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February 1980

























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Austin, Texas


February, 1980

Page 1


Jon C. Murra


I see Iran as a mirror image of what the United States will
Let us look at a current problem.
look like in the year 2000 if the Christ'ers have their way.
Tl)e Ayatollah, from the viewpoint of the Muslims, their reFor what is it that the Swaggerts, the Bakkers, the Falwells,
ligion and its authority, the Koran, is acting rationally, consistthe Armstrongs, the Roberts', the Humbards, the Brights, the
ently and in accord with the desires of Allah. The Christ'ers
would have Carter weigh expert opinion on the rescue of the
Helms-type U.S. senators want? Looking in that mirror, they
all see a full-blown theocracy, a nation of born-againers, menhostages - such as political expedience, our nation's stated
principles; risks with military intervention, effect of economic
tally stultified automatons, doing the will of "he who speaks
sanctions and after, taking in all that data, go to the Bible and
for Christ" even as the Ayatollah now speaks for Allah.
They are, all of them, stumping for nothing else. Their . prayer "for the real guide," perhaps to the words of Jesus
Christ, Luke 19:27:
time, efforts and billions of dollars which they collect go for
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should
the single-minded goal of a "Christian nation, under god."
reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.
They want more than that, for the nation must respond not
That kind of nonsense could lead to a nuclear war, the use
alone to god, but to god's word, as published by his spokesof insanity against insanity, with each side convinced of its
men in authorized versions of The Holy Bible.
righteousness, each hoping its particular god will triumph.
It is a horrible fate for the nation, that which is contemplated. For proof of this fact, I give you Iran. There, the Holy
Both governments would then follow a hallucination, diverBook of the Muslim religion is the basis of all law , culture, religent fables, yet give these systems of madness greater weight
gion, politics and customs. Muhammad (570-632), receiving
than logic, science, history, economics, world concerns.
communication (some believe, actual dictation) through the
What the Christ'ers want will effect our people, all nations,
angel Gabriel, an agent of the god, Allah, wrote the Koran, a
the world - ultimately all humanity.
compilation of a series of these revelations (114 suras). Just as
The Christ'er is equivalent to one who is high on a halluciwe, in the United States, turn to the authority of the statutory
nogen. He sees a fire and believes itto be a brilliant red flower,
laws, our constitution, encyclopedias, dictionaries, for statistouches it and burns his hand, then rejoices in the suffering as
tics, guides or authoritarian answers, the adherents of Islam,
god's will. If only the Christ'er himself was hurt, this could
those whom we call Muslims, turn to their Holy Book, the Kopossibly be excusable, but when a leader suffers from the biran, as supreme universal authority for everything.
zarre hallucination of born-againism, we can expect, on a small
scale, Jim Jones, on a large scale, the Ayatollah.
At one time in our history the Christ'ers tried for a "ChrisParticularly, we Atheists must all speak out. We must say
tian Amendment" to the Constitution. The attempt was to
to these self-appointed spokespersons for god - "You must be
change the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States
put in a straight jacket." We cannot permit them to harm our
democratic institutions for which we fought so long.
We, the People of the United States, in order to form a
Danger flags are out. Several months ago, in a national
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic transpeech, Carter warned of the "Atheist menace" in the world.
quility, ...
On January 4th, speaking of Afghanistan, he said:
"It is a deliberate effort of a powerful Atheist government
We, the People of the United States, in order to acknowto subjugate a Muslim people. "
ledge Almighty God as the source of all authority and power
One would have thought that the Soviet bear had moved
in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ us the ruler among
only for reasons of desiring to convert Afghanistan to Athethe nations, and His will, revealed in the Holy Scriptures, as
the Supreme Authority, in order to constitute a Christian gov- If the Christ'ers have their way, by the year 2000, the Uniernment, form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure . ted States will be another Iran, the president will be similar to
domestic tranquility, ...
Khorneini, the Bible will be the ultimate authority.
Currently, the Christ'ers are urging politicians to give the
Atheism, in the face of this rising menace, pleads only one
Bible, specifically the New Testament word of Jesus Christ
point: religion is not relevant to human life. It, its holy book
(Protestant version, please), equal value with other sources
or any of its alleged prophets or leaders, cannot be considered
brought to the decision making processes of our country, on
in decision making. It is unhealthy for even a single person,
international, state, county, even city level- to public schools
alone affected by it, to turn to religion for solutions.
(equal time for the Creation theory), to smallest governmental
The only authorities we can trust are from reasonable hubodies (prayers in city councils). The "equal" weight, the
mankind sources: a review of history, natural law and laws of
Christ'ers hope, will one day yield to "superior" weight of
the Bible.
All their caterwauling to the contrary, the Christ'ers must
In the President's Cabinet, there will be a new member:
be, at least, ignored, at best, isolated so that they cannot infect
the Bible.
the populace with born-again insanity.

Page 2

February, 1980

American Atheist

Letters to The Editors

Dear Editor,
I am absolutely elated that my review has stirred up so much controversy, which is exactly what I had hoped
it would do.
At the same time, I am sad to see
that some readers either didn't read
my review all the way through, or missed what I said somehow. It is understandable that Atheists would, in the
wake of all the priests castigating the
film for blasphemy, take it to their bosoms as "our" picture. But in point of
fact, it is anything but. It is a commercial film, made to please as large an audience as possible given the Python
lampoon fan. Since the "rescue-funds"
to continue making the film came
from the kooky-religionist ex-Beatle
George Harrison, we know that at
least he thought they were making,
withall, some tribute to Jesus. If you
will recall, Jesus was treated with kid
gloves throughout - in fact, reverently. A perfectly acceptable case can be
made that this film is basically religious, but like Charlie Brown, "We
love the world, it's people we can't
However, you will note that I did
not take that tack in my review. I
merely said that the working out of
the theme was boring, that I found ineptly executed inconsistencies, that it
could have been superb, where it was
frequently just your basic stupid. My
position was, and always will be, that
much though I would take it to my
heart in a laudatory review, no filmmaker has yet dared to do it. The
Monty Python group is close, but the
film still plays to those religious people who will accept those reverent
shots of "the real Jesus" and the lampoon of the dummies who tried to
make a saint out of Brian.
I repeat, it was a one-joke picture,
and each incident seemed to elongate
and belabor its point more than the
one before it. Whereas the "Romans
Go Home" incident was initially an extremely funny idea, by the time it was
over I felt as if I had personally painted every one of those outrageous signs
over the paper-mache walls. By the
same token, the beggar scene was a
hilarious idea - that in curing him, Jesus had taken away his livelihood -

Austin, Texas

but it was not hilarious by the time he

had followed Brian down the road
babbling on eternally in that indecipherable accent. The "Let's go to a stoning" was splendid satire, but the point
was made by the line itself, not by the
endless scene that followed as to whether uttering the word Jehovah was
worth being stoned to death.
A few miscellaneous rebuttals are
also in order: Thomas Taskonis had
better go back and re-read my review
of "Oh God." I was definitely not for
it; I disliked it intensely. Furthermore
he should also re-read my Brian review, for I was prohibited by the very
nature of the film to "take it at face
value" as he rather confusedly accuses
me. As for Peter Sims thinking I spoke
a "prissy load of shit" as a "narrow
minded, incongruous Atheist," the only thing he said that made any sense in
his letter is that we are certainly on
different wavelengths. That's fine, life
would be awful if everyone got off on
the same wavelength, but he should
grant me the right to be disappointed
that I do not believe Brian is the ultimate and best Atheist movie.
I see my function as a critic as follows: those who like and learn to
trust that I am consistent and honest
in my reviews, and who agree with me,
will have a go at the movies I recommend. Those who think I am full of
shit (and aren't we all, dear brother?)
will say, "Oh, she bated it, I guess I'll
go see it." And that also fulfills my
function,' doesn't it? So I am still doing my job. And speaking of which,
I could easily sell my reviews elsewhere, but I prefer to donate in my
writing to the American Atheist because I am that committed to Atheism.
Keep your letters coming in, I love
that my column has generated them.
I'd appreciate comments on the above,

February, 1980

Dear Elaine,
Of course, the gays got to us on our
recent tours to tell us that this was
"their film." They were ecstatic that
Mary, mother of God, was portrayed
by a man in drag and double delighted
that at the stoning there was "double
drag," i.e., men playing women who
were imitating men in male clothing.
A proper grammarian was still in
the clouds over the grammar lesson of
"Romans, Go Home. "
And, the sado-masochists roared
over the loss of the second foot.

The Shroud Unveiled

The mystery of the holy Shroud of
Turin has been unveiled, I refer the
interested readers to' the November,
1979 issue of Popular Photography.
After briefly surveying the history
of the shroud, which is presumed to
bear the image of Jesus Christ, and the
history of the photographing and conjecturing
the shroud,
Nickell outlines his method to obtain
results similar to the holy shroud by
means which could have been used at
any time in the past. Briefly:
A: Make or obtain a suitable basrelief.
B: Soak herring-bone-pattern
fabric in hot water, spread it on the relief, and carefully press and shape it
according to the relief.
C: Mix your "pigment," that is, a
dry powder consisting roughly of
equal parts of myrrh and aloes (the
burial spices mentioned
in John's
D: With a soft Cloth dauber, apply
the powder to the wet linen cloth.
The result is a true negative image
like that of the holy shroud.
Amedeo Amendola
New York

Page 3

The news is chosen to demonstrate, month after month, the dead reactionary hand of religion. It dictates your habits, sexual conduct, family
size. It censures cinema, theater, television, even education. It dictates life values and lifestyle. Religion is politics and, always, the most authoritarian and reactionary politics. We editorialize our news to emphasize this thesis. Unlike any other magazine or newspaper in the United States,
we. are honest enou h to admit it.

Arnold Via, "our man in Virginia",
was even born in the Blue Ridge
Mountains there - in 1925. But as
many others in a later time of national
hysteria, he left school to join the U.S.
Navy in August, 1942, "to die for my
lord and my country." He served aboard the U.S~S. Denver (CL58) for
33 months in the South Pacific.
On his twentieth birthday he made
arrangements to be baptized in a
thatch-roofed church, on one of the
South Pacific islands. But he was uneasy, a strange sense of religious disquietude having haunted him during
two years' contact with the "heathen" religions practiced in the islands.
type) church was packed and hot, but
our hero did make it to the front,
there to be assaulted by words of a
foreign tongue (Latin) and the traditional sprinkling of water. He relates
that suddenly a strange force within
him seized him, jerked him to his feet
and "like a sling shot" he fled out of
the hut and set to cursing the minister.
Within moments he "began to feel
really good allover, but my mind was
in a whirl."
It took about six months for him to
analyze why he felt so good: he was
free. "I was free from religion, free
from guilt, free from the shackles of
the supernatural, free from sin, free
from fear. Free. Free. Free. That was
34 years ago, and baby, I'm still free."
After the war, home - he could not
in over ten years find another Atheist
until he had a frank talk with his oldest brother who was, he then found
out, an Atheist also. The older brother
even owned an Atheist book, Joseph
Lewis' The Bible Unmasked. Exploring
existing timid groups, he found deists,
infidels, freethinkers,
agnostics, rationalists,
secularists and truth seekers. Still on
the search, like Diogenes, for other
Atheists in the mid-1970's, he found
the American Atheists.
"My search and loneliness ended,
because the whole world is full of
Atheists. There are male Atheists, fe-

Page 4

male Atheists, young Atheists, old

Atheists, white Atheists, black Atheists, gay Atheists, straight Atheists,
poor Atheists, rich Atheists and there's
always the Pope.
"There is a 'Wonderful World' of
Atheism and I intend to enjoy it all,"
he chortles. His over-all philosophy
he says is very simple, "The Earth is
my home and my aim is to do good"
and for the intellect, "rational thinking promotes research and research
promotes rational thinking."

Arnold retired from the Merchant

Marines in 1973. Now age 54 he is "a
confirmed bachelor" living with and
caring for his 84 year old mother.
In Virginia since 1975, Arnold has
an extensive advertising
campaign also, reported to you in the
December, 1978 issue of the American
Atheist. His large, imaginative and
provocative ads in The News- Virginian
newspaper, coupled with his extensive
arguments in the Letters to the Editor
column, have made lively reading for
all of Virginia. His book One Step
Toward Atheism was published in
The book came to life when a
Christian creationist wrote a Letter to
the Editor denying evolution and the
newspaper refused, in those early days,
to print Via's response. He asked many
unanswerable questions then and now.
Did you know:
that Jesus didn't write one single
word of the New Testament?
that only dead Jews Cl.reangels?
that only dead Roman Catholics are
that the three-toed sloth can only
travel about sixteen feet a day and
he had to start walking 5000 years
before the Ark was built to get
there before the flood came?
that there are two Sundays in every
week ... one in the West and one in
the East?
It was following the issuance of his
book that the Virginia newspapers
finally began accepting his Letters to
the Editor. His first was a blast at a
local minister attempting
to keep
Augusta County, VA "dry" on God's
day, i.e., prohibiting the sale of wine
or beer on Sunday. In succession then
he needed to set straight a minister
who wanted to "go back to the Bible"
and "turn the other cheek" to solve
juvenile crime; a Christian who called
for Christianity to rule the world; another who felt the need to attack anyone who said "There is no God"; a
Christian who hoped the Dead Sea

February, 1980


American Atheist

Scrolls would prove the historicity of

Jesus Christ; a minister who defended
tax exemption and special privileges
for his church; petitioning persons
who deplored that the newspapers accepted Atheist advertising; the newspaper itself which constantly cites
church or religious affiliation of Virginians in the news; a minister who
was disgusted that Harvard Law
School was honoring Dr. Madalyn
Murray O'Hair; the Treasury Department of the U. S. which issued the
Susan B. Anthony coin with "In God
We Trust" on it; a minister proclaiming all persons are disciples of Jesus;
the Christian coalition to elect bornagains to public office in Virginia.
His ads and his letters continue unabated, although (curiously) the newspaper editor often adds remarks, such
as that of March 3, 1979:
"(Editor's note: As Mr. Via no
doubt realizes, The News- Virginian
does not endorse his philosophy;
rather it believes strongly in the
glory and power of a supreme God
Whose influence is ever-present. Mr.
Via's atheist messages were-published, however, in line with the
thought that minority viewpoints
should not be denied an airing.)"
In 1979, Arnold showed up at the
Ninth Annual National
Atheist Convention in a spit-and-polish
clean army fatigue uniform completely
covered with Atheist buttons. He had
caused a sensation everywhere that he
had stopped along the way from Virginia to Dallas. Meticulously groomed,
well educated, totally flagrant of religious standards, he has been an open
symbol of Atheist defiance. For this,
he gained a special award, a plaque and
recognition at the Convention.
Arnold returned to Virginia to
double his efforts and in the fall of
1979 hosted the organizing team of
Jon Murray and Gerald Tholen to begin a Virginia Chapter of American
Atheists. It is doing well in its beginning phases.
Arnold's work has also made a dramatic change in circulation of the
American Atheist magazine, which has
increased in the last five years by
300%, (not quite doubling each year).
He has also had the magazine placed in
Fairfax Coun ty Public Library, Augusta County Public Library, Waynesboro Public Library and the Virginia
Library. Other Virginians have placed the magazine in
Richard Byrd Library, Springfield, VA
and the Arlington County Public Library.

Austin, Texas



On the first day (January 10th) of

this year's opening session of the General Assembly of Virginia, Arnold was
on the steps of the building picketing
to abolish the tax-exemption of churches. The Area/State News section of
the Richmond Times Dispatch featured a four column front page spread.
The picture caption read:
"Politics frequently involves nuances and between-the-lines interpretation, but Arnold Via made it
quite clear what his feelings are. He
stood, complete with buttons and a

sign, in

front of the General AsBuilding on the session's

day. He is with the Virginia
of the Atheist League."

Arnold Via, try as he may, cannot

do the work of everyone; we exhort
you Virginians to contact him now.
Arnold Via, Director
Virginia Chapter,
American Atheists
Rt. 1, Box 343:B
Grottoes, VA 24441
Tel.: (703) 249-4925


February, 1980

Page 5


ohn Sarvas

The last place one would expect to

see a long article on Atheists is in a
Roman Catholic magazine - or is it?
It came as somewhat a surprise to receive The Prairie Messenger, a Roman
Catholic weekly, published by Benedictine monks of St. Peter's Abbey,
Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada. The
issue was vol. 57, no. 27, dated 16 December, 1979. The three column,
front page story was titled "Biggar
Rancher Leads Atheists."
Biggar is a small Canadian town
north of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan,
Canada. When one enters the city limits, a small roadway sign announces:
"New York is big. This is Biggar."
Population must be 2500. This is a
grain and beef center and miles outside
of town, John and Shirley Sarvas run a
5000 acre cattle and horse ranch.
John is a big man, powerful, solid
framed, as rugged as the country, as
earthy, as warm and giving as his rich
In 1972 he founded the Society of
Prairie Atheists and in 1974 became
one of the Directors of United World
Atheists, founded by Dr. Madalyn
Murray O'Hair and GORA of India.
Shirley Sarvas, a committed Atheist,
enthusiastically supports her husband
and they are rearing their five children
as Atheists.
The Roman Catholic writer was surprised to have found John in this Canadian province. He writes:
Although he would not divulge
the number of members in the society, Sarvas said they have more donors than members, because people
are reluctant to identify with atheism. In a Christian society a lot of
people are afraid of harassment, he
says, adding that his society does
have members allover Saskatchewan.
There are two classes of members in the society: Class A members who show loyalty and sincerity, and Class B. The society's
first newsletter, edited by Henri
Lebastard of Eastend, Sask., is to
be published in January.
Sarvas says he hopes to see the
time when people can freely say
they are atheist and not fear reprisal. It is an indictment against
a Christian society when an atheist
cannot speak out, he remarked, explaining that storeowners and businessmen never admit they are athe-

ists because they might be boycotted and lose business.

"Every person is born an atheist," he said in a recent interview.
"You can become religious, but
you can't become an atheist. Nobody is born believing in God."
He remembers attending the
Lutheran Church with his mother
when he was a child, but he claims
he did not believe any of it. It was
not until 1971, when he had more
time, that he was able to pursue his
philosophy of atheism. He intends
to raise his children as atheists and
considers this his right.
Nearly 1,000 people have written Sarvas requesting information
since the society was formed in
1971. For one year he wrote a bimonthly column in the Biggar Independent and has also appeared on
television. One of the society's directors, Lynn Hoiseth of Viscount,
Sask., has twice been of CKKR Radio in Regina and expects to be on
CKCK Radio's Action Line, Dec.
By joining the society, members
receive educational material, which
includes magazines printed in the
United States and other countries.
Attention is also drawn to the lives
of prominent atheists, like Madeline
(sic) Murray O'Hair who eliminated
prayer from American schools, as
well as Albert Einstein, Benjamin
Franklin, Voltaire and others.
"Every system is an educational
system fighting overjhe minds of
men," Sarvas says. "In this province
we have the separate schools and
the public schools and they teach
creation and evolution as fact,
not theory. Children are taught
what to think, not how to think."
Sarvas and his wife have taken
their children out of the schools
and are educating them at home,
using provincial department of education correspondence courses.
The Society of Prairie Atheists is
also the first Atheist organization in
Canada to be incorporated as a nonprofit, educational institution. It has,
since its inception, been affiliated with
the American Atheist Center in Austin, Texas. Jon Murray, the Director of
that Center, spent the summer of 1973
on the Sarvas ranch. It is hoped that a
North American Atheist Convention
can one day be held there.

"Every person is born an Atheist ..."

