Welcome to the nation's most morally active
and innovative atheist organization!
Atheists For Human Rights
Because the source of so many violations
of human rights is religious authoritarianism.
The Moral Atheist
The November-December issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by postal mail and email (see the Table of Contents).
If you want to read the entire issue, including the cover article, letters, and back page editorial, just ask by email to email@example.com and we'll send it in PDF form — or printed if you'd like.
The perfect atheist symbol (>>)
Has the Light of Reason Failed? When Will its Advocates Realize What Non-Belief is All About?
Bill Van Druten made it from a design by Richard Russell. It's bronze, hangs from a neck chain. and represents a zero, the total of all gods in the Universe. The slash says "Non Credo," Latin for
"I do not believe."
MARIEALENA CASTLE, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
MAJOR CHANGES IN AFHR OPERATIONS
We need to use our time and your money more efficiently and we have projects coming up that will be time consuming. As AFHR communications director, I will do what I as always but in an easier way. Beginning January 1, 2018, Atheists For Human Rights will function differently.
1. No more bulk mail hassles. We will reduce the number of pages in The Moral Atheist (keeping the good stuff) and do a PDF distribution to your email address. Please send your email address if you are getting this by mail. For those without a computer or who need a printed copy, let us know and we will mail TMA to you. Contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a phone message at 612-588-1597 or 866-ATHEIST or by postal mail to 5146 Newton Ave. North, Minneapolis MN 55430-3459.
2. Our web site may get some interesting updates (we're working on that) and remain a gateway for web surfers to learn about us and our Moral High Ground project and be directed to The Moral Atheist and possibly a new blog.
3. We will make more videos, but for YouTube, not public access TV. We have all the equipment so there will be no costs for AFHR. We will also do more booklet publishing.
4. We will get rid of some expenses related to other organizations and for a phone service we no longer need (the 612-529-1200 number). These and the reduction in printing and mailing costs will lower our office expenses to
insignificance. As always, all work is by unpaid volunteers.
5. Instead of dues we will ask for voluntary donations (reduces clerical work). Whatever you donate will go to our Moral High Ground fund — our signature activity — as a tax deductable charitable donation. We might ask for donations
otherwise for special projects such as legal expenses if we find a good case for challenging a religion-based law.
6. We will distribute our 2017 Moral High Ground grants in December. Our year-end financial report will be in the March-April TMA. If anyone needs verification from us of a 2017 donation for IRS purposes, please ask.
Our Moral High Ground charity continues.
Please donate whatever you can in lieu of dues.
CELEBRATING THE DEATH OF GOD: ANOTHER WAY OF LOOKING AT
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
There is a great video on YouTube titled "The REAL Truth About Religion and Its Origins." If you have a holiday gathering that includes religious people, run the video on your TV and ask what they think of it. There is no way to discuss the origins of religion other than to agree that the origins are entirely mythical interpretations of the movements of the sun, moon and stars. The truth is all there, carved in stone by our Stone Age ancestors.
The 12 apostles represent the 12 signs of the zodiac; the halos around saintly figures are sun symbols (they even decorate the papal throne); the death and resurrection of every god ever invented is a mythical representation of the
"death" of the sun on Dec. 25 and its "resurrection" as it begins its rise toward springtime. All religions are founded on variations of this story. There's nothing new about Jesus. So why not celebrate Dec. 25 as the death of a god? "Yay! The god is dying! Good riddance!" That's what the winter solstice is about. Get rid of the god, then celebrate nature with a summer solstice party instead!
And so our local group in the Twin Cities has decided to do just that. No more winter solstice parties. Too often there's a snowstorm — or worse (with climate change) an ice storm — that turns travel into a struggle to survive. We'll have summer solstice picnic in a park and invite the entire local freethought community. We will still celebrate the Dec. 25 dying of the current sun god by turning a Monday Happy Hour into a Winter Solstice gathering. The date? Dec. 11. Our June 2018 snow-and-ice-free (but not thunderstorm-and-tornado-free) summer solstice picnic will have an irreverent play by Randy Tigue, music by John Annen, and a belly dance by Wannasa if she is available.
