ISSUE: December 2000
Edited by Dave Peterson
POTLUCK DINNER CELEBRATION OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE AT THE PREVOST'S HOUSE
We're fast coming up on the reason for the season, the winter solstice.
Technically, that solstice occurs twice a year"once in each polar
hemi-sphere"when a vertical plane through the earth's axis also passes
through the center of the sun. At that point, the sun is directly over
one of the tropics"Cancer or Capricorn" and a line from the sun
tangent to the earth just kisses the arctic and antarctic cir-cles. The
winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and signals the
beginning of conditions favorable to the planting of crops: warmer
weather and longer days. It has been celebrated for millennia for that
reason by people in the more northerly latitudes; it has little meaning
for someone in the tropics where daylight and heat vary only slightly
over the year.
We are far enough north to appreciate it, and thus our annual
celebration. This year Arthur and Katherine Prevost have volunteered to
have the potluck supper at their place on James Island. Everyone should
bring either a salad, entree, or dessert. Festivities start at four.
To get there, take Folly Rd. south from US17 (about 1.7 miles) or
Maybank Highway (about .5 miles) and turn left (east) on Harborview
Road. Take this to the end (about 4 miles) at Fort Johnson Rd. See map
on page one.
Turn right and then an almost immediate left into Parrot Creek
development. The gate is locked after dark. There is enough traffic that
you can just follow another car in a minute or two if you find the gate
locked. There is no problem getting out. Go up Parrot Creek Way and take
the second right, Catbird Retreat. The Prevosts live in the first house
on the right not counting the corner one. Their phone no. is 795-6212.
IN APPRECIATION OF GILL KREBS...
By Sharon Fratepietro
Gill Krebs has been a constant, quiet presence at nearly every Secular
Human-ist meeting since the first. He helped found our group and
con-tinues to guide it as a member of the Board of Directors.
You may not know about Gill's contribu-tions to our organi-zation, but
you should because he contri-butes a lot. The meeting notice you find in
the Post & Courier each month is the one Gill writes and submits to the
paper. The weekly mail distribution from the SHL post office box is
done by Gill. And you can credit Gill for persuading us to 'adopt a
highway,' doing all the liaison for that project and leading the trash
pickup on Hwy. 61 four times a year.
Gill retired as a technical writer a few years ago, but he continues to
write in a volunteer capacity for both MENSA and the Make a Wish
He and Adelaide Garnier (a retired librarian and SHL member) met at
and have lived together ever since"they are 'live-in lovers' as
Adelaide puts it, and she describes Gill as the 'sweetest, kindest,
smartest man in the whole world, the epitome of the perfect man.'
(I thought this would be of interest to our members, Ed Buckner having
spoken to us on two different occasions recently. Ed.)
We are pleased to announce that the Council for Secular Humanism has
appointed Dr. Edward Buckner of Atlanta, Georgia, as its new Executive
Director. The Board of Directors was unanimous in supporting this
"Given the current conservative religious mood of the United States,"
said Paul Kurtz, Chair-man, "it is essential that we bring into the
leadership of the Council men and women of proven abilities.
"Dr. Buckner's qualifications are impressive"in the worlds of
education, secular humanism, and freethought. He brings a wealth of
Dr. Buckner will serve as both chief administrative officer of the
Council and as a key spokesperson. Dr. Buckner will assume his duties in
Amherst, New York, in January 2001
BOOK DISCUSSION NEWS...
The Secular Humanist Book Discussion Group meets from 3-5 p.m. on the
first Sunday of each month at Barnes & Noble on Sam Rittenberg Blvd. in
West Ashley. Barnes & Noble features our meeting in its monthly
newsletter and sells our chosen books at a 20% discount. On January 7
we will discuss Why Christianity Must Change or Die by controversial
Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. On February 4, in honor of Charles
Darwin's birthday later that month, we will discuss The Third Chimpanzee
by Jared Diamond. You are all are welcome to attend and participate in
the book discussions, even if you haven't yet read the book.
