Welcome to the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Please Join us. We meet in Duluth on the first Sunday of every month, 9am at the downtown Radisson. Our meetings are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Meetings

September 2014
August Berkshire, President of the MN Atheists will present “Moral Responsibility and Free Will”
Sunday, April 22, 2012

May, 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

Ed Raymond of Reader Weekly fame will be our May 6 presenter! His topic: Who put lemonade in my lemonade? Sanctorum fans beware.
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May 10 will bring Roy Zimmerman – and flowers!


Here are two more books from George Erickson for our budding library. Please bring your contribution. If you take one, please read and return it promptly so others can enjoy it. If you email me the titles ahead of time I’ll get them in the newsletter.


Passages from Ed Raymond.
If Infallible, Why Not Excommunicate?

All of this centuries-long concentration on sex, contraception, abortion, and sexual conduct by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Bishops has been overwhelmingly negative for the Catholic Church in Europe and the U.S. Ireland, at one time the most Catholic of countries, has closed its embassy at the Vatican because of church sexual abuse committed on Irish boys and girls. In Germany more than 1,200 Catholics of the city of Wurzburg quit the church in the month of March, 2011 because of reports of sexual abuse and sadistic punishment in the Catholic schools. Even in Italy only about 15 percent of Catholics go to weekly mass. Illicit sex, child abuse by priests, and pro-life positions have done it. A very conservative Vatican emphasizing a “ No Bishop Left Behind” program while forgetting the peasants in the pews has had about the same success as NCLB in this country.

More than 1,000 U.S. parishes have closed since 1995. Since the 1960's four American-born Catholics have left the church for every one converted. Almost 10,000 priests have been lost in the last half century. In the year 2008, at the top of the sex abuse scandals, over 400,000 members left the church. Presently more than 3,400 parishes in the U.S. have no resident priest.

The Train Has Left The Station–And There Are No Passengers

After Vatican Roulette was approved by Pope Pius XII, H.L. Mencken, a favorite cynic of mine, wrote: "It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics (the counting of days along with an accurate thermometer), though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry."

I look at it this way: The Vatican’s anti-contraceptive, anti-abortion, anti-gay passenger train has left Washington, D.C. headquarters with 195 conductor-bishops but few of the 62 million Catholics they have called immoral for committing an “intrinsically evil sin” have boarded any passenger cars for the trip.

We don’t need people in this modern age who have never had their feet in the stirrups telling us how to vote, whether we should marry the person of his or her choosing, or how to avoid pregnancy. We can seek advice elsewhere. The Catholic Church runs institutions that employ hundreds of thousands of people of all faiths caring for people of all faiths–and accepts untold millions of our tax dollars. That’s wonderful, but they owe participation in the community. Obama has not declared war on religion. He has declared war on disease, bigotry, and discrimination, not their churches.

We live in a modern world that is slowly removing ignorance and substituting science and reason to make lives better….

We are not a Christian nation. Check the Constitution. No government is going to force me to follow Catholic karma and dogma. Been there, done that. I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up under new or old Inquisitions. I want them to be able to cope with the 21st Century. I don’t want to follow hate-filled laws for people who happen to love a member of the same sex. The Pope said in 1968 that every act of intercourse should be open to procreation. Corky and I have friends who married at 90 and 85 after they had lost their spouses. They must have had a good laugh over that.

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Meet St Timothy, a headless wonder (like some clergymen) whom your editor recently found in the basement of the Norwegian Museum in Decatur, Iowa. Dear St. Tim had the misfortune to get himself beheaded, but, full of zeal, he subsequently walked 2 miles with his head in his hands while preaching a sermon. One wonders what his topic was.


More Ed Raymond

The Roman And American Obsession With Money

The Roman middle class was essentially destroyed by the One Percenters ordering the Legion mercenaries to bring thousands of slaves back from the hinterlands as chattel. Then the One Percenters didn’t need so many servants and middle-class workers to live a life of leisure. Their slaves did all the work for food and shelter. A slave might become a gladiator and risk his life in the arena for his freedom, but that was his only out. Sound familiar?

The American One Percenters sent their coyotes throughout Latin America to recruit laborers for the food processing industry, the construction trades, and the fast food and hotel and motel industries, shutting out the American lower and middle classes from slightly higher than minimum-wage jobs. If we deported all non-documented workers from the food-processing industry, it would have to shut down. I remember watching Florida contractors eight years ago building thousands of homes. 90 % of the workers could not speak English, so one assumes they were undocumented. They worked for less than minimum wage, screwing American workers out of thousands of good jobs–while the construction was really shabby.

