Past MDC Meetings

Past Meetings:

In 2019 the week of Earth Day wwe celebrated with a talk and discussion on “The Evolution of Life in the Universe” lead by Mike Reid.

In February Mike Reid lead a tour  at the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC as part of our joint MDC/NVC  Darwin Day Commemoration

In March our topic was

ScienceTheEarth: Science as a Force for Collaborative Global Action

 Our first meeting in 2019 was:

8005 Connecticut Ave. · Chevy Chase, MD

Downstairs Conference room

See  Washington Area Secular Humanist Meetup Groupannouncements

Is there something wrong with the mega philanthropy we see from the big winners and ultra wealthy of today’s society?
Some look at philanthropy’s role as an “apparatus of justification” – a phrase developed in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, which stands for elite power structures like those started in the Gilded Age.
We need to take a steady look at the hegemonic power of present-day elite networks such as seen in Silicon Valley and Wall street.

We held  our annual HumanLight party on Saturday, Dec. 22 ( 4-9)

See details here or sign up on our Meetup page.


The Nov, Meeting was on Saturday, Nov. 17 from  from 1:45 -3 in the DC Chevy Chase library

5625 Connecticut Ave NW

Washington, DC 20015

We will be in the meeting room on the 2nd floor.

The topic is ” Fake news, misinformation & trust: problems and possible solutions”
Gary Berg-Cross and Lou Pecora lead the discussion
As part of our monthly discussions we will address the topic of fake news, mis- and dis-information, alt-facts and its impact on trust. While this is not a new problem it seems to be more systematically widespread and impactful. This may be in part to moderns of digital communication, networking and social media.

“We all think we can tell the difference between opinion, advertising and accurate news. But how do we really know?”

Lou Pecora will lead a discussion on the nature of these problems and issues. This will be followed by a discussion lead by Gary Berg-Cross of proposed solutions and initiatives to handle or mitigate the problem.
Dis-information, for example, is challenging to identify and counter. There is a measurement issue because there’s a lack of consensus on how to actually define it or “false news.” There’s a spectrum of content — from intentional or disguised satire to honest or faux opinion to hoaxes intentionally crafted to deceive. Both fake news and misinformation are ever-evolving problem. Its purveyors are continually trying new tactics to seed it, so we’re constantly updating our approach to catching it.
Because it’s evolving, we’ll never be able to catch every instance of false news — though we can learn from the things we do miss.
And there are media initiatives to develop Best Practices that news organizations like WaPo are following. But we need tools to help with this along
with a media savvy citizenry.

As usual some light refreshments will be served.

Note: Remember to come to the DC Chevy Chase Neighborhood library.
The address is 5625 Connecticut Ave NW, DC · Washington, DC

October 2018:

The Oct. 2018 Meeting was held on Saturday, Oct. 13th from 1-3 in the DC Chevy Chase meeting room on the 2nd floor.

The topic was “The righteous mind”  with discussion

lead by Lou Pecora.

Research into the Psych-Social aspects of our  difficult times
How our evolved social nature both benefits us, but also tends to polarize us into conformity with our “in group” with frequent  hostility to “the other,” even when the other can be decent people  too. “


“Is This the Humanistic Century?”

This panel discussion topic for WASH’s MDC’s September meeting was on the Q:

“Is This the Humanistic Century?”

Perhaps more fully we might propose possible answersthis way: “The 21st century still can, should & needs to be a humanistic century.”

Our panel for this session consisted of:
* Stuart Jordan: emeritus NASA scientist, served 4years as WASH president, 20 years as a WASH board member, and 12 years as the Maryland DC chapter coordinator.

* Fred Edwords, Director of Planned Giving, American Humanist Association is a humanist celebrant & a longtime member of Washington Area Secular Humanists

* Sarah Henry is the Communications Associate at AHA and a past winner of WASH’s Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest.

In some ways this topic was a reflection and update on some of thoughts current when WASH was founded.
Among the important topics he discussed in the 80s and 90s and into the new century was that secularism needs to be adapted to diverse cultural conditions if it is to gain ground. One point stressed then and relevant now was that we need to enunciate the positive thrust of humanism. That is why humanism must be committed to an alternative set of ethical values & not simply be negative naysayers. We need to have a constructive, alternative perspective full of meaning and significance.
Part of this is an meaningful emphasis on the value of “Free Inquiry & Tolerance” which are even more challenged now.

