Why Pride?

watland_gardens12.jpgBy Bjorn Watland

The end of June marks the start of our attendance at GLBT Pride Festivals around the state.  First, we attend the Twin Cities Pride Festival and Parade, then Rochester, LaCrosse, Duluth, and Mankato.  Some atheists are puzzled.  Of all the summer festivals, why do we go to so many GBLT Pride Festivals?  Our attendance at GLBT Fesivals has become a tradition, largely due to the efforts of founding member August Berkshire. We continue this tradition for several reasons.

First, GLBT Pride events have been very welcoming.  If people, no matter their sexual orientation, are gathered together to support an oppressed minority, I think that people are more aware of how to treat everyone fairly.  There are also plenty of GLBT atheists out there who are so exicted to see our organization supporting their rights, both as an atheist and as a GLBT person.

Second, I think that the GLBT community and the atheist community have similarities.  We are both hated by different religious groups.  We both seek respect and understanding.  We both can have difficulty with family who don't agree with our identies.  We seek social justice and advocate for the rights of a minority.  Members of the GLBT community are also strong supporters of the separation of church and state and we can use all of the allies we can in that fight.

Lastly, GLBT Festivals are inexpensive to attend and a great way to put our money where our mouth is with regard to supporting equality for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.

I thank you for supporting Minnesota Atheists and our effort to educate the public about atheism.

The Tiller Murder

george_head_small.jpgBy George Kane

On a Sunday morning at the end of May, Dr. George Tiller, who was well known as one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, walked into Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita Kansas, which he had attended regularly for years. Inside the church, long-time anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder shot and killed him.

Many online abortion opponents could not conceal their delight with Roeder's "street justice." Dr. Tiller had also for years been the object of incendiary attacks from Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, which many blame for inciting Roeder to the murder. Abortion opponents rankle, of course, at the notion that they bear any responsibility for the criminal violence of extremists like Roeder. They point out that the mainline anti-abortion organizations denounced Dr. Tiller's murder, and that few of them would ever engage in violence. Nevertheless, the argument on which religious opposition to abortion is always based, that abortion is murder, is inherently inflammatory. If they insist that Dr. Tiller committed hundreds of murders, they can hardly denounce his own murder as inappropriate or disproportionate punishment. Their arguments justify violating the law by appealing to a higher law.

Read more: The Tiller Murder

How and Why

crystal_small.jpgBy Crystal Dervetski

When you join up with Minnesota Atheists, you are asked two questions:  "How did you hear about Minnesota Atheists?" and "Why did you join Minnesota Atheists?"

I know, you're an atheist, you're a skeptic, and you're cynical about these questions.  It's totally understandable if it seems like they are bordering on an intrusion of your privacy.  You do not, of course, have to answer these questions at all.  Please keep in mind, though, there are a few really basic reasons why we'd like to know these two things about you.

Read more: How and Why

Hostility to Reason

By Eric Jayne

(editor's note:

This article first appeared in the June 17th edition of the Star Tribune. It is a response to Katherine Kersten's article "Hostility to Religion Bodes Ill for Society," which appeared in the June 7th Star Tribune. The premise of Kersten's article was that religion, Christianity in particular, is necessary to keep scientific progress in check. She argued that without Judeo-Christian beliefs, society would be morally corrupt and incapable of compassion. )

I am convinced that there is absolutely no value to the muddled ramblings of Katherine Kersten. In her recent column, "Hostility to religion bodes ill for society," she shamelessly blames secular freethought and atheism for infanticide, the Holocaust and general draconian attitudes toward social welfare while crediting Christianity for human compassion. In making her assertion she conveniently ignores the numerous Bible passages where the bloodthirsty Judeo-Christian God condones war and ethnic cleansing. In Numbers 31: 17-18, for example, God actively calls for the killing of male children and the raping of female children. That's one of the many Bible passages Kersten is forced to gloss over when she touts that Judeo-Christianity teaches us "universal standards of right and wrong." Also, since she had brought up Hitler, I would like to point out to Kersten, and her atheist-bashing ilk, that the SS belt buckles Nazi soldiers wore during the Holocaust bared the motto: "Gott mit uns" (God is with us).

Kersten ends her article by suggesting that Social Darwinism is a legitimate science that promotes the notion of the survival of the fittest. Therefore, Kersten argues, scientific progress needs to be constrained by religion so that the poor and vulnerable citizens of society are protected. Her position might have merit if Social Darwinism were an actual science, but it's nothing more than pseudo-science just like astrology and intelligent design. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is a biological science that was never intended to be co-opted by the social sciences. In fact, Charles Darwin wrote that human beings could not "check our sympathy even at the urging of hard reason without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature." If Kersten simply understood legitimate science she probably wouldn't be so afraid of it, and she might even tone down her spiteful and erroneous anti-secular rhetoric.


Minnesota Atheists Fossil Hunting at Lilydale Park

By Crystal Dervetski

On June 20th, Minnesota Atheists met at Lilydale Park in St. Paul for a fossil hunting adventure.  Everyone met outside in the parking lot, grabbed an information packet about the park and the fossils, and then made the hike up to the three fossil beds located in the park.  Everyone found something, and had a great time sharing their finds with one another.  Families were out in full force, and even some of the really tiny ones made the trek up the hill.  After the find, everyone came back down and drank some much needed water and munched on granola bars.  The adults were entertained by a miming of a light saber battle and a spot-on impersonation of C-3PO, courtesy of a couple of the youngest fossil adventurers.  The weather was beautiful, the fossils were abundant, and the socialization couldn't be beat! 

Mark your calendars for an easy fossil hunt at the Intergroup Secular Labor Day Picnic on Saturday, September 6th in Northfield, MN.  Crystal and Vic will take everyone out to a very easy site after the picnic that is right next to a road; no hiking involved! 

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