Page 6

February, 1980

American Atheist

Computer programmers and systems analysts could hardly

be thought of as entrenched radicals in basic opposition to
the Judaic-Christian "establishment" of our nation, but they
are up front in the American Atheist organization. Eric Mc
Cann is on the national Board of Directors. David Chris Allen
is a part of the executive team of the Utah Chapter of American Atheists and time after time Bob Mangus, Public Education Director of the Michigan Chapter has scored victories
which he flaunts in the news. [see April, 1979, issue, Ameri-

can Atheist magazine] They are all systems analysts arid

computer programmers.
They all, also, freely reveal their places of employment.
But, even the American Atheist Center was not prepared to
see an eight column spread in the December 22nd issue of
the Daily Tribune newspaper of Royal Oak; Michigan, with a
5" x 7" picture of Bob Mangus sitting in front of his computer imput keyboard at the Wayne-Oakland Bank in Royal
Oak. The article, concerned with Atheists and the Winter Solstice was a ood one. It read:

theists Celebrate Too The

Winter Solstice
"While Christians throughout the country prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, Atheists will celebrate another birth
- the birth of a new year.
"At 6:10 p.m. on December 22, Atheists will observe
Winter Solstice, the day the sun is farthest south of Earth's
earth's equator.
"Winter Solsticeis the beginning of another six months of
increasingly longer days and was celebrated long before
Christ was born, says Robert S. Mangus, Jr., an Atheist and
Public Education Director for the Society of Separationists,
in an interview about the Society.
Exchanged Gifts "Early man, who worshipped the sun, celebrated this day
by exchanging gifts in recognition of the sun's gift - another
"A systems analyst and computer programmer for WayneOakland Bank, Royal Oak, Mangus says Christians 'couldn't
stand to see the pagans having such a good time,' so when it
came to establishing a date for celebrating Christ's birthday,
they chose Dec. 25, just a few days after Solstice.
"(Theologians differ on the day of Christ's birth. Some
say it may have been in spring; others, fall; still others, January.)
"Mangus will celebrate Solstice by attending a Solstice
dinner in Garden City, sponsored by the Society.
"A Pontiac resident, Mangus says Atheists are alienated,
especially at Christmas time.
" 'Our stature is somewhat less than that of the Nazis.'
"Throughout the year, Mangus says, newspapers refuse to
sell them display ads, libraries refuse to display their monthly
journal, the American Atheist, and bookstores refuse to sell

Austin, Texas

February, 1980


Page 7

Refused Advertising"Mangus named The Free Press and The Detroit News as
two newspapers which have refused to sell the Society display advertising space. He said the Society has not approached The Daily Tribune.
"A spokesman for The Free Press said the paper doesn't
accept advertising which 'expresses or implies religious preference or discrimination.'
" 'I would have to see the material first to see what we're
accused of not accepting.' said a News spokesman. He added
that advertising can't defame the character of another group
of persons.
"Mangus says the Society, which has an active Michigan
Chapter, is for the total separation of church and state.
" 'The Constitution implies our government should be
secular,' Mangus says. 'It should be temporal and social, not
spiri tual.'
"He says the laws it passes should not have religious roots.
"Those forbidding incest, homosexuality and polygamy,
he says, are 'derived purely' from religious stigmas,
" 'The law on incest should be based, rationally, on genetics.'

e Press

In EEOC decision No 72-1114 (1972) it was reaffirmed

that there was a need for a working environment free of religious intimidation, in that case freedom from the religious
proselytizing of a supervisor.
Later in 1975, in the case of Young v. S. W. Savings &
Loan Association, 509 F2d 140 an employer required an Atheist to attend monthly staff meetings which opened with
prayer. When she objected, she was told to "close her ears"
during the religious exercises. Using her objection to the
prayers as her sole complaint, she left her employment and
filed a complaint. The Commission held that she was constructively discharged in circumstances amounting to religious discrimination, which is prohibited by law.
Atheists. are late coming into the protective cover of our
nation's legal system, but progress is being made. Had not
the American Atheist Center and its personnel pioneered in
championing the rights of American Atheists during the last
twenty years, no such legal progress would have been made.
Help how you can. Do what you must. The major part of
the battle for recognition of full civil rights for American Atheists is still ahead of us. But, we have begun. Bob Mangus
shows his courage. We salute him.
Meanwhile, you can help by writing to the editors of both
of the above newspapers which deny advertising space to
American Atheists. Their addresses are:
Detroit News
Detroit Free Press
615 Lafayette Blvd.
321 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48231
Detroit, MI 48231
(313) 222-2000
(313) 226-6400
Editor: William E. Giles
Editor: Joe Stroud

Suit Against Pope"Nationally, the 37-chapter Society of Separationists filed

a suit against Pope John Paul II to prohibit him from celebrating Mass on federally-owned land in Washington, D.C.
during his recent visit.
"It also challenged the constitution of one state which required all those who held office to affirm a belief in a supernatural being and began legal action to have 'In Gad We
Trust' removed from U.S. currency.
"Locally, the Society has fought for the removal of the
nativity scene at the Detroit City County Building and the
stoppage of a bill which would set aside voluntary prayer
time for children in school during a non-instructional period.
"Mangus successfully fought a student activities fee at
Oakland Community College which went, in part, toward
two religious groups on campus, the Newman Association
and the Christian Fellowship.
"He also objected this year to Christmas programs in Pontiac schools."
Bob recently spent a week at the American Atheist Center
as a volunteer and every inducement (except money) was offered to him to join the staff. However, when he returned to
the bank to advise that he was thinking of moving to Austin,
his salary was increased so substantially that he decided to
stay with the bank.
It simply is no longer true that one automatically loses
one's employment when one is identified as an Atheist even an active one. If you, as an Atheist, are good on your
job, if you do your work well, that is the fundamental concern of a corporation. IBM is not the Elks, (currently engaged in a reprehensible action concerned with Atheism.)
Indeed, reviewing cases under the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) decision No 72-0528 (1971)
held that employees could not be required to attend religious
meetings and employers must maintain a working atmosphere free of intimidation based on religion.

Page 8

February, 1980

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MAGAZINE, Box 49O-AA, Chicago, IL 60690

American Atheist


Meanwhile - the California Chapter,
more and more deeply involved in Ath~ist functions and s~ate/church separation challenges, decided to play the


17th, 1979 during the time the Chap-.
ter was working on its annual Solstice
Banquet and hopeful that the MurrayO'Hair family could get to Los Angeles. With Don Latimer, Chapter Director, and Queen Silver laboring at providing (what turned out to be) an elegant banquet, Dick James handled the
media outreach.
Jon Murray and Dr. O'Hair had already, in December, completed a
WERE radio special in Cleveland, Ohio
on the 6th, a Norfolk Virginia Ledger
Star newspaper interview on the 7th,
a one-half hour special on QUBE television in Columbus, Ohio on the 12th,
an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" network show in New
York City on the 13th, a CBS network
KFDA television interview for the
"Observer" show, in Amarillo, Texas
on the 14th, and then were ready to
fly to California on the 15th.
There, they were featured on Dec.
16th on KNBC television's "Sunday
Show," KPFK's "Dorothy Healy Program" and KABC radio's "Religion on
The Line" with Carole Hemingway.
On the 17th, they appeared on KABC
television's "A.M. Los Angeles" with
Regis Philbin and Cindi Garvey, the
KNBC television "5:00 News," the
KMBC television "Odyssey" show and
a KMPC two hour radio stint on the
"Hilly Rose Show." On the 18th they
taped a one-half hour television show
for KNXT, the "Talkabout Show with
Truman Jacques," and then had a two
hour radio appearance on the "Dave
Diamond Show" on KFI radio. On the
19th the last of the media was finished
with an hour on the Michael Jackson
Show, KABC radio.
In between, Dr. O'Hair and Jon, as
well as Robin O'Hair, met with the
Los Angeles Chapter Officers for a
Board meeting; all had a brunch with
the San Francisco Chapter Director
who had driven down to Los Angeles
to present a special problem; then met
briefly with the San Diego Chapter
Director; renewed old acquaintances

,~. ~-



-~I '~'\'-,'1:; 31,,-

1ft -~


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"~' :..._,



with John Dart, religious editor for the

Los Angeles Times newspaper; met
with some television/cinema producer-director contacts with the hope of
possible future gains - in the beautiful
home of an opera star; had dinner,
courtesy of Larry Flynt, at a special
"in" prestigious restaurant; stopped at
CBS long enough to have a drink with
the news director there, long time old
personal friend, Robin Lloyd; attended the Lost Angeles Chapter Solstice
Banquet; completed extensive interchanges with chapter members having
special skills which could help Atheism
by an important later contribution;
talked (by" long distance telephone)
from his home to a media promoter
who was in Florida on business;
inspected a blatant state/church separation violation in Santa Monica (on
which there will be a later report) and
stopped at a large art store to purchase
clip art for the magazine - which is
not available in Austin. It was also
very necessary to stop .at a rare book
dealer who has been most successful in
uncovering rare old Atheist books for
the American Atheist Library and Archives.
From Los Angeles, the MurrayO'Hairs flew to Albuquerque for the
trial of "the pie thrower"(complete
story to be reported later) - having in
the street, in the court house and in
offices, interviews with KGGM, KOAT
and KOB television, with KABQ,
and KZIA radio as well as the Albuquerque Tribune and the Albuquerque
Journal newspapers. Following this,
they attended a nicely intimate Solstice party of the New Mexico Chapter,
and visited extensively with Merrill
Holste, the Chapter Director, to inspect his very, extensive Atheist li-

February, 1980

Austin, Texas


_ \'

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brary , which is designated for transfer

to the American Atheist Center when
Merrill dies.
Flying home, on the 21st an interview was completed with KPRC, Houston, Texas, and then the MurrayO'Hairs drove to Dallas for the Solstice
Celebration of that Chapter. It was
particularly good to be with those
warm Texas folk, and gave a chance to
review with Bruce Hunter, the Chapter
Director, where his suit against the
Dallas Board of Education stood.
In other words, it was a typical
month of American Atheist Center
outreach. And, it never lets up. January's beginning saw an interview with
the Austin American-Statesman newspaper; a fifteen minute spot on the
"Midday Show" WGST radio, Atlanta,
Georgia on the 4th; a two hour talk
program on "Confrontation,"
Cheyenne, Wyoming on the 7th; and a
ten minute slot on CBS radio network
for "World of Religion," on the 9th.
On the 17th Dr. O'Hair did a two hour
radio call-in progam on the "Neil Rogers' Show," WNWS, Miami, Florida,
while Jon Murray was appearing live
on the "Good Mornina Detroit" show
in Michigan where he had gone to
meet with the Michigan Chapter officers in respect to the Tenth Annual
National Convention
of American
Atheists. He left there to meet with
Lloyd Thoren of the Indiana Chapter
and to see the brand-new member of
American Atheists born to Lloyd and
Pam Thoren on the 18th of January.
From thence, he had an engagement
with Richard Richardson, the Director of the Missouri Chapter. On
January 24th (as we go to press) Dr.
O'Hair is scheduled to speak at the
University of Texas Law School and
on the 25th to be interviewed for a

Page 9


Hell, we picketed him, too. And not just to outrage the faithful. We sued against the Pope saying
Catholic Mass, along with communion & eucharist,
on publicly owned land. In the best freedom of reo
ligion tradition, we were the ONLY national organization to so aggressively resist the Pope's unconstitutional & costly affront against our Bill of
Rights. No, he didn't rent the land or pay for the
protection and cleanup. No, he's not even the legal leader of a foreign state. We don't exchange
ambassadors or embassies either.
We agree that the Pope is fatherly, loves to kiss
babies, sings & smiles well for a Pope, and is
probably a basically nice guy. The problem is that
this triumph of papal personality obscures the
harm of the substance of his words. Yes, the
leader of 730 million Catholics can be wrong.
We won't fight his platitudes about love & peace
& apple pie. We must, however, resist the effect
on the world of the repressive lifestyle he requnes. For example, he unrealistically demands
celibacy of every human being who happens to be
living outside the procreational bounds of marriage Even within marriage, he forbids birth control, urging his Washington Mall audience to have
larger families, as if It was some sort of duty. to
the unborn! luckily, about 80% of U.S. Catholics
ignore the Pope and use birth control anyhow, but
the poor, ignorant, faithful masses In many other
Catholic countries follow these "moral norms."
Remember: it's been 11 years and a billion more
people since Pope Paul VI's encyclical against
birth control!

And if you accidentally get pregnant, even early

abortion is prohibited. You're damned if you don't,
and damned if you do. Su much for an "infallible"
He preached to us about our excessive matenalism. This might carry more weight if the Catholic
church were not the wealthiest non-governmental
landowner in the world. The Pope's 747 flight back
to Rome offered Chateaubrtand. lobster, pate de
foie gras. $10 caviar appetizers, and more. What
about the "starving poor"?
In short. the Pope's visit repeatedly proved that
his reactionary church stifles human sexuality,
women's rights, freedom -of speech and press, civil
rights, political expression, and scientific progress. Religions in general are founded on superstitrous myth, as IS the Pope's religion. We feel
that responsible Atheist rationality
has the
strength of an idea whose time has come.
Are you independent enough to call or write us
NOW for our stimulating FREE INFORMATION??We
have a newsletter, magazine (edited by Madalyn
Murray O'Hatr). 36 growing chapters, and much
more. Don't worry, you definitely won't be visited
by either a lightning bolt from on high, or by us
knocking on your doorl'
15339 Naranja, Paramount, Ca. 90723
(213) 634-8055
AMERICAN ATHEISTS, Nat'! Office, Dept. A
P.O. Bo)( 2117, Austin, Texas 78768


Page 10

Send FREEINFORMATION0 Send info. & magazine ($1 enclosed)

February, 1980


Black newspaper, "The Villager."

In between times, the quarterly
meeting of the Board of Directors of
the American Atheist Center was held
in Austin, Texas, during January 4, 5,
and 6 with Chris Drew coming in from
Chicago, Ill., Ralph Shirley from San
Antonio, Tex., Gerald Tholen from
Galveston, Tex., Pat Voswinkel from
N.C., Conrad Goeringer
from Tucson, Ariz., and Eric McCann,
Jon Murray and Dr. O'Hair from Austin, Texas. The press release from that
Board of Directors meeting was covered nationally by both Associated Press
and United Press International. Meanwhile, Stern magazine, from Germany
contacted the American Atheist Center in respect to the Solstice celebrations and being provided with an interview and massive information, will be
printing - in that German magazine in Germany, a story concerned with
American Atheists and our natural
days of celebration: the Solstices and
the Equinoxes. It was during this period also, that we received the currently published story in the Italian magazine "La Ragione" concerned with the
American Atheist Museum and republishing one of Jon's "Editorials."
The activity generally continues at
this pace and although you, dear reader, can not be notified (often) before
events because of the shortness of the
time factor involved, you will be apprised from henceforth of what activo
ity has gone on $0 that you may know
the involvement of your American
Atheist Center. However, this reporting of the Center's activities does not
include the massive coverage which
was obtained in January concerned
with Director Paul Marsa of the New
Jersey Chapter, Troy Soos of the
Chicago Chapter, Pat Voswinkel of the
Church and the Tennessee Chapter,
and Arnold Via of the Virginia Chapter. - all of which will be reported on
at a later date.
Indeed, it appears that a one page
(or more) report on chapter activities
will need to become a standard part of
the magazine.
The Atheist voice is being heard.
Support it how you can. There is a
"Sustaining" fund of one kind or another,' always. You can help with a
check if not with your activity.
The address is:
P. O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas 78768

American Atheist

The florida Chapter of American
Atheists also made headlines in late
1979 when an entire group decided to
"come out of the closet."
Meeting with a reporter from the
Miami Herald, the group wanted to
impress that they were "Seeking The
Right Not To Believe." Reported in
the "Neighbors" section (and yes, we
are neighbors of everyone) of that
paper, the article read:
The God that Dr. Herbert Poinsett doesn't believe in would have to
be a psychopath if he existed at all.
"Did God," Dr. Poinsett said, "help
the millions of Jews who were burned
by the Nazis?"
Richard Reinhold wants "In God
We Trust" taken off American currency.
"God did not give me the money or
help me earn it, so why should His
name be on it?" said Reinhold, of
North Miami.
Sharon Gorham, of North Dade,
wants Christmas programs taken out
of public schools.
"If my daughter says she doesn't
want to participate, she becomes an
outcast," said Gorham.
Poinsett, Reinhold and Gorham are
atheists. They don't believe in heaven.
They only believe in themselves.
And what they believe in most is
the Constitutional right of atheists not
to have God shoved down their
To protect that right, Dr. Poinsett
would like to see the emblem "In God
We Trust" stripped off the walls of all
public buildings and vehicles and prayers prohibited at government meetings.
He also 'would like students to be
taught about evolution, agnosticism
and atheism and how "corrupt and
cruel" organized religions can be, he
And Al Gorham, Mrs. Gorham's
husband, also would like to see Christians stop harassing atheists.
"We know that people who believe
in the Bible are mandated to destroy
us in any way they see fit," he said.
Poinsett, Reinhold and the Gorhams belong to the three-month-old
Florida Chapter of American Atheists,
part of a national organization founded by Texan Madalyn Murray O'Hair,

Austin, Texas

who led the fight to get prayers taken

out of public schools.
Some 60 people, many of them
from North Dade, attend the chapter's
monthly meetings in Hollywood. The
group discusses the origin of religion,
the meaning of atheism and how they
can influence legislators to change discriminatory laws.
Chapter president Poinsett challenged the existence of God as a teenager after studying Catholicism, Islam
and the Mormon church and reading
the works of Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll. His parents, he says, were
"free thinkers."

"There is no personal deity that

will protect you and me. A man will
find his so-called salvation between his
ears and at the end of his arms," said
Dr. Poinsett, a chiropractor who now
lives in Plantation.
AI Gorham said he believes that
people who believe in God are simply
crying out for love.
"Life is tough," he said. "The
church promises that you can get life
after death if you sacrifice your whole
life away. We say that is backwards.
There is lots of love around if you
look for it, and you can have it now.
This is it. You only get one shot at it.
There is nothing afterwards."

"Thechurch promises that

you can get life after
death if you sacrifice your
whole life away. We say
that is backwards. There
is lots of love around if
you look for it, and you
can.have it now. That is it.
You only get one shot at
it. There is nothing
afterwards. "
-AI Gorham, Atheist


February, 1980

Page 11

Harold Church, Director of the Tennessee chapter of American Atheists, is
no stranger to the media in Nashville. He
has often sponsored large spread ads in
the newspapers there and arranged scores
of appearances for Dr. Madalyn Murray
O'Hair and Jon Murray over the years.
His activities have been reported in this
journal in prior issues, most notably in
April. 1978. At that time he was advertising in the Daily Herald of Columbia,
Tenn., (a town with a population
21,000), the Nashville Banner, and The
Tennessean. When the "Letters to the
Editor" columns filled with hate mail
against him, the publisher of the Daily
Herald, himself, answered with an editorial to defend Harold.
Harold Church, through his efforts, in
a stubborn, single-handed
way, has increased the circulation of the American
A theist magazine in Tennessee by 350%.
He has insisted that libraries carry the
same, personally
paying for subscriptions in the public libraries in Madison,
Nashville, for the Maury County Library, the University of Tennessee Library, the Bicentennial Library in Chattanooga.
When he called chapter meetings and
no one came, he held the meeting himself.
Painfully, he cajoled a few, then another
and finally one more, until he had a
dozen members.
His latest efforts were with an outraged
cry that President Carter in foreign policy was using religious prejudice as a
leverage point to gain adherents to his
foreign policy commitment.
And, finally
Harold Church found himself the subject
of a local news front page column.
The columnist was not even hostile.
Therefore, reproduced
here, is the column, in toto, just as it appeared (14
inches of it) in the Nashville Banner of
January 10, 1980:
In a city such as Nashville, Harold
Church could be considered the underdog among underdogs.
After all, Nashville is regarded as
the buckle on the Bible Belt because of
its strong religious undertones and
Yet, Harold Church says that being
the president of the local chapter of
American Atheists "is no more difficult here than anywhere else. "

Since the Nashville chapter got started a few months ago, "only two or
three people have gotten hostile toward us," said Church, a 60- year-old,
semi-retired construction contractor
who lives in Columbia.
"But this has been no major problem, " he said. "Most people can hold it
in even though they are upset about
Church came to the newspaper office recently, bearing a press release
from his chapter. He didn't look like
the professor of philosophy type. But
he talked like one.
"We have humane principles," he
said. "Most people don't understand
- they have a phobia in the dark
recesses of their minds that we have
got to have criminal instincts or we
can't be wholesome. "
Maybe Nashville is the only place
where the head of the group which
denies the existence of god is named
"It's ironic, " said Church, indicating
this had been brought up before by
others. "This strikes a comical note
with most people. "
Comical notes aside, Church said
his local chapter of 24 people, and
Atheists around the world, mayeventually reap the benefits of the current
foreign affairs crisis.
Referring to the Ayatollah Khomeini. Church said, "Many people think
he has exceeded rationality, that he
has qone back to the medieval ages."
It's an example of the dark side of
religious fanaticism, which can only
help the cause of non-religion, Church
Foreign affairs, in fact, was the issue in Church's press release.
In his speech to the nation last
week, President Carter called the So-

viet attack on Afghanistan "a deliberate effort of a powerful atheistic government to subjugate a Moslem people."
The American Atheists' statement
attacked the remark as a "blatant appeal to religious prejudice. "
Atheism first appealed to Church he
was a teenager in Columbia.
"When I was 8 or 91 ha-dthe fear of
god in me and I believed I would go to
hell if I wasn't baptized, " he explained.
"So I got baptized as soon as I could.
"The more I thought about it two or
three years later, the more I resented
it that this fear had been put into me.
Since then I have been antagonistic
toward religion. rr
But it wasn't until the 1960s that he
aligned himself with the American
Atheists, run by Madalyn Murray
o 'Hair.
"I don't have anything to lose; that's
the reason I can afford to get involved," remarked Church, who lives
alone. "I don't owe anybody anything
and they can't come back at me for
anything or try to get me fired. "
He said his fellow Middle Tennessee chapter members" are good congenial people interested in all phases
of life and in bettering the conditions
of the human race. "
He is making plans to attend the AA
convention in Detroit in April. The
annual convention is held where the
organization has a strong, large chapter.
Church said he hopes to upgrade
the Nashville-based chapter so that a
national Atheists conclave can be held
here "in the next 10 'years. "
"The organization is forming chapters as fast as it can, "Church continued. "We are getting new members
all the time.
"We Atheists think we have the
right track. We think we have on our
side science, common sense and the
follies of religious practices that have
happened in history. "
During the Winter Solstice season Harold, for the education
of his city, had
printed in both The Tennessean and the
Columbian Daily Herald the full text of
Robert G. Ingersoll's famous "What I
Want for Christmas" of 1891 (see December, 1979 issue of the American Atheist
p. 38) at his expense.
Harold Church needs the help of you
Tennesse Atheists. He is a one-man army
now - think what you could all do
together! It is time to get out of the closet
and into the ranks.

