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The Moral Atheist
July-August 2016
 

The July-August issue of
The Moral Atheist is being distributed by postal mail and PDF's. The cover page is posted here (see the Table of Contents below). There is some especially interesting coverage of the gender identity controversy as well as an atheist-focused opinion piece about Donald Trump on the back cover. If you want the entire 24-page magazine, give us your email address or postal address and we will send it by PDF or postal mail.

Meanwhile, just so you know what we are up to, below is the AFHR Report from this issue:
 
AFHR Report
 
MARIEALENA, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
 

NEW COURT RULING: RELIGION CAN BE DEFINED

As we learned from our lawsuit to allow atheists to officiate at marriages, there is legal precedent that government cannot define religion. Now that may change.

According to the Americans United June 2016 magazine, Church & State, a federal court for the District of Nebraska has ruled that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a real religion.

The issue came up when a prisoner claimed religious freedom to get FSM literature and wear a colander as religious pastafarian headgear (certainly no sillier than religion's assorted "holy hats"). The court said FSM is just entertaining satire. The ruling included this statement: "To read it [the FSM Gospel] as a religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a 'religious exercise' on any other work of fiction."

But isn't the Bible one of our most entertaining works of fiction? A flat Earth created in six days with everything out of order, a talking snake, a guy spending three days in a fish's belly, people rising from the dead, the Book of Revelation that even Stephen King's horror stories can't top for macabre scenarios, and so on. And of course there is the absurd Catholic theology and the crazy tales in the Mormons' Book of Mormon, in Christian Science's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in the Scientology claptrap, in the Muslims' Qur'an, in the Hindu scriptures, and so on. They make the Flying Spaghetti Monster's "satire" look like a theological masterpiece. In comparison, it is.

 

ELECTION TIME IN THE CULTURE WAR

With the most surreal presidential election in U.S. history coming up, it would be good to have more relevant background information than the mainstream media provide. Our book, Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom (see ad on p. 7), is about politics and how and why our political system has gone off the rails. Given the watershed political realignments that may result from the unprecedented presidential election campaign we are experiencing, atheists should understand the fundamental role authoritarian religions have played in creating the current socio-political dysfunction. Readers of The Moral Atheist can order the book directly from AFHR for $10 ppd. All revenue goes to our Moral High Ground project.

 

SOME TV THAT IS WORTH WATCHING

PBS just aired "Genius" by Stephen Hawking. There were six excellent one-hour shows, now available on DVD and as a download from YouTube. Hawking shows how anyone can be a genius if they think carefully and logically. No god required. He gets ordinary people to do simple and entertaining experiments to answer some of the major questions about our existence, like how big is the Earth, where did it come from, where did life come from, how big is the universe, where did it come from, and how do we find out. Hawking does all this entirely with the aid of computer technology, which enables him to communicate despite the disease that has destroyed everything physical about him, leaving only his exceptional mind. Well worth watching.

On a secular mythical note, the supernatural gets an atheist-friendly workout on the FOX network series, "Lucifer" (Satan with daddy-god issues). Season 1's atheist-mind-blowing finale has us eager for Season 2. Watch for report.

 

UPDATE ON FINAL EXIT NETWORK LAWSUIT

Randall Tigue, our AFHR attorney who submitted our amicus brief in support of Final Exit Network's appeal of their conviction for supposedly "assisting a suicide," informs us that he has received the county's response to the FEN arguments. It completely ignores our arguments and those of other groups that submitted amicus briefs.

Those arguments showed that: 1) FEN's "assistance" is simply free speech — telling the person seeking self-deliverance about the means available, all publicly detailed in Derek Humphry's best selling book Final Exit, and 2) the state's claimed "compelling interest in preserving human life" is based on religious beliefs that suffering has spiritual merits and we have no right to end our lives on our own terms to avoid that suffering. The state's "compelling interest," therefore, amounts to forcing dying people to suffer to validate senseless religious beliefs.

