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A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

Vol. 33, No.5

Atheist historian and playwri9ht


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Alerican AUteisl

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

Vol. 33, No.5

Editor's Desk
R. Murray-O'Hair

AskA.A.

The U.S. Census once included church


statistics in its surveys. But due to religious pressure, no such queries have
been made since 1946.

News and Comments

Cover art and design by


Greg Anderson.

George Bush's America - In a


speech before a sectarian organization, the president of the United States
argued that the government should
promote religious faith.

I Remember Robert and Margaret


Rod Lewis

Director's Briefcase
Jon G. Murray
9

In the heartland of America, a man


lets his wife and daughter die to prove
his faith.

21

"Fatima Fever" has provided the Roman Catholic church a convenient


cover for its political work - while deluding hundreds of thousands into believing that the Virgin Mary appeared
on a Portuguese hillside.

The Probing Mind


Frank R. Zindler

The Old Gods


12
Hummingbird Mahn-Saw-Daynah
A Navajo describes her path to Atheism and away from an array of gods in
which she had once believed_

Masters of Atheism
Rupert Hughes

14

An historian and author examines


"The Ghastly Purpose of the Parables" and finds the character of Jesus
severely wanting.

Talking Back

Austin, Texas

Vol. 33, No.5

A Christian author claims that he has


proof Jesus lived and was the son of
Yahweh. But in Part II of a series, Mr.
Zindler demonstrates that this is just
more "Apologizing for Christianity"
- and lousy excuse-making at that.

Poetry

37

American Atheist Radio Series


Madalyn O'Hair

38

In the early days of our nation, citizens


had to be forced to donate to churches.
The situation is examined in "Voluntarism and Colonial Churches."

Me Too
20

When told that "Atheism is a negative


position," nonbelievers point out that,
in fact, it is "Absolutely, Positively a
Better Position;' than belief in a god.

28

41

Theists are urged to "Put Away Childish Things."

Letters to the Editor

42

Classified Ads

44
Page 1

American Atheist
Editor
R. Murray-OHair
Editor Emeritus
Dr. Madalyn O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Poetry
Angeline Bennett
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Victoria Branden
Merrill Holste
Arthur Frederick Ide
John G. Jackson
Frank R. Zindler
The American Atheist is published by American Atheist Press.
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American Atheists, Inc., P. O. Box 140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195


Vol. 33, No.5

American Atheist

Editor's Desk

Desperately seeking
Rupert Hughes
any years ago, American Atheist
Press distributed a slim, blue,
hardback book titled Why I Quit
Going to Church, With Answers to Critics and Correspondents. The work was
the personal story of one man's slow
evolution from believ.er to agnostic. Recounted were the key events in his life
which drew him further and further
away from the Christian religion and his
eager, youthful church attendance. Interspersed with the author's recollections were tidbits of facts: the contradictions and immorality of the Bible, the
percentage of criminals who are religious, the Atheistic ideas of the Founding Fathers, the crimes committed by
religion. It was a personable introduction to many of the basic ideas of Atheism, written gracefully and with a light
hand.
The book had been printed by the
Freethought Press Association, a publishing house run by the great Atheist
Joseph Lewis. According to the copyright page, the essay had been originally published by the Cosmopolitan Magazine. What of its author, Rupert Hughes?
The title page only noted that he had
also written The Old Nest, Within These
Walls, and Excuse Me. No more was
said of him.
The book was good, but we eventually ran out. Since the Freethought Press
Association was long defunct, dying
with its founder, the book could not be
restocked.
While working with the Little Blue
Book collection of the American Atheist
Library and Archives recently, I ran
across the name Rupert Hughes again.
As part of that series of booklets published by E. Haldeman-Julius, there was
reprinted in one small volume two of
Hughes' essays: "The Ghastly Purpose
of the Parables" and "The Lord and Mr.
Ford." Surprised at seeing the oncefamiliar name of Rupert Hughes, I
paused to read the little tome. I was de-

R. Murray-O'Hair
Austin, Texas

lighted to find that the two essays would


make excellent additions to the "Masters
of Atheism" series in this magazine.
But as "The Ghastly Purpose of the
Parables" was prepared for this issue, a
small problem developed. It is our custom to preface a reprint in "Masters of
Atheism" with a short biographical note
about its author. But we knew nothing
about Rupert Hughes other than the
slim information included in Why I Quit
Going to Church.
So I began to search in earnest in the
American Atheist Library for more
about this man. Standard reference
works on freethought and Atheist history yielded nothing. A search of freethought magazines from what I thought
was the period he lived yielded little. The
Haldeman-Julius Monthly of August
1925had a sketch of his profile and a reprint of "The Ghastly Purpose of the
Parables." Such an absence of information on a freethought or Atheist writer is
not unusual. Our historians are few and
far between, and the battle for survival
left few Atheist groups of prior generations time or resources for the preservation of their history. Indeed many times
an Atheist only writes one book, or an
essay or two, before returning to day-today life. But it is the business of the
American Atheist Library to fill those
gaps in Atheist history which prior generations left behind.
Due to the generous donations of
supporters and the persistence of its
founder, the library holds in its archives
a wide variety of freethought treasures
which lend insight to research. An example is the letter I found from Rupert
Hughes. Carefully typed on linen bond,
it was written from his home in Los
Angeles and addressed to George E.
Macdonald, the editor of The Truth
Seeker, an Atheist weekly newspaper
once published in New York. Dated November 10, 1924, it concerns preparations to reprint Why I Quit Going to
Church in The Truth Seeker. At the end,
a friendly reference is made to E. Haldeman-Julius. The letter was purchased
Vol. 33, No.5

with a copy of the book from the late


Nathan Simons, an Atheist who had
amassed an enormous private collection of freethought and Atheist literature.
But still another tempting tidbit of information was forthcoming about this
forgotten author. The library has long
been a beneficiary of the generosity of
Merrill R. Holste, who led the Twin
Cities Secularists in Minnesota for decades before his retirement. A meticulous man and careful researcher - for
years he wrote for the American Atheist - he had added the obituary of
Rupert Hughes which appeared in the
Minneapolis Star to the copy of Why I
Quit Going to Church he donated. From
this I learned that there was much to
learn about Rupert Hughes, this seemingly obscure freethought author.
The obituary described him as an
"author-soldier-composer
who called
himself a jack-of-all-trades." With more
than sixty books to his credit, he was a
prolific writer of fiction, history, biography, poetry, and movie and radio scripts.
For many years he was "one of the nation's most successful writers of magazine fiction." Further, "his three-volume
biography of George Washington was
considered by many critics to be a standard authority." Hughes died at the age
of eighty-four at the home of his brother Felix, a voice teacher, in Los Angeles.
A mention was made also of his nephew,
the millionaire industrialist Howard
Hughes. A small, blurred photograph
accompanied the article, making me all
the more curious about the man.
Further research has yielded his birth
date (January 31,1872)and the names of
his parents. The long list of his works
includes the Music Lovers' Encyclopedia.
We are still striving to gain information on Rupert Hughes. Since many of
you have assisted when we have been
stumped researching other matters, we
ask you to tell us what you may know
about him. Then perhaps the American
Atheist will be able to give the whole
story of this unique man. ~
Page 3

Ask A.A.

How did the Mormons get Utah?


I recently purchased Dale Morgan's
book on Mormonism, and he compared
early Mormonism to communism that
existed in the U.S.S.R. I should like to
know where to find how they divided up
the existing desert land. If it was like the
U.S.S.R., then the church owned it as
such when it didn't belong to anyone. It
is an intrigue I would like to follow up.
Our original Constitution and our Billof
Rights had "property" included but this
was later deleted.
Can you help me?
Clifford H. Pearson
Utah
The Mormons claimed their land only
by right of occupation. Quoting two
Mormon historians, Leonard Arrington
and Davis Bitton, in The Mormon Experience (New York: Knopf, 1979), we
can establish that:
The conflict was triggered in
1855 when David H. Burr, a nonMormon appointed to be surveyor general of the territory, found
his work impeded by Saints understandably anxious about any official survey of lands that they possessed only by right of occupation, not by an explicit declaration
of approval of Congress. (P. 164)

In "Letters to the Editor," readers give


their opinions, ideas, and information.
But in "Ask A.A.," American Atheists
answers questions regarding its
policies, positions, and customs, as
well as queries of factual and historical
situations. Please address your
questions to "Ask A.A.," P. O. Box
140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195.

Page 4

For details of how the land was allotted and the cities platted, the best
source would be Arrington's Great
Basin Kingdom: An Economic History
of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
1958). For the parallels between the
communism of the U.S.S.R. and Mormon communism, you should refer to
the early Mormon communities in Ohio,
I/linois, and Missouri, when "biblical
communism" was attempted (under
various names). If you are particularly
interested in Mormon property claims,
you should examine Joseph Smith's
"Anti-Bank" of Kirtland, Ohio, with
Vol. 33, No.5

which funds Smith absconded, leaving


his Mormon investors high and dry.
- David L. Kent

Our stand on animal rights


At the April 1990 Convention of
American Atheists in St. Petersburg,
Florida, Miss Ingrid Newkirk, a guest
speaker, gave a presentation for animal
rights. In the July 1990 American Atheist Newsletter, a flier was included advertising the sale of a book promoting
the same subject.
I would like to know ifAmerican Atheists has taken an official or unofficial
position on this controversial subject
and ifso, I would like to know what that
position is.
Max P. Gottfried
Florida
Don't wince when we tell you this:
people are animals too. The official
position of American Atheists is to recognize this fact.
And at this point, every animal species needs protection - from the animals that are us. Plants also need such
protection, as do minerals, and water.
People pollute the entire earth, strip it,
destroy it, abuse it, treat it like a throwaway. Various groups pursue the cause
of animal rights in various ways. Miss
Newkirk, who founded the animal
rights group which she heads, is an
Atheist. She is going where her conscience leads her and American Atheists has no intention of criticizing her
methods.
At the base of the animal-rights
movement is the idea of the interrelationship of organisms and their environment, and the right to exist. All animals
are in that relationship. And, incidentally, the concept of ecology was first put
forward by an Atheist, Herr Professor
Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, M.D., Ph.D.,
S.D., LL.D. (1834-1919). The American
Atheist willpresent an article about him
in an upcoming issue.
American Atheist

Counting the sheep


Should the 1990 U.S. census have included questions on religion (such as,
belief in god, nonbelief, frequency of
church attendance, amount of donations, sect affiliation, Bible reading, creationism, etc.) and why?
Would such information be socially
useful and important? (I think that it
would.)

Andy Vena
Pennsylvania
The Bureau of the Census routinely
questioned religious institutions in the
United States from 1850 to 1936 and
published the findings each decade. It
attempted to find out attendance at
church, the number of actual confirmed
(i.e., those who had completed confirmation) members, the income, the
property owned, and the seating capacity of each church building. Each decade the bureau analyzed the results.
The first inquiries were considered to
be "social statistics." In 1870 the census
expanded to include religious organizations in addition to churches. In 1880 it
called for additional information under
the general subject of "Education," particularly about Sunday schools. The
tabulation was not completed in 1880
and consequently no results were given
in the published census of that year. In
1890 much data were collected on the
historical backgrounds of the churches
and on their doomas. This information
was later to be published privately in
1893 by Henry King Carroll in a book
titled The Religious Forces of the United States. This is said still to be the most
definitive description of religion and its
institutions ever published in the United
States.
In 1902 the Bureau of the Census was
made a permanent organization and
the law required and empowered it to
collect decennial statistics on religious
bodies. It did this in 1906, 1916, 1926,
and 1936. The result of the 1926 census
is the best statistical study made. From
Austin, Texas

demands. Yet historically, the tale is


that in the forties the United States
Congress "could not provide funds" for
religious statistical publishing and reporting.
In the late 1940s the bureau was
transferred from the Department of the
Interior to the Department of Commerce, but this did not improve the sitthe first, the religious had balked at uation. All questions concerning religiving information, particularly about gion were omitted in the 1946 census.
In April 1956 the bureau issued a
membership, income, and real and personal property which the religious insti- statement that it had "under considertutions and churches owned. The min- ation" to include in the 1960 census the
isters lied until it was an open scandal question "What is your religion?" with a
as the bureau struggled in vain to con- five-part, multiple-choice reply: (1)
vince them to report properly. The cen- Catholic; (2) Jewish; (3) Protestant; (4)
sus figures were slowly revealing the All others; (5) None. In July 1957 the
extent of mortmain holdings of the American Jewish Congress published a
church. For over three hundred years in letter of strong opposition to the proour nation, people have been willing posal in the New York Times. The
their property to the churches - and theme of opposition was picked up
across the country by other Jewish
church land holdings were extensive.
The 1936 census, however, created a groups, the American Baptist Convenstorm of protest. The figures showed
tion, the Baptist Joint Committee on
Public Affairs, the General Conference
that there were 24,000 fewer Southern
of the Seventh-day Adventists, and the
Baptist and Methodist Episcopal South
American Civil Liberties Union. Consechurches than those denominations
claimed. The 1936 report had been ex- quently, on December 12, 1957, the
pected to be extremely accurate, be- Census Bureau released a public announcement that it "would not include"
cause of an additional law passed
which governed it. This called for a $500 the question - and there has been no
fine and sixty days' imprisonment, or gathering of information concerned
both, for any minister's refusal or ne- with religion, churches, or religious inglect to comply with the census. If it was stitutions since that time.
The final showdown came when both
found that they gave willfully false answers, the fines could be increased up the Baptists and the Jews refused to
to $10,000 and the imprisonment to one further participate in the census enuyear- The Southern Baptists then led meration.
American Atheists agrees with you,
the fight not to report with, for example,
Mr. Vena. Bona fide sociological studthe Alabama Baptist State Convention
passing a resolution asking its ministers ies should be made of the churches and
to decline to cooperate with the govern- of religious institutions, and the best
ment. As the depression took form, the way to start is to nosecount people,
information was put out that the bureau buildings, funds, and land. An unbiased
could not publish the information gath- historical record of each denomination
should be done by secular investigaered in 1936 because of lack of funds,
and the report never got out until 1941. tors, and the dogmas should be laid
Most probably, this is another lie of our bare. All this will come about when
government. With the religious de- enough Atheists get out of the closet so
that we can throw around a little muscle
manding that the census not be taken,
the government simply caved in to their too. ~
Vol. 33, No.5

Page 5

News and Comments

George Bush's America

The president outlines


his vision of a better
United States, in which
the government
supports religious faith.

The news in this magazine is chosen to


demonstrate, month after month, the
dead reactionary hand of religion. It
dictates our habits, sexual conduct,
and family size; it dictates life values
and life-style. 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
enough to admit it.

Page 6

The following is the complete text


of the remarks by President George
Bush to the 134th Annual Southern
Baptist Convention on June 6,1991,
at the Georgia World Congress
Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
hank

you all very, very much.

all of you. And Dr. ChapT Thank


man, Morris;' a fellow Texan,
pride of Wichita Falls and the rest of the
country. And Dr. Bennett," I salute you,
sir. You came down today with one
who's serving wellour principlesoverseas,
and that is a son of Atlanta, Paul Coverdell, Director of the Peace Corps, who's
with us - one of Georgia's favorite
sons. I salute him.
The last time - and we were talking
about this on the long way up the stairs
over here; this is a tremendous auditorium - the last time I attended a Southern Baptist Convention was in 1982.Too
long ago. But never so long that I'd lost
touch with the rock-solid values of this
community - (applause) - qualities
that make it uniquely American. Strong
but compassionate, proud but not boastful, decent and giving - and as Morris
said, believing strongly in family,bearing
an enduring belief in freedom, an abiding faith in the love of God and, yes, in
the power of prayer. (Applause.)
Everywhere you turn, it seems, American values are ascendant around the
world. Look at Eastern Europe and the
Soviet Union: there, places of worship
long stood silent and subdued, forced
underground by the iron fist of the state.
But now, the churches, the synagogues
and the mosques buzz with life: reclaimed by the people, joyfullyemerging
to proclaim their faith anew. (Applause.)

lOr. Morris Chapman, president of the


Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of
the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls,
Texas.
20r. Harold Bennett, executive director of
the Southern Baptist Convention Executive
Committee.
Vol. 33, No.5

In Africa and Asia and Latin America,


your ministries flourish and spread the
word of God around the world.
And even in the heat of the Persian
Gulf, nearly 200 Southern Baptist chaplains reported that well over 1,000 conversions among the servicemen and
women of Operation Desert Storm had
taken place - (applause) - and some
solemnified with poncho-lined holes in
the sand serving as makeshift baptistries.
Southern Baptists have been doing
quiet but crucial work - engaging in
countless acts of kindness and compassion, spreading the word of God, demonstrating the profound power of religious freedom.
And you've held to faith where others
may have lost it - gained in numbers
where others haven't - and made a difference where others couldn't. You
prove that the flower of faith can bloom
anywhere - that no matter how hard
the journey, no matter how or humble a
surroundings, God's love provides. (Applause.)
During the Gulf crisis, Barbara and I
and much of this nation - I think, in this
instance, most of this nation - found
guidance and comfort in prayer. And
throughout the struggle, your prayers
sustained us. And so Iwant to thank you
all and ask that you keep - as Morris
generously said - those in the decisionmaking process, keep us in your
prayers.
You know, I've confessed this to Dr.
Chapman and a few others -leaders in
the Southern Baptist movement - and
for me, prayer has always been important, but quite personal. You know us
Episcopalians. (Laughter.) And like a lot
of people, I've worried a little bit about
shedding tears in public or the emotion
of it. But as Barbara and I prayed at
Camp David before the air war began,
we were thinking about those young
men and women overseas. And I had
the tears start down the cheeks, and our
minister smiled back. And I no longer
worried how it looked to others. (ApAmerican Atheist

News and Comments

plause.) Here we go. (Applause.)