Chapter, American Atheist

607 High S1.
Columbia, TN 38401

Page 12




American Atheist

of theism

"The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with any of the superstitions of the Christian religion.

Susan B. Anthony, freshly married, then age 25, left the
United States for an extended honeymoon in Europe. Incorporated in that was what she hoped would be an exhilarating
experience since her husband was a delegate to the World's
Anti-Slavery Convention being held in London, England, on
June 12th, 1840.
To everyone's dismay, although all of the anti-slavery societies of all nations were invited, when they arrived, those representing associations of women were rejected. Although the
women were members of the societies where they had been
accustomed to speak and vote in all conventions and some
were official delegates to the international meeting, English
clergy held firm that women must, by scriptural texts, be excluded from sharing any equal authority or equal dignity with
men. The question was hotly debated, with Mr. Stanton making an impassioned plea for the women. All efforts failed.
It was during this initial conflict that Elizabeth Cady Stanton discussed the religious problem with women in attendance,
such as Angelina and Sarah Grimke, and Lucretia Mott, well
known Atheists. The clerical portion of the convention was
most violent in its opposition, Bible in hand, arguing for women's subjugation. The women delegates were finally made to
sit in low curtained seats, much like a church choir, "modestly" listening to what the men had to say. William Lloyd Garrison was so incensed that he refused to attend the sessions.
Of Lucretia Mott and the other women, Mrs. Stanton
"These were the first women I had ever met who believed in the equality of the sexes and who did not believe in the popular orthodox religion. The acquaintance of
Lucretia Mott, who was a broad, liberal thinker on politics,
religion, and all questions of reform, opened to me a new
world of thought. . .. After six weeks' sojourn under the
same roof with Lucretia Mott, ... I felt that I knew her
too well to sympathize with the orthodox Friends (i.e.,
Quakers) who denounced her as a dangerous woman because she doubted certain dogmas they fully believed."
She was, also, embarrassed when, at the home of another
woman, a prayer was offered with the pointed intent of insulting Mrs. Mott. She asked Lucretia to reply, but Mrs. Mott
merely stated that although a prayer of that character was an
unfair advantage taken and given so as to cause resentment
that she would not reply.
At the time of this international meeting, England had just
paid 100 million dollars in order to emancipate the slaves on
the island of Jamaica. We learn this from Mrs. Stanton's biography, but not from the ordinary history books used in the

Austin, Texas

public schools of the United States. In our nation, it took a

civil war to accomplish a similar freeing.
A short side trip to Ireland convinced Mrs. Stanton that
"religious feuds between her (Ireland's) people" would be continually fanned to life. She was learning.
On the return to England, she spent some time at the home
of Harriet Martineau, a thorough going Atheist who openly
advocated the same. She was one of the most prolific writers
of the century. It was her mode of expression to declare that
every conception of god was degrading and offensive to her
mind. She openly declared that she had abandoned the whole
religious system and that Christianity was not worth preserving.
Leaving England, the convention over, Mr. & Mrs. Stanton
visited France where Sunday was not then a day of religious
observance. Of this, she wrote:
"Having been accustomed to the Puritan Sunday of restraint and solemnity, I found that day in Paris gay and
charming. The first time I entered into some of the festivities, I really expected to be struck by ligHtning. The libraries, art galleries, concert halls, and theaters were all
open to the public."
They later returned to Ireland and Scotland, then London
again, spending several more months exploring every point of
historical or literary interest. Finally, bound for home, she met
a clergyman on board ship, of whom she would later write:
"The Rev. was one of the most conceited men I ever
met. His narrow ideas in regard to woman, ... were so exasperating that I grew more and more bellicose every day
we traveled in his company. He was terribly seasick crossing
the Channel, to my intense satisfaction."
Few women, even today, would be so openly concerned
with their hostility. Where the clergy is involved, often - to a
woman - such ideas are anathema. But this pleasant open
disclosure of Mrs. Stanton's is a part of the uniqueness of the
Upon her return home, she resumed her customary place in
society and noted that she and another woman had classes for
the colored children in Sunday school. However, on one day
of festival, the devout in the church approached her and her
friend in persuasive appeal that the colored childen not be permitted to march in the procession to the church. On the day
of the procession, Mrs. Stanton, with her "little brood" in
tow, appeared for the march. After argument and conciliation
she accepted that the colored children would need to march,
with her, in the rear. It is best to conclude the incident in her
own words:

February, 1980

Page 13

" ... it was agreed that they might march in the rear. We
made no objection and fell into line, but when we reached
the church door, it was promptly closed as the last white
child went in. We tried two other doors, but all were guarded. We shed tears of vexation and pity for the poor children, and when they asked us the reason why they could
not go in, we were embarrassed and mortified with the explanation we were forced to give."
It was shortly after this that she had her own child and attempted to learn child care theory. She found that little or
nothing was available to women and discouraged, she despaired that "the literature on this subject was as confusing and unsatisfactory as the longer and shorter catechisms and the
Thirty-nine Articles of our faith."
At that time it was the custom to "bind" children in swaddling, which she refused to do. She used her native intelligence only concerned with formulae, dress, care and handling
of a baby. Later she would say:
"I felt the whole responsibility of my child's supervision;
but though uncertain at every step of my own knowledge, I
learned another lesson in self-reliance. I trusted neither men
nor books absolutely after this, either in regard to the
heavens above or the earth beneath ... "
By 1843 Mrs. Stanton'shusband was admitted to practice
law in Boston, Massachusetts, where the family now moved.
Once there, she was caught up in tea parties, lectures, conventions and fairs. She frequented in homes which were - at the
time - social centers, meeting Theodore Parker, an open blasphemer, who had rejected Christian tenets and Wendell Phillips, who had "risen above theological superstitions and mysticisms." She became a frequent visitor at the home of William
Lloyd Garrison. It should be noted here that this man not only
blamed the church for the enslavement of the Negro, but at
the Hartford (Conn.) Bible Convention in 1854, he had introduced resolutions, of which the following was only one:
"1. Resolved, That the doctrines of the American church
and priesthood that the Bible is the word of "God; that
whatever it contains was given by divine inspiration; and
that it is the only rule of faith and practice, is evidently absurd, exceedingly injurious, both to the intellect and soul,
highly pernicious in its application, and a stumbling block
in the way of human redemption. "
She was soon attending the lectures given by Theodore
Parker, who rejected all miracles, attempting to base Unitarianism in the Deism of the founding fathers - to the chagrin of
the mainline Unitarians (under William Channing) who clung
with passionate tenacity to the miraculous origin of Christianity. The non-relevancy of religious rituals, but the importance
of Mr. Parker's comments to Mrs. Stanton are revealed in a
candid disclosure:
"While living in Chelsea (Mass.) two years, I used to walk
from the ferry to Marlborough Chapel to hear Mr. Parker
preach. It was a long walk, over two miles, and I was so
tired, on reaching the chapel, that I made it a point to sleep
through all the preliminary service, so as to be fresh for the
sermon, as the friend next whom I sat always wakened me
in time."
Theodore Parker was lecturing at this chapel because he had
been ostracized, even by the Unitarians who refused to permit
him to preach from their pulpits, because of his radical utterance in his very famous sermon on "The Permanent and
Transient in Religion."
Her father having moved to Albany to establish two more
sons-in-law in the legal profession, the family focus was to that
city. There, she talked with many members of the Ne.wYork
congress, both in the Senate and the Assembly, in the congres-

Page 14

sional committee rooms and at social functions, concerned

with the Married Woman's Property Bill which was pending in
the New York legislature from 1836 until 1848, when the
measure finally passed. Before that event, the Stanton family,
now composed of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her husband and
five children, moved to Seneca Falls, in the spring of 1847_
She had been in close consultation with a member of the
Constitutional Convention in session in Albany and had urged
him to propose an amendment to the proposed Article II, Section 3, of the State Constitution, striking out the word "male"
which would limit suffrage to men. The delegate could never
muster the courage to act on the suggestion.
The next year, visiting with Lucretia Mott and some women
of the Society of Friends, she suggested that a "convention"
of women be called. The next day, an ad was put in the
Seneca County Courier - on 14th July, 1848, giving five days
notice of the convention, which was to be held in a Methodist
Church. There, a Declaration of Rights and Resolutions was
prepared and issued. But, the women were to be bewildered
and shocked to find that what they had deemed to be so timely and rational would be met with sarcasm and ridicule in the
press of the entire nation. Indeed, the ladies who had been in
the initial meeting "withdrew their names and influence."
Despite this set back, Mrs. Stanton consented to attend
another convention in Rochester in August, the same year. In
quick succession, women held conventions in Ohio, Indiana,
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and in the City of New York.
Meanwhile with Ernestine L. Rose, Mrs. Stanton spoke at
state legislative committee meetings, circulated petitions, influenced where they could for the Married Woman's Property
Bill. Ernestine Rose is another well-known Atheist of those
times. She had been born in Poland, moved to Berlin at age 17,
stayed in Paris during the revolution of 1830 and then soon
after went to England. There she embraced the views of Robert Owen, an Atheist, and later married William Rose. She
lectured in the slave-owning states of the United States extensively - against slavery. Everywhere, she championed women's
rights. But, her major publication was her book, Defense of
In order for Mrs. Stanton and her friends to champion their
cause and defend against attacks they took it upon themselves
to study canon, civil and constitutional law, Bibles, science,
philosophy, and both sacred and profane history. Her home
became a rallying point where the women would select a subject for discussion each week "upon which we all read and
thought; each, in turn, preparing an essay ten minutes in
length." The essay was then subject to criticism. Further, Mrs.
Stanton reports that the women "made it a matter of conscience to accept every invitation to speak (anywhere) on
every question, in order to maintain woman's right to do so."
The reports of the conventions held in Seneca Falls and in
Rochester, New York in 1848 had, meantime, come to the
attention of Susan B. Anthony. In 1850 she came to Seneca
- Falls to attend an anti-slavery meeting announced by William
Lloyd Garrison. After the adjournment of this meeting, Mrs.
Stanton met Susan B. Anthony and one of her companions,
Mrs. Amelia Bloomer on a street comer, there to start a companionship which lasted for fifty years.
They were to meet constantly during that time. Mrs. Stanton notes:
"We never met without issuing a pronunciamento on
some question. In thought and sympathy we were one, and
in the division of labor we exactly complemented each
other. In writing we did better work than either could
alone. While she is slow and analytical in composition, I am
rapid and synthetic. I am the better writer, she the better
critic. She supplied the facts and statistics, I the philosophy

February, 1980


American Atheist


Writing The History of Women Suffrage

April, 1980

and rhetoric, and, together, we have made arguments and

have stood unshaken through the storms of long years; arguments that no one has answered. Our speeches may be
considered the united product of our two brains."
Also speaking of Susan B. Anthony at the time of the writing of her own autobiography, Mrs. Stanton stated (in 1898),
"To-day Miss Anthony is an agnostic."
From the year 1850 forward women's conventions were
hold in various states and their respective legislatures were
continually besieged. Appeals and petitions were circulated
without number. Then, in 1854 Mrs. Stanton was called upon to make her first speech in front of the New York legislature. She rehearsed her speech with her father who was bitterly opposed to the work she did. Passing that test, 20,000
copies of the speech were made by Miss Anthony to' be distributed during the entire year that followed. Miss Anthony
traveled in stage coaches, open wagons, sleighs, on foot, from
door to door and from town to city.
Both women were assaulted verbally, scorned and ridiculed
both by friend and foe. They were too "immodest;" they were
too "bold;" they should couch their arguments in more "acceptable" language.
Throughout her autobiography Mrs. Stanton gives illustrations of the shocking cowardice of persons intellectually alIigned with her who feared to expose their positions to husband or society, but who - with stealth - would approach her
to tell of their convictions in silence. She recounts on one occasion her reaction, after being in a heated battle with some
males, of saying to their wives who came to her privately,
" ... you agree with me? Then why, when I was so hard
pressed by foes on every side, did you not come to the defense? I supposed that all you ladies were hostile to every one
of my ideas on this question."
In the years 1852-4 Mrs. Stanton pioneered with Mrs.
Mrs. Bloomer to change women's dress. The physiological results of women's attire at that time, were pointed out by her
at length: the crippling effect of tight waists and long skirts,
the heavy weight on the hips, the high heels which threw the
spine out of plumb, the inconvenience and restriction caused
by the clothing. For two years she supported, and wore, the
more freedom giving costume of "bloomers." But this gave rise
to such persistent persecution, ridicule and scorn that she
found it necessary to return to conventional dress.

Austin, Texas




It's Your Only Atheist Convention In

Come to the 10th Annual American Atheist
April 4th. 5th. and 6th. 1980
For registration information. contact:
Helen Weaver
P.O. Box 37056
Oak Park. M I 48237

next month]

February, 1980

Page 15


Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et al
This is the second part of a continuing series from The
Woman's Bible.


Genesis ii: 21-25.
21 And the Lord God caused a
deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and
he slept; and she took one of his
ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof.
22 And the rib which the Lord
god had taken from man, made he a
woman, and brought her unto the
23 And Adam said, This is now
bone of my bone, and flesh of my

flesh: she shall be called Woman,

because he was taken out of man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave
his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife; and they shall
be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked,
the man and his wife, and were not


is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
With this recognition of the feminine element in the Godhead in the Old Testament,
and this declaration
of the
equality of the sexes in the New, we may well wonder at the
contemptible status woman occupies in the Christian Church of today.
All the commentators and publicists writing on woman's
position, go through an immense amount of fine-spun metaphysical speculations, to prove her subordination
in harmony with the Creator's original design.
It is evident that some wily writer, seeing the perfect
equality of man and woman in the first chapter, felt it
important for the dignity and dominion of man to effect
woman's subordination in some way. To do this a spirit of evil
must be introduced, which at once proved itself stronger
than the spirit of good, and man's supremacy was based on
the downfall of all that had just been pronounced very good.
This spirit of evil evidently existed before the supposed fall
of man, hence woman was not the origin of sin as so often
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

the account of the creation in the first chapter is in

~ harmony with science, common sense, and the
experience of mankind in natural laws, the inquiry
naturally arises, why should there be two contradictory accounts in the same book, of the same event? It is
fair to infer that the second version, which is found in some
form in the different religions of all nations, is a mere
allegory, symbolizing
some mysterious conception of a
highly imaginative editor.
The first account dignifies woman as an important factor
in the creation, equal in power and glory with man. The
second makes her a mere afterthought.
The world in good
running order without her. The only reason for her advent
being the solitude of man.
There is something sublime in bringing order out of chaos;
light out of darkness; giving each planet its place in the solar
system; oceans and lands their limits; wholly inconsistent
with a petty surgical operation, to find material for the
mother of the race. It is on the allegory that all the enemies of
women rest their battering rams, to prove her inferiority.
Accepting the view that man was prior in the creation, some
Scriptural writers say that as the woman was of the man,
therefore, her position should be one of subjection. Grant it,
then as the historical fact is reversed in our day, and the man
is now of the woman, shall his place be one of subjection?
The equal position declared in the first account must prove
more satisfactory to both sexes; created alike in the image of
God - the heavenly mother and father.
Thus, the Old Testament, "in the beginning," proclaims
the simultaneous creation of man and woman, the eternity
and equality of sex; and the New Testament echoes back
through the centuries the individual sovereignty of woman
growing out of this natural fact. Paul, in speaking of equality
as the very soul and essence of Christianity, said, "There is
neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free; there

Page 16

In v. 23 Adam proclaims the eternal oneness of the happy

pair, "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh;" no
hint of her subordination. How could men, admitting these
words to be divine revelation, ever have preached the
subjection of woman!
Next comes the naming of the mother of the race. "She
shall be called Woman," in the ancient form of the word
Womb-man. She was man and more than man because of her
The assertion of the supremacy
of the woman in the
marriage relation is contained in v. 24: "Therefore shall a
man leave his father and his mother and cleave unto his
wife." Nothing is said of the headship of man, but he is
commanded to make her the head of the household, the home,
a rule followed for centuries under the Matriarchate.
Lillie Devereux Blake

February, 1980

American Atheist

Genesis iii: 1-24.

I Now the serpent was more
subtle than any beast of the field
which the Lord God had made.
And he said unto the woman, Yea,
hath God said, Ye shall not eat of
every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the
serpent, We may eat of the fruit of
the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree
which is in the midst of the garden,
God hath said Ye shall not eat of it,
neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the
woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the
day ye eat thereof then your eyes
shall be opened and ye shall be as
gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that
the tree was good for food, and that
it was pleasant to the eyes, and a
tree to be desired to make one wise,
she took of the fruit thereof, and did
eat and gave also unto her husband
with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both
were opened, and they knew that
they were naked; and they sewed fig
leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the
Lord God walking in the garden in
the cool of the day; and Adam and
his wife hid themselves from the
presence of the Lord God amongst
the trees in the garden.
9 And the lord god called unto
Adam, and said unto him, Where

art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy
voice in the garden, and I was
afraid, because I was naked; and
I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee
that thou wast naked? Hast thou
eaten of the tree, whereof I
commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?
12 And the man said, The
woman whom thou gavest to be
with me, she gave me of the tree,
and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said
unto the woman, What is this
that thou hast done? And the
woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

14 And the Lord God said

unto the serpent, Because thou
hast done this, thou art cursed
above all cattle, and abova every
beast of the field; upon thy belly
shalt thou go, and dust shalt
thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity
between thee and the woman,
and between thy seed and her
seed; it shall bruise thy head and
thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the woman he said, I
will greatly multiply thy sorrow
and thy conception; in sorrow
thou shalt bring forth children;
and thy desire shall be to thy
husband, and he shall rule over
17 And unto Adam he said,
Because thou hast hearkened
unto the voice of thy wife, and
hast eaten of the tree, of which I
commanded thee, saying, Thou
shalt not eat of it; cursed is the
ground for thy sake; in sorrow
shalt thou eat of it all the days of
thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles
shall it bring forth to thee; and
thou shalt eat of the herb of the
19 In the sweat of thy face
shalt thou eat bread till thou
return unto the ground; for out
of it wast thou taken; for dust
thou art, and unto dust shalt
thou return.
20 And Adam called his wife's
name Eve; because she was the
mother of all living.
21 Unto Adam also and to his
wife did the Lord God make
coats of skins and clothed them.
22 And the Lord God said,
behold the man is become as one'
of us, to know good and evil; and
now, lest he put forth his hand,
and take also of the tree of life,
and eat, and live for ever;
23 Therefore
the Lord God
sent him forth from the garden
of Eden, to till the ground from
whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man:
and he placed at the east of the
garden of Eden cherubim, and a
flaming sword which turned every
way, to keep the way of the tree
of life.