PAPAL SIN: Structures of Deceit...
by Garry Will (New York: Doubleday, 2000)
Book review by Wolfe Roder of the The Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati
in FIG Leaves
The sins are not the greed and corruption of the medieval popes, nor the
sexual activities of the Renaissance rulers, but the shortcomings of the
modern popes of the 19th and 20th centuries. The papal sin is a
fundamental dishonesty, a greed for sole power over the church and the
consciences of the congregation. Wills, a historian and Catholic lay
person, lays out the history of the past two hundred years, essentially
since the Popes lost their role as secular rulers over parts of central
Every Pope since Pius IX (1846-78) has endeavored to make himself
the sole ruler of the Catholic church, to be the single arbiter of what
is or is not the correct doctrine, to amass the only right to appoint
bishops and cardinals, and to say who can or can not be, become or
remain a priest. To achieve these ends the Popes have lied,
connived, subverted, excommunicated and otherwise punished devoted
believers. Wills makes an exception only for John XXlll (1958-63) who
initiated the Second Vatican Council to set the Church back on a path of
truth. After John died, Paul VI (1963-78) subverted his predecessor's
and liberal bishops' efforts. Wills indicates that the present Pope,
John Paul II (since 1978) is no exception.
Wills recounts how Pius IX defined the doctrine of the Immaculate
Conception of Mary in 1854 over the objections of his own theologians.
He also issued a long list of modem errors, essentially condemning most
of nineteenth century science. In 1870 the same Pope rammed through a
declaration of papal infallibility over the doubts and objections
of the church dignitaries assembled in the First Vatican Council. Once
having become infallible, no Pope could back down or overrule findings
of his predecessors. By any lie or dishonesty successive Popes had to
uphold existing church doctrine. One corner the papacy has painted
itself into is contraception. Popes have to reassert, against all
evidence, that sex-for-propagation-only has always been the doctrine of
the Church. Meanwhile Catholics around the world are turning from the
papal dictatorship to obey their own consciences. In fact, the Church
continues to keep the whole subject of sex in a darkness where women are
considered inferior and love bestial. That of course makes it impossible
to consider women for the priesthood. Insistence on a celibate
priesthood may be destroying the Church itself. Few young men are
willing to commit themselves to a lifetime of sexual frustration. In
consequence the priesthood, at least in the United States, is an aging
profession. Another consequence is a disproportionate number of gay men
among priests, and a pronounced problem with pedophiles and other
predators. Even though all the apostles were married, and the early
leaders of the church included married men and women, and that many
Priests married well into the eleventh century, for the present Pope a
male, celibate priesthood is holy writ which can't be aftered.
Denial of the right to separate spouses has made annulment the rapidly
rising Catholic equivalent of divorce. But annulment means arguing the
marriage was never consummated, sometimes despite the presence of
children, or was wrongfully contractd in the first place. It has made a
growing multitude of Catholics and priests into liars pretending to a
reality which does not exist. Young boys are taught that every act of
masturbation is a deadly sin which can send him straight to hell if not
confessed. This represents a view not countered by nineteenth century
medicine. It is out of tune with today's clinical insights.
In many ways the papacy is cut-off from reality. It is surrounded by
aging, hard line counselors who have little understanding of the
needs and requirements of their congregation. Wills would like to see a
major turnaround of his church, a return to the original message of the
Christ. He would like to see more freedom for Catholics to follow their
consciences, not the dictates of this or any other Pope.
I recently received a member society list from the atheist talk line
which included your particular community. As a fellow atheist I wrote a
book which is now on release which took the fictional tale of the
origins of "Christianity" as it is called, and spun the tale 180
Though told as seen through the eyes of modern teenagers, the novel was
aimed at the adult market, but, the editors in London England in their
wisdom' edited it down for the youth market. Since the language content
was not edited it seemed proper to include a warning on the cover to
hopefully avoid kids accessing copies. Reviewers in England are mostly
inclined to offer no formal reviews of "Mirror Image - a vision of hell"
after making verbal comments such as: Offensive to Christians / too
subversive / too controversial. It appears they overlooked the equal
amount of humor in the process. The book was intended to shock, but that
is not unusual in this day and age. If you would care to check out the
book site at http://www.geocities.com/nickcrossx please do, and if any
members wish to comment, that is OK. It does require an open mind to
absorb the content, which also helps keep the hate mail to a minimum.