And I think that, like a lot of others
who had positions of responsibility in
sending someone else's kid to war, we
realize that in prayer what mattered is
how it might have seemed to God.
Above all, after all.the months of praying and asking for God's guidance - I
thought it important to thank God for
sustaining our nation through this crisis.
And that led to three National Days of
Thanksgiving and Prayer, which I really
believed strengthened
our wonderful
nation. (Applause.)
You know, for too long, too many
have worried that we Americans have
weakened the two fundamental pillars
supporting our society - our families,
and our faith. (Applause.)
But while the cynics may sense some
kind of "religious resurgence" over the
last two or three years, they've always
been a lagging indicator of American
life. Most of us have never had to get our
faith in God back, because we never lost
it. (Applause.)
In a recent survey, 40 percent of Americans named "Faith in God" the most important part of their lives. Only two percent selected, "A job that pays well."
In this Bicentennial year of the Bill of
Rights, we would do well to pause and
reflect on religion's roots in our society,
and our society's roots in religion.
The founding fathers thought long
and carefully about the role of religion
and government in our society. And it's
no accident that among all of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment - freedoms of speech, of the
press, of assembly, of petition - the
first was the freedom of religion. And
that's why the story of a little girl named
Monette
Rathford,
out in Norman,
Oklahoma, is now getting national attention.
A fifth-grader in public elementary
school, Monette liked to read her Bible
under a shade tree during recess. No
teachers involved, no disruption of the
school activities - just Monette and
then, from time to time, a handful of
Austin, Texas

friends who joined her, voluntarily, to


share their faith and discuss how it
touched their daily lives.
Yet school officials told Monette that
her prayer group was illegal on school
property - an "unlawful assembly."
They forgot that the First Amendment
was written to protect people against religious intrusions by the state - not to
protect the state from voluntary religious activities by the people. (Applause.)
I would add this: that the day a child's
quiet, voluntary group during recess becomes an "unlawful assembly," something's wrong.
In that spirit, once again I call on the
United States Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment permitting voluntary prayer back into our nation's
schools. (Applause.) You see, let's put
people first - and allow them the freedom to follow their faith.
Putting people first also means making sure government allows people to
make their own decisions - and that
means giving parents and families the
right to choose the kind of child care
that they want for their kids. Choice in
child care. (Applause.)
Just today we are publishing regulations that will provide the first vouchers
for child care. And finally, low-income
parents will have the chance to choose
where their kids get child care - including religious settings and with religious
instruction. (Applause.) Just on my way
over here this morning, here in Atlanta,
I visited a church-based child care center where children receive first -class
care - regardless of their parents' religion, background
- or income. We
fought a long time to preserve choice for
parents. And today, it truly becomes a
reality - at least in child care. (Applause.)
We want to extend the concept of
choice to include schools. Every family
should have the freedom to choose a
school for a child. (Applause.) Our efforts for choice in schools seek to put
power in parents' hands. We trust them
Vol. 33, No.5

to make the right decisions for their


kids. And some argue that choice will
make bad schools worse. Our new Secretary of Education- doesn't agree with
that, and I don't agree with that. I am
confident that choice will make even the
bad schools better. They'll have to compete. (Applause.)
And something more - one of our
national educational goals - we believe
that kids should be safe to walk the
streets - any streets. Schools should
also be free from the fear of crime and
the despair of drugs. (Applause.) And if
you detect a note of frustration in what
I'm about to say, you're a good psychiatrist, because it's true.
Back on March 6th, I challenged the
Congress of the United States to pass a
tough crime bill in 100 days - to keep
our streets safe. And yet, the leadership
has failed to make crime a priority issue.
We submitted our first crime bill more
than two years ago - and nothing has
happened.
Surely the United States
Congress can pass a crime bill in what's
left of that 100 days. (Applause.)
There's another issue before the Congress - that's the question of human
life, the question of abortion - a difficult
and a deeply emotional decision for all
Americans. The question - and we've
faced it before - is whether the American taxpayer should pay for abortions.
And honest people of goodwill, I'm sure,
differ on this question, but I firmly oppose federal funding of abortions, except where the life of the mother is endangered. (Applause.) Since 1981 the
federal government has determined that
taxpayer funds should be used for abortion only in this most narrow of circumstances.
And whatever we've learned over the
last few decades, it's clear that America
is a nation that no longer lacks a moral
vocabulary. Ideals like decency and virtue are no longer subject to scorn.
And I'd ask that you hold fast to the

3Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander.


Page 7

News and Comments

Southern Baptist ideal of "a free church


in a free state." (Applause.) Hold fast to
protect - and, Morris, once again, in
his generous introduction, spoke of this
- to protect all faiths in freedom, and
hold fast to protect our most essential
unit of life, the family. (Applause.)
As I look at our social agenda, and as
Barbara and I talk about it and worry
about it in the wonderful setting of the
White House, we keep saying, "What
can we do?" Privileged as we are to
serve this great country, what can we do
to strengthen family life in America? It is
essential to our well-being.
Let me close with a story - well, let
me just make a couple of other remarks.
(Laughter and applause.) Not many. I
mentioned family, so let's ask ourselves
in child care and education and crime
legislation: Are we doing all we can to
preserve faith and family? And, if not,
we've got to do more. Only when we
protect and preserve our most cherished ideals and institutions, does government by the people serve the people.
We are, as ever, "One nation under
God." No nation better reconciles diversity of faith with unity of purpose. And
as new challenges confront us - we
must draw on that strength - and work
to build a nation united in its commitment to decency and opportunity, to
freedom, to family, and to faith. (Applause.)
Now to this story about a Kurdish
family - Mikail and Safiya Dosky who escaped from Iraq over a decade
ago. During their perilous journey across
the Iranian border, they became separated from their two-year -old daughter,
Gilawesh. Mikail and his wife made it;
the child left behind. Their daughter did
not make it out.
After settling in America, Mikail, the
father, kept trying to get his daughter
our of Iraq, even traveling there himself,
but to no avail. And just a few weeks
ago, the dad, Mikail, got a phone call
from an American helicopter pilot in
Turkey - one of our heroes. This pilot
had been flying supplies to save the lives
Page 8

of these Kurdish refugees when he got


a note from Gilawesh - now, this child,
now 18 years old - asking him to call
her parents in America. He did - and
Mikail's friends at the First Baptist
Church in Alexandria, Virginia, helped
him get to Turkey and bring his daughter back. And after thousands of miles,
thousands of days, and thousands of
dollars, Mikail and Gilawesh arrived in
America Tuesday night - where years
of sorrow were washed away with tears
of joy. (Applause.)
What a testament to the power of
faith and hope and love - all of which
God provides in abundance. In war and
peace, as I've mentioned above, faith
provides our solace, our shield and our
shelter. I understand
what Lincoln
talked about when he said many times
he went to his knees as President of the
United States. And as the Psalmist

an ATHEIST

PRIMER

wrote, "God is our refuge and strength,


a very present help in trouble." God's
light leads us forward. And today, as
always, let us pray for His continued
guidance and His grace.
Thank all of you for your commitment' your leadership, your love, and
your prayers. And may God continue to
bless this land with freedom and peace.
Thank you all very, very much.
(Applause.)

We urge readers to write Mr. Bush


in order to comment on his interpretation of the importance of religious
faith to American life and domestic
policy. Send your letter to:
The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20520

Tust: for kids


(but grown-ups can take a peek too)

Did you know


all the gods
came from
the same
place?

What are religion and Atheism all about?


Adults have spent thousands
of years in
complex
philosophical
arguments
about
"causation" and the "nature of god." With all
the fancy words on both sides of the argument,
by
Madalyn
it
might seem hopeless to Atheist parents to
Murray
OHa',
explain to youngsters what their position on
religion is.
That is why Madalyn a/Hair created The
Atheist Primer. In easy to understand language, she explains the basic
tenets which all religions have in common. Accompanied
by warm
and humorous
illustrations,
the text makes it clear that it is downright silly to believe in a made-up god. The booklet is written for preschool and elementary
school children, but its succinct and simple
look at god concepts will help adults have a clearer view of religion.
Stapled. 30 pages. $4.00 plus $2.50 postage. Stock #5372.

American Atheist Press


P. O. Box 140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195
Telephone:
(512)458-1244 FAX (512)467-9525

Vol. 33, No.5

American Atheist

I remember Robert
and Margaret

Robert Blum believed


- even if it meant that
the earth was flat
and that his daughter
would die.

Rod Lewis was born in the tiny village


of Kirtland, Ohio, on October 23, 1919.
Shortly before his fifth birthday, the
family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, a
"city" founded by Joseph Smith and his
followers about eighty years earlier,
and from which Brigham Young took
his followers to Salt Lake City. Mr.
Lewis was raised there as a strongly
fundamentalist believer in the
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints. He graduated from
Graceland College at Lamoni, Iowa,
fourth in his class for scholarship, and
then the University of Illinois, majoring
in chemistry. He worked for several
war plants during the Second World
War, ending at Dow Chemical, where
he worked until his retirement in 1982.
During those years, his progression
from fundamentalist to agnostic was a
long and difficult road. Mr. Lewis now
lives in Texas, attends Brazosport College, paints pictures, writes poetry,
and takes life easy.

Rod Lewis
Austin, Texas

obert Blum (pronounced "Bloom")


visited our home one evening,
bringing with him a three-dimensional map of the earth, as his religion
believed it to be. The heights of the
mountains were exaggerated a hundredfold, so that they could be seen
clearly. On this map, the North Pole was
the center. The equator and the South
Pole were concentric circles around it.
Beyond the South Pole circle were four
corners, so that the earth was flat and
square. This was the vision of the earth
as held by Wilbur Glenn Voliva and the
Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in
Zion, Illinois.Mr. Blum was a devout follower of Wilbur Voliva, as were his wife
Beatrice and his daughter Margaret,
who was almost exactly my age. He was
educated and, except in matters of faith,
intelligent.
That night, Mr. Blum explained to my
parents that the earth had to be flat.
After all, the Bible, the perfect, the absolute, the infallible Bible, stated that god
sent angels to the four corners of the
earth (angels were pictured on the four
corners of the map) and that no other
shape could conform to such a statement. The sun circled the North Pole,
more or less over the equator. I was less
than ten years old at the time, but even
I could see that such a circle would illuminate every acre of the flat earth
twenty-four hours a day. Somehow,
Robert Blum's eyes were blind to that
fact. He knew what he believed.
My parents did not debate the proposition with him. It was a matter of faith,
and reason has no place in a faith that
enables people to believe what they
know is not so. Even I knew enough to
keep my mouth firmly closed.
The Christian Catholic Apostolic
Church in Zion was founded by Alexander Dowie, who also started the city of
Zion, Illinois,on the banks of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago. During my
childhood, this church was led by Mr.
Dowie's personally handpicked successor, Wilbur Glenn Voliva. The next echelon of church leadership under Mr.
Vol. 33, No.5

Volivawas a set of twelve Apostles, thus


the "Apostolic" in the name of the
church. The church had other unusual
ideas besides the one about the flat
earth. No member was to take any medicine at any time, not even aspirin for a
headache. No blood transfusions. No
surgery. No follower was to eat pork in
any form, not even lard in piecrust.
At the time of this account, the Blums
and my family were the only inhabitants
of a four-acre block of ground in the city

John Alexander Dowie, the founder of


the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church,
believed himself to be the prophet Elijah.

of Nauvoo, Illinois,a hamlet of nine hundred-odd (yes, some of them were a little odd) people, but still a city, by right
of the charter granted when Joseph
Smith's followers, virtually overnight,
changed an Indian trading post into the
largest city west of the Atlantic seaboard. The nine hundred occupied the
same space that thirty thousand had
Page 9

once filled, so we weren't crowded.


Father-son banquets were often held
in Nauvoo. Since my father was often
away on business, and Mr. Blum had no
son, he would take me to these affairs.
I enjoyed his company, and since he had
no way of knowing that the piecrust was
not made with lard, I always got two
pieces of pie. He knew what he believed.
I loved that.
Beatrice Blum was diagnosed as having diabetes in a form so bad that she
needed insulin. No. No insulin. The doctor said that a severely restricted diet
would do part of what was necessary. A
restricted diet was not forbidden, but
the Blums would have none of it. If god
wanted Beatrice to die, she would die.
She ate everything she had been eating.
God was going to cure her, wasn't he?
Robert Blum loved his wife. He did not
want her to die - but he knew what he
believed.
Gladys, the daughter of one of the
Apostles, came from Zion to care for
Beatrice Blum in the late stages of her illness. When Beatrice died, Gladys married Robert Blum.
Next, Margaret developed goiter. Her
neck swelled like a pouter pigeon's. "We
can take care of that in a hurry, if you'll
let us," declared the doctor. No. No period. Margaret was not even allowed
iodized salt. I tried to tell Mr. Blum that
all salt in its natural state contained
iodine, and that iodized salt was not,
therefore, a medicine, but a natural
food. No. No iodine. No iodized salt.
A neighbor, more brutal than my parents, berated Robert: "You let your wife
die. Are you going to let your only child
die for some crackpot religion?" With
great patience, Mr. Blum withheld his
answer. He loved Margaret. He did not
want her to die. But he knew what he
believed, so she died.
Sometimes I miss Margaret.
A few years later, Wilbur Glenn Voliva
declared that god had revealed to him
just when the Rapture would occur. All
the true believers prepared white robes
and gathered in Zion. On the given day,
Page 10

they donned their white robes and gathered in the early morning on the banks
of Lake Michigan and waited.
and waited.
and waited.
All day long they waited, singing
hymns and offering prayers. Into the
night they waited, singing and praying.
In the morning, some started to drift
away, but many stayed all through the
second day. By nightfall, the group was
sadly diminished, but a few, including
Mr. and Mrs. Blum, waited through the
second night. The next morning, the last
few dispersed, and that, effectively, was
the end of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion (though it took a
little while to close out its legal, corporate existence).
It was, effectively, also the end of Robert Blum (though his heart still pumped
and his lungs still breathed for several
more years). I would have liked to ask
him his feelings about allowing his wife
and daughter to die because of a faith

that was proven false, but that would


have been too cruel. Besides, I was too
young to talk man to man with him. ~
Unfortunately, Zion, Illinois, strives
to be a theocracy even today. The
Society of Separationists, Inc., an
Atheist organization dedicated to
preserving the First Amendment,
sued the city in order to have emblems of the Christian Catholic
Apostolic Church removed from the
city seal and from city property.
The organization won on the federal district court level, but the city is
appealing to the Supreme Court of
the United States.
The American Atheist reported
on the suit in "Zion - The New" (vol.
32, no. 3). In that same issue, "Zion
- The Old" covered the history of
the Christian sect which controlled
the town. Another article, "John
Alexander Dowie," gave the biography of its founder.

Three Things That You Can Do


To Help American Atheists
1.Watch for news items in your local paper or any news magazines concerning separation of state and church. Clip all the
items you find and send them to American Atheists General
Headquarters. making sure that they are marked as to their
source and date of publication. These clippings are a rich
source of information for a variety of publications issued from
G.H.Q.and can even be the basis for litigation in the separation
of state and church area.
2.Write letters to the editor of local newspapers and magazines
on issues important to Atheists. such as state/ church separation.
Let them know that there are Atheists in their community who
.are concerned about the intrusion of private religion into public life.
3. Leave a note with the DialTHEAtheist number (512-4585731) on the bulletin board of your grocery store or laundromat.

Vol. 33, No.5

American Atheist

Take part in the Second Atheist Pride March


during the Twenty-second Annual National
Convention of American Atheists
April 17, 18, & 19 (Friday, Saturday & Sunday), 1992
Hyatt Regency Austin Austin, Texas
It's time to hit the streets and show
the world that Atheism is here to stay!
And the time to do it is at the
Twenty-second Annual National Convention of American Atheists in Austin, Texas - home of the American
Atheist GHQ. Atheists from all over
the nation will march to the steps of
the largest state capitol in the United
States. There they will let the world
take a gander at Atheist pride and
shout out the need for separation of
state and church.
Join in this history-making event
and take part in the 1992 Convention.
In addition to the Pride March, there
will be lectures, seminars, banquets,
and parties. You can relax among nonbelievers young and old and become
up-to-date on the hottest topics facing
Atheists today.

Where to stay
The Hyatt Regency Austin, site of
the Convention, overlooks Austin's
tree-lined Town Lake. Nearby is the
city's famous hike and bike trail
which attracts athletes from around
the country. But best of all, the Hyatt
is offering American Atheist Conventioneers the special room rate of $57
(plus tax) a night for single or double

ist gets the discount. If you send in


your registration by the end of the
year, you can take advantage of lower
rates:
Before
12/31/91
Individual
$60
$105
Couple
Senior citizen (65+)
$50
$40
Student (with ID)
Free
Kids under twelve

After
12/31/91
$65
$110
$55
$45
Free

More excitement
Don't think that all the excitement
is on the day of the Pride March! All
three days of the 1992 Convention of
American Atheists will be packed to
the brim with activities, socials, and
information. There will be tours of
the American Atheist GHQ and an
extra post-Convention
trip to the
Alamo. An on-site edition of "Lonely
Atheists" will play matchmaker for
singles. There will be a variety of parties, socials, and dances, including a
Life Members' Banquet and a totally
godless Sunday brunch. As if that
weren't enough, there will workshops,
videos, and films. And don't forget
your shopping bag! You'll need it
when you visit the Convention's Book
and Product Room.

occupancy. (Additional persons are


$10 each.) These low rates are available from Wednesday, April IS, to
Monday, April 20. To make your
reservations, call or write:
Hyatt Regency Austin
208 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704
Telephone: 512-477-1234
FAX: 512-480-2069

Convention registration
They say the early bird gets the
worm, but in this case the early Athe-

Registration includes all general


sessions. Some events do have restricted attendance; alternate activities
will be scheduled during these functions for those who cannot attend them.
Meals and excursions are not included.
Registration is nonrefundable.
Send your registration to:

American Atheist Convention


P. O. Box 140195
Austin, TX 78714-0195
Telephone: (512) 458-1244
FAX: (512) 467-9525

IHllV.IMMJlNGIIllD
MAJt=lIN=S5AW~DIA\)'fNAIHI
Page 12

Vol. 33, No.5

American Atheist

The author writes, "I squandered the


early years of my life on riotous living
herding sheep and goats in New
Mexico. After a near-fatal attack of
religion, I recovered and searched for
the meaning of life in the Yukon (too
lonely), in Alaska (too cold), and in
Hawaii Gust right). lam married and
have four perfect children Gust ask
me)." An artist herself, she now
operates an art gallery in Missouri.

did not dare make the "new" god angry


either. Evidently all gods spend most of
their time angry about something.
The missionaries had long storage
sheds filled with clothing and supplies
that church people had sent to be given
to the Indians, but it was never distributed. It rotted in the sheds; mice ate the
clothing. The Indians had not earned
these generous gifts because they had
not been "saved" yet.
I read the Bible and prayed day and
night. Soon I was so dedicated the mis-

fA

~',\

s a Navajo Indian girl, I believed


in the old gods: the coyote god
who put the stars in the sky, the
thunderbird who carried rain on his
back and blinked his eyes to make lightning' and many others. We had many
gods, more than I could count. One
thing all these gods had in common was
they were always "out to get us," and
they were always angry about something. The gods might help you one day
and kill you the next. Who knows?
In 1961, when I was eighteen, I began
to wonder if all the traditional ceremonies and powwows and prayers meant
anything.
The medicine man was more powerful than the chief, and he terrified me.
He blackmailed the people: "Give me
two sheep or I will put a curse on your
family," he said. The people paid. The
medicine man had great magical powers, and we were afraid of him. He could
steal our souls.
I started to go to a mission near Gallup, New Mexico. The three-hundredpound White missionary told me the
Navajo people would go to Hell and
burn forever if we did not accept Jesus
Christ as our savior and turn our backs
on our heathen lives.
I accepted Christ and was baptized. I
got a job in the mission, where I worked
for room and board and five dollars a
week. I was expected to give 10 percent
of the five dollars back to the mission for
my tithe, and I did. I soon learned you
Austin, Texas

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sionaries sent me to churches in other


states to give speeches about my lost
brothers and sisters. I was very colorful
in my native costume, and people were
eager to help the poor, lost Indians, Icollected a lot of money everywhere I went
and took it back to the mission. It never
reached the Indians,
The missionaries lived in a ten-room
house filled with valuable Indian artifacts. There was a television in every
room, including the bathroom, and a
television in their car that ran on the cigarette lighter.
The Chicago-based church that sent
the missionaries there in the first place
boasted an eight-million-dollar profit
that year. I honestly did not see one single dollar spent to help an Indian,
Sickened at the greed and the way the
missionaries used Indians to raise money, I left the mission.
Imoved from town to town, job to job,
Vol. 33, No.5

and church to church. I married and had


four children and raised my children as
Christians. We were one of the most
dedicated Christian families in town,
I do know the exact moment it happened. It was a cool December morning
on an ordinary day when suddenly, after
being asleep for years, my brain woke
up.
"It's not true," I thought. "None of it
is true. Not the coyote god, not Jesus,
not the Bible. It's all a fairy tale, a myth,
a lie."
In my lifetime, I had believed in more
than thirty different gods. Now I knew
all gods are the same: a lie.
I hauled every religious symbol and
book out of my house. Our family had
thirty-five bibles, most of them gifts from
friends. I burned them all.
I apologized to my four children for
teaching them the wrong things. "I was
fooled; I was lied to. I made a terrible
mistake and I've wasted time, energy,
and money on a lie. I'm sorry," I said.
My children took less than an hour to
understand what it had taken me twentyfive years to learn. There is no god, but
it does not matter. Life matters. Love
and family matter.
Three years have passed since that
day. My children are teenagers. They do
not smoke, drink, or use drugs. They
are honest, kind, and have never even
had a traffic ticket. They are honor students in school and are well-liked by
young and old people. Our family has
not crumbled. We are a happier, closer
family now than we ever were as a "godfearing, churchgoing family."
We have great freedom; we enjoy it;
we do not abuse it.
At night we like to go outside and
watch the stars.
I know the coyote god did not make
them. God did not make them. Nobody
made them. They just exist.
That's enough. ~

Page 13

Masters of Atheism

The ghastly purpose


of the parables

In some games, the


chastisement for not
answering a question
correctly is that one
must go "home."
But when the puzzlemaker named Jesus
creates a riddle, the
result of a wrong
answer is ever-lasting
punishment.

