PLEASE JOIN US!   We meet on the first Sunday of each 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 - (218) 464-1652
             Videographer - Jan Resberg


Updates to the blog

A new gadget has been added to the blog on the left hand side. The new section is called "Recommended LInks". This will be used to provide links to videos, articles and other "stuff" that may be associated with freethinkers of note. The first one added is for PZ Myers speech at the Rally for Reason in D.C. on Saturday, March 24th. PZ will be our guest in October (he is a busy man).

I will try to locate links for other upcoming speakers in the future. If you have one, send it along to me at ksynergy@msn.com
Ken Eck

April, 2012 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Facilitators: David Broman – 218-349-7455 & Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806
First Sunday - Radisson Hotel – 9:00 AM Social – 10:00 Brunch
George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com

Program: August Berkshire "Morality with and without God"

August Berkshire will examine both of these questions in his 40-minute presentation "Morality with and without God." He will demonstrate the problems with trying to base morality on either a generic god or the Christian god, and how science and humanism offer our only reliable hope to lead ethical lives.

August Berkshire is the president of Minnesota Atheists and a past vice president of Atheist Alliance International. He is the author of numerous pamphlets, which can be found on his website AugustBerkshire.com. He owns the "ATHEIST" license plate for Minnesota and is proud to be listed in the reference book Who’s Who in Hell.

The April additions from George Erickson to our circulating library involve
"God" and the lowly mosquito - one of his most influential creations.
What can you contribute?

Eve Chats with God

"Lord, I have a problem."
"What's the problem, Eve?"
"I know that you created me and provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals, as well as that hilarious snake, but I'm just not happy."
"And why is that Eve?"
"Lord, I am lonely, and I'm sick to death of apples."
"Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you."
"Man? What is that Lord?"
"A flawed creature, with many bad traits. He'll lie, cheat and be vain; he'll give you a hard time. But he'll be bigger, faster and will like to hunt and kill things. However, he will satisfy your physical needs. He will revel in childish things like fighting and kicking a ball. He won't be as smart as you, so he will also need your advice to think properly."
"Sounds great," says Eve, with ironically raised eyebrows, "but what's the catch Lord?"
"Well,.....you can have him on one condition."
"And what's that Lord?"
"As I said, he'll be proud, arrogant and self-admiring... so you'll have to let him believe that I made him first. And it will have to be our little secret…
You know - woman to woman."

To the editor,
I would patronize pediatricians who send non-trusting parents elsewhere if those parents [refuse vaccinations and] cannot be convinced that their doctor knows more than they do.
Pediatric reception room contagion is a legitimate concern -- as well as is contagion to adults, especially those who are family members. If a patient shows lack of faith in their physician, the doctor should politely suggest that they go elsewhere. (I did that successfully a couple of times over several decades). Bob Goldish, M.D.

excerpts from his The State of the Union and the Tower of Babble

We have been having an uncivil war between our many "religions" and our "state" since the Massachusetts Bay Colony was settled in 1630. We should thank an influential Calvinist minister named Roger Williams for establishing guidelines to keep religion out of state business. … Williams believed preventing error in religion was an impossible task because all of God’s laws required interpretation by mortals. And people would always screw up. So we have been battling over the relationship between religions and state ever since, compounded also by what should be the relationship between a free individual and the … government.
At one point in man's history there was only one language, but according to Genesis 11:1-9 when man learned about construction he started to build “a stairway to heaven.” God came and saw the tower. He thought such a tower would drive man away from Him so He confused language so man could not understand one another. Then He scattered all of the people over the face of the earth. Thus came the Tower of Babel somewhere in Babylon. “Bab” means "gate" and "el" means "God." He did a heckuva job….

