March 2016 Newsletter

Discussion Topic for This Month: God, Save Us From Your Followers!
Presented by Henry Aguirre.

Henry asks, “What do the following, mostly violent, events have in common: 1914 Jehovah’s Witness Last Days, 1978 Jonestown Massacre, 1984 Rajneeshee Bioterror Attack, 1993 Waco Siege, 1995 Tokyo Subway Sarin Attack, 2001 World Trade Center Attack, 2016 Malheur/Bundy Standoff.


Answer: In each case, the antagonists claimed to receive orders directly from God.
We’ll examine the question: Are personality cults ever not divinely-inspired? 
We’ll also examine the human propensity to join and devoutly follow charismatic leaders, as well as what drives some of us to be so controlling.




Updates on Past Discussion Topics 

Re-Visiting Guns in the USA

Semiautomatic weapons legal? Illegal?    In February, a 3-judge panel in Maryland declared that semiautomatic weapons such as AR-15s and AK-47s are protected under the Second Amendment for use by private citizens. This ruling was seen as a victory for gun-rights advocates and the NRA. Then, in the first week of March, the US Court of Appeals effectively wiped out that ruling when it agreed re-hear the case to judge the merits anew, reinstating the ban…for now.

assault weapons


Iowa Legislature Changing State Laws to Allow Children to Handle Firearms     Gun control advocates are appalled: “We don’t need a militia of toddlers”, said Iowa State Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D). Gun rights advocates are pleased: “This is about [children] in a supervised scenario to learn a great sport”, said Brian Hood who is a coach at the Central Iowa Scholastic Shooters league.

guns and kids

“Almost every unintentional shooting of a child — almost every suicide of a child or teen happens with a parent’s gun,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control advocacy group. “It’s not some hypothetical fear. It’s something that happens every day across this country. Every day across America, nine children are shot unintentionally just by accident. Every year 900 children and teens take their own lives.They’re almost all with a parent’s gun.”




Battle Rages Over Florida Law Limiting Doctor’s Gun Speech   As a pediatrician, Dr. Judith Schaechter can ask parents of her patients all sorts of questions regarding their safety and well-being: what the child eats, whether there’s a backyard pool and whether the child gets enough sleep.

Doctor Gun Speech

Yet the question of whether there is a gun in the home is generally off limits. A Florida law bans routine gun questions even though eight children or teenagers are killed every day in the U.S. with guns, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

guns in America

OP-ED: The U.S. Has Lost Its Damn Mind (NOTE: This is one of those editorials which does not necessarily reflect the opinions of blah, blah, blah…however, it DOES reflect mine!  – Larry Bollinger)

gun deaths chart



Re-Visiting Monsanto and GMOs

FDA to Study Monsanto’s ‘Round Up’ Glyphosphate Weed Killer     Glyphosphate-Based Herbicides (HBAs) have been in widespread agricultural use since the 70’s. Its effects on humans have never been studied by the FDA. But because of alarms sounded by environmentalists (link here: ) and studies that have had mixed results, the FDA will monitor foods for residue of the chemicals beginning in May 2016


Monsanto spokesperson Charla Lordsays says that the company ‘confident that the new studies will reaffirm the product’s safety’.



Re-Visiting Vaccines 

Colorado: Parents Can Opt-Out of Vaccinating Their Children For Any Reason   Once again, our local paper reports on an issue of great importance to all of us. Did you know that Colorado is one of only 20 states that permit parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children for any reason? A bill to centralize the information about vaccine rates in the state passed the Democratic House committee recently on by a 7-6 party line vote. It will likely die in the Republican Senate. Democrats say the law will ease the burden on school nurses who currently are responsible for reporting vaccination rates. Republicans worry that the proposed law will infringe on privacy.

vaccines ALT

The rate of childhood vaccination in Colorado is among the lowest in the nation. Just this month, Colorado health officials warned of a new outbreak of mumps in Denver…four cases have been confirmed so far.




Jimmy Carter: Best Ex-President EVER!     This link is for a 3 minute interview of Jimmy Carter by Oprah Winfrey. In it, President Carter describes what he considers to be ‘the most serious violation of human rights on Earth’ and why he left the Southern Baptist Convention as a result.baptists no girls allowed


Will We EVER Get Denver TV in Durango?       Having to endure TV news and political ads originating from Albuquerque while missing out on major league sports and news from our own state is not only aggravating, it serves to isolate us even more than does our remote geographic  location. We are cut out of the public discourse that would bind us to fellow Coloradans in far-flung corners of the state.


Clint Kearns has expressed his frustration with the slow ‘progress’ in bringing Denver broadcast-TV to the Four-Corners region. Clint wonders if we should bring the awesome power of our Skeptics and Atheist group to bear on this problem. (Unlike so many controversial topics that we’ve discussed, I am guessing that the membership of our group might actually be unified in this, one, effort).


The History: The FCC has the power to establish Designated Market Areas (DMA) which determines what TV station serves which geographic area. Back in the dawn of time, Durango was awarded to the Albuquerque NM TV market. If you look at the DMA map, here:, you can see that the Albuquerque TV primary service area is well within the borders of New Mexico…so, being on the extreme periphery of the DMA, Durango is totally ignored. It’s a great deal for the TV stations –they don’t spend a dime to cover the news and politics of SW Colorado, but they benefit because their advertising rates are set with consideration to the number of potential viewers in the DMA. In short, we don’t cost them anything, but our presence in the Albuquerque DMA brings them more revenue. This explains why they fight tooth-and-nail to maintain the status quo.

