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Humanist Legal Center Succeeds in Getting YMCA Festival to Accept Nonreligious Group

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Magee, bmagee@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 105

(Summerville, SC, Feb 8, 2013)—Following the involvement of the American Humanist Association, the YMCA Flowertown Festival has reversed its decision to exclude a local humanist group. In an email sent today to Amy Monsky, president of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (SHL), the Summerville Family YMCA Festival Coordinator Kimberly Howell informed Monsky that the group has “officially been accepted to the 2013 Flowertown Festival.”

The Festival’s policy permits all types of community groups, including non-profits and civic organizations, to apply for a booth, so long as the group has “inclusive membership” and supports “community building.” Although SHL meets both of these requirements, the YMCA Festival Coordinator originally told the SHL president not to apply, stating, “We are a Christian organization.”

 “The original decision to use a religious test for inclusion in the festival was misguided,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “I am pleased that local humanists are now welcomed to participate in the YMCA Flowertown Festival along with the rest of their community.”

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on Jan. 28, 2013 to the Summerville Valley YMCA asking them to reverse their decision because the refusal to do business with an atheist organization amounts to unlawful discrimination on the basis of religion in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as South Carolina’s public accommodations statute. The legal center also notified the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission of the violation of the South Carolina Public Accommodations statute.

The Festival, which will be held in April, is open to the general public and expects to attract over 200,000 visitors this year. 

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 160 local chapters and affiliates across America. Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation and The Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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