The July-August issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by postal mail and email (see the Table of Contents).
If you want to read the entire issue, including the cover article, letters, and back page editorial, just ask by email to email@example.com and we'll send it in PDF form — or printed if you'd like.
Rita and Doug
CHILD Takes a New Direction in Fighting Faith Healing Laws Protected by Belief-Blinded Legislators
(Page 4 in The Moral Atheist newsmagazine)
As reported in this issue, CHILD (Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty) will no longer exist as a separate entity. Rita and Doug Swan are retiring and CHILD will continue as part of a nonprofit entity called CHILD USA that works to protect children across a broad range of issues, not just faith healing. The director is Marci Hamilton, well known for her legal expertise in defense of civil rights. The contact information for CHILD USA as well as for Rita Swan is on our Network page (page 20) and will remain there. Rita will continue as a consultant in advocating for children harmed by faith healing.
CHILD has been a primary recipient of our Moral High Ground fund. That may or may not change, but how and in what way is a matter for our AFHR board to discuss. We welcome input from our supporters. Send any suggestions or comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The faith healing issue has been a horrible absurdity to deal with. The CHILD newsletter was always heavy with news of children denied medical care, beaten, starved, abused and too often dying because the parents believed they were doing what their god wanted. And in all cases they had the law to back them up — laws in almost all states like the one in Minnesota that says faith healing IS healthcare! And what does this "healthcare" consist of? Saying prayers that reinforce the notion that disease does not exist, even as death is imminent, even sometimes refusing to believe death has occurred, for to believe a disease is present is to thereby bring it into existence.
We should not have laws that legitimize nonsense, certainly not when helpless children are victimized by it. Yet, as Rita and Doug found out, and as we did too, we have legislators who mindlessly pass laws legitimizing faith healing just because some Christian Science lobbyist asks them to, never bothering to ask what they plan to do that they need an exemption from prosecution.
As bad as that is, it is almost impossible to get these laws repealed when it becomes clear that they are not just absurd but harmful and even lethal to children. No politician's re-election is at stake, no campaign funds are involved, no legislative record is endangered. These laws could be put on a Consent Calendar and repealed easily by voice vote. There would be no public reaction one way or another. These laws went on the books quietly and they can go off the same way.
Why don't they? Because we have politicians who think religion is some kind of sacred cow they dare not touch, no matter how outrageous the belief is. We heard over and over about how precious these faith healing beliefs are to well-meaning parents. But their child died! Well that's too bad and maybe something should be done about that. Anything except repealing stupid laws that give parents permission to let their child die.
TO SUPREME COURT
Final Exit Network (FEN) has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse its conviction for supposedly assisting in a suicide in the death of a Minnesota woman's self deliverance. FEN notes that the "proof" at the trial established only that FEN's volunteer exit guides did not assist the woman but only instructed her on the process.
The Supreme Court of Minnesota redefined the word "assist" to prohibit speech that enables a suicide. FEN argues that no American court has ever stretched the word "assist" to prohibit pure speech without any conduct.
FEN's petition emphasizes that the information their exit guides gave the woman is readily available in bookstores, libraries and online and is depicted in movies, documentaries and articles of every sort; therefore, Minnesota may not make it a crime to repeat this information.
FEN's case is substantially different from cases where a person deliberately facilitates a suicide, such as encouraging someone to stay in a car that is running and filling with carbon monoxide. FEN exit guides make every effort to ensure that a person intending a self deliverance is fully committed to that outcome, is making the choice freely, and is competent to do so. Members are not even accepted into the self-deliverance program unless they first establish that they are suffering intolerably from an irremediable condition. The outcome of this case will be critical to whether free speech becomes less free and possibly much more restricted.
We are close to being done with updating our book, Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom. The review copies are scheduled for distribution in August. With three chapters left to update and send to See Sharp Press, and the more-or-less finished chapters in the hands of the publisher for editing, we expect to meet the deadline.