The Original Tower Has Not Been Discovered Yet

Archeologists have been searching for centuries for the bricks and mortar of the Tower of Babel. And we certainly have confusion about religions. At last count there are about 4,300 major faith groups in the world. In the U.S. we have over 200 “denominations” that attend 335,000 congregations. But denominations break down into many sects and factions. As an example, Jews have Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox factions but have many other smaller, but more groups. One group makes women ride in the back of the bus!
OK, folks, if our government policy should follow one religion instead of having separation, which “denomination” should dominate? Should it be the Dalai Lama’s Buddhism which practices self-immolation to make a political point? A young mother of three burned herself to death last week in Sichuan Province protesting Chinese rule….
Or should it be a Jewish Ultra-Orthodox religion that sponsors a religious circumcision rite known as bris on young male babies? It was recently discovered that a two-week old infant died in New York’s Maimonides Hospital in September of 2011 after receiving herpes from the rabbi who performs the circumcision and then removes the blood from the wound by sucking it up with his mouth. The rabbi had also infected three infants in 2004 during the same ritual. Sometimes tradition kills.
Or should it be Norwegian Lutherans who share power with government? Would Americans like to eat lutefisk and drink the potent Aquavit for every holiday? I think most would go for Aquavit but they might start self-immolation over lutefisk.
Or should the very conservative Catholic cult called Opus Dei (The Work of God”), sit at the very far-right hand of our government? The favorite cult of the last two popes has supported fascist governments around the world since its start in Spain in 1928. Like the mother church of Rome, it has always been interested in the sex lives of everybody. The founder, Josemaria Escriva’ de Balaguer, declared as late as 1997: "Ninety percent of the physically and mentally handicapped are the children of parents who entered marriage in an impure state." Duh. Members practice corporal mortification such as the tightening of the spiked bloody cicatrice around the thigh exhibited by the Monk Silas in the movie "The DaVinci Code."
The retching Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is a hanger-on of Opus Dei. He goes to an Opus Dei church in Great Falls, Virginia, and traveled to Rome to participate in the 100th birthday of the Opus Dei founder Balaguer. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia attends the same church. Interesting….
I worry about Southern Baptists and Tennessee Snake Handlers a lot more. We have the “Prosperity Gospel” churches which babble about money and pray that God will make them rich. [Wasn’t Jesus] born poor and died poor.
I see Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the Conference of U.S. Catholic Bishops, has exhorted Catholics to become "more political." In that Catholics don’t obey some of the major principles of the Catholic Church, particularly ones about sex, one would think he would exhort them to follow the rules instead of lobbying a babbling Congress. Who knows how the Bible might be interpreted by a "religious" government?

Good Old White Boys in the 1790's Liked Separation of Church and State

Some people did seek refuge in this country from oppressive governments in Europe, but most came for political and economic reasons, not religious. As the 13 colonies were formed many tried to establish state religions. .. Jews were often chased from one colony to another…. Delaware forbid blasphemy. Some colonies supported churches with tax money from the public treasury: Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and South Carolina. In Pennsylvania an elected official or bureaucrat had to be a "being of God." New York was the only colony to have an official state religion, the Dutch Reformed Church. All children had to be baptized in the church. Residents had to pay church taxes. Quakers were barred from entering New York, and anyone who encountered a Quaker had to turn him over to authorities. Residents were fined if they were caught harboring Quakers. Mary Dyer, a Quaker woman, was hanged in Boston Commons in 1660 because she didn’t think like her neighbors. Christians did pass "religious" laws. Residents were required to rest on the "Sabbath." Public schools were required to sponsor devotional exercises in most colonies.
In the last quarter of the 18th century the men who insisted on separation of church and state did their best work. When Virginians tried to pass a bill requiring all Virginians to pay a tax to support "teachers of religion" James Madison came up with 15 solid reasons why no one should pay taxes to support a religion. He won the day. In this babbling day of "faith-based" projects and vouchers to religious schools his arguments against such proposals are still used.

Jefferson: "Religion Is A Matter...Between Man & His God"

In 1790 a Jewish synagogue pleaded with George Washington to have complete religious freedom. Washington’s reply is considered to be a classic of religious liberty: "The citizens of the United States...have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation....Happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it... their effectual support." Note; George didn’t say anything about America being a "Christian nation" as the Christian fundamentalists always claim. He rejected this "vision."
Thomas Jefferson, who along with Ben Franklin was considered to be a Deist, cemented the wall between religion and the state with this unequivocal statement to the Danbury Baptist Association on 1 January, 1801:"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

