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The Moral Atheist
MARIEALENA, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
This issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by email and snail mail. The issue has some intriguing topics of current importance written from perspectives the mainstream media prefer not to deal with, but should. If you want the entire 24-page magazine, just ask and we will send it as a PDF. If you find it interesting, we invite you to join AFHR as a member or supporter.
Meanwhile, the following is taken from the AFHR Report so you get an idea of what we are up to. (We will also be submitting an amicus brief to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Final Exit Network in their fight for our right to choose self-deliverance over a slow and painful death. But more on that next time.)
UPDATE ON "IN GOD WE TRUST" LAWSUIT
Mike Newdow reports that he is almost done collecting statements from plaintiffs (including AFHR) for his challenge to "In God We Trust" as our national motto engraved on our money. He plans to file the lawsuit in seven district courts before year-end. (Minnesota is in one of them.)
Challenges based on the Establishment clause have generally failed because the principle has been seriously perverted, so Newdow is basing this one on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as a religious freedom issue — the right of nonbelievers to be free of government enforcing the religious beliefs of others on us. Newdow asks, "If we allow 'In God We Trust' on currency, where does the insertion of religion into government end?" Prior to the filing, plaintiffs who have submitted statements will have a chance to review them and make any changes before they are submitted. Plaintiffs with minor children will be told the name under which they will appear anonymously in the lawsuit.
Our comment: The most popular uses for "In God We Trust" money are for cash-only currency transactions such as paying for prostitution, illegal drugs, illegal firearms, back-alley gambling & bribery. Why would a god want His name on our filthy money? AFHR member Dick Segers added this observation: "If you take God off of the money, not much happens. But if you take the money out of God, He evaporates. And for the future, please keep your gods off our credit cards."
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: THE HUMAN REALITY
My handyperson, Fio, who can fix anything that goes wrong in a house just got married to her partner, Deb. The wedding video makes you wonder what has been wrong with people for so many years (centuries, actually) that an event so beautifully human could have been stigmatized and criminalized. We all know, of course, that the hate has come from irrational religious beliefs. Inexplicably, this has not been recognized much in the LGBT community, with too many of them wanting to suck up to "affirming churches" and carefully avoiding any criticism of traditional religion itself as the cause of their persecution.
Someone finally made that truth-telling breakthrough. In the 20 Aug/2 Sep issue of Lavender magazine there is an article by Thomas Ehnert titled "What Do We Do when Love Doesn't Die?" Here is a sample:
"It is unnatural to hate. Hate must be taught. And let's be honest. It is religion that teaches it in most cases. Who first taught anti-Semitism? Who defends the proposition that women are to be obedient to men, and in most cases still keeps them out of the pulpit and away from the altar? From what book were slaves taught to be obedient to their masters? Who first taught that mixing of races was immoral? Who taught that GLBT people are an abomination?"
Ehnert notes that every bit of progress made by the LGBT community has been despite the hatred and opposition from religious organizations. He echoes the observation so insightfully made by our columnist Bill Sierichs that decent people who don't want to hate chose to give up their traditional beliefs so they could be moral and see the humanity in those they had been taught to hate.
We need more voices of reason like Thomas Ehnert who are willing to tell the truth about where so much irrational hate comes from.
ATHEISM IN CHANGING TIMES
This magazine has been examining the changing nature of religion and how atheists might respond to that. Some atheist groups want to operate as a god-free church to demonstrate the value of a religion-free life. Others reject any association with religion for its toxic history, inherent divisiveness and barbaric outbursts of inhumanity.
As for the liberal religionists they have been secularizing religion by adopting the science based and human centered values long advocated by atheists. This has gone so far that a few years ago a Presbyterian church announced that it was henceforth atheist although still Presbyterian. Currently, the Reform arm of Judaism (its most liberal faction) has announced that its new prayer book makes a belief in God optional and is supportive of feminism and gay rights. And all surveys show the number of "nones" (those who don't affiliate with any religion) is increasing.
As for government, its idea of neutrality is and always has been that religion is to be accommodated regardless of the inconvenience and harm to others (see the Hobby Lobby ruling, with more of that to come). Lately, in response to religion's intrusion into the public sphere, atheist groups have insisted that they be accommodated too. However, there is no way to be accommodated without further entrenching religion's influence. We get tax exemptions, can take turns giving invocations at city council meetings, and even add an atheist monument on public property to complement the religious icons. But what this does is prevent religious rituals and icons from ever being removed.We establish and ensure their permanence by our participation! But we are so few that these sparse attempts at inclusion and public visibility put us at the level of kids running a lemonade stand. So how is that working for us?
Instead of playing "Me too" with religion, why not work to get religion out of government entirely? Why not speak up in non-atheist forums as Thomas Ehnert did in Lavender magazine? Why not stand up to the god-nazis with the moral clarity of our own sincerely held beliefs in decent and humane laws? Why not insist that those beliefs be accommodated? After all, they are the only ones that should be, since they are civic virtues. Unverifiable religious beliefs are not, so they have no place in government.
In the Nov-Dec issue of The Moral Atheist
* AFHR Report
* The Limitations of Knowledge: Drug Testing vs Faith, Hope, and Nature's Imperatives. Niles Ross
* A Bit of Hope to Ease Our Yearning to Know. Cecil Bothwell
* The Worst Teachings of Jesus. Stephen Van Eck
* Defining Religion. Jon Nelson
* Erase the Mistake of Race. Tim Gorski
* CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS. Kill the Confederate Myth! (Special article). William Sierichs Jr.
* Winter Solstice Party Invitation.
* WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? A Possible but Unlikely Conversation. Bill van Druten
* THE BOOKSHELF, THE LETTERS DESK, THE NETWORK, SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS, and THE HUB CALENDAR
* BACK COVER: "Know ye the old barbarian; the barbarian come again."
A Way to Find Peace
The Best Policy Guide for a Religiously Neutral
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-- MarieAlena Castle, March 1994
-- Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, Minneapolis MN,
28 April 1998
-- 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.
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):
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.
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If you are not a regular attendee, call to find out if the schedule has changed.
1st & 3rd Mondays
Always free food and beverages.
19 December - 1 TO 4 PM
A Seasonally Merry Show
"The Jesus Freezes Follies"
Clarence Darrow (Randall Tigue) meets climate change denier Jesus (John Dingley) on Mt. Everest as Hell freezes over.
Music by John Annen
Welsh Storyteller and Singer John Dingley
Southern Minnesota Meetups
Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events.
TWIN CITIES PUBLIC ACCESS
Our videos are played in Minneapolis and St. Paul on public access stations.
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