Check out our signature activity, our Moral High Ground Fund
to help poor women pay for abortions, and
to support gays and other groups victimized by religion-based laws.
 
Check out our list of donor premiums!
No trinkets, mugs, or t-shirts — just things to satisfy your mind.
 
The Moral Atheist
July-August 2014
 
 
Waste, Fraud and Abuse at it's Finest.
Supreme Court OK's Government
Sponsored Christian Prayer. (p. 4)
 

The July-August issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by snail mail and as PDFs. To get a complete copy mailed or emailed, just ask. Email Communications Director or call (612) 529-1200. We offer 3 issues free so you can get a good idea of what we are up to. As atheist organizations go, we are definitely different!

See the fascinating and informative contents below:

 
3  AFHR Report.
 
4  U.S. Supreme Court OKs Government Prayer:
Waste, Fraud & Abuse at its Finest.

MarieAlena Castle
 
7  The SCA Policy Guide:
A Few Questions.

MarieAlena Castle
 
8  A New Mission: Canonizing the
Brutal as Saints.
George Monbiot
 
10  CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN
WORDS. History is Not Simple.
Part 3 of 4.
William Sierichs Jr.
 
12  Exposing the Threat: Religion-
Based Attacks on Nudism.

Stephen Van Eck
 
    14  "The Government of the United
States is Not Founded on the
Christian Religion."
Tim Gorski
 
15  Bible Wacko Gets MN Supreme
Court Nomination.
Scott Kaufman
 
16  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? Bill as Pope William I,
the Apostate.
Bill van Druten
 
17  THE BOOKSHELF
 
18  THE LETTERS DESK
 
20  THE NETWORK
 
22  SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS
 
23  THE HUB CALENDAR
 
BACK COVER: The 44.1% Morality Gap.
 

Below is our AFHR Report from this issue, in full:

AFHR Report
 
MarieAlena, Communications Director
 

OUR MARRIAGE STATUTES: THE SAGA CONTINUES

The Minnesota legislative season is over for now. When a new session convenes in the fall, both Atheists For Human Rights and MN Atheists will propose bills that allow atheists to conduct marriage ceremonies. We can be celebrants now, but only as fake clergy, since the statutes specify only court personnel and clergy as authorized to solemnize marriages. So of course, enterprising atheists have set up online "churches" for that purpose. Not a good way to go other than it exposes the whole church thing to well-deserved ridicule. (As AFHR has shown, we can also authorize celebrants honestly as atheists right now in counties where no one seems to care what the statutes say. Regardless, the very first section of the statutes allows it if everyone involved in the ceremony is OK with it.)

However, there will be an election before the next session convenes that may change how we approach this. The political makeup will probably be different, whether better or worse for us we don't know. Certainly it will get worse if voters on our side don't pay attention and either vote mindlessly or stay home. It's always those non-voters who have the most impact on an election by giving away the store to the zealots by their apathy.

Even if the political situation remains the same, we have little hope of either of our bills being heard. Case in point: Someone (we don't know who) got a bill introduced this year to include notaries public as celebrants. This was not sponsored by any atheist individual or group we know of, and the bill had nothing to suggest support for atheists. Yet the religious right legislators prevented it from getting a hearing because, they said, it was "hostile to religion."

"Whaaat?!" I said to my state representative when he told me about this. All it did, I said, was add another position to the list of court-authorized celebrants. He said the religious legislators realized that, since becoming a notary is simple and anyone can do it, the door would be opened for atheists to solemnize marriages and they didn't want that.

The MN Atheists bill (if not changed) is worded on the assumption that legislators will be fair-minded and support including specifically identified atheist groups in the authorized list of celebrants. Question: Why would they do this when they are so hostile to atheists that they reject a bill not even intended for us but possibly useful to us?

AFHR will certainly attempt to get a celebrant authorization bill passed that is inclusive of everyone with an interest in this, but we expect that filing a lawsuit to achieve this will be necessary and we are working on that.

 

A TIMELY MOVIE

At our last Fireside Chat we showed the movie "Philomena" about the Catholic Church in Ireland severely abusing unwed mothers, with too many maternal deaths and babies being buried in septic tanks. Now there is a news story being distributed by the Associated Press that supports that horrendous story fully. A Catholic archbishop in Ireland is demanding that Ireland investigate what happened from the 1920s to the 1960s in these homes for unwed mothers (a common thing even in the U.S. in those days when such women were socially stigmatized — but never the men who impregnated them). Good for him, but as far as the institutional church goes but we suspect that the important thing is that he get out in front of the scandal.