In The Matter Of Religious Market Share

There is always a battle among denominations for market share. The larger the denomination the more lobbyists it employs to gain political and economic advantage. The prosperity gospel megachurches of Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, and Creflo Dollar preach a philosophy counter to Jesus Christ who preached "You cannot serve both God and money." Could there be a snake in the bottom of the collection plate? These guys provide some crazy entertainment. The con for dough by Osteen. The power of Binny Hinn curing people by catching sinners while removing wallets. The barking of Dollar and Jakes before catching their private jets for faraway golf courses. There aren’t many green courses in the Holy Land.
Instead of becoming more political, I would think that Cardinal Dolan and his bishops would be concerned with the fact that although one in three Americans were born in the Catholic Church, only one in four remain. The second largest religious group in the U.S. is fallen-away Catholics. The losses would be greater except that undocumented “immigrants” are coming from Catholic countries.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reports that religion in America is declining quickly. Among 18 - 29 year-old Americans over 25 percent are not affiliated with any religion. For the entire population 16.1 percent are unaffiliated, more than double than when they were children. Bill Maher has come up with a term for the unaffiliated: "apatheists," a shortening of "apathetic atheist."
Symbolic of the troubles many religions have when they don’t temper their ideas with scientific truth are the Pentecostal snake handlers who use quotations from Luke and Mark to support their religion: “In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues, They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
These worshipers are not as bad as Dominion followers Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. They insist that God brought Hurricane Katrina and wrecked New Orleans because it was a sinful city. They also believe that God punished the entire nation with 9/11 because of our tolerance for gays. And here I thought it was Saudi Arabian Muslims! Do you still think we have a Christian nation?

More Raymond -
According To Trash Limbo And His Dittohead Dipsticks Sex Is A Free Enterprise Commodity Which Must Be Paid For With Each Ejaculation
Republicans have put a price on everything connected to sex. As sex is entertainment in their eyes, it must be paid for with cash or credit card. Every woman is a slut, prostitute or whore looking for payment. Look at all the restrictions they place on the decisions by women and their doctors concerning pregnancy. They don’t want insurance companies to cover contraceptives. But women and girls who don’t use because they can’t afford them account for half of all abortions in America according to the Guttmacher Institute! Some Republicans treat women as if they were ugly and unclean, but they must do “it” to women because God told them to “go forth and multiply,” no matter how disgusting it was.
Texas has the weakest sex-education program in the country. The state has declared holy jihad on women. The abortion rules passed by men in the Texas Legislature qualify as state-sanctioned abuse, according to a Texas abortion doctor. “It borders on rape,” says Dr. Curtis Boyd. (Many states describe rape as putting any object into an orifice against a person’s will.) According to ignorant, sexually-sick men in the legislature, the woman seeking an abortion regardless of the condition of the fetus must have a 10-inch plastic-covered electronic probe shoved up her vagina. Then she must listen to a doctor explain the body parts and internal organs on an ultrasound screen. Then she must sign a statement that she understands the entire situation. Then she must wait 24 hours for the procedure. Texas doctors must warn women (falsely) that abortions may cause breast cancer.
State by state, Republicans are attempting to put new obstacles to abortions through what is commonly called “Stupid Woman” bills and laws. They will try anything to patronize and humiliate women. Last year 24 states passed 92 laws trying to curb abortions. It has reached the point where pitchforks are in order.

Here are some "War on Women" items tossed into legislatures just in the 2011 sessions:

  • A Georgia legislator tried to change the definition of rape and domestic violence to "accused," dropping the word "victim." However, if you were robbed or burglarized you were still listed as a victim. This is the same legislature where a representative said all documents should be “English” because the Bible was written in English.

  • A bill has been submitted by House Republicans that would approve of hospitals allowing women to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

  • South Dakota Repubs proposed a bill to make it legal to murder abortion doctors.

  • House Republicans tried to cut a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids known as the WIC program.

  • Congress voted for a Republican amendment cutting all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers – but Republican Burton submitted a bill that would provide contraception for wild horses. Now, that's health care for females! Planned Parenthood centers provide low-income women with cancer screenings and pap smears for cervical cancer. It also supplies birth control pills, decreasing the number of abortions in the U.S.

Why Women Bother To Go To Some Churches Is Beyond Reason
In this unequal battle between the sexes women don’t get any support from most churches either. Look at just some of the restrictions on women the houses of Mary helped create:

  • Women are not permitted to speak out loud unless they get permission from a man in some fundamentalist churches.

  • Many churches do not permit women to speak from the pulpit or other "holy" places.

  • There are churches where 10-year old boys have more authority than their mothers.

A therapist who left a Christian church decided that according to the church she could do nothing for herself because: "As a Christian woman I needed a man to get any place."

March 2012

Jon Lindgren of the Fargo Red River Freeethinkers was our speaker. He shared his experiences and discussed the efforts they have made to remove the ten commandments from display at the Fargo city hall, his involvement in support of gay rights and his experiences as a freethinker blogging via the Fargo newspaper area voices section.