As Humanists like Paul Kurtz said then:
“Free inquiry entails recognition of civil liberties as integral to its pursuit, that is, a free press, freedom of communication, the right to organize opposition parties and to join voluntary associations, and freedom to cultivate and publish the fruits of scientific, philosophical, artistic, literary, moral and religious freedom….Free inquiry requires that we tolerate diversity of opinion and that we respect the right of individuals to express their beliefs, however unpopular they may be, without social or legal prohibition or fear of success.”
Also relevant for these times also is a modern, positive skepticism (for example, Kurtz’s “The New Skepticism” 1992) which argues that there are objective standards for judging truth claims in science, ethics, and philosophy. While in the the 80s and 90s there was special interest is the application of the new skepticism to paranormal claims such as reincarnation and faith healing, and to religious beliefs, we might apply it in a more focused way to ethics and politics.
Among the many critiques that are worth considering in these times are that of climate denial and fake news. Now more than ever we need to consider effective strategies for criticizing rigid, tribal, faith-based beliefs and do this especially where they are patently false, injurious, and widely destructive.
The secular/civic world constantly needs to be defended against those who would undermine it, and we need to responsibly examine the transcendental and moral claims arsing from tribal traditions and criticize their pretensions—especially when they impinge on things like natural and constitutional rights & personal freedoms.

August: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

We followed up the last part of our previous discussion on the ideas of Johnathan Haidt at the  August held Saturday, August 25th, 1-3 at Gary Berg-Cross’s house in Potomac.

Haidt’s  books include: The Happiness Hypothesis, and of The New York Times bestseller on  The Righteous Mind

 These books and Haidt’s research has been recommended providing insight into our times.
“Americans have long known that they have racial, ethnic, class, and partisan divides. But the 2016 presidential election has forced all of us to recognize that these gaps may be far larger, more numerous, and more dangerous than we thought. Americans are not just failing to meet each other and know each other. Increasingly, we hate each other—particularly across the partisan divide……The Righteous Mind is non-partisan, and teaches cross-partisan respect. I’m a social psychologist who has studied moral and political psychology for thirty years. I first began research for The Righteous Mind in 2004, motivated in part by a desire to help progressives do a better job of connecting with American moral values. But after immersing myself in the writings of all sides and doing my best to find the good on all sides, I became a non-partisan centrist. As I show clearly in my book, the three major philosophical camps—left, right, and libertarian—are each the guardians of deep truths about how to have a humane and flourishing society. I treat all sides fairly and respectfully and help students to step out of their “moral matrix” in order to appreciate the ways that ideological teams distort thinking, and blind us to the motives and insights of others.”


Evolutionary Psychology Meeting 3: Morals. Science, Politics, and Ethics.

 This topic of ethics and science is a follow up to issues raised in the July meeting. Stuart Jordan prepared a general outline of topics to guide discussion.
Stu argued that while science is easy to define and justify for thinking people (as Good), the way science is used by society (including in a bad way) is a more complex question.
There is a debate over whether science can or cannot provide our most basic moral and ethical principles and evolutionary psychology may have something to say here and contribute to how society proceeds to answer this question and also the related one of how science is to be guided by ethics.

Stuart Jordan is a retired NASA astrophysicist who has held leadership positions in several humanist organizations including WAS. He is author of: “The Enlightenment Vision: Science, Reason, and the Promise of a Better Future”

June 2018 – Two Meetings

WASH as a whole held a meeting: Remembering Lois Porter; A Memorial Tribute to a Humanist Life Well Lived

​ Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the   MD

Chevy Chase Branch Library

8005 Connecticut Ave ·

​ ​

WASH hosted a memorial tribute in memory of Lois Porter, WASH co-founder and first President. WASH founders and early members who will share stories and memories of Lois from the starting days of WASH.

Fred Edwords served  as the master of ceremony for this event and reflect on Lois’ life as a person and a Humanist.

Ron Lindsay and others who knew Lois spoke. The event was  similar to the memorial a few
years ago for Lois’ husband George. See for that memorial.

Lois’ memorial was followed by a reception. Light refreshment were will be served.

Talk included WASH supporting a memorial for Lois.

One idea was a bench, perhaps at the National Arboretum.

Contact Gary ( if there are any questions.

Dawkin’s Selfish Gene

A 2nd meeting in June was held Saturday June 9th from 1 to 3.
This will be at Gary’ house (13 Atwell Ct, Potomac 20854) and is a follow up to the popular meeting topic of Evolutionary Psychology and what perspective
it offers on human nature and what issues it generates (many).
 At our May meeting I provided some framework for discussion.
In this follow up meeting we adopted the suggestion that we start another discussion with Dawkin’s Selfish Gene since  it lays the foundation for understanding adaptation and natural selection.
Among other things Dawkins includes a powerful argument against group selection theories.
People may want  to browse or re-read the book but we can expect some intro  summary
thoughts from people

