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HUB OF ATHEISM!
The July-August issue of
MARIEALENA, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
NEW COURT RULING: RELIGION CAN BE DEFINED
As we learned from our lawsuit to allow atheists to officiate at marriages, there is legal precedent that government cannot define religion. Now that may change.
According to the Americans United June 2016 magazine, Church & State, a federal court for the District of Nebraska has ruled that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a real religion.
The issue came up when a prisoner claimed religious freedom to get FSM literature and wear a colander as religious pastafarian headgear (certainly no sillier than religion's assorted "holy hats"). The court said FSM is just entertaining satire. The ruling included this statement: "To read it [the FSM Gospel] as a religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a 'religious exercise' on any other work of fiction."
But isn't the Bible one of our most entertaining works of fiction? A flat Earth created in six days with everything out of order, a talking snake, a guy spending three days in a fish's belly, people rising from the dead, the Book of Revelation that even Stephen King's horror stories can't top for macabre scenarios, and so on. And of course there is the absurd Catholic theology and the crazy tales in the Mormons' Book of Mormon, in Christian Science's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in the Scientology claptrap, in the Muslims' Qur'an, in the Hindu scriptures, and so on. They make the Flying Spaghetti Monster's "satire" look like a theological masterpiece. In comparison, it is.
ELECTION TIME IN THE CULTURE WAR
With the most surreal presidential election in U.S. history coming up, it would be good to have more relevant background information than the mainstream media provide. Our book, Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom (see ad on p. 7), is about politics and how and why our political system has gone off the rails. Given the watershed political realignments that may result from the unprecedented presidential election campaign we are experiencing, atheists should understand the fundamental role authoritarian religions have played in creating the current socio-political dysfunction. Readers of The Moral Atheist can order the book directly from AFHR for $10 ppd. All revenue goes to our Moral High Ground project.
SOME TV THAT IS WORTH WATCHING
PBS just aired "Genius" by Stephen Hawking. There were six excellent one-hour shows, now available on DVD and as a download from YouTube. Hawking shows how anyone can be a genius if they think carefully and logically. No god required. He gets ordinary people to do simple and entertaining experiments to answer some of the major questions about our existence, like how big is the Earth, where did it come from, where did life come from, how big is the universe, where did it come from, and how do we find out. Hawking does all this entirely with the aid of computer technology, which enables him to communicate despite the disease that has destroyed everything physical about him, leaving only his exceptional mind. Well worth watching.
On a secular mythical note, the supernatural gets an atheist-friendly workout on the FOX network series, "Lucifer" (Satan with daddy-god issues). Season 1's atheist-mind-blowing finale has us eager for Season 2. Watch for report.
UPDATE ON FINAL EXIT NETWORK LAWSUIT
Randall Tigue, our AFHR attorney who submitted our amicus brief in support of Final Exit Network's appeal of their conviction for supposedly "assisting a suicide," informs us that he has received the county's response to the FEN arguments. It completely ignores our arguments and those of other groups that submitted amicus briefs.
Those arguments showed that: 1) FEN's "assistance" is simply free speech — telling the person seeking self-deliverance about the means available, all publicly detailed in Derek Humphry's best selling book Final Exit, and 2) the state's claimed "compelling interest in preserving human life" is based on religious beliefs that suffering has spiritual merits and we have no right to end our lives on our own terms to avoid that suffering. The state's "compelling interest," therefore, amounts to forcing dying people to suffer to validate senseless religious beliefs.
FEN can use only the free speech argument — not religious doctrine — in the upcoming hearing (date uncertain) because of cases where assisting a suicide was ruled illegal without regard to religious doctrines. The concern has been to protect vulnerable people from those with self-serving interests — venal relatives, insurance companies, unethical medical practices, and so on. Fair enough, but none of these cases allow for the rational desire for a death with dignity. This is new legal territory and the fact that only groups driven by religious doctrines about the spiritual merits of suffering are opposing death with dignity has yet to force a death with dignity revision of these old laws.
Because the oral arguments cannot yet be made on religious beliefs, the amicus briefs must make them. The hope is that some judges who read them will see beyond the free speech legalities to the humane and rational justification for self-deliverance and rule in FEN's favor.
This case may have to go through some appeals, perhaps to the U.S. Supreme Court, before the antiquated legal brick walls are breached. AFHR will stay with FEN all the way. Meanwhile, we should know the results of the current appeal by the end of this year.
In the July-August issue of The Moral Atheist
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and the new easy-to-use form!
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our Moral High Ground Fund
It's the only one in the country to help poor women pay for abortions, and to support gays and other groups victimized by religion-based laws.
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 Director
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.
The Best Policy Guide for a Religiously Neutral
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-- 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.
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
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):
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.
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.
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If you are not a regular attendee,
3rd Fridays 6-9+ PM
Always free food and beverages.
No Fireside Chats in July and August: See the schedule below for dates, times, and places. Fireside Chats will start again on Friday, 16 September. We have some excellent videos lined up.
Monday Happy Hour: 5:00 to 6:30 PM
1st Tuesdays: 11:30 AM Lunch Social
1st & 3rd Mondays 6:30 PM Toastmasters
3rd Wednesdays 11:30 AM
Southern Minnesota Meetups
Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events.
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Our videos are played in Minneapolis and St. Paul on public access stations.
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