April 1, 2006

Reason To Stay

This is a very surprising and pleasant development -- powerful enough to motivate The Wife and I to stay in Tennessee! Since this is such a big deal, I've reprinted most of the article below.

Bipartisan Ceremony Marks Dedication of Tennessee Secular Studies Center
Knoxville, Tennessee, April 1, 2006 (AP):
In a pleasant and genial ceremony today cohosted by Tennessee's governor, Phil Bredesen, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the leaders of the state officially dedicated the previously-unused Knoxville Sunsphere to a new organization, the Tennessee Secular Studies Center, or TSSC.

TSSC will be not-for-profit corporation dedicated to educating the public about the role of secularism in modern America, the history of secularist Americans, and promoting moral behavior for all regardless of adherence to any organized religion.

TSSC will base its operations in the Knoxville Sunsphere, a legacy of the highly-successful 1982 World's Fair held in Knoxville and the most prominent building in the city's skyline.

"Knoxvillians should be proud that their city's most significant landmark is being dedicated to the millions of secular Americans and their contributions to American culture," said Senator Frist in prepared remarks. "They will be glad to know that the base of this previously-unused structure will be surrounded by a sculpture garden in years to come, featuring a reproduction of
The Ascent of Man carved from locally-quarried marble, and busts of prominent Americans of secular background, including Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, and Benjamin Franklin."

Governor Bredesen, a Democrat, opened the ceremony with a nod to Republican Frist, by noting that the presence of prominent leaders from both political parties demonstrated the full acceptance of non-religious Tennesseans by the leadership of the state. He then announced that he was sponsoring an initiative to amend Tennessee's Constitution to repeal the state's ban on atheists holding public office and serving on juries (Tenn. Const. Article IX, Section 2). "For too long, the antiquated Constitution of this great state has diminished the importance of these good people," Bredesen said. "It is high time that Tennessee enters the twenty-first century and recongizes that all of its citizens are called to public service, and that we welcome the contributions of everyone." Bredesen's remarks were greeted with thunderous applause by the gathered crowd of in excess of half a dozen local secular people.

Dan Wilson, pastor of the Church of the One True God in Knoxville, said after the ceremony, "I'm glad they found such a good use for the Sunsphere, which was just a wasted space other than that. My church has no need of that kind of public prominence and there's more than enough room in Knoxville for my parishioners and those who do not hear the call to believe in God. Of course, they're all going to Hell and eternal torment in the afterlife, but that's none of my business."

TSSC will have a scholarly research arm, a public relations unit, and a legal action clinic to address concerns regarding separation of church and state. There will also be a museum describing the process of evolution, profiling prominent secular and atheist figures from history, and rotating science exhibits. The museum and public education center will be on the center and largest floor of the Sunsphere, which provides a spectacular view of the Knoxville skyline, Tennessee River valley, and the nearby Smoky Mountains. The legal clinic, scholar's center, PR, and executive offices are to occupy the first and third floors of the building. Applications to fill these positions are currently being accepted.
This is great news. With any luck, I can find work at the legal clinic, and work every day in that beautiful building! We'll miss California, to be sure, but an opportunity like this cannot be passed up.


Anonymous said...

And a happy April Fool's day to you, too!

Salsola said...

You should write for the Onion.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Just because I'm hairy dosen't mean I came from a monkey

Anonymous said...

The immediate tipoff was the prospect of either an AP reporter or TL being this unqualifiedly upbeat about anything. (dude, "genial"?) Plus, the lack of opposing viewpoints from troglodytes and local NIMBYs screaming about how it'll destroy children's minds and, worse, increase traffic through the neighborhood.

More of a Utopian fantasy than a prank, I guess.