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Moral High Ground Project
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.
No trinkets, mugs, or t-shirts — just things to satisfy your mind.
Waste, Fraud and Abuse at it's Finest.
Supreme Court OK's Government
Sponsored Christian Prayer. (p. 4)
The July-August issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by snail mail and as PDFs. To get a complete copy mailed or emailed, just ask. Email Communications Director or call (612) 529-1200. We offer 3 issues free so you can get a good idea of what we are up to. As atheist organizations go, we are definitely different!
See the fascinating and informative contents below:
Below is our AFHR Report from this issue, in full:
OUR MARRIAGE STATUTES: THE SAGA CONTINUES
The Minnesota legislative season is over for now. When a new session convenes in the fall, both Atheists For Human Rights and MN Atheists will propose bills that allow atheists to conduct marriage ceremonies. We can be celebrants now, but only as fake clergy, since the statutes specify only court personnel and clergy as authorized to solemnize marriages. So of course, enterprising atheists have set up online "churches" for that purpose. Not a good way to go other than it exposes the whole church thing to well-deserved ridicule. (As AFHR has shown, we can also authorize celebrants honestly as atheists right now in counties where no one seems to care what the statutes say. Regardless, the very first section of the statutes allows it if everyone involved in the ceremony is OK with it.)
However, there will be an election before the next session convenes that may change how we approach this. The political makeup will probably be different, whether better or worse for us we don't know. Certainly it will get worse if voters on our side don't pay attention and either vote mindlessly or stay home. It's always those non-voters who have the most impact on an election by giving away the store to the zealots by their apathy.
Even if the political situation remains the same, we have little hope of either of our bills being heard. Case in point: Someone (we don't know who) got a bill introduced this year to include notaries public as celebrants. This was not sponsored by any atheist individual or group we know of, and the bill had nothing to suggest support for atheists. Yet the religious right legislators prevented it from getting a hearing because, they said, it was "hostile to religion."
"Whaaat?!" I said to my state representative when he told me about this. All it did, I said, was add another position to the list of court-authorized celebrants. He said the religious legislators realized that, since becoming a notary is simple and anyone can do it, the door would be opened for atheists to solemnize marriages and they didn't want that.
The MN Atheists bill (if not changed) is worded on the assumption that legislators will be fair-minded and support including specifically identified atheist groups in the authorized list of celebrants. Question: Why would they do this when they are so hostile to atheists that they reject a bill not even intended for us but possibly useful to us?
AFHR will certainly attempt to get a celebrant authorization bill passed that is inclusive of everyone with an interest in this, but we expect that filing a lawsuit to achieve this will be necessary and we are working on that.
A TIMELY MOVIE
At our last Fireside Chat we showed the movie "Philomena" about the Catholic Church in Ireland severely abusing unwed mothers, with too many maternal deaths and babies being buried in septic tanks. Now there is a news story being distributed by the Associated Press that supports that horrendous story fully. A Catholic archbishop in Ireland is demanding that Ireland investigate what happened from the 1920s to the 1960s in these homes for unwed mothers (a common thing even in the U.S. in those days when such women were socially stigmatized — but never the men who impregnated them). Good for him, but as far as the institutional church goes but we suspect that the important thing is that he get out in front of the scandal.
Anyone who hasn't seen "Philomena" should do so. It's from a book by that title and is as close to true as these things get. The producer/scriptwriter/actor actually made the case for outrage stronger than in the book. He said he wanted to get his views of the Catholic Church off his chest, so he put those views in the dialogue, and very effectively. We need more movies like this.
We did show a similar one a few years back, "The Magdalene Sisters," about the mistreatment of women in the church-run laundries in Ireland. Since it's been a while since we've watched the movie, we may show it again now that these atrocities are back in the news. We'll also show the new movie, "Noah," because reports are coming in that religious organizations don't like it, which makes us think it must be good. We'll see.
QUESTION: Given religion's history of atrocities and general ignorance and abuse of just about everything and everyone, and considering its historical and ongoing claim to being the moral arbiter of society, name just one example of humane moral behavior that has its source only in religion and for which only religion can be given the credit.
NEW VIDEOS ONLINE
We finally got around to making more videos, and Scott Muir has edited them for our web site. They will also be shown on the Minneapolis and St. Paul public access stations (see inside back page). Scott has redone the video page on our web site and is using YouTube as the source of the videos. It makes it easier and more compatible across the platforms. Another advantage is that you can now view the videos right on the screen or in full page.
One of the videos is "How We Talk To Christians." Our guest is Dorothy Molstad, who helps us discuss how to talk to Christians that approach us with "all the answers." Should we be polite or should we kick them in the shins? You be the judge. We had so much material left over we may do a second video with Dorothy.
The other video is "Public Perception." Our guest is Trevor St Germain, and we discuss the public perception as it relates to atheism, gay marriage and many other aspects of humanity. The good news is that things are getting better.
We also made a video (not yet edited) with Sandy Beitsch, a popular singer at local piano bars and our Winter Solstice parties. It's "AFHR: The Musical." Very different!
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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.
-- MarieAlena Castle, March 1994
-- Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, Minneapolis MN, 28 April 1998
-- 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):
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.
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.
As usual, we offer 3 free issues of
Just send your postal or email contact info to: Communications Director
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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:
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Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events.
TWIN CITIES PUBLIC ACCESS
Our videos are played in Minneapolis and St. Paul on public access stations.