In This Issue
3 AFHR Report: Major Changes!
4 Does Atheism Need an Autopsy or a Butt-Kicking? A Report. MarieAlena Castle
5 The Real Culture of Death.
Stephen Van Eck
6 Krishna and Jesus: Will the Real Savior Please Stand Up? Jon Nelson
8 CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS. The "A" Words. William Sierichs Jr.
10 Culture War Strategies.Tim Gorski
and Stephen Van Eck
11 Childish Things. (Part 2 of 2) "The Rationalists' Mission." Tama Matheson
11 Artificial Intelligence. Roger Schlueter
16 WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?
Bill Takes Hazardous Job Without Mormon Underwear. Bill van Druten
17 THE BOOKSHELF
18 THE LETTERS DESK
20 THE NETWORK
22 SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS
23 THE HUB CALENDAR
BACK COVER: The God Idea: Can We Stop This Nonsense?
Return to AFHR Report
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,
authorized by AFHR.
No Church Affiliation
Create memorable secular weddings.
We can help. Just ask.
Call 612-529-1200 or Email our Communications Director
The Hub Calendar
Hub of Atheism,
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Always free food and beverages.
Our DVD will be "HiddenFigures," the award winning film about black women math experts who, despite facing racist/sexist bigotry, calculated the orbits for the development of our space program. Video at 7 PM.
NO FIRESIDE CHAT IN DECEMBER
We will celebate the Winter Wolstice's 25 December dying of the latest sun god only at a special Happy Hour on Monday, 11 December. In 2018 we will begin celebrating the Summer Solstice instead with an all-freethought picnic in a park.
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, if
needed, formed by consensus if possible.
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! Great Moon Buffet, 4029 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis.
Call Rick Gelman, 651-483-6209.
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.
Great Niib Buffet, 4029 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights.
Call Bill Volna, 612-781-1420 or 1322.
Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events.
National: Announcements, discussions on AFHRbod Yahoo Groups. To get on the list, give us your email address. Significant issues discussed are covered in The Moral Atheist for reader feedback. All open. Decisions, if needed, formed by consensus if possible.
ABOUT THE MORAL ATHEIST
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.
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.
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.
- No legal protection for kids in faith-healing families: why most states sanction religion-based child sacrifice
Rita Swan and her husband Doug were Christian Scientists until the death of their son made them determined to prevent other child deaths by repealing religious exemption laws.
- Your money and/or your life: mugged by the mythmakers — the price we pay for religion
A summary of what religion costs YOU in terms of your money, your personal freedom, your health, and sometimes even your very life.
- How Judge John E. Jones put intelligent design on the path to extinction
A conservative U.S. District Judge strikes a stunning blow against intelligent design and creationism.
- The Theological Roots of Everything Ugly About America
How the toxic roots of puritanical ideas poisoned a potentially beautiful thing.
- Damned if we do, damned if we don't: the atheist dilemma
If atheists object to state-church violations, they invite a backlash; if they do nothing, they are hated for simply being who they are.
- CNN invites us to discuss whether "God" exists
— and stacks the deck
Given the opportunity for a serious discussion, CNN presented bias and Christian propaganda.
- The Godless rise as a political force
Nonbelievers represent a growing segment of the U.S. electorate.
- Budget woes and how local activism may get churches to pay up
Charging churches a fee for city services may now be not only thinkable but doable
- 600+ years of fakery: the Shroud of Turin
Scientific evidence supports a medieval origin of the Shroud of Turin.
- The two words that don't belong
In 1892, Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, wrote The Pledge of Allegiance, which contained no mention of God.
- 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
If you need directions, call:
Leave us a voicemail by calling:
Phone messages may be used on our website.
Letters and articles are welcome!