May 2018 MDC Meeting

Saturday, May 19th 1-2:30

Location: 13 Atwell Ct. Potomac MD 20854

Evolutionary Psychology was the topic for our WASH monthly meetings and a follow up to a suggestion at our last WASH MDC meeting on Street Epistemology.
As many know Darwin thought that the theory of evolution would open up new fields of study such as the origins and character of human intelligence. With evolution we now seem to have a better frame for Psychology, but there is also a range of Social Science research based on an evolutionary foundation and such fields as SocioBiology.There are many books on the topic including some from Dawkins and others from Pinker that discuss behavioral adaptations that may have been selected for via the preservation of our genes.
We can draw from these and other efforts although we should be aware that there may be a problem when we try to explain every behavior in an evolutionary way.
Still it is interesting explore some of the investigated hypotheses and “findings”, including those on:
* where we get our moral sense,
* the evolutionary explanation for altruism as well as
* gender differences and sexual selection as part of our evolution
* the grandmother hypothesis etc.These and others attendees find interesting will be part of our conversation.

April 2018 MDC Meeting

Discussing Street Epistomology

Gary  hosted a meeting to discuss a conversational method of belief checking called “Street Epistemology” (SE)  on Th. April 26th (7:30-9:30) to broadly discuss the practice of and issues with Street Epistemology.
This was at his house in Potomac  A  preliminary agenda for the session and will include a 10-15′ intro to some of the Street Epistemology ideas and practices, which are usually applied to religious, faith-based beliefs.
In preparation it might be useful for people to look at this 1 minute intro to Street Epistemology.
What is Street Epistemology? | One Minute Intro (with narration)

There are a number of other videos, 5 minutes or so that show people struggling with the Q of what they believe when asked “how do you believe that” and “why so high a confidence?”  We could also look at one of these although there is a slightly longer one
based on social media exchanges that is a bit more interesting in some ways and more representative of the types of conversations we have and how SE might be used.
It could provide a richer base for discussion, since we live in a time of such alt-fact and ideologically based, rigid beliefs I think it would be interesting to discuss and explore other areas in which these techniques of asking “how do you know?” that might be applied.

It may be that SE or perhaps a modified version would be applicable to a wider range of topics (such as other moral issues, economics or even politics) and settings.

I don’t expect that we will exceed my living room space, where we have had discussion events for up 20 people, but I will try to keep track of the numbers on the MeetUp page and email responses.

The WASH MDC March Meeting

Was held Saturday, March 10, 2018  our topic will be “Discussing Secular Social Justice with Juhem Navarro-Rivera & Heatherly Hodges “

This is a WASH pre-meeting to the American Humanist Association full day Secular Social Justice (SSJ) Conference 2018 April 7th in Washington DC. This Conference was developed to emphasize the connection between secular humanist values and social justice activism. We thought this topic of interest to the DC secular community that we have organized a smaller meeting to discuss some of the issues and topics for the April 7th meeting. We will meet the morning of March 10th (11-12:30) at the Maryland Chevy Chase library (8005 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD)

The April conference includes topics such as ending everyday sexism, racial justice, the school-to-prison pipeline, immigration justice, intersectional advocacy and trans justice, and the intersection of decolonization and social justice activism. Based on speaker and audience interests e will feature some of these as part of our 90 minute meeting in March.

The meeting will be hosted by WASH’s Heatherly Hodges and include a perspective from political scientist Juhem Navarro-Rivera ( of Public Religion Research Institute and Demos.
Juhem specializes in American and Comparative political behavior.
Among his interest are ​the power of big money in American elections​ and how it affects underrepresented​/racial​ groups ​getting ​to elective office​, as well as the role of religion ​in US politics. ​He has written on rise of the Nones​ ​ and ​ of Latinos with no religious affiliation.

WASH MDC February, 2018 Topic

Saturday, February 17, 2018
1:00 PM
 to 3:30 PM
Venue:  Rockville Library
21 Maryland Ave · Rockville, MD
Recent research on teaching and learning evolution in high school classrooms
Well it is not exactly Darwin Day, but we have a suitable topic for Darwin’s birth month in February – educating youth about evolution.
We are very happy to have Briana Pobiner as our educational guide on this topic.

Briana Pobiner is a paleoanthropologist whose research centers on the evolution of human diet (with a focus on meat-eating), but has included topics as diverse as cannibalism in the Cook Islands and chimpanzee carnivory.

Since joining the Smithsonian in 2005 to help put together the Hall of Human Origins and now leads the Human Origins Program’s education and outreach efforts.
In addition she continues to be active in her field, laboratory, and experimental research programs. Briana is also an Associate Research Professor of Anthropology at the George Washington University.

WASH MDC January, 2018 Topic

What would it take to establish a K-12 Humanist School in the DC area?

Is it a good idea?

