Vol. 33, No.

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A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

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American Atheists, Inc.• P.O. Box 140195• Austin, TX 78714-0195

American Atheist

Vol. 33, No.4

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

Editor's Desk
R. Murray-O'Hair

3

Ask A.A.

4

Readers are invited to answer an "Ask
A.A." question.

J

I

News and Comments

Cover art and design by
Greg Anderson.

fore finally requesting a court to allow
her to die. That is when religious activists stepped in to impose their morality and begin a telling struggle in "Body
and Soul: The Euthanasia Question."

6

One Nation "Under God" - In the
most recent attempt to remove the
"under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, a court has ruled that the state
has a legitimate interest in forcing an
Atheist child to say these words.

Visions of the Future
Leland Myrick

11

In this fantasy, a well-known preacher
faces life in a wholly Atheistic future.

Dressed in Sheep's Clothing
Lane Parker

The Probing Mind
Frank R. Zindler
13

An out-of-the-closet Atheist faces the
difficultdecision of whether to disguise
his non belief or face possible reprisals
after a move to a small town.

24

Does numerology prove the divine
mind behind the Bible? In Part I of a
series, Mr. Zindler explores this method of "Apologizing for Christianity."

American Atheist Radio Series
Madalyn O'Hair

31

Did the Founding Fathers uniformly
approve of Christianity and the church?
At least one did not, as "Jefferson on
Christianity" demonstrates.

Under the Covers

34

The ability of a government to whitewash its worst behavior is seen in a
recent book on "Eisenhower and the
'Disarmed Enemy Forces.' "

Me Too
Director's Briefcase
Jon G. Murray

16

For thirty-two years, parents struggled with their daughter's increasing
mental and physical deterioration beAustin,

Texas

Vol. 33, No.4

37

An Atheist completes the statement
"This Would Be a Better World If -"
using specific examples from history.

Letters to the Editor

38

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American Atheists, Inc., P. O. Box 140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195
Vol. 33, No.4

American Atheist

Editor's Desk

The art of self-suppression
his issue includes an article which
every Atheist in America would
find chillinglyfamiliar. "Dressed in
Sheep's Clothing" by Lane Parker is the
story of an Atheist who, as part of his
career as a reporter, moved to a small
California town. During his residence
there, he found himself weighing and
watching his words and actions carefullyto never betray his Atheism. He acquiesced to government acts he knew were
wrong - prayers at city council meetings - and hid his disbelief for fear of
what might result from his dissent.
Though he was a professional and a respected member of the community, he
was as effectively silenced as an Atheist
as if the town had outlawed disbelief.
This article took on a special importance to me recently, as I helped prepare
a white paper to be presented by American Atheists to a member of the United States Senate. The paper dealt with
what we termed the "civic ghettoization" of Atheists in this country.
In our presentation, we largely dealt
with the more blatant violations of the
civil rights of Atheists and of the First
Amendment to the Constitution. Preferential treatment of religious persons and
entities, exclusion of Atheists from patriotic and civic organizations and from
public office, distinctive treatment of
Atheists in many areas of public concern, forced involvement in religious
exercises, denial of jobs and advancements to Atheists, censorship of Atheist
literature - all these were covered.
Also emphasized was the effect of the
establishment of a civic religion - the
relentless emphasis that this is a religious
nation. This, almost more than anything
else, leads to the exclusion of the Atheist
from full citizenship.
Many of the civil rights violations facing Atheists in these United States depend upon our admitting our Atheism.
If we Atheists pledge allegiance without
complaint, leaving the bitterness of

