Interview with Dale Hemming – Founder, Sioux Falls Free Thinkers

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Dale Hemming is the Founder of the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers. Here we talk about his work and views, and billboards.

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Dale Hemming is the Founder of the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers. Here we talk about his work and views, and billboards.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you come to a freethought position? What is the background in freethinking?

Dale Hemming: I have been fighting for the rights of others since 1960, as a junior in high school. I was against the sexual double standard. You know what that was. I argued against it as a junior in high school.  I lost.  Nobody was interested. The girls did not like it; the guys did not like it.

The sexual double standard is that the guys try to make it with the girls, the girls would refuse to do it. And if they did do it, they were sluts and then you did not want to marry them.  I told them, “Listen, if you like sex, then you do it. If you do not like it, then do not do it. It should be the same for everybody.”

Boy,  that was not a popular position [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing] How did you come into a freethought community or a freethinking community? Because there is a wide range of secular communities. Maybe, I should take one step back. What differentiates a freethinking community from other secular communities?

Also, how did you find a freethinking community?

Hemming: I came to Sioux Falls in 2008. I found an outfit called Siouxland Freethinkers. I was, certainly, a freethinker. I was open to new ideas. I wanted to look for the evidence however. So, I joined them.

But it did not take me long to find out; they were really anti-religion. I mean, extreme. The guy who oversaw the atheist group within the Siouxland Freethinkers was an ex-evangelist. He would preach against religious people, just like he used to preach against the atheists [Laughing].

No difference! [Laughing] I had my arguments with these people over their positions. The straw that broke the camels back was when they had a meeting out in Brooking, South Dakota. A guy by the name of P.Z. Myers, I think the name was, talked about converting from religion to atheism.

It was a long lecture. It was an auditorium full of people. As soon as he started speaking, all he did was rant and rave against religion. He did not offer any reason to change. He spoke to how horrible it was, how bad it was, and how bad you were for being a theist!

Half of the audience walked out before the lecture was over. they walked out in the first half hour. We were not learning anything. We had a man ranting and raving against religion. I told the leaders  of the group; that I did not think this was very effective in converting people this way.

They said, “They just have to go to class.” I almost walked out because it was so bad. So when I decided to form my own groups, I could not call it Siouxland Freethinkers. I cannot travel very well. I am crippled. So, I decided to call it the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers.

I also established Sioux Falls Atheists, Sioux Falls Feminists, and Sioux Falls Zoologists, and Sioux Falls Scientists. I made websites for all five of those groups. I released those December 26, 2013. I did not drop out of the group Siouxland Freethinkers.

But said, “I am glad you’re here. But I want to do my own thing.” They had a secret board meeting. Next thing, I was excommunicated [Laughing]. There is no other word for it. It is a secret board meeting. They threw me out.

All I was doing was expressing my free thought. So, that pretty much cured me of the Siouxland Freethinkers. The Sioux Falls Free Thinkers is alive and well. We do not get a lot of people at meetings. But there is 150 on the mailing list besides 300 in the meetup group.

I get feedback occasionally. But, you know, they pretty much know my message by now. I have five websites with 1,830 pages or something like that. They have had 1,150,000 page views since the inception of those groups. That is a lot of page views.

I really dispense knowledge about these various subjects. That is what I really want to do. I am not really into arguments. I am saying, “This is what science tells me. This is the way in it is.”

Jacobsen: What are the differences within a secular community? Which, by their very nature, it might simply be a necessity, as we remain a non-dogmatic or aim for this.

Hemming: I will be honest with you. As far as I am concerned, freethought should become the definition.  Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that will be formed on logic, empiricism and reason rather than authority, tradition, and dogma.

It is freethinking comprised of freethinkers. This does not include religion. There is no logic and reason in religion; it is about a supernatural creature. They say, “You don’t let us come in.” I do let them come in. Freethought does not include religion. It cannot.

Because that is simply supernatural. There is nothing in the freethought definition that says, “Accept the supernatural.” Wikipedia has a very good definition of this. It is in-depth. Next question.

Jacobsen: What do you see as positive contributions in writing and in speaking to the freethought community, either individuals or simple subject matter in the modern period?

Hemming: Well, I want to convince people that logic, reason, and empiricism are the right basis for freethinking. This is pretty much the accepted basis. I want to convince people that supernatural things, when it comes to religion, are just bogus.

There is no supernatural: never has been and never will be. It is just human weakness. I do not know exactly why. Therefore, they accepted a supernatural being and started burning people at the stakes, and then the Crusades, and the just awful things done by religion are unbelievable.

The number of people that have died supporting god. they fought for hundreds of years in Europe. It was just a horrible thing. When it comes to women, like I said, back in the 1960s, I realized that women were second-class citizens.

