August 2017



Join The Conversation

Secular Conversations —(public welcome) freethinkers participate in respectful dialogue sharing ideas and opinions on a variety of subjects. Videos, essays, participant and guest speakers provide topics at 2:00 pm on the third Saturday each month at Cypress Hall, 8413 SW 80th Street Ocala.

This Month

August 19th: Marijuana-Science or Fiction

 While our history with cannabis has been known since the beginning of civilization, amazingly there are many myths and misconceptions about its effects on our body.

At a time when cannabis products have been approved in several states and recently in Florida for either medical or recreational purposes, our communities need to understand the possible benefits and risks of its use. For this lecture, I have done a comprehensive review of the literature, from historical features of the plant and the data regarding its potential medical benefits, to its short and long term side effects.


Dr. Gaudier is neurologist practicing in Ocala for 25 years. He studied medicine at the University of Puerto Rico and then moved to the states for his neurology training in Alabama, before establishing his practice in Marion County.  He is former president of the Marion County Medical Society, former member of the hospice board and among other positions was chairman of the hospital ethics committee.  He is known for his interest in education and has lectured extensively on topics of history, science, medicine and neurology.


September 16th: What You Always Wanted to Know About Trans People But Had No One to Ask

Instructors:  J Sumerau, Robyn Kelly

Transgender issues have been emerging in recent years and creating much controversy in different parts of the US and the world.  Listen and discuss what these experts have to say about:

  • The nature of transgender identity
  • Issues that transgender people face in modern society, including

-Personal evolution as a transgender person

-Challenges faced in the process of coming to terms with a new identity 

-Use of public places like bathrooms, and acceptance or rejection in different social settings

-Problems faced by transgender individuals when accessing medical care

-The public’s perception of transgender individuals and the impact of these perceptions

  • The future of transgender identity as our society becomes more pluralistic

Drawing on experience and scholarship, Dr. Sumerau and Ms. Kelly will discuss everyday experience as well as historical, religious, and scientific considerations transgender people face in contemporary American society.  

Bios:  J.E. Sumerau, Ph.D., is a teacher, researcher, and novelist specializing in intersections of gender, sexualities, religion, and health who has published in over 40 scientific journals and edited collections, and regularly contributes to scholarly and political discussions on Write Where It Hurts and Conditionally Accepted at Inside Higher Ed.  They are also the author of the non-binary, bisexual coming of age novel Cigarettes & Wine, an Assistant Professor of Sociology, and the Director of Applied Sociology at the University of Tampa.   

Robyn Kelly, MS in Human Relations, retired from 30+ years of Government service specializing in systems analysis for Air Force Intelligence operations, Naval recruit education and Army simulation contract management.  Robyn has spent several years as a group counselor/facilitator.  She assisted in establishing Gender Identity in Florida Today in Orange County and served on its board of directors.  Robyn established the Triangle Interweave web site and has served as the secretary of the Board of the Interweave Chapter in Lake County.  She regularly speaks on conditions faced by members of the transgender community and answers questions on LGBTQ issues.

Secular Friends at Home 

Secular Friends at Home is the name of our
monthly gatherings for Members-Only
on Fourth Tuesdays throughout the year.
Host locations are now being accepted
from HNCFL Members who wish to host either
12:00nn Lunch or a 6:00pm Dinner
on August 22September 26, or October 24.
Host in your home or favorite restaurant.
You make the meal arrangements.
Four to eight other Members sign up to join you.
Good food and conversation builds friendships.
if you have questions or want to Host.

Secular Tables

HNCFL members and friends come together to enjoy conversation over lunch. Held monthly on the first Wednesday at 11:30 AM at a variety of restaurants. We welcome suggestions and input regarding where you would like to meet.

Seating is not prearranged nor tables pushed together preferring instead to have smaller groups at separate tables for easier communication.

Braised Onion


August 2, 2017
11:30 a.m.
754 NE 25th Ave
Ocala, FL 34470
RSVP by August 1st:


It does not have to be hard to understand what our lawmakers are up to. A new app makes it easy. Countable makes it quick and easy to understand the laws Congress is considering.

Countable also streamlines the process of contacting your lawmaker, so you can tell them how you want them to vote on bills under consideration.

You can use Countable to:

  • Read clear and succinct summaries of upcoming and active legislation.
  • Directly tell your lawmakers how to vote on those bills by clicking “yea” or “Nay”.
  • Tells you how your elected officials voted on bills, so you can hold them accountable in the next election cycle.

Countable is available for free online, on IOS, and Android devices.

The FIDO (Florida Inmates & Dog Obedience) Project

Florida Inmates and Dog Obedience (The FIDO Project) is a partnership between Marion County Animal Services and the Marion Correctional Institution Work Camp to provide training opportunities for inmates and shelter dogs. The inmates train their canine companions in basic obedience and socialization under the supervision of a certified dog trainer.

The goal: teach the inmates life skills and marketable experience, while helping shelter dogs earn their American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen certificates, the goal standard for dog behavior.

To find more information about how to adopt and how to help click on their web site click here.

 For the Right Reason

Save the Date

November 13th is the projected date for a visit by Herb Silverman, founder and president emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America; founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston, South Carolina; and founder and former faculty advisor to the College of Charleston student Atheist/Humanist Alliance. He is a board member of the American Humanist Association; advisory board member of the Secular Student Alliance; and an “On Faith” blogger for the Washington Post online. 

Herb has appeared in a number of debates on topics that include: Can we be moral without God? Does God exist? Is America a Christian nation? He has also debated at the Oxford Union at Oxford University in England on the topic, Does American religion undermine American values? 