Austin, Texas

DAM CLARKE, in his commentaries,

asks the
question, "is this an allegory?" He finds it beset with
so many difficulties
as an historical fact, that he
inclines at first to regard it as a fable, a mere
symbol, of some hidden truth. His mind seems more troubled
about the serpent than any other personage in the drama. As
snakes cannot walk upright, and have never been known to
speak, he thinks this beguiling creature must have been an
or some species of ape. However, after
expressing all his doubts, he rests in the assumption that it
must be taken literally, and that with higher knowledge of
the possibilities of all living things, many seeming improbabilities will be fully realized.
A learned professor in Yale College [Daniel Cady Eaton,
Professor of Botany], before a large class of students,
expressed serious doubts as to the forbidden fruit being an
apple, as none grew in that latitude. He said it must have
been a quince. If the serpent and the apple are to be
withdrawn thus recklessly from the tableaux, it is feared
that with advancing civilization the whole drama may fall
into discredit. Scientists tell us that the "missing link"
between the ape and man,has recently been discovered, so
that we can now trace back an unbroken line of ancestors to
the dawn of creation.
As out of this allegory grows the doctrines of original sin,
the fall of man, and woman the author of all our woes, and the
curses on the serpent, the woman, and the man; the Darwinian theory of the grad ual growth of the race from a lower
to a higher type of animal life, is more hopeful and encouraging. However, as our chief interest is in woman's part in
the drama, we are equally pleased with her attitude,
whether as a myth in an allegory, or as the heroine of an
historical occurrence.
In this prolonged interview, the unprejudiced reader must
be impressed with the courage, the dignity, and the lofty
ambition of the woman. The tempter evidently had a
profound knowledge of human nature, and saw at a glance
the high character of the person he met by chance in his
walks in the garden. He did not try to tempt her from the
path of duty by brilliant jewels, rich dresses, worldly
luxuries or pleasures, but with the promise of knowledge,
with the wisdom of the gods. Like Socrates or Plato, his
powers of conversation and asking puzzling questions, were
no doubt marvelous, and he roused in the woman that intense
thirst for knowledge, that the simple pleasures of picking
flowers and talking with Adam did not satisfy. Compared
with Adam she appears to great advantage through the
entire drama.
The curse pronounced on woman is inserted in an unfriendly spirit to justify her degradation and subjection to
man. With obedience to the laws of health, diet, dress, and
exercise, the period of maternity should be one of added
vigor in both body and mind, a perfectly natural operation
should not be attended with suffering. By the observance of
physical and psychical laws the supposed curse can be easily
into a blessing. Some churchmen
speak of
maternity as a disability, and then chant the Magnificat in
all their cathedrals
round the globe. Through all life's
shifting scenes, the mother of the race has been the greatest
factor in civilization.
We hear the opinion often expressed, that woman always
has, and always will be in subjection. Neither assertion is
true. She enjoyed unlimited individual freedom for many
centuries, and the events of the present day all point to her
speedy emancipation.
Scientists now give 85,000 years for
the growth of the race. They assign 60,000 to savagism,




Page 17

20,000 to barbarism, and 5,000 to civilization. Recent historians tell us that for centuries women reigned supreme. That
period was called the Matriarchate.
Then man seized the
reins of government, and we are now under the Patriarchate. But we see on all sides new forces gathering, and
woman is already abreast with man in art, science, literature, and government. The next dynasty, in which both will
reign as equals, will be the Amphiarchate,
which is close at
Psychologists tell us of a sixth sense now in process of
development, by which we can read each other's mind and
communicate without speech. The Tempter might have had
that sense, as he evidently read the minds of both the
creature and the Creator, if we are to take this account as
literally true, as Adam Clarke advises.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

She quotes the command not to eat of the fruit to which the
serpent replies "Dying ye shall not die" (v. 4, literal
In other words, telling her that if the mortal
perish, the immortal part shall live forever, and offering as
the reward of her act the attainment of Knowledge.
Then the woman fearless of death if she can gain wisdom
takes of the fruit; and all this time Adam standing beside her
interposes no word of objection. "Her husband with her" are
the words of v. 6. Had he been the representative
of the
divinely appointed head in married life, he assuredly would
have taken upon himself the burden of the discussion with
the serpent, but no, he is silent in this crisis of their fate.
Having had the command from God himself he interposes no
word of warning or remonstrance, but takes the fruit from
the hand of his wife without a protest. It takes six verses to
describe the "fall" of woman, the fall of man is contemptuously dismissed in a line and a half.
The subsequent conduct of Adam was to the last degree
dastardly. When the awful time of reckoning comes, and the
Jehovah God appears to demand why his command has
been disobeyed, Adam endeavors to shield himself behind
the gentle being he has declared to be so dear. "The woman
thou gavest to be with me, she gave me and I did eat," he
whines -trying
to shield himself at his wife's expense!
Again we are amazed that upon such a story men have built
up a theory of their superiority.
Then follows what has been called the curse. Is it not
rather a prediction? First is the future fate of the serpent
described, the enmity of the whole human race - "it shall lie
in wait for thee as to the head" (v. 15, literal translation).
Next the subjection of the woman is foretold, thy husband
"shall rule over thee," v. 16. Lastly the long struggle of man
with the forces of nature is portrayed. "In the seat of thy face
thou shalt eat food until thy turning back to the earth" (v. 19,
With the evolution
of humanity
an ever increasing number of men have ceased to toil for
their bread with their hands, and with the introduction of
improved machinery, and the uplifting of the race there will
come a time when there shall be no severities of labor, and
when women shall be freed from all oppressions,
"And Adam called his wife's name Life for she was the
mother of all living" (v. 20 literal translation).
It is a pity that all versions of the Bible do not give this
word instead of the Hebrew Eve. She was Life, the eternal
mother, the first representative
of the more valuable and
important half of the human race.

No m e IilblJ :al
character ever
w '. womaa'.
feet with his hair .
eVeD If 7'-'d wapt
,hIIn. to.

Note the significant fact that we al ways hear of the "fall of

man," not the fall of woman, showing that the consens,us of
human thought has been more unerring than masculine
Reading this narrative carefully, it is amazing that any set of men ever claimed that the dogma of the
inferiority of woman is here set forth. The conduct of Eve
from the beginning to the end is so superior to that of Adam.
The command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge
was given to the man alone before the woman was formed.
Genesis 2: 17. Therefore the injunction was not brought to
Eve with the impressive solemnity of a Divine Voice, but
whispered to her by her husband and equal. It was a serpent
endowed, a seraphim as Scott and other
commentators have claimed, who talked to Eve, and whose
words might reasonably seem superior to the second-hand
story of her companion - nor does the woman yield at once.

Page 18

. Tnl::>


':' SCRi~f

...... '.

February, 1980




American Atheist

ll-'_ U.l

- 1'\ g,.,J

Rings For


The article under the by-line "Religion

Desk" in the Chicago Sun- Times of January 5, 1980 was calculated to be "cute,"
but the facts were right. The lllinois
Chapter of American Atheists had just
installed their version of the very popular
feature of organizational outreach.
The article read:
All kinds of help is available at the
beginning of the new year for those
involved in Chicago's religious and
anti-religious scene.
Those who have dialed a prayer but
have failed to make a connection now
have an alternative. They can dial an
By dialing 597-2433, callers can
hear a two-minute recorded message
from a member of the Northern Illinois
Chapter of American Atheists. If you
call, you may get a message on the
difference between an Atheist and an
agnostic. Or a polemical statement on
alleged inaccuracies and contradictions in the New Testament's account
of the life of Christ. Or an explanation

Austin, Texas

of "who's behind Khomeini's reign of

terror. "
After listening to the message, the
caller is given an opportunity to give
the sponsors a piece of his own mind.
Like the god of the Bible, the Atheists' recording machine neither slumbers nor sleeps. You can call 24 hours
a day, seven days a week.
Troy Soos, in charge of the infernal
machine, was stunned to receive over
1,000 calls in two days, but delighted
when those calls were from the media,
with feature stories being written in the
Washington Post, Detroit Free Press and
Time magazine, as well as the St. Louis
Radio stations across
the nation and in Canada called not only
for interviews but also to record the
messages offered for news items!
The word Atheist is no longer anathema. Atheism may get to the day of
respectable acceptance sooner than you
the "Christian
newspaper was having apoplexy all over
its pages, with its editor writing as if
was a sign of the second coming. His affront and indignation
knew no bounds:
Yes, that's what the fiery red sticker
said - "For A Reasonable Alternative

Call Dial-An-Atheist (312)597 -2433;

Sponsored by: Northern Illinois, American Atheists.
He literally rung his hands:
What's next? Dial-A-Communist?
Dial-A -Porn? Dial-A -Murder? Dial-AnArsonist?
Thinking about the possible power of
organized Atheists, one-quarter
of the
United States' population,
he fell back,
regrouped, and gave as his final message:
"Not by might nor by power, but by
my spirit saith the lord of hosts."
Zechariah 4:6.

Dial an Athei~
Tucson, AZ


Denver, CO
N. Miami, FL
Chicago (area), I L
Lexington, KY
Detroit (area), MI.
Los Angeles (area), CA
Metuchin, NJ
New York, Ny

(317) 243-9652
(602) 623-3861


(201) 494-1771
(212) 726-3647


February, 1980

Page 19


holding the case for over seven

There was nothing to do but appeal
to the United States Supreme Court
on this narrow procedural issue. The
case is still a year or more away from a
hearing on the merits. A Petition For
A Writ of Certiorari (request for review of the appellate court decision)
was timely filed in the United States
Supreme Court on January 4, 1980.
The issue was simple. The court was

Back in December, 1977, Dr.

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, founder of
the American Atheist Center, had
some business at Austin City Council.
The mayor called the meeting .to order
and immediately asked for a minister
to lead the assemblage in prr.yer,
Dr. O'Hair rose and objected only
to be given the alternative of praying
or leaving the Council Chambers.
When she refused to do either, she was
arrested for "Disrupting
A Public
Meeting," a criminal misdemeanor
which could bring punishment of six
months imprisonment and a $1000
fine. The issue was joined; a case
testing the constitutionality of prayers
in government meetings was underway.
Since Texas, by state constitutional
fiat, precludes Atheists from serving in
"any office or public trust," thus restricting judgeships and jurors' seats to
those who "acknowledge the existence
of a Supreme Being," the attorney for
Dr. O'Hair asked for the case to be removed from Texas state courts to the
United States Federal Court. The U.S.
District Court of the Western District
of Texas, Austin Division is, however,
presided over by a federal judge who
has made it publicly known that he

Page 20

has a personal dislike for Dr. O'Hair.

The petition for this removal was
made in-an orderly way in November,
In March, 1979, the judge refused
to order removal stating that such removal could only be had if Dr. O'Hair
was discriminated against by the Texas
court system because of "civil rights
stated in terms of racial equality."
The ruling was immediately appealed
to the United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit, New Orleans, Louisiana.
It was accepted and docketed.
Meanwhile, the Texas state judge
before whom the case would have
been tried continued to contact the
American Atheist Center setting dates
for a hearing. Texas desperately
wanted to go' ahead- with a trial, an
Atheist in jail was much better than
one out on bond, pending an appeal.
It was then that the American Atheist Center sued to prevent the Pope
from giving a Roman Catholic sacrificial ceremonial mass on the Washington Mall.
On November 9, 1979, the United
States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit,
abruptly changed its mind, refused to
hear the appeal, affirmed the lower
(Austin Div.ision) federal court - after

February, 1980

"Is it an instance of unconstitutional reverse discrimination .. .for

a federal court to deny a right of removal [of a criminal case from state
courts to a federal court] on the
basis that the civil rights involved in
the case (which concerns "free
exercise of religion")
are not
"stated in terms of racial equality."
The argument presented to the United States Supreme Court is brief:
". . .it is discriminatory against
(the) Petitioner (Dr. O'Hair) to
require that a ground for removal
be "stated in terms of racial equality" in addition to a showing that
she is denied or cannot enforce, in
the Texas court, her constitutional
rights to a fair trial under the Fifth,
Sixth, and Fourteenth
Amendments to the U.S. as well as [the
Civil Rights Act].
The legal and procedural problems
posed by this Petition for Certiorari
have so many ramifications that an
affirmative action by the United States
Supreme Court is unlikely. If (when)
the Petition is denied, a Motion for an
Injunction against the State of Texas
holding the trial will be tried next.
The Kafkaesque proceedings so far
indicate that Texas state would be
delighted to jail Dr. O'Hair and that
prejudiced judges in the federal courts
will assist to that end if possible.

American Atheist


The Design Argument

Rears Its Ugly Head
M. D. Kuehn


Did David Hume deal the deathblow to the design argument for the
existence of god? Did Immanuel Kant
successfully illustrate the futility of
trying to provide empirical evidence
for a transcendental idea (see Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion by
Hume and Critique of Pure Reason
and Prolegomena
to Any Future
Metaphysics by Kant)? The fact is
that the design argument has been resurrected from its deservedly deep
grave. There is a certain group of
Christian Scientists touring the country professing to wield the design argument with soundness and conviction.
In reality, they have perverted the scientific method, and they employ its
disjointed remnants in calculated misapplication and deception.
It is the aim of this essay to critically examine their claims, to place the
corpse of the design argument in its
rightful niche - within the unplumbed
grave of all metaphysical pseudoscience.
Deceptive Claim
There is such a preponderance of
evidence, says the Christian Scientist,
that no rational individual could possibly deny the conclusion which this evidence purports to substantiate. Using
data from the fields of mathematics,
astronomy, physics, geology, and anthropology, he attempts to build his
case for the existence of god. This
enterprise, however, is founded upon a
single, underlying, false assumption.
It is this: that it is possible to utilize
empirical observations to establish a
so-called metaphysical fact.
Can empirical "evidence" support
the claim for the existence of god?
The claim is deceptive. We are all familiar with the process of gathering
data, accumulating information, in the
hope of predicting future events or
confirming a currently held hypothesis. This entire process, however, is
carried out within the sensuous realm.
Where design is ascertained, the designer is confirmed by observation, as
David Hume reminded us.

Austin, Texas

We know that houses are the result

of thoughtful design because we are
privy to the entire process, from early
planning to completed construction.
Again, as Hume pointed out, the universe does not so greatly resemble the
artifices of man that we can justifiably
infer like manner of cause. While our
empirical evidence may show us the
truth of the statement that houses
have designers, it will never show us
that the universe, too, must have a designer. In other words, the analogy between the natural and the man-made
is far from perfect.
Also, by way of a slight digression,
the design argument seems to rely
heavily for its rhetorical power upon
the examples chosen for the design
analogy. This is to say that the argument, if it is valid at all, leads to no
definite description of what this designer-deity might be like. For example: let us compare the deadly intricacies of a .44 caliber handgun to the
equally dangerous precision of a black
widow spider; man-made versus nature
(deity) designed. Both have the capability to kill. Would we infer, then, a
malevolent designer for both (one a
mere human, the other a deity)?
Surely it is not the kind of conclusion that would be welcomed by
the argument's proponents. Yet, if
their argument is to be accepted as
valid, so must the latter, for their
forms are identical. And thus we are
led into a confusing labyrinth of contradictions.
No Explanation At All
What about the argument from design (the teleological argument) as a
hypothesis offered as an explanation
for the origin of the universe? The
Christian Scientist asserts that science
is incapable of final explanations;
science fails to give us all the answers;
science avoids the question of the true
origin of the universe. We shall see that
the Christian Scientist alternative fairs
much worse than beleaguered science.
Again, Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason, addressed this

February, 1980

problem when he said that a "transcendental hypothesis" offered as an

explanation for natural things is "no
explanation at all." As such, we are
explaining something "we do not understand sufficiently
by something
which we do not understand at all."
Any physical hypotheses, says Kant,
no matter how wild, are preferable to
"hyperphysical" ones.
True, science seems to employ so
called fictions - electrons, photons,
quarks, etc. - within the context of
explanatory hypotheses; however, the
advantage of scientific theories and hypotheses over those of religion is evident. Let us review the criteria for an
acceptable hypothesis, and see how
scientific cosmological hypotheses fair
against the hypothesis offered by the
Christian Scientist.
Science gives us an account of the
order and structure of our sense-experiences as well as leads us to the possibility of predicting further sense-experiences. That is, science does not
give us barren hypotheses: they are
relevant to the issue, compatible with
existing theories and .hypotheses; they
possess a predictive power unequalled
by the notion of a designer-deity. God
as designer/creator of the universe is
no explanation; it is impotent in that
we can deduce from it no further consequences that might somehow confirm the hypothesis.
But the Christian Scientist retorts,
"Science still avoids the issue. We want
an explanation of how and why the
universe is as we find it." When the
Christian proposes god as the explanation for the origin of the universe, he
is, in a sense, begging the question. In
asking for an explanation, he is presupposing the purposive or teleological
sense of "explanation." And, since we
attribute purposive explanations exclusively to conscious beings, the Christian Scientist already has his desired
answer cloaked within the ambiguity
of his question.
One always explains things in terms
of something
else; when science
reaches the ultimate origin of the universe (that is, that moment before

Page 21

matter, time, and space) explanation

ceases. It ceases not because science
lacks certain factual data, but because
the question itself is again masked in
ambiguity and misinterpretation.
speculate upon a moment, a previous
state, before time and space, is to extend reason beyond the limits of its
domain. To argue such a matter, said
Kant, is to become mired in the Antimonies of Pure Reason, where reason
will no longer lead us, and wild and
untenable speculation reigns supreme.
Not only is such an "explanation"
logically in error; it is also to be rejected on pragmatic grounds. Our
knowledge of the universe is not in
the least advanced by resorting to
what Kant called "empty chimeras."
It can only lead us down the path of
fruitless and unfounded speculation.
Evading The Rational Mind

Let us consider another aspect of

the design argument. How are we to
interpret the claims of the Christian
Scientist concerning the "orderliness"
of the universe? According to the argument, it is the apparent order of the
universe that leads one to infer a
cosmic designer. But in what sense and
to what degree is "order" implied?
Are the anomolies we find in the
universe to be somehow worked into
the- concept of order, as the Christian
Scientist sees it? It would seem that
order admits of degrees, and the degree to which one ascribes order is
relative to that individual's understanding, accessibility to relevant data,
and personal idiosyncracies. Toss a
deck of cards in the air and someone
will always be able to interpret some
order in the chance pattern of their
That the universe is, in fact, orderly, has not been established; the
concept of "order" is itself unclear.
Where the argument achieves its
rhetorical power, however, is clear.
It is not through an inferential process
but an intuitive process that the argument reaches its conclusion. "Look
around and behold the vastness and
complexity of the universe," is the
plea of the Christian Scientist, leaving us to arrive at the obvious conclusion. But the conclusion must evade
the rational mind. It is in this emotive
sense that the argument from design
deceives. In point of fact, to have a
"feeling," an intuition, is not to provide gist for the mill of logic.
"Examine the mathematics of the
situation," the argument continues.
It is here, though, that the proponent

Page 22

of the design argument makes his

most ludicrous bid for acceptance.
The chances of the earth possessing
its unique characteristics conducive
to life, says the Christian Scientist,
is one in one hundred twenty trillion.
Therefore, he concludes, chance must
be ruled out and a designer/creator
ruled in.

Let us assume for a moment that

we accept the probability figures of
the Christian Scientist. Does this
constitute proof? If the singularity of
the earth counts in favor of his argument, do all the other planets not conducive to life count as proof against it?

Spurious Figures

The design argument claims to provide proof of the existence of a designer/creator by resorting to examples
in the world, open to empirical investigation. And yet, what empirical evidence would ever qualify as a counterexample? If the argument's proponents admit none, then surely they also
have no valid argument.
The causes of the argument's acceptance are psychological and sociological, to wit, nonrational. The fact
that this argument has not long been
buried as illegitimate is largely due to
its emotive powers. It stirs the imagination, sets man to speculation, but
proves nothing. It is important, in
fact, vital, that we expose this resurgence of the design argument for the
unsophisticated rational pretense that
it is.