T

R. Murray-O'Hair
Austin, Texas

"under god" to lie only in our hearts and
never leave our lips, no harm comes our
way. Oath laws, which American Atheists is fighting so hard to eradicate, exclude only those who refuse to say "So
help me God" from public office, the witness stand, and the jury box. As long as
an Atheist is willingto mouth words that
are meaningless to him, he may enjoy all
his rights as a a citizen - except, of
course, freedom of conscience. If an
Atheist stands with respect during
prayer, how can the lynching squad tell
that his head is not filled with thoughts
of reverence? It cannot. A network of
discriminatory laws and policies discourage the acting out or expression of
Atheism - but such prior restraint is
difficult to eradicate or even demonstrate as harmful. The situation is difficult to explain to a protege of the prevailing culture - someone who fits in,
someone who willnot cringe when hearing "god bless" from an officer of the
law. It would never occur to the typical
congressperson to cross the line, to disavow the expected public declarations
and assumptions of belief - how could
he imagine the results of such action?
Too often we Atheists are so effectively cowed by the fear of retaliation that
we make no such act at all. But - stop
to think - what act is it that we are so
afraid to make? The crime of honestynot of being offensive. In "Dressed in
Sheep's Clothing," the writer does not
recount restraining himself from shouting "Jesus is a d-khead" at the city
council meeting. Rather he was simply
afraid to say to anyone at any time, "I
am an Atheist," words that should be no
more offensive than stating "I am a
Catholic" - in my view,less so. Atheists
sponsored no crusades, no Inquisition,
no witch-hunts. Our patron saints, if
such we have, are scientists and humanitarians - not missionaries and massacrers. Our crusades have been for
knowledge and liberty, not ignorance
and bondage.
The author of "Dressed in Sheep's
Clothing" was never told by anyone that
Vol. 33, No.4

he would be punished for being an Atheist. At most, he was asked which church
he would be attending in that tiny California town. A product of Christian civilization, the end of a thousand years of
bloody repression, he knew without explanation, almost instinctively, what
might be the punishments for his sin of
dissent. So he self-censored, self-suppressed. How much more an effective
mechanism of repression that is than
the rack and the stake - not even the
example of the existence of a heretic remains to encourage heresy!
Not all American Atheists, of course,
find themselves so firmly, consistently,
or easily corralled back into the closet.
There are many acts of bravery large
and small, from telling a Merry-Christmasing clerk "No thank you, I celebrate
the Solstice" to challenging a governor
to de christianize his administration. It is
these acts which the American Atheist
seeks to celebrate so that stories such
as "Dressed in Sheep's Clothing" become rarer and rarer. We can never be
fullyfree from religion while the only difference between us and the majority is
the thoughts concealed in our heads.
We must win the right to dissent openly,
honestly, and as we think appropriate
without fear of repercussions or exclusion from civic life.
Atheism is, after all, the most honest
and honorable position there is. We do
not have to pretend that virgins can be
mothers, the one plus one plus one
equals one, or that the earth is flat. This
makes it all the more urgent that we
work for the right of all Atheists - not
just a fearless few - to live out their
lives in their communities without fear
of injury for the articulation of their
thoughts. Atheists need not teach their
children the art of subterfuge ("Just
don't move your lips during that part of
the pledge, dear") or practice it themselves, if we work together in a focused
and dynamic effort to attain our rights.
Let us make "Dressed in Sheep's Clothing" a thing of the past - in the near
future. 00
Page 3

f
Ask A.A.

Who said this?
I need some help. Does anyone recognize the following quotation? (And is
it correct?)
The question is not whether
you believe god exists, but if he
does, is he anyone you want to be
associated with?
I thought H. L. Mencken said it, but
I cannot find a reference. Any help
would be appreciated. Thank you.
David J. Meltz
New Jersey
We need help too. Anyone who knows
anything about this should write even if what you have is only a clue.
Groucho Marx once said he would
never join a club which would have him
for a member. It sounds like wit from
him,from w.e. Fields, or Woody Allen.
It is a remark of comic genre. H. L.
Mencken was more literary, more
pointed in his jabs at religion, and so
were Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw.
We have done a search here and not
come up with an answer.

