By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
WICHITA - Dr. Robert Minor, M.A., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and longtime contributor and columnist of the “Minor Details” column in Liberty Press, will be the featured speaker at Darwin Day 2018, an annual event hosted by the Great Plains Chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (the AU). Dr. Minor will present his topic, “Why Do So Many Religious People Want the Government on Their Side?” at the dinner on Feb. 10 at the Olive Tree Banquet Hall in Wichita.
AU ex-officio Michael Alldaffer started the local chapter’s Darwin Day in 2011, after he visited Italy and saw a shirt that depicted the evolution of man, with the man holding a glass of wine. After his trip, he spoke with friends on the AU board and decided to throw a birthday party for Charles Darwin.
Dr. Minor’s presentation at the Darwin Day Dinner will discuss the issue of people using religion as a reason for political maneuvers and decisions – the two biggest issues being women’s reproductive issues and LGBTQ rights.
“They can’t just be religious,” he says. “Instead, they want you to approve of their religion.” People simply get stuck, he continued. They use religion as the reason for their political decisions, and there is nothing anyone can say to change their perspectives, even when confronted by science or other people’s experiences.
Minor is the author of eight books, including When Religion is an Addiction, published in 2007, which focuses on his research on the study of addictions combined with his background in religious studies theory and method.
“His research promotes a better understanding of humanity in all its diversity,” Alldaffer says of Dr. Minor. “He is a strong humanitarian and this organization promotes and is a strong advocate for such thinking. He is a perfect fit for the 21st Century American thinking.”
Past speakers at Darwin Day have included biologists, lawyers, authors, professors, and psychologists. The speakers present for about 30 minutes. “They typically wow the audience,” Alldaffer says. The event is culminated by giving the presenter a brick etched with the phrase “building a wall of separation, brick by brick,” as a thank you to the presenter for their participation.
“What I love even more is the fact that our audience is exceptionally educated and asks some driving and articulate questions, challenging thoughts and supporting science,” Alldaffer said. He says that although the AU is the sponsoring organization, they remain apolitical and motivated solely by thought and science. “All are welcome to attend, all are welcome to participate, and all are welcome to share thoughts and ideas,” he says. l