Saturday, January 13, 2018
3:30 PM
 to 5:00 PM
DC Chevy Chase Regional library
5625 Connecticut Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20015
At the recent DC HumanLight party in Potomac one topic we explored into the night was the idea of launching a program to establish a Humanistic school in the DC area which featured a Humanistic curriculum. That is a one with a secular philosophy with moral principles rather than one that ignore moral and philosophical issues or is a faith based one. Part of this discussion covered WASH member education experience in bringing the dynamics of real group and social life into the classroom for younger children (K-3). This might be part of a base for curriculum that emphasizes character development (making smart decisions, being a good person, etc.) which leads up to more abstractions for later grades.

This meeting will be devoted to a community discussion of that idea with an exploration of its nature and feasibility.
One goal of discussion is to see if there is an interest in developing an action plan.

Some background will be provided on extant examples where people may have experience –
Green Acres, Lowell, Georgetown Dar, and Sheridan are often cited as not religious at all. Sidwell is Quaker, but the religious aspects are pretty light and most of the student body is not Quaker. Ethical Culture has a Sunday program for ethical education.

There are some secular curriculum examples and we might discuss. Some aspects of the humanistic curriculum were prominent during the heights​ ​of the creative self-expression era in art education during the 1960s and 1970s. The experience of the Carl Sagan Academy which was located in east Tampa, Fla. and provided Middle School Education to children in grades 6th, 7th, and 8th.
But it closed.  Is this a bad sign for something like a Charter School?

• As always  bring Ideas and curiosity…our meetings are open and free to all.

WASH MDC Events  December, 2017


Free Thinking Folk Concert

The afternoon of Sunday Dec. 3 WASH MDC will cosponsor a pay-what-you-want, folk concert by singer songwriter Tom Nielsen.

Tom is widely known as a wonderful social activist, folk guitarist and singer. His style has been described as” relaxed, his lyrics compelling, and his music very cool. “ You can see more about Tom at his website-

Contact MDC coordinator Gary Berg-Cross at for venue which will be his house  and other details.


Dec. 9th WASH annual meeting 10-noon

Hosted by MDC.

Current plan is for a discussion of “ The Evolution of Religion and the new scientific study of religion” based on topics discussed at a Nov. conference.

It is important to provide a broad picture of their achievements and the registered progress. The theme of this conference, “religious evolution between biology, psychology, and culture,” will offer the occasion to conjoin biological, psychological, evolutionary, cognitive, neurological, anthropological, philosophical, and historical strands in that common endeavor to better understand this complex human feature. The transdisciplinary exchange expected at the conference should ensure a better view and an enriching academic experience.

Venue: Chevy Chase DC Library

Annual DC Area HumanLight Meeting

We are currently planning our annual ​​DC Area HumanLight Celebration.

Our planned date is Saturday Dec. 16th from 4 to 9 pm. This ​will be again organized by the WASH Maryland-DC chapter​ and​ is a free and relatively informal, ritual-free secular celebration near the winter solstice.
Contact point: Gary Berg-Cross; This event be at my house again this year:

13 Atwell Ct.
Potomac, MD 20854

While the event is free we’d like to know who plans on coming so contact me so that we make proper arrangements.

As in past years we will have a rolling pot luck “dinner” (bring what you like bu​t​ something that you will enjoy. A google docs page will be set up so that people can list what they will bring and see what others are bringing.

We provide drinks.

There are ​games​ and puzzles​ for children. ​If your kids are too young for board games, you might want to bring something else to entertain them. Either way, you’ll need to provide your own supervision for them. And we will have our annual raffle (probably around 7-8) featuring small presents complements of the Edwords.

We also will have our Tree of knowledge with favorite book-tags to decorate.


WASH MDC Events November 2017

Rachel Berman will speak on Tuesday Nov. 14, from 6-8 p.m. on Introducing the idea of Humanist Month in a Box. She will discuss examples such as the November themes of National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week (11/15-21) & World Peace Day (11/17) as well as discuss ideas for organizing and celebrating Darwin Day in February.

Venue: 1821 Jefferson Pl NW  Washington, DC

The meeting will be at the new ​American Humanist Association​ HQ​, 1821 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, DC 20036  which is just south of Dupont Circle between Connecticut and 19th on Jefferson Place (between M and N).

It’s a very short walk from the Dupont Circle Metro, and a 10-minute walk from Farragut West. If you drive there are garages nearby including one just past the AHA offices on the right side of Jefferson Place.


WASH MDC Oct. 2017 discussion of the Johnson Amendment

Matt Bulger of AHA, was our speaker on the topic of the Johnson Amendment. It is important and part of the church/state separation issue.

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, prez candidate DJT singled out “the evangelical and religious community” for their assistance in getting him nominated.
He argued:
“They have much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits,”
“An amendment, pushed by LBJ is his target. He and many conservatives think it threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.(More at , Tuesday October 17 from 7 -9 pm Matt Bulger will lead a discussion of this subject and what AHA is doing about it.