Hitler's beliefs
During a discussion with a friend a
question was created in my mind by his
statement, "Hitler was an Atheist."
Can you supply me with some facts
on this matter?
Frederick J. Johnson
New York
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

Hitler was born to a family of practicing Roman Catholics and he remained
in that church during his entire life.
Although the Roman Catholic church
excommunicates by the thousands, this
was never ever considered where Hitler
was concerned. Even after his regime
had been toppled and he committed suicide, he has never been repudiated by
that church. Remember that Bruno
was excommunicated and then murVol. 33, No.4

dered by the church for lesser crimes.
Hitler wasn't because he assisted that
church too much; he was one of its fairhaired boys.
But your question has an implication,
which is "What if a bad (or evil) person
is an Atheist?" The possibility of an affirmative response disquiets you.
Don't worry so much. There are all
kinds of Atheists, and frankly we bump
into many that we don't like either.
That has nothing to do with your particular life-style. You know your selfworth. No Atheist needs the prop of
what other Atheists say, do, or live. You
can make it on your own with your
value system. Hang in - t'hell with
Hitler.

Book clubs and that
old-time religion
I am a member of the Macmillan Book
Club known as the Library of Science.
Recently I ordered from it Stephen R.
Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I was led to think
would be an interesting self-improvement guide.
What I received, however, was a volume of stealth religious propaganda pretending to be a self-improvement guide.
(As evidence refer to the enclosed photocopy of page 319.) I have returned the
book to the Library of Science along
with an appropriate letter of complaint,
a photocopy of which is enclosed.
Have other Macmillan Book Clubs
evaded Atheist radar and slipped religious books into the hands of American
Atheists? Is there some plan or policy
behind this? And what do you think of
my solution?
Mark Edward Potts
Oklahoma
Mr. Potts enclosed a copy of page 319
which included, in part, the following;
I believe that correct principles
.are natural laws, and that God,
the Creator and Father of us all,
American Atheist

is the source of them, and also the
source of our conscience. I believe
that to the degree people live by
this inspired conscience, they will
grow to fulfill their natures; to the
degree that they do not, they will
not rise above the animal plane.
I believe that there are parts to
human nature that cannot be
reached by either legislation or
education, but require the power
of God to deal with.
He also included an excellent letter
to:
The Library of Science
Macmillan Book Clubs
P. O. Box 2222
Riverside, NJ 08370-0222

ticide, etc.) committed in a Roman
Catholic convent somewhere in California. Please shed some light on factual
and historical aspects of the book.
Where can we obtain old copies or reprints?

which you may desire to emulate. In the
Mars K. D. Molaks
letter he pointed out that to his "disapMaryland
pointment, dismay, and disgust" he
found that the "science" book was "reWouldn't you know that we, of course,
ligious propaganda disguised as a selfimprovement guide." He further de- have the book in the Charles E. Stevens
manded that all religious books be la- American Atheist Library and Archives.
The hardback copy we have is titled
beled as such.
It should be added that the author of Awful Disclosures by Maria Monk, of
this book, Stephen R. Covey, is a mem- the Hotel Dieu Convent of Montreal; or,
the Secrets of the Black Nunnery reber of the hierarchy of the Mormon
church. He was a professor at Brigham vealed. It was printed in Philadelphia by
Jordan Brothers in 1891.
Young University in the sixties.
According to her account, Maria
As American Atheists has pointed
out on a number of occasions, the reli- Monk escaped from the nunnery somegious will stoop to anything. This is but time in 1835 and made her way to the
outskirts of New York City. She was
another example.
found in "a wretched and feeble condition" and taken to the hospital at BelleMaria Monk and
vue, where she recounted her story.
the dark secrets of the church
Listening to the account of sexual This was taken down in outline, and
abuse of young parishioners by Roman afterwards fleshed out by Ms. Monk.
Catholic priests and given the efficacy of But when the book was printed she was
a diplomatic cover-up as stated by subjected to attacks on her veracity.
guests in a Geraldo Rivero talk show on Most notably, the Roman Catholic nuntelevision, Iwas helped to remember a nery stated that she had never been
book that I read at the age of twelve there, never been expulsed from the
while in elementary school in Nigeria in nunnery, and that she had fabricated
the 1960s. The book, titled The Awful the story. They insisted that pages of
the story were copied verbatim et literDisclosure of Maria Monk, detailed
some atrocities (illegal abortions, infan- atim from a work (The Gates of Hell
·Austin,Texas

