2/24/17 from organizers:

Big things happening with the March for Science – Grand Rapids this week! We were approved to use the High School facilities so we officially have an indoor venue with accessible restrooms, four tables, and 30 chairs!
Donations are starting to come in as well. Domino’s on Pokegama is donating 20 pizzas and Caribou Coffee on Pokegama is donating five gallons of coffee plus various pastries! Paul Bunyan Communications is donating $200 to help with venue and supplies! A HUGE thank you to our sponsors for their generous donations in helping this march become a reality!
Finally, big shout out to Bonfire for working with me to create a unique design for the Rapids March (notice the red/norway pine forest 🙂 )! We now have merch for sale online and all profits go to paying for the local march so please check it out and buy a shirt (or two). Orders won’t be placed until we sell five so share the link with your friends and wear your shirts to the march!!


Join the March for Science-Apr. 22nd

I hope many GRAF members will be interested in joining the March for Science in Grand Rapids on April 22nd.

This is info about the event taken from the organizer’s Facebook page(which can be viewed by Googling it even if you are not on Facebook, like me):

We will meet at KAXE at 11 am to make signs and gather before the march. We will then walk to 169 and head North, go West on Hwy 2 and North at 38 to the High School where we will hear speakers, eat food, and mingle with people who share our passion for science!

The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.


Volunteer to Pack Toys for Food Shelf-Dec. 17th (morning)

One of our favorite volunteer activities is the annual toy packing event supporting the Second Harvest Itasca Holiday Program. Our group is signed up to participate again this year. If you plan to come, please mark your calendar for Saturday, Dec.17th–location: Zion Lutheran Church. Last year packing began at 9:00am so we arrived at approx. 8:50am. If I receive word that the start time is any different, I’ll change the time on our Meetup site. So please check there to confirm the start time shortly before the event, or call me. Otherwise we’ll plan to arrive around 8:45am. The work should be completed before noon.

Our task that day is to select gifts for children ages 0-12 from big piles of new items, donated by our community, that have already been sorted by age and gender. The process is quite orderly and will be explained by the program coordinator before we begin. A few people also will be asked to work at the “battery station” or at tables where they check selected items to make sure they are an appropriate choice for the child identified on the gift tag (for example, we wouldn’t want to give a complicated board game to a toddler). After every child has been “shopped for” in this way, the bags are loaded up to be delivered with food boxes to families in communities throughout Itasca County.

In the past we’ve enjoyed gathering afterwards for lunch, but since this is on the same day as our (much-anticipated!) annual Winter Solstice party, I’m proposing a change in plans. Would anyone be interested in meeting for coffee beforehand, instead? I’m suggesting 8:00am at Caribou since it’s close to the church. Will put that on the Meetup site as well. Please feel free to join us at Caribou even if you can’t help with the toy packing, friends. All are welcome. 🙂

I hope many of you can make it to this fun and rewarding volunteer activity. It helps make the holidays a lot brighter for these kids and their families. Please call me if you have questions-Amy (#259-1476)

Atheists celebrating Christmas

I really liked this recent post on the “Liberal House on the Prairie” blog:

“The War on Christmas
Fri, Dec 18 2015, 08:06 AM
As part of my annual “War on Christmas,” I submitted an entry for the local paper’s segment on Christmas Stories. From the paper’s website:

“The stories of Christmas have been a Dispatch favorite since 1988. Each year we get wonderful stories, some humorous and light-hearted; others are thoughtful, touching remembrances. Winners are published in the Christmas Eve edition of the Dispatch. Stories should be 300 words or less.”

My submission:

“I’m an atheist. But if you ask me what my favorite holiday is, I will tell you it’s Christmas. Hands down. No contest. For me, it really is “the most wonderful time of the year.” I struggled with my utter devotion to Christmas for a few years after becoming an atheist. I felt like a hypocrite; rejecting religion on the one hand, while embracing a religious holiday on the other.

But after doing some basic research into the roots of Christmas, I was able to relax and enjoy the holiday for what it really is; a break from the cold days of winter. An excuse to bring some greenery and lights inside your home when it’s dark and gray outside. An occasion to get together with all of those people you may not see during the rest of the year. An opportunity to show your love through food. A chance to watch your children’s eyes light up as they open that present they’ve been begging for. A time to remember your own childhood, and reminisce with the ones you love. All of these things remain special and magical to us, even if Jesus isn’t part of our equation.

