This may or may not be the last issue of The Moral Atheist I am able to send you. We'll see. On Wednesday evening, February 28, around midnight I fainted, called 911 to come and pick me up off the floor, seemed OK but on Thursday morning got worse (hard to breathe, with an exciting near-death experience where I saw, not a white light but a giant blue-and-white whirligig lollipop, and called 911 again.
Ended up in North Memorial Hospital's ICU with a pulse count of 23 (basic lifesupport low point allowed is 60), died briefly, got revived, and had a pacemaker implanted along with getting a prognosis of death by mid-summer from congestive heart failure.
Now that the crap has hit the fan, let's deal with it. AFHR does not have a bench of recruits waiting, willing and able to take over my job.
Everyone dies, no exceptions. Nothing new here so we've ignored that fact. I have simply enjoyed being one of the luckiest people on Earth. Fate gave me a 91-year break from an otherwise endless Oblivion and filled it with political and social activism — workers' rights, women's rights, anti-war, gay rights, political skullduggery, built a geodesic dome home as a hands-on contractor, raised five good kids, organized and helped build atheist and political organizations, worked as writer-editorpublisher of atheist, commercial and technical newsletters, magazines, booklets and one book with a follow-up version now in production titled "Divided We Fall: Religion, Sex and Politics, and the Political Blunder That Brought Religion Into Public Life and Opened the Door to Trump." None of this uphill climbing has been especially pleasant, but all of it has
There will be meetings among AFHR supporters for what to do next. There's one IRS rule: We are a 501c3 nonprofit so the IRS requires that, if we disband, all assets go to similar 501c3's. Meanwhile, any donations you send will go ENTIRELY to our
Moral High Ground project. That's our signature activity and we will stay with it. I'll send updates as my weakening heart allows. If I can't do it, others will. So, to all of you out there: "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up." This time it's for real. If I'm gone, my email address and phone number will remain active until all is settled.
A Great Opportunity to "Die with My Boots On" — and I Took It!
A lot of atheists worry about how to react when believers push religion on them. Beat them to the punch with atheism. I did this at the hospital and rehab center. I made it pleasantly clear from the outset that I didn't want any god stuff around me.
I said the one thing I liked about the rehab center was that it was so secular. I was amiable and cheerful. I took dying as just the way the world works. When religious staff members said kindly that "God will decide when you die," I kindly replied, "I don't really understand this god stuff. We are in a hospital. You are taking care of sick and suffering people. How do you square the suffering with any god worth the title? You wouldn't allow it if you were God. You are worshipping a god who's not as
nice as you are. Please don't do that. You deserve better." (SPREAD THIS ATHEIST WORD. I give permission to reprint anything I've written.)
I even got to work in some of my political activism at the hospital and rehab center. Part of my checkered past includes being a labor union activist. I noticed what shit work the lowest paid employees had to do and I thanked them. I got to talk with three of them on separate occasions. I said they deserved the highest pay, not some fatcat CEO. They agreed. I said they should have a union to fight for better wages. They said they did have a union but it was weak. I said, "Well, at the next union election, all of you go down there and vote in some stronger leadership!" I talked about standing up for one's rights and sticking together. I talked about strategic bargaining. I watched the light of potential opportunity begin to shine in their eyes. They saw an open door they hadn't realized was there! Would they go through it? I don't know but a seed was planted and it felt SO GOOD to be back in the real world, even briefly, fighting for what is right. THAT is life!! THAT is what it means to be fully human.
Meanwhile, Another Mass Shooting
You'd think there would be better ways to spend one's only break from Oblivion than arguing about gun ownership. Guns are designed to kill. Okay, so some people just love the aesthetics and engineering and "feel" of being in a target-rich environment with a smooth assault weapon at hand if trouble breaks out — even just a little road rage on a slow-moving snow-packed highway. I have no way to understand the appeal of something clearly meant for one lethal purpose that almost no one ever encounters.
This is not an argument for confiscating guns. It's an appeal to look more closely at human nature for what drives the killing urge and see if there's a way to stop such behavior. Most animals do not fight to the death. They have horns and claws and fangs that could do the job but evolution seems to have developed a stopping point — a sense that it is better to live to fight another day, thus helping the species survive. So the submissive behavior took hold and brought most otherwise lethal confrontations to an end.
Humans evolved with none of these built-in weapons. A rock or a club were pretty poor substitutes. No stopping behavior was needed because enough damage could be inflicted to stop the fight before things got out of hand.
