To be good Freethinkers, we need to recognize the things that interfere with clear thinking, and employ strategies for becoming better thinkers.
David has spent a lot of time trying to figure out why people believe what they believe. He was once a conservative Christian, but is now an atheist who has mixed political positions. He has worked with a variety of cultures and belief systems, having been a teacher in a Christian school, a Native American school, in Japan, in a treatment center, in both rural and urban areas, accumulating friends and family from every ideology and belief system.
We will meet at 9:30 am in Somers Lounge within the campus of the College of St. Scholastica. It is the small building that you’ll encounter first as you come through the main entrance at the corner of Kenwood Avenue and W College Street. The festivities begin at 10:00 am as always with a few announcements, a Five Minute Reflection from a member, and then the main presentation. Unfortunately there will be no breakfast buffet this month.
I want to discuss two things: One, the idea that we’re founded as a Christian nation. When you hear that argument, you may debunk it using, say, the Treaty of Tripoli, which says we’re not founded in any sense on the Christian religion. Or maybe you cite the First Amendment or the fact that religious oaths are constitutionally prohibited or that the Constitution is entirely godless.
When you use those facts to refute their first argument, your opponent will fall back on the second argument, which is that we’re founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Typically, you’ll hear these arguments: “In God We Trust” or “One nation under God,” or quotes from the Declaration of Independence.
You obviously know that “In God We Trust” and “One nation under God” are not from the founding era. The former was required on currency only in 1956 and the latter was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. When discussing the Declaration of Independence, the Religious Right typically focuses on four phrases from it: “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” “their Creator,” “the Supreme Judge of the world” and “Divine Providence.” Notice that not a single one of these is Christian. There’s no mention of Jesus or Yahweh or the God of Abraham.
Andrew is a constitutional attorney, the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and an author. Andrew graduated cum laude from Tulane University (’04) with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School (’09), where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and traveled the world on Semester at Sea. Andrew completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a perfect GPA (’11) and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award.
His first book is The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American. Renowned constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has described it as “a beautifully written book” that “explodes a frequently expressed myth: that the United States was created as a Christian nation.” Publisher’s Weekly said that Andrew “provides a fervent takedown of Christian Nationalism in his furious debut. … his well-conceived arguments will spark conversations for those willing to listen.” Susan Jacoby (Freethinkers; The Age of American Unreason; and The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought) wrote the foreword and Dan Barker penned a preface. When not fighting for the First Amendment, Andrew writes for ThinkProgress, Religion News Service, Rewire News and elsewhere. Andrew joined FFRF as a constitutional consultant on Halloween, 2011.
Live and in-person on the third Wednesday of this month, area freethinkers will gather once again for food, fun, frolic, and fellowship. I’ll have the Bison Burger, but there are many many other choices including the most seafood served in Northern Minnesota. Be sure to bring your wallet, but prepare to be pampered and celebrated while enjoying fine food and opulent surroundings. This one is not to be missed! Wednesday, May 19, 5:30 pm.
Celebrate International Workers’ Day (MayDay) with our special speaker. Richard Hudelson grew up in a factory town in east central Indiana. His father and maternal grandfather worked at the Chrysler, manufacturing parts for the assembly lines in Detroit. The rest of his family was made up of small farmers. Dick escaped the factory, went to college, and liked it. He came to Duluth from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. in the Fall of 1977 to take a teaching job at UMD. He taught philosophy at UMD until 1996 and then at UWS until 2011. He is the author of six books: four in philosophy and two in labor studies.
Carl Ross grew up in the Finnish Communist community in Superior, Wisconsin. He recruited me to join him as co-author for a book on the labor history of Duluth. I worked on that book for eighteen years. Carl died before the book was finished, but By the Ore Docks: A Working People’s History of Duluth was eventually published by University of Minnesota Press in 1996. My talk will be based on my work with Carl on that book. Duluth had an ethnically diverse working class. Ethnic differences, religious differences, and ideological differences divided the labor movement in Duluth. Yet, it has been a powerful labor movement, from very early on, even up to the present.
This Saturday, April 24th, we resume the time honored ritual of gathering at the lovely home of Our Flounder, Dr. Bill van Druten, to share a bite to eat and a relaxing drink. That’s right, all you have to do is bring something to share (perhaps some snack you’ve made or a soothing drink to enjoy) to 2931 Greysolon Road at 1:00 pm while freethinkers think freely and share a laugh or two. Park anywhere on Greysolon Road but not on 30th Avenue. (218) 724-4176.