The following essay is reprinted


from Little Blue Book No. 1187,
published in 1927 by HaldemanJulius Publications of Girard, Kansas.
Rupert Hughes (1872-1956) was a
novelist, playwright, and historian.
He authored more than sixty books,
and his three-volume biography of
George Washington was considered to be a standard authority. He
first gained note among nonbelievers
when his essay "Why I Quit Going to
Church" was published by the Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1924. During
the 1920s, he also wrote for the Haldeman-Julius Monthly, a magazine
focusing on Atheist and political
issues.

dare any preacher or priest to preach


[] a sermon about the parables of
Christ and tell his congregation just
what Christ's purpose was, and just
what parables are - the whole purpose
, of them. One of the most dramatic experiences of my life was the discovery
that Christ used parables in order to
prevent people from understanding
what he was telling them!
God so loved the world that he (could
not stop damning the world to hell until
he) gave his only begotten son that he
who (having been carefully selected by
Christ for particular redemption and
given the answer to certain mysterious
riddles) believeth in him shall have everAtheism has a long, proud history of
lasting
life (while the vast majority of his
publishing and speechmaking. Unforfriends, relatives, neighbors and fellow
tunately, however, much of that history
beings, not having been told the answer
is inaccessible to modern readers, surto the riddles, shall burn in hell forever,
viving only in rare booklets, books, and
where the worm dieth not).
pamphlets housed in scattered libraries and private collections. The AmeriThe parables are riddles with secret
can Atheist attempts to make some of
answers slipped to the chosen few.
that literature more available to modChrist was afraid that some of the
ern Atheists by reprinting essays by
people he talked to (but did not care to
yesterday's "Masters of Atheism."
redeem) might realize what he was drivThese reprints are produced courtesy
ing at and repent their sins and so comof the Charles E. Stevens American
pel God to forgive them. Christ in his
Atheist Library and Archives, Inc.
own words says he did not want most of
the people to repent their sins; for then
Rupert Hughes
God would have to forgive them, and
Page 14

Vol.33, No.5

they would be admitted to the exclusive


club of heaven, and not consigned to the
hell where Christ wanted the vast majority of mankind to burn.
It may seem irreverent for me to put
it thus, but it is absolutely blasphemous
for any believer to doubt it. Here are
Christ's own words (in Matthew 13,1017) and surely it would be sacrilege for
a Christian to deny Christ's own words
about his own purposes.
10. And the disciples came, and
said unto him, Why speakest thou
unto them in parables?
11. He answered and said unto
them, Because it is given unto you
to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is
not given.
12. For whosoever hath, to him
shall be given, and he shall have
more abundance: but whosoever
hath not, from him shall be taken
away even that he hath.
13. Therefore speak I to them
in parables: because they seeing
see not; and hearing they hear not,
neither do they understand.
14. And in them is fulfilled the
prophecy of Esaias, which saith,
By hearing ye shall hear, and shall
not understand; and seeing ye
shall see, and shall not perceive:
15. For this people's heart is
waxed gross and their ears are dull
of hearing, and their eyes have
closed; lest at any time they should
see with their eyes, and hear with
their ears, and should understand
with their heart, and should be
converted, and Ishould heal them.
16. But blessed are your eyes,
for they see: and your ears, for
they hear.
17. For verily I say unto you,
That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see
those things which ye see, and
have not seen them; and to hear
those things which ye hear, and
have not heard them.
American

Atheist

Previously Jesus had cried out his


gratitude to God for concealing the
truth. See Matthew xi, 25: where Jesus
said:
I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of
heaven and earth, because thou
hast hid these things from the wise
and the prudent, and hast revealed
them unto babes.
He says in his next breath that his father
has delivered all things to him, and he
invites all ye that labor and are heavy
laden to come to him and gain rest. But
two chapters later he is still unwilling to
let the multitude into his purpose and he
gives the appalling reason quoted above.
We are told that this man-god was of
such infinite sweetness and compassion
that he brought hope into the world for
the first time; he offered salvation freely
to all; he established the brotherhood of
man by preaching that great morality,
the fatherhood of God (which had been
preached hundreds of years before by
many other virgin-born saviors).
Yet in Matthew xv, 22, we see Christ
annoyed by a woman of Canaan, who
followed him and kept begging him to do
her the slight favor of casting a devil out
of her daughter as he had done for so
many other people. But he would not
even answer her a word.
At last she got on the nerves of the
disciples and they asked him to stop her
cries and send her away - implying
though it is not so stated, "Heal her
nuisance of a daughter and get rid of
her!"
But Christ answered them and her by
one of those tremendous fiendish things
that is ignored with that sublime and insolent selectiveness of religious teachers, who retouch the contradictory,
cruel, ignorant Christ into an allegory of
perfect love. Christ said:
I am not sent but unto the lost
sheep of the house of Israel. . . . It
is not meet to take the children's
bread and to cast it to dogs.
Austin, Texas

If anybody really believed anything,


the Gentiles would never have built their
churches; they would never have either
persecuted or prayed. If they believed
the Bible, they would abandon their
churches and cease all their persecutions, prayers, missionary work. For
their Christ said in so many words that
he was sent only to save lost Jews!
He kept repeating that over and over,
"Go not into the way of the Gentiles."
(Matthew x, 5.) He said he would put the
twelve apostles (including Judas!) on
twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes
of Jews.
Yet millions of Gentiles gather and
prate that this exclusive rescuer of a few
Jews from his exclusive father's wrath,
came to save mankind.
But did Christ play fair even with the
Jews? or with anybody?
In Matthew xvi, 20, he charges his disciples not to tell anybody that he was
Jesus the Christ, who came to "give his
life a ransom for many."
From then on we have strange contradictions. He picks up a child and says
to his disciples, that unless they should
become like little children, they would
not enter the Kingdom of heaven. But
the one who humbled himself like that
child should be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
He warned the disciples not to despise
little children because "their angels (the
little children's angels) do always behold
the face of my Father."
All of this eloquent music is mere
music. I used to be thrilled when I read
it. I used to weep when I heard it chanted across a pulpit by a cornet -voiced
clergyman with a tremolo stop in his
throat.
But what does it mean? Who can honestly find anything helpful in Christ's
advice to the stupid and stupefied and
admittedly bewildered fishermen and
others about him to make themselves as
much like a baby as possible?
Imitate this, and you can get into
heaven: if you don't you can't.
The parables are not the only riddle in
Vol. 33, No.5

Christ's utterances. He uttered little


else. His character is a riddle. His history is a riddle. The manuscripts that describe him are riddles that no translators
agree on.
If any cross-word puzzle editor in the
country put out such confused and contradictory puzzles with no possible answers, he would be fired in a week by the
editor. But the preachers are fired by
the Bible.
Preachers are particularly fired by the
parables.
Yet there is terrible confusion about
what parables are and what they mean.
The one thing clear about them is
most terrible of all: that they were obstacles deliberately put in the way of
people anxious to be admitted to the
heavenly truth but blackballed by God.
The old Jehovah was fearfully hostile
to most of his creatures. He loved the
smell of the blood of sacrificed animals
and slaughtered aliens, but he was not
at all interested in converting believers
in other gods.
He was fair enough in that. Let the
other gods keep their worshippers, so
long as they keep them out of my bailiwick, and don't try any missionary work
among my twelve tribes.
Once in a while he would enable one
of his magicians to make the magicians
of another god look foolish. Once in a
while he would order a general massacre of men, women, children and cattle
of a heterodox congregation.
But, in general, he made no effort to
convert.
Neither did Christ. Christ came not to
convert, but to select!
To deny this is dishonest and blasphemous, however commonplace.
A parable was a kind of shibboleth, a
trick password for members of the
lodge.
The idea was not original with either
Jehovah or Jesus. They got it from Gilead, where the balm came from.
According to Judges xi, the peculiar
person Jephthah, a bastard whose history is as confused and contradictory as
Page 15

If this language sounds impudent or bloodthirsty,


don't blame me, but blame the Bible - if you dare.
Blame Christ - if you find it
too inhumanly fiendish to endure.
the other Biblical characters, was the inventor of the shibboleth.
This is the same Jephthah, "a mighty
man of valor, the son of a harlot," whose
legitimate half-brothers threw him out of
the house when they grew up; but later
asked him to help them whip the Ammonites. So they put him at the head of
the army and he paused to bribe the favor of Jehovah, by offering to burn for
him "whatsoever cometh forth of the
doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace" - provided Jehovah
gave the Ammonites into his hands.
And Jehovah played just such a joke
on Jephthah as he played on his most
faithful servant Job, whom he turned
over to Satan to play with; to see if Satan

could tease or torture any irreverent


words out of him. That appalling Jehovah decided that he would turn a trick
on Jephthah, who doubtless expected a
horse or a cow or a slave to come out
to meet him first. Jehovah gave Jephthah
a good price - he let him slaughter the
Ammonites all over the place and destroy twenty cities, and then, when
Jephthah marched proudly home, Jehovah pushed his only child, his daughter,
out first.
To make the joke more exquisite, he
sent the girl out "with timbrels and with
dances."
She came dancing to her
doom. Jephthah rent his clothes and
told his daughter the truth. She was a
good child and said that her father must

"I'd rather watch religion on TV. That woq I can knock back a couple of
beers during the service."
Page 16

Vol. 33, No.5

not break his vow by any means, since


the Lord had done so well by him. She
asked only a brief respite so that she
could go up and down the mountain for
two months and bewail her virginity.
There is a rather dubious moral in this
for girls who are left behind at home, but
she came back still a virgin and her father set her on fire and burned her up.
Jehovah did not relent as he did when
dear old Abraham had his son Isaac
gather a pile of wood and get ready to be
cooked for the Lord's dinner. Jehovah
was satisfied with a burnt ram that day,
but he wanted to sniff the odor of
Jephthah's roasted virgin child. And he
got her. The sweet savor of that one girl
was nothing to the billions of girls, boys,
men and women who are on the coals
now and are on their way for the eternal
satisfaction of Christ's nostrils.
Well, this same child-baking Jephthah
had a quarrel a little later with the Ephraimites and whipped them with great
slaughter. He cleaned up the fugitives as
well as the fighters and held the Jordan
river in order to kill all the Ephraimites
who tried to escape. When a suspect
came along to the ford he was asked if
he were an Ephraimite. If he said No,
they said to him: "Say now Shibboleth.
And he said Sibboleth: for he could not
frame to pronounce it right. Then they
took him and slew him."
They made a good day's work of it for
they killed "at that time of the Ephramites
forty and two thousand" - or nearly as
many as the United States lost in the
World War. There have never been in all
history slaughters approaching the figures of the massacres in that tight little
region of Palestine.
Jephthah's idea was later used by the
Sicilians, when in the year of our Lord
1282 they decided to purge themselves
of the French soldiers. They asked the
doubtful cases to pronounce the name
of the plant chickpea, or "ciceri" which
the Sicilians called "Chee-chay-ree."
But the poor French being unable to say
"ch" said "See-sayree" and were promptly butchered.
American Atheist

In other words, the parable is a riddle


spoken so that it may not be too easily understood.
It is intended to hinder conversion!
The fact that Oedipus married his
This was done on an Easter Monday
as a tribute perhaps to Christ, who had own mother has a parallel with Christ,
too, for as it has been pointed out:
used the parable in the same way only the Sicilians merely slaughtered the Christ and God are the same: God marFrench. Christ condemned those whom ried Christ's mother: therefore Christ
he didn't care for to live on live coals for- married his own mother.
Christ is his own father, mother, and
ever - though there is also some contradiction in the New Testament as to son, and various other things, which are
whether all the damned live forever in easily understood by the simple use of
misery, or are annihilated except for a the word Trinity or Three-in-one.
Christ being God, also committed suifew favorites.
If this language sounds impudent or cide when he sent himself to die on the
bloodthirsty, don't blame me, but blame cross in order to appease his own sense
of justice.
the Bible - ifyou dare. Blame Christ But I am getting as confused as the
if you find it too inhumanly fiendish to
parables.
endure.
To return to that subject. Just what is
The Greeks had a story of a riddle
which was a kind of shibboleth parable. a parable? Let us look in a Biblical dieAccording to this legend (which is as tionary.
The cleverest definition I have read of
well attested and quite as credible as
many of the Bible stories) a sphinx ap- the Christian parable is contained in the
Encyclopaedia Biblica, a wonderful
peared near the Grecian city of Thebes.
A sphinx, by the way, is or was, a winged book which, by compiling everything
creature with a woman's head and bo- that great authorities believe about the
som, a lion's body and tail.
Bible, has the final effect of indicating
There must once have been sphinxes that there is simply nothing at all about
because everybody knows the well- the Christian religion which any authorknown portrait statue of one of them ities seriously agree upon.
In other words, the Christian religion
dating from about 4000 B.C. - or shortly after the creation of the world by as a whole is believed in only by those
who are wholly ignorant of its sources,
Jehovah.
The book of Revelation describes still texts, implications and contradictions;
just as the theory of evolution is believed
more remarkable dragons.
But this particular Grecian sphinx sat in by absolutely all the scientists and fedown outside Thebes and, seizing every rociously opposed only by those who
passerby, as~ed him or her a riddle. know nothing about science or the theWhen the wayfarer gave it up he was ory of evolution.
No atheist could ask a better text
eaten up. Then along came Oedipus
and he answered the riddle, which was book than the Encyclopaedia Biblica,
rather a silly thing after all. And the written by Christian scholars for Chrissphinx jumped off a rock and busted tian readers.
But on one point the Encyclopaedia
itself fatally.
The Thebans were so grateful that Biblica is clear: It describes a parable as
they gave Oedipus a handsome lady for "a terminus technicus of artificial exea wife. And that brought on a frightful gesis by application of an allegorising
amount of trouble, for the lady was Oe- method."
This is clearer than the Bible itself, for
dipus' mother, and thus fulfilledan oracle and a doom which poor Oedipus had as the Encyclopaedia Biblica says, actried his best to avoid - a doom as cruel cording to Mark 4, Matthew 13, and
as the doom Christ inflicted on trillions Luke 18,the parable was "exclusively reof people who never meant him any served for the irresponsive masses" "without a parable spake he not unto
harm.
Austin, Texas

Vol. 33, No.5

them" - but when they were alone he


explained all to his disciples.
In other words, the parable is a riddle
spoken so that it may not be too easily
understood. It is intended to hinder conversion!
There is, of course, the usual tangle of
contradictions in the New Testament
accounts of the Parables, but all true be
lievers select the account that fits their
needs on that particular day.
The good old Calvinists and Puritans
and strict constructionists grimly assumed that if God wanted to damn
almost all his children to torments here
and hereafter, that was his business, not
theirs. We are his creatures, therefore it
is kind of him to slay us, cripple us, blister us, or spare us. He elected certain
people from before the creation, and he
gives certain signs to his whimsically
chosen ones.
We just stand about and wait till we
realize that we have been elected. It is
something like tap-day at Yale. All the
students hang around and certain angels
go among them and tap those who have
been elected in the heavens of the secret societies. Then they are elected.
There is nothing more amazing to me
in all literature than the delicious books
of our Puritans, Bradford,' Winthrop,"
the Mathers- and the others, wherein
we read how the magistrates and the

lWilliam Bradford (1590-1657), English Separatist from Yorkshire, signed the Mayflower
Compact and was governor of the Plymouth
Colony for most of the years 1621-57.
2John Winthrop (1588-1649), governor of
the Massachusetts Bay Colony intermittently between the years 1630and 1643.
3A reference to Richard, Increase, and Cotton Mather. Richard Mather (1596-1669),
was an Anglican clergyman driven out of the
Church of England for his sympathies to the
Puritans. His son, Increase Mather (16391723), was a New England clergyman and
president of Harvard College. Cotton Mather
(1663-1728), Increase's son, was a jurist at
the Salem Witch Trialsand author of Wonders
of the Invisible World.
Page 17

Jehovah committed every crime in the human category


on a gigantic scale.
Christ, his son and his self,
came to earth and frankly announced the same policy.
elders and the pastors solemnly debated
sanctification, justification, and other
idiotic words, then whipped, banished
or slew those who were not in accord
with the decisions of the court.
So the Catholics would debate a matter like transubstantiation for a dozen or
more centuries, then make a decision,
and rack, scald, slice and burn all those
who were in doubt of the new dogma.
But why should Christians not practice guile and then persecute, confiscate
and slaughter those whose opinions
annoy them?
Their god has always done it. Jehovah committed every crime in the human
category on a gigantic scale. Christ, his
son and his self, came to earth and
frankly announced the same policy. Let
us follow the recent fashion and translate Christ's message in everyday English, so that it willmean what it meant
to the translators.
Christ said again and again, I have
come to save only a few Jews. I'm going
to put a few test questions that will so
puzzle the dogs I don't like as to throw
them into a mania. I have selected one
companion who will betray me, though
I have promised him a throne in heaven.
I willso confuse my fellow countrymen
that in spite of my demonstrated ability
to cure the blind, the lame, the insane,
and even to cure the dead, they willcrucify me.
I have a message so peculiar that I am
going to hide it between the lines of a
number of short stories, or fables, which
I shall call "parabolas" from the Greek
word "parabole." The reason I do this is
this: if I were to put my message from
heaven in plain language, numbers of
sinners would understand me and would
repent and reform and put my father to
the unpleasant necessity of forgiving
them.
One of our most puzzling mysteries is
this: My father and I order people to forgive each other, even up to seventy
times or more. But we ourselves do not
forgive anybody. We have built hell - a
place which I have vividlypainted in my
Page 18

parable of Dives and Lazarus."


In this parable is described a rich man
who committed the unpardonable sin of
dressing well and eating well. He was
charitable enough, but rich people can
no more get into heaven than a camel
can get through a needle's eye. Rich
men like Rockefeller- are all right as
builders of churches and contributors of
fine cloths to altars, but heaven is not
their home.
Well,there was a beggar named Lazarus whom heaven loved because he
toiled not neither did he spin. He was
too lazy to work or even to scratch. He
lay at Dives' door and ate what handouts he got and he let the dogs lick his
sores.
When he died, the angels came down
and picked him up and placed him right
in the bosom of Abraham - that sweet
old gentleman who offered to cook his
son and rented his wife out for money,
pretending she was his sister. He did it
twice - a clever man, Abraham, and
one of the few rich ones that got to heaven.
One of the chief privileges of heaven
is that you can sit on the wall and look
right down into hell and hear them howl.
And so dear Lazarus had hardly got
seated in Abraham's bosom when he
looked down. The first man he saw in
hell was the rich man whose food he had
lived on and whose dogs had given him
the only baths he got.
And the rich man "being in torments"
looked up at Abraham and his bosomtenant and cried, "Father Abraham,
have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,
that he may dip the tip of his finger in
water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."

