The Moral Atheist
May-June 2015

The May-June issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed. Below is the cover and our AFHR Report so you get an idea of what we are up to. For a complete issue by snail mail or email, just email Communications Director or call
612-588-1597. Check out our supporter's premiums.

Our Lawsuit to End Clergy Requirement in Marriage Statutes is in the Judge's Hands.
Will the Ruling Allow Honest Atheist Celebrants or Continue to Protect Religion with Anything-Goes "Churches"? (p. 4).

In This Issue

3AFHR Report. A Sad Loss
4We Rest Our Case: Arguments Pro & Con.   MarieAlena Castle
6Atheism, Humanism and Modernity.   Jon Nelson
8A Warren Full of Delusions of Purpose. Part 3 of 3.  G. Richard Bozarth
11The Terrorist Wars.  Andy Mulcahy . . . and Media Cowardice.   Sanford Berman
12CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN WORDS. "Help! I'm Being Repressed!"
Part 3.
   William Sierichs Jr.
14The Gospel of John: A Secret Agenda.   Stephen Van Eck
15THE ATHEIST EXPERIENCE. Let the Fun Begin: Mixing Religion & Secular Politics.   MarieAlena Castle
16WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? My A Recently Discovered Chaucer Story.   Bill van Druten
BACK COVER: Weaponizing Religion.
AFHR Report
MarieAlena, Communications Director

Our annual board election was finalized per our bylaws at our Fireside Chat on March 20. It was a unanimous vote, no contest, all members reelected. (See inside front cover for board list and revised positions for Paul Craven and Nancy Ruhland.) Sadly, on April 13 we learned that board member Brad Mattson was in hospice and dying. As we go to print (April 28) he has maybe a few days left. He is 73.


Brad Mattson called me around 11 p.m. on April 13 to tell me he is dying. He has had various health issues and was in the hospital but it looked like he was going to be OK. Not so. His prognosis was that he could die any time but possibly last a few weeks. It's his heart. He had difficulty talking but there was one thing he wanted to say and he said it over and over, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else. It was "Thank you thank you thank you" for giving him an atheist group he could belong to that made him feel good about being an atheist and for all of us being so welcoming in the years he's been on our board. Brad accepted dying as how life works and he was OK with it.

This is a sad turn of events. We have all been so appreciative of Brad's support for our organization. He had very little money but he helped every way he could with a generous spirit and words of encouragement. He was impressive for being a remarkably stylish dresser, despite his low income, due to his knack for finding upscale clothes for a few bucks at thrift stores. And they fit perfectly!

Paul Craven and I visited Brad today (April 28). He had been transferred from the University of Minnesota hospice unit in Minneapolis to Our Lady of Peace Hospice in St. Paul. He is not very lucid and has stopped eating but he knew we were there. We were concerned that Brad's atheism might not be respected at a full-on Catholic care facility but it seemed OK. We gave him an illustrated beautiful atheist poem, "What Do Atheists Believe?" and I read it to him. We displayed it on his bedside table where he had a copy of our book, Culture Wars. He seemed at peace.

Brad has been on our board since 2007, helping as a photographer and our delegate to the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers. Two of Brad's four children, Spencer Mattson and Virginia Davis, have been with him during this time. It's such a sad loss. Spencer sent the photo of Brad above.


Stephen Van Eck has once again made a special donation of $200 to our Moral High Ground fund so it can be passed on to the Naturist Society in Oshkosh WI for their Naturist Action Committee's work to protect nudists from sexobsessed religionists. The NAC supports the right to bare it all outdoors in private-to just enjoy being natural. It's totally harmless and nobody's business. Yet Stephen says, "They really need help. There are just tons of state legislative attacks." It's the religious wackos who can't see a human body without clothes as anything but a skin full of sin.


Politicians are starting to announce their candidacies for the 2016 elections. Atheists seem to give too little attention to this so Dick Segers is passing this along. It's a reminder of what Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate for President of the United States in 1964 (he lost), said, which still does not get the serious attention it deserves.

"Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism."

Excerpted from Goldwater's
1964 nomination acceptance speech.


"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

Said in Nov 1994, as quoted in
John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)


Atheists For Human Rights entered our 11th year of maintaining our designated two-mile section of Dakota County Road 46 (160th Street), in the south Twin Cities Metro area of Minnesota with a spring cleanup on April 25. During the interim between Ron Kroll and Scott Muir running our highway cleanup project and Dick Segers and Paul Craven taking it over, the county replaced our signs with nice new ones. Dick thanked them and took photos for us.

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.
Check out our list of donor premiums!
No trinkets, mugs, or t-shirts — just things to satisfy your mind.

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 Cover price $14.95, 236 pp.

"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 clear-headed 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.

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.


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

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 UsTop of Page

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

If you need directions,

or email: Communications Director.


Letters and articles are welcome!


Leave us a voicemail by calling:



Phone messages may be used
on our website.

The Hub CalendarTop of Page

If you are not a regular attendee, call to find out if the schedule has changed.


5:00 to 6:30 PM
Happy Hour

Ol' Mexico Restaurant, on Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville.
Call Paul Craven, 763-788-8918.


1st Tuesdays
11:30 AM
Lunch Social

Old Country Buffet, County Road. B2, (east of Fairview). Roseville.
Bob & Marilyn Nienkerk, 612-866-6200.


1st & 3rd Mondays
6:30 PM

Larpenteur Estates party room, 1276 Larpenteur Ave. W., St. Paul.
George Kane, 651-488-8225.


3rd Wednesdays
11:30 AM
Charley French Memorial Lunch

Dragon House restaurant, 3970 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights.
Private room.
Bill Volna, 612-781-1420 or 1322.


3rd Fridays
6-9+ PM.
Hub of Atheism, 5146 Newton Ave. N., Minneapolis
Call (612) 588-1597 or
email Communications Director

Always free food and beverages.


May 15
Last Fireside Chat until September. The April attendees asked for videos of "Xena Warrior Princess," showing her dissing all gods as more trouble than they are worth and beating the crap out of Archangel Michael. YES!!


June 14, July 19, & August 16
NO FIRESIDE CHATS. All Freethought Sunday potluck picnics instead. Noon to 3 PM. Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, in Waburn Park Shelter B. (Hard to find. Email Communications Director for directions.)


Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir, Video Manager
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, 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.



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.



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




The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science