The Moral Atheist
March-April 2015
 
 
From Marriage Statutes to Terrorism.
Does Religion Drive Our Laws?
(p. 4).
 
AFHR Report
 
MarieAlena, Communications Director
 

The cover article of our March-April newletter, The Moral Atheist is especially interesting because the courts seem to be erasing the distinction between religion and non-religion by telling secular plaintiffs that their claims of discrimination by religious interests are groundless because seculars can have the same favored treatment if they just say they are religious and no one is stopping them from doing that, so what's the problem?

If you want a printed or PDF copy let us know. Contact AFHR at Communications Director or call 612-588-1597, and be sure to check out our supporter's premiums.

For now, however, we will give you the back cover editorial to think about:

 

Jim Crow Gets Religion

We all know why Jim Crow laws in the southern states were bad and had to go, even though one could argue that, well, after all, just because there were separate "white" and "colored" drinking fountains and lunch counters and schools and public accommodations, black people still had access to those services and facilities.

Yes, they did, more or less, but what Jim Crow laws did, and the purpose for what they did, was to assert white dominance to preserve white power and influence. They relegated dark-skinned citizens to second-class status, at best. It was power-aggrandizing tyranny by the white majority, pure and simple.

Can not the same be said for the rampant religious expressions and rituals on and in court houses, monuments, public schools, patriotic rituals and the national motto? No, some argue, because this is just harmless "civic religion" useful to solemnize or memorialize some historical or current event. But isn't it in fact the old Jim Crow in religious garb? Doesn't it assert religious (mainly Christian) dominance to preserve religious power and influence?

How else can we explain the ferocity with which attempts to remove these expressions of majoritarian tyranny are greeted? All hell breaks loose, almost literally. Plaintiffs get death threats. Sometimes they are forced to go into hiding. It's like Chicken Little's sky really is falling. After the Supreme Court's ruling against Michael Newdow in his lawsuit to remove "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, every member of Congress went out on the Capitol steps and recited the pledge en masse, loudly emphasizing "under God." Obviously it is of great importance to a lot of religious people that government validate their beliefs as though they have some kind of basis in reality because otherwise there is no objective way that can be done.

Newdow is at it again. He is preparing a legal challenge to the nation's motto, "In God We Trust." As usual, those in favor ask what's the harm in this bit of civic religiosity. We have had court rulings after court rulings that allow government supported religious rituals of some kind. Let's call those rulings Jim Crow 2.0, now in service to religion.

So why does it matter if atheists attend schools where they may be treated as misfits, or government meetings where fair treatment may be compromised if their nonreligious views become known? After all, courts have allowed atheists (a safely tiny percent of the community) a turn at offering graduation valedictions and city council invocations. Called to jury duty? Don't want to swear an oath? No problem. Do an affirmation instead and let Jim Crow religion set you apart, just like at the drinking fountain. Who knows how your non-belief will affect your chances of being seated on a jury where the case involves religion in some way? Separate but equal. Right? Just like those drinking fountains.

As with any other kind of discrimination, religion in government separates citizens into religious and nonreligious, and the religious rituals are there to let everyone know which group is favored by government and has the power and influence only such favor can bestow.

In This Issue

 
3AFHR Report. MarieAlena, Communications Director
4Religion in Law and Terrorism: Assigning Meaning to the Meaningless.   MarieAlena Castle
6Rationalizing Isn't Rationalism.   Jon Nelson
8A Warren Full of Delusions of Purpose. Part 2 of 3.  G. Richard Bozarth
11Easter Revisited.  Tim Gorski
12CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS. "Help! I'm Being Repressed!"
Part 2 (revised).
   William Sierichs Jr.
15THE ATHEIST EXPERIENCE. No Respect for Baloney.   Eric Stone
15Church Services of the Future.
16WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? My RA Campaign.   Bill van Druten
17THE BOOKSHELF
18THE LETTERS DESK
20THE NETWORK
22SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS
23THE HUB CALENDAR
 
BACK COVER: Jim Crow Gets Religion.
 
Check out our signature activity, our Moral High Ground Fund,
the only one in the country, to help poor women pay for abortions,
and to support gays and other groups victimized by religion-based laws.
 
Check out our list of donor premiums!
No trinkets, mugs, or t-shirts — just things to satisfy your mind.
 

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. Cover price $14.95, 236 pp.


"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 clear-headed 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.

 
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.

Magazine

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

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 UsTop of Page

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

If you need directions,
call:
612-529-1200
or
1-866-ATHEIST

or email: Communications Director.

Email:

Letters and articles are welcome!

 

Leave us a voicemail by calling:

612-DAMN-Y'ALL

612-326-6925

Phone messages may be used
on our website.

 
The Hub CalendarTop of Page

If you are not a regular attendee, call to find out if the schedule has changed.

 

Mondays:
5:00 to 6:30 PM
Happy Hour

Ol' Mexico Restaurant, on Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville.
Call Paul Craven, 763-788-8918.

 

1st Tuesdays
11:30 AM
Lunch Social

Old Country Buffet, County Road. B2, (east of Fairview). Roseville.
Bob & Marilyn Nienkerk, 612-866-6200.

 

1st & 3rd Mondays
6:30 PM
Toastmasters

Larpenteur Estates party room, 1276 Larpenteur Ave. W., St. Paul.
George Kane, 651-488-8225.

 

3rd Wednesdays
11:30 AM
Charley French Memorial Lunch

Dragon House restaurant, 3970 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights.
Private room.
Bill Volna, 612-781-1420 or 1322.

FIRESIDE CHAT

3rd Fridays
6-9+ PM.
Hub of Atheism, 5146 Newton Ave. N., Minneapolis
Call (612) 588-1597 or
email Communications Director

Always free food and beverages.

 
 

March 20
First, we will finalize our annual election of AFHR board members by a vote of those present, then we will watch a DVD from our large collection of hit movies and atheistic comedies. Those present will vote on what to watch.

 

April 17
We'll celebrate the fertility goddess (aka Easter) with a special labor saving easy-cleanup menu of your host's choice and a seasonal DVD TBD. A no-fuss laid-back evening!

MEETUPS

Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir, Video Manager
Or visit Twin Cities Atheists

 
Southern Minnesota Meetups
Email Crystal Dervetski

 

MEMBERS/SUPPORTERS MEETINGS

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.

 

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.

Links

 

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

 

Pharyngula

 

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science