They are treated as second-class citizens so men beat them, and rape them, and rape their children. They can get away with it. The worst penalties are just a couple of years. Even then, they get off, sometimes. I hate that.

I hate injustice. That is really a lot of my feminist activities. When it comes to science, Science, to me, is the only answer. Science is always right. It may get some things wrong for a brief period of time. But it is self-correcting.

It is not like all-of-the-sudden we discovered the laws of gravity because of Newton. We simply understand it. We got a better understanding of gravity. We did not throw out the laws of gravity or of evolution.

Evolution was proven when Darwin proved his theories. It has been proved so many times since then that it is ridiculous. I follow this stuff, daily. I have been following this stuff daily since 2013. I had records going for these various subjects going back to 2,000.

The evidence is so overwhelming for evolution and global warming. It is unbelievable. Out of 13,950 peer-reviewed climate articles. Only 24 have rejected climate change or global warming. That is 0.17%. That is the number of accredited scientists.

I am not stalking these guys on the internet. But there are only 24 out of 13,950. That is 0.17%. Where would you place your money if you got odds like that? Then also, animal intelligence, animals are so intelligent that you cannot believe it.

They even have moral code and moral values. They behave like we do to a great extent, because we evolved from them. We are nothing more than the continuation of what animals were or are. We have a better brain for making decisions outside the boundaries of our genetic code.

But they do a real excellent job. These are not dumb machines; these are intelligence animals, e.g., crows are the second most intelligent animal on the planet. We are number 1. They can solve problems that cannot be solved by a 4-to-5-year-old child.

They do not need to be trained. They can simply solve it by looking at it. Somebody should really think about that. There is a young girl in Seattle. She has a trading relationship with crows. She brings out dog food. They bring her human trinkets.

They do not bring sticks, stones, and dead birds. They bring out of the kinds things that you would expect. This creature understands things that are human and might be useful to the girl, in return for dog food. It turns out that that is an old thing.

They have been trading things with us for centuries. People do not want to believe it, especially religious people. I go to church by the way. I go to church because they are good people; they are trying to help others. I am trying to help others.

That is one of my objectives. I contribute to the homeless, to feminist causes, to immigration issues. I am not a member of their community. Even though, I know they are religious; they know I am not. They understand this.

We are here to help people.

Jacobsen: There is some discussion about passing on values to the next generation. What is a proper way in which to pass on the intellectual aspect, as in critical thinking, science, empiricism, and reason, as well as the ethic in terms of some of things you mentioned? Something developed akin to some of the sentiments some in the freethought community unbound by supernaturalism can adhere to often.

Hemming: My parents passed it on! [Laughing] I did not know they were passing it on. You teach them. You explain to them. Bullying is bad. This is not a good thing. Attacking women is bad, because it is usually that way. Sometimes, a girl is attacking a guy. But that is rare.

You pass it on by educating them. You educate them as to the value of science, to the value of respecting other animal life. I know we must eat them to survive. Other than that, we can certainly respect them as much as we can.

Respect other people’s beliefs, even though, we disagree with them. Unless, they are trying to hurt us or other people; that is when respecting them goes out of the window. So far, in the last year, the Catholic Church has admitted to horrible crimes against women and children.

The Baptist Church [Laughing] and did the same thing! In one state, it was a vast number. The number of children that were raped. The Baptist leader encouraged the little girls to get an abortion. Can you imagine that? A Baptist encouraging abortions [Laughing]; it is so evil. It is unbelievable.

The Boy Scouts have also been caught in the act, thousands of them. Thousands of boy scouts’ leaders were helping themselves to little boys. It just makes me sick. I am sorry. I am an old moralist. I think they should be taken out and throw into a valley. Lock them up, wait 20 years, then let them out if they come out okay.

There is no reason to treat these people as humans. Anyone who deliberately hurts another human being has lost the right to be called human.

Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

Hemming: I do not know if I have any concluding thoughts. I am running a big atheist campaign starting in May, which prompted me to call you. May 13th, I am going to be putting up 4 billboards. They attack religion for the various fallacies

Number one, I will attack the idea of the supernatural.

Number two, I will attack the idea of the end times coming. It has been coming for 500 years.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Hemming: The bullshit drives me crazy; how can people believe this? I am going to attack the idea of praying on your knees and going to hell. I have been told that, because I used the word “God damn.” That is a sin according to the Bible, or to the Baptists’ anyway. I will have to burn in hell forever.

Unless, I seek forgiveness and redemption. It is crazy. I am not going to seek redemption from something that does not exist. I do not believe in being subservient to anybody for any reason. I said this in my billboards. Stand tall.

We should all be our own people. We agree to work with others to gain benefit for us both. But, as far as being obedient to them, forget it, it is not in my nature.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dale.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you come to a freethought position? What is the background in freethinking?

