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


May 2014 Newsletter

May, 2014 Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers

Facilitators: David Broman - 218-349-7455, Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806

First Sunday -Radisson – 9:00 AM Social – 9:30 Breakfast - 10:00 Presentation


George Erickson, editor, tundracub@mchsi.com

Program - Max Elfelt, president of the UMD Secular Humanists who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, will present "Jehovah's Witnesses: An In-depth Look".

George Carlin continued from the April issue.

Rather than be just another religious robot, I decided to look around for something else. And I thought of the sun. Overnight I became a sun-worshiper. Well, not overnight, you can't see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshiper.

First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods, I can actually see the sun. If I can see something, it kind of helps the credibility along! So every day I can see the sun, as it gives me everything I need; heat, light, food, flowers in the park, an occasional skin cancer, but hey. At least there are no crucifixions, and we're not setting people on fire simply because they don't agree with us. Sun worship is fairly simple. There's no mystery, no miracles, no pageantry, no one asks for money, there are no songs to learn, and we don't have a special building where we all gather once a week to compare clothing. And the best thing about the sun, it never tells me I'm unworthy. Doesn't tell me I'm a bad person who needs to be saved. Hasn't said an unkind word. Treats me fine. So, I worship the sun.

But, I don't pray to the sun. Know why? I wouldn't presume on our friendship. It's not polite. I've often thought people treat God rather rudely, don't you? Asking trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. Do this, gimme that, I need a new car, I want a better job. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday. His day off. It's not nice. And it's no way to treat a friend.

Pray for anything, but what about the Divine Plan? Remember that? Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was good, put it into practice. And for billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn't in God's Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn't it seem a little arrogant? It's a Divine Plan. What's the use of being God if every shmuck with a two-dollar prayer-book can come along and fuck up Your Plan? And here's something else: Suppose your prayers aren't answered. What do you say? "Well, it's God's will." "Thy Will Be Done." Fine, but if it's God's will, and He's going to do what He wants to anyway, why bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn't you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It's all very confusing. So to get around a lot of this, I decided to worship the sun. But, as I said, I don't pray to the sun.

You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci. Two reasons: First of all, I think he's a good actor. To me, that counts. Second, he looks like a guy who can get things done. Joe Pesci doesn't fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with. For years I asked God to do something about my noisy neighbor with the barking dog, Joe Pesci straightened that prick out with one visit. It's amazing what you can accomplish with a simple baseball bat. So I've been praying to Joe for about a year now. And I noticed something. I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don't. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit's foot, same as the Mojo Man, it’s all the same: 50-50.

So just pick your superstition, make a wish, and enjoy yourself. And for those of you who look to The Bible for moral lessons, you might want to look at the Three Little Pigs. I'm sure you'll like that. Then there's Little Red Riding Hood, although it does have that X-rated part where the Big Bad Wolf actually eats the grandmother. And finally, I've always drawn a great deal of moral comfort from Humpty Dumpty. The part I like the best? "All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again." That's because there is no Humpty Dumpty, and there is no God. Never was.

I'm gonna put it this way. If there is a God, may he strike this audience dead! See? Nothing happened. Nothing happened? Everybody's okay? All right, tell you what, I'll raise the stakes a little bit. If there is a God, may he strike me dead. See? Nothing happened, oh, wait, I've got a little cramp in my leg. And my balls hurt. Plus, I'm blind. I'm blind, oh, now I'm okay again, must have been Joe Pesci, huh? God Bless Joe Pesci. Thank you all very much. Joe Bless You!"

Real page from 8th grade fundie science book.

Praying for Our Troops
By Laurence Vance - March, 2014

While driving recently on Maitland Boulevard in central Florida, I came upon a billboard with a simple message: “Pray for Our Troops.”

Although I am often very critical of the actions of U.S. troops, I do believe—in spite of what people may think—in prayer for our troops. This is because the Bible exhorts us to pray for all men, which includes U.S. troops.

The problem is not the idea of praying for the troops, but the usual prayers that are offered on their behalf. When the typical church-going, prayer-saying American Christian sees such a billboard or is enjoined in church to pray for our troops, he generally thinks::”Pray that our troops be kept out of harm’s way, defeat our enemies, defend our freedoms, keep us safe, find terrorists who want to do us harm, eliminate the threat of al Qaeda, rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, spread democracy and freedom, and avenge 9/11.

Some Christians, if they were honest, would pray that our troops’ bombs, bullets, grenades, missiles, and mortars hit their targets. Or if they were really honest, a war prayer for the twenty-first century.

The problem with these prayers is that no thought is ever given to:

Where or why our troops go and how long our troops should stay.
What our troops do and how much it costs.
How many innocent foreigners die because our troops are there.
What physical and mental condition our troops will be in when they return.
Whether our troops are really defending our freedom.
Whether our troops are creating more terrorists because they went.
Whether our troops are actually a global force for good.