FEN can use only the free speech argument — not religious doctrine — in the upcoming hearing (date uncertain) because of cases where assisting a suicide was ruled illegal without regard to religious doctrines. The concern has been to protect vulnerable people from those with self-serving interests — venal relatives, insurance companies, unethical medical practices, and so on. Fair enough, but none of these cases allow for the rational desire for a death with dignity. This is new legal territory and the fact that only groups driven by religious doctrines about the spiritual merits of suffering are opposing death with dignity has yet to force a death with dignity revision of these old laws.

Because the oral arguments cannot yet be made on religious beliefs, the amicus briefs must make them. The hope is that some judges who read them will see beyond the free speech legalities to the humane and rational justification for self-deliverance and rule in FEN's favor.

This case may have to go through some appeals, perhaps to the U.S. Supreme Court, before the antiquated legal brick walls are breached. AFHR will stay with FEN all the way. Meanwhile, we should know the results of the current appeal by the end of this year.

 
 

In the July-August issue of The Moral Atheist

 
3   AFHR Report
 
4   Free to be Religion Free: But If We Don't Know Where We're Going Any Road Will Get Us There.
MarieAlena Castle
 
6   On Being "Wrong": Gender Politics Tim Gorski
 
8   CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS "Help! I'm Being Repressed!" Part 9 William Sierichs Jr.
11   Not Believing in a Deity Is Not Enough. Andy Mulcahy
 
12   How I Escaped from Christianity. Stephen Van Eck
 
15   Some Questions for the Believer. Jon Nelson
 
16   WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?
Bill's Adventures on Camera In Gastro-Intrusion Wonderland.
Bill van Druten
 
17  THE BOOKSHELF
 
18  THE LETTERS DESK
 
20  THE NETWORK
 
22  SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS
 
23  THE HUB CALENDAR
 
BACK COVER: Lie Down with Dogs, Get Up with Fleas.
 
See the AFHR Report above.
 
Check out our list of donor premiums
and the new easy-to-use form!

No trinkets, mugs, or t-shirts —
just things to satisfy your mind.
 
Check out our signature activity,
our Moral High Ground Fund

It's 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.
 
Atheist Wedding Celebrants

Atheists For Human Rights now certifies Atheist Wedding Celebrants

All-atheist authorization nationwide.*

We no longer need a contrived church affiliation to solemnize marriages.

Select one of our registered celebrants or choose a friend or family member to officiate at your wedding. We will provide that person with atheist certification at no charge.

 

We can help.

Call 612-529-1200 or email Communications Director

To Our Fellow Freethought Organizations:

We offer document templates and information at no charge so you can authorize your own celebrants.

Create memorable weddings that reflect secular values.
 
* Ask how this might apply in your state.
 

The Best Policy Guide for a Religiously Neutral
Secular Nation

Culture_Wars

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
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
 

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.
 

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

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.

Hub of AtheismTop of Page
The Hub of Atheism Hub meeting room, viewed from the top of the stairway Hub meeting room, viewed toward the front entrance

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:
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis MN 55430-3459

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

or email:
Communications Director.

Leave us a voicemail by calling:

612-DAMN-Y'ALL (612-326-6925)

 

Phone messages may be used on our website.

EMAIL CONTACTS:

 

Letters and articles are welcome!

The Hub CalendarTop of Page
 

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

Fireside Chat
 

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.

 

No Fireside Chats in July and August: See the schedule below for dates, times, and places. Fireside Chats will start again on Friday, 16 September. We have some excellent videos lined up.
17 July and 21 August Freethought potluck picnics instead of Fireside Chats. Sundays, noon to 3 PM.
17 July: Wabun Picnic Area, Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis.
21 August: Columbia Park, Columbia Heights.
Email George Kane for directions.

 
 

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 (Old Country Buffet has closed.) Dragon House restaurant, 3970 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights. Private room. NEWLY EXPANDED BUFFET.
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
.
Dragon House restaurant, 3970 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights. Private room.
Call Bill Volna, 612-781-1420 or 1322.

 
 

MEETUPS

Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir 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, 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.

LinksTop of Page