Vol. 33, No.4

Opened) published in Portugal a hundred years before. Therefore, Maria
Monk returned to Montreal to attempt
to procure a legal investigation of her
charges. This, of course, came to naught.
A war of affidavits followed. The publisher continued to churn out the book.
Maria Monk was described by her publisher as "an uneducated and unprotected female" and the decision as to
the truth or falsity of her story and of the
nunnery's rejoinder was never resolved.
The library also has a paperback
issue of the book published in Aurora,
Missouri, by The Menace Publishing
Company, Inc. This issue, probably a
bootleg one, is undated. Various other
editions of the book have been published by anti-Catholic presses over the
years. These can, from time to time, be
found through used and antiquarian
booksellers.
At this writing, only one edition of the
book is "in print," that is, available for
sale as new. Ayer Company Publishers
issued a reprint of Awful Disclosures by
Maria Monk of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery
of Montreal as part of its Anti-Movements in America Series in 1977. It is
available in hardback for $29. You can
ask your local bookseller to order it for
you or you can write order it directly
from the publisher at:
Ayer Company Publishers
P.O. Box 958
Salem, NH 03079
Page 5

News and Comments

One nation "under god"

A federal court rules
that it is a legitimate
government action to
force a small boy to say
words he does not
believe.

n the history of Atheism in the United
[] States the giants stand out, singly,
now and then. For the most part
Atheists have remained in the closet,
with the lights out, under a blanket, for
what they envisage as "protection" for
their continued economic, psychological, and social situations. As more and
more historical material is acquired by
the Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library and Archives, Inc., the only
feeling response to it is one of disgust.
The giants were simply those persons
who did use the word Atheist. This does
not mean that any of them were either
proficient or prescient in what they did
- but they were, at least, not cowardly.
A small, recent history is sufficient to
illustrate this.

Warding off communism
The United States Congress, during
the time of the McCarthy hysteria, felt
that in the fight against communism that
political-economic
enemy could be
overcome with capitalism's emphasis
on Judeo-Christianity. It was almost as
in the vampire movies. The vampire
cannot tolerate the cross held up to his
face and shrinks from it: religious words
would be used as a substitute for the
cross. In quick succession, then, three
laws were passed. On June 14, 1954, the
wording of the Pledge of Allegiance to
the flag was changed by the addition of
the words "under God" so that it read:

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

I pledge allegiance to the flag of
the United States and to the Republic for which it stands, one
Nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
There was an incredible fight as to
where to place the "under God." Should
it be "I pledge allegiance to the United
States, under God," or "to the republic,
under God," or "one nation, indivisible,
under God"? When its site was determined, it was all encompassing, "one
nation - under God - indivisible."
One only needs to think of the implicaVol. 33, No.4

