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The Moral Atheist
September-October 2016

The September-October issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by postal mail and email. The cover stories are mostly about the "better angels of our nature" as Stephen Pinker titled his book about the reduction in violence over the centuries.

There are a couple of lovely stories there to counter the crap being thrown us in this election year. If you want the entire 24-page issue as a PDF so you can read them, just ask by email to communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org

See the Table of Contents HERE.

Meanwhile, here is the AFHR Report from page 3 to keep you informed of what we are up to:

AFHR Report


AFHR is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit. As such we cannot be involved in partisan political campaigns or endorse candidates. Fair enough, but that does not mean we cannot provide information about issues. We do this all the time as we call attention to assaults on state-church separation by the highly politicized religious right. We want our members to be informed about what is going on.

We really are in a culture war over whether this country will be governed by secular laws or laws based on doctrinal beliefs. The erratic Donald Trump seems to know as little about state-church issues as he does about everything else, but his shifting views always conform to the religious-right's god-and-country beliefs that religious liberty means imposing their beliefs on everyone else. They also reflect the fear and hatred of other people and ideas that has marked the religious-right worldview for decades.

This is not good, so in this issue we are publishing some articles that reflect the basic decency inherent in human nature. It would be nice to have that shape our views instead of fear and hatred and barbaric beliefs in the run-up to November 8.



The appeal of Final Exit Network's conviction for supposedly "assisting a suicide" is scheduled for a hearing on September 28 at 9:30 a.m. in Courthouse Room 100 at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul. Supporters of FEN who live in the area and want to attend are encouraged to do so. These things can change at the last minute so anyone planning to attend should email me at communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org to verify if this schedule still holds.

Sad news: We learned on June 9 that Dr. Larry Egbert, FEN's medical director, had died of heart failure at age 88. He was the medical director from FEN's founding in 2004 until he was arrested on Feb. 25, 2009, when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation initiated an unsuccessful effort to destroy FEN, and perhaps Dr. Egbert as well.

He was one of the defendants in the prosecutions in Georgia, Arizona and Minnesota by the duty-to-suffer opponents of death with dignity. In the first case, in Georgia, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) charged Dr. Egbert, the Final Exit Network corporation, and others with "racketeering," which could have led to Dr. Egbert being imprisoned for the rest of his life.

In 2012, however, the Supreme Court of Georgia struck down the Georgia statute as an unconstitutional restriction on the right of free speech in violation of the First Amendment. As a result, the GBI had to dismiss all the charges but continued to attack FEN. Using information seized in its investigation, the GBI communicated with scores of law enforcement agencies across the nation, trying to foment charges against FEN over self-deliverance exits in other jurisdictions. The GBI's efforts were a complete failure except in Dakota County, Minnesota, where a notorious publicity hound of a prosecutor secured yet another indictment of Dr. Egbert. The Minnesota case continues to drag on, now scheduled for an appellate court hearing and possibly another appeal.

Dr. Egbert lost his license to practice because of his work with FEN but he never lost his commitment to FEN and other humanitarian causes. He was a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and for Doctors for Human Rights, where he documented the physical and psychological scars carried by victims of torture by foreign governments. He was a hero and one of humanity's assets.

Information for this report was taken in part from a report by FEN general counsel Robert Rivas from the August 2016 issue of the Final Exit Network Newsletter. For more information, see Final Exit Network



We are running a full-page ad for our book, Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom, in the 3rd Quarter 2016 issue of American Atheist, the magazine of the national American Atheists organization. The digital issue came out in July and the print version in mid-August.

Culture Wars is all about politics and how and why so many of our laws are based solely on harmful religious doctrines. Given the watershed political realignments that may result from the unprecedented presidential election campaign we are experiencing, we thought it would be useful for more atheists to understand the fundamental role authoritarian religions have played in creating the current socio-political dysfunction. This is never covered in news stories and commentator analyses related to the election and how things got this way. Readers of The Moral Atheist can order the book directly from AFHR for $10 ppd. All revenue goes to our Moral High Ground project.



Michael Newdow is still maneuvering his way through the legal system to get "In God We Trust" off our money. AFHR and other atheist organizations as well as individuals are plaintiffs. Newdow lost in one court when the judge ruled the phrase had lost its religious meaning over time. What the meaning could be, if not religious, the judge didn't say.

Newdow has switched to basing his challenge on the motto being a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This is the legal fiction that got a favorable ruling for Hobby Lobby and is being used by other commercial enterprises to impose the owners' religious beliefs on employees and customers.

Good for the goose, good for the gander, as they say, so Newdow is using it to challenge the U.S. Treasury's imposition of religion on everyone by putting a religious statement on money. The lawsuit says the Treasury can't do this without a compelling interest. What the Treasury might dream up as a "compelling interest" remains to be seen, but no doubt it can come up with something. It doesn't have to make sense, as we have seen from the ruling that the god motto has no religious meaning.


In This Issue

3   AFHR Report
4   Finding the Better Angels of Our Nature in a Dehumanizing Election Year.
* Reaching Through the Fence.
* Today Jo Left Her Life With Us.
* Sexuality Corrupted by Theological "Morality."

MarieAlena Castle, Doug Hadden, Tim Gorski
8   How Faith Destroys Civilzation. Jon Nelson
10   Apologetics: Propagating a Religion When There is No Proof. Stephen Van Eck
11   God's Plan. MarieAlena Castle
12   CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS "Help! I'm Being repressed!" Part 10 William Sierichs Jr.
15   Ban on FEN Speech Forces Woman Out of State.
Julia Hanway
16   WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? Bill Fires His Secretary of Offense. Bill van Druten
    BACK COVER: Reality TV at its Finest.
We are a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Our signature activity is our unique MORAL HIGH GROUND project that provides funds to help women, children, LGBTQ, and others victimized by our religion based laws. You can help. Check it out and then check  SUPPORT  for our donor benefits and premiums, and choose type of payment.
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@atheistsforhumanrights.org

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


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
The Hub CalendarTop of Page
Fireside Chat


If you are not a regular attendee, call (612) 588-1597
or email communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org

3rd Fridays 6-9+ PM
Hub of Atheism,
5146 Newton Ave. N., Minneapolis
Always free food and beverages.


DVD September 16: Fireside Chats resume! Our DVD is the Michael Moore documentary Where To Invade Next. Great for election-year discussions of social-political issues. Humorous! Thought provoking! See it! Video starts about 7 PM.

October 21:.The DVD is The Witch for Halloween frights. Nightmarish & credible, set in 1630, about witch trials and fundamentalist hysteria. Video starts about 7 PM.


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
Dragon House restaurant, 3970 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights. Private room.
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, Shop: 612-781-4273 or Cell: 612-819-2580.



Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir or visit Twin Cities Atheists

Southern Minnesota Meetups
Email Crystal Dervetski



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.



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 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.

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.


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@atheistsforhumanrights.org


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

5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis MN 55430-3459

If you need directions, call:

or email:

Leave us a voicemail by calling:

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


Phone messages may be used on our website.



Letters and articles are welcome!

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