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 Moral Atheist
September-October 2014
 
"In the not-too-distant future, it's entirely possible that religious freedom will be the only freedom we have left — a condition for which we can blame the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993."
Katha Pollitt, The Nation, August 18-25, 2014.
 
 
RFRA: The Religious Anarchy Law that Unleased Hobby Lobby
— and Others Now Lined Up to Follow (p. 4)
 

The September-October issue of The Moral Atheist is being distributed by PDF and postal mail. This is an important issue because the lead article explains exactly what the Hobby Lobby case is all about. And it can vary from state to state. The nature of the "religious freedom" it supports is such that it could come back to bite it's religious-right advocates in the arse ... and we should make specific efforts toward that end.

Another thought provoking article is "The Sunday Assembly, Atheism's Strategies,The Road Not Taken: A Discussion." Lots to think about if we want to find ways to "force religions to be benign," as Lutheran theologian Martin Marty advised us unbelievers to do.

To get a sample copy of TMA by PDF or postal mail, just email Communications Director or call (612) 529-1200.

 
3  AFHR Report.
 
4  Too Much Accommodation:
    The RFRA and the Hobby
    Lobby Ruling.
Tim Gorski, M.D.
 
6  Our Taxes at Work — Paying for
    Their Tax Exemptions.
 
7  The Sunday Assembly,
    Atheism's Strategies, The Road
    Not Taken: A Discussion.

    Tim Gorski and MarieAlena Castle
 
10  CHRISTIANITY IN ITS OWN
      WORDS. History is Not Simple.
      Part 4 of 4.
William Sierichs Jr.
 
13  Is it Possible to Teach about
      Religion in Public Schools?

      MarieAlena Castle
 
    14  Manifest Genocide.
     1492: What it Meant to be
     Discovered.
Michael Paulkovich
 
16  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON
     HERE? Why are Gods and Popes
     So Nasty ... and Others So Crazy?

     Bill van Druten
 
17  THE BOOKSHELF
 
18  THE LETTERS DESK
 
20  THE NETWORK
 
22  SUPPORTERS' BENEFITS
 
23  THE HUB CALENDAR
 
BACK COVER: Why Accommodate Religion?
 

Here is our AFHR Report for this issue so you know what we are up to organizationwise:

AFHR Report
 
MarieAlena, Communications Director
 

FINAL EXIT NETOWRK IN COURT AGAIN

The Final Exit Network case in Minnesota begins again on Sept 8 at 9 a.m. in the courthouse in Hastings. To bring you up to date: The Minnesota Supreme Court denied the State's petition for review of the Court of Appeal's September 30, 2013 decision in FEN's favor in State vs Final Exit Network, Larry Egbert, and Roberta Massey. The Supreme Court dissolved the stay of proceedings in the trial court, which has been in effect since March, 2013.

The case now resumes in the trial court as if the defendants faced a new indictment. Instead of being charged primarily under a statute that prohibits "advising, encouraging or assisting in a suicide," the new indictment charges them only with "assisting in a suicide." Going forward, to recap, Final Exit Network and Larry Egbert are each charged with assisting in a suicide, aiding and abetting to assist in a suicide, interfering in a death scene, and aiding and abetting to interfere in a death scene. Roberta Massey is charged only with aiding and abetting to assist in a death scene.

Technically, Dr. Egbert faces a potential sentence of 16 years in prison and a $33,000 fine; the Network a $33,000 fine; and Massey, one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

At the Sept 8 hearing, the judge will set a trial date, discuss pending motions, decide whether any additional pre-trial hearings are necessary and, if so, schedule them. It does not appear that anything more substantial than scheduling will take place, but FEN members who can be there are encouraged to attend to show our support.

 

OUR MARRIAGE STATUTES: NEW DEVELOPMENTS

We have to wait until the November elections are over before we proceed with legislation to amend the Minnesota marriage statutes to include celebrants other than court personnel and clergy. Much depends on who will be assigned to committees the bill must go through. Meanwhile, new developments in other states offer encouragement.

A bill was introduced in Ohio that proposed opening up celebrant authorization to any person or entity that has registered with the state for that purpose. Simple and clear. Although the bill was not acted upon it shows a growing interest in this area. We thought AFHR should do the same, so we hope to introduce a bill that adds these words to the court-or-clergy designations: "... or any other person or entity that has registered to solemnize marriages with the local registrar of a county in this state. ..."

