Welcome to the nation's most morally active and innovative atheist organization!
The Moral Atheist
May-June 2017
 

The March-April 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 communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org and we'll send it in PDF form — or printed if you'd like.

 
 

Resistance is Not Futile! Marching in the Streets is Fine, but There's a Better Way to Defeat the Deplorables

 

(Page 4 in
The Moral Atheist newsmagazine)

 
 
AFHR Report
 
MARIEALENA CASTLE, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
 
AFHR ELECTION — NEW BOARD MEMBER
 

We finalized the results of our annual AFHR board election at our Fireside Chat on March 17 per our bylaws. With no contest, all incumbents were elected plus one new board member, Julia Nagengast. (See the updated list on the inside front cover.) The new board took office on April 1. All tasks remain the same, with Julia managing our mail list.

The U.S. Postal Service has a new system that eliminates the $225 annual permit fee. It's all spreadsheets and barcodes. Julia is a computer programmer, which helps in dealing with this. We tried it out for the March-April mailing and it was not easy. The barcoding system is very fussy. We had to send some magazines out first class so as not to hold up the bulk mail while we tried to guess how USPS wanted particular addresses formatted. Calls to Mailing Requirements got friendly but varying and confused responses. It's a new system; patience is required.

If some of you get TMA first class this time, it means we are still trying to understand the system.

The PDF version goes out electronically so there is no USPS issue there — only possible computer malfunctions. Scott Muir handles the PDF list and is good at fixing anything that goes wrong in cyberspace.

 
ON LIVING AND DYING WITH A LITTLE DIGNITY
 

AFHR has just gone through a new learning experience. It's instructive and useful so we pass this on. One of our charter members, Bob Halfhill, died on April 7 at age 76. He had been disabled from an early age due to an accident that resulted in brain damage and left him unable to work. He was a familiar presence at freethought meetings and a regular at our Fireside Chats via his wheelchair and Hennepin County's Metro Mobility service for the disabled.

Bob was a strong atheist and advocate for gay rights. Several years ago he asked me to have AFHR handle his funeral arrangements. He wanted assurance that no "Christ-crazies" would show up to pray over his body. I gave him that assurance and he gave me a letter of authorization.

Bob's last years were spent in a nursing home. He was in and out of the Hennepin County Medical Center hospital, where he finally died. I got that letter of authorization out of our files and started to check on what might be involved in his funeral arrangements. It quickly became clear that Bob had no family, no money and therefore no one but me, representing AFHR, to do whatever needed to be done.

The nursing home told me to call the Hennepin County medical examiner, which had Bob's body and was wondering what to do with it. I had no information to give them about any family members. The medical examiner finally found a cousin who was elderly, had never even met Bob, and had no interest in being involved. So the medical examiner decided I should be Bob's advocate for the record and directed me to Hennepin County Burial Assistance, which handles the bodies of indigents. I called the nursing home's manager and social worker and was told that Bob was totally dependent on government assistance programs: SSI for a subsistence income, Medicaid and the Hennepin County hospital for health care, Metro Mobility for transportation, Redeemer nursing home for custodial care (religion owned as most are and mostly funded by government programs), and Burial Assistance to arrange for body disposal.

Burial Assistance told me to contact a funeral home of my choice and I spent an hour or two there dealing with paperwork so Bob could be cremated and his ashes placed in the funeral home's ossuary, all government funded. I had tried to have Bob's body sent to the University of Minnesota medical school, which would have eliminated all funeral expenses, but an Anatomy Bequest has to be registered while the person is still alive, so that didn't happen.

Other than the time and numerous phone calls, the only cost to AFHR was our board deciding to pay for a death notice in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It was not necessary because our local freethought publications could report Bob's death, but most board members thought it would be a nice thing to do, so we did. There was no government program for this and the Strib charges outrageous fees — $10.65 per line (5-7 words). And they count the name at the top as two lines. But there wasn't much we could say about Bob so our notice cost $74.55. It read:

HALFHILL, ROBERT W.
 

age 76 of Minneapolis, died April 7, 2017. Lifelong advocate for gay rights; charter member of Atheists For Human Rights. Memorial June 11. For details email mac@mtn.org.

That took up seven lines counting the heading as two. The memorial will be a remembrance at our June freethought picnic. No god-talk allowed. We are doing right by Bob.

 
WHAT WE LEARNED
 

With the arrangements done, I did my taxes and mailed them in. Thanks to Social Security and Medicare, I never owe much but I was glad to pay it. Those taxes helped give Bob a decently dignified life and death. Everyone deserves that. Trump wants to cut funding for those programs. After all, he and his wealthy friends don't need them and what have the poor and disabled ever done to deserve them? Jeez! Bob never even paid taxes! But then, it doesn't look like Trump has either or has loop-holed his income out of most of them. And when have the churches, like the one making money (mostly from government programs) running Redeemer nursing home, ever paid taxes? What have they ever done to deserve this gratuity but cause trouble and be endlessly divisive? Religion made Bob's life miserable with its anti-gay laws and he hated it for that.

So those of us who do pay taxes can at least know that we have the decency to help our fellow human beings. It takes government to do that, given the scale of need. Everyone I contacted was cheerful and helpful and competent. They represented our government and, unlike Trump and his deplorables, showed what civilization is really all about.

 

In This Issue

 
3   AFHR Report.
 
4   The Political Power in Local Activism:
      How the System Works MarieAlena Castle
 
6   The Problem of Jealousy Graham Guest
 
8   Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? Jon Nelson
 
10  Do You Need Faith To Be An Atheist? Tim Gorski
 
11  If There Really Was a God ... William Harwoood
 
12  CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS: It's Not Always
      Paranoia (Part 2 of 4) William Sierichs Jr.
 
15  Apologists and Historic Ignorance. Stephen Van Eck
 
16  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?
      Peckers, Wood (and Creator Gods) Bill van Druten
 
17  THE BOOKSHELF
 
18  THE LETTERS DESK
 
20  THE NETWORK
 
22  SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS
 
23  THE HUB CALENDAR
 
BACK COVER: Science and the March for Survival
 
Return to AFHR Report
 
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

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.

Articles
 
The Hub Calendar
 
Fireside Chat
 

FIRESIDE CHAT

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

 
DVD 3rd Fridays 6-9+ PM
Hub of Atheism,
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis
Always free food and beverages.
 
19 May:
LAST FIRESIDE CHAT UNTIL SEPT.
Any suggestions for a good video? Email them to communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org.
 
June, July, and August will be for freethought potluck picnics, open to all. See below:
 
11 June, 16 July, 13 August. All Sundays, all potluck, all noon to 3 PM, all at Columbia Park in Northeast Minneapolis off Central Ave. at 37th Ave. NE behind the golf course. Bring the family. Watch for signs directing you to the shelter. Electricity available for plugging in crock pots.
 
 

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.

 
 

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.

 

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.

About Us
 
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.

 

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@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 Atheism
 
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 Us
 

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

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

or email:
communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org.

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!

Links