tions, for in such an arrangement there
was no room for the Atheist.
The history of the pledge was carefully delineated in the November 1988 issue
of the American Atheist magazine. 1 The
basic history of it is that it was written in
August 1892 as a gimmick by the Perry
Mason Co., publisher of The Youth's
Companion magazine, to sell American
flags. The pledge was composed, primarily, by the staff writers of the journal.
Later when it was popularized through
the efforts of a Baptist minister, an
agreed story was issued (thirty years
later in 1923) that the minister had
"thought up" the pledge. In 1942 the
pledge was federalized by the Congress
of the United States. Meanwhile, various
states had passed laws which required
the pledge to be recited by public school
children in their states. Kansas started
this routine in 1907, and by 1936 eighteen
states followed with similar laws. The
pledge during this period from 1892 forward had no religious reference in it.
However, another difficulty appeared
which was religious. The so-called Ten
Commandments of the Jewish religion
include a command that the worshipers
of that faith shall have no other god before Yahweh. (That includes J.e., which
is one of the difficulties between Judaism and Christianity.) Specifically, Exodus 20:3-5 says:
3. Thou shalt have no other gods
before me.
4. Thou shalt not make unto thee
any graven image. . . .
5. Thou shalt not bow down thyself
to [it]....
Consequently, fearing the wrath of the
lord, some denominations ordered their
adherents to NOT salute the flag or
make a pledge to it.
Naturally, in the public school system,
their children were immediately singled

IJon G. Murray, "A Pledge Too Far," American Atheist, vol. 30, no. 11, pp. 10-26.
American Atheist

News and Comments

Joseph Lewis, an outspoken
Atheist activist, attempted
to return the Pledge of Allegiance to its original, godless
state.

out for punishment, generally being expelled from school for defying state law.
Between 1935 and 1939over 120 Jehovah's Witnesses were out of the public
schools, expelled for noncompliance
with state pledge laws, a compulsory
show of patriotism.
One has to give it to the Witnesses for
being a gutsy bunch. The church countered with an offer to the schools to give
the followingpledge, outside of the presence of the flag:
I have pledged my unqualified
allegiance and devotion to Jehovah, the Almighty God, and to His
Kingdom, for which Jesus commands all Christians to pray.
I respect the flag of the United
States and acknowledge it as a
symbol of freedom and justice to
all.
I pledge allegiance and obedience to all the laws of the United
States that are consistent with
God's law, as set forth in the Bible.

and coins bear the motto "In
God We Trust." On July 30,
1956, he signed Public Law
851, replacing our national
motto E Pluribus Unum (out
of many people comes one
nation) with "In God We
Trust."
But, that aside.
One of the Atheist giants
of the times was Joseph
Lewis. He was not really accepted by the other timid
Atheist groups, which insist-

I pledge allegiance
to my flag and
to the republic
for which it stands,
one nation,
indivisible,
with liberty
and justice for all.

Getting nowhere, the Witnesses sued,
first in Pennsylvania- and later in West
Virginia." The Supreme Court held in
the former case that the state law of
compulsory salutation of the flag was
- The original
constitutional and in the latter case that
Pledge
of
Allegiance
(1892)
it was unconstitutional. There was no
issue in regard to the phrase "under
God," since it was not added to the
pledge until many years after both these
ed upon hiding behind the name "freecases and World War II, on June 14, thought" or "freethinkers." Lewis, of
1954.
Jewish heritage, became openly and noBut in the attempt to capture the sym- toriously Atheistic. He did not wince at
bols of the nation for Christ and against the word. He was a moneyed man, but
communism, the Congress ploughed where he got his money is another story.
straight ahead. On July 11, 1955, Presi- He obtained a prospective litigant and
dent Eisenhower signed Public Law 140, sued the commissioner of education of
making it mandatory that all currency
the state of New York, demanding that
the phrase "under God" be removed
from the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag
2Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 310 of the United States which New York
U.S. 586; 60 S.Ct. 1010; 84 L.Ed. 1375 (1940). public school student were required to
3West Virginia State Board of Education v. recite. He used an Atheist attorney,
Barnette, 319 U.S. 624; 63 S.Ct. 1178; 87 Martin J. Scheiman, for this, as for all
L.Ed. 1628 (1943).
the openly Atheist suits with which he
Austin, Texas