4Luke 16:19-31.
5John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1%0), son of
the first billionaire, was a noted Sunday
school activist. A Northern Baptist, he gave
over $4,000,000 to that denomination. He
also donated to Roman Catholic groups and
interdenominational Christian councils.
Vol. 33, No.5

But Abraham said, "Son, remember


that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy
good things, and likewise Lazarus evil
things: but now he is comforted and
thou art tormented."
Luke 16, 26. And besides all
this, between us and you there is
a great gulf fixed: so that they
which would pass from hence to
you cannot; neither can they pass
to us, that would come from
thence.
27. Then he said, I pray thee
therefore, father, that thou wouldst
send him to my father's house:
28. For I have five brethren;
that he may testify unto them, lest
they also come into this place of
torment.
29. Abraham saith unto him,
They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30. And he said, Nay, father
Abraham; but if one went unto
them from the dead, they will
repent.
31. And he said unto him, If
they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither willthey be persuaded,
though one rose from the dead.
That is one of the most dramatic parables. The moral seems to be that our
loving Father has just got to torture us!
He can't keep his loving hands off us. If
we don't get sores in this world, we get
hell in the next.
It is hard for me to see how any Christian minister, or layman, can drop hell
out of his religion. Christ describes his
man in the flames, imploring only so
much as the touch of a wet finger. Christ
preached hellfire eternal, remorseless.
The rich man's prayer was not heeded.
We are not told of any evil he did. He
was not elected. That was enough. The
vile, unspeakable pimp of an Abraham;
the horrible licentious, treacherous
David, the incredible satyr Solomon they were rich and became bright stars
in heaven.
American Atheist

So you must either cease to believe in Christ


as a benevolent loving sacrificer of himself for mankind;
or you must cease to believe in the only reports
we have of his alleged utterances.
None of those people up there have
any mercy on the vast population of hell.
Christ is God but he never took anybody out.
During the Middle Ages the Virgin
Mary used to go down and pluck from
the fires people whogave her praise, but
God and Christ quarreled with her furiously. Hundreds of legends approved by
the Church and preached for centuries
describe the defiant benefactions of
Mary. But she only saved people who
promised her extravagantly; and she
saved those, matter how vile their lives
were; no matter ifthey blasphemed God
and Christ! If you don't believe it, see
E. Wallis Budge's "The Book of 110Miracles by Our Lady Mary."6There is not
space to analyze the other parables.
They are all indeed puzzling. The bad
boy who went to the city and led the gay
lifetillhis money was spent, tells how he
went home broke and got the best of it
while the faithful hard-working brother
got a rebuke. The moral of this is as bewildering as the moral of the mistake
Jephthah's daughter bemoaned for not
doing what the Prodigal Son did.
The important inescapable fact is that
if you believe in Christ at all or in his
words as they are given in the Bible, you
cannot honestly - you cannot safely doubt what he says: viz., that he came
to save only a few Jews: that he purposely disguised his message to prevent
its being understood (and he certainly
succeeded in that): that only a few people are saved, and that the rest are tormented with infinite everlasting agony,
just because Christ did not happen to
like them.
He promised to come back to earth
during the lifetime of many who saw
him, but he changed his mind evidently,
for he is not here yet.
We can get a fairlygood line, however,
on our chances. In Revelations xiv, it is
specifically announced that on the Judg-

6Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge


(1857-1934),English archaeologist.
Austin, Texas

ment Day there willbe one hundred and


forty and four thousand redeemed from
the earth on Mount Sian.
The population of the earth today is
estimated at something over a billionand
a half. Therefore, only one in ten thousand willbe saved ifJudgment Day should
come tomorrow. But all the saved willbe
Jews, for Christ will lower the City of
Jerusalem, and the city has only twelve
gates and each is pre-empted for one of
the twelve tribes of Israel. (Rev. xvi, 12.)
A vast majority of the chosen people
then, will not be chosen. The rest of us
are out of it hopelessly in spite of our
1900years of worship and the billions of
dollars' worth of churches, where prayers
go up, and candle-smoke.
And now enough of the parables. Let
them be referred to with fear and trembling. As the Encyclopaedia Biblica says
(Col. 3567):
The history of the exegesis of
the gospels from the earliest antiquity downwards to the present
day hardlv anywhere shows so

great confusion, and so immense


a variety of interpretations, as it
does in the case of the parables.
This is as it should be. Christ says he
used them for purposes of bewilderment. So you must either cease to believe in Christ as a benevolent loving
sacrificer of himself for mankind; or you
must cease to believe in the only reports
we have of his alleged utterances.
If you cease to believe the Bible, you
must cease to believe in Christ at all.
If you permit yourself to take selected utterances from Christ's words and
selected deeds from history, and omit all
the deception, cruelty, indifference and
ignorance he displays in the record,
then you should permit historians to
omit from the chronicles of Nero, Henry
VIII and other famous brutes all that is
evil, and select only the good things they
said and thought and did.
Thus we can manufacture Christs innumerable. As for The Christ, it seems
to me that we must take him as he is all
in all. or IRnVE'him nltoQRther

What are the origins


of the religion called Christianity?
Did it all start with a Jew
named Jesus?
Not at all, demonstrates historian John C. Jackson in Christianity before Christ. The elements
of the Christian religion existed long before
Jesus is said to have lived. For thousands of years
before, crucified saviors born of virgins were
worshipped. Jackson details the elements of the
Christ myth as they appeared in other, more
ancient religions.
Paperback. 238 pages. $9.00 plus $2.50 postage and handling. Stock #5200. Texas
residents please add applicable sales tax.

American Atheist Press


P.o. Box 140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195
Telephone/FAX orders: (512) 467-9525

Vol. 33, No.5

Page 19

T a/king Back

Absolutely, positively
a better idea

What does one answer


to the statement:
Atheism is a negative
position.

So you're having a hard time dealing


with the religious zanies who bug you
with what you feel are stupid
questions? Talk back. Send the
question you hate most and American
Atheists will provide scholarly, tart,
humorous, short, belligerent, or funpoking answers. Get into the verbal
fray; it's time to "talk back" to religion.

Page 20

Jim Hepburn, a writer and member


of American Atheists, asks the questioner:
Are you positive about that?
Madalyn O'Hair, founder of American Atheists, replies:
In 1974,Goparaju Ramachandra Rao
(GORA)of the Indian Atheist Centre in
Patamata, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh,
India, visited The American Atheist
Center in Austin, Texas, where he
stayed for several weeks. During the
course of that visit, when he was appearing on a radio talk show with me,
the moderator made the comment that
"Atheism is a negative position."
At that time, I did not have what I felt
was an adequate answer for that proposition and GORAsensed my discomfort
with the question. After the show he
undertook to give me some advice.
The word Atheism, he said, is made
up of two components. It is a word of
Greek derivation and the "a" is a privative, taking away the sense of the second element, "theism." Just as "independence" is constructed as a negative
word, so is "Atheism," but this is unrelated to the concept behind the word.
The two privatives, "a" and "in," when
used as a prefix simply support the idea
that one is "free from" the defining second part. To be independent is to be free
from dependency. To be Atheist is to be
free from theism.
The same intellectual cretin who asks
this question would have felt that to be
anti-slavery would be negative, or to be
anti-racist would be negative.
Charles Obler, a reader from Thomas
Jefferson's state, Virginia, explains:
Well, truth can be seen as the absence of falsehood, clean air as the absence of pollution, and freedom as the
absence of slavery and ignorance, so
truth, freedom, and clean air are also
"negative positions"! Atheism is the absence of belief and fearful self-deceit. In
this absence, something positive begins
to grow: we begin to rejoice in our new
Vol. 33, No.5

intellectual freedom, in the new vigor of


our minds, in the new health and wholeness we find in our hearts. The garden
begins to thrive once the choking weeds
have been removed. Yes, Atheism is a
negative position, inasmuch as it creates room for freedom to take root!
Samantha Chase, a graphic communications worker and native of
Washington state, responds:
Atheism is a positive and natural position. Everyone is an Atheist at birth, or
at least a "nonbeliever" due to a lack of
a belief system.
To many, Atheism means denying
god's existence. This negative perception begins with the notion that god really does exist and that nonbelievers ruin
everything by denying poor suffering believers their sole consolation. Additionally,by accepting that humanity is inherently wicked, a subconscious need for
the belief is artificially created and maintained, because people want to be good
(i.e., "saved" to the Protestants).
Underlying the belief that god exists is
the faulty premise that nonevident (e.g.
supernatural) things really do exist. I see
no valid reason to believe; consequently, it seems silly to waste my time denying the existence of the supernatural.
Let believers prove their claims. Furthermore, the notion that humanity is
inherently wicked just doesn't pan out.
Instead of regularly scheduled rituals
to prepare for a long-awaited death, I
prefer dealing with life's joys and problems. It seems more positive to deal with
the natural, than to too much waste
time and energy on the supernatural.
Don't you agree?
)(JpcomingqiJestion
What made you turn from god?
How would you talk back to
that question? Send your reply
(limit 200 words) to:
"Talking Back"

p. O. Box 140195
TX 787.14-0195
'::)"""\

stin
.)

,-

American Atheist

Director's Briefcase

Fatima fever
e have all been witnessing the
rapidly changing political and
economic events in the Soviet
Union and its satellite countries in what
had been known as the "Eastern Bloc."
The Berlin Wall of the Cold War era is
now down and the Soviet Union appears on the verge of economic collapse. It seems that whenever historical
events of global importance unfold, the
mindlessness of the superstitious masses
springs forth with the "we told you so"
response that these great events are
merely the fulfillment of some prophesy
or prognostication. There are those
who would have us "believe" that almost
every historical event of importance particularly wars, famines, and geologicalor atmospheric catastrophes have been foretold by some great power.
If only our puny human brains had been
able to heed the call of those mystically
attuned enough to act as receptors, we
would have been afforded the opportunity to avoid them. There is a new mass
hysteria circulating in the United States
and Europe which the media calls"Fatima
Fever." It is a belief, held by the faithful
who specialize in such things, that the
new-founded "democracy" in the Soviet
Union and the Eastern Bloc is actually
part of a divine plan revealed by the
Mother of Jesus, a.k.a. the Virgin Mary,
in an apparition on a boulder-strewn
hillside some seventy-four years ago in
Fatima, Portugal.
As Atheists, we continue to be amazed
by the countless revelations, prophecies, visions, appearances, and apparitions claimed by the faithful. Ranging
from the face of Jesus on a tortilla, to apparitions of the Virgin Mary on a church
rooftop, through shadows of Christ cast
on garage doors by streetlamps, there
are always sufficient throngs of the
mindless and curious to turn such occasions into an instant headache for local
authorities. We also continue to greet
them with a healthy dose of rational
skepticism. I have no reason to break
that pattern of doubt with regard to this
latest flare-up of religious psychasthenia.

Did the Virgin Mary


predict the fall of the
Soviet Union over
seventy years ago?
The faithful flocking to
a Portuguese town
believe so, and Roman
Catholic leaders have
used that credulity to
fuel their political
agenda.

A graduate of the University of Texas


at Austin and a second-generation
Atheist, Mr. Murray is a proponent of
"aggressive Atheism." He is an
anchorman on the "American Atheist
Forum"and the president of American
Atheists.

Jon G. Murray
Austin, Texas

Vol. 33, No.5

Before I go on, Imust say that in order


to discuss this most recent phenomenon it shall be necessary for me to refer
to a number of mythological characters.
Atheists are continually ridiculed because we must refer to Jesus, the Virgin
Mary, Moses, Joseph, God, the Holy
Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Trinity,
and a host of other mythological entities
when we address questions religious.
The religious mind-set somehow cannot
conceive of how we can refer to these
entities without "believing" in them. The
Atheist invariably replies that he can
talk about Pinocchio without "believing"
that the late nineteenth-century Italian
puppet-character
really existed. So
please bear with me, my Atheist friends,
as I must refer to such things as "virgin
mothers."
Let us look at the origins of the Fatima
phenomenon.

The origins of the legend


Fatima is a small town located seventyfive miles north of Lisbon in Portugal.
Most probably, it was named in honor of
Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.
Mohammed (AD 570-632), of course,
founded the religion of Islam - the Muslims of today. Fatima is said to have been
one of the four perfect women in history.'
In 1917,Fatima, Portugal, was a sleepy
desolate little town. It is then that Roman Catholics believe that the Virgin
Mary visited the parish of Fatima.
In that year of the Russian Revolution, the "Queen of Heaven" is said to
have made six monthly appearances before three illiterate shepherd children
between May 13 and October 13. The
children were ten-year-old Maria Lucia
dos Santos and her two younger cousins

1"The other three are Khadijah, the prophet's


first wife; Mary, the daughter of Imran; and
Asia, wife of the pharaoh drowned in the
Red Sea" (Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia,
3d ed. [New York: Harper & Row, Publishers,
1987], s.v. "Fatima").
Page 21

tification- for the conversion of


smners.
Devotion of the world and all
peoples to the Immaculate Heart
of the Blessed Mother.
The offering of Holy Communion of reparation on the first
Saturday of each month."
The promised results of following her
requests was the saving of many souls,
the avoidance of a more terrible world
war, the conversion of Russia, and world
peace.
A closer look at the first revelation
finds that it was supposed to have consisted of the Virgin's presenting to the
children an extremely terrifying vision of
hell and the sinners burning there. Obviously this was to impress upon them
the need to honor her requests so that
such souls could be saved. Wasn't that
a wonderful thing of which to produce a
panorama - in technicolor we must
suppose - for children of the ages of
seven, nine, and ten?

The Bolsheviks are coming

Francisco Marto, age nine, and Jacinta


Marto, age seven. Maria Lucia supposedly saw a seventh apparition of
Mary on June 18, 1921.
The legend- is that over a period of
months the Virgin made three revelations to these three children, the first of
those being on May 13, 1917.Three, remember, is one of those magic numbers
for religionists - as in the Holy Trinity.
With the exception of the one during
the month of August, the apparitions

The first revelation was preceded by


three preliminary visitations by something identified only as the "Angel of
Portugal." The general message of the
"Blessed Mother of God" at Fatima consisted of her orders for the following
behavior:

2Details are from Catholic Terror Today by


Avro Manhattan (London: Para vision Publications Limited, 1%9), chapters 12 and 13.

The performance of penance.


The frequent recitation of the
Rosary.
The practice of prayer and mor-

Page 22

took place at the Cova da Iria, a grazing


ground near the villageof Aljustrel, within the parish of Fatima.

Mortification for peace

Vol. 33, No.5

The second revelation is said to have


consisted of the Virgin's prophecy of the
Bolshevik Revolution and a warning
that a future Soviet Union would cause
great trouble among nations. This revelation came at an opportune time since
Europe, in 1917,was still in the grips of
World War I.5 Just around the corner,
3Mortification is "the practice of asceticism
by penitential discipline to overcome desire
for sin and to strengthen the will." Asceticism is "the theory or systemic exposition of
the means (whether negative, as self-denial
and abstinence, or positive, as the exercise
of natural and Christian virtue) by which a
complete conformity with the divine willmay
be attained" (The American College Dictionary).
4The Catholic Concise Encyclopedia, ed.
Robert C. Broderick, M.A. (St. Paul, Minnesota: Catechetical Guild Educational Society,
1956),p. 160.
5World War I extended from July 28, 1914,to
November 11, 1918.
American Atheist

The Roman Catholic hierarchy perceived Fascism as an effective deterrent to Communism and an aid toward the fulfillment
of the prophecy of Fatima. Mutually beneficial treaties were
made, such as the Lateran Treat of 1929 (below), which made
Catholicism the official religion of Italy under Mussolini. In Hitler's Germany, a "German-Christian" movement flourished;
shown at right is a flag dedication ceremony at Gustav Adolf
Church in 1934.

on November 7, 1917, was the overthrow of the provisional constitutional


government in Russia which had been
placed in power after the March 12
uprising had abolished the czar's government. This coup d'etat would establish
the Soviet Union. The Virgin's second
message had been intended to induce
the pope to bring about "the consecration of the World to her immaculate
heart" and then "the consecration of
Russia." The Virgin foretold that "Russia
will be converted" (from the Eastern
Orthodox church to the Roman Catholic church) and "the Holy Father will
consecrate Russia to me [the Virgin]."
She went on to warn that should this
conversion and consecration of Russia
not be accomplished:

The day the sun


zigzagged
It was announced
by the church, however, that on the day
of that lastapparition in October of
1917thousands near
the children reportedly witnessed a mir-

her [Russia's] errors will spread


throughout the world, causing
wars and persecutions ... different nations willbe destroyed .... 6
The Virgin also promised that the Roman Catholic church would triumph
and in the end "the Holy Father willconsecrate Russia to me." At that point
"she [Russia] shall be converted and a
period of peace will be granted to the
world."?

Most conveniently, the third revelation has never been disclosed by the
Vatican. In 1938,its content was given to
the Vatican in a sealed letter from Lucia
de Jesus dos Santos, the last of the
three children still living.It was not to be
revealed until 1%0. It has never been, in
fact, revealed by the Vatican to this
date, some thirty years later. One current popular theory maintains that the
third revelation deals with Armageddon.

6Description by the Jesuit Father, H.S.


DeCaires, authorized by the archbishop of
Dublin in 1946 and quoted in "Fatima,"
published by the Catholic Truth Society of
Ireland in 1950.
7Idem.
Austin, Texas

acle. As ifthe apparition had not been of


significantly believable magnitude, a
little extra drama had to be thrown in to
emphasize the importance of the whole
affair:
The sun become pale, three times
it turned speedily on itself, like a
Catherine wheel [a wheel with
spikes projecting from the rim] . . .
At the end of these convulsive revolutions it seemed to jump out of
its orbit and come forward toward
the people on a zig-zag course,
stopped, and returned again to its
normal position.f
This solar "spasm" purportedly lasted
twelve - another magic number, as in
the twelve disciples of Christ and twelve
8Idem.
Vol. 33, No.5

months of the year - minutes. It is interesting to note here that an astronomical event of such proportions as this
was not noticed or reported by the rest
of the inhabitants of the planet.
Another prophecy attributed to the
Virgin was that two of the three shepherd children would die young but
would be assured eternal glory. And so
it was, at least the part about dying
young, for Francisco Marto died in 1919,
and his sister, Jacinta, died a year later.
Whether those deaths were arranged to
fulfillthe prophecy, no one, but perhaps
the Vatican, will ever know.
The Cult of Fatima grew so rapidly
that the number of pilgrims to the site
jumped from 60 on June 13, 1917, to
60,000 in October 1917, to 144,000 by
1923,and to 588,000 by 1928.
In October 1930, the church finally
officially declared the apparitions to be
"worthy" of belief, after a seven-year
Page 23

In the wake of Hitler's ultimate defeat on the Russian front,


an obvious setback to the prophecies of the Cult of Fatima,
the Vatican ordered massive pilgrimages
to be organized to the shrine at Fatima.
canonical investigation.
At the same
time, devotion to "Our Lady of Fatima"
under the title of "Our Lady of the
Rosary" was authorized."
Here I would like to quote something
on "the accuracy of visions" which is
representative of what can be found in
a many sources and which is particularly appropriate to the visions at Fatima:
The wisdom of the Church and the
teaching of its greatest intellects
and holiest saints has made it [the
accuracy of visions] circumspect.
In the 17th century it denounced
more than a score of false visionaries. When it specifically approves
an apparition or revelation, it does
so in terms of a formula laid down
by the learned Pope Benedict XIV
(1675-1758). Even approved revelations are accorded
only the
probability of being true, and have
at most the credibility "of human
faith according to the rules of prudence," and any Catholic is at liberty to reject or criticize. Discretion is certainly justified because
in Western Europe between 1930
and 1950 the Church investigated
30 series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary alone, and 300 cases of
individual apparitions to children.
Only three apparitions have been
recognized in the present century:
Fatima, Beauraing and Banneux,
though the Church sometimes authorizes shrines without officially
endorsing the visions which have
led to their foundation.l?
Curiously enough, though these three
great secrets from the Virgin had been

91975Catholic Almanac, ed. Felician A. Fay


(Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor,
Inc., 1974),p. 313.
lOMan, Myth & Magic, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, ed. Richard
Cavendish (New York: Marshal Cavendish
Corp., 1970),vol. 22, p. 2965.
Page 24

revealed to the children at Fatima in


1917,it was not until June of 1938 - after
a papal nuncio was sent to Fatima to
address 500,000 pilgrims - that the
only surviving child revealed the contents of the first two messages.

the Second World War broke out with


Monseignor Pacelli coincidentally
becoming Pope Pius XII, a position he held
until 1958. In 1940 France was defeated.
Then in 1941 Hitler invaded Russia, to
the great joy of the Vatican which had
labored long and hard for the event. In
1942, when Hitler gave an erroneous
and early announcement
that Russia
had been defeated, Pope Pius XII fulfilled the second of the Virgin's messages
at Fatima right on cue and "consecrated the whole world to her Immaculate
Heart." One source notes:
Ten years later, in the first apostolic letter addressed directly to the
peoples of Russia, he consecrated
them in a special
manner
to
Mary. 12

Pope Pius XI signed a concordat with


Hitler's government in 1933.