Ronald Reagan, The Era Of Greed, And Our Absolute Obsession With Money

Every 80 years or so we go through a preoccupation with money. It becomes necessary for the non-greedy to focus on money, as Sociologist Robert Putnam says” at the expense of damn near everything else in order to survive.” We hear what is happening on Wall Street News and overseas markets every half-hour as if our very lives depended upon such information. We hear very little about Main Street.

In 1975 only 38 % said the elements of a good life depended upon “a lot of money.” After 12 years of Reagan and G. H.W. Bush, 63 percent said a lot of money was important for the “good life.” Then came Silicon Valley and Wall Street booms and boomlets combined with huge tax cuts, creating greedy One Percenters filling ever deeper pockets. Greed became respectable as radical and crony capitalism, and the theology of free markets captured the Republican Party, turning conservatives into starving hogs at the Washington Buffet. The Cruella Extraordinaire Ayn Rand became the Goddess of Selfish Capitalism that wooed and screwed Allen Greenspan and the darling of Republicans, the scroogy budgeteer from Wisconsin - Representative Paul Ryan. Symbolic of her greed, she instructed that a six-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign be glorified right next to her casket.

Did Mitt Romney Leave Pluto When It Was Downgraded To A Plutoid?

There’s something about Mitt Romney.... It’s hard to pin down. He’s a good-looking guy with nice hair, a full set of teeth and perfect posture. Maybe the problem is he wears several different suits over his sacred underwear at the same time. Although stiffly upright at all times, he seems to have the most supple political spine in the history of our Republic. Before his most recent campaign for the presidency I heard a reporter say there was something different about Mitt: "Even Mitt’s friends don’t like him!" Isn’t that strange?

There is that old expression about the sexes used by shrinks to counsel patients: “Women are from Venus, men are from Mars.” My problem is I know some men from Mars. Mitt isn’t one of them. He acts like he hasn’t lived in our culture. If he has spent considerable time on some other planet, it wasn’t Mars.

I’m beginning to think that Mitt may have lived on the planet Pluto until it was downgraded by scientists and astronomers to a plutoid. He decided to come to earth because humans were abandoning a planet in 2006 that had only been identified for 70 years. Remember that good Mormons who are promoted to Heaven may become Big God–-and God can create other planets such as Earth, Mars, and Venus. But that’s another column after Mitt is elected. Since Pluto was put into the sub-class of a plutoid, another one named Eris has been discovered beyond Pluto in a cold region known as the Kuiper Belt. Eris may become more important than Pluto because it is larger and heavier. Maybe Mitt will choose his plutoid after his sacred underwear is removed.

TED NUGENT is a Birther, Racist, Misogynist! The NRA folks knew exactly what they were getting. To the cheering audience Rotten-Mouth called President Barack Obama a "criminal" whose "vile, evil, America-hating administration" is taking the country down to socialism. He said that Obama, who once taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, is "wiping his ass with the Constitution." I guess Ted must advise the NRA on Constitutional issues

Then he aroused the interest of the Secret Service (Obama gets about 30 death threats per day, about four times any “white” president) by going over the top–as he usually does: "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either dead or in jail by this time next year. If you can't galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we're done. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November." How are you going to do Obama, Ted? With pistol, rifle, knife, or bow and arrow? This is a direct threat. We need to lock up these Sirhan Sirhan, Lee Harvey Oswald nutcases so they cannot inspire other nutcases to kill our presidents. We have millions of "postal" possibilities out there. Remember that the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 26 percent of Americans over 18 suffer from diagnosable mental disorders, with about six percent with serious disorders. Nugent must be one of them.

When Texas Governor Rick Perry had his inaugural in 2007 he invited his longtime friend Nugent to "entertain" at the celebration. The Houston Chronicle described Nugent’s "music" program this way: "Nugent appeared on stage wearing a cut-off T-shirt emblazoned ....with the Confederate flag and shouting ...unflattering remarks about non-English speakers. His musical props were machine guns." Classy stuff.

As early as 2007 Nugent suggested in a nightclub show that he would like to see presidential candidate Obama dead or gravely wounded: "I was in Chicago last week, I said, 'Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these (machine guns), you punk! Obama, he's a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun! Let’s hear it for them. I was in New York and I said, 'Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. And since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer? She might want to suck on my machine gun! Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these, you worth less whore."

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Now that Mitt Romney will probably be the Republican nominee, here’s what Mormons believe.

Mormonism 101 – a brief summary of another hocus-pocus, holy-smokus religion.
by George Erickson www.tundracub.com

It all began in 1820 when a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith Jr. claimed that Jesus and God had appeared before him, in what would be vision # 1, to tell him that all of the existing churches were wrong. (L Ron Hubbard, the Scientology guy, later advised, "If you want to get rich, start a new religion.")