Dale Hemming: I have been fighting for the rights of other since 1960, as a junior in high school. I was against the sexual double standard. You know what that  was. I argued against it as a junior in high school. I lost. Nobody was interested. The girls did not like it; the guys did not like it.

The sexual double standard is the guys try to make it with the guys, the girls would refuse to do it. And if they did do it, they were sluts and then you did not want to marry them. I told them, “Listen, if you like sex, then you do it. If you do not like it, then do not do it. It should be the same for everybody.”

Boy, that was not a popular position [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing] How did you come into a freethought community or a freethinking community? Because there is a wide range of secular communities. Maybe, I should take one step back. What differentiates a freethinking community from other secular communities?

Also, how did you find a freethinking community?

Hemming: I came to Sioux Falls in 2008. I found an outfit called Siouxland Freethinkers. I was, certainly, a freethinker. I was open to new ideas. I wanted to look for the evidence forever. So, I joined them.

But it did not take me long to find out; they were really anti-religion. I mean, extreme. The guy who oversaw the atheist group within the Siouxland Freethinkers was an ex-evangelist. He would preach against religious people, just like he used to preach against the atheists [Laughing].

No difference! [Laughing] I had my arguments with these people over their positions. The straw that broke the camels back was when they had a meeting out in Brooking, South Dakota. A guy by the name of P.Z. Myers, I think the name was, talked about converting from religion to atheism.

It was a long lecture. It was an auditorium full of people. As soon as he started speaking, all he did was rant and rave against religion. He did not offer any reason to change. He spoke to how horrible it was, how bad it was, and how bad you were for being a theist!

Half of the audience walked out before the lecture was over. We walked out in the first half hour. We were not learning anything. We had a man ranting and raving against religion. I told the leaders  of the group; that I did not think this was very effective in converting people this way.

They said, “They just have to go to class.” I almost walked out because it was so bad. When I decided to form my own groups, I could not call it Siouxland Freethinkers. I cannot travel very well. I am crippled. So, I decided to call it the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers.

I also established Sioux Falls Atheists, Sioux Falls Feminists, and Sioux Falls Zoologists, and Sioux Falls Scientists. I made websites for all five of those groups. I released those December 26, 2013. I did not draw out of the group Siouxland Freethinkers.

I said, “I am glad you’re here. But I want to do my own thing.” They had a secret board meeting. Next thing, I was excommunicated [Laughing]. There is no other word for it. It is a secret board meeting. They threw me out.

All I was doing was expressing my free thought. So, that pretty much cured me of the Siouxland Freethinkers. The Sioux Falls Free Thinkers is alive and well. We do not get a lot of people to meetings. But there is 150 on the mailing list besides those.

I get feedback occasionally. But, you know, they pretty much know my message by now. I have five websites with 1,830 pages or something like that. They have had 1,150,000 page views since the inception of those groups. That is a lot of page views.

I really dispense knowledge about these various subjects. That is what I really want to do. I am not really into arguments. I am saying, “This is what science tells me. This is the way in it is.”

Jacobsen: What are the differences within a secular community? Which, by their very nature, it might simply be a necessity, as we remain a non-dogmatic or aim for this.

Hemming: I will be honest with you. As far as I am concerned, freethinkers should become the definition. Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that will be formed on logic, empiricism and reason rather than authority, tradition, and dogma.

It is freethinking comprised of freethinkers. This does not include religion. There is no logic and reason in religion; it is about a supernatural creature. They say, “You don’t let us come in.” I do let them come in. Freethought does nit include religion. It cannot.

Because that is simply supernatural. There is nothing in the freethought definition that says, “Accept the supernatural.” Wikipedia has a very good definition of this. It is in-depth. Next question.

Jacobsen: What do you see as positive contributions in writing and in speaking to the freethought community, either individuals or simple subject matter in the modern period?

Hemming: Well, I want to convince people that logic, reason, and empiricism are the right basis for freethinking. This is pretty much the accepted basis. I want to convince people that supernatural things, when it comes to religion, are just bogus.

There is no supernatural: never has been and never will be. It is just human weakness. I do not know exactly why. Therefore, they accepted a supernatural being and started burning people at the stakes, and then the Crusades, and just awful things done by religion are unbelievable.

The number of people that have died supporting god. They fought for hundreds of years in Europe. It was just a horrible thing. When it comes to women, like I said, back in the 1960s, I realized that women were second-class citizens.

They are treated as second-class citizens to beat them, and rape them, and rape their children. They could get away with it. The worst penalties are just a couple of years. Even then, they get off, sometimes. I hate that.

I hate injustice. That is really a lot of my feminist activities. When it comes to science, Science, to me, is the only answer. Science is always right. It may get some things wrong for a brief period of time. But it is corrected.