This is an updated, expanded and revised version to take into account the effect of the Trump presidency on our already religion-based laws and the certainty that the situation will get worse, not better.
A major change in this version is that, rather than just describing our many religion-based laws, much of it, including an entire chapter, will deal with practical and proven and relatively easy ways to change the political system so our civil rights can be protected.
Some of our members have contributed information, articles and resources that have helped make this updated Culture Wars interesting and useful. We appreciate that help and thank you all for your support.
In This Issue
the Challenges it Faces. Rita Swan
Religious Delusions. MarieAlena Castle
Paranoia (Part 3 of 4) William Sierichs Jr.
Breaking News. Bill van Druten
Available as a Supporters' Benefit. No charge.
Use our celebrantss or one of your choice,
all legally authorized by AFHR.
We can help. Just ask.
612-529-1200; Communications Director
The Best Policy Guide for a Religiously Neutral Secular Nation
The first full-size book by AFHR Communications Director, Marie Alena Castle, published by See Sharp Press, Tucson AZ, and written at their request.
All proceeds go to support AFHR outreach activities. Available from Barnes and Noble in stores and on-line, and from Amazon.com.
Culture Wars is an engaging, compelling and important book. The public is so unaware how fragile our constitutional rights are. The book reminds me of our military men and women who return to the states as amputees and then speak strongly against intolerance because they understand that's what the fight was all about. — Andrew Dawkins, Minneapolis MN. Attorney, former Minnesota state legislator.
Culture Wars is brilliant, readable, to the point, and thorough. Marie Alena Castle has given us a timely book that deserves a wide and serious readership. — Cecil Bothwell, Asheville NC councilmember, author of The Prince of War: Billy Graham's Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire.
Over the years I have read many books on this subject, but Culture Wars stands head and shoulders above the crowd. — Earl Lee, librarian, author of Libraries in the Age of Mediocrity.
I was amazed and entranced by Ms. Castle's breadth of knowledge, her passion and compassion, and clearheaded convictions. — Arvonne Fraser, former U.S. Ambassador to the United States Commission on the Status of Women.
The author's grasp of theology and understanding of its irrelevance to how we live are impressive. This is rare in books about religion. — Kirk Buchanan, former Roman Catholic priest.
Culture Wars is brilliant and the logic is solid. MarieAlena Castle links a logical chain of reasoning about the dangers of religion in society and then uses it to thrash the notion that religious beliefs are harmless personal philosophies. She makes the case that passive atheists should become assertive against religious extremists and I agree. — Chris Edwards, New Palestine IN. Author of Spiritual Snake Oil: Fads & Fallacies in Pop Culture.
- No legal protection for kids in faith-healing families: why most states sanction religion-based child sacrifice
Rita Swan and her husband Doug were Christian Scientists until the death of their son made them determined to prevent other child deaths by repealing religious exemption laws.
- Your money and/or your life: mugged by the mythmakers — the price we pay for religion
A summary of what religion costs YOU in terms of your money, your personal freedom, your health, and sometimes even your very life.
- How Judge John E. Jones put intelligent design on the path to extinction
A conservative U.S. District Judge strikes a stunning blow against intelligent design and creationism.
- The Theological Roots of Everything Ugly About America
How the toxic roots of puritanical ideas poisoned a potentially beautiful thing.
- Damned if we do, damned if we don't: the atheist dilemma
If atheists object to state-church violations, they invite a backlash; if they do nothing, they are hated for simply being who they are.
- CNN invites us to discuss whether "God" exists
— and stacks the deck
Given the opportunity for a serious discussion, CNN presented bias and Christian propaganda.
- The Godless rise as a political force
Nonbelievers represent a growing segment of the U.S. electorate.
- Budget woes and how local activism may get churches to pay up
Charging churches a fee for city services may now be not only thinkable but doable
- 600+ years of fakery: the Shroud of Turin
Scientific evidence supports a medieval origin of the Shroud of Turin.