Any help with review outlets would also be appreciated.
TRUE LIFE MURDER MYSTERY
INSIDE THE RADICAL RIGHT...
Book review by Tom Flynn
Live From the Gates of Hell: An Insider's Look at the Antiabortion
Underground, by Jerry Reiter (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2000).
ISBN 1-57392-840-2. 264 pp. Cloth $26.
This is a page-turning "true crime" thriller in which broadcast news
reporter Jerry Reiter helped prevent a potential mass murder plot to
disrupt a national pro-choice gathering in Pensacola, Florida. It's
also a vivid first-person history of the radical antiabortion movement
during the years in which abortion doctors David Gunn, John Britton, and
Barnett Slepian and several others were assassinated.
Reiter experienced much of that history first-hand. Covering the
Pensacola, Florida, trial of Gunn's killer, Michael Griffin, Reiter
penetrated the antiabortion underground because prior to his hiring as a
reporter, he himself had been a Christian right activist. He was one of
the first members of the Christian Coalition in its formative stages,
and later found himself inside the secret headquarters of Operation
Rescue National, both events happening because his pastor, Paul Schenck,
was tied so closely to Pat Robertson that Schenck later became the
administrative director of the ACLJ, Robertson's American Center for Law
and Justice (the Biblical way).
Among others, Reiter met Paul Hill, who just a few months later would
kill abortion doctor John Britton and a security guard and wound
Britton's wife. Reiter documents links between Paul Hill and
televangelist Pat Robertson, both before and after the Britton killing.
Reiter met many of the men who advocated violence in the name of Christ
and provides chilling reports of the encounters. What he saw behind some
of the closed doors he was allowed behind challenged first his
fundamentalism, ultimately his belief in God. Live From the Gates of
Hell is ultimately a deconversion story, and makes compelling reading
GOOD WILL TO MEN...
The following two pieces remind us that Xianity has always had a dark
side, and today is no different. Ed.
CANKEROUS COUNTRY MUSIC...
From Steve Trunk (email@example.com) via Charlotte's Web (join at
A country song that just hit the Billboard Top Ten casts nonbelievers as
lazy, violent, drugged out, drunken child abusers. The tune titled "The
Little Girl" is by John Michael Montgomery from the CD Brand New Me.
Here are the lyrics:
Her parents never took the young girl to church
Never spoke of His name
Never read her His word
Two nonbelievers walking lost in this world
Took their baby with them
What a sad little girl
Her daddy drank all day and mommy did drugs
Never wanted to play
Or give kisses and hugs
She'd watch the TV and sit there on the couch
While her mom fell asleep
And her daddy went out
And the drinking and the fighting
just got worse every night
Behind their couch she'd be hiding
Oh what a sad little life
And like it always does, the bad just got worse
With every slap and every curse
Until her daddy in a drunk rage one night
Used a gun on her mom and then took his life
And some people from the city took the girl far away
To a new mom and dad
And kisses and hugs everyday
Her first day of Sunday school the teacher walked in
And a small little girl
Stared at a picture of Him
She said I know that man up there on that cross
I don't know His name
But I know He got off
He was there in my old house
and held me close to His side
As I hid there behind our couch
The night that my parents died
The artist's web site is http://www.johnmichael.com
The e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
(The following is excerpted from a piece of the same name by Jacques
Benbassat in the Voice of Sanity, the newsletter of the
Upstate S. Cal. Humanists)
Another web site so very reminiscent of a darker time and place is
Citizens for the Ten Commandments at http://www.hom.net/~angels/atheism.htm where, in language that is as odd as his logic, the
"Atheists are indeed immoral. While one person may chose to act
immorally by robbing banks, another may act more immorally by initiating
evolution. Atheists think they live morally, since they don't end up in
prisons, but this is simply because atheists have made laws which
exclude most criminal acts of atheists from the penalty of
"There is no stereotyping of atheists here. All atheists are bad, have
a desire to make people negate their obligation to the laws of God, and
work toward the moral destruction of a nation. These factors alone are
more than enough to criminalize the atheist element. It would be best
for you yourself to go and be sure YOU understand atheism. I have spoke
with many atheists, I am not afraid of them, I haven't been shot by one.
