Welcome to the
Hub of Atheism!
Moral High Ground Project
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.
Our January-February issue of The Moral Atheist has been distributed by mail and PDF. See the Table of Contents on the cover page (PDF). As usual, we offer 3 free issues of the full 24-page magazine, by postal or email, so you get a good idea of what we are all about. Just send your postal/email contact info to Communications Director.
Here are excerpts from this issue. One is our AFHR Report and the other is the cover article. We don't usually include cover articles on our web site but this is quite special — something we are sure you've never read before. Let us know what you think.
By MarieAlena, Communications Director
UPDATE ON OUR MARRIAGE STATUTES PROJECT
Atheists around the country can now consider the issue of atheists needing a fake online church-related ordination to solemnize marriages (if we want one of our own instead of a court official) closed. Thanks to the statute research we did after John Dingley got certified through AFHR and found he was accepted without question, we realize we have always been able to do our own atheist marriages but just assumed otherwise.
We have been testing this around Minnesota and Iowa and find no objection anywhere. In St. Cloud MN — an ultra conservative area — Tom Stavros volunteered to do some testing. He is a member of AFHR as well as Central Minnesota Freethinkers (CMF), so he got the CMF board's approval, we made up CMF documents for him, he took them to his county registrar, and soon emailed this result:
"I did get registered as a marriage celebrant. There was no problem, no questions, and no fee."
Then Niles Ross in Iowa sent this email:
"I have an atheist friend who officiated at two marriages about 2-3 years ago — separate marriages — in Iowa. He has no certificate. He has no ordination. He has nothing other than being human. He officiated at the ceremonies of two of his friends, went to the county courthouse to sign the papers, and everything was accepted. I did not ask if he handed his friends any pieces of paper. This was a side conversation at a lunch with some friends of ours. However, I made certain I heard correctly, and he re-stated, that he has no "papers" from any organization of any kind. He knows of the Universal Life Church, but never obtained the certificate or any other from any organization."
Yes, of course! When we look at state marriage statutes, of the half dozen or so we checked, we see the only things states require are that couples get a marriage license, so there is verification of eligibility and no fraud intended (being under age, already married, etc.). After that, all they need are two witnesses, plus someone to witness the marriage for the state who will fill out the marriage license showing who performed the ceremony and who were the witnesses, then take that to the court house for filing.
The only marriages that would not be valid any more (at least in some states, though they once were) are common law marriages where there is no ceremony with witnesses.
Bottom line: The statutes listing court officials and clergy as authorized to solemnize a marriage have never been exclusionary because such sections are always countered by one that says, in effect, that people marry each other and the state only needs someone to witness to that for the couple's legal protection. The sections about ordained clergy just acknowledge the sacramental interest churches have always had in marriage. They don't mean that others are excluded. How could they? It would impose a religious test on witnessing a civil marriage, and that would never fly (much as some religions surely would like it to). Now that we are aware of all this, let the all-atheist-no-churchy-stuff marriages begin! AFHR is at your service with some very impressive documentation! And at no charge!
UPDATE ON OUR MORAL HIGH GROUND PROJECT
Thanks to our members' increased donations plus sales of our book, Culture Wars, our AFHR board voted to increase our MHG grants significantly this year. Our grants to four women's clinics in Illinois, Maryland, South Dakota and Kansas to help pay for abortions for poor women were raised from $200 to $400 each. Final Exit Network received $300 to help with their legal defense against charges of "assisting a suicide." CHILD (Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty) received $300 in addition to donations collected for them at our Winter Solstice party, for a total of $658. The Philanthrofund Foundation, which provides scholarships for LGBT students, remained at $500 to continue showing our support for them. Although they are well on their way to getting rid of restrictive religion-based laws, they will not be home free until same-sex marriage is legal in all states. Even then, there will surely be religious-right efforts to impose restrictions, just as was done after Roe v. Wade supposedly won reproductive rights for women. So we stay in the fight across the board.
The grants to the women's clinics are especially necessary because all are up against increasing attacks and in danger of being shut down. Those we are donating to are still hanging in there. They are in North Dakota (the only clinic in the state, managed by the daughter of the late freethought activist Charley French), Kansas (where Dr. Tiller practiced before he was murdered), Maryland (driven out of Nebraska after trying to set up Dr. Tiller's practice there) and Illinois (being race-baited with billboards by fanatics for helping black women gain control over their lives).
