PLEASE JOIN US!   We meet on the first Sunday of every month in downtown
Duluth at the Radisson Hotel (Location Map)
            Socializing begins at 9:00 am.
            Optional breakfast buffet at 9:30 am.
            Presentation from 10:00 until about 11:30.

            Co-Host: David Broman - (218) 349-7455
            Co-Host: Jim Lyttle - (608) 395-1050

We also have a mid-month social at rotating local venues for fun and fellowship.
Click HERE for details.


Lake Superior Freethinkers

Date: Sunday, September 4, 2016
Location: Radisson Hotel Duluth (Location Map ) conference room
Event: Verne Wagner- Survivors’ Network for those Abused by Priests

Verne Wagner is a Duluth resident, fisherman, and Rescue Squad member.  He has worked as an Esalen massage therapist and a comedian, and he has experienced abuse at the hands of a priest.  He served as North East Minnesota Director of "the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests," an organization he has worked with since 1996.  It is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.  The network was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members.  Despite the word “priest” in the title, members have been molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers.  The website is SNAPnetwork.org and the current Northern Minnesota director is Megan Peterson.

September, 2016 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers
   Gail Matthews, editor – wyncie1@gmail.com
Freethought Quotes by Notable Freethinkers
 “Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any Church, nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ, or the inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians.  When a boy, he showed no sign of that piety which his many biographers ascribe to his manhood. When he went to church at all, he went to mock, and came away to mimic. When he came to New Salem, he consorted with Freethinkers, joined with them in deriding the gospel story of Jesus, read Volney and Paine, and then wrote a deliberate and labored essay, wherein he reached conclusions similar to theirs.”

—Colonel Ward H. Lamon (a religionist and Lincoln's longtime friend), Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 486, 487, 157 (1872), cited by Franklin Steiner in The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents

"The atmosphere of piety in American public life has become stifling. Where is it written that if you don't like religion you are somehow disqualified from being a legitimate American? I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as god."

—— Hendrik Hertzberg, from his book, Politics: Observations and Arguments, 2004 NPR excerpt

Cash-strapped public transit systems are considering running ads from controversial sources.

Last year, a controversial group sought to plaster Philadelphia buses with photos of Adolf Hitler in an ad campaign equating Islam with anti-Semitism. The region’s transit agency—the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority—faced a tough choice. The agency could run the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s ad and offend many of its riders and employees, or it could reject the ad and probably find itself in court fighting accusations that it violated the group’s constitutional right to free speech. That, after all, is what happened when transit agencies in New York and San Francisco rejected ads from AFDI.

The offer, however, couldn’t be considered on moral terms alone. SEPTA, like its peers across the country, is strapped for cash, and public transit agencies increasingly rely on a variety of things—including ads—to generate revenue to keep trains and buses running. AFDI’s campaign would have covered the sides of two buses for about five weeks, generating between $5,000 and $10,000.

Barely $14 million of SEPTA’s $1.2 billion annual operating budget comes from advertising. The rest comes from fares, subsides, and other sources. “We operate on such a thin margin,” said Jacky Grimshaw, who researches transportation issues as a vice president at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, an advocacy group, and serves on the board of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Ultimately, SEPTA officials declined to accept the ads, mainly because the agency’s rules prohibit ads that disparage groups based on religion. The AFDI sued. “We were willing to fight,” said Jerri Williams, a SEPTA spokeswoman.

Earlier this month, a federal judge rejected SEPTA’s argument, writing that the agency’s anti-disparagement rules violate the First Amendment. SEPTA now finds itself in the hole for legal fees far in excess of the potential

Register now for FFRF’s 39th national convention in Pittsburgh
You aren't going to want to miss the 2016 FFRF national convention in Pittsburgh held the weekend of Oct. 7-9!

The national convention, hosted at the Wyndham Grand hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, will include such notable speakers as cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, award-winning author Susan Jacoby, biology professor Jerry Coyne and theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss.

For more information, go to ffrf.org

Arizona public college hotel now 'bible free',

Publicly supported hotel rooms at Thunderbolt Executive Inn in Glendale, Ariz.are now bible free, thanks to a request from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

FFRF, a state/church watchdog with 24,000 members, contacted the Thunderbird School of Global Management after receiving a consumer complaint. The school became a unit of Arizona State University last year.

“State-run colleges have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion,” wrote FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler.

Ziegler noted that the mission of the Gideon Society is to “win the lost for Christ.” Distributing Gideon bibles, which are Christian, inappropriately sends an unconstitutional message of endorsement of one religion’s so-called “holy book” over others, and of religion over nonreligion.

