May 2018 Newsletter

May 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

See Upcoming Events BELOW for more details

While lining up a coffee talk in partnership with PEN America to discuss Press Freedom and news consumption, I reached out to numerous organizations.

One individual called me back, and we had a long conversation about FAV, press freedom and the type of discussion we generally have with respect to first amendment issues and trends in how people consume news. Her organization was affiliated with a political party. After we scheduled a session for me to come speak, she asked if my wife planned to attend and whether she was a member of the party. I responded that my wife and I are not registered in any political party and remain nonpartisan in our political activity. This caused quite the reaction.

The woman cited a rule that only registered members of her party were allowed to speak to the organization. “I don’t make the rules; I’m just letting you know what they are.” I responded that as a 25-year veteran, having served 40 months in combat, maybe I had something to offer the group, regardless of political affiliation.

Her response, “I don’t make the rules; I’m just letting you know what they are.”

Maybe this is a new norm? Are people so insulated in their bubbles that they are afraid to hear what others might say? Planning for Philadelphia this September, we plan to tackle this issue head on. We recently secured a wonderful speaker, Kern Beare, who routinely hosts “Difficult Conversations” workshops; how to bridge divides and engage with those with whom we disagree. Learn more about Kern’s story

I hope you will consider joining us. We think you will find the experience meaningful.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service,

Steve Miska and the FAV Team

Citizen’s Call to Action

It’s primary season in many states around the republic. Don’t forget to register and vote! Citizenship is not a spectator sport! #OwnYourLiberty

In the News

An article from the New York Times highlights the battlegrounds for free expression and technology. Read an excerpt:

BERLIN — Security is tight at this brick building on the western edge of Berlin. Inside, a sign warns: “Everybody without a badge is a potential spy!”
Spread over five floors, hundreds of men and women sit in rows of six scanning their computer screens. All have signed nondisclosure agreements. Four trauma specialists are at their disposal seven days a week.
They are the agents of Facebook. And they have the power to decide what is free speech and what is hate speech…
Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for public policy in Europe and the leader of the company’s lobbying effort against the German legislation, put it more simply: “We don’t want to be the arbiters of free speech.”  >>continue reading


First Amendment Voice Third Annual Symposium

Join us at our national convening in the City of Philadelphia,founded by William Penn as a place of religious tolerance, as we join people of faith and conscience to celebrate our Constitutional ideals; honor the annual Constitution/Citizenship Day; and address the erosion of our First Amendment Rights.

  • Date: September 14-15, 2018
  • Location: National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)

Symposium Flyer 2018 – Save the Date

April 2018 Newsletter

April 2018 Newsletter

FAV Family,

We have seen a massive uprising amongst students concerned about gun violence in schools and the fact that political leaders have not been able to develop effective solutions. As a result, students have activated and begun exercising their First Amendment rights with respect to freedom of assembly, petitioning the government for grievance, and ensuring that their voices are part of the national conversation. Some of these young leaders have been demonized in certain parts of the media and derisively attacked on social media. Regardless of your perspective on how to address gun violence in the United States, I would ask that you encourage young voices to join the conversation in civil ways. The country benefits when youth become involved in citizenship. By seeking understanding first, we can set a tone for constructive discussion about important issues in our society.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in service and civility,

The FAV Team

Critical Thinking Tip: Before reading a book/article/blog, know the author. Don’t waste your time reading until you understand the author’s background and history, essentially what biases they bring to their writing. THEN, read the book/article/blog and take into account the expected biases. Seek out alternative viewpoints, writers/speakers who you know DISAGREE with the author/speaker. In that way you can carefully consider different perspectives about the topic and form a more comprehensive opinion. SMILE. If you’re not getting shot at, it’s not that bad! We live in an amazing society. Only through striving to actively contribute to that society can we endeavor toward its aspirational ideals.

In the News

In the world of social media, firms collect an amazing amount of personal data about their users. Read this Buzzfeed article to learn more about how much information Facebook and other firms collect and how they use that data. You probably don’t have as much privacy as you think.

Countering campus bigotry. This article involves a student calling out a professor for alienating comments.


FAV Coffee Talks – The Media sponsored by PEN America

Open to all: REGISTER NOW

Free breakfast for the first 20 registrants

Hosted by Saint Andrews By The Sea United Methodist Church in San Clemente, CA on April 21, 2018 from 8 – 9:30am PST

Other Stakeholders

Pop The Bubble Workshop, Kern Beare

Redding, CA on May 1, 2018


March Newsletter

March Newsletter

FAV Family,

Photo Credit: Dr. Malcolm Byrd, American Bible Society In the photo from right to left: Dr. Paul Murray, Colonel John Church, President of Valley Forge Military Academy & College, Annie Brown, the Honorable Wilson Goode, Jr, former Mayor of Philadelphia, Dr. Fred Lester, Men’s Empowerment Network, Joe Cohn, Legislative Director, FIRE, and Steve Miska, Director, First Amendment Voice

Dr. Murray and I had the supreme honor of meeting with stakeholders in the Philadelphia area to discuss the FAV direction for the upcoming National Symposium in September. People in the meeting provided constructive input into the programming that would most resonate with respect to freedoms of religion, speech, press and civic challenges today. We are excited to invite you to join us on September 14th and 15th to celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day and help rekindle understanding around first amendment issues.

Following our Round Table discussion, I had the distinct honor of addressing the Corps of Cadets at Valley Forge Military Academy & College. I spoke about Character as it relates to First Amendment Freedoms. The cadets asked insightful questions and instigated a meaningful exchange around important issues that many in the crowd would soon swear an oath to defend. Serving something greater than yourself is one of the most meaningful ways to live out life, whether that service is through your faith, your service to country in uniform, through the Peace Corps, or some other way. There are many ways to serve, but like citizenship, service is not a spectator sport! You need to get in the game and enjoy the rewards.

Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would appreciate FAV’s work. Subscribe here.

Yours in Service,

Steven M. Miska
Director, First Amendment Voice

First Amendment Voice awarded PEN America Grant to promote press freedom

Thanks to the support of PEN America, FAV will host Coffee Talks in local areas to discuss threats to First Amendment issues and empower citizens to learn and advocate for protection of their freedom. Coffee shop talks will help consumers be more critical and think about the reliability of their news sources by learning about different perspectives. Two Coffee Talks will be held in Southern California in the next month to raise awareness of press freedom. Dates, times, and locations to be announced.

Upcoming Events in 1A Space

The Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute invites you to attend our March webinar, Islam and America: Tips for Sharing Scholarship with the Public. We will discuss how scholars of Islam and American public life can engage different publics to raise the visibility of their work. We are pleased to host co-presenters Dalia MogahedNajeeba Syeed, and Asma Uddin. The webinar will include a presentation and extended Q&A. Sign up today!

Event Details: March 14, 2018: 12 – 1 p.m. EST

In the News

Discussion with those whom you disagree. The first paragraph gives you a sense for where this piece goes. I hope you take the time to read it.

Disagreement has made disagreeable individuals of us all. News channels are littered with platitudes masquerading as thoughtful discussions. Individuals, convinced that the volume of their speech corresponds to the correctness of their arguments, contribute to the cacophony of tirades. The print media publish headlines assassinating opponents’ characters rather than their ideas.

Free speech and toleration: A family exercising free speech stir controversy within their community.