Fascism and Nazism


for the Virgin
Like almost every other story in
which the Vatican becomes involved,
the Cult of Fatima was used for a geopolitical purpose. Monseignor Eugenio
Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, did
everything he could to help the prophecy concerning Russia come true. Operating under the theory that Fascism and
Nazism could be united in Europe to
overrun Communist
Russia and thus
fulfill the prophecy at Fatima, he and
Pope Pius XIll did not waste any time.
In 1929 Pope Pius XI signed a concordat
with Mussolini. In 1933 Hitler became
chancellor of Germany after Monseignor Pacelli urged the German Catholic
Party to vote for him in the German general election that year. In 1936 Franco
started the Civil War in Spain. In 1939

llAmbrogio Damiano Achille Ratti (18571939),pope (1922-39.)


Vol. 33, No.5

In the wake of Hitler's ultimate defeat


on the Russian front, an obvious setback to the prophecies of the Cult of
Fatima, the Vatican ordered massive pilgrimages to be organized to the shrine
at Fatima.
In 1946 a statue of "our Lady" (of
Fatima) was crowned before 500,000
pilgrims at Fatima. The crown, fashioned
of gold, weighed two and one-half pounds
and contained 313 pearls, 1250 precious
stones, and 1400 diamonds.
In 1947 that statue was sent around
the world on a pilgrimage, with an antiRussian message, to fifty-three nations.
In 1950, just in time for the beginning of
the Cold War, it wound up in Moscow in
the Church of the Foreign Diplomats to
await the imminent liberation of Soviet
Russia - or so the Vatican thought.

Adding to the myth


In October 1951, Pope Pius XII sent
Cardinal Tedeschini to Fatima to speak
before a massive assemblage of over
one million which had been organized
by papal ordinance. The cardinal was
sent to reveal to the crowd that the mir-

121975

Catholic Almanac, p. 313.


American Atheist

In recent years, the alleged manifestation of the Virgin Mary in 1531 to


a Indian outside of Mexico City has been a focal point of religious fervor
in Mexico. It is but part of the recent popularity of Virgin-sightings.

acle of the zigzagging sun which had appeared to the three children in 1917had
been repeated outside of Fatima and for
no less an audience than the pope himself. The cardinal described the miracle
to the crowd at Fatima in this way:
On the afternoon of October 30th,
1950, at 4 p.m. the Holy Father
turned his gaze from the Vatican
gardens to the sun, and there . . .
was renewed for his eyes the prodigy13of the Valley of Fatima ....
Pope Pius XII was able to witness
the life of the sun . . . under the
hand of Mary. The sun was agitated, all convulsed, transformed
into a picture of life ... in a spectacle of celestial movements ... in
transmission of mute but eloquent
messages to the Vicar of Christ. 14
The cardinal went on to tell the crowd
that the miraculous vision occurred not
once, but on the three - here we go
with that magic number again - successive days of October 30, 31, and
November 1, 1950.
On October 21, 1951, only a week
after the disclosure of this great miracle,
the first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican
was appointed. That ambassador was
General Mark Clark, chief of the American Army Field Forces. The significance
of that appointment was twofold. First,
it violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause. Second, General Clark
was a Russophobe.
That sums up the history behind the
alleged apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.

Fatima now

..

In the Fatima of today, at the southern


end of town is a neoclassical church, the
Fatima Shrine, bedecked with statues,

131nthis sense, a prodigy is "something extraordinary regarded as of prophetic significance" (The American College Dictionary).
14Manhattan, Catholic Terror Today, pp.
114-5.
Austin, Texas

standing at the bottom of a


two hundred-foot
tower
topped by a seven-ton bronze
crown and a crystal cross
which is illuminated at night.
The remains of two of the
children who claimed to have
seen the Virgin are interred
in the church. Portuguese
bishops wrung enough money out of the local population
and the constant flow of
pilgrims to build the massive
white sanctuary and a statue
of the Virgin. That statue of
the Virgin and the Fatima
Shrine rest on a plateau facing east toward the Soviet
Union. Following the Vatican's dictates, Portuguese bishops have
organized pilgrimages worldwide for
seventy years to pray for the conversion
to Christianity of the Eastern Bloc Communists. All of this is in the name of the
hallucinations of three children.
In 1984Pope John Paul IIhad the statue of the Virgin brought to Rome where
he consecrated it in St. Peter's Square,
with bishops present, as the children
had said the Virgin had recommended
in 1917.At the request of the surviving
child, Sister Lucia, John Paul II also
"consecrated"
Russia to the Virgin
Mary in the same public ceremony. Sister Maria Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, the
eldest of the three children said to have
received the messages from the Virgin,
is now an eighty-four-year-old cloistered
nun of the Immaculate Heart order. She
lives in a Carmelite convent in Coimbra,
Portugal, near Fatima.
The events at Fatima, as well as earlier occurrences, have gained credence
recently in the press through a combination of statements by witnesses, investigations by church authorities, and reports of attendant miracles. This is all in
the wake of the events transpiring in the
Soviet Union and the absurd claim that
those events have something to do with
the hallucinations of three children in
1917Portugal.
Vol. 33, No.5

Other sightings of the Virgin


As you might suspect, Fatima is not
the lone sighting of the Virgin Mary in
modern times. Other principle sightings
have occurred as follows:
In Banneux, near Liege, Belgium, where Mary appeared
eight times between January 15
and March 2, 1933,to an elevenyear-old peasant girl.
In Beauraing, Belgium, where
Mary appeared thirty-three times
between November 29, 1932,
and January 3, 1933,to five children in the garden of a convent
school.
In Guadalupe, Mexico, where
Mary appeared four times in
1531to an Indian, Juan Diego,
on Tepeyac Hill outside of Mexico City.
In Knock, Ireland, where an apparition of Mary along with figures of St. Joseph and St. John
the Apostle, were seen by some
fifteen persons on August 21,
1879,near the parish church of
Knock, County Mayo.
At La Salette, in southern
France, where Mary appeared
on September 19, 1846, to two
peasant children.
Page 25

In the Wall Street Journal, a sixty-two-year-old chemist was quoted saying,


"Our Lady is simply fulfilling her promise back in 1917to convert Russia."
A former Defense Department analyst remarked that "recent events in the
Soviet Union are only explainable in supernatural terms."
In Lourdes, France, where Mary
appeared eighteen times between February 11 and July 16,
1858, to a fourteen-year-old girl
at the grotto of Massabielle.
In Paris, France, where Mary
appeared three times in 1830 in
the chapel of the mother-house
of the Daughters of Charity of
St. Vincent de Paul.>

The Virgin goes east


Then, of course, there is the latest
and greatest of Marian apparitions: the
ones which have occurred in Medjugorje,
Yugoslavia, beginning in 1981. At that
time, six Croatian youths claimed to
have had visions of the Virgin Mary and
to have received messages from her.
The six purported visionaries are now in
their twenties but continue to convey
messages from the Virgin emphasizing,
what else but piety, peace, and reconciliation. Some ten to fifteen million persons have made pilgrimages to Medjugorje in the past ten years.
These apparitions failed to get the endorsement of the Catholic Press in the
winter of 1990. Directed by the Vatican
to investigate the phenomena at Medjugorje, Yugoslavia's Catholic bishops
reported that, based on the evidence
they could gather, "it cannot be confirmed that supernatural apparitions
and revelations are occurring." Correspondent Gabrial Meyer, who has reported extensively from Yugoslavia for
the National Catholic Register and Twin
Circle, says that at present there are
some 144 reported apparitions under investigation by national and local church
officials." Additionally, in August 1990,
three thousand believers gathered at
the Irvine Bren Events Center at the
University of California for a major twoday conference to explore the alleged
messages of the Virgin at Medjugorje.
151975 Catholic Almanac, pp. 312-3.
16LosAngeles Times, July 27,1991, Calendar
section, p. 16.
Page 26

The conference was not sponsored by


the Diocese of Orange, California, and
was billed as a grass-roots, ecumenical
gathering. No major pronouncement on
the authenticity of the apparitions came
out of the conferenceY

Supernatural subversion
of the Soviet Union
The media loves the claims of prophesies fulfilled. They are good food for
titles like "Fatima Fever: Did Mary
Prophesy Soviet Goings-On? - Believers Say Blessed Virgin Beat CNN to the
News by More Than 74 Years,"18 or
"Fatima Fever - Hail, Mary, Pray the
Faithful, Who Believe She Prophesied
Democracy Would Come to the Soviet
Union."?" The media has also been fanning the fires of the faithful by quoting
respected citizens and church leaders
on the alleged connection between Moscow's present economic collapse and
the visions of 1917. In the Wall Street
Journal,20 a sixty-two-year-old chemist
was quoted saying, "Our Lady is simply
fulfillingher promise back in 1917to convert Russia." A sixty-two-year-old former Defense Department analyst remarked that "recent events in the Soviet Union are only explainable in supernatural terms." The bishop of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota, was
quoted on his point of view that:
the fall of communism is simply
the answer to the prayers of millions of people who were heeding
the invitation of the Blessed Lady
to prayer and penance.
In Fatima, local officials are reporting
attendance is way up from the average
annual rate of four million. In Washing-

17Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1990,


Metro section, p. 3.
18WallStreet Journal, September 27, 1991.
19DetroitNews, October 24, 1991, sec. D.
20Friday, September 27, 1991, p. 1 and sec.
A,p.5.
Vol. 33, No.5

ton, New Jersey, site of the national


Fatima shrine, numbers attending Sunday Mass have risen from thirty or forty
to six hundred. That is stunning. It
would be impossible to get four million
people to come out to lectures on ecology or family planning, but they will
travel, often at great personal expense,
to the site of an alleged sighting of the
Virgin Mary.
In Portugal, Monseignor Luciana
Guerra, rector of the Fatima Shrine, has
signed up with a Belgian television company for a special on the Virgin of
Fatima that is to be broadcast - where
else but - in the Soviet Union.
In April 1991, in one of the results of
his 1989 and 1990 Vatican meetings with
Gorbachev, John Paul II was able to appoint the first Roman Catholic bishop in
Moscow in six decades.

Mary's "saving presence"


Not to be outdone by his predecessors and knowing an excellent media
opportunity when he sees one, Pope
John Paul II visited the Fatima Shrine in
Portugal, on May 13, 1991, during his
fiftieth trip abroad since becoming pope
in 1978. The pope addressed a crowd of
more than 300,000 on that day. It was
the seventy-fourth anniversary of the
sighting of the Virgin in Fatima.
The pope had made his first trip to
Fatima in 1982, the year after being shot
by a Turkish gunman/! in Rome's Saint
Peter's Square. That attack occurred
on May 13, 1981, the sixty-fourth anniversary of the first apparition at Fatima.
The pope, therefore, credits the Virgin
with his escape from death. He recalled
on his second visit to Fatima that on that
day in 1981 in Saint Peter's Square, "I felt
your [the Virgin] saving presence beside
me."22
21Mehmet AliAgca, who is serving a lifesentence in a Roman prison and who was conveniently rumored to be involved with the
KGB.
22New York Times, May 14, 1991, sec. A, p.
2.

American Atheist

During the pope's first visit to Fatima,


a renegade Spanish priest named Juan
Fernandez Krohn tried to stab him with
a rusty bayonet but was stopped by
bodyguards. An archconservative, Krohn
recently completed his sentence in a
Portuguese jail for that attack.
In 1984 the pope gave a fragment of
one of the bullets with which he was
shot to the bishop of Fatima and asked
that it be kept at the shrine. It has been
set amid pearls and diamonds in a
crown which the pontiff placed on the
head of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima
during his 1991 visit.
The pope made the 1991 trip to Fatima
principally to give thanks to the Virgin
for:
protection she gave to the church
in these years, which recorded
swift and deep social transformations, allowing new hopes to many
people oppressed by atheist ideologies.23
What he failed to say was that the "new
hopes" of which he spoke would be their
opportunity to be oppressed by capitalism and the church. Western industry
can use them as a great slave-labor pool,
void of union hassles, while the church
can make them tithe.
On that same visit he denounced the
dangers of unbridled capitalism also:
There exists the danger that Marxism willbe substituted by another
form of atheism [which], while
praising freedom, tends to destroy
the roots of human and Christian
morality"
I am all for destroying "Christian" morality and replacing it with rational, situational ethics.
.
John Paul II warned the crowd at

Fatima that Europe seems "tempted by


a vast, theoretical and practical, atheistic movement that appears to seek a
new materialistic civilization."> I certainly hope so.
He said also that the end of the division of Europe had created an opportunity for East and West to engage in "reciprocal spiritual enrichment."26 That is
what frightens me. The translation of
"reciprocal spiritual enrichment" is that
our evangelical movement willbe allowed
to pour into the Eastern Bloc countries,
Bibles in hand.
The pope has also made no secret of
his fear that with the restoration of both
religious and political freedom in Eastern Europe, its peoples may also turn
away from the church. That is a possibility of which the Atheist communities
in Europe need to be prepared to take
advantage.
Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was
given special dispensation to leave the
strict confinement of her convent in
Coimbra to attend the papal mass at the
shrine of Fatima. With the papal road
show in town, her publicity value outweighed her devotion to duty.
Before leaving Portugal, the pope reo
marked that the collapse of communism
in Eastern Europe "compels us to think
in a special way about Fatima."?
John Paul IIended his four-day visit to
Portugal by making it clear that he attributed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe to the Fatima Virgin's intervention.

Taking the credit


for the fall of communism
The faithful are really rallying around
this "Fatima Fever" epidemic, claiming
the fulfillment of the prophecy to be
present in all its glory. What they all fail

25New York Times, May 14, 1991, sec. A, p,


2.
230range County Register, May 11, 1991, sec.
A, p. 17.
24Chicago Sun- Times, May 14, 1991, p. 8.

Austin,Texas

26lbid.
27WallStreet Journal, September 27, 1991,
p. 5.

sec. A,

Vol. 33, No.5

to realize is that the fall of the Soviet


Union has to do mostly with the fact that
the West successfully boycotted it and
forced it to spend the majority of its national finances and energies on the military to stay "even" during the Cold War.
It was not an ideological victory of Western morals and "Christianity" which
felled Reagan's "Evil Empire." It was the
result of eighty years of economic, propagandistic, and covert action pressure
by the Western allies which finally wore
the Soviet government and people into
submission.
Now that the fall of the Soviet system
has come, the Vatican naturally wishes
to be on the hit parade of those taking
credit for tearing down that union.
There is also an ulterior motive here
on the part of the Vatican. The present
pope desires to reclaim the Roman
Catholic populations of the western republics of the former Soviet Union
which his predecessors rankled over
losing to the Eastern Orthodox church's
influence and the isolation of the Soviet
border.
What we as Atheists stand to learn
from this is that religionists, and particularly Roman Catholics, are interested
in survival and perpetuation of their
dogma at all costs. They can acquiesce
to an Atheist state when that is to their
advantage and then turn around and
take credit for that state's collapse when
the tide turns the other way. The church
can mitigate the value of apparitions in
general, until it needs one for public relations or political purposes. Then it will
pull out all stops to exploit it. ~

Additional references
Los Angeles Times, May, 10, 1991, sec.
A, p. 5.
Orange County Register, May 14, 1991,
sec. A, p. 18.
Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1991, sec. 1, p.
10 and May 17, 1991, sec. 2, p. 7.
Seattle Times, May 10, 1991, sec. A, p.
2.
Detroit Free Press, May 11, 1991, sec. A,
p.4.

Page 27

The Probing Mind

Apologizing for Christianity


lHEODD-S
AGAINST THE

BIBLF PROPH~ClES

Part II: Babbling about


the Bible.

BEING FALSe ARE


(~OM(XV x 98.6)
-

URNIP+

We can say that the New Testament books tell of events and circumstances in the life of a man,
events which did in fact fulfill all of
the Messianic prophecy of the Old
Testament prophets.
We can also examine this in terms
of probability. Mathematically, the
odds against all of the prophecies
being fulfilled by one man in one lifetime are a staggering one out of
eight times ten to the 132nd power.
- Robert W. Faid, A Scientific
Approach to Christianity

Formerly a professor of biology and


geology, Frank R. Zindler is now a science writer. He is a member of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American
Chemical Society, and the American
Schools of Oriental Research. He is
the director of the Central Ohio Chapter of American Atheists.

Frank R. Zindler
Page 28

People have been so long in the


habit of reading the books called
the Bible and Testament with their
eyes shut, and their senses locked
up, that the most stupid inconsistencies have [been] passed on them
for truth, and imposition for prophecy.
- Thomas Paine, Examination of
the Prophecies
ince ancient times, Christianity
has had its apologists - persons
devoted to that branch of theology dealing with the defense and proof of
the Christian system. Given the incontrovertible fact that Christianity is neither provable nor defensible, one must

Vol. 33, No.5

ask just what kind of person it is who


would write an apologia for it. Are apologists ignorant? Stupid? Are they dishonest, seeking to profit from human
gullibility? Or are they mentally deranged? Is any other type of person likely to apologize for a religion predicated
upon the injustice of "original sin," the
absurdity of the "incarnation,"! or the
morally outrageous notion of substitutional "atonement" - the idea that
Christ could die for the sins of others?
In the first part of this article, "The
Probing Mind" began an examination of
two books by the apologist Robert W
Faid, a man who has argued that Gorbachev is the Antichrist- and that science

"The doctrine of the incarnation holds that


Yahweh, the god of the Jews, assumed human form in the body of Jesus and that the
latter was simultaneously a man and a god.
Logically, this would require that a god died
when the man was crucified. Of what value
is a god that is mortal? Ifthe god did not die,
there was no substitutional sacrifice something required later on for the so-called
atonement. The bedrock absurdity of the incarnation doctrine seems never to be noticed by its apologists.
2Robert W. Faid, Gorbachev! Has the Real
Antichrist Come? (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Victory
House Publisher, 1988),
American Atheist

can prove the claims of Christianity.'


Faid's arguments for Christianity fall
into three main categories: Bible numerology, Bible prophecy and history, and
antievolutionary casuistry.
The numerological argument, already
refuted in last issue's column, claimed
that there are profound mathematical
relationships which tie together the
Scriptures, relationships which can be
accounted for only if the Scriptures are
of supernatural origin. Like other fundamentalist claims, however, the notion
that there is a mathematical system
which ties all the verses of the Bible together in a cabalistic chain of interrelations is an illusion: careful examination
of Faid's claims shows them to be without foundation. But what of the claim
that Jesus not only existed but fulfilled
numerous prophecies published centuries before him in the Old Testament?

Did Jesus exist?