Matthew Bulger is the Legislative Director at the American Humanist Association, where he advocates for church-state separation and humanist values in public policy to government officials.

Bulger also serves as the editor of the AHA’s quarterly membership publication Free Mind and regularly contributes to

He graduated with a B.A. in political science from American University in Washington D.C., and is the co-founder and former president of the American University Rationalists & Atheists.

Our first Fall 2017 meeting was  Sept.  16, 2017 from 1:30 -3:30 .

Charles Murn was our speaker.

Location:  Chevy Chase library in DC.
5625 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington,  D.C.  20015


Building on Scientific Critique of Theism: Early Modern Humanist Philosophy in the US


The advent of the philosophy of modern humanism in the early 20th century marked an incremental step toward the humanism of today. The religious critique and scientific outlook of pragmatic naturalism was its foundation. As it rose from that base, the philosophy took additional steps away from religion toward science and secularism. The presentation illuminates some early successes and failures up to the second Humanist Manifesto, published in 1973.


Charles Murn is a philosopher and legal writer in Washington, D.C. He is editor of, and contributor to, a book of best essays on humanist philosophy in The Humanist magazine through 1973, to be published by the Humanist Press in 2018. Charles  holds a law  degree from the U. of Wisconsin   and has an abiding interest in philosophy 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

D.C. Chevy Chase Library

5625 Connecticut Ave. NW
2nd Floor, Small eeting room
Washington, DC

A discussion of Authoritarianism & its followers

This talk, led by Don Wharton, will be partially based on “The Authoritarians”, by Bob Altemeyer which was discussed in the May issue of WASHline – The idea is that we need to understand the psychology of authoritarian supporters who are characterized by: 1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;

2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3) a high level of conventionalism.

These concepts are relevant to understand current trends across the world including the US.

April 2017  Event – The Climate March

March 2017

 Phil Ferguson : Investing Skeptically

Phil is also a long time activist in the secular movement. He has been on the board of The Secular Student Alliance and Atheist Alliance International. He was recently the treasurer for the Reason Rally 2016.  He is an active member of many of the national organizations and has helped start three local groups. Phil also gives talks to local groups and Large conventions. He has presented at TAM (The Amazing Meeting) and Skepticon – just to name a few.  His podcast it “The Phil Ferguson Show.” 

Feburary, 2017

  • Saturday, February 11, 2017

    2:30 PM to 4:00 PM

  • Rockville Library

    21 Maryland Ave, Rockville

WASH MDC will celebrate Darwin’s Birth with a talk on the Anthropocene Epoch and human impact on the environment. Our speaker will be Fred Edwords who is currently director of planned giving for the Humanist Foundation, the endowment fund of the American Humanist Association, the latter an organization he earlier served as editor of its national magazine, the Humanist, from 1995 to 2006, as executive director from 1984 to 1999, and as national administrator from 1980 to 1984. He was also editor of the association’s membership newsletter Free Mind from 2002 to 2006 and editor of the Creation/Evolution journal from 1980 to 1991.

The Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. is making the Anthropocene Epoch a centerpiece of its scientific narrative. This is because evidence supports the idea that we now live in the Anthropocene, a newly-designated stage in geological history characterized by human impact on the environment–an impact so striking that it will be reflected in the fossil record.

How did this happen and what does it tell us about human evolution, human nature, and the future of our species?

 And what is the humanist response? 

January, 2017


The Role of Religion, Truth and Belief in the Recent Election

  • Saturday, January 14, 2017

    5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

  • Rockville Library

    21 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD (see map)

    No previous presidential campaign has generated as much coverage as the recent 2016 . It started early and ginned up 24/7 wall-to-wall coverage but little depth. While seemed that everything has been covered and analyzed in fact important topics like climate change was not.
    Religion and its role was another one and of interest to this community since belief rather than evidence was part of the campaign phenomena. There was an occasional nod to the Bible for the Judaeo-Christian-right (and Anti-Muslim) of the Republican Party but it wasn’t front and center for very long. It seemed to be in the background and working silently. There was noise about the “End of White Christian American” and an implied secular-religious struggle over Hope and Change as part of the mix. It is worth noting that Obama signed a law (the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act) in which atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law.
    This meeting is an opportunity for the community to talk about the role of religious vs secular values and beliefs in the recent election. A recent poll, for example, shows 44% of white evangelicals believe Trump demonstrates “strong moral character,” while only 18% of those with no religion agree.
    For some background on this see

As part of our meeting Stu Jordan, past WASH president will discuss his proposition:

“It is essential that all liberal, progressive, democratic (note small d), humanistic people achieve greater unity if the political power of “greedy money” is to be broken in the United States. In my view, that has implications for how the secular humanist world can best respond to this essentially political challenge.  There are two sometimes opposing views on this.  One is that since most of us are atheists, we should do all we can to promote atheism.  The other view is that we should go out of our way to cooperate with the tolerant religious, a majority of whom are close to us politically, without stopping our opposition to the intolerant religious, most of whom are political reactionaries. I will give arguments favoring the first approach and offer a severe criticism of the second approach as a policy for political effectiveness”

Winter Spring and Fall of 2016

 Sept, 2016  WASH MDC Chapter will be ​joining AHA and WES for their co-sponsor​ed​ event on Saturday, September 10 @ 2pm at the Washington Ethical Society (7750 16th St NW, DC).