It is needless to consider the particulars of their conclusion: we are all

aware of how spurious figures can be.
For example: recent estimates have
led scientists to believe that approximately twenty other communicative
civilizations may exist in our galaxy.
On the other hand, more liberal estimates heve led some scientists to a
figure as high as one billion. Thus,
one can arrive at almost any conclusion by choosing those estimates he
deems most reasonable; since much
hard empirical evidence is still lacking
in this area, it must be admitted that,
indeed, these are mere probabilities,
with no pretensions to actual established fact intended.









February, 1980

American Atheist

Religious Authority
Tom Ungar
The "teacher" is a genuinely naive subject who has come
Several years ago, social psychologist Stanley Milgram
to the laboratory to participate in an experiment. The learner,
designed and performed a series of obedience experiments at
or victim, is an actor who actually receives no shock at all.
Yale University. The results of these experiments, which Milgram discusses in his book, Obedience to Authority (Harper &
The point of the experiment is to see how far a person will
Row, 1974), show conclusively that normal, mentally stable
proceed in a concrete and measurable situation in which he is
human beings become capable of inflicting great pain on inordered to inflict pain on a protesting victim. At what point
nocent people when they are ordered to do so by an authority.
will the subject refuse to obey the experimenter?
Milgram extrapolates that the obedience of the subjects
Since it was originally devised, this experiment has been
of his experiments involves the same type of psychological
performed many times in many parts of the country. In no
motivation which has made it possible, at several points in
case has anyone ever simply refused to administer the shocks.
history, for otherwise compassionate men, i.e., the Nazi conA substantial proportion continue to the last shock on the gencentration camp officer, Captain Henry Wirz, and the Amerierator.
Many subjects obey the experimenter no matter how
can soldiers at My Lai, to commit such devastating crimes as
vehement the pleading of the person being shocked, no matmass murder.
ter how painful the shocks seem to be, and no matter how
Nowhere in his book, however, does Milgram make any
much the victim pleads to be let out.
mention whatsoever of such religious authorities as god, the
Why do the subjects obey when they are obviously
Bible, the pope, etc., and the role these have played, throughaware of the fact that the shocks they administer cause
out modem history, in provoking the faithful to commit the
severe pain to the learner?
most atrocious and cold-blooded crimes.
According to Milgram, there are primarily three factors
In this article I will attempt to make up for Milgram's omiswhich make it possible for the subject to administer what
sion by illustrating that the principles of human psycholhe believes to be severe shocks to the innocent victim. In
ogy which account for the behavior of both the subjects of
order of decreasing importance, they are:
Milgram's experiments and such killers as the Nazi concentration camp officers are the same which account for the beha1) The subject divests himself of responsibility by attribvior of such religious criminals as the agents of the Inquisition.
uting all initiative to the experimenter, a legitimate authority.
I will then go on to illustrate that any code of "morality"
Milgram claims that the subject has been transformed by auwhich requires unquestioning obedience to an authority acthority and thus has relinquished all sense of individual respontually encourages the most immoral behavior possible, and
sibility for his actions. The subject obeys because he has come
that almost all religions have advocated this type of "moralto view himself as the instrument for carrying out another perity."
son's wishes, and no longer regards himself as responsible for
Before being able to demonstrate the relationship between
his own acts. (I will henceforth refer to this factor as "responobedience to secular authority and obedience to religious
sibility shift.")
authority, it will be necessary to acquaint the reader with Mil2) The subject is effectively discouraged from disobeying
gram's obedience experiments and then discuss his analysis of
by the threat of reprimand from the experimenter if the subtheir results.
ject goes back on his promise to participate in the experiment.
I will begin with a concise description of the original exFor most people, it is painful to renege on the promise of aid
periments and how they were performed:
they made to the experimenter. The subject's behavior thus
reflects an attempt to escape the penalty for defiance. (I will
Two people come to a psychology laboratory to take part
henceforth refer to this factor as "fear of reprimand.")
in what is supposedly a study of memory and learning. One of
3) The subject's devaluation of the victim provides a
them is designed as a "teacher" and the other a "learner." The
of psychological justification for the harsh treatment
experimenter explains that the study is concerned with the efof that victim. In Milgram's experiments, for example, such
fects of punishment on learning. The learner is seated in a
comments from subjects were common: "The learner was so
chair, his arms are strapped down, and an electrode is attached
stupid and stubborn he-deserved to get shocked." (I will
to his wrist. He is told that he is to learn a list of word pairs;
henceforth refer to this factor as "devaluation of victim.")
whenever he makes an error, he will receive electric shocks of
increasing intensity.
The real subject of the experiment is the teacher. After
watching the learner being strapped into place, he is taken into
the main experimental room and seated before a shock generator. The generator has a horizontal line of 30 switches, ranging from 15 volts to 450 volts, in 15-volt increments. There
are also verbal designations which range from SLIGHT SHOCK
The teacher is told that he is to administer the learning
test to the man in the other room. When the learner responds
correctly, the teacher moves on to the next item; when the
learner gives an incorrect answer, the teacher is instructed to
give him an electric shock. The teacher starts at the lowest
shock level (15 volts) and is told by the experimenter to increase the level each time the learner makes an error. .

It is easy to see why Milgram was drawn to compare the

behavior of the subjects of his experiment with the behavior
of such men as the Nazi concentration camp officers. As dissimilar as the two behaviors may seem to be, in terms of their
severity, an almost exact parallel between them can nevertheless be drawn.
To illustrate the parallel, simply compare the role of Hit'ler in World War II Germany with the authority in Milgram's
experiments, the commanding officer of the concentration
camp with the experimenter, the officers and soldiers who actually turned on the poisonous gas with the subjects, the gas
chambers with the shock generator, and the Jews with the
experiment's victims.
The same three factors which provided the psychological
motivation for the immoral behavior of the subjects of the ex-

February, 1980

Austin, Texas

Page 23

periment also explain the behavior of the Nazi officers, l.e.,

responsibility shift (to Hitler, higher officers, etc.), fear of
reprimand (the Nazi officers did not want to be punishedfor
insubordination) and devaluation of the victim ("Jews are
such scum they don't deserve to live, anyway.")
Now we come to Milgram's oversight, i.e., the role of religious authority as an instigator of murder and other crimes.
Here, once again, we can draw the same parallel. In the case of
the Inquisition, for example, compare god with the authority
in the experiment; the pope with the experimenter; the priests,
monks and 'abbots with the obedient subjects; and infidels
with the victims. Once again, the same three psychological
processes are involved, i.e., responsibility shift (to god and the
pope), fear or retribution (the agents of the Inquisition did not
want to be burned themselves for failing to carry out their
duty), and devaluation of the victim ("heretics are so vile they
must be sent to hell immediately.")
The same applies to almost all religiously motivated murders; for example, the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan and
several journalists by the disciples of Rev. Jim Jones, and
the killing of 377 men, women, and children, at an Iranian movie theater in mid-1978 by a group of Moslems, just to name a
few of the most recent cases.
Fortunately, religionists. can often be dissuaded from following the commands of their authority. How? Before attempting to answer that question, let us consider Milgram's
explanation for the disobedience of those subjects in his experiment who refused to follow the instructions of the experimenter.
In the obedience experiment, a small minority of subjects refused to continue administering shocks at various
points after the learner had begun to complain about the pain.
Milgram hypothesizes that those who disobeyed did so in order to relieve strain, which they were experiencing as a result
of having to carry out the somewhat stressful role of "teacher."
Milgram recognized several possible sources of strain, i.e.,
the cries of pain issuing from the leamer, the conflict of in;
struction from experimenter and leamer, fear that the learner
might attempt-retribution after the experiment, etc.
Disobedience was the means by which strain was brought
to an end. When the total amount of strain posed a more
serious threat to the mental comfort of the subject than did
the prospect of reprimand for failure to comply with the experimenter's wishes, the subject disobeyed.
In order to discourage Theists from following the immoral commands of their religious authority, then, a source of
strain must be created which poses a more serious threat to
the Theist's mental or physical comfort than does the religious authority's threat of reprimand for disobedience.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to offer a more serious
threat than hell. Nevertheless, history has shown that most
Theists have been at least temporarily persuaded to compromise with their belief in hell when faced with the prospect of less severe but considerably more immediate earthly
Probably the most efficient tool against religious crime is
a strongly secular government which imposes harsh penalties
on religious criminals, Such governments act as a source or
strain, tending to promote disobedience to the immoral commands of the religious authority, just as the various sources of
strain in Milgram's experiment promoted disobedience of the
orders of the experimenter.
This is the major reason why religious crimes are considerably less frequent in countries with strongly secular governments than they are in theocracies, even though the percentage
of Theists in countries with secular governments is often as
high as in theocracies.

Page 24

Theocracies are very effective encouragers of religious

crime because the secular political authority, which might
otherwise act as a source of strain, tending to promote disobedience to the religious authority, has been completely removed.
Thus, there is little or no strain and religious murders are facile.
Similarly, every compromise a secular government makes
with Theists reduces the encouragement of disobedience to
religious authority and makes religious crimes increasingly
more imminent.

Milgram's experiments illustrate that the introduction of
an authority figure in ethics not only makes believers capable
of committing much more serious crimes than they would
otherwise even consider, but it also shifts the entire basis for
judgment of moral values (i.e., from the individual to the
authority) so that the same act which normally seems intrinsically immoral to the individual can take on a very moral,
indeed necessary connotation when it is prescribed by an accepted authority.
Any code of morality which requires unquestioning
obedience to an authority thus becomes a code of immorality as soon as that authority issues an immoral command.
Most religious authorities, throughout the history of civilization, have commanded their followers to commit such obviously immoral acts as torture and murder of innocent
Religionists obey these commands because they fear
retribution from god for refusing to do so and thereby show
that their primary concern is with the salvation of their
own "souls." Nothing could be more immoral than that.
As an appropriate epilogue to this essay, I would like to
relate a very short but true story which serves to summarize
the above argument and illustrate its validity.
Several years after Milgram's experiments had first been
performed, they were depicted by a docu-crama on network
television entitled The Tenth Level starring Willaim Shatner.
A few days after the showing of this special, I talked about it
with a devout Catholic who had also seen the program. She
told me how horrified she had been to see how many of the
subjects had continued to administer the shocks despite the
protests from the learner. She went on to say that she unquestionably would have refused to administer these shocks, if she
had been in the position of the teacher, regardless of the consequences.
"What if," I suggested, "god appeared to you and ordered
you to follow the experimenter's orders, lest you be condemned to hell?"
"Well," she said, and then took a few seconds to contemplate the question, "nobody has 'the authority to disobey god."
I rest my case.

February, 1980

American Atheist

True Confessions
of a Pyramid Cultist

David Batterson

I can remember, even as a child,

looking through Popular Mechanics
or Police Gazette and seeing ads for
"The Rosicrucians (not a religious
organization)." They professed to offer you "cosmic consciousness" or
"secrets of the ancients" if you wrote
Scribe 46Y and requested their booklet, "The Mastery of Life."
So I sent off for the booklet, and
found out, of course, that if you
wanted any real "cosmic secrets," you
had to shell out some "cosmic bucks."
Years passed, and I had a passing interest in esoteric philosophy, ESP, alternative religions and the like. This
soon fell by the wayside as I got involved in Civil Rights protesting and
later, anti-Vietnam war protests.
After that, my interest was rekindled somewhat, but other activities sex and getting stoned - took precedence. It wasn't until a friend got me
interested in pyramidology that I finally took the plunge into what might
be called "Mysterious Cosmic Ancient
Pyramid Energy Secrets of the Universe."
Now one wonders, in light of Jonestown, how an intelligent, perceptive,
aware person (handsome, too!) like
myself and many others can get hung
up in such drivel. I'm here today to
tell you how.
Cockroaches Of Time
After doing some preliminary reading on the subject, I took it upon myself to actually sit inside a pyramid,
built to the exact scale of the Great
Pyramid Cheops (or Khufu), at Giza,
Egypt. [I don't know what the scale
was back then, but I assume it was do,
re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, and "that brings
us back to do."]
Anyway, as I sat underneath the
structure in a friend's dark garage, I
began to notice things moving around
my head, toward the apex of the pyramid. It turned out to be a band of
roaming cockroaches, smelling a Hershey bar in my pocket. In an instant,
though, they mummified and fell in
my lap.
I settled down and began to meditate, eyes closed. Soon this urgent

Austin, Texas

thought came to me: Damn, I need to

take a crap! But I suppressed Mother
Nature's call, not wanting to anger the
ancient forces within by leaving.
I had heard that inside the pyramid,
among other phenomena, one's time
sense is altered. I decided to test that,
and looked at my watch. It read 8:32.
After continuing meditation for what
seemed only a short while, I guessed
that ten minutes had elapsed. But I
was wrong. It was actually only 91h
Time passed and I decided to get
up off the wooden chair I was sitting
in, and move to the floor. Fear struck
me as I realized I was frozen in position. What was happening? Was I hallucinating? Was the pyramid energy
passing through my body and magnetizing me to the chair? Was my soul
transferred in astral travel with my
body left behind?
It turned out that the chair had
been freshly varnished that day by my
friend's wife, and she forgot to tell
Another ten minutes or so went by,
and I decided to pack it in and rejoin
my friend back in the house. As I entered, he just looked at me with a
knowing gaze and said nothing.
His wife then offered me a drink,
my usual (a Canadian Club and water,
easy on the water). I said, "Sure, I'd
love one." Little did I know what
was in store for me.
Moody Blues - It's Parsley!
I had heard recollections from
other pyramid sitters that sometimes,
after a session, alcohol, tobacco or
marijuana would not taste right to
the person. My drink arrived and I
took a big slug, not afraid of anything.
My favorite drink - my "Mother's
Milk" - tasted awful. I took another
sip, just to be sure my senses weren't
fooling me. But I spit it out, and
pushed away the drink.
My friend's wife rushed over, saying, "Well, I'll drink it if you don't
want it." She took a big gulp, and almost choked. "It does taste terrible,"
she wailed. She ran back into the

February, 1980

kitchen. "Oh no," she cried. "What

is it?" my friend and I said in unison.
"I made your drink out of the fish
emulsion plant food. I forgot I had
mixed up a batch and put it in an old
liquor bottle," she apologized. So
much for that pyramid theory.
Never one to be discouraged, I
asked my friend to roll up a doobie.
Nothing keeps me from getting stoned,
I said to myself. He complied, and
rolled a giant number which we proceeded'to smoke.
I coughed and wheezed, and didn't
feel any effects after fifteen minutes.
My friend was lost in a Moody Blues
album, munching pretzels, and staring
at a fly on the ceiling, with a contented look on his face.
"Let me see your lid," I said. As a
former weed dealer in San Francisco,
I could sniff good boo at twenty
paces. "Jesus H. Christ," I exclaimed.
"This is a bag of parsley, or I'll eat my
"Lemme see," he replied. "You're
crazy, though. I'm high as the Goodyear blimp."
"I think you're just full of gas after
that Mexican food we had for lunch,"
I answered. He, of course, couldn't admit that he had been burned by his
dope connection. But it was parsley.
I said my goodnights and split.
A few days later he called up and
asked if I wanted to sit in a big pyramid, a custom built job with a 16 foot
base, 12 feet high, and with slightly
indented sides, supposedly just like the
Great Pyramid. I said, "OK, what the
.hell. "
Hot Dogs Of Possibilities
This pyramid was different, all
right. Air tight, totally dark when the
light was switched off, and very roomy
so you could walk around. No getting
stuck to the chair, I thought.
He pointed out some hot dogs that
were in a box suspended from the apex by wire. The wieners were hard as
the proverbial rock. "Those were fresh
from the store three months ago, and
they haven't been treated or coated
with anything," he boasted. "They
mummified inside here."

Page 25

Hard hot dogs, I thought to myself.

What a potential growth industry.
They could build houses out of them
instead of brick .....
could come in
handy for love-making .....
the footlong variety could be used for police
batons .....
the possibilities are endless.
He closed the door and left me to
my musings and meditation under the
big top. I settled back in a comfortable
chaise lounge, awaiting new sights and
experiences. He had told me that I
should stay in a long time, giving the
pyramid a chance to "get friendly and
reveal its secrets."
Well, I certainly wanted to get
those secrets, as long as I didn't have
to pay the Rosicrucians for them.
These were going to be free. Feeling
secure, I switched off the light, and it
was dark as Carlsbad Caverns, and
colder. This was winter, and the only
heat was a small electric space heater,
which hummed away.
I soon discovered that the heater's
humming was distracting me. It began
to hum "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," followed by renditions of
"Thus Spake Zarathustra" and "Ain't
She Sweet." So I turned it off. I had
heard better humming anyway, from
Bing Crosby and Patti Page.
After an unknown time span, I began to notice two tiny lights circling
around my head. At last something is
happening, I said silently. The strange
lights kept circling around, and I felt
the urge to touch one of the friendly
lights. At the same time, I felt a slight
tingling sensation. I sat there awestruck, expecting "The Force" to
soon be with me.
I got up nerve enough to touch one
of them. Imagine my great disappointment when it turned out to be a firefly (or "lightning bug," as I knew
them). I turned on the light. The
tingling sensation? I had brushed up
against a bare wire running from the
heater. Luckily I wasn't grounded or
I would really have received a cosmic

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied weakly. "I am a bit famished. How long was
I in there? Four hours?"
"Are you kidding?" he queried.
"You've been in there for sixteen
days. I thought something truly profound was taking place, so I left you
"Well, you know what they say,"
I said. "Time flies when you're having
a good time." I passed out on the
Weeks went by, and I regained my
lost weight. I had earlier shaved off my
Rip Van Winkle beard acquired during
the long ordeal. I began to think that
maybe I just wasn't ready, or possibly
wasn't worthy of "divine knowledge."
After all,it wasn't exactly a cakewalk
for Moses to get those tablets. Jesus
probably had to learn to water ski
first before he could walk on water.
And Mahatma Gandhi had to learn to
"slow" before he could fast.
Besides, mystics, psychics and pyramidologists were going on the "Tomorrow" show all the time, telling
how they gained their amazing powers
and knowledge. They had written
books on the subject, and in many
cases, these books had actually been
dictated by spirit masters to the author. You couldn't deny their legitimacy.
There was only one thing left to
do. "If the mountain won't come to
Mohammed" .....
" I had to go to the
real pyramid, that wonder of wonders, that paragon of prediction, that
ne plus ultra, that perfect structure
holding the key that unlocks the
greatest treasure of mankind: the
I won't bore you with all the details of its measurements, angles, prophetic history, and supposed connection with the lost continent of Atlantis. You've heard all that before. I
was to discover, though, that the huge
blocks of stone are so tightly fit together that an average Boy Scout cannot be stuck between them.

