Public Square Rosary Crusade protest afterthoughts

Protesting outside "Public Square Rosary Crusade" event holding FFRF "Nothing Fails Like Prayer" banner
Protesting outside “Public Square Rosary Crusade” event holding FFRF “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner

My protest of today’s Public Square Rosary Crusade went well (see a press release announcing the protest, an interview I had with a newspaper reporter, and more thoughts I offered on the event prior to the protest). A full report will be contained within tonight’s October 12 episode of Brave Hero Radio.

Alongside fellow secularists and atheists from the NEPA Freethought Society, I held the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner outside the event; posed for a picture and answered questions for an interview to be included in an upcoming newspaper article; and conversed with a woman who engaged me in conversation (I also invited her to call the show tonight). Sadly, attendees largely refused to converse with us – much unlike those who attended the Circle the Square with Prayer event I protested in May 2013.

Passerby were mostly indifferent save one person who flipped the bird, one person who shook his head in disgust, and a person who gave a ‘thumbs up.’

The Public Square Rosary Crusade was similar to a standard Catholic mass; the event included many prayers asking for God to intercede in human affairs, the song “God Bless America,” a sermon urging people to maintain faith in God in spite of  ‘tempests in our lives,’ and appeals for non-believers to turn to God so that they can know him and go to Heaven.

Banners reading “As human efforts fail to solve America’s key problems, we turn to God, though His Holy Mother, asking His urgent help” surrounded the grotto.

Photos from the protest are to come.

Tune in tonight for a full report and to call the show. If you miss the live broadcast, follow the same link for an archived version. See the episode description below.

Justin Vacula — joined by Karla Porter — will discuss his experience protesting the “Public Square Rosary Crusade” in Wilkes-Barre, PA hours following the event. See Vacula’s press release announcing the protest for more information. Fellow protesters are also welcome to join the discussion.

As always, callers, no matter their viewpoints, are welcome to join the discussion. Call the number on your screen, 718-766-4598, or click the Skype-to-call button on the show’s page when the show goes live to join the caller queue.
 
Listen live, join the live chat, and use the same link following the live broadcast to stream and/or download the archived show.
 
Opening music is provided by memewar.net. Break music is provided by Phil Giordana.
 
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10/11 Citizens’ Voice interview

FFRF "Nothing Fails Like Prayer" banner on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre
FFRF “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre

I recently spoke with a reporter for The Citizens’ Voice concerning my upcoming protest of the “Public Square Rosary Crusade” in which I and other local secularists will advocate for separation of church and state and rebut religious claims such as the efficacy of prayer.

Feel free to comment on the article or share your thoughts here.

Following is the interview – reproduced here for purposes of archiving:

Group to stage protest for religion, government separation

A protest group wants a clearer separation between religion and Wilkes-Barre city government.

On Saturday, members of the group are hitting the streets with a banner reading, “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” to get their message across.

“We think our leaders should fix this world we’re living in instead of yearning for another one,” the co-organizer of the protest, Justin Vacula, said.

Vacula and members of the NEPA Freethought Society, a local group of atheists, agnostics and secularists, will stage a peaceful protest at noon Saturday on North Street, near the Our Lady of Fatima grotto.

Vacula said the protest is intended to spark conversation and fight the overlap between religion and government. The organization is not looking to stir up tension, he said.

In a press release announcing the event, Vacula focused on members of the Wilkes-Barre city council who begin meetings with prayer, which he says is “inappropriate and potentially illegal.”

“We don’t think prayer will answer real-world (problems),” Vacula said. Government-led prayer, he said, has not resolved poverty, unemployment and other issues in Wilkes-Barre.

About 10 protesters are expected to join Vacula. He encourages the public to join in.

“Every person has inherent dignity and should be treated with respect, whether or not they share our beliefs,” Diocese of Scranton spokesperson Bill Genello said in an email Thursday. “We also believe that the Church has the right and the duty to offer its voice to the discussion of public policy issues to ensure that the welfare of all is protected.”

Genello also said that any discourse Saturday should be “conducted in a respectful manner.”

This will not be the first time the NEPA Freethought Society has brought out the “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” banner, as earlier this year, it was displayed on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.

“I think this will be the perfect place for that banner,” Vacula said.

mbufano@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2056, @CVBufano

Upcoming discussion with Pastor Dan Nichols on religious faith, atheism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 9, 2013
Media Contacts: Justin Vacula, justinvacula [at] gmail.com
Dan Nichols, dan [at] restoredchurch.org

Pastor and atheist to host open-to-the-public discussion on religious faith, atheism 

Wilkes-Barre – Pastor Dan Nichols of Restored Church and atheist activist Justin Vacula of the NEPA Freethought Society will meet for a friendly two hour open-to-the-public discussion concerning religious faith and atheism on Sunday November 3, 2013 in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Downtown Arts building located at 47 North Franklin Street. The discussion begins at 7:00PM Eastern Time. Doors open at 6:30PM.

Nichols and Vacula will share their personal stories, explain their perspectives pertaining to religious belief, and engage in respectful critical discussion. Audience members will be invited to present questions to both participants following the discussion.

Parking is available across the street. Parking signs will be posted.

Donations are appreciated and will be accepted at the event to help fund the Downtown Arts building.

The event will also be streamed live online and later archived via Vacula’s online radio show — Brave Hero Radio — for those who may not attend.  Online and in-person viewers may also participate in a live chat streaming during the event.

Event attendees may RSVP for and talk about the event through Facebook at tinyurl.com/faithdiscussion.

Dan is a follower of Jesus who has preached to thousands of people across America since becoming a traveling Christian speaker in March 2010. He was officially ordained in September 2011. Dan is currently finishing two master’s degrees from Baptist Bible Graduate School and Baptist Bible Seminary located in Clarks Summit, PA. He is now a full-time church planter whose first church plant Restored Church recently launched in September 2013 in Downtown Wilkes-Barre. Dan recently married his best friend Joy and they live in South Wilkes-Barre. Since High School, Dan has aggressively chased answers to questions challenging Christian belief as well as the reasons behind the answers.

Justin Vacula — writer for justinvacula.com — is a public speaker, debater, atheist activist, and an activist for the separation of religion and government who hosts the NEPA Freethought Society Podcast and Brave Hero Radio. He has participated in previous formal debates and has spoken at various conferences and events. Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College. He is currently enrolled in Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program. Justin holds leadership roles as the co-organizer, spokesperson, and a board member of the NEPA Freethought Society.

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