It is not like all-of-the-sudden we discovered the laws of gravity because of Newton. We simply understand it. We got a better understanding of gravity. We did not throw out the laws of gravity or of evolution.

Evolution was proven when Darwin proved his theories. It has been proved so many times since then that it is ridiculous. I follow this stuff, daily. I have been following this stuff daily since 2013. I had records going for these various subjects going back too 2,000.

The evidence is so overwhelming for evolution and global warming. It is unbelievable. Out of 13,950 peer-reviewed climate articles. Only 24 have rejected climate change or global warming. That is 0.17%. That is the number of accredited scientists.

I am not stalking these guys on the internet. But there are only 24 out of 13,950. That is 0.17%. Where would you place your money if you got odds like that? Then also, animal intelligence, animals are so intelligent that you cannot believe.

They even have moral code and moral values. They behave like we do to a great extent, because we evolved from them. We are nothing more than the continuation of what animals were or are. We have a better brain for making decisions outside the boundaries of our genetic code.

But they do a real excellent job. These are not dumb machines; these intelligence animals, e.g., crows are the second most intelligent animal on the planet. We are number 1. They can solve problems that cannot be solved by a 4-to-5-year-old child.

They do not need to be trained. They can simply solve it by looking at it. Somebody should really think about that. There is a young girl in Seattle. She has a trading relationship with crows. She brings out dog food. They bring her human trinkets.

They do not bring sticks, stones, and dead birds. They bring out of the things that you would expect. This creature understands things that are human and might be useful to the girl, in return for dog food. It turns out that that is an old thing.

They have been trading things with us for centuries. People do not want to believe it, especially religious people. I go to church by the way. I go to church because they are good people; they are trying to help others. I am trying to help others.

That is one of my objectives. I contribute to the homeless, to feminist causes, to immigration issues. I am not a member of their community. Even though, I know they are religious; they know I am not. They understand this.

We are here to help people.

Jacobsen: There is some discussion about passing on values to the next generation. What is a proper way in which to pass on the intellectual aspect, as in critical thinking, science, empiricism, and reason, as well as the ethic in terms of some of things you mentioned? Something developed akin to some of the sentiments some in the freethought community unbound by supernaturalism can adhere to often.

Hemming: My parents passed it on! [Laughing] I did not know they were passing it on. You teach them. You explain to them. Bullying is bad. This is not a good thing. Attacking women is bad, because it is usually that way. Sometimes, a girl is attacking a guy. That is rare.

You pass it on by educating them. You educate them as to the value of science, to the value of respecting other animal life. I know we must eat them to survive. Other than that, we can certainly respect them as much as we can.

Respect other people’s beliefs, even though, we disagree with them. Unless, they are trying to hurt us or other people; that is when respecting them goes out of the window. So far, in the last year, the Catholic Church can admit to horrible crimes against women and children.

The Baptist Church [Laughing] and did the same thing! In one state, it was a vast number. The number of children that were raped. The Baptist leader encouraged the little girls to get an abortion. Can you imagine that? A Baptist encouraging abortions [Laughing]; it is so evil. It is unbelievable.

The Boy Scouts have also been caught in the act, thousands of them. Thousands of boy scouts’ leaders were helping themselves to little boys. It just makes me sick. I am sorry. I am an old moralist. I think they should be taken out and throw into a valley. Lock them up, wait 20 years, then let them out if they come out okay.

There is no reason to treat these people as humans. Anyone who deliberately hurts another human being has lost the right to be called human.

Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

Hemming: I do not know if I have any concluding thoughts. I am running a big atheist campaign starting in May, which prompted me to call you. May 13th, I am going to be putting up 4 billboards. They attack religion for the various fallacies

Number one, I will attack the idea of the supernatural.

Number two, I will attack the idea of the end times coming. It has been coming for 500 years.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Hemming: The bullshit drives me crazy; how can people believe this? I am going to attack the idea of praying on your knees and going to hell. I have been told that, because I used the word “God damn.” That is a sin according to the Bible, or to the Baptists’ anyway. I will have to burn in hell forever.

Unless, I see forgiveness and redemption. It is crazy. I am not going to seek redemption from something that does not exist. I do not believe in being subservient to anybody for any reason. I see this in my billboards. Stand tall.

We should all be our own people. We agree to work with others to gain benefit for us both. But, as far as being obedient to them, forget it, it is not in my nature.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dale.

Dale’s Billboard


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.

Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Billboard images: Dale Hemming/Sioux Falls Free Thinkers.

One thought on “Interview with Dale Hemming – Founder, Sioux Falls Free Thinkers

  1. Very lively interview. I’d like to offer an excuse for the Religious Right. When it comes to their religious stories, what they have is simply the Barr Report. There is a Mueller Report out there that they have not yet understood. It was written by the secular religious studies and their associated archaeology folks.

    I love this analogy. It is so fitting.

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