Archived Issue of the Separationist

You have loaded a back issue of The Separationist, the newsletter of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry.


ISSUE: December 2000

Edited by Dave Peterson


Contents:

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 Foundation. He and Adelaide Garnier (a retired librarian and SHL member) met at MENSA 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.'

CHS APPOINTMENT...

(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 choice.

"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 experience."

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 Italy.

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.

A COMMUNICATION...

Dear Herb,
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 degrees.

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.

Best regards,
Nick Cross

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 (sdt@home.com) via Charlotte's Web (join at frthvc@aol.com)

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: jmmco@johnmichael.com

TODAY'S SCAPEGOATS...

(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 author states:
"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 incarceration.

"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 community." (And a merry Xmas to you, too. Since that was depressing here's a little humor. Ed.)

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 and apes?
  • 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 purpose.
  • 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 endangered plant?
  • 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 clean them?
  • 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 remain silent?
  • 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 disoriented?

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 were neutral.

Puzzled, one student raised his hand and asked, "What gender is a computer?"

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 retrieval.
  • 4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

    QUOTES...

    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 Goodell

    '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."


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