Time Flies - And Other Bugs

The Land Of Moses And Greasy


Still, I wouldn't give up. There had

to be something to all this. I remained
in the pyramid for what seemed an
eternity. Finally, exhausted and hungry, I emerged from my cocoon, somewhat expecting to be miraculously
transformed into a cosmic butterfly.
As I rejoined my friend, he looked
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"You look awful, and thin as a broom-

Page 26

tions, the people in charge of pyramid

visits were not adverse to a little grease
on the palm. They didn't mind getting
a bribe, either.
So, after hocking the family jewels
(which I had stolen from the family
safe), getting my shots and passport,
I was off to the land of Moses, once
conquered by Napoleon. [He also
visited the Great Pyramid and spent
a long time inside. He was reportedly
bothered by chronic hemorrhoids the
rest of his life, and had secret desires
to dress up in Josephine's dresses.]
Having ensconced myself at the
Cairo Holiday Inn, I made an appointment with the appropriate official,
and was soon sitting behind his desk,
my pockets stuffed with Swiss francs.
[Even then, they knew the U.S. dollar
wasn't worth much!] I soon left the
office, my pockets unstuffed, and had
a letter to be presented to the guards
at Giza.
After spending the night in Cairo, I
got up very early in the morning to
take a cab to Giza, knowing that just
like a newcomer to New York, the
"stranger in paradise" will get an outof-the-way taxi ride to his destination.
$47 later, my hack arrived at Giza. As
I looked up at the gigantic structure,
I could think only of Wilt Chamberlain, for some reason.
There weren't many tourists around, and besides, none of them had
the magic letter I held in my sweaty
palms. In my back pack I carried: a
Minox camera, an old Flash Gordon
flashlight, a dozen emergency flares, a
Swiss Army knife, a roll oftoilet paper, some beef jerky, a canteen of water, a package of dried apricots, a
moth-eaten Army blanket, a mirror
(in case I came across any vampires),
a cassette tape recorder (with two
blank cassettes, and a tape of "Madame Blavatsky Speaks," which I
thought might come in handy if unfriendly spirits were around), a pad
and pencil, a digital watch, a package
of Trojans (you never know when you
might meet a Succubus with a social
disease), a compass, and two packs of
Trident Sugarless gum.
Of Gurus And Kings

At this period in time, it was still

difficult to obtain permission from the
Egyptian government to spend a night
inside the pyramid. Now, of course,
any ex-safecracker from Montreal, any
rototiller operator from Zambia, or
gay activist from Miami, Florida can
get in!
But, like most underpaid governmental officials in authoritative posi-

February, 1980

The guard took my letter, read it,

and stuck out his hand. I thought
that was quite friendly, so I shook
hands. That wasn't what he had in
mind. Digging into my pocket, I
pulled out some wrinkled American
dollars which he took, making a contemptuous remark I didn't understand.
He then opened the gate guarding the

American Atheist


w~y to the pyramid's entrance, and

said in broken English that he'd be
back toinorrow morning to let me out,
"if I was still alive." That was certainly
I had to climb a bit to actually get
up to the entrance, and then I entered.
After what seemed like an hour (remember, the pyramid supposedly
throws off your sense of time) and
a break to eat some beef jerky, I
crawled on my knees through a small
passage and was suddenly in the
legendary King's Chamber. The lidless
coffin was right where I had seen
pictures of it. So this is where the
religious gurus, kings, prophets and
seers of the planet had been before
It seems like they could have at
least afforded to put a top on the
coffin; the whole thing must have
cost a bundle. But I guess they had
budget problems and cost overruns
even back then. Nothing ever changes.
I lit six flares and placed them
around the room, and crawled. into
the coffin. After all, this was supposed
to be the place where the revelations
took place. Searching around with my
flashlight, I noticed a small piece of
parchment in the corner, with writing
on it. My heart skipped a beat. What a
discovery! To my amazement, it was
in English.
It read: "While in Cairo, be sure
to visit the King Cheeps Massage
Parlor, just one block from the Cairo
Hilton. All major credit cards ac"pled."

So much


in a privileged place. I relaxed, popped

in a blank cassette, switched on the
tape recorder, and sat with my pad,
pencil and camera. I decided to chant
OM to help things along.
The sounds of my chanting resonated all through the chamber, with
better acoustics than Cherokee Recording Studio in Hollywood, California. I sounded so good that I began
singing in a strange voice, exactly like
Nelson Eddy: "I am calling you 00000000 .....
00000." I even began
alternating with Jeanette MacDonald's
part. It was exhilarating, and I expected to embark on some esoteric escapades.
Truth Is Hturt

I stopped singing, and the echo

went on for a few seconds. Then I
heard a gruff voice: "Yeah ..... what
do you want?"
I was so scared I almost defecated
in my Levis. (That's why I had
brought along the Northern Tissue!)
Gathering up my courage, I asked of
the voice a rather stupid question:
"Uh, are, uh, you in ch-charge here?"
A loud laugh emanated from somewhere above. "You ain't just whistling
Dixie. What's your pleasure?"
Afraid to ask the person's (or
thing's) identity, I said as profoundly
as I could: "I have journeyed here, a
humble pilgrim, to learn your great
secrets. I will do anything to learn
them and carry the TRUTH to the
<O>/~ ~A~"'tf9 "'>/-'9~R41
& ~ ~.;y~~r'

"" ~

Another snicker arqse. "You guys

just keep on comin', don't you? What
do you want from me? The truth is
'hturt' spelled backwards. The truth
is, if you eat roast corn-on-the-cob,
you'll get kernels stuck in your teeth.
The truth is, Helen Reddy's singing
stinks. The truth is ..... "
"But wait a minute," I exclaimed.
"What about all these cosmic secrets
I've been hearing about?"
"Oh, I don't know about those
things. You might try City Hall in
Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Or maybe Swami
Baktojama Singh Zloc Ratcipu; he's
now operating a pizza joint in Tenafly,
New Jersey."
"But what shall I take back with
me, for all my trouble?" I asked.
"Well," he said, "if you really
want to know, there's a fortune here
in bat feces. You should carry all you
can out of here. At least it'll pay your
way back."
. "No shit," I said unconsciously.
I never did discover who or what
the voice was, and I found no secrets.
I left Egypt after selling a back pack of
bat guano to a truck farm outside
Giza for $986. You probably think the
story ends here, and that I've given
up my quest for higher knowledge.
Not at all.
Another friend of mine told me
that in the Ouachita Mountains of
southeast Oklahoma, there is an
ancient structure built in the shape
of a perfect parallelogram, and known
to give off cloud-like effluvia similar to
Milk of Magnesia.
I' JUst won der
n b e .....
er Iif may

".?&:.-&h.:T~ ~/,9
""'-$..-;; ;.eo,v

"4Y S-.c >Y.,;:y-'a

"Q't? -:&
$/". -tY Gr.<O>1.&? '<r.o
~ t$> (C;o







"Sometimes I wonder how he really feels about us."

Austin, Texas

February, 1980

Page 27

All things, great and small are life

All shape what we are and must become
If the web is to exist,
We must not live in a true sense
But if we were free of its clutches
We could live.

Cold and hungry they weep,
Children never meant to be
Children never loved and never to be loved
Product of a flawed plan.

There is a promised land,

It is in it we are living.
Though not perfect yet,
All is needed is a spring cleaning,
To remove the web from our minds
that prevents perfection

Nature's plan was simple,

to be understood by all
written in language of life
But man chose not to understand
he chose to read it wrongly,
to fit it to his own plans

With a fresh, clean start,

We may do as we want,
and have the promised land.
Robin Murray-O'Hair

Man rots in a world meant to be perfect

In a nest now destroyed.
Destroyed by man
Man cared not of his nest
from the first moment' he was man
But foolishly used it,
thinking all the while,
of his promised land.
Man cared not of his kind,
but of himself,
Not of all, but of one,
All the while, living in a dream,
a dream of his promised land.
Man tried to keep face with a few do-gooders,
but they were as the rest,
causing just as much sadness
just as much want,
Adding more to the filth called man.
But man is not truly filthy,
not in his true form,
He is really just another ray of light,
meant to do good
But caught in a web of madness.
The web of madness
But what is this mysterious web?
Who weaves this web?
What can it be but god?
The idea of god,
the doings of the people of god.
A web woven by a few imperfect,
disfigured by slight mistakes,
mistakes in minor, meaningless things,
but not really minor.

Page 28

February, 1980

American Atheist

G. Richard


Just as Christians can read the Bible and warp its meaning
until its absurd contradictions no longer contradict, so, too,
do they take the events in history and warp them out of
shape until they are nicely Christianized. While the sheep of
the flocks may accept their shepherds' false interpretation of
history out of trusting ignorance, those shepherds deliberately
distort the past to serve their political needs of the present.
This can be shown by examining two common, priestly
historical interpretations for their accuracy.
The first is the insistent denial by religionists that the
founding fathers had sought with the First Amendment to secure for the U.S.A. freedom FROM religion. Naturally, religionists insist they wanted only to guarantee freedom OF
religion in the modem sense of the expression. This distinction is significant and important. FROM means a secular
society where religion is totally separated from the state.
OF, as it has come to mean in this century, means a sectarian
society with no particular sect' representing the state religion,
but neither there being separation of state and church.
To prove their claim for OF, religionists often declare,
"One of the reasons for the colonists to come to the new
country was freedom OF religion and not for freedom FROM
religion." Is this true? An examination of history shows this
to be not even partially true.
Shall Be Put To Death
The colonists did not come to the New World to have freedom of religion in any sense of the term, althoughthis is what
they claimed. However, deeds prove the truth of words.
"Many of the early settlers in America came here to escape
religious persecution at home. Nevertheless, once they were
established in the new land, they often set up standards of
worship that smacked of the intolerance they had fled." (Annals of America, Vol. 1, p. 87)
In the regulations established in 1624 for the colonists in
New Amsterdam (later New York) upon their arrival, these
seekers of freedom of religion declared everyone "shall practice no other form of divine worship within their territory
than that of the Reformed religion as presently practised here
in this country." (A of A, Vol. 1, p. 88) The Maryland Toleration Act of 1649 declared that anyone who "shall henceforth
blaspheme god, that is, curse him, or deny our saviour Jesus
Christ to be the son of god, or shall deny the holy trinity"
shall be executed and all his property turned over to the Lord
Proprietary and his heirs. (A of A, Vol. 1, p. 88) With'such
"freedom of religion," one wonders why Thomas Jefferson despised all Christian sects?
In 1648 Massachusetts adopted The Book of the General
Laws and Liberties. One of the capital laws reads, "If any
man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other
god but the lord god, he shall be put to death." Another
law reads, "If any person shall blaspheme the name of god,
the father, son, or holy ghost, with direct, express, presumptuous, or high-handed blasphemy, or shall curse god in the like
manner, he shall be put to death." (A of A, Vol. 1, p. 167)
These landmark laws preserving "freedom of religion," the
avowed goal of the colonists, were so admirable that Connecti-

cut included them in their 1650 Code of the Connecticut

General Court. (A of A, Vol. 1, p. 200)
3 May, 1676, was an election day ih Boston, Massachusetts.
On this day William Hubbard gave a sermon to the voters (all
men, of course) in which he advised them on how to procure
their happiness through their votes. One of his recommendations, in the true spirit of freedom of religion, was prevention
of "the snreadinz and arowth of corrupt doctrine and heretical
opinions." (A of A, Vol. 1, p. 252) How was this achieved?
In The Great Republic by Bernard Bailyn, et al, the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts are described as a people enthralled to a narrowminded priesthood who desired "to
create, by persuasion if possible, by force if force were
necessary and available to them, a general pattern of behavior
that would be likely to gain god's [i.e., the priests'] approval."
(p. 53) Unfortunately for the colony, force was available to
the priests, and their use of force proves that freedom of religion was not part of the holy lifestyle they wanted all to conform to.
Neither Merriness Nor Grace
In his brilliant The Emancipation of Massachusetts, Brook
Adams reached this conclusion about the New England clergy:
"Few priesthoods have made more systematic use of terror."
(p. 429) Adams proves this with many heartbreaking examples. The recent bicentennial edition of the Encyclopedia of
American History edited by Richard B. Morris also contains
many - too, too many - examples of the ruthlessness of the
New English theocracy.
For instance, Thomas Morton assumed rcontrol of the
colony town at Mount Wollaston and liberated the place to
enjoy life in a fashion definitely not theologically acceptable
to the grim Puritans. The place got the happy nickname
Merrymount, and drew the wrath of the clergy. In June, 1628,
Miles Standish led a force that destroyed the merry settlement.
Morton was deported to England.
In 1637 a Boston preacher, John Wheelwright, decided
that humans are saved by "grace" (l.e., god wants you in
heaven no matter what you do in life) and not by "works"
(i.e., god doesn't want you in heaven unless you behave according to how the priests interpret the rules of Christian
behavior from the Bible). This was contrary to the Puritan
doctrine. It was also, I'm sure everyone will agree, purely a
religious opinion that Wheelwright should have been free to
hold had the colonists come to America seeking freedom of
religion. For this deviant theology, the preacher was tried and
convicted of sedition and contempt.
On 18 July, 1651, the Massachusetts theocracy heavily
fined and banished to the wilderness three Baptists. In the
summer of 1656, the Quakers first arrived in the land the Puritans had claimed was dedicated to freedom of religion. They
were thrown in prison, tortured, then expelled. In 1658 the
Puritans passed a law making any Quaker silly enough to return to Massachusetts subject to the death penalty. This was
no joke. On 27 October, 1659, two foolish Quakers, William
Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, were hanged for the
crime of trying to practice freedom of religion in America.

February, 1980

Austin, Texas

Page 29

In 1692, Cotton Mather reflected in his diary on the persecution of the Quakers. His conclusion was that, in the spirit
of Christian brotherly love. The Quakers should not have been
hanged, they should have been incarcerated in insane asylums!
Feeling proud of his "superior" morality, Mather boasted,
"I think, I am the only minister living in the land, that have
testified against the suppression of heresy, by persecution."
(Diary of Cotton Mather, Vol. 1, p. 149)
Massachusetts wasn't the only colony to be hostile, to the
Quakers. Thomas Jefferson, in his autobiography, comments
that towards the Quakers the Virginia colonists "were most
cruelly intolerant, driving them from the colony by the
severest penalties." (The Life and Selected Writings of Jefferson edited by Adrienne Koch and William Peden, p. 40) The
reason this happened was because the grant for the establishment of the colony of Virginia contained an express proviso
that the colonists' laws had to make the Church of England
the state religion of the colony. There is nothing in any of this
that can by any stretch of the imagination be called freedom
of religion.
Believe me, Atheists were silent in those days of "freedom
of religion." Even the founding fathers found it necessary a
hundred years later to be deists, who are Atheists in every way
except when asked if they believe in a god. Then they can say
yes. However, the deist god is so remote he has no part in human life, requires neither prayers nor worship, and has no need
for a priesthood.
The Hard Facts Of History
One of the reasons the founding fathers pushed for a Bill
of Rights in addition to the U.S. Constitution was a concern
that the new plan for American government didn't provide
effectively freedom from religion. In Article VI there is only
the law that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
In his autobiography, Jefferson wrote he had been displeased
upon reading the proposed constitution that it did not have
stronger language protecting the state from the theocratic
lusts of the priesthoods of America. James Madison, in a 1788
letter to Jefferson, admitted the need of a Bill of Rights because he was disturbed that "one of the objections in New
England was that the Constitution, by prohibiting religious
tests, opened a door for Jews, Turks and infidels." (A of A,
Vol. 3, p. 306) He feared that without a more specific Bill of
Rights, the majority would find a way to establish a state religion.
The hard facts of history prove conclusively that the colonists arriving in America had no intention of permitting freedom of religion, let alone freedom from religion. The First
Amendment was made law of the land to prevent any sect
or union of sects from seizing power and returning America
to her original state of a persecuting theocracy using torture
and executions to stamp out whatever it considered heresy.
In other words, the First Amendment was written to guarantee freedom FROM religion.
The statement that "Thomas Jefferson despised all Christian sects" will always draw another standard Christian falsification of history; that of turning our founding fathers into
Christians. It is common to hear or read such statements by
Christians as "our very constitution was written by men inspired by god." (Six Years in Hell by Lt. Cot Jay R. Jensen) .
. This necessary in order to justify the deliberate corrosion
of the First Amendment most Christian sects engage in. After
all, if our founding fathers were not Christians it would be
absurd to claim they were inspired by old Yahweh. Surely,
he would have used members of his own team if he had' had

Page 30

anything to do with the creation of the USA. And if they

weren't inspired by god, then the siege religion has put the
First Amendment under is definitely unAmerican!
It is claimed Thomas Jefferson, for instance, was a Christian by a "proof" such as this statement: "He wrote that all
men were endowed by their creator to certain unalienable
Two of Jefferson's acts while in public office are sufficient
to disprove this. While a member of the Virginia legislature,
which he had resigned from Congress to rejoin in October,
1776, he wrote Virginia's famous bill for establishing religious freedom. As Jefferson put it in his autobiography, he
had written the bill "to comprehend, within the mantle of
its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and
Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination." (Koch and Peden, p, 47) The Christian in the legislature tried to get the bill amended-to limit religious freedom
only to those sects believing in Jesus Christ. Jefferson, who
did not like Christianity and did not believe a single Christian
myth, held strong for freedom FROM religion and won the
In June, 1779, Jefferson became governor of Virginia, and
a Visitor [Le., a governing authority] of William and Mary
College as well. As a Visitor, he could enact change in the
curriculum of the college, which had been founded solely to
produce preachers. He modernized the institution by getting
rid of obsolete professorships, two of them being those for
Divinity, to replace them with professorships in Law and
Order, Anatomy, Medicine and Chemistry, and Modern. Languages. Had he been Christian, or even sympathetic to Christianity, I do not believe he would have booted religion out of
the curriculum of the college. Just try to imagine Jimmy Cartter pulling such a stunt if he became regent of one of our universities, and you will readily comprehend only a firm nonChristian would do as Jefferson did when a Visitor of William
and Mary.
Never Was A Christian
One need only examine Jefferson's religious beliefs to
show that his behavior in public office towards religion was
based on a philosophy that was firmly anti-Christian. I write
this even though I know that in an 1803 letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Jefferson declared, "I am a Christian." Now, before
Christians gloat in triumph over me, I must point out that
Jefferson qualified that declaration by saying he was "sincerely attached to his [Jesus'] doctrines, in preference to all
others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other."
What does this mean? For the answer,let's look at an 1819
letter to William Short. Here Jefferson lamented that the
doctrine of JC Superstar requires abstraction from "the rubbish in which it is buried." In this letter he described ths rubbish as being the dogmas of "the immaculate conception of
Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his
miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his
corporeal presence in the eucharist, the trinity, original sin,
atonement, regeneration, election, orders of hierarchy, etc."
,Obviously, Jefferson never was a Christian, even though he
called himself one. If you have any doubts, just try to imagine
the pope or Billy Graham or Anita Bryant calling rubbish the
list of dogmas Jefferson scorned as rubbish. No one who is a
Christian could accept Jefferson's conclusion about these
dogmas, but an Atheist has no problem accepting it.
To understand more fully Jefferson's real beliefs on JC
Superstar, we can return to the 1819 letter to Short. In it he
declared, "I too am an Epicurian." An Epicurian! How vile!

February, 1980

American Atheist

However, as with Christianity, Jefferson had his own individual opinion of what Epicurianism is. He did not believe with
majority that Epicurus was the author of a philosophy of
sophisticated degeneration anymore than he believed JC Superstar was god. He believed that "the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational
in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us."
For Thomas Jefferson, JC Superstar and Epicurus were supreme moral philosophers. "Epicurus [gave] laws for governing ourselves, Jesus a supplement of the duties and charities
we owe to others." Jefferson approved of the morals to be
found in the gospels, and because he did, he called himself a
Christian. However, he scorned all the theological nonsense
to be found in the gospels, which, of course, means no Christian would allow him the title of Christian - not while he
condemned as rubbish the basic foundations of theological
Christiani ty .
Jefferson was not a Christian. Did he despise Christian
sects? Let's turn to a 1786 letter to George Wythe written
when Jefferson was one of the American ministers in France.
In it he wrote, "If anyone thinks that kings, nobles, or priests
are good conservators of the public happiness, send him here.
It is the best school in the universe to cure him of that folly."
As was shown above, Jefferson did not believe priests in
America brought the public any happiness, and in every public
office he held, he made some effort to advance or sustain
separation of state and church:
All this at least infers, if it does not prove, that Jefferson
did indeed dislike Christianity. For those who still might
quibble about Jefferson's animosity towards religion, read
those words in the 1819 letter to Short. Here Jefferson blames
Christian sects for "the heresies of bigotry and fanaticism
which have so long triumphed over human reason, and so generally and deeply afflicted mankind." Can there really be any

doubt that organized religion was one of the forms of tyranny

against which Jefferson was eternally hostile?
One Of The Heroes
Yet, Jefferson believed in a creator god. Why? The answer
is found in an 1823 letter to John Adams. Jefferson described
god as a philosophical necessity to explain why the universe
exists. God for Jefferson was "an ulterior cause, or creator of
the world." The significant difference between Jefferson's
creator god and the Christian god is that Jefferson's god required neither churches nor worship nor unquestioning faith in
specific dogmas nor a priesthood nor prayers nor any sort of
Why is this man, who in the same letter to Adams declared
he could never be an Atheist, one of the heroes of modem
American Atheism? Because he was, like all American Atheists, an enemy to every form of tyranny over the human
mind; because he had dedicated his life in part to creating and
preserving the wall of separation of state and church erected
by the First Amendment; because, like all American Atheists,
he believed that human problems could only be solved by
human solutions produced by intelligent, sane application of
human rationality guided by human knowledge and sound,
moral, human philosophy; because he despised, like all American Atheists, all religious sects.
Joseph McCabe wrote in his autobiography that he became
a historian partly because he saw that the history of Europe
needed to be rewritten with all the Christian falsifications, misleading interpretations, and gross omissions purged from it.
The same is true for American history. That religion is still
a power in this nation today is partly because never have our
school textbooks taught honestly the true facts concerning
Christianity in American history.



it .-.."",",~",~

If love can't be constant then let it re-echo
If not ever-binding, then free
If love can't have quality let it have bulk
But whatever the terms .... let it BE.