In A Scientific Approach to Christianity, Faid tries to prove the historicity of
Jesus. He claims that "Archaeologists
have found artifacts dated from the first
century which bear the name of Jesus
Christ."? Of course, he cites no references for the claim, and we have no way
of knowing whether the "artifacts" are
potty-chairs and carpenter's tools, or
last-supper cups and pieces of the "True
Cross." The claim is, of course, a lie that
willbe believed by the credulous multitudes who will make Faid wealthy by
purchasing his books.
Faid argues that "hostile witnesses"
prove that Jesus existed:
Some of the most meaningful
evidence comes from what a lawyer would term "hostile witnesses."
These sources are not sympathetic to Jesus and any evidence given

3Robert W Faid, A Scientific Approach to


Christianity (Green Forest, Arkansas: New
Leaf Press, 1990).
4Faid, Scientific Approach, pp. 8-9.
Austin, Texas

by them carries extra weight. Jews


are not sympathetic witnesses to
Jesus. They do, however, admit
that a man named Jesus lived during the time claimed by the New
Testament writers, and that He
preached in the synagogues during His ministry. He is regarded as
a rabbi who held heretical views."

named Jesus lived. In fact, they regard Him as a prophet, and the
only prophet who could perform
miracles.'

The fact that Muhammad was not


born until the year 570 C.E.suffices to
eliminate Islamic traditions as serious
evidence of the historicity of Jesus.
Clearly, the Muslims - like the Jews of
. ,"
, .''1
.,
the Talmud - were reacting not to
Christ but to the obnoxious Christians
who had already been in existence for
centuries and had made claims that
The arguments
needed to be refuted.
adduced to prove
Faid's main "evidence" for the historicity of Jesus, however, comes from the
the reliability of
four canonical Gospels - the four
the Gospels are
pseudobiographies that survived the
underwhelming, to
pruning and grafting carried out by censay the most.
turies of church councils and priestly.
politicians. Faid actually thinks that the
Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John were written by four men named
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - despite the fact that the titles "According
to Matthew," etc., were not added until
well into the second century. Papias, in
140 C.E.bishop of Hierapolis in Turkey,
Not surprisingly, Faid does not tell his is the first to mention any written Gospels by name (Matthew and Mark).
readers that this "hostile evidence"
comes from the Talmud and that the Even so, around the year 150 C.E.Justin
latter places Jesus somewhere toward Martyr gives no indication of knowing
the end of the second century B.C.E.!6lt who wrote them or even how many
is, moreover, unfortunate that the cred- there were - although he was well aculous consumers of Faid's rabbinical ra- quainted with Gospel texts. The first
gout are not likely to know that the person to claim there are just four auMishnah, the oldest stratum of the Tal- thentic Gospels and to name authors for
mud, was not reduced to writing until all four was Irenaeus, the bishop of
Lyons, in 180 C.E.
sometime in the third to fifth centuries
The arguments adduced to prove the
C.E. - completely eliminating it as a
credible eyewitness ("hostile" or not!) of reliability of the Gospels are underwhelming, to say the most. The places
the historicity of Jesus.
Not only do the Jews admit Jesus ex- mentioned in the Gospels actually exist,
as did many of the personages alleged to
isted, Faid tells us,
have been actors in the Gospel stories,
Moslems also claim that a man
and this somehow is construed as evidence:
5Faid, Scientific Approach, p. 9.
6B.C.E.: Before the Common
Era. C.E.: the
Common Era.
Vol. 33, No.5

7Faid, Scientific Approach, p. 9.


Page 29

Now let us see how much of the


case for the historical Jesus can be
verified. The geography is straightforward." Jerusalem, Bethlehem
and Nazareth exist today, with the
town of Nazareth hardly changed
from the sleepy hamlet it was two
thousand years ago .... The Sea
of Galilee is stillthere, as are many
of the towns such as Jericho which
are mentioned by the writers of
the New Testament.
But how about the people? The
geography checks out, but how
about the people? What can we
verify about them?
Jesus would have been born in
5 or 6 s.c. In The Jewish War, by
the historian Josephus, there is a
detailed account of Herod as king
of the Roman province of Palestine. . . . Coins have been found
bearing Herod's name .... A potsherd found at Masada bears the
inscription, "To King Herod." ...
We can verify [that] ... the fifth
procurator of Judea was named
Pontius Pilate."

By the "logic" implicit in Faid's exposition, if a novel describes a love affair


between John F. Kennedy and a nun in
New York City, the story must be true,
since there is solid evidence that both
Kennedy and New York City existed at
the time chosen for the story's plot, and
nuns have been sighted in that city for
centuries!
Perhaps the funniest "proof" of the

,.

There is no
evidence that
our apologist finds
it odd that "Jesus
would have been
born in 5 or 6 B.C."
- i.e., five or six
years Before
Christ.

historicity of Jesus is Faid's claim that


8Actually, there are serious problems with
the geography of the Gospels. The author of
Mark, the oldest of the canonical Gospels,
makes a number of blunders. For example,
in the story he made up about Jesus' traveling from Tyre, on the Mediterranean, to
the Sea of Galilee, thirty miles inland (Mark
7:31),he has J.e. and his gang travel by way
of Sidon, twenty miles north of Tyre on the
coast! Thus, the wisest man who ever lived
walked seventy miles instead of thirty, since
going to Sidon and back would add forty
useless miles to his itinerary. To save the
geography of the Gospel, the translators of
the King James Version apparently deliberately ignored a perfectly clear Greek text to
write". . . departing from the coasts of Tyre
and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee.... " More honestly, the New English Bible tells us, "On his return journey from
Tyrian territory he went by way of Sidon to
the Sea of Galilee.... "
9Faid, Scientific Approach, pp. 7-8.
Page 30

The very fact that we reckon


time according to s.c. and AD. divisions testifies that a man named
Jesus lived.'?
There is no evidence that our apologist
finds it odd that "Jesus would have been
born in 5 or 6 s.c." - i.e., five or six
years Before Christ - or that "Herod
died in 4 B.C." The historiographic reality, naturally, is quite destructive of
Faid's argument. There was no little
chronologer making note of the B.c./ AD.
transition as it occurred. The B.C./AD.
method of reckoning history dates only
from the year 525 C.E., when the Roman
monk Dionysius Exiguus tried to relate
10Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 9.
Vol. 33, No.5

Easter-date tables to the Roman AU.C.1I


system of dating. He decided that the
year AD. 1 (there is no zero year in his
system) corresponded to the year AU.C.
754. Working so far removed in time
from the objects of his study, he made
mistakes even in his secular history. For
example, he omitted the four years during which the emperor Augustus Caesar
ruled under the name Octavian.
Unlike many Bible apologists, Robert
Faid admits that "Bible scholars have indeed found errors" in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament books. In
what can only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to deceive his readers,
however, he minimizes the significance
of these "errors" and misrepresents the
documentary evidence:
I was not surprised to learn that
not one original New Testament
manuscript exists today. But what
was surprising was the number of
manuscripts which date back from
125 A.D. to 300 AD. There are over
4500of these in the originalGreek,"
the language in which the New
Testament books were first written ...
[N]o errors have been found
which alter the thrust of the New
Testament books. Each manuscript, dating back almost to the
lifetime of Jesus.P tells the incredible story of a man who could per-

IIA.U.C.: ab urbe condita - 'from the founding of the city' (of Rome).
12Thisis absolutely false. The third edition of
The Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt
Aland, Matthew Black, et al. (New York:
United Bible Societies, 1975)lists only twenty manuscript fragments dated to the third
century or earlier. Moreover, the four dated
to the year 200 or earlier are mere scraps,
containing from one to several dozen verses.
130bviously, this is a wild exaggeration.
None of the manuscripts dates "back almost
to the lifetime of Jesus," and hardly any of
the manuscripts of real antiquity relate all
the details listed.

American Atheist

form miracles, who could raise the


dead, and who claimed to be the
Son of God. They [sic] tell of His
life, His betrayal and trial, His
death and His resurrection from
the dead."
Apart from the fact that only twenty
papyrus fragments, not 4,500 manuscripts, can be dated to 300 C.E. or earlier, we may complain that nowhere are
readers informed that all the oldest
manuscripts of Mark omit the last
twelve verses - the verses telling of the
resurrected Christ, of the ability of true
believers to drink poison, handle snakes,
etc. Nowhere are readers told that no
Greek manuscript older than the fifteenth century contains the only "conclusive" trinitarian proof-text 1 John 5:7
("For there are three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the
Holy Ghost: and these three are one").
Nowhere does Faid's book tell readers
that one of the oldest manuscripts of
Matthew (the Codex Sinaiticus Syriacus)
contains no virgin birth genealogy, saying simply that "Jacob begat Joseph,
and Joseph begat Jesus."
Being aware of the claims that there
are numerous contradictions among the
Gospels, Faid again tries to minimize the
problem by claiming that the contradictions are unimportant (thus conceding
that the Scriptures are not absolutely inerrant) and that the Gospels agree on all
important details:
Although allfour Gospels tell the
same general story of the lifeof Jesus, each one contains some events
which are not found in the others.
They all tell that Jesus was born in
Bethlehem in Judea, the southern
part of the Roman province of Palestine, during the reign of Herod
the Great who ruled with the consent of the Roman authority."

I4Faid, Scientific Approach, p. 12.


I5Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 7.
Austin, Texas

This false claim shows that Faid's biblical scholarship is no better than his
mathematics or science. A quick check
of any comprehensive concordance to
the Bible shows that the name Bethlehem is never mentioned at all in Mark.
(Mark was written before the birth
fables had been concocted.) Moreover,
although Bethlehem is mentioned in
John, the context implies that Jesus was
not born there! The story in John 7:4043 reads as follows:
On hearing this some of the
people said, 'This must certainly
be the expected prophet.' Others
said, 'This is the Messiah.' Others
again, 'Surely the Messiah is not to
come from Galilee? Does not
Scripture say that the Messiah is
to be of the family of David, from
David's village of Bethlehem?'
Thus he caused a split among the
people. (New English Bible)
Herod the Great is never mentioned
in the Gospels of Mark or John, although
his son Herod Antipas makes a number
of appearances in Mark (but never in
John). The Gospel of John says nothing
of the circumstances of Jesus' birth> at
all, nor does Mark. So much for the
claim that all the Gospels "tell the same
general story of the lifeof Jesus . . . that
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea . . . during the reign of Herod the
Great."
Following the tradition of creationist
apologetics, Faid ridicules scholars who
have found fault with the Scriptures.
Scholars have long scoffed at the notion
that there was an empirewide Roman
census which required men to return to
the cities of their birth. It has also been
pointed out that Herod died in 4 B.C.E.

I6John 18:37reads, "My task is to bear witness to the truth. For this was Iborn; for this
I came into the world .... " There is no
indication that the author of John knew that
Jesus was not born in Nazareth.
Vol. 33, No.5

and the census of Quirinius was in 6 C.E.,


yet the Gospels of Luke and Matthew
indicate that Jesus was born during
both the reign of Herod and the census
made when Quirinius was governor of
Syria! These interrelated problems regarding the alleged nativity of Jesus are
neatly explained away by Faid:
In the Gospel of Luke 2: 1-3, it is
stated that Joseph had taken the
pregnant Mary to Bethlehem because by law he had to return to
the city of his ancestors to be registered and taxed. Historians doubted that any such census had been
called. This was an obvious concoction in order to place the birth
of Jesus in Bethlehem ....
Then, from the sands of Egypt,
came a copy of a Roman edict dated A.D. 104: "The enrollment by
household being at hand, it is necessary to notify all who for any
cause soever are outside of their
administrative districts that they
return at once to their homes to
carry out the customary enrollment. .. ."
. . . This was the census which
Luke had written about."

Before proceeding to Faid's obfuscation of the Herod/Quirinius problem, let


us examine the facts of the Egyptian
census. Even in the translation quoted
by Faid it can be seen that there is nothing to indicate that the census was 'empirewide, and a census in 104 C.E. can
hardly be the census cited by Luke!
Moreover, the census is a typical kata
oikian census: traveling salesmen and
others temporarily away from their domiciles are required to return home not to the city of their ancestors! It is still
a fact that no Roman census ever occurred which required men to return to
their ancestral homes: the Roman Empire would have collapsed as a result of
I7Faid, Scientific Approach, pp. 15-16.
Page 31

the chaos such a census would have


created.
Proceeding to the Herod/Quirinius
problem, Faid trots out long-discredited
claims that make it appear the contradiction has been resolved:
[R]ecords clearly establish the
date of 6 AD. as the beginning of
Quirinius's term as governor of
Syria. For Luke's account to be
correct, Joseph would have had to
take Mary to Bethlehem during
the census which took place not
earlier than 9 B.C. nor later than 6
B.C. At least twelve years separate
the census from the date when
Quirinius became governor of
Syria. Luke's account had to be
wrong.
But while Luke's critics smirked
and Bible detractors pounded the
credibility of the entire New Testament, an inscription was found at
Tiber [sic] which resolved the situation in question and vindicated
Luke.
It was determined that Quirinius
was twice governor of Syria, the
first time between 10 and 7 B.C.
and later in 6 AD. . . . These are
but a few of the examples where
modern archaeology has confirmed what was written in the
New Testament."
The fact of the matter is that the
"modern archaeology" referred to involves the 1764 discovery of the Lapis
Tiburtinus, an inscribed marble slab
found near Tivoli (Tibur, not Tiber!) and
published by Sir William M. Ramsay in
1898 in his book Was Christ Born at
Bethlehem? (New York: Putnam). Composed after 14 C.E., the tablet describes
an unnamed person who twice served
as a legate, the second time in Syria. As
for the assertion that the unnamed person was Quirinius, and that he first
18Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 16.
Page 32

served as legate of Syria between 10 and


7 B.C.E., records show that M. Titius was
legate ca. 10 B.C.E., and S. Senti us Saturninus was legate from 9-6 B.C.E.
Raymond E. Brown, probably the
world's greatest authority on the Christian nativity legends, notes that
If Quirinius served as governor
of Syria twice, once in AD. 6 and
once earlier, the two possible time
slots for the earlier governorship
would be before M. Titius (and
thus before 10 s.c.) or between
Quintilius Varus and Gaius Caesar
(and thus between 4 and 1 a.c.).
Either possibility could be reconciled with the Lucan information. 19
However, from what we know of
the relatively well-documented
career of Quirinius, it is unlikely
that he had an earlier governorship at either of those periods. He
served as consul in 12 B.C. (Tacitus
Annals III 48). He was in Asia
Minor sometime after 12 and before 6 B.C. leading the legions in
the war against the Homonadenses.
He was in the Near East, specifically in Syria, as an advisor of
Gaius Caesar for several years before AD. 4. But there is no mention
of Quirinius having been legate in
the nearly twenty years of his career from 12 s.c. to AD. 6. Josephus, who describes several times
the beginning of Quirinius' legateship in AD. 6, gives no hint that
Quirinius had served previously in
that capacitv."

19Whileboth dates arguably can be reconciled with Luke's story, the later date cannot
be reconciled with Matthew's tale, which requires Herod (who died in the year 4 B.CE)
to have lived a year or two after the birth of
Jesus.
20Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke (Garden City,
New York: Doubleday & Co., 1977), p. 550.
Vol. 33, No.5

So much for archaeology proving the


Gospels.

Of manuscripts and scrolls


Turning to Mr. Faid's understanding
of biblical languages and the tools of
professional Bible study, we can only
smile at his assertion that "The Pentateuch ... is called the Torah, meaning
'revelation' in Hebrew."21 (In the King
James Version, the Hebrew word torah
is translated 'law' 216 times, 'manner'
once; never is it translated as 'revelation.') We must laugh outright at the
claim that "The name Immanuel means
'God with us.' Jesus means exactly the
same thing, but in a different language."22
The fact is, Jesus is a Latinized variant
of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is a
rendering of the Hebrew Yeshua' - the
meaning of which is 'savior.'
That our apologist has no understanding of how real biblical scholarship is carried out is evident from his claim that
The subject of the virgin birth
has caused quite a few hang-ups
for many people, especially among
scientists.e' It did with me for quite
a while. I have heard it said that in
the original manuscripts, the word
used was "maiden" and not virgin.
I went back to the original Greek
of the New Testament and in the
Nestle text which has been accepted as the best and most reliable
and accurate of the Greek manuscripts, the word is "virgin."Clearly,
Mary had never known a man.24
2lFaid, Scientific Approach, p. 36.
22Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 25.
23Apart from the fact that virgin births have
never been documented in humans, there is
the problem that for chromosomal reasons
virginal births in mammals can produce only
female offspring. Interestingly, in turkeys,
virgin hatchings have been documented,
and the offspring are always male. Perhaps
the slander that "Jesus was just another
turkey" is true.
24Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 25.
American Atheist

It is hard to decide where to begin in


criticizing this conjugation
of confusions, It may be noted first of all that
whatever the New Testament
might
claim, claiming doesn't make it so. Secondly, Faid should have gone back to
the Hebrew Old Testament,
not the
Greek New Testament, since the whole
virgin birth controversy
centers on a
prophecy of Isaiah allegedly fulfilled in
Jesus of Nazareth. There is little question concerning the nature of Matthew's
claim in post-second
century texts."
The question is: Was Isaiah predicting a
virgin birth? The answer is no and will be
discussed later. With regard to "the original Greek of the New Testament and
... the Nestle text which has been accepted as the best and most reliable and
accurate of the Greek manuscripts," it
must be pointed out that no manuscript
known preserves "the original Greek"
text of any Gospel, and that the "Nestle
text" is not a manuscript.
The Nestle text is a modern book. It
is a product of numerous scholars comparing thousands
of different manuscripts of the New Testament (not all of
the manuscripts are even in Greek), debating which of the thousands of variant
readings are "best," voting, and then
stringing all the winning readings together to produce the main text printed as
"the" Greek New Testament. The most
important non-winning variant readings
are placed in an elaborate set of footnotes known as an apparatus criticus.
Contrary to Faid's misconception, there
is not a single Greek manuscript on
planet Earth that corresponds
exactly

25As I have already noted, the virgin birth


story was not present in the earliest version
of Matthew's story. To prove the Davidic descent of Jesus, Matthew originally concocted a genealogy tracing Jesus' descent
through Joseph. When later the virgin birth
myth was adopted, the genealogy had to be
altered to indicate that Joseph was merely
the supposed father of Jesus - thus vitiating
the genealogy as proof of Jesus' Davidic descent.
Austin, Texas

to the Nestle text!


I realize that I am biased, but nevertheless I must say that a man who can't
tell the difference between a Greek
manuscript and a book should not write
books. Or manuscripts.
One last misrepresentation
needs to
be noted before we proceed to an examination of Faid's much-touted claims of
:.

It may be noted
first of all that
whatever the
New Testament
might claim,
claiming doesn't
make it so.

hundreds of Old Testament prophecies


being fulfilled in Jesus. We must note his
lengthy discussion
of the Dead Sea
Scrolls. He claims that
Since these manuscripts predate
the Christian era, Bible scholars
can now say with absolute certainty that the Old Testament
prophecies concerning the Messiah were not-altered to agree with
later events. In fact, all of this new
evidence
from the nearly one
thousand
recently
discovered
sources reveal that the King James
Version of the Old Testament as
well as other modern translations
are remarkably accurate. This evidence, we are forced to conclude,
removes any doubt concerning
the prophecies which Jesus fulfilled being placed in the Old Testament books after the fact. 26
Vol. 33, No.5

As is the case throughout his books,


in order for arguments such as this to
succeed it is necessary - and probably
expected - that the majority of Faid's
readers be characterized
by pervasive
ignorance and credulity. Not only does
this statement fail to reveal the shocking
extent to which many of the scroll texts
differ from the standard Hebrew Masoretic text used as the basis for modern
Bible translations.s? it sets up a strawman argument.
How could Hebrew
texts - preserved and transmitted by
Jews - be modified to accord with misquotations
from the Old Testament
transmitted in the Christian Greek New
Testament? It was the Greek "Septuagint" version of the Old Testament that
was altered, better to agree with the
New Testament readings.28 This was
possible because, from the second century on, the Greek Old Testament was
transmitted by Christians, not Jews.
Faid begs the question that there are
any Old Testament prophecies fulfilled
by Jesus and ignores the problem that
the ancient Greek Septuagint Old Testament differs profoundly from the accepted Masoretic Hebrew text - and
that the New Testament authors almost
always quote from the Septuagint, not
the Masoretic text.

26Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 42.


27Forexample, the Jeremiah scroll 4QJer-b
is one-eighth shorter than the Masoretic text
of Jeremiah. Many of the scrolls agree better
with the Septuagint Greek or Samaritan
Hebrew versions than with the Masoretic
text, and the Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus scroll
shows that material has been lost during the
creation of the Masoretic text.
28An interesting instance of this, which I
discovered just recently, involves the text of
Isa. 7:14. The Hebrew Masoretic text reads,
"Behold, the young woman is pregnant and
will bear a son .... " In the Greek version
edited by Alfred Rahifs, we read "Behold,
the virgin will conceive and will bear a
son .... " This brings the Old Testament
passage into complete agreement with the
Greek of Matt. 1:23.
Page 33

Examination of the prophecies


Like many apologists, Faid boasts of
the "fact" that "There are over 300 individual prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament, made over a
period of about fifteen centuries,"29 and
that Jesus fulfilled them all. The notion
that the Old Testament "prophecies"
cited by New Testament authors have
anything at all to do with Jesus was definitivelyrefuted by the Founding Father
Thomas Paine nearly two centuries ago,
in his Examination of the Prophecies,
which he intended as Part Three of The
Age of Reason. 30Paine's work, however,
is very difficult to obtain, and it is unlikely that many readers of Faid's book
will be able to partake of Paine's wonderful prose as an antidote. Thus it
seems reasonable to adapt Paine's arguments to examine Faid's claims on the
subject of prophecy.
It is generally easy to refute the claim
that particular verses in the Old Testament are prophecies of Jesus. Paine,
quoting the satirist Jonathan Swift with
regard to a particular passage alleged as
a prophecy of Christ, commented,
This, as Swift says on another
occasion, "is lugged in head and
shoulders"; it need only to be seen
in order to be hooted as a forced
and far-fetched piece of imposition."
A fine lugged-in-the-head-and-shoulders
example is given by Faid on page 28 of
A Scientific Approach to Christianity:
The actual details of the Crucifixion were foretold in Isaiah 53: 12,
and this prophecy was made in a

29Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 22.


30This can be found on pages 848-890 of volume 2 of The Complete Writings of Thomas
Paine, collected and edited by Philip S.
Foner (New York: The Citadel Press, 1969).
31Foner, Writings of Thomas Paine, vol. 2, p.
858.
Page 34

time when executions of that type


were completely unknown to the
Hebrews. This passage also told
that He would die between two
sinners.
We need only read Isa. 53: 12 to see
what a piece of imposture this is:

. .''t
,".,

,.

It is generally easy
to refute the claim
that particular
verses in the
Old Testament are
prophecies of
Jesus.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall
share the spoil with the mighty, because he exposed himself to face
death and was reckoned among
transgressors, because he bore
the sin of many and interceded for
their transgressions. (New English
Bible)
This is as good a description of crucifixion between two thieves as can be found
anywhere in the Old Testament!
We have already seen that Mr. Faid
"checked out" the problem of the virgin
birth by consulting "the original Greek
of the New Testament," but neglected to
check out the problems in the Hebrew
text oflsa. 7:14.He even quotes the passage32 in the false translation made by
the King James gang: "Therefore the
32Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 25.
Vol. 33, No.5

Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a
son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
The fact that Jesus was never called
Immanuel should have sufficed to rule
out this passage as a relevant prophecy.
But if Faid had taken the trouble of consulting an accurate modern translation,
he would have seen that serious liberties
have been taken by the author of Matthew's Gospel, wherein this passage is
misquoted. The New English Bible,
faithful to the Hebrew of the Masoretic
text, reads:
Therefore the Lord himself shall
give you a sign: A young woman is
with child, and she willbear a son,
and will call him Immanuel.
This is to be contrasted with the twisted
version given in Matt. 1:23:
Behold, a virgin shall be with
child, and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted
is, God with us. (King James Version)
The Hebrew text clearly refers to a
young woman who was already pregnant at the time Isaiah was speaking. If
the pregnancy in question truly pertained to the gestation of Jesus, it was
the longest pregnancy in history, and
the really miraculous part of the story
has gone unremarked by theologians
for two thousand years. With regard to
the sexual status of the pregnant female
in question, the New Testament uses
the Greek word parthenos, a term often
signifying 'virgin'33in the modern sense

33The meaning of the Greek parthenos, like


that of the Latin virgo, is not restricted to the
sense of a sexually inexperienced woman,
although it is compatible with such a meaning. Many cases can be cited, both biblical
and secular, where parthenos simply means
a marriageable young woman.
American Atheist

of the term. The Hebrew text of Isaiah,


however, uses the word 'almah, a term
signifying simply a 'nubile, featherless
biped female,' as Aristotle might have
defined it. The Hebrew word used for
'virgin' in the modern sense is bethulah.
It is not unreasonable to suppose that
Isaiah, if he had intended his listeners to
understand that the maiden of whom he
spoke was a virgo intacta, would have
used the appropriate word. Scratch Isa.
7:14 as a prophecy of Jeezus!
The deceitful manner in which Old
Testament passages are tortured into
prophecies of Jesus is beautifully illustrated by Faid's handling of the "pieces
of silver prophecy" in Matt. 27:9-10:
The Scriptures are vivid with
the details concerning Jesus' betrayal by Judas ....
Even the
price of the betrayal was prophesied. Zechariah 11:12, "And I said
unto them, If ye think good, give
me my price; and if not, forbear.
So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver."
When Judas, in remorse after
Jesus' death, tried to return the
money to the chief priests, they refused to touch it, for it was blood
money. They did with it just what
Zechariah 11:13 said they would.
They bought a fieldfrom the potter
in which to bury strangers who
died while in Jerusalem.
Our sly apologist does not tell us that
according to Acts 1:18it was Judas himself, not the priests, who bought the
field; nor does he tell us that Matt. 27:910 claims to be quoting Jeremiah, not
Zechariah:
Then was fulfilled that which
was spoken by Jeremiah, the
prophet, saying, And they took
the thirty pieces of silver, the price
of him that was valued, whom they
of the children of Israel did value,
and gave them for the potter's
field, as the Lord appointed me.
Austin, Texas

There is, of course, no such prophecy


anywhere in Jeremiah; our bungling
evangelist was confusing Jeremiah with
Zechariah, and misunderstanding (or
misrepresenting) him to boot. Thomas
Paine had a few comments on the thirtypieces problem:
This is a most barefaced piece
of imposition. The passage in Jeremiahv which speaks of the purchase of a field has no more to do
with the case to which Matthew
applies it than it has to do with the
purchase of lands in America. . ..
There is among the whims and
reveries of Zechariah.v mention
made of thirty pieces of silver given to a potter. They can hardly
have been so stupid as to mistake
a potter for a field: and ifthey had,
the passage in Zechariah has no
more to do with Jesus, Judas, and
the field to bury strangers in than
that already quoted [Jer. 32:6-15].
I willrecite the passage ....
"And Itook my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might
break my covenant which I had
made with all the people. And it
was broken in that day; and so the
poor of the flock who waited upon
me knew that it was the word of
the Lord. And I said unto them, If
ye think good, give me my price,
and ifnot, forbear. So they weighed
for my price thirty pieces of silver.
"And the Lord said unto me,
Cast it unto the potter; a goodly
price that I was prised at of them.
And I took the thirty pieces of
silver, and cast them to the potter
in the house of the Lord. Then I
cut asunder mine other staff, even

34Painewas generous to a fault here, combing


Jeremiah to find a passage mentioning a field
(no potters involved) being purchased for
seventeen shekels of silver. Jer. 32:6-15 has
no relation to the quote in Matthew.
35Zech. 11:7-14.
Vol. 33, No.5

Bands, that I might break the


brotherhood between Judah and
Israel."
There is no making either head
or tail of this incoherent gibberish.
His two staves, one called Beauty
and the other Bands, is so much
like a fairy tale that I doubt ifit had
any other origin. There is, however, no part that has the least relation to the case stated in Matthew; on the contrary, it is the reverse of it. Here the thirty pieces
of silver, whatever it was for, is
called a goodly price; it was as
much as the thing was worth, and
according to the language of the
day, was approved of by the Lord,
and the money given to the potter
in the house of the Lord.
In the case of Jesus and Judas,
as stated in Matthew, the thirty
pieces of silver were the price of
blood; the transaction was condemned by the Lord, and the
money when refunded was refused admittance into the treasury. Everything in the two cases
is the reverse of each other.
Besides this, a very different
and direct contrary account to
that of Matthew, is given of the affair of Judas in the book called the
"Acts of the Apostles"; according
to that book the case is, that so far
from Judas repenting and returning the money, and the high priest
buying a fieldwith it to bury strangers in, Judas kept the money and
bought a field with it for himself;
and instead of hanging himself as
Matthew says, that he fellheadlong
and burst asunder. Some commentators endeavor to get over
one part of the contradiction by
ridiculously supposing that Judas
hanged himself first and the rope
broke.w

36Foner, Writings of Thomas Paine, vol. 2,


pp.867-70.
Page 35

Only one more of Faid's alleged prophetic claims needs to be examined to


see that there is no need to investigate
the dozens remaining:

were really able to foretell events


hundreds of years in the future.38
Alas for Faid's argument, there is a
third possibility: the "prophecy" was
written during or after the event being
described. As a matter of fact, the "Cyrus passages" were written not by Isaiah
of Jerusalem in 700 B.C.E. but by "Second
Isaiah," an unidentified prophet who
lived during the restoration decreed by
Cyrus. The book of Isaiah is actually a
composite work, having a minimum of
three different authors. Interestingly, it
was Thomas Paine who was the first English scholar to recognize the book's
multiple authorship. While proof of the
multiple authorship of Isaiah lies beyond
the scope of this article, it is interesting
to note that even the Jesuit scholar
John L. McKenzie refers to the Cyrus
passages as evidence not of accurate
prediction but as evidence of a hand later than that of Isaiah of Jerusalem. In
volume 20 of The Anchor Bible: Second
Isaiah, McKenzie notes that

Now let us consider this business of prophecy. There is only


one way to test it. It either comes
about or it doesn't. One or the other. But let us look at these particular prophecies.
It was in about 700 B.C. that
Isaiah wrote, "That saith of Cyrus,
He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying
to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built;
and to the temple, Thy foundation
shall be laid" (Isa. 44:28).
At this time in 700 B.C. the city
was bustling and alive. The Temple
of Solomon was standing in all of
its glory, every day receiving the
sacrifices of the priests. It was not
until about 114 years later that
Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the
city and razed the Temple. How
did Isaiah know, more than one
hundred years in advance, that
Jerusalem would lay in ruins, the
Temple destroyed, and that the
Hebrews would be taken into captivity in Babylon, and that soon
thereafter the Persians, under a
man named Cyrus, would crush
the Babylonians and free the Hebrews?
Can you imagine the odds
against the fulfillment of a prediction such as that, made almost two
hundred years in advance, even to
the naming of the man who would
fulfillit? There can be only one of
two possible explanations. Either
the Old Testament books were
altered at a later date to coincide
with history, or Isaiah and Daniel'?

Concerning the never-ending tendency of apologists to argue as though the


prophets were talking to people of the
remote future rather than to the audiences facing them, Paine has observed
tartly that "It is strange that apostles,
priests, and commentators never per-

37The Book of Daniel is easily proven to be


a forgery written several centuries after the
Babylonian captivity, the setting of its alleged composition.

38Faid,Scientific Approach, pp. 24-25.


39The Anchor Bible: Second Isaiah, vol. 20,
ed. John L. McKenzie (Garden City, New
York: Doubleday, 1%8), p. xvi.

Page 36

It is not a question of placing limits to the vision of prophecy but of


the limits of intelligibility; even if
the name were by hypothesis
meaningful to the prophet, it could
not be meaningful to his readers or
listeners. Yet Cyrus is introduced
without any explanation of his
identity, or of why he should be an
anchor of hope to the Israelites
whom the prophet addresses.s?

Vol. 33, No.5

mit, or never suppose, the Jews to be


speaking of their own affairs." Indeed.
Robert Faid brags that "the odds
against all of the prophecies being fulfilled by one man in one lifetime are a
staggering one out of eight times ten to
the 132nd power." Even without asking
him to show the hidden arithmetic by
which he arrived at this mind-boggling
number, we need not balk at accepting
his mathematics. If one man did fulfill
hundreds of "prophecies" which, upon
examination proved not to be prophecies at all, it would in fact be a logical and
mathematical miracle. Fortunately, although all of the supposed prophecies
can be shown not to be prophecies of
Jesus, we have only unsubstantiated
hearsay as evidence that there ever was
a Jesus who fulfilled them. We are not
faced with the miraculous fulfillment of
hundreds of nonprophecies. Faid's fantasies need not trouble our sleep.
Next issue: "Assaulting Science," the
concluding part of "Apologizing for
Christianity." ~

Help us keep
our suits up
All over the nation, the Society of
Separationists, a watchdog Atheist organization, is going to court
to stop state/church
violations
and protect the civil rights of
Atheists. Your help is needed to
pay the legal costs in these efforts
to protect all Atheists from mandatory support of religion. Please
send your tax-deductible
donations to:
Legal Fund
Society of Separationists
P. O. Box 140195
Austin, TX 78714-0195

American Atheist

Poetry

A Bit More Privacy

Mantra

i almost said a prayer


last night as i lay in bed
hail mary full of grace
the habit had been so strong
like nicotine or alcohol or seat belts
my parents told me to pray
my preacher told me to pray
so dutifully i did every night
now i lay me down to sleep
they said it was a good habit
like brushing my teeth
of course i prayed more than i brushed because
i feared going to hell
more than to the dentist
forever and ever amen
sounded like quite a long time
to be slowly roasted
especially when i was only seven
so i faithfully prayed to
our father who art in heaven
watching every move we make and
knowing every thought we think
praying doesn't do much for me now
there are too many kinks in the system
and i prefer smooth systems
with a bit more privacy

A mantra is a word or phrase


That, used often enough,
Produces a magical result.
To Buddhists, the mantra is Om Mane Padme Hum.
Used often enough, it assures Paradise forever.
There are many clever ways of using this mantra.
Impress it on a brick in very fine printing,
A thousand times per brick. Put a thousand
Bricks in a sidewalk. In walking down the sidewalk once,
The walker has said the mantra a million times.
Write it many times on paper, put the paper in a cylinder,
Cause a waterwheel to turn the cylinder.
Each turn of the wheel says the mantra as many times
As it appears on the paper. Or fasten the cylinder
To a windmill, the results are the same.
Few adult Buddhists die without having thus said the mantra
Billions of times. They die certain of Paradise.
To Baptists, this seems a bit absurd.
The Baptist mantra is Jesus.
Roderic Lewis

J. F. Ciofalo

Fire and Brimstone


The other day I happened by the
"Jesus Christ Died For Your Sins And
Boy Is He Mad Church."
The preacher, a throbbing cyst
Of a man, called to god
By way of fire and brimstone,
And bodily complaints,
Sweated the people for money;
Closing the doors
And silencing the fans.
(It was a scorcher of a day.)
He lashed the people
With his words
Until the proper tribute
Was offered up
By the congregation
To appease the pissed-off christ.
It was one of his better sermons.

Tell Me Lies

At the Church on My Street


They come to beg
arriving in VW's and Cadillacs.
They come to beg, and to pay
arriving in hope - in despair.
They come to beg and to pay
and to genuflect
arriving in ignorance, or greed, or habit
. . . but mostly in fear.
Angeline Bennett

T. Dunn
Austin, Texas

I have no need of truth today


Tell me only lies
Tellme crime will never pay
.And fools are never wise
And the South will rise again
And only the strong survive
And somewhere in the Caribbean
Elvis is alive
Read the Bible loud and long
Preach of Heaven's glory
Sing the sweet sweet gospel song
Tell the old old story
I willto each fraud homage pay
I willeach fiction prize
I have no need of truth today
Tell me only lies
Emily Newland

Vol. 33, No.5

Page 37

American Atheist Radio Series

Voluntarism and colonial


churches

Il

Were the early American people eager to


nurture the churches?
Hardly. In order to
ensure the survival of
established sects,
government enforced
piety and required
citizens to support their
ministers.

When the first installment of a


regularly scheduled, fifteen-minute,
weekly American Atheist radio series
on KLBJ radio (a station in Austin,
Texas, owned by then-President
Lyndon Baines Johnson) hit the
airwaves on June 3, 1968, the nation
was shocked. The programs had to be
submitted weeks in advance and were
heavily censored. The regular production of the series ended in September
1977, when no further funding was
available.
The following is the text of "American
Atheist Radio Series" program No. 185,
first broadcast on March 13, 1972.

