Church-state separation group to celebrate Darwin’s life

The Great Plains Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State will celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday with a party at a west Wichita hotel on Feb. 9.

The group’s third annual “Darwine Day” celebration will feature party foods and a cake to celebrate the birthday of the famed naturalist who developed the theory of evolution. Darwin was born on Feb. 12, 1809.

The event also will feature a presentation by Teresa MacDonald, Director of Education at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum.

The local Americans United chapter made national news last month for its criticism of Gov. Sam Brownback, who the group claims improperly mixed church and state by issuing an official proclamation declaring Dec. 8 a “Day of Restoration” in Kansas.

The proclamation honored a nationally televised prayer conference held that day in Topeka by the Christian group ReignDown USA. Brownback spoke at the conference and his picture appears on the home page of ReignDown’s website.

Americans United objected to language in the proclamation stating that the people of Kansas “collectively repent of distancing ourselves from God and ask for His mercy on us.”

The group’s event is called Darwine Day rather than Darwin Day because “originally it was a wine event and we had T-shirts showing the evolution of man ending with a glass of wine in his hand,” said Vickie Sandell Stangl, president of the Americans United chapter and a former instructor in American government at Wichita State University.

In addition to the natural history presentation and birthday festivities, the group will hold a silent auction. The Darwine Day event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Best Western Airport Inn, 6815 W. Kellogg, Wichita. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Those who want to RSVP for the event, purchase tickets or get more information can contact Americans United by e-mail at