What both you and I ARE harmed from are the dangerous workings of
atheism, which is killing babies, freeing criminals and
establishing anti-God deception. This is the characteristic of atheism.
If atheists were people who ONLY felt God did not exist, they wouldn't
also been known as people who seek to remove the Bible from children,
and who extract moral instances out of government and from the world
(And a merry Xmas to you, too. Since that was depressing here's a little
GEORGE CARLIN CLASSIC QUOTES...
From SHL member Don Ross
- 1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.
- 2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
- 3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
- 4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys
- 5. The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the
bad girls live.
- 6. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the
self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the
- 7. Could it be that all those trick-or-treaters wearing sheets aren't
going as ghosts but as mattresses?
- 8. If a mute swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?
- 9. If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there
is no woman around to hear him"is he still wrong?
- 10. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is
it considered a hostage situation? And is it suicide or murder?
- 11. Is there another word for synonym?
- 12. Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice"?
- 13. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?
- 14. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an
- 15. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
- 16. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
- 17. Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will
- 18. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
- 19. Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?
- 20. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
- 21. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to
- 22. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?
- 23. How do blind people know when they are done wiping?
- 24. How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
- 25. Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?
- 26. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
- 27. One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.
- 28. Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
- 29. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
- 30. How is it possible to have a civil war?
- 31. If God dropped acid, would he see people?
- 32. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?
- 33. If you ate pasta and anti-pasta, would you still be hungry?
- 34. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
- 35. Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?
- 36. Why are hemorrhoids called "hemorrhoids" instead of "asteroids"?
- 37. Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?
- 38. Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?
- 39. Where are we going? And what's with this hand basket?
- 40. If the "blackbox" flight recorder is never damaged during a plane
crash, why isn't the whole airplane made out of that stuff?
- 41. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?
- 42. If you spin an Asian man in a circle three times, does he become
A NON-LAWYER JOKE...
From 1st year law student Steve Bates
A language instructor was explaining to her class that French nouns,
unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as
masculine or feminine. Things like "chalk" or "pencil," she described,
would have a gender association - even though in English, these words
Puzzled, one student raised his hand and asked, "What gender is a
The teacher wasn't certain, so divided the class into two groups and
asked them to decide if a computer should be masculine or feminine. One
group was composed of the women in the class, and the other, of men.
Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.
The group of women concluded that computers should be referred to in the
masculine gender because:
- 1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
- 2. They
have a lot of data but are still clueless.
- 3. They are supposed to help
you solve your problems, but half the time they are the problem.
- 4. As
soon as you commit to one, you realize that, if you had waited a little
longer, you could have had a better model.
The men, on the other hand, decided that computers should definitely be
referred to as the feminine gender because:
1. No one but their creator
understands their internal logic.
- 2. The native language they use to
communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
- 3. Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later
- 4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself
spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.
The following quotes are also courtesy of Steve Bates (Ed.):
"The law of nature destines and qualifies the female sex for the bearing
and nurture of the children of our race and for the custody of the homes
of the world and their maintenance in love and honor. And all life-long
callings of women inconsistent with these radical and sacred duties of
their sex, as is the profession of law, are departures from the order of
nature; and when voluntary, treason against it." In Matter of Motion
to Admit Lavinia Goodell, 39 Wis. 232, 245 (1875)
"...we hold that to stifle the longings of an immortal soul to follow
any useful calling in this life, to be a departure from the order of
nature, and, when voluntary, treason against it". Response of Lavinia
'In matters of religion, it is very easy to deceive a man, and very hard
to undeceive him.'
Pierre Bayle, (1467-1706)
French philosopher and critic, Dictionnaire Historigue, 1697 (from 2000
Years of Disbelief by James A. Haught)
and two from Bertrand Russell
"If you think that your belief is based upon reason, you will support it
by argument, rather then by persecution, and will abandon it if the
argument goes against you. But if your belief is based on faith, you
will realize that argument is useless and will therefore result to force
either in the form of persecution or by stunting and distorting the
minds of the young in what is called 'education'".
"There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who
cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths.
Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that
he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face
this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his
opinions are not real, he becomes furious when they are disputed."