Three years later, the angel Moroni, a supposed prophet originally from America appeared and told Joseph of a book with pages of gold that was conveniently buried nearby. Joseph was allowed to see those plates once a year for 4 years, and on the 4th year he took them home, where he translated them into the Book of Mormon (which Mark Twain called “chloroform in print”, by occasionally using a Thummimm and a Urim that consisted of 2 seer stones in silver bows attached to a breastplate.

Jack Worthy, a former Mormon missionary and author of The Mormon Cult, wrote that Smith would "place the seer stones into the bottom of a top hat while he hid behind a sheet. He would then stick his face into the hat containing the stone. Buried inside pitch blackness of the hat, he would then wait."

According to Smith, "A spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character from the gold plates would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English."

Smith would then dictate the translation to an assistant on the other side of the sheet. The assistants, of course, never saw the plates. However, to convince them that the plates were real, Smith allowed his assistants to hold them while they were wrapped in a cloth.

During one "translation", Smith and an assistant claimed to have been visited by John the Baptist who conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon them. A week or two later, Peter, James, and John conferred another priesthood upon them.

Jack Worthy again: "The first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed on March 26, 1830. Less than two weeks later, the LDS as church was officially organized. The Book of Mormon is considered by the Latter Day Saints to be divined scripture. So is the Bible. So is a book called the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a collection of Revelations that Jesus personally gave to Smith. And so is a book called the Pearl of Great Price, part of which Joseph Smith translated from some Egyptian papyri that the church had purchased along with a couple of mummies. However, the papyri have subsequently been translated by Egyptologists, showing that Joseph Smith had no clue whatsoever as to what was actually written on them.

"The book of Mormon begins with a story about a family of Israelites who were committed by God to go to America in 600 BC. We learn from the book that the American Indians, who were unfortunate enough to be discovered in 1492, are cursed, black-skin descendants of one of those Israelites named Laman. Because he was bad, God made his descendants black. Laman's descendants, who are known as Lamanites, were lazy and wicked, and they killed all the white people, who were the descendants of Laman's brother Nephi.… All of this explains why Columbus found no white people when he landed on the shores of America - only black-skinned, 'loathsome' people."

God later commanded Joseph Smith to marry lots of women, which he reluctantly did because he was forced to do so by an angel with a flaming sword.

Smith was eventually murdered by a mob, and Brigham Young, who believed that people lived on the moon and the sun, took his place. Soon after that, there was an incredible, deadly, painful exodus of Mormon pioneers to the Utah Territory.

The success of Mormonism is largely due to a three-step program of child indoctrination. First, parents are committed to indoctrinate their children. Second, Parents and others responsible for teaching children are given detailed instructions on how to instruct them. Third, they do it. Finally, Mormon children are taught that truth is proved through feelings, which means that conflicting empirical evidence can never prove the church or its leaders to be wrong.

Genealogy: According to Mormons, they all began on a planet that revolved around Kobol, a giant star at the center of the universe. On that planet lived the Heavenly Father, a polygamist (whom everyone lived with as "Intelligences"), who created the earth – and indicated that those who followed the Mormon rules would become Gods.

God's first two children were Jesus and Lucifer, who had "issues," and from there on, it's pretty much variations of Old Testament stuff. As time passed, the church forbade the drinking of alcohol, coffee and tea. Tobacco is also forbidden, and any disagreement with or criticism of church leaders is absolutely out of bounds. As apostle N. Eldon Tanner said, "When the prophet speaks, the debate is over."

When Utah wanted to become a state, the prophet du jour received a convenient revelation: polygamy would no longer be required. Statehood followed. The Mormon Church expanded, and now fields 50,000 missionaries at all times.

Among the many things these missionaries promise is an attractive, three-tiered, end-of-life reward that trumps the Christian scheme.

First of all, there's no hell, and even the bottom tier, which is called the Telestial Kingdom, and is reserved for serious sinners, is a paradise compared to earth.

The middle tier, the Terrestrial Kingdom, houses the more devout, who can look forward to occasional visits from Jesus and the even more saintly believers who inhabit the Celestial Kingdom, the Penthouse, one might say. How cool is that!

That said, even for Mormons, there really is a hell, and it appears when members attempt to leave the Church, an adventure that Jack Worthy experienced – and aptly describes in the final 140 pages of The Mormon Cult.



Monday, April 9, 2012

April 2012



August Berkshire did an excellent presentation on "Morality With and Without God" for the April 2012 meeting.