Though not forgotten, old love dims

Assembling with what used to be
This newest love obscures the past
As time plays taps for memory.
I lie in his arms more quietly now
Kissesare softer and sweeter
The fire steadies down to an evener glow
Love throbs to an easiermeter.


"1 suppose one could call this 'holy water', eh?';

Austin, Texas






February, 1980

Page 31

Ignatz Sahula-Dycke

Chips and Shavings

In every community, state, nation
and civilization, and in every generation there arise canny, self-deluded
individuals who envision themselves
as fit to lead. Spurred to it by avarice,
they count for success in it on the
discontent of the thoughtless others
among whom they live. These agitators tell their hearers that all will
be given happiness, possessions, riches
- thus tempting them to become
followers. These glib demagogues invariably depend on help in their scheming from the innate superstitious
weakness of the people and from the
ecclesiastics who nurture it. The
thoughtless are unaware that happiness is to be found only in themselves
and rarely on the outside, and never
ecclesiastical commands. Deferring here to
religion only leads the thoughtless to
indecision, confusion of desire, eventual disappointment
and diminution
of self-reliance, and to self-disrespect.
The happiest people are those who
aren't joiners, or followers, or leaders.
They've learned to do what makes a
human into an individual - into a
truly and sensitively responsive specimen of mankind. None of the enjoyment
and satisfaction that such people get
out of life now depends on or has
anything to do with their origin,
family, nation or race. It only demands
a bit of determination,
and confers
upon those able .to command it the
most precious of all possessions: peace
of mind.
Passion, or for that matter any
kind of excessive enthusiasm or fanaticism, is usually no more than a
persisting compulsion to have others
believe or take for reality what the
fanatic himself manages to imagine
but actually only wishes were not
fantasy but a fact.
Fantasy poses a problem of no
small proportions. Its clarification is
further complicated by the part played in it by the antiquated and even
obsolete definitions existing dictionaries ascribe to words required for
it. The solution would
be simple were the words for it under-

Page 32

stood to mean much the same thing to

most people most of the time. But
they don't. The language reached its
philological level during the past
thousand years or more, and during
those years became considerably latinized. As a result, a good many of
the words that avail in it for conveying to others our clean and decent
enthusiasm about life, now still reflect the twisting which the Western
peoples' ontogenetic progress suffered from at the hands of the ecclesiastical varletry that in those thousand
years held sway over the entire Western European land mass and its islands.
The language consequently constrains its user - when he attempts to
communicate his feelings - to take
the path bloodied by generations of
worshippers of the cruelest djinn that
fantasy had hitherto conceived and
put into words. In this way, anyone
to communicate to another the" aspirational
feelings awakened in him, say, by the beauties of
nature, or of creaturedom,
is forced
to resort to words that (in the development of the language) were coined for
expressing the feelings of a pope, a
bishop, or some other religiously exalted fanatic or propagandist.
Consider now, how insidiously this
condition enables the superstitions of
religion to continue burrowing into
the tendrils of our consciousness. Consider the words which, because of
their religionary connotations, keep
religion ever in the forefront, ever
reminding us of its antihuman dogmas, all subtly helping it to make us
and our minds its slaves, The next
time you read, underscore the words
and phrases redolent of religion and
its misconceived explanation of nature's unpredictably
intricate dynamics. It'll be a revelation. Make a list;
every such word - adoration, worship, magic, religion, catholic, sacred, pagan, sinner, and all the rest
-has a religious as well as secular
connotation which, either through intent or long usage, has made us, its
users, conscious of religion's pretend-

February, 1980

ed concern for our welfare. Thus, any

careless use of words only helps to
religion's interference
with the sanity we must retain in
order to survive.
Anyone enthralled by an indwelling compulsive belief that all others
should trust in the reality of delusions
he himself only assumes to be facts
usually based on hearsay
-can't very well be anything but an
impassioned fanatic and fool. We are
living in an age of fanatics -viz.
Ireland, South Africa, Lebanon, Iran,
- as the result of the
clash between science and religion.
But the fanatics are everywhere we
go even if not all dangerously violent.
Here and there among them in this
fool's paradise we occasionally meet
friends who we know are sane and
rational. I won't call the latter folk
normal; were they normal, they'd not
stand out in the crowd. The normal
thing nowadays is to belong to and try
to keep from suffocating in the thoughtless morass that whines from daylight to dark about everything except
the thing that makes fhem the sick
they are.
Religions of the kind so numerous
today no longer even pretend to teach,
as they once did. Today's religious
concentrate on money and its inherent power, and for this they promise
anything the faithful will trade money for. The religions have' in fact
grown so brazen and solifidian they
now tell the believers that faith alone
personal merit - assures
Get in line, folks; only
believe, and you'll be "saved", but
don't forget to bring money.
How about speaking of our homeland, where I sit staring at a manuscript of a remark voiced by Jimmy
Carter some years ago - before he
became president. He at that time
averred being an engineer and nuclear physicist. This fascinates me since it tends to show that nowadays a
sheepskin can embolden its holder to
hide behind it his disregard of the
scientific discipline which our haphazard educational methods - and

American Atheist




There are varying degrees of insults. Insult travels from the extremity of the unintended "slip-of-thetongue" variety to full blown vicious
degradations by hate mongering antagonists. Unlike other arenas of
social intercourse, the "ultimate" or
most fundamentally
perfect insult is
not exempl ified by the latter extremity. Rather, the ultimate insult lies
somewhere between the extremes.
Also, the ultimate insult can be
calmly and seemingly innocently issued by an otherwise friendly acquaintance thus rendering
the offended
party almost helpless in defense. Consider: an unthinking diner, gorging
himself on a meal prepared by a
culinary expert, after dousing it with
liberal amounts of catsup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, then exclaims "What a good cook the host is."
Compliment? No. Actually, the host's
efforts have been insulted - but in a
way that leaves the cook defenselessly aghast. Thus the ultimate insult
has been effectively inflicted.
There are two basic generating
personalities capable of such insults.
There is the unthinking offender who
has attempted to "be nice" but really
doesn't know how. Then there is the
clever offender who
has effectively hidden the insult so
that it cannot be politely parried. In
both such instances there is an ongoing form of insult which is being
abundantly shoved - in our case - at
all Atheists. I'm quite certain that
most Atheists have heard, on many
occasions, one or all of the following
insulting statements:
(1) "Well, Atheism is just another
kind of religion."
(2) "Atheism is a person's ability to
subscribe to a 'disbelief', usually
taught to him by a 'disbeliever'."
(3) "Atheism is a system of negativism fostered in those 'who have
nothing in which to believe'."
All three categories readily disclose
the inadequacies of uneducated people
who attempt to relate to a subject
about which they know absolutely
If any of the above three insults

bore any degree of legitimacy it would

be relatively simple to "convert"
many religionists to an Atheistic outlook by invoking the hideous historical pasts of all known religions. The
insane atrocities that are perpetrated
on an almost daily basis by religionists would be ammunition enough to
validate the charges against all religious teachings. The "Atheist" could
then "justifiably espouse," in the case
of insult No.1, suitable "Atheistic
doctrines." But, then, of course, there
are none! In case No.2, the "Atheist"
might counter with some kind of
attempted explanation of "believing
in a disbelief." Whatever that may be!
Or, consider insult No.3, where the
"Atheist" could drum a pessimistically negative attitude of non-acceptance of any affirmative realization
in any mentionable area! It would
seem that to do this one would have to
be quite dead!
Obviously, then, any of the three
ideas is very insulting to any true
ASide from the insulting opinions
of "believers" it seems that no one
actually realizes that an Atheist, in
this "religious world," often has problems enough coming to his own intellectual positions. One does not simply accept Atheism as a "philosophy"
or "convert" to Atheism. Atheism is
not a, quote, philosophy, in a true
sense of the word. It is a realization
that aI/previous religious information,
al/ previous religiously imposed social acceptances, and all previously
religiously imposed personal acceptances, are in error! It is a gradual
realization that supernaturalism,
and historically accepted by society,
is simply fraudulent garbage.
Thus, encompassed in such a reassessment of acceptable knowledge,
the philosophy of mater-ialism necessarily comes to represent the real
truths of all existences. I find it disturbing to realize that even some
"Atheists" do not significantly understand the principles of materialism.
With this in mind one can easily see
the depth of confusion that abounds
in the minds of religionists of every

February, 1980

Austin, Texas


variety. All religions are based on the

absurd acceptance of Absolute Idealism. One not thoroughly acquainted
with the implications of Absolute Idealism, and its absurdities, can usually discount all or part of positive
science by substituting "supernatural
occurrences" when confronted with
difficult situations. This irrational
practice is. and always has been, the
basis of religiousity.
Such simplemindedness therefore can view all
accomplishment .good or bad, social
or scientific, as "god's will" regardless of whether the result represents
positive gain or negative failure. The
truth is that all occurrences are attributable to either natural causes or the physical efforts of
living intelligences.
What we have then is an incomplete understanding
of the meaning of
words and their application to the human mental processes. Materialism vs. supernaturalism,
thusly, is further complicated by the
fact that not enough people understand the meaning of either.
The basic issue of the.argument is
that the materialist realizes that an
"idea" cannot originate or exist without an intelligence (a brain) to generate it. The religionists' position is
quite the opposite! Their claim is that
the precursor of all physical existence was an "idea" or mystical benevolent desire which somehow occurred outside of nature. This argument
shoukl have been effectively decided
years ago by our physically scientific
awareness of the First Law of Physics, that matter and/or energy can
neither be created nor destroyed, only
changed. However, lack offundamental understanding
of this principle
has led to worldly confusion among
religionists and even some" Atheists".
To simplify such an understanding
one must come to the realization that
all things, whether material or energy, have always existed in some
form. Not being particularly fond of
self-educational effort, many who are
not aware of this very basic physical
principle, seem content to wander
aimlessly in the science world refer-

Page 33

ring to themselves as so-called "agnostics." Then, feigning an intellectual

of physics, religionists and "agnostics" alike become
more deeply mired in ignorance by
attempting to discuss and understand
subjects like black holes, "Big Bangs," "scientific creationism,"
Thus, in all of today's babblings in
such scientific areas, one must look
very closely to find the true scientist
who realizes that even in these massive astronomical theoretical propositions, all aspects of such alleged events still would respond to the never
changing fact that no occurrence, no
"manifestation," or no existence, can
be derived from "nothingness."
Black holes, recently "revealed" to
us, have been theoretically described
as intriguing areas in space wherein
all substances, material and energy,
have experienced some type of "total"
collapse into an infinitely small and
tremendously dense confinement. Due
possibly to immense gravitational effect, all substances and energies
(even light) remain locked in an apparent "void" of darkness in space.
Such alleged areas possibly do exist.
The fact still remains that those substances physically exist, even if in an
infinitely compact situation. It has
been theoretically explained that if
an astronomic body the size of Earth
should experience molecular collapse.
it would reduce to the size of a tennis
ball. Such a collapse of any universal
system, when astronomically viewed
from tremendous distances, would
very likely appear to be a relatively
"small" dark "void" in space.
The second premise, "Big Bangism," is equally dependent upon previous physical existence of energy /substance. If one should disagree, I would
immediately ask, "What the hell blew
up then - nothing?" "Nothingness"
certainly does not provide materials or
energies which contain explosive qualities! "Somethingness," however, does.
Through knowledge that is now
available to us we know that the very
idea of an area of "nothingness' is impossible. All areas of space, no matter
how sparse or "empty" they may appear to be, are permeated with traces
of light (heat energy) and gravitational
influences. The key here is the elimination of the word "apparent." Apparently "void," apparently "empty," in
a visual sense is scientifically incorrect ..
The actual contents of these areas, presumed to be "empty," are measurable
in terms of heat or gravitational influ-

Page 34

ence. As in the case of an alleged black

hole, one would then find an area abundant with materials or energies
suited to provide a massive "Big Bang"
occurrence. We have only begun to investigate the. intricacies of astro-physics.
This brings one to the most absurd
religious outlook - "scientific creationism!" This is: at one time "god"
was very young. So young in, fact, that
he had no "body" - no physical attributes! "He" was a mystical idea somehow floating in a "nothingness" space!
The unique thing about this particular
"idea" (god) is that no brain or intelligence was required to generate it. Such
ignorance quickly leads from the absurd to the ridiculous. Ideas, premises,
thoughts, dreams, whatever, are all energetic products of some form of intelligence (brain). We are, therefore,
back at point A - material existence,
(materialism). To accept otherwise,
one must be irrational, which is simply
a polite way to say slightly - or totally - insane.
Intelligence is the opposite of insanity. Intelligence requires education insanity does not! If I were to choose
a one word definition for Atheism it
would be education - never ending,
never resting education - unencumbered by any nonsensical assumption
that things exist outside of nature,
when we have evidences to show
otherwise. The religious premise of
"scientific creationism" is simply a
frantic grasp at a final fantasy of
fanaticism. It is difficult to communicate with anyone so mentally damaged
by such a dilemma. The only avenue
of approach to such a person would be
a total "deprogramming" of his mind
followed by positive educational instruction. Unfortunately, in this instance, the human mind is "Verytenacious in its ability to retain information. To remove incorrect information or memory data one must resort
to drastic psychiatric therapy or at

February, 1980

least psychological reassessment. The

more desirable method would have
been to educate them factually in the
first instance. Difficulty is compounded when we face people who "wish"
to be ill of mind or irrational. No such
person readily admits to being in need
of psychiatric or psychological help.
This is usually because they do not recognize the side-effect symptoms of
their psychosis: indecisiveness, inability to comprehend, prejudice, anxiety,
etc. After all, they're only human.
In conclusion, if one is an Atheist
and if anyone should insult that
Atheist by any of the three previously
mentioned methods, one need just inform them that one's Atheism simply
designates the extent of one's educational enlightenment - not one's religion.~
Ignatz SahulaD eke


from p. 32]

the sheepskin - assure us the holder

respects. Now, we all know that science disagrees with Genesis, and visa
versa, and both can't be right. In view
of this (and if Jimmy is all he said he
was), then either his first statement
about being a scientist is false, or it
must be his later statement that he is
a born-again Christian. There's no
evading this UNLESS and UNTIL
we realize that he is one of the breed
that talks out of both sides of its
mouth: A POLITICIAN. I'm not saying Jimmy is any worse than other
presidents, only that, like so many
others, he isn't sure of the vote.
I often marvel and wax indignant
at the bizarre things so many of
today's people accept and believe in
as sterling truths. I learned a long
time ago not to worry too much about
truth because it's elusive - and a
bare-faced lie can often be disguised
to look like it. I now prefer to deal
with belief on the basis of factuality,
and hence accord it status in proportion to the evidence supporting
This saves a lot of time when facing
questions of fact. Note that factual
reality is easy to establish, or to deny,
by means of a priori assertions depending on the probability theory or
on quantum physics, and this at best
only for the time being - and in
either such case until conclusively
disproved. Who would credit such
proofs? Such proof certainly wouldn't
satisfy, let alone convince, any of
those who nowadays worry themselves silly about getting to heaven! ~

American Atheist

The American Atheist Radio

Madalyn Murray O'Hair


222 ....

2 Dec. 1972 ...

KTBC ....



Hello there,
This is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheist, back to talk
with you again.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called me today, a bit
aghast at the declaration of the Pope that the devil actually exists
and that people should be on guard against him. The commentator
read to me a lengthy release which has apparently
not been
circulated in America. In this the Pope described the devil as dark
and dangerous,
indeed the hidden enemy in history which has
caused so much anguish to people. The Pope feels that the devil is
dominating both communities and entire societies. He sees in him a
"terrific reality - mysterious and awe-inspiring."
The Pope criticized those who question the existence of the devil,
and reaffirmed that "This obscure and disturbing being does exist."
He went on to say that Satan has a host of other devils at his orders,
and that the Christian must fight not "against one devil but against
an awe-striking plurality."
I have had several encounters with persons who believe in the
devil. One minister has indeed received some thunderous appla use
for calling me a devil.
.Please listen to this tape from a recent broadcast of an evangelist
minister. (Segment of 30 seconds, 17 feet inserted. No identification
"May I say this. God said, 'Pray without season' and
He said, 'Let everything that has breath praise the Lord'
and I don't believe that the government or the state or
anyone else will be able to do anything with millions of
kids that decide that Madalyn Murray O'Hair is a
devil and prayer needs to be in school where it was
This is a part of a thirty minute harangue against me, which has
been nationwide on radio.
In addition, I go to various cities to talk at universities and
colleges and when I am in a given area, the local 'talk' television
shows always invite me in.
In Columbus, Ohio, I appeared on the Phil Donahue Show' the
facts of life are that I need police protection. We were appearing at
the Ohio State Fair and, as always, there was the fear that some
Christian who had a direct line to god would try to do me in.
Armed guards were there.
As usual, after such a presentation,
there is always a surging of
people around the podium. They either want to argue with me or to
congratulate me for my courageous stand.
Well, Phil had me in a circular kind of box which would look
good on television and a part of it had to be rolled back to let me
out when the television thing was over. I was involved with this
with an armed security guard at my side when suddenly this young
man pounced upon my body. He was over me in seconds,
completely covering me with his body and screaming.