- The two words that don't belong
In 1892, Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, wrote The Pledge of Allegiance, which contained no mention of God.
- Reason vs. Faith
Faith is belief without — or in spite of contradictory — empirical evidence.
- The Moral High Ground Project
The signature activity of Atheists For Human Rights is standing with religon's victims in support of abortion rights, death with dignity, children's healthcare, and LGBT students.
- Elk Grove v. Newdow [PDF file]
The Amicus curiae brief submitted by Michael Newdow to the US Supreme Court, arguing that it should strike the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Hub of Atheism,
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Always free food and beverages.
Freethought picnics instead. See schedule below for dates, times, places. Fireside Chats will start again on Friday, 15 September. We have some excellent videos lined up.
Electricity available for plugging in crock pots.
Monday Happy Hour: 5:00 to 6:30 PM
Ol' Mexico Restaurant, on Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville.
Call Paul Craven, 763-788-8918.
1st Tuesdays: 11:30 AM Lunch Social
New location to be determined.
Call Marilyn Nienkerk, 612-866-6200.
1st & 3rd Mondays 6:30 PM Toastmasters
Larpenteur Estates party room, 1276 Larpenteur Ave. W., St. Paul.
Call George Kane, 651-488-8225.
3rd Wednesdays 11:30 AM
Charley French Memorial Lunch Discussion Group.
Great Niib Buffet, 4025 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights.
Call Bill Volna, Shop: 612-781-1420 or 1322.
Southern Minnesota Meetups
Email Crystal Dervetski
Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events.
National: Announcements and discussions on AFHRbod Yahoo Groups, first 10 days of the month. To get on the list, give us your email address. Significant issues discussed are covered in The Moral Atheist for reader feedback. All open. Decisions, if needed, formed by consensus if possible.
ABOUT THE MORAL ATHEIST
If you want to get The Moral Atheist in PDF format on your computer, please let us know. It will save printing and mailing costs, leaving more funds for public outreach.
TWIN CITIES PUBLIC ACCESS
Our videos are played in Minneapolis and St. Paul on public access stations.
In Minneapolis, they are on MTN Ch. 75 at 7:30 PM. Mondays and other "fill-in" times.
In St. Paul, they are on SPNN Ch 15 at 6 PM; Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1 AM and 11 AM.
Thanks to Paul Craven for handling this.
-- MarieAlena Castle, March 1994
-- Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, Minneapolis MN,
28 April 1998
-- Lavanam, Atheist Centre, India
Atheists For Human Rights is a national, ethics-driven organization upholding an atheism that is confidently held, morally active, and vigorously opposes religions that are politically and socially predatory or harm innocent people.
- We are committed to making atheism visible in the community as a rational, responsible voice for secular morality.
- We sponsor well-advertised public forums regularly with well known speakers on topics related to the common good and maintaining a secular government.
- We run high-visibility "bold & proud" ads for our activities in mainstream newspapers and on radio.
- We produce atheist videos for our website video outreach project and also make them available on CDs.
- We submit letters and commentary articles to the media that are frequently accepted.
- We meet with media people to discuss our concerns and encourage fair and balanced coverage of atheism.
- We meet with public officials to make them aware of the secular community and express our concerns about the intrusion of religion into legislative action and to stress the importance of state-church separation.
- We wrote a proclamation declaring 4 July 2002, "Indivisible Day," which was signed by Gov. Ventura on our behalf, causing an uproar by "Christian nation" fundamentalists that was front-page news in the St. Paul and Minneapolis papers.
- Our visibility generates invitations to debate religious-right radio talk show hosts on their political/social agenda and state-church separation.
- We are unique among atheist organizations in that, as a matter of official policy, we oppose the religious right's assaults on our freedoms and come to the aid of its victims. We do this with reason, civility, pride, and a passion for truth and justice.