The topic ​of the event ​was:

“Confronting Our Whiteness: #WhiteFolkWork in the Movement for Black Lives” led by Megan Kenny, anti-racist humanist activist based in Baltimore.

The talk will focus primarily on Megan’s personal experience growing up in a white, liberal, suburban California household and, decades later, becoming a visible Black Lives Matter activist in Baltimore and how this journey unveiled some painful truths about herself, the white community, and how whiteness has operated and continues to operate in 2016 America.

As usual all are welcome to attend and we hope to get new people.

OurJune event was SATURDAY, June, 18, 2016 9:30 to noon

​ ​Out topic was: Reason Rally 2016 retrospective discussion​.

Here is some information on what was discussed at the DC Chevy Chase Library .
This was a retrospective discussion of the recent Reason Rally 2016. Since RR was a multi-day and multi-event there were parts that people missed from the lobbying effort to the comedy show to the mini-conference.
Some videos and pictures are available.
People can just the highlights of their experience, favorite speakers and entertainment discuss pros and cons and share pictures and stories.
​ Some pictures are at

May 14, American Humanist Association & WASH Get Together.

March, 2016

WASH MDC Meeting Caught in the Pulpit: when clergy leave belief behind?​​

The Maryland DC (MDC) chapter will meet ​Saturday, March​ 19th from 1 -3 pm.​
Our speaker will be Linda LaScola​ and the title of the session is “Caught in the Pulpit: What happens when  clergy leave belief behind? “​​ Linda will provide an overview of the study together with updates along with some idea of the interview process and what’s next.
​ ​Linda ​ ​is co-author, with Daniel D. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013) and “Preachers who are not Believers” (2010). ​She runs runs LaScola Qualitative Research​, a​n independent qualitative research consultan​cy​ since 1984, she is a co-founder of the Clergy Project and is Editor of the Patheos Blog, “Rational Doubt: with Voices from the Clergy Project. The meeting will be held​ ​at​ the ​​D.C. Chevy Chase Library (​​​5625 Connecticut Ave. NW , 2nd Floor, Small ​​meeting room​.​​

Feb. 20th (1-3) at the DC Chevy Chase Library. which is reopening after 2 months of improvements.

The planned topic currently is:

“WASH and the American Humanist Association”

As members know WASH currently maintains formal but low commitment relationships with several national organizations, many members of which speak at our events and interact with WASH members . As noted in the January WASHLine article by Board member Phillip Kalmanson:

“There is no exchange of funds either from WASH or to WASH. Sometimes WASH and/or the national organization will cross post events that may be of interest to members of both groups; however, this is done as a courtesy and not because it is required. Sometimes a national organization will request volunteers from WASH for events going on within WASH’s geographical area, as was done during the Reason Rally of 2012 (and soon for the RR 2016) wherein WASH was given recognition and its volunteers provided access to the rally.”

Currently, however, the WASH board of directors is considering upgrading the organization’s relationship with the American Humanist Association (AHA) from its current affiliate status to chapter status. Such a change would affect all WASH chapters, and there are quite a few benefits of moving forward with this, but downsides and member opinions are needed. Our meeting will be an effort to explore the pros and cons and hear from WASH members.

Here are some Pros and Cons summarized by  WASH president Samantha McGuire on the issue of WASH becoming an AHA Chapter:

1. We would gain the current AHA group as a Chapter -currently 1400 members of the group with active monthly Drinking Skeptically event with 20+ attendees
2. AHA would actively promote people joining WASH in the DC area as their local chapter.
3. We would be able to tap into funds that are held strictly for AHA Chapters – such as sponsorship funds for WASHCon if we continue to hold those
4. We would be able to use their public relations team to promote any of our events and the group itself.
5. We do not have to change anything about the way we are doing business now. We would keep our own independent 503(c) designation and Board of Directors

1. That our affiliations with other national groups (AA, CFI, AAA, CSH) would suffer for the change.
2. AHA is not necessarily “Secular” and welcomes religious humanists – how does that hold with WASH?
3. That becoming part of AHA would make WASH as an organization obsolete.
4. That there is a long history of WASH being independent of all National Organizations
5. There is a concern that we would alienate and lose our founding members, past presidents and older members, often who make up our paying membership base and contributors.

