From the Friday Freethinkers at Sarasota UU:

Two Sarasotans who are outspoken on the need for health care reform with discuss their views in a special panel on health care reform Friday, August 28, at 10 a.m. in the Jefferson Room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota – 3975 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. (Map)

Florida State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald whose District 69 encompasses most of Sarasota; Dr. Lisa Merritt, a physician with Genesis Health Services, a not-for-profit healthcare provider in Sarasota, will discuss the implications of health care reform for low-income and working individuals.

The panel discussion is being sponsored by the First Friday Freethinkers and will be moderated by UUCS’s Dick Happy.

Keith Fitzgerald, who sits on the state Health and Family Services Policy Council, has made family services a priority of his tenure in the House of Representatives and has become one of the area’s most dynamic speakers on behalf of social justice.
For more information on Fitzgerald please go to

Dr. Merritt is a board-certified psychiatrist and a special in the area of pain management. She received her degrees from Georgetown and Howard universities and practiced medicine in both California and Texas before moving to Florida. For more than 20 years she has incorporated contemporary medicine approaches in her practice of medicine. She has authored numerous articles on medicine and has lectured nationally and internationally on rehabilitation and multicultural health issues.
For more information on Dr. Merritt’s background go to

Questions about the Freethinkers or the panel on health care reform can be emailed to

First Friday Freethinkers Group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota meets this Friday.

Topic: “Morality Without God”
Nontheists (i.e., freethinkers, secular humanists and other nonbelievers) are commonly accused of being against religion but for nothing. Even Paul Kurtz, the quintessential humanist, wrote in his editorial in the April 2009 issue of Free Inquiry that the humanist movement has so far failed to construct a comprehensive nontheistic basis for ethics and morality. But experience and history tell us that none of us is justified in claiming that belief or disbelief in a supernatural deity gains one the moral high ground. The existential challenge for humans at all stages of the theistic-nontheistic spectrum is to evolve moral and ethical worldviews that can tame the shared inhumanities that threaten human future. This session will focus on claims that there may be an evolutionary, universal sense of right and wrong in the human mind that can be nurtured to supply such needed worldviews. Primary sources will be Marc Hauser’s 2006 book, Moral Minds, and Phil Zuckerman’s 2008 book, Society Without God.

Jim Craig, a member of our Church and of the First Friday Freethinkers group, will be the presenter.
When: Friday, June 5, 2009
Where: Jefferson Room at Sarasota UU, 3975 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34232
Time: 10:00 AM
Membership: Open to all
Questions: Call Tom Dente 921-1598

This time the Freethinkers will meet on THURSDAY, APRIL 30 2009. (Note the change of date. The speaker is a co-host of True Talk which airs Friday mornings on WMNF 88,5 just before Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now program. ) The group will meet at the UU Church of Sarasota, 3975 Fruitville Road in the Jefferson Room at 10 a.m., as usual. The day of the week has been changed, just for this month.

Our program presenter will be Samar-Dahmash-Jarrah. Her topic will be: “The Question of Palestine: Origins and Solutions.” She is the radio co-host of “True Talk” on WMNF 88.5 every Friday from 11 a.m. to noon. Samar teaches Geo Politics of the Middle East at the Honors College at the University of South Florida. She has traveled widely in the Middle East. She is the author of Arab Voices Speak To American Hearts. Her philosophy is illustrated by her statement: “I believe communication between peoples breaks down barriers.” Following her talk there will be a Question and Answer period and a discussion. For further information, call Tom Dente at 921-1598.

The FFF has an opening on its “planning committee”. The committee meets approximately once a month to plan and organize upcoming meetings. If interested, call Tom Dente at 921-1598.

From New College News:

Professor of Biology and Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College Meg Lowman, a.k.a. “Canopy Meg,” will speak at United Nations Association, Sarasota-Manatee Chapter, on March 24 at 6:00 pm. Professor Lowman will be joined by Dr. Eugenie “the Shark Lady” Clark. The event is entitled “Two Women: Two Extraordinary Scientists” and will be held at the Herald Tribune Building, 1741 Main Street, in the first floor Community Room.

For more information, please contact Catherine Seress at (941) 928-1187. Please note that searing is limited.

From Meigs:

We will meet at lonjevity for all Thursdays in March.  At end of March, we will vote between Lonjevity and Pegasus.

VENUE: Lonjevity
1737 S Tamiami Trl
Sarasota, FL 34239
(941) 366-3139
Get directions
DATE: Every Thursday unless noted otherwise

UUCS FreethinkersAn ex-priest, an ex-minister and an ex-nun. What do they all add up to? A Freethinker program on March 8 called “Leaving the pulpit, the confessional and the habit.”

The UUCS Freethinkers will present this special program in the Sanctuary immediately after the potluck luncheon at 12:30 p.m. It will feature Jack O’Sullivan (ex RC Priest), Richard Dewey (ex Lutheran Minister), and our own Catherine Dente (ex Sister of Mercy).