Anyone who hasn't seen "Philomena" should do so. It's from a book by that title and is as close to true as these things get. The producer/scriptwriter/actor actually made the case for outrage stronger than in the book. He said he wanted to get his views of the Catholic Church off his chest, so he put those views in the dialogue, and very effectively. We need more movies like this.

We did show a similar one a few years back, "The Magdalene Sisters," about the mistreatment of women in the church-run laundries in Ireland. Since it's been a while since we've watched the movie, we may show it again now that these atrocities are back in the news. We'll also show the new movie, "Noah," because reports are coming in that religious organizations don't like it, which makes us think it must be good. We'll see.

QUESTION: Given religion's history of atrocities and general ignorance and abuse of just about everything and everyone, and considering its historical and ongoing claim to being the moral arbiter of society, name just one example of humane moral behavior that has its source only in religion and for which only religion can be given the credit.

 

NEW VIDEOS ONLINE

We finally got around to making more videos, and Scott Muir has edited them for our web site. They will also be shown on the Minneapolis and St. Paul public access stations (see inside back page). Scott has redone the video page on our web site and is using YouTube as the source of the videos. It makes it easier and more compatible across the platforms. Another advantage is that you can now view the videos right on the screen or in full page.

One of the videos is "How We Talk To Christians." Our guest is Dorothy Molstad, who helps us discuss how to talk to Christians that approach us with "all the answers." Should we be polite or should we kick them in the shins? You be the judge. We had so much material left over we may do a second video with Dorothy.

The other video is "Public Perception." Our guest is Trevor St Germain, and we discuss the public perception as it relates to atheism, gay marriage and many other aspects of humanity. The good news is that things are getting better.

We also made a video (not yet edited) with Sandy Beitsch, a popular singer at local piano bars and our Winter Solstice parties. It's "AFHR: The Musical." Very different!

 

ArticlesTop of Page

About UsTop of Page

 

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.

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

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.

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 Director

Contact UsTop of Page

Location:
The Hub of Atheism
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis MN 55430-3459

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

or email: Communications Director.

Email:

Letters and articles are welcome!

 

Leave us a voicemail by calling:

612-DAMN-Y'ALL

612-326-6925

Phone messages may be used
on our website.

 
The Hub of AtheismTop of Page


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, location, & directions:
Hub of Atheism

CalendarTop of Page

EVERY MONDAY:
5 - 6:30 PM

Happy Hour
Location: Ol' Mexico Restaurant
On Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville
Terrace level, right behind reservation desk.
Contact:
Paul Craven: 763-788-8918

1ST & 3RD MONDAYS:
6:30 PM

Toastmasters
Location: Larpenteur Estates Party Room
1276 Larpenteur Ave W, St. Paul
Contact:
George Kane: 651-488-8225

1ST TUESDAYS:
11:30 AM

Lunch Social
Location: Old Country Buffet,
County Rd B2 (east of Fairview), Roseville
Contact:
Bob/Marilyn Nienkerk: 612-866-6200

3RD WEDNESDAYS:
11:30 AM

Charley French Memorial Lunch
Atheists and Humanists get together to socialize and exchange opinions.
Location: Dragon House restaurant
3970 Central Ave NE, Columbia Heights
Private Room
Contact:
Bill Volna: 612-781-1420 or 1322

3RD FRIDAYS:
6 - 9+ PM

Fireside Chat

NO FIRESIDE CHATS IN JULY & AUGUST.

It's All-Freethought Potluck Picnic Time!


Sundays, 13 July & 17 August
Noon to 3 PM.

Always free food and beverages.


Location of picnics:
Columbia Park, off Central Ave., in Columbia Heights.

If you need directions, call
(612) 588-1597 or email Communications Director.

MEETUPS

Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir, Video Manager
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, just 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.

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, Tuesdays at 6 PM, and Wednesdays at 1 AM and 11 AM.
Thanks to Paul Craven for handling this.

Links

 

American Freethought

 

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

 

Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc

 

Atheists For Humanity

 

Atheists of Silicon Valley

 

Born Atheist

 

Campus Atheists & 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

 

Pharyngula

 

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science