Fall 2015

Dec. Meeting
  • Saturday, Dec. 12th Tom Flynn  (Center for Inquiry) will speak on “A Radical View of Church-State Separation.”
    • this will be in the Wheaton Library, but from 3:15 to 5:30 pm
Following a tradition set by WASH Board Members Jenny and Phil Kalmansons, the WASH MD Chapter will sponsor a HumanLight celebration in the area which include a pot luck dinner, children’s games and a raffle.
This year it will be held Dec. 19th, from 4-8 in rooms 1 & 2 of the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist “facility”9601 Cedar LaneBethesda, Maryland 20814


See  our page on the event and my HumanLight Blog post on past HumanLight celebrations.


Nov. 21st 10:45-12:45 (Wheaton Public Library at 11701 Georgia Ave., Wheaton, MD

WASH MDC had a memorial tribute and discussion in memory of George Porter, WASH co-founder and first editor of WASHline.

George Porter passed away on Saturday, August 22 and
People who knew George will give a brief account of his life. His wife Lois, first WASH President will attend as will other founders and early members who will briefly discuss reminiscences from other
members of WASH who recall interactions with
George from the early days, shared memories, George’s contributions and personal accounts of his life.
The floor will be open at the memorial to all attendees.


Spring 2015

March Group-Participation Session: “Putting Humanism to Work on Social Issues”

Longtime humanist leader Fred Edwords will guide the group in an exploration of how to apply our humanist principles to a wide range of social concerns. We will ask how to make society more humane, fair, and inclusive and reduce injustice and suffering. We will look into how we can oppose popular bigotries in order to expand “us” and shrink “them.” And we will discuss ways to expand freedom and opportunity.

Structure of meeting:

Begin with introductory remarks about WASH, what is happening, and so forth. – 10 min.

Moderator gives an overview of the subject and how the meeting will proceed, then divides the gathering into four groups, each with an assignment.  – 10 min.

Groups hold their separate discussions in separate parts of the room as the moderator gives guidance. – 40 min.

Break for refreshments. – 15 min.

The four group coordinators give their reports to the whole body, with the moderator and others offering comments. – 45 min.

Meeting ends and cleanup.

Our speaker Fred Edwords has 38 years’ experience in humanist leadership, having led local and national organizations since 1977. He was executive director of the American Humanist Association for fifteen years, editor of the Humanist magazine for twelve, and national director of the United Coalition of Reason for six. Today he is director of planned giving for the American Humanist Association and would be pleased to help you provide a future for your humanist values in your will or other estate plan.

Saturday April  11 (10:45- 12:45 ) at the Chevy Chase Library the speaker was Rosalind Kipping from Compassion & Choices in the National Capital Area . Her talk  topic is “ensuring self-determination at the end of life.“​


Compassion & Choices is a national organization whose mission is to improve the quality of care and expand choice at the end of life.  Rosalind will  provide programs to interested groups on Ensuring Self-Determination at the End of Life (or in any life threatening situation). She will I distribute the legal documents the individual requires and materials to enable each person figure out what he or she wants to put in those documents.  This is not a traditional  lecture, but strives to provide information in a format that involves a 2-way conversation with attendees.

Compassion & Choices believes that physician aid-in-dying should be available to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.  Physician aid-in-dying is hotly debated all across our country and is currently legal in 6 states.  C&C works with state legislatures and through the judicial system to make this option available in all states.  It is legal in several European countries and is hotly debated in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Activists in Maryland are currently working to make this option available in Maryland in the coming 2-3 years.


Compassion & Choices is a national organization whose mission is to improve the quality of care and expand choice at the end of life.  Rosalind will  provide programs to interested groups on Ensuring Self-Determination at the End of Life (or in any life threatening situation). She will I distribute the legal documents the individual requires and materials to enable each person figure out what he or she wants to put in those documents.  This is not a traditional  lecture, but strives to provide information in a format that involves a 2-way conversation with attendees.

Compassion & Choices believes that physician aid-in-dying should be available to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.  Physician aid-in-dying is hotly debated all across our country and is currently legal in 6 states.  C&C works with state legislatures and through the judicial system to make this option available in all states.  It is legal in several European countries and is hotly debated in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.  Activists in Maryland are currently working to make this option available in Maryland in the coming 2-3 years.

Our last meeting before summer break was Saturday, June 13  at the Chevy Chase Library.
Luisa Robles is our speaker and her topic is Sustainability and what to do about it.

Luisa Robles is the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Greenbelt and has worked with Public Works since 2008. She has a PhD in Environmental Sciences, Sustainable Development and Ecological Economics from the University of Maryland.  She is in charge of helping the City reduce its carbon footprint, the greenhouse gas emissions inventory, all the recycling programs, watershed programs, is the liaison to the Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (Green ACES) and the Green Team, and is in charge of helping the City be more sustainable through various programs, workshops, and outreach efforts.