- We provide a strong and effective voice for human rights within the atheist community and are developing a national network of citizens who seek the social and political right to be religion-free. We walk the talk. Our board consists of activists willing to help with the tasks of our organization. Our bylaws impose a high level of ethical standards. We operate openly and honestly at all times.
- Membership is open to all who reject supernatural beliefs and support the principles and policies of this organization. We thrive on new ideas and welcome everyone who shares our goals.
As usual, we offer 3 free issues of The Moral Atheist full 24-page magazine, by postal or email, so you get a good idea of what we are all about. Just send your postal or email contact info to: email@example.com
Moral High Ground Project
The Moral High Ground Project has chosen to provide support and protection for the following groups and to counter the efforts of religious zealots to impose their religious doctrines through law (other funding mechanisms may be added as resources increase):
Like the other Moral High Ground funding projects, it is unique in the freethought community. Each year since 2002 AFHR has donated $500 to be awarded to a LGBT openly atheist student at Pfund's major awards ceremony. This has created visibility and respect for AFHR within the LGBT community.
Grants to poor women to help pay for abortions
At least $200 each is given annually to funds such as the Women's Medical Fund, administered by Anne Nicol Gaylor from Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin, and through the North Dakota WIN (Women In Need) Abortion Access Fund, administered by the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo. These funds serve poor women in areas where religion-generated abortion laws are irrationally restrictive and punitive.
Support for physician aid in dying
As opportunities arise, we support efforts by physician-aid-in-dying organizations so the terminally ill who want to die with dignity on their own terms have the legal right to do so.
Protection for children harmed by faith healing
As opportunities arise, we support the efforts of CHILD (Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty) to protect children from harm where state laws define faith healing as healthcare and exempt parents from prosecution when they allow children to die by substituting prayer for medical care.
Atheists for Human Rights is focused primarily on reaching out to the public in morally active ways to advance the atheistic worldview.
We donate to secular charities that help young people and the homeless.
In 2005 we took on an Adopt-A-Highway cleanup project. The work is done three times a year in spring, summer and fall. Large highway signs identify AFHR as the cleanup crew for a 4-mile stretch of highway in Lakeville that passes many churches.
Minnesota Alliance Of Peacemakers
We joined MAP and have participated in several of their events urging peaceful solutions to world conflicts. MAP is a coalition of churches and secular organizations working together in the cause of peace.
AFHR is represented by invitation at regular interfaith gatherings hosted by Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to find common ground in our common humanity to address the causes of social conflict and stress.
Since 2004, about three times a year, we have been invited to give presentations on atheism to educational and social service agencies for their diversity training programs. Videos of all speakers here.
These monthly discussions about atheist issues are occasions for socializing as well as developing ideas for further activism.
This major outreach project was begun in June 2006 and continues. The purpose is to show the public how atheists support our constitutional freedoms, seek rational solutions to issues of civic concern, and promote the common good. These events are heavily advertised in local newspapers and on Air America radio.
Welcome to the
Hub of Atheism!
Atheists For Human Rights has a geodesic dome as its headquarters. This unique architecture was developed by Buckminster ("Bucky") Fuller (1895-1983), an atheist, architect, environmentalist, and inventor. His ambition was to use science to help solve human problems and to find ways to do more with less.
The tragic death of his young daughter inspired him to find "what a single individual can contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity." The epitaph on Fuller's tombstone says, "Call me trimtab," referring to a small but critical aircraft part that holds a stabilizing component in position.
Much of Fuller's philosophy is expressed in the goals and strivings of Atheists For Human Rights.
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Minneapolis MN 55430-3459
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- American Atheists
- American Freethought
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State
- Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
- Atheists of Silicon Valley
- Born Atheist
- Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Secular Humanists (CASH)
- Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc (CHILD)
- Euthanasia World Directory (ERGO)
- Final Exit Network
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Friends Free of Theism
- IBKA Political Guide
- Minnesota Atheists
- The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science