Austin, Texas

He yelled, 'Devil, I command you to leave this woman. Satan, you

beast, release her from your entrance. I command you to come out
of this woman." By this time, the security guards had him. He was
about six feet tall; he 'must have been about 19 years old, thin. and
with pimples on his face. I looked at him and said to him, "Fellow.
you are a real nut." He kept on screaming as they carried him off
and the substance of it was that a devil had possessed my body and
that he could drive the devil out of me by the laying on of hands.
He was terribly disappointed
for his big chance had come and
there I was - still possessed of the devil. With a pout, he said,
"Jesus Christ said I could do it. Jesus Christ said Icould do it." and
he meant by that - that he could drive this devil out of me.
the poor boy was correct. I found 64 references
to the devil in the New Testament. Jesus Christ did tell his disciples
that they also could cast out devils. We find this in Matthew.
Chapter 10:8, where he was instructing 'these twelve'. He says to
them, "And as ye go preach, saying. the kingdom of heaven is at
hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out
devils; freely ye have received, freely give."
Indeed after Jesus
Christ had risen from the dead. he appeared to his disciples and he
said that anyone could cast out devils. I read his exact words to you
as quoted in Mark, Chapter 16:17: "And these signs shall follow
them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils."
The young man in laying hands on me -. in daring to lay his
hands on me - was doing that which Christ had admonished him
to do.
This is a terrible mental sickness.
My oldest son, Bill, knows Anton Le Vey, who is billed as a devil
worshipper, the head of Satanic Cults in America. There are a great
number of such cults now. They proliferate.
Among the Jesus
people there is the idea of devil possession. Much of the literature
which crosses my desk speaks of the idea of devils now. Pat Boone
is very proud of the fact that he can cast out devils and in one story
he has told to a religious magazine he speaks proudly of wrestling
to the floor a man possessed by a devil and that the devil did not
leave the man's body without a fight. Pat Boone starred in the
story, "The Switchblade and the Cross" in the cinema and is happy
to talk of the conversions he has made and the number of persons
he has converted in his swimming pool, in a total immersion
Today also, I received material here in the American Atheist
Center about the Roman Catholic Church's experience with the
driving out of devils. This exercise is called exorcism. Let me read a
portion of this to you - from a book which has the imprimata
(that is, which is approved by the Roman Catholic Church). It is
typical of many such books.
"That there is a world of demons is a teaching of revealed
religion which is perfectly clear to all who know Sacred Scripture
and respect and accept its word as inspired of God."
That is true. The New Testament abounds in talk about devils
and the art of exorcism which is the methodology of driving them
It is part of the whole Judaeo-Christian





So respected a person as C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters

even notes that if the little inexperienced novice devils, about to
start out on their work of seducing men, can convince men that the
devil does not exist, then half the battle is already won.
This Roman Catholic book, which supports the Pope in his fears
about the work of the devil, says that "Christ our Lord overcame
Satan on the cross." and "Yet, the devil is not completely
vanquished or trodden underfoot once for all, and the warfare
against him is carried out by Christ and His Church until the end of
If we resort to the New Testament and to Paul, we find that he is
prompted to admonish us: (Ephesians, Chapter 6: 11-13) "Put on
the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the
wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities,
against powers, against the rules of the
darkness of this world, against spritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be
able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
The Roman Catholic Church tells us that against these unclean
spirits the Church uses as her weapons prayers, blessings, holy
water and other sacramentals to combat the ordinary power that is
wielded over men. But, apart from this ordinary and general power
that Providence allows Satan, the devil, there is also a special and
terrible satanic influence called "possession". This is the domination by the demon devil over the man's bodily organs and his
lower spiritual facilities. This is what the young man was attempting
to drive out of me!!!
According to this doctrine, to be possessed can mean that Satan,
the devil, has gained mastery over the will so devastatingly that
sinfulness passes beyond ordinary depravity in the world, and its
cause must be sought in a power above the order of nature. To be
possessed can mean that the devil has beclouded the intellect so
that the light of faith cannot illuminate it.
The Roman Catholic Church believes that Christ handed down
to the Church the power He once exercised over the demons. And,
if you think that Jesus Christ did not deal with devils - listen to
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils?
(This is Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:22.)
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man
possessed with a devil, and when the devil was cast out ....
(Matthew 9:33-34)
And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he departed out of him, and the
child was cured from that very hour. (Matthew 17: IS)
And he healed many that were sick of diverse diseases, and cast
out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they
knew him. (Mark 1:34)
And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee and
cast out devils. (Mark 1:39)
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he
appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven
devils. (Mark 16:9).
111 the ideas of Jesus Christ currently in vogue he was a great and
wise leader. In actuality, as depicted in the only records we have
concerned with him - those of the New Testament - he was, well,
how should I say this - "odd." He thought that he could drive
devils out of people.
If you turn to Matthew, Chapter S, you are in for a shock. In that
chapter, Jesus was on the road and he met two persons "possessed
with devils". A good way off was a herd of swine. Well, the devils
were worried that Jesus Christ might cast them out of the men. so
they entered into conversation with him and said to him, "If thou
cast us out" - of the men, that is - "suffer us to go away into the
herd of swine." "And he said to them, 'Go ', And when they 'were

Page 36


come out, they went into the herd of swine; and behold, the whole
herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea and
perished in the waters."
You figure that story out. The devils injust two men were in such
great number that they could enter into an entire herd of swine
-just like Mary Magdalene having seven devils in her - these two
men had a multitude of devils in them. On the other hand, as
Voltaire pointed out, what was a herd of swine doing in Jewish
Do any of you listening to this believe any of it? This is 1972. This
is America. We are in the Nuclear Age. This is the age of science
and reason. We can't deal in terms of devils and Satan any more.
This is childish thinking. This belongs to the dim past and to
obscure history. If you do do something despicable,
be man
enough to take credit for it. Don't whimper and say that a devil was
in possession of your body at the time.
We can't order our lives these days with such totally irrational
thinking. We don't need to worry about exorcisms. It is totally
incredible that a church would have rules for exorcism. Can you
imagine a Rite of Exorcism which insists that a devil possessed
person should have that devil approached by a priest in this wise?
The priest says to the devil: "I command you, unclean spirit,
whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this
servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation,
and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the
descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment,
that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of
your departure.
I command you, moreover, to obey me to the
letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness;
shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this Creature of God,
or the bystander, or any of their possessions .... "
Why - this is mad ness - it can not be seriously considered. Any
decent devil would reply to this command, "Oh, go away, son, you
bother me." or with the flippant remark of our youth, "U p yours."
It is regrettable that the Pope at this time should reinforce this
insanity. There are no devils. No one is possessed of them. Mature
adults are responsible
for their acts and ideas and for their
consequences. This is no time for hysteria.
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a public
service by the Socity of Seperetionists. tnc., a non-profit, nonpolitical, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to the
complete and absolute separation of state and church. This
series of American A theist Radio Programs is continued
through listener generosity. The Society of Separationists, tnc.,
predicates its philosophy on American A theism. For more information write to P.O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas 78l68.


Nobody' has

a prayer.

American Atheist




elaine stansfield
History books abound with stories of how two people in
different parts of the world come up with similar
inventions at just about the same time. The same thing
seems to be happening with science fiction movies. First we
had a spate of pseudo-science fiction thrown together for
teenage boys. Then we had a long spell of monster movies,
but with the advent of 2001 and later Star Wars. we have
real scientists acting as consultants, and the whole
resources of the studios are being thrown open for
artwork, mattes, special effects, stereo sound and
throbbing music by the best composers conducting
symphony orchestras. We also have writers coming up
with similar ideas. Star Trek concerns itself with the
Enterprise being suddenly confronted with a "ship" so
enormous it could gobble up the earth in one bit; Black
Hole tells of a scout ship which discovers. directly in front
of what its computer calls "the biggest black hole I've ever
seen" another enormous derelict ship of ghostly and
somewhat sinister components. (And both leviathans turn
out to have been initially man-made.)
Both films, in depicting outer space, and man's reaction
to it, seem unable to escape an overlying religious tinge,
which is adroitly covered up by the fantastic special
effects. Miniatures are so good, kaleidoscopic camera work
so exciting, you would have to be a sourpuss not to admire
the breadth of imagination which has created these
wonders, and for that, I thoroughly enjoyed both of these
Both pictures use too much music, amplified way too
high, but I thought John Barry's score for Black Hole far
superior to Jerry Goldsmith's for Star' Trek.
Both pictures have spectacular encounters with meteors,
which are differently handled but use opticals to splendid,
even breathtaking
effect. Both have their metaphysical
philosophy aimed at making the average viewer believe at least during the time he is in the theater - that it
represents 'deep' thinking. We Atheists will see it as
pseudo-religious claptrap, but perhaps most people will
simply be entertained and amused. In order to explain
this, first a bit of plot development should be given:
Black Hole has acquired mystical proportions since our
scientists have only discovered the phenomenon, and have
almost no knowledge beyond the fact that the holes seem to
reflect back no light at all, and planets and suns disappear
into them with no trace. The investigating crew here, ably
played by Anthony Perkins,
Ernest Borgnine, Yvette
Mimieux and Robert Forster, is of two minds whether to
accompany the mad scientist Maximilian Schell (or is he
really mad") into the hole. Perkins elects to go. saying: "Of

Austin, Texas

course I want to, who wouldn't, it's a chance to go into the

mind of god." The film itself, however, seems to be making
the implication that since the black holes are so mysterious
there is every reason for humans to hold them in exaggerated awe. The further implication ( in both films) is
that entering the hole and "coming out the other side" is a
experience if you survive, or maybe even if
you don't. The use of robots in this one is of considerable
interest: the little fellow who accompanies them is
humanized by constantly spouting proverbs and by being
courageous and patting himself on the back for it. traits
that are supposed to make us feel affectionate towards it,
but which would clearly drive anyone crazy in a day. The
soldier robots on the strange ship run by Maximilian
Schell not only challenge him to target practice, but when
our little robot wins. the chief robot is so angry he blows
his circuits thus committing suicide. The big super-robot
constructed by the scientist is named Maximilian (and if
you don't think he was named after the casting was
complete I miss my guess) but at one point the scientist
leans toward Yvette and whispers. "Protect me from
Maximilian!" a lovely bit of spoofery, for the big robot has
just destroyed Perkins in what can only be described as a
fit of pique.
Star Trek, on the other hand. has a model, for not only
did the 1960 television series generate a large and loyal following, but when the series was abandoned after three
years, the Trekkies organized, petitioned, badgered and
lobbied for Paramount to make this picture. (We can see
no other reason for the rather pompous title now given to
the film: "Star Trek - The Motion Picture.") Thus we have
the reunion of all the old crew we know so well, the
excellent actors Gene Roddenberry gathered for television
and uses here: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George
Takei, DeForest Kelley, with the addition of a gorgeous
actress named Persis Khambatta playing Ilia. the
navigator from the planet Delta, a young woman of true
beauty since she is required to play the role with a shaved
head throughout. Stephen Collins is the captain deposed
by Kirk. Kirk is now an admiral, drafted for this special
mission. It is a pleasure to see the U.S.S. Enterprise in all
its glory, not just as TV's miniature, and the film does not
stint on showing us its caverns, offices, recreation rooms,
and most especially the magnificent engine room with its
crystal columns of pulsating white energy.
The plots of all Trek episodes always hung on Capt.
Kirk's ability to reason his way out of the given problem and he was always especially good at arguing with
computers, after Spock has told him the nature of same.

February, 1980

Page 37

derings through the universe that it acquired a

Ah, well, it's very pretty, a sparkling finale of cosmic
fireworks, supposedly the creation of a new kind of baby
for the universe to deal with.
All science fiction stories have holes in them, some just
small plot pot-holes, others big black holes of defective
reasoning, but this is truly the nature of the speculative
genre. All in all, phoney elements notwithstanding,
including pseudo-religious mysticism, it is a film work
stretching its muscles, and must be admired as such.
Certainly the film industry gives its bows generously: the
credits rolling off the screen at the end list hundreds of
special effects people of all kinds, from optics to
miniatures to mattes to stunts, and who knows how much
of it may accurately predict the future?

Here he sees, as always, the human element which is its

Achilles heel. The fact that the argument is fuzzy rather
escapes you until you're out of the theater. Speck tells
Kirk, "It's asking questions. It's asking 'Is this all I am? Is
there nothing more?' It seeks answers." Kirk tells it, "We
will give you the answer if you promise not to destroy the
carbon units." (the computer's description of human
beings.) Since the answer turns out to be love, and the
importance of the one thing humans like to think is their
big contribution to the universe, the ability to feel (since
computers have already outstripped our ability to think)
the writers have set themselves a hopeless task, as the
climax relies on depicting a cosmic orgasm for a PG
audience. Their sudden burst of intuition was that the
computer had accumulated so much knowledge in its wan-


"Knock! Knock! Who's there?"

"Ayatollah. "


















Page 38

February, 1980

American Atheist

Book Review
Mark Twain & The Bible is a slim (130 pages, 17 of which
are notes and references) book, 5%" x 8W', written by a college professor and published by the University of Kentucky
Press in 1969_
The American Atheist Center's officers stumbled upon it
while visiting Hannibal, Missouri, with Richard Richardson, the Director of the Missouri Chapter of American Atheists. Fortunately, the University had some few volumes still in
The author is obviously religious and his subjective intellectual set shows through his analysis. He desperately wants to
claim Mark Twain for Christianity and knowing that he cannot
still he outreaches. From the first page to the last, the author
tries. All Atheists know why another Atheist, of any age or
time, was concerned with religion, particularly in our earlier
history when every child and every adult were saturated in
both Christianity and Bible lore.
On page one, the author is forced by his own inspection of
Twain's work to say, concerned with the Bible, that "Twain
raged against it as wicked, obscene and damnatory." And, on
the concluding page he opines that once religion is abandoned
"there is no going back" and that Mark Twain's life condition
was a testament to that. None the less, there is the overtone of
"Methinks he doth protest too much" - and therefore must
really be religious underneath. The modern Atheist often has
this hurled at him too. But, no remarks and no analysis can
ever take Atheism away from an Atheist, particularly such a
good one as Mark Twain.
The book consists of five chapters only. The first is the continuing analysis of Twain's use of the Bible, his familiarity
with and his contempt for it. Evidences of this are brought in
from his Tom Sawyer, Quaker City, Writings, his reporting
for Harper's Weekly, Hannibal's Journal, the Virginia City
Territorial Enterprise, and the Daily Union, San Francisco's
Alta, the New York Tribune, the Cleveland Herald, his Letters from Hawaii, Travels with Mr. Brown, Innocents Abroad,
Traveling, Biography, A Tramp Abroad, The Prince and the
Pauper, Huckleberry Finn, Life on The Mississippi, My Father,
Mrs. Fairbanks, Love Letters, Report from Paradise, Pudd'nhead Wilson, Extracts from Adam's Diary, Eve's Diary, Europe
and Elsewhere, Notebook,
Complete Short Stories, and
Forgotten Writings_ It is evident immediately that Twain
could not keep his contempt for the Bible and for religion
covered, try as he may.
Although he was constrained somewhat by the times, his
actual feelings showed through. It is regrettable that he placed
in his Autobiography certain provisos that his anti-religious
chapters therein could not be published until 500 years after
his death. [His injunction is penned in his own hand on the
title pages of two of the chapters of this work: "Not to be exposed to any eye until the edition of A.D. 2406. (signed) S.L.C.)"] He dared his progeny to try to print one in 100
years. ["Tomorrow I mean to dictate a chapter which will get
my heirs & assigns burnt alive if they venture to print it this

Austin, Texas

side of 1006 A.D. - which I judge they won't."] With so

great a fear of the irrationality and bias of religion, presumably
he desired to protect his children and grandchildren, but he
could not have known that his daughter would turn to the
Christian Science religion and prevent any publication. His remarks about Mary Baker Eddy. the founder of the Christian
Science religion were so pointed that his daughter refused to
have them revealed lest they "offend" that religion or its founder. Indeed it was not until 1962 that his Letters from Earth
were published and only seven years later that this book was
attempted. However this author was not, apparently, privy to
the short extracts from the Autobiography later given for publication by The Mark Twain Company.
The second chapter deals with Mark Twain's visit to the
Holy Land in 1867 and his debunking of the religious associations attached to places of Christian or Biblical interest there.
The allusions are audacious for the times. And, often Twain
would hide his own irreverence by having a character in a story
issue the remarks, or have an exchange between one character
representing the dominant orthodoxy met by another voice of
vernacular non-religious protest. In it all, his disgust for the
Bible showed through.
In the third chapter, using three Biblical images, the author
again attempts to show that under the thrust of Twain's Atheism, there must have been a real regard for religion. The
three images which have been "located" in Twain's works are
derived from his alleged occupation with tire Prodigal Son;
Adam, Eve, and the fall; and Noah and the Flood. In this analysis, the author relies heavily upon Twain's love for Olivia
Langdon, his wonderful "Livy," for whom he would try anything. In fact, a part of the marriage agreement was that they
should read the Bible together each morning and say grace at
all the meals. But, Twain finally could not stand it, and while
a guest was there said:
"Livy, you may keep this up if you want to, but I must
ask you to excuse me from it. It is making me a hypocrite.
I don't believe in this Bible. It contradicts my reason. I
can't sit here and listen to it, letting you believe that I regard it, as you do, in the light of gospel, the word of God."
The fourth chapter covers Twain's full attack on the Bible,
as best as he could accomplish that in his times. First, his
attack was that the Bible was not true; second, that it was contrary to the laws of nature. But, in addition, he deplored its
lack of originality, the pernicious influence which it has on
mankind and its obscenity, its pettiness, its cruelty. His view
of the New Testament was no kinder, as he found fault with
both the myth of Jesus Christ and the concept of hell.
The total Atheist will be able to find the real Mark Twain in
this book, despite the author's conclusion that Twain was only
"playing bad boy" and conceivably under it all was religious.
Wouldn't "they" love to steal our heroes! But, even in such a
book as this, it cannot be done. Twain comes through loud
and clear as the Atheist he was.
Order from American Atheist Press, price $5.75 plus handling.

February, 1980

Page 39

Classified Advertising
L.A. No.1

L.A. No.7

L.A. No. 15

wanted with single
females. Must be 100% Atheist, 5'5"
or taller, 135 lbs or less, white female
who is free to travel. American, white
male, 51 years old (look 41), 6'1"
tall, 180 Ibs, non-smoker, very light
drinker. Am a pipe welder by trade,
and an ex-New Englander, presently
living in Houston, Texas.

Bachelor (35, 6'6", 200 Ib) wishes

to meet single lady in the Corpus
Christi area with the object of matrimony.

Correspondence wanted with female

Atheists. Am white male, 40, nonsmoker living in San Francisco Bay area.

L.A. No.2
Male, would like to share the better
things in life with fun loving female.
Over 50. Smoker preferred. Likes
dancing and sailing.
L.A. No.3
Divorced, 6', 200 lb., nice looking,
white male. Healthy, sexy, nonsmoker, social drinker only. 65, but
look and act years younger. Work
everyday. Scientific minded, love to
think, reason and wonder. Own home
and business in Texas panhandle.
Interested in nice looking, younger,
slender, non-religious
lady. Please
L.A. No.4
Correspondence wanted with single,
Atheist woman. Object: to share life.
I'm a single, American Atheist, white
man age 57, '5'9", 160 Ibs, college
graduate, don't smoke or drink. I'm
retired, romance and health minded,
like intelligent discussion, table and
lawn tennis, travel.
L.A. No.5
Friendship sought with female Atheist of small stature (about 5'2" or
less), no "clinging" relatives, free to
travel if desired. American, white
male, 5'4" tall, chunky build, nonsmoker, non-drinker, live in Ohio
Valley, age 67, retired research chemist. Just damn tired of living alone.

L.A. No. 16
L.A. No.8
Male research
5'10112", 170
with similar

physicist and musician,

age 35,
lbs., desires to meet girl
interests in Michigan.
L.A. No.9

Atheist, living alone in
Chicago, 64, 5'9", 164 Ibs, retired
on social INsecurity, non-smoker, very
light drinker, .never married, easy to
get along with, fond of reading,
moderate in all things, wishes to
meet unattached, female Atheist in
Chicago area, object mutual romance,
companionship, comradeship, etc.

L.A. No. 11
wanted with trim
female, age 20-30. Male school teacher, age 27, 6'5", 235 lbs, backpacker/
mountaineer in California.
L.A. No. 12
Correspondence wanted with single,
female Atheists. Must be pleasant,
easy going, and unemotional and have
a minimum I.Q. of 120. I'm 34 years
old and have never been married. I'm
politically right-wing. My hobbies are
Irish music, art, canary breeding,
and Irish dancing. I live in the Milwaukee area.
IJ;A. No~ 13

Gentleman bachelor, age 65, seeks

female companion over 50 for companionship. Floridians preferred.

L.A. No.6
White male (English-Irish), 32 years
old, single, 6'2", 180 Ibs, college education, dark brown hair, non-smoker,
mail carrier living in Kansas. Will
answer all letters from lonely females.

Page 40

L.A. No. 14
Divorced, electronics trainer (53, 5'5",
160 lbs.), Puerto Rico. Seeks single or
female Atheist - age 30-40.

February, 1980


100% Atheist male, Caucasian with

pinch of American Indian (which I
resemble), average looking, balding,
5'8", 146 Ibs., 27, divorced from
"good Christian", don't want kids,
strict morally and ethically, non-bigoted, open-minded, conscientious, thrifty, sense of humor; uncertain about marriage, my health, job
future, life goals. Interested in communicating
with female 5'3" or
shorter, average to slim built, similar
personality, especially Baltimore, Md.
or Pa. area.
L.A. 17
Attractive, outgoing female, 43, college grad., short, shapely, fair, brown
eyes & hair, sense of humor, in trying
situation: married but completely estranged from rabid fundamentalist.
Seeks contact with sympathetic Atheists, single or in similar bind.
L.A. 18
Lady Atheist, age 35, living in Idaho,
would like Atheist correspondence
from all over.

Address your reply to L.A. No.

(whatever that number may be.) Place
your sealed envelope in a letter and
address the letter to the American
Atheist Center, P.O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas, 78768. We will see that
all replies are forwarded to the advertiser. No identities are ever revealed; we protect you from any
harassment which might come from
your home address appearing in our
All Lonely Atheist ads can be
placed for $1 per word and run for
however long you are willing to pay
for it. The funds raised from these
ads go to help pay for the various vital activities of the American Atheist

American Atheist



Bertrand Russell

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Isaac Asimov

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Send $15.00 for one year's membership and you will

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redress of grievances . AMENDMENT

I Congress shall make































" ...

you agree with me?

Then, why, when

I was so hard pressed by foes on every side, did

you not come to the defense?"
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
































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