Newsletter of the Lake Superior Freethinkers
Gail Matthews, editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
First Sunday - Radisson Hotel - 9:00 AM Social – 9:30 Breakfast - 10:00 Presentation
Facilitators: David Broman - 218-349-7455, Bill Guse - 834-4583, 343-4806
Freethought Quotes by Notable Freethinkers“No power of government ought to be employed in the endeavor to establish any system or article of belief on the subject of religion. In no instance has a system in regard to religion been ever established, but for the purpose, as well as with the effect of its being made an instrument of intimidation, corruption, and delusion, for the support of depredation and oppression in the hands of governments.”—Jeremy Bentham, Constitutional Code
“I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul. .I am an aggregate of cells, as, for instance, New York City is an aggregate of individuals. Will New York City go to heaven? . . . No; nature made us—nature did it all—not the gods of the religions.”—, Thomas A. Edison
“When Attorney General John Ashcroft repeatedly invokes religion, the Founders must be picketing in their graves. They were a mix of freethinkers, atheists, Christians, agnostics, Freemasons and Deists. . . . . . . the Founders were, after all, revolutionaries. Their passion—especially regarding secularism—glows in the documents they forged and in their personal words.”—Robin Morgan, author and editor of Ms. Magazine,
Could “separation of church and state” face the chopping block?With the death of Antonin Scalia leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the President has the chance for a pivotal nomination to swing the court back toward reason and civil rights. The Freedom From Religion Foundation — and the nation — have been crippled by the 5-4 "anti" bloc on the Supreme Court since Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising to obstruct any attempt to fill the empty Supreme Court seat. Already many members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be responsible for reviewing Obama's Supreme Court nominations, scrambled in lockstep to echo McConnell. Senator Chuck Grassley, Judiciary chair, claimed such willful obstruction is "standard practice over the last 80 years," despite the fact that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate in 1988, an election year. A judiciary staff member tweeted: "What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia." Senator Ted Cruz, who sits on the committee, said the Republican-controlled Senate should ignore any nomination sent by Obama to Capitol Hill. The dominant, ultraconservative bloc of the Supreme Court has often turned the clock back. See the court's decisions in Hein v. FFRF, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn and Greece v. Galloway. The hostile majority on the court has had a chilling effect on Establishment Clause law, and has directly impeded FFRF’s efforts to uphold the constitutional wall of separation.
Best time ever to be a freethinker is now!
The secular age is rapidly swinging our way. Once, we would have been burned at the stake as heretics, or thrown into prison for blasphemy, but now, western society is leaving behind old social stigmas against doubters. We may soon become the new majority. We are witnessing the decline of beliefs in supernatural religion, magical gods, devils, heavens, hells, angels, demons, miracles, virgin births, visions, holy visitations, second comings and other bible stuff.
Our culture is evolving. Secularism is taking over America, just as it previously did in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and other advanced democracies.
Some of us may remember what the bible belt was like in the 1950’s and have been around to witness the transformation. Back then, it was a crime for stores to open on the Sabbath, it was a crime to buy a cocktail or a lottery ticket, or to look at something like a Playboy magazine or to read a sexy book. Books like Peyton Place were outlawed and it was a crime for an unmarried couple to share a bedroom. It was a felony to be gay, or for a desperate girl to end a pregnancy. Jews were banned from Christian country clubs and prayer was mandatory in school classrooms. Church supported laws dominated.
Fortunately, that world has mostly disappeared. Sunday “blue laws” were largely undone, teacher-led school prayers were banned, gay sex became legal as did abortion and lotteries. Censorship ended.
Along with the rise in secularism, religion has suffered a drastic decline in membership. After World War ll, faith collapsed in Europe and other Western democracies, but seemed to hold on in America. Now the secular tidal wave has finally arrived here and since the 1990’s, surveys find a snowballing increase in young Americans who say their religion is “none”. A Pew Religious Landscape report in May found that “nones” have climbed to nearly one-fourth of America’s adult population, while the number of aging church members keeps shrinking.
The New York Times reported that more and more Christians feel estranged as American culture shifts away from orthodox Christian positions on homosexuality, premarital sex, contraception, out-of-wedlock childbearing, divorce and a range of other social issues. They fear that they soon will be treated as social pariahs, the moral equivalent of segregationists because of their adherence to scriptural teaching on gay marriage. They fear that their colleges will be decertified, and that their religious institutions will lose their tax-exempt status. The Supreme court ruling on gay marriage did not come from nowhere: it is the logical result of the sexual revolution, which valorized erotic liberty.
Certainly, millions of Americans still belong to churches and will continue to do so, but evolving public attitudes may relegate believers to low status, shunned by intelligent, educated scientific-minded people.
After decades of struggle-centuries actually-freethinkers are witnessing a collapse of supernatural religion in America. We doubters no longer need to hide our skepticism; we can declare it proudly. It is the hallmark of intelligence and education. We are becoming the new dominant force, prevailing at last.
I’m Secular and I Vote
FFRF has announced a new “I’m Secular and I Vote!” campaign to impress candidates with the concerns of the fast-growing demographic of nonbelieving voters. The object is to let candidates know that atheists are a force to be taken seriously, as we are a growing body of non-believers and have higher than the national average voter registration, particularly among young voters.
As secularists, we have the most to lose when religion becomes a dominant force in politics. In the coming days it will be important to keep up the legal challenges to threats against the “separation of church and state” doctrine as our founders intended it, and to let our leaders know that the loss of it will not be tolerated. To hear more about this campaign, tune into Freethought Radio at ffrf.libsyn.com-podcasts.
A Mention of the Darwin Days Event
Our Darwin Days celebration was a lot of fun, and we got to see some of our talents on display. Thanks go out to Sonya Alston for organizing it so well, and for the entertaining performances by some of our courageous members. Click HERE for pictures and a recap of the evening.