Here is a link with a bit more of the history and in which an argument is made that we are better off with Albuquerque TV because our weather is similar to theirs(!) This is apparently an opinion that carried the day sometime In the distant past!


The Recent Good News This is a  link to a story which appeared in the Durango Herald in mid-February.  (PERSONAL ASIDE: There is SO MUCH MORE in The Herald than ‘just local gossip’, as one member recently put it – you know who you are!  I urge everyone support our award-winning local paper which is our main source of LOCAL News by investing in a subscription!) According to the story the FCC is now going to permit ‘orphan counties’ which receive TV from outside the state, e.g. La Plata County, to petition the FCC to permit station-by-station exemptions which would ultimately allow Denver TV to finally be seen in Durango and La Plata County. Our political leaders are giddy with the prospect, but it’s still up to each county commission to petition the FCC for each, individual Denver TV station they wish to receive. It seems cumbersome to me, but it’s the most movement there’s been on this issue since…since forever.TV

Atheists, Take Action! You can contact your county commissioners, of whom there are three in La Plata County. Although they represent specific districts, the commissioners are elected at large…therefore, I am personally going to contact each of them individually.  Here is the contact info for the La Plata County Commission:

Commissioner Brad Blake (R)

Commissioner Gwen Lachelt (D)

Commissioner Julie Westendorff (D)

Additionally, it probably wouldn’t hurt to drop a note or make a phone call to our Congressional representatives:

US Sen. Michael Bennet (D)    contact via website  970-259-1710

US Sen. Cory Gardener (R)    202-224-5941

US Rep. Scott Tipton (R)    contact via website   970-259-1490

Ask them to expeditiously work towards making ALL the major Denver TV stations available in our county. Be polite, but firm: this issue demands immediate attention. Ask them when we can expect to see results.

I am planning to both call and email each of these people…I hope you will consider doing the same.


Funny, but in a Horrible Way:

MEET THE NEW CHAIRMAN OF THE TRAVIS COUNTY (TX) REPUBLICAN PARTY!     The county seat of Travis County is Austin which has a liberal (relative to the rest of TX) reputation. Robert Morrow, who won his position in the election March 1, has a bad word to say about everyone, Republican and Democrat alike. The link, which is included for its pure entertainment value, takes you to an interview filled with astonishing x-rated language and brimming with anger and hateful conspiracy theories.

What has happened to the Republican Party? This guy.

Robert Morrow,  Chairman-Elect Travis County (TX) Republican Party



Are Humans Pre-Wired to Believe In God? Not So Fast!  (Contributed by Tom X)     A new study suggests that maybe Atheism is as ‘natural’ to human beings as Religion and belief in God. The study “….suggests that atheism – which is typically seen as a modern phenomenon – was not just common in ancient Greece and pre-Christian Rome, but probably flourished more in those societies than in most civilizations since.”Greek Atheist

Greek god of the sun, Helios, aka Apollo.   FYI, we don’t believe in him either.



And  Then, This Happened….


Mormon Leader: “There Are No Homosexuals in the Church”  David Bednar, youngest Elder of the Mormon Church and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains, “…there are no homosexual members of the Church… We are sons and daughters of God…all of us have different challenges in the flesh…”

gay mormons

Nearly 2,000 members of the Mormon Church have resigned as a result of recent Church rulings against  LBGT persons, their families and their children…here is the link to that story:



Atheist-Led ‘Prayer’ Offends Lawmakers in Arizona Finally allowed to lead the ‘prayer’ that opens every session of the Arizona state House of Representatives, Rep. Juan Mendez (D), who is an atheist, offended his fellow legislators by not ‘thanking God’ in his remarks. In a portion of his invocation, Mendez said, “We need not tomorrow’s promise of reward to do good deeds today. For [while] some may seek the assistance of a higher power with hands in the air, there are those of us that are prepared to assist directly, with our hands to the earth. Take these words to heart as we move this great state of Arizona forward. It is our responsibility to honor the Constitution and the secular equality it brings. And so shall it be.”


For House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro (R), a Christian minister, those words didn’t suffice. Montenegro has taken the position that all prayers must include a reference to a higher power — which Mendez’s didn’t. Almost as soon as Mendez finished speaking, Montenegro called upon the Rev. Mark Mucklow to fulfill that criterion.

god as rendered by Python

“At least let one voice today say thank you,” Mucklow told the chamber. “God bless you and bless your families for the time you sacrifice and are away from them down here late at night. Father give back to them that time. Multiply it back to them and give them harmony and peace in their families. Father may they draw close to you and Father may we all be grateful for the work they do today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

With that, Montenegro declared that official business could begin. 



And now, your moment of Dancing Bug…so many Trump cartoons to choose from! But I chose only one Trump ‘toon so that I could include another Dancing Bug that features one of my favorite characters, Hollingsworth Hound…I hope you enjoy!

Tom the Dancing Bug



Tom the Dancing Bug

Tom the Dancing Bug is reprinted in the Durango Skeptics and Atheists Newsletter with the permission of its creator, Reuben Bolling.  See more TtDB cartoons at Help support Reuben Bolling’s “Inner Hive”