Check out our signature activity, our Moral High Ground fund to help poor women pay for abortions, and to support gays and other groups victimized by religion-based laws.

The Moral Atheist
March-April 2014

In this issue we are remembering the Beatles 50th anniversary by commenting on their beautiful song, "Imagine."

Moses holding the 10 commandments.

See the Table of Contents on the cover page (PDF). As usual, we offer 3 free issues of the full 24-page magazine, by postal or email, so you get a good idea of what we are all about. Just send your postal/email contact info to Communications Director.



* Are you an atheist planning to get married but don't want the officiant to be a judge or someone with one of those online ordinations?

* Did you think your only option other than a judge was someone from a fake online atheist church because you thought a church connection was necessary?

* The truth is that atheists can be certified to solemnize marriages as atheists — no church connection needed.

* Atheists For Human Rights just recently found this out and we have certified six celebrants with no problem.

* We can certify others, so if you have a desire for a family member or friend to officiate at your wedding, just contact us at Communications Director. We can help, and at NO CHARGE.

* Below is an excerpt from our magazine's AFHR Report that explains the situation. Contrary to common assumptions, the religious language in marriage statutes is regulatory — NOT preferential — because religions need watching to make sure they conform to state witnessing and recording requirements. That's what it's about, nothing more.


We continue to research the marriage statutes issue, which affects atheists around the country. While their wording appears to favor religion, in practice, clearly identified atheist groups are readily accepted by county registrars. Also, "clergy" has taken on a generic meaning applicable to any celebrant, and state certification papers are a mix of religious and secular terminology. It's a case of the law favoring religion while ignoring it in practice. Religions seldom care if their beliefs are enforced, only that they are validated by our laws. Some states' "churchy" marriage statutes are unconstitutional, but are not challenged because atheists have an easy workaround by forming online fake churches to certify celebrants. In states where registration is not required, anything goes as long as whoever performed the ceremony files the proper papers. In Minnesota we found we can certify atheist celebrants easily and the statutes are so ambiguous that the religious element is there or not depending on one's interpretation.

Atheist online churches are a farce. A real clergyperson may spend seven years in seminary to be ordained. A fake-church ordination takes seven minutes online. Yet both are valid by law. This is nonsense. Now that we know what is actually going on, we can do one of two things:

1. Continue certifying celebrants. If someone is rejected, file a lawsuit against requiring a religious test to solemnize marriages. We would win. However, the chance of rejection is slim to none because this ensures that the religious terminology remains in place. .

2. Change the statutes to cover nonreligious groups — and businesses that do wedding planning, to get their support. (We are talking with several legislators about this.) Also, to get a bill passed, it cannot threaten religions in any way. They have no interest in what's in it for us, only what's in it for them, so we introduce it something like this:

"This bill updates existing marriage statutes 1) to conform to current practice that registers celebrants inclusively along a civic-religious-secular continuum, 2) to reduce the trivializing of religion inherent in online 'churches' that offer ordination for a fee and seven minutes on a computer while for real clergy it may take seven years in seminary, and 3) to allow marriage related businesses, such as wedding planners, to offer celebrants as part of their services."

The only change needed is to add these underlined words to section 517.04 after the list of court personnel: ". . . , celebrants authorized by private sector organizations that have an interest in solemnizing marriages, a licensed or ordained minister of any religious denomination, or by any mode recognized in section 517.18."

Minnesota Atheists is also working on this. The changes they propose include adding secular groups but requiring them to be tax exempt (possibly with a training program). They also want temporary celebrants for a single wedding. We don't know why tax exemption is relevant or why a special certification is needed to solemnize one marriage.

MNA has possible legislative sponsors who say they like these ideas but who also say they don't think the bill will pass or even get a hearing. Legislators sometimes do this to keep constituents happy by going through fruitless motions, so it's possible the only way to change the law is to find a way to have atheist celebrants rejected. Then we would have a very winnable state-church legal case. As it is, religions are safe from being downgraded in our marriage laws as long as they don't object to atheists certifying celebrants despite the laws. And so they don't object.