The three will participate in a panel discussion in which they will describe their journey to and from their religious callings. A question and answer session will follow their presentations. Any questions, phone Tom Dente at 921-1598.

The program will be 2 fold
Dr. Peter Duisberg will speak on The Dept. of Peace and Joyce Raby will show a DVD titled “Beyond War”

Arrive at 11:30 for lunch or 12:30 for the program only.

Directions: From Rt-41 North or South in Venice, turn East onto Central Ave. and follow till you come to Horse and Chaise Blvd. Turn left into PP and tell the gate guard that you are going to the restaurant. Continue on this road till you cross Derbyshire and into the parking lot. Park on the right – the restaurant is on the hill.

Friday, March 6, 2009 in the Jefferson Room at 10 am. — Lou Altman is featured presenter at next Freethinkers program

Lou Altman, a well known lawyer specializing in intellectual property and competition law, will be featured presenter at the next gathering of the Freethinkers. The discussion will be held Friday, March 6, 2009 in the Jefferson Room at 10 am.

Lou will report on the current activities of the atheist/humanist groups he is familiar with, and will recommend that we continue to try to achieve acceptance of our viewpoint by the theistic majority.

A member of UUCS, Altman is also director of The Humanist Institute and of the American Humanist Association, a director and executive committee member of the Humanists of Florida Association, and president of the national Society for Humanistic Judaism.

He is a named plaintiff in Michael Newdow’s lawsuit to prevent insertion of “so help me God” at the end of the the presidential oath of office. Although Newdow was unsuccessful in obtaining a preliminary injunction with respect to the Obama inauguration, the case is expected to continue in the courts in the hope of eventually affecting future inaugurations.

There will be plenty of time for questions and comments from the audience. For further information, call Tom Dente at 921-1598.

From New College News:

Sarasota, FL, March 4, 2009 — New College of Florida invites you to “feel the heat” on March 17, when the College welcomes Harvard-trained marine biologist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson to campus for a special discussion and showing of his latest movie, Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. The event, which will be held at New College’s Harry Sudakoff Center starting at 7:00 pm., is open to the public. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are $5 for the general public; free for New College faculty, students and staff with their New College ID.

Noted for his satirically critical examination of hot button scientific and environmental issues, Olson, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1984 and gave up a tenured professorship at the University of New Hampshire to attend USC and become a filmmaker, is often as critical of scientists poor communications’ skills as he is of the zealous critics of evolution and global warming who regularly make their way into the news. His film Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006 and received critical acclaim. Eventually, it was picked up by Showtime and is currently available on DVD around the world.

Olson’s most recent film, Sizzle, tackles the controversy over global warming. It premiered in July 2008 and is currently being shown at film festivals and on college campuses around the country. Its airing at New College is the only current screening in Florida.

During his visit to New College, Olson will discuss the making of Sizzle, as well as his belief that scientists and researchers must do a better job of communicating with the general public. According to Olson, the scientific community’s inability to clearly present their arguments to the public often results in too much time being wasted responding to PR campaigns waged by fringe groups and too little time actually being spent seeking solutions to critical issues facing our planet.

Olson is being brought to Sarasota by Mote Marine Laboratory, as the final guest speaker in their annual Special Lecture Series, sponsored by Robert and Jill Williams. Olson’s lecture at Mote Marine will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16, in Mote’s Immersion Cinema, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota. That lecture, on his new book Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, is open to the public. Mote also will show Olson’s award-winning film, Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus, in the Immersion Cinema throughout the weekend of March 14-15. Showings of Flock of Dodos will be free for Mote Aquarium visitors with their paid admission. For lecture seating reservations at Mote or more information, please visit or call 941-388-4441, ext. 369.

For reservations to hear Randy Olson’s talk at New College and to view his new film Sizzle on March 17, please contact New College Special Events Coordinator Greg Hite at (941) 487-4155 or email For media inquiries, please contact either Aimee Chouinard at New College of Florida (941-487-4152) or Nadine Slimak at Mote Marine (941-388-4441, ext. 417).

From Meigs:

THE FIRST THURSDAY IN MARCH, 3/5/09, we will eat at Lonjevity, 1737 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida 34239. LONJEVITY IS directly across from Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Since this is our first night here, please try to be comfy in your chair by 5:50pm. We will order from the menu, and since it is a new place, new menu, I thought it worthwhile to add a little extra time.

The first 25 people who respond get to come. This first time, it seems to me to be wise to “try them out” with 25 or fewer of us.

REPLY to let Meigs know if you will be at LONJEVITY THIS THURSDAY night. This will let me give an count to the restaurant, so they have a rough idea of whether it will be fourteen or twenty-five of us. Meigs at 941-927-5665 or

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