Vol. 33, No.4

attempted to proceed. The school had
promulgated a rule requiring the flag salute and upon the pledge change made
by the Congress of the United States
had formally changed" the pledge to be
said in the public schools of New York.
Lewis filed suit immediately to demand
that the commissioner of education of
the state of New York be required to
keep the two words offensive to Atheists out of the pledge. He claimed that
"free thinkers, non-believers, Atheists
and agnostics" could not be compelled
to recite the words "under God."
The case was heard on February 23,
1957,by the Supreme Court of the State
of New York. 5 That body relied upon the
"historical" argument, converting it in a way - to the usual anti-Red "hysterical" argument:
The House of Representatives
Report No. 1693 on the bill to
amend the pledge of allegiance by
the inclusion of the words "under
God" demonstrates that the Committee on the Judiciary considered the question of constitution-

4Chap. 177, Laws of 1956,159 N.YS. 2d.
5Lewis v. Allen, 159 N.YS. 2d 807 (1957).
Page 7

News and Comments

ality. It's [sic] report set for the
purpose of the law and concluded
the act was constitutional, emphasizing it was inspired by the fact
that "At this moment in our history * * * our American Government and the American way of life
are under attack by a system whose
philosophy is at direct odds with
our own."
Although the judge did not conclude
the paragraph in the House report, this
author feels that it is significant enough
that you should have it at your disposal:
Our American Government is
founded on the concept of the individuality and the dignity of the
human being. Underlying this concept is the belief that the human
person is important because he
was created by God and endowed
by Him with certain inalienable
rights which no civilauthority may
usurp. The inclusion of God in our
pledge therefore would further acknowledge the dependence of our
people and our Government upon
the moral directors of the Creator.
At the same time it would serve to
deny the Atheistic and materialistic concepts of communism with
its attendant subservience of the
individual.
The court then declared:
If I properly apprehend the intent, design and purposes of the
First Amendment, it was conceived
to prevent and prohibit the establishment of a State Religion; it was
not intended to prevent or prohibit the growth and development of
a Religious State.
It then continued that the Declaration
of Independence referred to the "Supreme Judge of the world"; that Lincoln's Gettysburg address spoke of
"this nation, under God"; that the prePage 8

amble to the constitution of the state of
New York expressed gratitude "to Almighty God for our Freedom"; that the
presidential oath of office concluded
with "So help me God"; and that "In
God We Trust" appears on our coins by
act of Congress. Rhetorically the court
asked, Would not all of these be unconstitutional if the phrase "under God" in
the pledge was declared to be so? The
answer, the judge found, was in the
House Report No. 1693also:
The Supreme Court has clearly
indicated that the references to
the Almighty which run through
our laws, our public rituals and our
ceremonies in no way flout the
provisions of the first amendment.

here, the child of a non-believer
may simply omit the words "under
God," in reciting the pledge. His
"nonconformity," if such it be, will
not, in the circumstances of this
case, set him apart from his fellow
students or bring "pressure" to
bear in any real sense.
Therefore, to grant the application to remove the words "under God" from the
pledge as said in New York public
schools "would be preferring those who
believe in no religion over those who do
believe."

The 1964 challenge
In 1964, the Murrays challenged the
words "under God" in the pledge being

The currency of the United States was not Christianized until 1955, when "In God
We Trust" was put on paper money. The godless bill above was issued in 1950.

In so construing the first amendment, the Court pointed out that
if this recognition of the Almighty
was not so, then even a fastidious
Atheist or agnostic could object to
the way in which the Court itself
opens each of its sessions, namely, "God save the United States
and this Honorable Court."
.The court then declared that there
was no compulsory aspect, no penalties
attached to a failure or a refusal to recite
the pledge and that, therefore, it was
voluntary. The judge recognized that
peer pressure on a child in school was
severe, but that:
Vol. 33, No.4

required of Jon G. Murray, who was
then in elementary school in Honolulu,
Hawaii. The same result was attained.
When the Murray family moved to Austin, Texas, the public schools there required both prayer and the pledge every
morning, except in the homeroom of
Jon G. Murray. As he moved up the elementary school grades, all classes except those which he attended required
both. There was no way that the family
could prove "standing" to sue, since his
section of whatever grade he attended
was relieved of the burdens. That may
need an explanation. When he was in
the second grade, all other "sections" of
his second-grade class recited prayers
American Atheist

News and Comments

and the pledge. All other sections of all
other grades recited prayers and the
pledge. When he moved to the third
grade, all other "sections" of his thirdgrade class recited prayers and the
pledge as did all other grades. And so on
and so on and so on-with only the section of the grade in which he was not
having the compulsory prayers or
pledge.