Madalyn Q'Hair
Page 38

am very happy to see that a little re- Often cattle and horses were taken by
search on the condition of religion in force to pay Baptist ministers for preachAmerica in the early colonies is final- ing. Most Baptist ministers engaged in
farming or some other trade to supplely beginning to see the light of day.
We continue to have the myth among ment their incomes. Yet countless Bappeople that we were a religious nation tist churches broke up and disappeared
from our inception until this date, and in the colonial years because they could
that all of our colonial fathers were in- not provide subsistence for their minister and his family.
volved in that religion.
The people in the colonies were reNow, in reviewing some work that is
being done in respect to the early his- quired to pay for the minister's wages at
tory of the Baptist church in America, I first. Then came the idea of "exemptions." This was only an ecclesiastical
find that there is respected documentaand state law that certain religious
tion to the contrary. In Massachusetts,
the findings are conclusive that what is groups could be exempted from supquaintly called "voluntarism" did not porting the established religion.
When one realizes that it was rather
work even through the Revolutionary
quickly established in Massachusetts
period.
Voluntarism is the idea of those per- that the privilege of voting was to be limsons who are religious supporting their ited to members of the church, it bechurches voluntarily. Apparently, the comes obvious then that the General
Baptists in Massachusetts were either Court, the legislature, and the governunwilling or unable to provide sufficient ment were ruled by a small church olimoney either to build meetinghouses or garchy.
But the dissenters gained in numbers
to pay a salary to their ministers. There
and courage, until by the year 1739there
was no adequate method whereby
those who wanted to have religion paid were three groups tolerated as persons
for the same. Always the device of state exempted from supporting the estabaid, state support, or taxpayers' funding lished religion. It is a funny thing - the
religious dissent community fought for
was called upon. In every township
which was settled, a special plot of land their right to be free from supporting
was set aside for the "first settled min- one established religion, and yet when
ister," and this land was given to him the Atheist fights for his freedom to be
free. Yet even with this, the congrega- free of such support, the religious - in
tion was neither great in number nor harmony - attack him. But the three
groups which won this exclusion from
willing to give. In 1788, for instance,
taxation were so heartily hated that
Ebenezer Hinds of Middleborough,
Massachusetts, went so far as to peti- many of those with such convictions
tion the legislature, asking that civil au- paid the tax to the established religion
thority to force his congregation to pay anyway. These three first groups in Massachusetts were the Anabaptists, the
his back salary.
A device used at the time was that of Quakers, and the Churchmen.
The laws operated in this way: anyincorporation, which gave to the church
the right to levy taxes. Legislative rec- one who claimed to be a member of
these three sects and who did not want
ords reveal that over forty Baptist
churches obtained legislative acts incor- to pay taxes to the Congregational
porating them by 1810.Some incorpo- Church, which was the established
rated Baptist churches in the 1790sand church, had to provide a "certificate"
early 1800s sued their own members in signed by the minister of his dissent
court and distrained their goods for church stating that he regularly attended
their having failed to pay their duly as- and contributed money to that church.
sessed share of the minister's salary. The minister and two leading members
Vol. 33, No.5

American Atheist

Quakers received much opposition because of their radical approach to


Christianity, which included the rejection of any priesthood. But they
were also hated for their refusal to pay taxes to the established
churches.

of the church or congregation had to


swear that such person was "conscientiously of their persuasion" and that he
was not simply a tax dodger. The term
certificate man came to be one of scorn
and resentment throughout the eighteenth century. The established church
members, the Congregationalists, resented the fact that, for every dissenter,
the tax burden on them was greater. Local authorities were therefore reluctant
to see these people come in and therefore made it difficult for the dissenters to
obtain the certificates. I would not care
how difficult it was to get such a certificate - if I could be free of the burden
of paying the churches' tax-free way.
About 1740the Baptists were beginning to have an awakening about the
need for voluntarism also, because their
people were taxed to support the Congregationalist church and then had to
support the Baptist minister and church.
They were burdened with the support of
the two church systems, and since the
one was protected by the law of the
community, it invariably won. The Baptists have not learned a lesson over 230
years later. Now, throughout the solid
Bible Belt of the southern part of the

Austin, Texas

United States, that church


takes the largess of the favors of government, while
the Atheists - and others of
non conviction - fight the
fight that the Baptists once
fought: to be free of the need
to support financially a conviction in which we do not
believe.
The Baptists sought in vain
for their exemption. When
they refused to pay taxes,
they were imprisoned or had
their goods distrained and
sold at public auction. One of
the most famous Baptist leaders, Isaac Backus, was himself threatened with jailfor this reason in
1748, and in 1752 his mother and his
brother were imprisoned in Norwich,
Connecticut, for refusing as "Separates" to pay their religious taxes in that
state.
Under this treatment from the government, the so-called Separate movement of the Baptists gradually disintegrated. There were 125 such churches
in 1754,and only a dozen remained just
twenty-two years later, in 1776.
Yet the fight was in narrow confines.
We don't find that the Baptists or any
other denomination fought for the right
of dissent in general, but usually they
fought only for their faith, and the right
of their particular faith to be one of dissent from the established order. Their
goals were limited and practical. They
did not broaden their individualchurches'
needs into general abstract principles at
all. Indeed, other religions were viewed
as corrupt and dangerous heretics and
certainly not as allies against the established religion.
While the Baptists were waging this
war for what they called separation of
state and church, which was in reality
only a fight against compulsory religious
taxation, they did not see that it was inconsistent to support laws which enforced the Protestant Sabbath against
the Jewish one, or laws against blaspheVol. 33, No.5

my, or other of the laws which now are


termed as part of the struggle for separation of state and church.
It took a long while, actually, for a different religious atmosphere to develop
other than that of established churches.
Soon it evolved from that to one of a
preferred or privileged church that received official aid from the state but
granted broad toleration to dissenters.
It was felt generally by those in government that a general assessment tax
upon all citizens to provide support for
the church of the individual's own
choice was the only feasible system in a
poor country. The idea of voluntarism
was simply inadequate to build sufficient meetinghouses and support sufficient ministers to inculcate what the
government felt were proper principles
of morality and obedience which were
essential to a stable, honest, and orderly social system.
When the Baptists decided to fight,
don't you know that they opted for civil
disobedience, the very thing which they
now find so abhorrent.
As they began to win by force of numbers and determination, they began to
demand, or claim the right to, the use of
the town meetinghouses and to a proportionate share of the income from the
town's ministerial lands. There were
even numerous lawsuits involving such
Page 39

claims. In some towns the Baptists were


permitted to use the town meetinghouse for a certain number of Sundays
each year in proportion to the number
of their adherents in the parish. It never
dawned on the Baptists that when they
were using the house they were also
using the tax money and the efforts of
those who were opposed to the Baptist
religion.
At no time did it dawn on the Baptists
that the state should not, through its
chief magistrates, require certain days
of fasting, or thanksgiving, or prayer to
be observed, turning weekdays into
days when everyone was supposed to
stop work or travel, closing businesses
if necessary in order to accommodate
the religious ideas which they held as
zealous Christians. In this the Baptist
leaders were in conflict with Madison
and Jefferson, who pointedly refused to
issue fast or thanksgiving-day proclamations as Washington and John Adams
had done.
Actually, the practice was so common
in the colonies for the ministers and the
church to be supported by taxation of
the general populace that it came to a
crux in Virginia. There it was proposed
in 1779that a tax be levied for the support of all Christian denominations. The
proposal was defeated but again introduced in 1784.This billspecially aroused
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson,
causing the one to write his celebrated
pamphlet A Memorial and Remonstrance
and the other to draft his famous "Statute of Religious Freedom" and culminated in the adoption of the First Amendment to the federal Constitution.
Let me read to you now, first, a letter
written to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, by Thomas Jefferson on January 1,1802, since I have been discussing
the Baptists in this program.
Jefferson's Reply
to the Danbury Baptists
GENTLEMEN: The affectionate
sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to
Page 4D

express towards me, on behalf of


the Danbury Baptist Association,
give me the highest satisfaction.
My duties dictate a faithful and
zealous pursuit of the interests of
my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my
fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more
and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion
is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he
owes account to none other for
his faith or his worship, that the
legislative powers of government
reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign
reverence that act of the whole
American people which declared
that their legislature should "make
no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between
church and State. Adhering to this
expression of the supreme will of
the nation in behalf of the rights of
conscience, I shall see with sincere
satisfaction the progress of those
sentiments which tend to restore
to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in

opposition to his social duties.


I reciprocate your kind prayers
for the protection and blessing of
the common Father and Creator
of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect
and esteem.'
Madison, reviewing the colonial situation, summed it up in just a few sentences in his "Declaration of Separation."
Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and government in the Constitution of the
United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their
short history.I am trying to obtain for these programs the short history of the colonies
in respect to religion which Madison
wrote. When I get it, you shall hear it. 3It

!Frank Swancara, The Separation of Religion and Government (New York: Truth
Seeker Company, 1950), p. 155.
2Swancara, Separation, p. 154.

"What do 40u expect with role models like those televangelists


have onl?"
Vol. 33, No.5

40U olwoqs

American Atheist

MeToD

Put away childish things


ne of the many things that most
people don't know, or understand, is the truth about religion.
About one-half of all Americans are
more or less, somewhat, or "sort of" reli-

t+J
For the good of
humankind, there is
one biblical admonition
that should be obeyed.

"Me Too" is a feature designed to


showcase short essays written by
readers in response to topics recently
covered by the American Atheist or of
general interest to the Atheist
community.
Essays submitted to "Me Too" (P. o.
Box 140195,Austin, TX 78714-0195)
should be 650 to 1500 words.

Austin, Texas

giOUS.

This is because they have been brought


up to believe the Holy Bible and the stories that are in it.
They have been taught that if they
"behave" themselves, and do the things
that they are "supposed" to do, and believe the things that they are supposed
to believe, they willbe rewarded - and
wind up in a nice place called "heaven"
instead of a bad place called "hell." (This
is intended to scare the hell out of them!)
None of this is true, of course. It is all
wishful thinking, because there "ain't no
hell" and there "ain't no heaven," and no
one is going to go to either "place" - because these are only imaginary places
that were invented by ancient theists.
These theists told their followers and
others that something made the earth
and everything else in six days, and later
on there was a big flood all over the
earth which wiped out everything except eight people and a whole lot of animals on a big boat. (No one knows
where all of this water came from, or
where it all went.)
Then, after that, a man went up on a
mountain and got a couple of flat stones
with ten laws carved on them. These got
broken and were replaced with two
more stones, but these were lost somewhere and have never been found by
anyone. (Maybe these were imaginary
too.)
Then a whole lot of other fabulous
stories follow that aren't important, until, about two thousand years ago, some
little kid was born on Christmas Eve.
Now this little kid was different, because
he didn't have any daddy. He had a
mother, but no one ever saw his dad. He
did have a stepfather, though, and
everyone was satisfied with that story.
(And they still are, even today.)
But the most important story is the
one about this little kid who then grew
Vol. 33, No.5

up and later on got into trouble and was


killed, but came back to life again three
days later and disappeared and no one
ever saw him alive again, but he's still
alive and two thousand years old. Some
of these people also think he's going to
show up again, but this is very doubtful.
(They wouldn't know him anyway, because he's two thousand years old.)

Now all of this is known as Christianity, and it's really only religious mythology. Some of it may have been based on
fact, but all the supernatural stuff is out
- nonsense!
The story about Santa Claus is fine
for little kids, but it isn't so good for
grown-ups, who should know better.
Now the same analogy applies to
Christianity. It's okay for little kids to believe when they're little, but when they
grow up they ought to know better, just
like it says in their Holy Bible in 1 Cor.
13:11:"When I was a child, I spake as a
child, I understood as a child, I thought
as a child: but when I became a man, I
put away childish things."
- Stephen H. Frey
Pennsylvania
Page 41

Letters to the Editor

Mexico

"Letters to the Editor" should be either questions or comments of general


concern to Atheists or to the Atheist
community. Submissions should be
brief and to the point. Space
limitations allow that each letter
should be three hundred words or,
preferably, less. Please confine your
letters to a single issue only. Mail them
to: American Atheist, P. O. Box
140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195.

Page 42

Mexico is a fascinating land. A country which has seen its population skyrocket from 32 million in 1958 to nearly
93 million today, has had a history of
contradiction and deceit.
I was in Mexico for the better part of
a month this year and was disgusted but
not totally surprised to hear a story concerning our distant cousins, the Spanish
conquistadors.
Our travel guide in
Chichen Itza, one of the many Mayan
ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, told us
how the invading Castilians were embarrassed by seeing the worship of the
penis depicted in the architecture.
Everywhere they could, the invading
hordes hacked off these annoying protuberances, exclaiming them to be pornographic in the eyes of their god.
On the other hand, Hernan Cortes
and his henchmen saw no harm in burning Cuauhtemoc's feet when the Aztec
chief refused to disclose where he had
hidden his gold.
In Mexico City at the famous Basilica
of Guadalupe, one is told how the original house of worship, constructed between 1696 and 1709, was sinking. A
new modern structure flaunting stateof-the-art ostentation has been built
nearby to crowd the daily worshippers
to the altars and coffers.
To add a little domestic drama, a glass
case is the attraction of the month. Below the sealed enclosure is a statement
explaining the draped object inside. It
seems that one day back in 1921 an individual carrying a bouquet of flowers
was seen entering the old cathedral.
Ostensibly showing homage to the statue of the Virgin Mary, the stranger set
the flowers below the figurine. Then 10
and behold an explosion occurred. But
now comes the punch line. The statue of
Jesus Christ miraculously moved and
took the shock of the blast to protect
the Virgin. As a result, the Christ statue became disfigured while Mary's escaped any harm. Of course, there are a
few missing elements to complete our
fairy tale. The so-called distorted figure
Vol. 33, No.5

is wrapped so no one can actually see it.


Secondly, the mysterious guest with the
bomb slipped away unnoticed and has
never been apprehended.
Now isn't that a beautiful story to indoctrinate one's child into the acceptance of the faith!
Gerald P. Lunderville
California

An Atheist in the military


I was left feeling confused after reading Vol. 33, No.2 of the American Atheist (covering the Gulf War). From my
standpoint as an Atheist who is serving
in the U.S. Navy and a veteran of our recent conflict in the Persian Gulf, I felt
personally attacked by the "Editor's
Desk" and the "Director's Briefcase"
sections, and that is the very last way I
ever expect to feel when I read the
American Atheist. But the text of the
press release of February 1 (p. 17) from
American Atheists seemed to be saying
something else entirely.
If I am reading the "Director's Briefcase" correctly, I understand that I am
to be held as responsible for the war as
President Bush, because I had to go participate in the damn thing. This really
does not seem fair to me. I am not a warmonger, not even a general. I'm an E-3,
for crying out loud. I was not particularly overjoyed at the prospect of going
over there, but I had to, so I did.
On the other hand, the press release
said, "The deliberate destruction of the
nation of Iraq is George Bush's war ...
not a war of our young military men and
women who are sent by him to die in the
Gulf."
So, which of these should I take as the
way American Atheists feels about me?
It's not important to me that I feel like
some noble hero, but the American
Atheist is literally my only contact with
any Atheists anywhere, and I don't like
to think that I'm being personally attacked by it. Chris Schroen the Atheist
is also CTISN Schroen, USN, and attacking one has to involve attacking the
American Atheist

other. It's difficult enough having to put


up with the military trying to shove god
down my throat every time I turn around
(invocation before ceremonies, prayers
over P.A. systems, constant references
to god in all sorts of documents, etc.)
without having to w.orry if American
Atheists is going to attack me because
of Bush's policies, Bush who does not
even consider me a citizen.

radio broadcasts or such articles as


"Women and Atheism." Allow present
subscribers to indicate the addressee
for this special issue, in lieu of receiving
it themselves. (Make additional copies
available to members for their total
"Christmas mailing list" if the costs
aren't too high.)
Again, many thanks to all.
BillSchlegel
Minnesota

Christopher Schroen
Spain

Are we not stinging the WASPs?


A "Christmas" issue?
Just a note to express my appreciation to everyone for the super-human
effort you expend to preserve the First
Amendment! And our freedom to think
and act for ourselves. And your dedication to a search for truth as well as your
passion for honesty and justice. And
your perseverance. Thank you!
I really look forward to the American
Atheist Newsletter and especially the
American Atheist. The journal is obviously a labor of love. With its commitment to research, scholarship, and candor, it is a breath of fresh air in times
otherwise stuffed with just so much hot
wind.
Ifyou willforgive my not having all the
facts, here is a suggestion. Make one
copy of the American Atheist a special
annual issue, such as a "Christmas Edition," for example. Make the cover look
like a Christmas card or package. Fill it
with the real story of the origins of
Christmas, maybe feature one of your

I have been a member of American


Atheists and a reader of your journal for
over a year now. Yet I am disturbed to
see the omission of the denunciation of
religious oppression carried out by Protestants. You have denounced the Roman
Catholic, Mormon, and a few of the fundamentalist Southern Baptist churches,
yes. But not a peep about the mainstream Presbyterians, Episcopalians, etc.
Your editorial slant seems to be a mania
for screaming about the Roman Catholics this and Roman Catholics that.
What brings my letter is my disappointment in Madalyn O'Hair's article
"Christian Suppression of Opinion"
(American Atheist, vol. 33, no. 3). She
speaks as ifthe Puritans in America never existed. The Puritans were not Roman
Catholics, they were Protestants, but
they did their fair (Christian) share of
burning heretics, "witches," and anyone
else. Our American history is full of
Christian tyrants who were not Roman
Catholic. From John Winthrop to Jimmy

Swaggart, Americans have been condemned, harassed, ostracized, jailed,


and even immolated by the good 01'
American WASP (non-Catholics). During the Salem Witch Trials of 1688-92
not a single Papist was anywhere in
sight. Today's Presbyterians are the direct descendants of these fascists and I
wonder why Mrs. O'Hair did not take
the time to cover the suppression of
opinion in America by Protestants. She
seems to stop just before the Reformation in her article.
Thank you and keep on showing the
world that religion (of all varieties) will
lead to tyranny of the mind.
Kaare Rempel
California
It is difficult to keep on top of all the
religious cults and their intrusions into
government.l appreciate readers' nudging me if the American Atheist seems to
overlook one denomination or be preoccupied with another.
Please keep in mind, however, that
the article in question, "The Christian
Suppression of Opinion, " was the transcript of a fifteen-minute radio broadcast. Mrs. O'Hair could hardly be expected to catalog all of religion's transgressions against humanity in a quarter
of an hour. Many of the broadcasts in
the "American Atheist Radio Series"
did deal with colonial America, and this
editor shall certainly try to reprint more
of those in the future.
- R. Murray-O'Hair, Editor

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Page 44

Vol. 33, No.5

American Atheist

suggested

American Atheist
introductory reading list

III
Literature on Atheism is very hard to find in most public
and university libraries in the United States - and most of
the time when you do find a book catalogued under the
word A theism it is a work against the Atheist position.
Therefore we suggest the following publications which are
available from American Atheist Press as an introduction
into the multifaceted areas of Atheism and state/ church separation. To achieve the best understanding
of thought in
these areas the featured publications should be read in the
order listed. These by no means represent our entire collection of Atheist and separationist materials.
1. All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American
Atheists with All of the Answers by Jon Murray and
Madalyn O'Hair. Paperback. 248 pp. #5356
$9.00
2. The Case Against Religion: A Psychotherapist
by Dr. Albert Ellis. Stapled. 57 pp. #5096
3. What on Earth Is an Atheist!
Paperback. 288 pp. #5412

by Madalyn

View
$4.00

O'Hair.
$8.00

4. An Atheist Speaks by Madalyn O'Hair. Paperback. 321


pp. #5098
$8.00
5. All about Atheists by Madalyn O'Hair. Paperback. 407
pp. #5097
$8.00
6. Ingersoll the Magnificent
342 pp. #5216

by Joseph Lewis. Paperback.


$10.00

7. Essays on American Atheism,


Paperback. 349 pp. #5349

vol. I by Jon G. Murray.


$10.00

8. Essays on American Atheism, vol. II by Jon G. Murray. Paperback. 284 pp. #5350
$10.00
9. Essays in Freethinking,
vol. I by Chapman
Paperback. 229 pp. #5052

Cohen.
$9.00

10. Essays in Freethinking,


vol. II by Chapman
Paperback. 240 pp. #5056

Cohen.
$9.00

11. Life Story of Auguste


back. 179 pp. #5132

Paper$6.50

Comte by F. J. Gould.

12. History s Greatest Liars by Joseph


back. 176 pp. #5524

McCabe.

Paper$6.50

13. Atheist Truth vs. Religion's Ghosts by Col. Robert G.


Ingersoll. Stapled. 57 pp. #5156
$4.00
14. Some Reasons I Am a Freethinker
soll. Stapled. 37 pp. #5184

by Robert G. Inger$4.00

15. Our Constitution


- The Way It Was by Madalyn
O'Hair. Stapled. 70 pp. #5400
$4.00
16. Religion and Marx by Rick B. A. Wise. Paperback. 267
pp. #5521
$12.00
17. Fourteen Leading Cases on Education, Religion, and
Financing Schools. Paperback. 273 pp. #5500
$5.00
18. Sex Mythology
#5440

by Sha

Rocco.

Stapled.

55 pp.
$4.00

19. Women and Atheism,


The Ultimate Liberation
by
Madalyn O'Hair. Stapled. 21 pp. #5420
$3.50
20. Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson.
back. 238 pp. #5200

Paper$9.00

21. The Bible Handbook (All the contradictions,


absurdities, and atrocities from the Bible) by G.W. Foote, W.P.
Ball, John Bowden, and Richard M. Smith. Paperback.
372 pp. #5008
$9.00
22. The X-Rated Bible by Ben Edward
back. 428 pp. #5000

Akerley.

Paper$10.00

All of the above publications are available at a special set


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Amendment I
Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government
for a redress of grievances.

"Many good souls protest against a destructive


criticism of Christianity and demand a substitute.
I do not feel any obligation to substitute a new god
for the old ones. I should gladly let them all go. I
do not approve of cancer, and yet I do not feel that
I have no right to attack a quack who promises a
false cure until I have a real cure to propose. As
someone said: he who helps destroy the bollweevil has done as constructive
work as he who
plants the seed."
- Rupert Hughes

Why I Quit Going to Church