We are continually told to pray for the troops, thank the troops, and support the troops—and to do so unconditionally. But because I have considered these questions about the activities of our troops, and pay attention to what really goes on in the military, I think we should instead:

Pray that our troops come home and stop fighting foreign wars.
Pray that our troops don’t kill foreign civilians and don’t rape foreign women.
Pray that our troops get out of the military as soon as they can.
Pray that our troops don’t sexually assault military personnel.
Pray that our troops don’t frequent brothels or commit suicide.
Pray that our troops don’t get addicted to drugs.
Pray that our troops stop helping to carry out an evil U.S. foreign policy.
Pray that our troops stop making drone strikes – and widows and orphans.
Pray that our troops are only used for genuinely defensive purposes.
Pray that our troops think about the morality of their “service.”
Pray that our troops refuse to obey immoral orders.
Pray that our troops never become troops by saying no to the military recruiter.

One does not have to be religious to see that these prayers are different from the previous ones. Think about this when you see a billboard or church sign that says “Pray for Our Troops.”

Originally published on LewRockwell.com.

Keep Your Religion Out Of My Bloody Life - by LaFeminista

I don't care if you worship pie in the sky that forbids tonsillectomies. The fact that you also own a pie in the sky factory does not allow you to decide what anyone's health care should be. It is between the patient and her/his doctor.

I don't care if you think skin grafts are an abomination unto Nuggan

I don't care if some shriveled old monk thinks contraception makes Catholic Jesus cry.

Fine, if your god forbids any cutting of follicles you can go around looking like a tangled sheep for all I care. This does not mean I have to do the same. Our health has nothing to do with you or your god[s].

Quite frankly it is the same if I demand my employees cannot have insurance because they are wearing a cross because religious symbols offend my soul. This is what freedom from and of religion means. Keep out of my health care and I will keep out of yours.

Giving power to religion to control others is so against the first amendment as to be absurd. SCOTUS should have kicked this out without even bothering to hear the arguments.

Religion is not a science, religion has nothing to do with medicine. Why are we even having this bloody stupid argument in the first place?

Keep your religion away from me. I could not care one iota what you think your god thinks, Worship pie for all I care, just leave me out of it. You can go see a priest for health care if you want, I'll go see a doctor.

The bitter tears of the American Christian supermajority
Why Christians, America’s most populous religious group, feel so victimized - by Chase Madar

The most persecuted minority in the U. S.is not Muslims, African-Americans or immigrants. It’s our Christian supermajority that’s oppressed. Verily, consider these anecdotes.

On March 2, three Baptist ministers in Akron, Ohio, arranged for the police to mock-arrest them in their churches and haul them away in handcuffs for the simple act of preaching their faith. A video was posted on YouTube to drum up buzz for an upcoming revival show. A few atheist blogs object to uniformed police taking part in a church publicity stunt, but far more people who saw the YouTube video (24,082 views), in Ohio and elsewhere, took this media stunt as reality — confirmation of their wildest fears about a government clampdown on Christianity.

A film “Persecuted,” a political thriller about a government plan to censor Christianity in the name of liberalism, is due out in May. Featuring former Sen. Fred Thompson and Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, the film received a raves at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 10 and is of a piece with other Christian films such as “God’s Not Dead,” about a freshman believer bullied into proving the existence of god by an atheist professor.

Wisconsin Archdiocese has Child Abuse Problem Solved: File Bankruptcy
By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel - April 4, 2014

The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which faces more than a dozen civil fraud lawsuits over its handling of clergy sex abuse cases, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's reorganization plan for exiting its bankruptcy is "morally repugnant," not in the best interest of its creditors and should be rejected by creditors and the court, a committee representing clergy sex abuse victims and other creditors said in a document filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday.

That objection takes issue with myriad assertions made by the archdiocese in the reorganization plan submitted to the court in February. And it telegraphs the committee's intention to continue to pursue certain assets, including $60 million the committee says was fraudulently transferred into a cemetery trust, proceeds from a $105 million capital campaign and the archdiocese's sprawling lakefront headquarters campus, known as the Cousins Center.

"The Committee believes the Plan is a morally repugnant attempt to shield essentially all of its assets, save insurance proceeds, from the claims of the Abuse Survivors and obtain releases (of liability) for itself and all its parishes," the creditors committee asserts in the filing. And it urges all creditors with standing to vote on the plan to reject it.

It is one of the largest Catholic Church bankruptcies to date with more than 570 sex abuse claims and has cost the archdiocese $12 million to date in legal fees, with millions more likely ahead.

Christianity - the last to get it right
By Leonard Pitts Jr. - The Miami Herald, April 6, 2014

Eleven years ago, Richard Stearns went to Washington.

Stearns - president of World Vision, the billion-dollar Christian relief organization - joined other faith leaders in lobbying Congress to spend $15 billion combating AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. He acknowledged he and his fellow evangelicals were late to the fight against this pandemic and explained their tardiness with remarkable candor…. Stearns' words offered stark evidence of one of the failings of modern Christianity: its inability to get there on time.

"There" meaning any place people are suffering, hungry, exploited or simply denied some essential human right. Yes, there are exceptions… And yet ...

On issues where it should take the lead, challenging the status quo, marching in the streets, actively advocating for human dignity, the great body of Christendom always seems to bring up the rear, arriving decades late to the place the rest of the nation has already reached.