Winter 2014

Atheism in Artistic Experience

In January Harrison Murphy discused  his recent play–The Blue Box–which deals with the existence of God and the origin of the Universe. His play which was performed at the Anacostia Playhouse in January.  This work is a cutting edge approach to theatrical expression and his motivations to write this play. Also, he addressed his lifetime commitment to Secular Humanism as a personal philosophy.

  • Harrison Murphy was born in the US Virgin Islands and has lived in Northern Virginia for over 20 years. By day he runs his companies that market high tech fabrics into the mattress and furniture industries and he also licenses intellectual property and travels the world.

Fall  2014 meeting started with the September Monthly Meeting

Time: Saturday, Sept. 6 , at 2:00 p.m.
Location: Wheaton Regional Library,
11701 Georgia Ave., WheatonMD This will be in the lower level Meeting Room
Panelists: Edd Doerr, Nancie Gonzalez & Gary Berg-Cross
Topic: Panel and Community Discussion of Peace & Peace Issues
WASH MDC has organized a meeting on Sept. 6th from 2-4 on the topic of Peace and Peace Issues. We will address an Humanist perspective and all are invited and will be welcome to add their perspective. Edd Doerr from the WASH and UUC community will be on the panel along with anthropologist Nancie Gonzalez who has experience in peace negotiations is expected to attend.
Following panel presentations there will be ample time for community/audience discussion.


On Saturday October 4 from 2-4. Conor Robinson of the Foundation Beyond Belief will speak on developing a Humanist Service Corps under the umbrella of FBB. The event will be held at the Wheaton Library    (11701 Georgia Ave #1 Silver Spring, MD)

November Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014
2:00-4:00 Wheaton Regional Librar

Sarah Jones
Communications Associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“The Year In Church/State Separation: Where We’re At And What’s Next.
Winter 2014 meeting starting with January Monthly Meeting

On Dec. 6th , the MDC chapter of WASH will host a talk called “Energy and the Evolution of Culture: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” by Nancie L. Gonzalez, Emeritus Prof of Anthropology (UMD) .

This talk will will describe how culture has evolved with increases in the amount of energy harnessed .
Note, this is a new location for us at
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center,
4805 Edgemoor Ln Bethesda, MD
This is at the intersection of Old Georgetown Pike and Edgemoor Ln..
Time: Saturday, January 18 , at 2:00 p.m.
Location: Rockville Library, This will be in Meeting Room 2, which is on the 2nd floor of the library 
Speaker: Mathew Goldstein
Topic:Lobbying with the new Secular Coalition for Maryland (SCMD)
The SCMD is a state chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization.  The SCMD will work with the national staff of the Secular Coalition for America in DC to lobby on issues of special concern to our supporting organizations in Maryland, including WASH.  The SCMD is run by volunteer activists, we need your help to lobby for secularist government in Annapolis and across Maryland.
Feb. 15 and March 15th MDC meetings were at:
the Wheaton Regional Library 

Older Past meetings Include:

Sept 2016   Confronting our Whiteness

Oct. 2016  Democracy for Realists

Nov. 2016 Meeting to hear thoughts on the 2016 election

A Special Event organized by the Montgomery County Public Libraries called “An Evening with Steve Roberts.”

Dec. 2016 Annual DC Area HumanLight Celebration

Oct. 17th, 2015 We highlighted  the recent  WASHcon15 Regional meeting and some of its speakers topics:

Linda LaScola, Co-Author of “Caught in the Pulpit – Leaving Belief Behind” and Co-Founder of The Clergy Project
Dr. Andy Thomson, Psychiatrist and Author,
Ron Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
Julien Musolino, Author and Scholar, Rutgers University
Tom Flynn, Executive Director, Council for Secular Humanism
Dr. Jason Heap, Executive Director, United Coalition of Reason

For slides used at the session try here or contact the moderator, Gary Berg-Cross 

2015 Sept. 12th The Sept. WASH MDC meeting was held Saturday Sept. 12th at the Wheaton Regional Library. The meeting starts at 10:45 and the topic is a community discussion comparing the Atheist and Secular Humanist stance (featuring key humanist virtues) with participation of the DC Region Atheist chapter of WASH as well as other persuasions (Nones, Skeptics, Freethinkers etc.).Are these labels important and what do they mean to you?Do they share a naturalistic & ethical worldview with a  positive emotional/affective thrust?

A-theism starts off by saying what it it does not believe. The humanist movement, has what Roy Speckhardt calls a forward-thinking outlook with an emphasis on critical thinking and self-reflection.

For past meetings see:

 Fall 2017 series of talks & Meetings.

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