Do these fanatics ever suggest doing anything to help children they have forced to be born? We all know how hard they fight to reduce funding for education, child care, food stamps, unemployment benefits and everything else that might help poor women take care of the children these religious right legislators get so misty eyed over when they are infinitesimal zygotes. At our Winter Solstice party, Randy Tigue rendered a song about that, written by American Atheists' Frank Zindler. SEE PAGE 13.
We find it sad that AFHR is the only freethought organization that gives a meaningful damn about the victims of our religion based laws. They would all rather use their money to file lawsuits against government god-talk, build buildings and pay salaries. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with that, except that, if we didn't have those laws none of our organizations would even have a reason to exist. We'd be home free?free of having absurd religious beliefs forced on us by law and then paying for the insult through higher taxes so religions can be tax exempt.
But at least we are doing what we can and we can be proud of that.
Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid: Time to Get Our Act Together
By MarieAlena, Communications Director
UPDATE ON OUR MARRIAGE STATUTES PROJECT
Here's something we don't think about, but should. Gloria Steinem said, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free, but first it will piss you off." So here goes:
Why is it that so many religions are founded by people who claim to believe in a god, yet use that religion in greedy self-serving ways? Consider the difference between a cult and a religion:
In a cult, the person at the top knows it's a scam.
How many religions today were started as a cult by someone who knew it was a scam? Probably most of them. Yes, some religious founders are honestly deluded, think a god is talking to them, and they have been especially selected to carry out some half-baked ideas about a spirit world. There are others who start a religion honestly to promote a worthy way to live — an ethical system such as Buddhism.
We are not talking about those founders, only about deliberate scams, begun by con artists — faithless men and women who used the faith and belief of others to steal from them. And that is wicked. And those wicked con artists are ... unbelievers .. atheists! And their followers drank the Kool-Aid and continue to drink it and it never occurs to them that it was and is served up by ... atheists.
Not atheists of the kind that form and belong to freethinker organizations dedicated to forcing religions to be benign, only those who have no interest in god beliefs except as the hook for the greatest and most profitable and longest con in history.
Let's start with Moses. He is probably a fictional character but, if so, his story was created by con artists to achieve the desired results. Get a Bible and read about the Ten Commandments. Moses has led his people to the Promised Land. They are at Mt. Sinai. The mountain is rumbling, fire is coming from the top of the mountain as from a furnace. Moses says the rumbling is the voice of Yahweh, who wants to speak with him. (It's just a volcano, but people always believe what they want to believe.) Only Moses is allowed to go up and talk with Yahweh. No one else must even come near. "Stay back," he warns them repeatedly.
So this elderly man trudges up the mountain into the smoke and after a time returns with Ten Commandments carved at Yahweh's direction on two stone tablets. Then there's the Golden Calf incident, with Moses smashing the Ten Commandments, so he has to go back up the mountain for another set. They aren't quite the same, but no matter. What's important for the con is the instructions that go with them.
There are pages and pages of instructions for setting up luxurious tents for Moses, his brother Aaron and Aaron's sons — a priestly class to be showered with perks: the finest fabrics, gold and silver vessels, the best the Israelites had to offer in food, drink and amenities. All for the glory of Yahweh, of course, even though enjoyed only by that priestly class. Nothing was too good. It was the Bronze Age equivalent of today's televangelists with their mansions, swimming pools, and private jets.
The Catholic Church says the Bible story of the woman using precious ointment to wash the feet of Jesus instead of helping the poor was justified for the honor and glory of "god." Same for why such lavish cathedrals were constructed. After all, "the poor you will always have with you." True enough if society's wealth is squandered on the priestly class (now our biggest recipient of welfare through tax exemptions and perks and government giveaways).
Pope Leo X in the Middle Ages was quoted by his secretary as saying, "We all know how profitable this fable of Jesus Christ has been for our company." Yes, another "faithless man," like so many popes at that time, and even now. They know their church history as well as we do. They know there was no pope before the 4th century. They know it's all a profitable fable. Some no doubt close their minds to that and convince themselves otherwise, but the facts are still there. People believe what they want to believe or have to believe to live with themselves.
