Welcome to the nation's most morally active
and innovative atheist organization!
Atheists For Human Rights
Hub of Atheism

Because the source of so many
violations of human rights
is religious authoritarianism.
The Moral Atheist
July-August 2017

The July-August issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by postal mail and as PDFs. Below are highlights — the cover and our AFHR Report — so you see what the magazine and Atheists For Human Rights are all about. If you want a complete copy of this issue sent as a PDF, just email your request to communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org. If you want a printed copy just email your request with your postal address.

We are a unique freethought organization very much unlike any other. Read about our Moral High Ground Project, our signature activity. We focus on providing real help to groups victimized by our religion- based laws. No other organization we know of does this. We invite your comments. Thank you for your interest.

An ongoing CHILD project: The final resting place in Idaho for dozens of children from a faith healing religion for whom nothing failed like prayer.

Rita and Doug
Swan Retire.

CHILD Takes a New Direction in Fighting Faith Healing Laws Protected by Belief-Blinded Legislators


(Page 4 of The Moral Atheist)




In This Issue

 3   AFHR Report.
 4   Rita & Doug Swan Retire: CHILD's New Direction and
      the Challenges it Faces. Rita Swan
 5   The Power of Faith Healing: Using Politics to Serve
      Religious Delusions. MarieAlena Castle
 8   The War Against America. Jon Nelson & Richard Thain
10  How To Think About Miracles. Tim Gorski
11  No Way! I Won't Pay! Stephen Van Eck
      Paranoia (Part 3 of 4) William Sierichs Jr.
      Breaking News. Bill van Druten
Should the Rough Beast Wear a Bulletproof Vest?
AFHR Report

As reported in this issue, CHILD (Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty) will no longer exist as a separate entity. Rita and Doug Swan are retiring and CHILD will continue as part of a nonprofit entity called CHILD USA that works to protect children across a broad range of issues, not just faith healing. The director is Marci Hamilton, well known for her legal expertise in defense of civil rights. The contact information for CHILD USA as well as for Rita Swan is on our Network page (page 20) and will remain there. Rita will continue as a consultant in advocating for children harmed by faith healing.

CHILD has been a primary recipient of our Moral High Ground fund. That may or may not change, but how and in what way is a matter for our AFHR board to discuss. We welcome input from our supporters. Send any suggestions or comments by email to communications@atheistsforhumanrights.org.

The faith healing issue has been a horrible absurdity to deal with. The CHILD newsletter was always heavy with news of children denied medical care, beaten, starved, abused and too often dying because the parents believed they were doing what their god wanted. And in all cases they had the law to back them up — laws in almost all states like the one in Minnesota that says faith healing IS healthcare! And what does this "healthcare" consist of? Saying prayers that reinforce the notion that disease does not exist, even as death is imminent, even sometimes refusing to believe death has occurred, for to believe a disease is present is to thereby bring it into existence.

We should not have laws that legitimize nonsense, certainly not when helpless children are victimized by it. Yet, as Rita and Doug found out, and as we did too, we have legislators who mindlessly pass laws legitimizing faith healing just because some Christian Science lobbyist asks them to, never bothering to ask what they plan to do that they need an exemption from prosecution.

As bad as that is, it is almost impossible to get these laws repealed when it becomes clear that they are not just absurd but harmful and even lethal to children. No politician's re-election is at stake, no campaign funds are involved, no legislative record is endangered. These laws could be put on a Consent Calendar and repealed easily by voice vote. There would be no public reaction one way or another. These laws went on the books quietly and they can go off the same way.

Why don't they? Because we have politicians who think religion is some kind of sacred cow they dare not touch, no matter how outrageous the belief is. We heard over and over about how precious these faith healing beliefs are to well-meaning parents. But their child died! Well that's too bad and maybe something should be done about that. Anything except repealing stupid laws that give parents permission to let their child die.


Final Exit Network (FEN) has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse its conviction for supposedly assisting in a suicide in the death of a Minnesota woman's self deliverance. FEN notes that the "proof" at the trial established only that FEN's volunteer exit guides did not assist the woman but only instructed her on the process.

The Supreme Court of Minnesota redefined the word "assist" to prohibit speech that enables a suicide. FEN argues that no American court has ever stretched the word "assist" to prohibit pure speech without any conduct.

FEN's petition emphasizes that the information their exit guides gave the woman is readily available in bookstores, libraries and online and is depicted in movies, documentaries and articles of every sort; therefore, Minnesota may not make it a crime to repeat this information.

FEN's case is substantially different from cases where a person deliberately facilitates a suicide, such as encouraging someone to stay in a car that is running and filling with carbon monoxide. FEN exit guides make every effort to ensure that a person intending a self deliverance is fully committed to that outcome, is making the choice freely, and is competent to do so. Members are not even accepted into the self-deliverance program unless they first establish that they are suffering intolerably from an irremediable condition. The outcome of this case will be critical to whether free speech becomes less free and possibly much more restricted.


We are close to being done with updating our book, Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom. The review copies are scheduled for distribution in August. With three chapters left to update and send to See Sharp Press, and the more-or-less finished chapters in the hands of the publisher for editing, we expect to meet the deadline.

This is an updated, expanded and revised version to take into account the effect of the Trump presidency on our already religion-based laws and the certainty that the situation will get worse, not better.

A major change in this version is that, rather than just describing our many religion-based laws, much of it, including an entire chapter, will deal with practical and proven and relatively easy ways to change the political system so our civil rights can be protected.

Some of our members have contributed information, articles and resources that have helped make this updated Culture Wars interesting and useful. We appreciate that help and thank you all for your support.

      END OF AFHR REPORT        

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.

Atheists Wedding Celebrants
Available as a Supporters' Benefit. No charge.
Use our celebrantss or one of your choice,
all legally authorized by AFHR.
 No Church Affiliation 
Atheist Wedding Celebrants
Create memorable secular weddings.
We can help. Just ask.
612-529-1200; Communications Director
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.
The Hub Calendar
Fireside Chat


3rd Fridays 6-9+ PM
Hub of Atheism,
5146 Newton Ave. N.
Always free food and beverages.
Freethought picnics instead. See schedule below for dates, times, places. Fireside Chats will start again on Friday, 15 September. We have some excellent videos lined up.
DVD 16 July, and 13 August Freethought potluck picnics, Columbia Heights, off Central Ave. at
37th Ave. NE, behind the golf course.
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
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.



Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir or visit Twin Cities Atheists

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.


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.


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.



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 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):

 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 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.


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

5146 Newton Ave. N.
Minneapolis MN 55430-3459

If you need directions, call:

or email:

Leave us a voicemail by calling:

612-DAMN-Y'ALL (612-326-6925)

Phone messages may be used on our website.



Letters and articles are welcome!