ArticlesTop of Page

About UsTop of Page


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.

Our Philosophy
Atheism accepts the natural world as all there is. To live without god beliefs is intellectually stimulating. To find one's own purpose and be responsible for one's own life is exciting. To be free of the imagined surveillance of good and evil spirits is liberating. To seek a peaceful world through work and friendship and civic action is life-affirming.
-- MarieAlena Castle, March 1994
It is the role of unbelievers to force religions to be benign.
-- Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, Minneapolis MN, 28 April 1998
Let us become post-religious, post-national Universal Humans.
-- Lavanam, Atheist Centre, India

Moral High Ground Project

The Moral High Ground project has chosen the following funds to provide support and protection for these 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):

Philanthrofund scholarship

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 GLBT openly atheist student at Pfund's major awards ceremony. This has created visibility and respect for AFHR within the GLBT 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.

Outreach Activities

Atheists for Human Rights is focused primarily on reaching out to the public in morally active ways to advance the atheistic worldview.

Charitable Outreach

We donate to secular charities that help young people and the homeless.

Highway Cleanup

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.

Interfaith Dialogue

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.

Speakers Bureau

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.

Fireside Chats

These monthly discussions about atheist issues are occasions for socializing as well as developing ideas for further activism.

Public Forums

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.


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: Communications Director

Contact UsTop of Page

The Hub of Atheism
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis MN 55430-3459

If you need directions,

or email: Communications Director.


Letters and articles are welcome!


Leave us a voicemail by calling:



Phone messages may be used
on our website.

The Hub of AtheismTop of Page

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.

Contact, location, & directions:
Hub of Atheism

CalendarTop of Page

5 - 6:30 PM

Happy Hour
Location: Ol' Mexico Restaurant
On Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville
Terrace level, right behind reservation desk.
Paul Craven: 763-788-8918

6:30 PM

Location: Larpenteur Estates Party Room
1276 Larpenteur Ave W, St. Paul
George Kane: 651-488-8225

11:30 AM

Lunch Social
Location: Old Country Buffet,
County Rd B2 (east of Fairview), Roseville
Bob/Marilyn Nienkerk: 612-866-6200

11:30 AM

Charley French Memorial Lunch
Atheists and Humanists get together to socialize and exchange opinions.
Location: Dragon House restaurant
3970 Central Ave NE, Columbia Heights
Private Room
Bill Volna: 612-781-1420 or 1322

6 - 9+ PM

Fireside Chat

18 April: That's Good Friday, warming up to the great pagan fertility worship celebration of Easter, and I think also the date of Paul Revere's Ride. Whatever.

We will have plenty of food (possibly better than usual this time) and beverages. The DVD will be different from what we have been watching. Last time there was a consensus that we'd seen enough action films with guys bashing each other's brains out and loud music and massive destruction.

We agreed this time it will be Make Love Not War and will show a sweet love story. Not mushy, just nice. Also with a social message but not at all preachy. It's called "Something New." And it really is different, as you will see. The star is (no surprise here) my favorite actor Simon Baker (star of The Mentalist). He has such a fantastic ability to actually become the character he plays while most other actors just play themselves with different costumes.

OK, be there around 6 PM. DVD at 7 PM.

Location: The dome home at 5146 Newton Ave. N., Minneapolis. If you need directions, call 612-588-1597 or email Communications Director.


Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir, Video Manager
Or visit Twin Cities Atheists
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, just give us your email address. Significant issues discussed are covered in The Moral Atheist for reader feedback. It's all open. Decisions, if needed, are formed by consensus if possible.


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, Tuesdays at 6 PM, and Wednesdays at 1 AM and 11 AM.
Thanks to Paul Craven for handling this.



American Freethought


Americans United for Separation of Church and State


Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc


Atheists For Humanity


Atheists of Silicon Valley


Born Atheist


Campus Atheists & 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