“Anyone zealous enough to need the bible as bedtime reading will travel with one,” noted FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The rest of us paying guests seek a vacation from proselytizing when we’re on vacation. What is offensive at private hotels and motels, however, becomes unconstitutional at public-supported rooms.”

Northern Illinois University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Pennsylvania State University, Portland State University and the University of Iowa also have removed bibles from their public-supported hotel rooms in recent years after FFRF contacted them to express concerns by patrons and students.

FFRF has nearly 600 members in Arizona.

Something you’ll never see in a church

FFRF complaint ends unconstitutional Wisconsin preschool tie-up -
An unconstitutional tie-up between a Wisconsin school district and a parochial preschool has been nixed following a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.

In Beaver Dam Unified School District, 3-year-old public school students with developmental delays were often being sent to private preschools. FFRF's complainant, who has an eligible child, was offered only one choice: a Catholic school, St. Katharine's, whose preschool is named God's Little Miracles. To quote the school itself, its "program is based on the theme 'Thank you, God.'" Materials the complainant received from a Beaver Dam Unified School District teacher contained many religious references and images.

"It is wildly inappropriate for the School District to send 3-year-old public school students to private schools for religious instruction," FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote in June to Stephen Vessey, superintendent of the Beaver Dam Unified School District. "Courts have repeatedly struck down public school practices that affiliate public schools with religious groups and religious instruction. By sending students to receive religious instruction at St. Katharine's, the district is violating this constitutional principle."

The School District investigated the situation and told St. Katherine's what it would have to do to comply with the law and district policy. St. Katherine's decided to stop participating altogether in the 3K program rather than make any changes, revealing that religious instruction was its primary goal. (It did agree to requested modifications in its 4K program.)

"After being advised of the changes that would have to be made to the 3K program, [St. Katharine Drexel] School indicated it no longer wished to provide the Early Childhood (3K) program to district students, and the district has accepted the school's withdrawal from participating in the program," Vessey recently replied. "Any students who were enrolled in the school's Early Childhood program by the district for the coming school year have since been moved to a program offered at a different site." 
FFRF hails the School District's investigation, but also wishes to highlight the implications of St. Katharine's move.

"Once alerted, Beaver Dam school officials did do a good job of rectifying the situation," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "However, St. Katharine's proselytizing motivations are laid bare by its refusal to modify its curriculum to continue participating in the 3K Early Childhood program."
August, 2016 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

   Gail Matthews, editor – wyncie1@gmail.com   

Freethought Quotes by Notable Freethinkers

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia (1789)

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr (1787)

“We must never retreat in the face of threats or punishments dispensed by theocratic terrorists more interested in protecting their power and indulging their vanity, than in advancing the human condition.    If, as the true believers claim, the word 'gospel' means good news, then the good news for me is that there is no gospel, other than what I can define for myself, by observation and conscience. As a freethinking human being, I have come not to favor or fear religion, but to face and fight it as an impediment to civilized advancement.”—-Steve Benson, "From Latter-Day Saint to Latter Day Ain't", Freethought Today, December 1999

FFRF Unveils ‘Atheists in Foxholes’ Monument

A new monument in Madison, Wisconsin contradicts an old jingoistic slogan that proclaims no secular person could, or would, give their lives on the battlefield in the name of the United States.
The old aphorism “there are no atheists in foxholes,” has served to spark the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation time and time again, so foundation members say they decided to erect a monument in front of its Madison, Wisconsin, office that offers a rebuttal.

The monument weighs 4,743 pounds, is more than 7 feet tall and is made of the same South Dakota granite that Mount Rushmore is carved from.
“FFRF deals with so many state/church entanglements regarding all of the military, where substantial incursions by aggressive evangelicals have been made.  This monument not only honors nonreligious veterans, but serves as a reminder to our nation that-contrary to that tired, old, untrue cliché-there are indeed many ‘atheists in foxholes,’ stated Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder and co-president.

Unholy quotes by ‘Holier than Thou’ Theists
To tell you the truth there is no place for religious neutrality in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from? To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another, but can’t favor religion over non-religion?  I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.  Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name, we do him honor.
Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking to students at a Catholic high school in Louisiana

The erroneous wall-of-separation doctrine narrows the role of religion in public discourse, fueling the view that religion is a private matter rather than a fundamental precept of American civil society and leading many to fall prey to the disturbing claim that religious freedom doesn’t extend much further than the church door.
Senator Orrin Hatch, Utah, op-ed, “The wall separating faith and public life must be torn down”