After an eight-year legal battle, Herb won a unanimous decision in South Carolina’s Supreme Court, nullifying the state’s religious test requirement to hold public office.

Herb will be touring Florida to talk about and sell his book, “An Atheist Stranger in a Strange Religious Land: Selected Writings from the Bible Belt Atheist”.  Arrangements are underway for this public event to be hosted by the Humanists of North Central Florida and held in the Nature Coast Unitarian Universalist Congregation building in Citrus Springs.



October 20 – 22, 2017, Orlando Florida

FREEFLO (short for Freethought Florida) is the only conference in Florida geared toward Humanists, Skeptics, Atheists, and other freethinkers.

The Florida Humanist Association works to promote humanism across the state of Florida. FHA is a 501(c)(3) educational association comprised of individuals and groups who are working together to create change in Florida. It is the largest state organization in Florida.

Click HERE for details


Can you afford an extra $5 a month to support HNCFL?



A note from our Vice President!!!

I’m Donating My Starbucks Funds

By Bert Gagnon

If you are like me, you probably waste more than a few bucks a month on things like specialty coffees or baked goods we really don’t need.   Recently I’ve made a personal decision to redirect some of my discretionary spending, call it my “Starbucks Funds,” into a $5 monthly donation to the Humanists of North Central Florida.

You may ask, “Why?  Don’t you already pay an annual membership?  Isn’t that enough?”  My answer is, “Yes, I do.  And No, it is not.”

Our organization is continuing to grow.  We want to provide better programming. We are working to increase our visibility and get the word out that Humanists do exist right here in North Central Florida.  We want to let other non-religious people know they are not alone.  The modest $25 annual membership fee we pay does help toward those goals but, if you do the math, you will see it does not go far enough to accomplish what we could if we had more money.

Recently I learned that a couple of our members already make regular monthly donations to our organization.  Those donations go into our general fund and, while they can be ear marked for specific projects, they can also be donated as unrestricted funds.  These donations give the Board the autonomy to direct those funds where they will best serve our mission.  Those folks are my heroes and I’m joining them.

I too would like to see better and more diverse programs with humanist themes, and I recognize it costs money to bring in qualified speakers from outside our area.  I too would like to see HNCFL more involved with greater visibility and increased local recognition, and that also takes money.  I too would like to see us continue to grow our online presence and give other questioning people an opportunity to find us.  Each of these efforts comes at a cost.

So, for me, I’ve decided to kick in the equivalent of my specialty coffee and raise my donation to the HNCFL by $5 bucks a month.  I hope you will consider doing the same.  Just think of the difference we could make if we each give just a little bit more?


Appleton Museum of Art

Recently, Governor Rick Scot vetoed the $1.55 million state appropriation for the Appleton Museum of Art.

The funding cut would have closed the museum permanently on July 1. Fortunately, in spite of that cut, the museum will remain open for another year, thanks to supplemental funding from the Appleton Family Endowments.

We need your help in making the case to Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature that the museum is a important part of not only our community, but the entire state of Florida. We need your help to ensure the museum continues to exist. Here is what you can do right now:

  • Visit the museum for one of their current exhibitions. Record attendance will show how valuable the museum is.
  • Tell your friends and family about the great arts programs available at the museum.
  • Encourage your friends and family to become members.
  • Donate a gift of any amount. Your donations help fund excellent exhibitions and educational programs for people of all ages.

For the past 30 years, the museum has provided great art and educational opportunities for the community and visitors to Central Florida. Please act today to show your support to save our beloved Appleton Museum of Art.

For more information, please call museum director Cindi Morrison at 352.291..4455, ext. 1834.

Your can visit their web site here.

A thank you from RAMAL

Thank you Humanists of North Central Florida for your contributions in helping students learn this Summer.

Please see the attached photos of our summer effort to “do good for goodness sake.”  I trust you are as pleased as I am that we have a friend like Barbara (Brooks), the heart (and lady of action) of RAMAL, making this program with the Marion County Boys & Girls Club a reality.
Below are of the students at the Boys & Girls Club with teachers, Mr. Carlos Rodriguez and Ms. Theresa Roberts.  Teachers are assisted by Dr. Barbara J. Brooks; high school leaders, Trinity Bonner and Alyssa Hagen.


Social Media

MEETUP:  Ocala/Marion Co Freethinkers, Humanists, Agnostics site is available to everyone online.  You can find them HERE.

Facebook:  Humanists of North Central Florida Community needs LIKES.  

The HNCFL directory (password protected) is available on our website.

Help Wanted!

Facebook Page Manager

  • Manage Page Roles and Settings
  • Edit the Page
  • Create and Delete Posts
  • Respond to and Delete Comments

Newsletter Editor/Publisher

  • Collect monthly Humanist items of interest
  • Edit as appropriate
  • Peer review by board of directors before publishing
  • Publish the newsletter on a monthly basis

Program Committee Member

  • Help in planning programs for 2018


Speakers Wanted

One of the goals of the Florida Humanist Association is to develop a speakers bureau to groups like the HNCFL through out the state.  If you are interested please reply to with your requirements (travel cost reimbursement, distance willing to travel, availability).

Input Please

Program planning for 2018 is underway.  What topics are you interested in learning more about?  What topics do you suggest we build programs around which will be of interest to members and the public?  Please reply to










Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More

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Posted in HNCFL Newsletters
2 comments on “August 2017
  1. Great newsletter Danny. Sorry we won’t be there to participate in all these wonderful events.
    We’ll be down in January for a few months and we were thinking we could host a couple of events. Perhaps a music night and a presentation about our documentary. Let me know what you think.
    Is there something that can be done about the closing of the Appleton? Very sad news!!!
    Hope you’re both well.
    B & P

    Liked by 1 person

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