How about the Mormons? This is history so close it's beyond questioning. Joseph Smith was a known con artist with an arrest record. Can anyone read the account of his visit from the angel Moroni and those golden tablets ("evidence" that Moroni took back to heaven so are not available) and his cobbled up hieroglyphics and Book of Mormon about Jesus visiting America and on and on without laughing? Yet Smith served up that Kool-Aid and his followers drank it and still do, never understanding that their faith comes from a con artist's imagination — a faithless man using the faith and belief of others to steal from them. With Smith dead, his cult is now the Mormon religion.
How about Mary Baker Eddy? She had a carnival act with a guy named Quimby touting "mesmerism" — a mind-over-matter schtick about using one's mind to control whatever. When Quimby died, Eddy turned the act into a cult purporting to use one's mind to heal disease. Since Eddy is dead, her cult is now the religion of Christian Science. And it maims and kills children whose parents drank Eddy's Kool-Aid and abandoned real medical care for prayer "treatments" that consist of refusing to admit a disease exists even when a child is clearly dying. It's the ultimate in believing what one wants to believe. And we have legislators so determined to respect those beliefs that they refuse to rescind laws that support them. More Kool-Aid.
SO WHAT SHOULD ATHEISTS DO ABOUT THIS?
These and other cults/religions are clearly not founded by honest, well-meaning god believers. It's time we honest atheists called them out. They are rogue atheists — hucksters playing the long con &mdash with no more of a god belief than we have but lacking the conscience that would keep them from exploiting believers. It never occurs to religious people that they are being conned by huckster atheists. Why not tell them?
Honest Christian behavior is immoral behavior because it hurts people. (Bible thumpers and "infallible pope" Catholics offer evidence for that.) Honest atheist behavior is moral behavior because it exists to oppose the harm religion causes. (Secular laws and social policies that help people live more productive lives offer evidence for that.) Organized atheism actually has no other valid purpose.
Christians become moral by abandoning traditional beliefs, in effect adopting the religion-free views of honest atheists. Atheists become immoral when they abandon atheism's inherently moral position in respect to religion by becoming con artists in the name of greed.
We atheists drink our own Kool-Aid by not telling the truth. We need to rein in our outliers and expose their con game. And we need to learn something about public relations from the world's reigning expert — Pope Francis. That is, you present a helpful, caring, friendly face to the world. In Francis's case, that hides a con game that intends to preserve and enhance doctrinal control over our social laws and public policies. There will be no retraction of the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-science, anti-death with dignity, etc., restrictions now in place. If anything, it will get worse. But it won't seem so because Francis will smile and talk of loving the victims and "accompanying them" during the travail his doctrines inflict on them. Kool-Aid.
AN HONEST ATHEIST PUBLIC RELATIONS POLICY
City council prayers are wrong. So are god pledges and mottoes. But no one cares if we lose the lawsuits and may feel irritated if we win. Billboards that say we can be good without god imply the god standard is good when it's not.
None of this shows we care about people — only that we want "a place at the table" in forming public policy. And we want that place only because there are now more of us. Why does that matter? We should want that place so we can make life better for all of us, not just us. We should show that we stand with the victims of religion-based laws. We should file lawsuits on their behalf. We should be their heroes. Instead we ignore them and say the oppressions inflicted on them "are not atheist issues" when they are exactly that.
The Secular Coalition for America released a Model Secular Policy Guide for legislative issues. It looks like something put together by a committee. Bland and legalistic, it does nothing to inspire activism. Shouldn't it point out the massive harm religion-based laws do to individuals and society? No mention of that, only that the intrusions do not pass constitutional muster. That will change if Supreme Court rulings make atrocious laws constitutional. It's been done before. There seem to be no human centered principles at stake to be defended. By not making a forceful and principled stand for the victims of religious tyranny we make no stand at all. We are drinking our own Kool-Aid.
|Articles||Top of Page|
|About Us||Top 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.
-- 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
|Contact Us||Top of Page|
If you need directions,
Letters and articles are welcome!
Leave us a voicemail by calling:
Phone messages may be used
|The Hub of Atheism||Top of Page|
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:
|Calendar||Top of Page|
Local: Ad hoc discussions at social events.
TWIN CITIES PUBLIC ACCESS
Our videos are played in Minneapolis and St. Paul on public access stations.