Your atheist neighbors aren’t out to wage a “War on Christmas.” Many of us love it just as much as you do! We just celebrate it our own way, with our own family traditions, and accept it as the cultural holiday that it is. When we say “Happy Holidays,” it’s not because we hate Christmas. It’s simply an acknowledgement that not everyone celebrates it. Because we know what it’s like to be part of the “out group,” and we don’t want others to feel the isolation that we’re so familiar with. So, from my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas!”
Guess we’ll have to wait until next week to see if I win! 🙂

Quotes about atheism

I was on Craigslist–of all places–and found this nifty series of quotes about atheism:

“It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds which follows from the advance of science.” [Darwin]

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” [Voltaire]

“I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.” [Einstein]

“Faith means not wanting to know what is true.” [Nietzsche]

“I cannot believe in the immortality of the soul…. No, all this talk of an existence for us, as individuals, beyond the grave is wrong. It is born of our tenacity of life – our desire to go on living … our dread of coming to an end.” [Edison]

“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” [Lincoln]

“Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?” [Arthur C. Clarke]

“Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.” [Thomas Jefferson]

“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.” [Kurt Vonnegut]

“Religion is based . . . mainly on fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.” [Bertrand Russell]


Polling Place in Evangelical Church

i just sent this inquiry to FFRF. What do the rest of you think about this? Is it acceptable for our County to designate such a place as an election site when secular sites are readily available?

“Hi, and a HUGE THANK YOU for all of your amazing work in state-church separation, including in my town (I belong to a FFRF chapter in Grand Rapids, MN and recently attended FFRF’s annual meeting in Madison…wonderful). I’m writing to ask why my polling place in Itasca County can be an evangelical church. Mine is First Evangelical Lutheran Church, whose website states “…every word in the Bible is true and without error. We also believe that all the facts related in it are absolutely true and without error (infallible and inerrant).” There is a public (school administration) building within a block of that location with adequate space to host the election activity. I find it distressing that voters are surrounded by evangelical Christian symbology and messages while voting on matters such as the right to gay marriage. Isn’t this likely to have a chilling effect? How can this be constitutional? The County would undoubtedly contend that all voters have the option to go to the courthouse to vote instead…but still this seems WRONG.”


Anyone else getting tired of all the admonitions to “not judge all Muslims by the actions of extremists” (ISIS)?

Before declaring Islam or any other religion to be peaceful and the “extremists” as obviously misguided, shouldn’t we scrutinize all the so-called holy books and consider the many instructions they actually attribute to their gods?

The Koran apparently has a great deal to say about what good Muslims should do to infidels. It’s not peaceful. And the Christian holy book does too. No need to single out Muslims just because the blood is currently running in France, Beirut, and Baghdad (among other places).  Here’s an offering from Deuteronomy 2, holy scriptures for Jews and Christians: “If there is found in your midst, in any of your [a]towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, 4 and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to [b]death. 6 On the [c]evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the [d]evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

FREETHINKERS, BEWARE, lest your neighbor take this to heart.

Thoughts? Other points of view?


Volunteering: Food Shelf Holiday Program

Are you interested in participating in a fun service project that brightens the holidays for children in our community? GRAF members will once again be joining other volunteer groups to help pack the toys that accompany food boxes distributed by the Second Harvest Food Shelf in December.

It’s fun and doesn’t require any special skills or experience. Ellen Christmas, the program coordinator for Second Harvest, explains how it works before we get started. The annual project draws community-minded persons of all ages in a spirit of goodwill and holiday cheer. It usually takes about one-and-a-half hours. Last year our GRAF volunteers met for lunch afterwards; hopefully there will be interest in doing that again.

The event will be hosted by Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids again this year. It’s on Saturday, Dec. 12th at 9:00a.m. Please join us if you can! I put it on the Meetup site, but you don’t have to RSVP–you can just show up.

If you have questions, please e-mail or call Amy (#259-1476 or fsm.gr.mn@gmail.com). Hope to see you there!