But then came the spears, and the swords, and the cannons, and the bombs, and the flame-throwers, and the ever more powerful and accurate guns and rifles. . . . None
backed up with any stopping behavior when the lure of victory with whole cities being laid waste proved overwhelming. There are fingers today, just itching with righteous
fury, to enter the nuclear warhead codes and bring on the biblical Armageddon. There is no built-in stopping point now any more than there was one at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Perhaps the only workable stopping point humans have is our ability to think humanely and rationally and collectively find a stopping point. For that to prevail, we have to get rid of the wishful, mystical, ignorant religious mindset that no matter how stupidly we behave, God will save us. Good luck with that.
God-Groveling Over the Death of Billy Graham
Then we had to put up with the fawning over Billy Graham on the occasion of his death at age — I don't know: 99? — who cares? — as though he was a really important man. He's one of those wastefully expensive human artifacts who will never be dead long enough. His religious "empire" consisted of selling religious salvation snake oil to vulnerable and gullible people.
When he had his headquarters in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune ran a series reporting on how he underpaid his minimum wage workers while collecting millions of dollars in tax exempt donations. AFHR does more real good with our little Moral High Ground project. A friend of mine at that time worked in the bulk mail section of the Post Office. He said they had one room solely for Graham's incoming bags of mail. Envelopes addressed simply to "Billy Graham" came there, no other address needed. My friend said he could hold the letters up to the light and see there were many checks, written in the shaky hand of elderly people. A "widow's mite" I suppose.
Finally, A Word to the Well-Meaning Humanists
Please, friends, call a halt to promoting the idea that one can be good without "God." The issue is how people can manage to be good WITH a god belief. In all cases, as our columnist Bill Sierichs says, they have to abandon their traditional beliefs so they can be moral. Liberal religionists end up with the same human-centered worldviews as atheists adopt because that involves decent behavior. Religious beliefs are one and all based on irrational and/or immoral behavior. Hold conferences on how religious people can find their way to a moral life by dumping the god nonsense. Teach THEM how they can be moral without a god, NOT how atheists can somehow be moral by emulating anything religionists do. That's not only impossible but ridiculous on the face of it.
In This Issue of The Moral Atheist
2 AFHR Report: MAJOR CHANGES AHEAD!
3 End of the Trail for RationalGal MarieAlena. What next?
5 What is Religion For? Tim Gorski
6 Racism, Slavery and Christianity. Jon Nelson
7 An Offer from George Erickson.
8 Puritanism, Then and Now. Guy Giguere
9 Atheist Blues. John Annen
9 The Optionless World. Stephen Van Eck
10 Christianity in Its Own Words: Christianity's Origin Mysteries,
It's All Speculation, Part 1 of 2. William Sierichs Jr.
13 Flat Earth Believers in This Day and Age. Stephen Van Eck
14 What the Hell is Going On Here?
Bill Sees a Heavenly Sign in Toppled 10 Commandments. Bill van Druten
15 Readers Write/Backtalk from RationalGal.
16 Supporters' Benefits/Event Calendar.
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.
Moral High Ground Fund
Our unique, signiture Moral High Ground Fund provides support and protection for the following groups and counters 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.
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.
Atheists Wedding Celebrants
Available as a Supporters' Benefit. No charge.
Use our celebrantss or one of your choice, all legally
authorized by AFHR.
If not on reminder list, call to verify info below has not changed.
FIRESIDE CHAT, 3rd Fridays, 6-9+ PM, Hub of Atheism, 5146 Newton Ave. N., Mpls. Always free food and beverages.
20 April: Standard Fireside Chat on hold so we can decide how best to deal with the mess the twisted hand of fate has foisted on us. Watch for whatever announcement we have.
Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events. National: Announcements, discussions on AFHRbod Yahoo Groups. To get on list, give us your email address. Significant issues discussed are covered in The Moral Atheist for reader feedback. All open. Decisions by consensus.
All Mondays Happy Hour: 5:00 to 6:30 PM Ol' Mexico Restaurant, on Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville. Table reserved on terrace level, top of stairs. Call Paul Craven, 763-788-8918.
1st Tuesdays:11:30 AM Lunch Social Great Moon Buffet, 4029 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis. Call Rick Gelman, 651-483-6209.
1st & 3rd Mondays6:30 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 Moon Buffet, 4029 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis. Call Bill Volna, 612-781-1420 or 1322.
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.
OUR VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
Thanks to Scott Muir for putting some of our public access TV videos on YouTube We are
working on doing some specifically for YouTube distribution. Thanks to Paul Craven for
helping to produce the new videos.
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.
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.
The Moral High Ground Fund 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.
Reason vs. Faith Faith is belief without — or in spite of contradictory — empirical evidence.
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.
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
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.
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis MN 55430-3459