On July 14, the Court of Appeals in Indiana reversed a lower court's ruling and ruled for the Center for Inquiry that the state must allow marriages to be solemnized by humanist celebrants. Part of the ruling said (referring to the fake online "churches" atheists must use in order to meet the statutory "clergy" requirement), "... the state's willingness to recognize marriages performed by hypocrites, show that the statute violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the First Amendment. It is irrational to allow humanists to solemnize marriages if, and only if, they falsely declare that they are a 'religion.' It is absurd to give the Church of Satan, whose high priestess avows that her powers derive from having sex with Satan, and the Universal Life Church, which sells credentials to anyone with a credit card, a preferred position over Buddhists, who emphasize love and peace. A marriage solemnized by a self-declared hypocrite would leave a sour taste in the couple's mouth; like many others, humanists want a ceremony that celebrates their values, not the 'values' of people who will say or do whatever it takes to jump through some statutory hoop."

So there we are, with an actual court ruling. Our main problem may be getting our bill heard. The religious right would surely think it is better to just kill it, as they did with the one someone introduced in the last session to open celebrant authorization to notaries public. We will need committee support but even liberal legislators would rather avoid issues that stir up the religious right without a very good reason. They may prefer we file a lawsuit. We are working on that.

 

FIRESIDE CHATS BEGIN AGAIN IN SEPTEMBER

Now that the summer picnics are over, we have a couple of DVDs lined up for our Fireside Chats in September and October (see details on p. 23). The September video is the hit movie "Noah." It's pretty good in that it does nothing to support the Bible story. The theme is about protecting the environment — the destruction of which the movie indicates was the sin that motivated "the creator" to un-create. In this version, Noah seems to have been tasked initially with wiping out humans totally (no more increase-and-multiply) and saving only plants and animals. A high point is the way the Ark got built, courtesy of imaginative scriptwriters. Hilarious, with great special effects.

In October we will watch "The Magdalene Sisters." We showed it several years ago but the popularity of "Philomena," which we watched in May, caused a renewed interest. Once again, it's the Catholic Church mistreating "way-ward" girls, this time making them slave away in the Church's laundries in Ireland. What on Earth keeps this bastion of moral perversion going?

 

TWO NEW VIDEOS ONLINE

Our two newest online videos (being edited) feature Sandy Beitsch, a popular singer at local piano bars and our winter solstice parties. These are VERY different shows.

One is "Atheists For Human Rights: The Musical." We turn Sandy loose on an assortment of his piano bar songs (some a bit risqué) and irreligious songs (all irreverent). The other is "Independence Day." In this one we talk about the Pledge of Allegiance and its shortcomings interspersed with truly (secular) patriotic songs such as "This Land is Your Land," "If I Had a Hammer," "The Tin Soldier," and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

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.

Magazine

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

Contact UsTop of Page

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

If you need directions,
call:
612-529-1200
or
1-866-ATHEIST

or email: Communications Director.

Email:

Letters and articles are welcome!

 

Leave us a voicemail by calling:

612-DAMN-Y'ALL

612-326-6925

Phone messages may be used
on our website.

 
The Hub of AtheismTop of Page


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, location, & directions:
Hub of Atheism

CalendarTop of Page

EVERY MONDAY:
5 - 6:30 PM

Happy Hour
Location: Ol' Mexico Restaurant
On Lexington, two blocks north of Larpenteur, Roseville
Terrace level, right behind reservation desk.
Contact:
Paul Craven: 763-788-8918

1ST & 3RD MONDAYS:
6:30 PM

Toastmasters
Location: Larpenteur Estates Party Room
1276 Larpenteur Ave W, St. Paul
Contact:
George Kane: 651-488-8225

1ST TUESDAYS:
11:30 AM

Lunch Social
Location: Old Country Buffet,
County Rd B2 (east of Fairview), Roseville
Contact:
Bob/Marilyn Nienkerk: 612-866-6200

3RD WEDNESDAYS:
11:30 AM

Charley French Memorial Lunch
Atheists and Humanists get together to socialize and exchange opinions.
Location: Dragon House restaurant
3970 Central Ave NE, Columbia Heights
Private Room
Contact:
Bill Volna: 612-781-1420 or 1322

3RD FRIDAYS:
6 - 9+ PM

Fireside Chat

Descriptions of DVDs for September and October

Always free food and beverages.

Location: 5146 Newton Ave. N., Minneapolis
Contact:
Call (612) 588-1597 or email Communications Director

MEETUPS

Twin Cities Meetups
Email Scott Muir, Video Manager
Or visit Twin Cities Atheists
Southern Minnesota Meetups
Email Crystal Dervetski

MEMBERS/SUPPORTERS MEETINGS

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.

TWIN CITIES PUBLIC ACCESS

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, Tuesdays at 6 PM, and Wednesdays at 1 AM and 11 AM.
Thanks to Paul Craven for handling this.

Links

 

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

 

Pharyngula

 

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science