It's not just that delegation joining the AIDS fight 25 years after it began. It's also churches apologizing 30 years after the Civil Rights Act for supporting segregation. And Christian tardiness in standing up for the right of women to be freed from kitchens….

On March 24, World Vision announced it would no longer bar Christians in same-sex marriages from working there…. Two days later, almost 5,000 of his sponsors having abandoned him, Stearns was backpedaling like Michael Jackson singing "Billie Jean." He reversed the new policy, calling it a "bad decision" made from "the right motivations."…

When children are abandoned, hungry or abused, when some of us are mass incarcerated because of the melanin in our skin, when the poor are exploited by corrupt banks and ignored by useless politicians, these should be matters of religious conscience, too. and yes, when people are denigrated and denied because of whom or how they love, that, also, should trouble EWVERYONE.

For many, faith becomes this comfortable, pharisaical ritual that gazes outward only to condemn. So one watches World Vision's reversal of course with dull resignation, knowing all too well what is coming, 20 years down the line. Maybe by then, more of us will realize: faith is not an excuse for getting "there" last. It's an obligation to get there first.

Under God or Under Canada?

In 1954 the Knights of Columbus got Congress to change the pledge, dividing "One Nation Indivisible" and inserting "Under GOD" knowing that when children stand and recite or just hear that word "god" every day for 8 years it is like planting a seed and does have an effect. Likewise many Christians today think the way to plant seeds in non-believers is to keep saying something over and over, like "The Historical Jesus" and I and others on this list have tired of Karl going on and on about Capital A Atheists and The Historical Jesus without ever offering proof. This technique is being used all over the net as well as in many freethought and humanist meetings and I think it is time to start calling them on it....

Whether Shakespeare, Mark Twain, or Socrates were real "Historical Beings" or just pen names we can judge their books and decide if the ideas within are worthy of admiration. This Jesus (secret name meaning "Yahweh Saves") has no books, and therefore we can only speculate, as if he was real. And in doing so, we keep planting seeds of delusion. Gary King
Louisiana bill would name Bible as official state book

Lawmakers are moving ahead with a proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book, despite concerns the bill would land the Legislature in court. A House municipal committee advanced the bill Thursday with an 8-5 vote.

Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, said he sponsored the proposal after a constituent made the request. But Carmody insisted the bill wasn't designed to be a state-endorsement of Christianity or a specific religion. [Who would even think such a thing?]

"It's not to the exclusion of anyone else's sacred literature," he told the House committee. Again, later he said, "This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana."

CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity
by Eric Zuesse

CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS documents Christianity’s creation-event, which occurred in the year 49 or 50, in Antioch (Antakya, Turkey), 20 years after Jesus had been crucified in Jerusalem for sedition against Roman rule. At this event, Paul broke away from the Jewish sect that Jesus had begun, and he took with him the majority of this new Jewish sect’s members; he convinced these people that Jesus had been a god, and that the way to win eternal salvation in heaven is to worship him as such. On this precise occasion, Paul explicitly introduced, for the first time anywhere, the duality of the previously unitary Jewish God, a duality consisting of the Father and the Son; and he implicitly introduced also the third element of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost.

This book also documents the 14-year-long conflict Paul had had with this sect’s leader, Jesus’s brother James, a conflict which caused Paul, in about the year 50, to perpetrate his coup d’état against James, and to start his own new religion: Christianity.

Then, this historical probe documents that the four canonical Gospel accounts of the words and actions of “Jesus” were written decades after Jesus, by followers of Paul, not by followers of Jesus; and that these writings placed into the mouth of “Jesus” the agenda of Paul. Paul thus became, via his followers, Christ’s ventriloquist.

A work such as this can be documented and produced only now, after the development of modern legal/forensic methodology. Previously, scholars have simply assumed the honesty-of-intent of all classical documents, especially of canonical religious ones, such as Paul’s epistles, and the Four Gospels. Only now is it finally possible to reach the writer’s intent, and not merely his assertions, and to identify when this intent is to deceive. This opens up a new research tool for historians, and CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS is the first to use these methods to reconstruct, on this legal/forensic basis, not just how crimes took place, but how and why major historical events (criminal or not), such as the event that started Christianity, actually occurred.

The author explains: “What I am doing in this work is to reconstruct from the New Testament the crucial events that produced it, without assuming whether what the NT says in any given passage is necessarily true or even honest. Instead of treating the NT as a work that ‘reports history,’ the NT is treated as a work whose history is itself being investigated and reported. Its origin goes back to this coup d’état that Paul perpetrated in Antioch in the year 49 or 50 against Jesus’s brother James in Jerusalem, whom Jesus in Jerusalem had appointed in the year 30 as his successor to lead the Jewish sect that Jesus had started. The Gospel accounts of ‘Jesus’ reflected Paul’s coup d’état – not actually Jesus, who would be appalled at the Christian concept of ‘Christ.’ That concept was radically different from the Jewish concept of the messiah, and Paul knew this when he created it.”

Zuesse’s books include IRAQ WAR: The Truth, and WHY THE HOLOCAUST HAPPENED.

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