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Moral High Ground Project
The Moral Atheist
Does Religion Drive Our Laws? (p. 4).
The cover article of our March-April newletter, The Moral Atheist is especially interesting because the courts seem to be erasing the distinction between religion and non-religion by telling secular plaintiffs that their claims of discrimination by religious interests are groundless because seculars can have the same favored treatment if they just say they are religious and no one is stopping them from doing that, so what's the problem?
For now, however, we will give you the back cover editorial to think about:
Jim Crow Gets Religion
We all know why Jim Crow laws in the southern states were bad and had to go, even though one could argue that, well, after all, just because there were separate "white" and "colored" drinking fountains and lunch counters and schools and public accommodations, black people still had access to those services and facilities.
Yes, they did, more or less, but what Jim Crow laws did, and the purpose for what they did, was to assert white dominance to preserve white power and influence. They relegated dark-skinned citizens to second-class status, at best. It was power-aggrandizing tyranny by the white majority, pure and simple.
Can not the same be said for the rampant religious expressions and rituals on and in court houses, monuments, public schools, patriotic rituals and the national motto? No, some argue, because this is just harmless "civic religion" useful to solemnize or memorialize some historical or current event. But isn't it in fact the old Jim Crow in religious garb? Doesn't it assert religious (mainly Christian) dominance to preserve religious power and influence?
How else can we explain the ferocity with which attempts to remove these expressions of majoritarian tyranny are greeted? All hell breaks loose, almost literally. Plaintiffs get death threats. Sometimes they are forced to go into hiding. It's like Chicken Little's sky really is falling. After the Supreme Court's ruling against Michael Newdow in his lawsuit to remove "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, every member of Congress went out on the Capitol steps and recited the pledge en masse, loudly emphasizing "under God." Obviously it is of great importance to a lot of religious people that government validate their beliefs as though they have some kind of basis in reality because otherwise there is no objective way that can be done.
Newdow is at it again. He is preparing a legal challenge to the nation's motto, "In God We Trust." As usual, those in favor ask what's the harm in this bit of civic religiosity. We have had court rulings after court rulings that allow government supported religious rituals of some kind. Let's call those rulings Jim Crow 2.0, now in service to religion.
So why does it matter if atheists attend schools where they may be treated as misfits, or government meetings where fair treatment may be compromised if their nonreligious views become known? After all, courts have allowed atheists (a safely tiny percent of the community) a turn at offering graduation valedictions and city council invocations. Called to jury duty? Don't want to swear an oath? No problem. Do an affirmation instead and let Jim Crow religion set you apart, just like at the drinking fountain. Who knows how your non-belief will affect your chances of being seated on a jury where the case involves religion in some way? Separate but equal. Right? Just like those drinking fountains.
As with any other kind of discrimination, religion in government separates citizens into religious and nonreligious, and the religious rituals are there to let everyone know which group is favored by government and has the power and influence only such favor can bestow.
In This Issue
Check out our signature activity, our Moral High Ground Fund,
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.
No trinkets, mugs, or t-shirts — just things to satisfy your mind.
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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.
-- MarieAlena Castle, March 1994
-- Martin Marty, Lutheran theologian, Minneapolis MN, 28 April 1998
-- 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):
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.
As usual, we offer 3 free issues of
Just send your postal or email contact info to: Communications Director
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.
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