Looking forward to 2015

The below message has been posted to the NEPA Freethought Society’s forum. If you live in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area, are a secular freethinker, and are not yet a member of the NEPA Freethought Society please consider joining the group’s meetup.com page and attending events.

The NEPA (Northeastern Pennsylvania) Freethought Society is a social, educational, activist, and philosophical coalition of atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists, and skeptics predicated on support and community which upholds the separation of church and state and promotes critical thinking.

Fellow freethinkers,

2014 has been a good year for the NEPA Freethought Society. Following a close to three-year struggle of bus advertisements being rejected, we advertised on a County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) bus hoping to grow our membership and make our existence as the only freethought group in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area known.

We’ve again displayed a ‘Nothing Fails Like Prayer’ banner and attended a National Day of Prayer event in Wilkes-Barre offering a message encouraging separation of church and state & challenging the notion that government involvement in politics/prayer will fix earthly problems.

We’ve challenged Wilkes-Barre’s City Council on several fronts: objecting to its observance of Good Friday (closing City Hall in recognition of a Christian holy day), arguing against government-led prayer at council meetings, and even offering a secular invocation during a meeting.

We continue to work with the Freedom From Religion Foundation — a strong and effective partner in challenging violations of church/state separation — and support local freethinkers who experience difficulties surrounding religion’s inappropriate involvement in their workplaces, school districts, and community.

Our website’s reboot on Meetup.com has also been a success – providing a good tool for people to view the group’s efforts, keep informed about current news, and RSVP for upcoming meetings and events.

In 2015, we shall continue with local activism and offering a place for freethinkers to meet monthly. Whether or not you’re interested in activism, you’re always welcome to attend meetings for good conversation, company, and dining.

We shall add more venues for meetings in addition to our usual restaurant of choice El Zocalo. Future meetings will be held at Super Kings Buffet in Wilkes-Barre Township and Rustic Kitchen at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains.

Super Kings Buffet offers an affordable and vast Chinese lunch buffet including made-to-order hibachi and fresh sushi. Rustic Kitchen offers an affordable lunch menu including alcoholic drinks. To keep dining costs even more affordable for members, you can purchase Rustic Kitchen dining certificates which come with free play for slot machines, video poker, or other electronic games at Mohegan Sun. More information about meeting locations and other details will be provided in January.

At the end of 2014, consider making a donation to support our efforts and keep our website running. Become a dues-paying member if you already are not or make a donation with a credit card using our online payment system. Donations in form of cash are also accepted at meetings.

The NEPA Freethought Society looks forward to seeing you in 2015. Have a good holiday.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University's graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County's Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher's assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.