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU) and who do not discriminate against atheists - i.e. those who voted for Cecil and hope he gets re-elected.

      I'm guessing he would be appalled at the events you experienced at the recent sports banquet and has no idea how often this kind of thing happens here in the PUBLIC schools and PUBLIC school sponsored events. My guess is that he has no idea how often this kind of thing happens and what it feels like when he's the minority and on the receiving end of inconsiderate, exclusionary behavior that should not be allowed in public school events.

      July 22, 2013

    • Jackie S.

      I'm, also, guessing that he is willing to be an ally and would like recognition that non-believers have some allies among believers.

      I'll share with him your thoughts and the additional experiences you posted here. Let me know if you wish to know his response to this additional information. I didn't see the coverage about you being the speaker at our platform meeting yesterday, did you? I'll have to look for it.

      July 22, 2013

  • Jackie S.

    Shared via email by a Methodist (L.S., not a member of this Meet-up nor Ethical Society member) who saw the notice in the Asheville Citizen-Times and attended the meeting:

    Dear Jackie, as you may have noticed, Jayne and I responded to the good A C-T notices about the Lovejoy lecture.

    There were many points with which her audience could identify. I remember how much time the MAIF (Mountain Area Interfaith Forum) spent on the Wiccan’s complaints along the same line. As a matter of fact I attended (the MAIF meeting) when the (Buncombe County) Superintendent of Schools and his [assistants] were present to assure a review and rectification on the area of concern. Ms Lovejoy could have profited from the dialogues. She did express appreciation for “American United for the separation of Church and State” which has been in the vanguard on these issues for a generation along with the blessed ACLU, of course (membership any one?)

    (Message from L.S. continued below)

    July 21, 2013

  • Mr. C G.

    Great presentation

    July 21, 2013

    • Jackie S.

      Glad you were there and enjoyed it!

      July 21, 2013

  • Ann C.

    Loved Jennifer's talk!

    July 21, 2013

    • Jackie S.

      We're glad you did and that you came to the meeting today. We hope to see you often! :-)

      July 21, 2013

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