Past Meetup

SBS-Interfaith Conversation Cafe Meetup X: "Is Democracy Real?"

This Meetup is past

11 people went

St. Paul Council of Churches

1671 Summit Avenue · Saint Paul, MN

How to find us

SPACC HQ is on corner of Summit and Pierce, North side of Summit, just west of Snelling). Parking is available on the street and the small parking lot behind SPACC.

Location image of event venue


Secular Bible Study has caught the attention of the St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) -- and we're talking!


Secular Bible Study-Interfaith Conversation Cafe Meetup X:

"Is Democracy Real?"

Time & Place: Monday, Nov 18, 6:45-8:45 PM, St. Paul Area Council of Churches HQ, 1671 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105

St. Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) is again inviting the atheists, UUers, and theists of Secular Bible Study to have a joint meetup with their "interfaith dialogue" group -- SPIN's "Interfaith Conversation Cafe" (ICC), which is co-hosted by none other than our own long-time SBS member, Steve Miller.

In our last meetup, we voted to discuss the topic, "Arab Spring, or Arab Fall?" So what will be the topic that we nominate and vote to discuss this month? Attend and choose! But we'll be suggesting participants consider a dialogue around the theme of "Is Democracy Real? For Whom and When...?"

In the words of our co-hosts:

"SPIN's Interfaith Conversation Cafe rejoins the Secular Bible Study Meetup in November to hear the perspectives of our theist and secular attendees on a topic relevant to Minneapolis' upcoming adoption of Ranked Choice Voting (and to the GOP's recent shift toward "Voter ID" and "Voter Registration" laws that will increase hurdles to voting by women and by the poor, elderly, students and minorities): "Even if we can vote for our 'Top 3' candidates by ranked choice voting, is our American democracy 'real' -- or is democracy an illusion?"

We'll discuss questions like these: In the era of Halliburton, is there a "military-industrial complex" controlling America, as Eisenhower warned? In the era of PACs, campaign money, and billionaire sponsors, is there a real difference between the Republican and Democratic parties? And what's the implication of the Fall of Privacy vs. the Rise of Libertarianism and the Tea Party? What is the power of "The One-Percent?" How is legislative gerrymandering changing our democracy? What is the appropriate role of religion in governance? Is the first amendment protection against establishment of a state religion real, or an illusion? And, finally, what is the true power of "We the People?" Do we voters have a real say in steering America's "Ship of State," or are we stranded in steerage on the Titanic?"

These issues and others will be open for discussion at the monthly meeting of Interfaith Conversation Cafe on the Third Monday of the month, November 18, from 7-8:45 PM. The location is the St. Paul Area Council of Churches, 1671 Summit Avenue (corner of Summit & Pierce) in St. Paul. Treats are provided in a dialogue guided by the principles of acceptance, discovery, curiosity, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality, at the next joint monthly meeting of Interfaith Conversation Cafe & Secular Bible Study, on Monday, Nov 18, 7:00-8:45 PM, at the St. Paul Area Council of Churches (1571 Summit Avenue, at the Corner of Summit & Pierce, in St. Paul). Treats and beverages will be provided.

All participants will be encouraged to ask their own questions and bring their own perspectives. As always the greatest resource of Interfaith Conversation Cafe and Secular Bible Study are the experiences and insights of those who come.

Don't miss this Joint ICC-SBS Meetup on the theme of "Is Democracy Real?" -- RSVP "YES" today, and make your thoughts known -- to all!



Q: What is the joint ICC-SBS Meetup all about?

A: According to their website ( (, ICC is "an interfaith dialogue focused on questions of faith as they affect our world. Open, facilitated conversations address topics of faith and society - by listening and questioning with curiosity, discovery and sincerity."

Q: Why should SBS jointly meetup with ICC?

A: One of our original purposes according to our co-founders Chester Barber & Grant Steves, and our co-sponsors, the Methodist church, Minnesota Atheists, and The Circle of Reason, is to encourage local "interfaith groups" to become more inclusive in inviting atheists and secular humanists into their dialogue -- so this is our chance!

Q: How does this joint Meetup work?

A: This joint ICC-SBS Meetup will be a little different than SBS's usual style: Rather than have a lecture followed by discussion, we'll follow ICC's "Socrates Cafe"-style of choosing a popular topic for discussion that same evening. Also, in the first round we pass a "talking object" and timer, and sit in a circle, to facilitate dialogue (and minimize yelling!), with SBS-like, back-and-forth dialogue held for the second go-round. But with folks like Steve Miller hosting, we've had no dearth of informed, thoughtful conversation about our topic of majority interest.

Q: Uh, is there any FOOD?

A: There will also be snacks available, as well as coffee/tea (but bring your own mug) -- an expenses-defraying donation jar will be out, but Frank Burton will be putting in some cash for us SBS attendees.

Q: Where do we meetup?

A: This joint Meetup will NOT be held at First Universalist Church, but at St. Paul Area Council of Churches (SPACC)'s St. Paul meeting room facility on Summit Ave, 2 blocks west of Snelling or 10 blocks east of the Mississippi River, on the north side of Summit Ave., opposite Macalester College (see map link). Conversation begins promptly at 7:00 pm; doors are open at 6:30 pm. This month we'll start staying an extra 15 minutes, until 8:45pm, to allow more discussion, and if enough folks show up (14+) we may vote to break into two groups to allow us to speak longer.

Q: Why should I attend?

A: To change the world, of course! "Interfaith" has for too long been a club to which atheists or humanists weren't welcome. No more! So come on over to Summit Ave. to see what the "new interfaith/transbelief dialogue" is all about! Join us for SPIN's and SBS's first "mutual outreach" between the interfaith & secular communities, to dialogue on issues of religion and society!