The September-October issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by postal mail and email. To get the entire 24 page magazine as a PDF, just ask. Send your request to:
and put "TMA by EMAIL" in the subject line.
Check the cover page for a preview of what is in this issue. We have a very special 2-part article titled "Childish Things" that you will find especially interesting. It is written by Tama Matheson, a London-based playwright. Very worthwhile!
The Trump/DeVos Plan for Public Education: Tax-Funded Religious Schools
and Defunded Public Schools?
(Page 4 of The Moral Atheist)
In This Issue
Public Education Demolition Derby? A Report.
Sexual Violence. Ed Raymond
Paranoia. (Part 4 of 4). William Sierichs Jr.
Which One to Follow?. Bill van Druten
One our supporters, Tom Parks in Texas, sent a video he produced and hoped we would review it. Sure, why not? We have seen atheist videos beyond counting so we expected more of the same. The title wasn't encouraging: "An Atheist Prayer." There are a lot of atheist videos on YouTube with that title. Oh, well, play it anyway.
That's where the mediocrity stopped and the creativity began that was astonishing for its originality. A better title would be "An Atheist Ultimatum" because in the end it was that and could hardly be called a prayer.
We;re not going to say exactly what the video was about for fear of not doing it justice. It has to be seen. The production quality is as high as a video gets. The visuals are lovely. The narration is — well, not like any other we've seen. The narrator is an absolute delight. The case made for atheism is simple and profound.
You can order this video on DVD or Blu-ray. It costs $14.95 because the producers don't have access to an affordable mass production service. (You could manage this by doing a screening for a few friends, serve coffee and cookies and have them donate a buck or two to help cover your costs.)
Here's the order info:
Mail a check for $14.95 payable to:
4416 Briarwood Ave., #10, PMB 40
Midland TX 79707
You can contact the producers by email at:
(Tell them to change the title to "An Atheist Ultimatum.")
Some of you have inquired as to how the Supreme Court's decision in June in Trinity Lutheran Church helps us in our challenge to In God We Trust on our money.
The answer pertains to an issue that arose in our case during the oral argument on June 16. The main sticking point for the judges seemed to be whether plaintiffs in a Free Exercise or RFRA case need to demonstrate that to prevail there has been some penalty imposed by the government. In other words, if a government action interferes with an individual's free exercise of religion, but that interference does not impose any fine or imprisonment, is the government still prohibited from acting in a certain way?
To me the answer, at least under RFRA, is clearly yes, since the statute doesn't say anything about needing to show such a penalty. In fact, the Supreme Court has specifically stated (in the Hobby Lobby case in 2014) that "Congress mandated that RFRA 'be construed in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter and the Constitution.'".
Still the judges on some of the Courts of Appeals have been unpersuaded. Although the Supreme Court in Trinity Lutheran did not definitively answer the question for situations where the government"s activities were secular, it did seem to answer the question when the government"s activities target religion or religious belief.
The Trinity Lutheran majority opinion specifically noted that there is a key distinction between "neutral and generally applicable laws" as opposed to laws "that single out the religious." Because the 6th Circuit (in a previous case heard en banc) has appeared to have acknowledged that "In God We Trust" singles out the religious and is not "neutral and generally applicable," Trinity Lutheran Church should strongly work to our favor.
We have completed the updating and expansion of our book, Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom. The book is now in the hands of See Sharp Press for formatting and getting all the paperwork done for sending review copies to organizations that review new books. It's a complicated process
The most noticeable change for readers will be the title's subheading. That "threat to freedom" statement will be "A been there, done that political activist shows how to get rid of Trump, is mindless minions, and their dogma-driven laws that control our lives." It reflects the major changes in the book in that it goes into detail about how the political system works and how it can be changed. (Rather easily if people really want to change it.) The book is full of first-hand instances of how some things work and some don"t. It names names and gives credit as well as blame.
This is the only book we know of that gives specific information one needs to effect change. It is all about taking the upstream approach and attacking the problems where they start — with the leadership of political parties. Other books are all about downstream activities — going to rallies, sending emails, making phone calls. Those are all excellent activities but they are like cutting off things that will just grow back when the need is to get control of the organization that produces them. It's more effective This book is about how to do that, how to take over a political party and put people in office who don't need to be lobbied.
The book has 12 chapters instead of 10 so more issues can be covered. More attention is given to public education now that it is in the hands of an advocate for taxpayer funds going to religious schools. There is considerable attention paid to the need for the anti-Trump resisters to get a positive message to the public. Just ranting about Trump isn't enough.
The Democratic party takes considerable hits for its willingness to roll over and play dead to placate religion. Examples are given and they are not encouraging for those who want a secular society.
We don't know exactly when the first review copies of the book will be available but we know some of you want them and we will get them to you ASAP.
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.
Available as a Supporters' Benefit. No charge.
Use our celebrantss or one of your choice,
all legally authorized by AFHR.
We can help. Just ask.
612-529-1200; Communications Director
- 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.
- The Moral High Ground Project
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.
- 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.
Hub of Atheism,
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Always free food and beverages.
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 to be determined.
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.
Great Niib Buffet, 4025 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights.
Call Bill Volna, Shop: 612-781-1420 or 1322.
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. 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.
-- 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.
- 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: email@example.com
Moral High Ground Project
The Moral High Ground Project has chosen to provide support and protection for the following 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- firstname.lastname@example.org for corrections or problems with our web pages.
- email@example.com for all other questions.
Letters and articles are welcome!
- American Atheists
- American Freethought
- Americans United for Separation of Church and State
- Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
- Atheists of Silicon Valley
- Born Atheist
- Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Secular Humanists (CASH)
- Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc (CHILD)
- Euthanasia World Directory (ERGO)
- Final Exit Network
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Friends Free of Theism
- IBKA Political Guide
- Minnesota Atheists
- The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science