Ignoring the Supreme Court
And so it was from the l%Os forward
until the presidential campaign of 1988,
when the pledge again became an issue
since the state of Massachusetts did not
require it. The governor of that state,
Dukakis, was running for the office of
president of the United States. Bush
ground Dukakis's nose in the issue. At
this time, Ricky Sherman was just entering the first grade in the public schools
in the Chicago area, and it was decided
that his father, Robert I. Sherman, and
the Society of Separationists, Inc., the
legal arm of American Atheists, should
again mount a challenge to the "under
God" in the pledge. Here again the state
of Illinoisrequired all children in the public schools to recite the pledge (with the
addition of the "under God" therein).
Now, please remember that the Supreme Court of the United States in
1943 had already ruled that a state [aw
requiring that children in the public
schools recite such a pledge was unconstitutional. Yetin the period from 1943to
1988,at least a dozen states had passed
pledge-requirement
laws, and other
states had older laws already on their
books. The Supreme Court ruling was
simply - often - ignored.
This raises the bona fide question:
how are Supreme Court decisions to be
enforced? It is a tendentious question,
particularly when the legislative bodies
of various states simply ignore a Supreme Court ruling and do what they
damn well please to do. Supreme Court
decisions often pertain to "civil matters," such as that of the pledge, or Bible
reading and prayer in schools, or aborAustin, Texas

tion. It is almost impossible to enforce, throughout the nation,
compliance with such a decision.
There are both inadvertent and
deliberate holdouts, political
games to be played, ignorance of
procedural methods to effectuate the decision and so on.

Atheists v. the pledge
yet again
The Sherman suit was filed in
the federal District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern
Division - that is to say, Chicago
- on October 27, 1988. It attacked the constitutionality of an
Illinois state law passed in 1980
requiring the recitation of the
pledge by all children in the public Ricky Sherman, the pint-sized Atheist who is
schools of the state. The judge trying to secularize the Pledge of Allegiance,
presiding over the suit was none coined the phrase "God Is Make-Believe."
too swift. Out of the case came Here he poses with his father, Robert I. Shertwo partial decisions and a final man, at the 1989 Convention of American
decision, over the course of two Atheists.
years and four months. The first, issued be applied to an "Establishment Clause"
on May 11, 1989,6hoped to sever the situation:
Society of Separationists, Inc. from the
First, the legislature must have
case so that Mr. Sherman and Ricky
adopted the law with a secular
would be alone, without the backing of
purpose. Second, the statute's
American Atheists. The court then notprincipal or primary effect must be
ed that in respect to the First Amendone that neither advances nor inment to the Constitution of the United
hibits religion. Third, the statute
States:
must not result in an excessive entanglement of government with
The Establishment Clause . . .
religion.
does not depend upon any showing of direct government compulThe judge opined that "the failure of
sion and is violated by the enactthe plaintiffs' [Sherman and American
ment of laws which establish an
Atheists] Establishment Clause claim is
officialreligion whether those laws
all but a foregone conclusion," since a
operate directly to coerce nonobprior case in California in 19688 had
serving individuals or not.
characterized the pledge as a "patriotic
Coupled with this was a recognition that exercise containing ancillary references
the famous tripartite Lemon' test must to God." Also, generally, a 1980 case?

6Sherman v. Community Consolidated School
District 21, 714 E Supp. 932 (N.D. Ill. 1989).
"Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602; 91 S.Ct.
2105; 29 L.Ed.2d. 745 (1971).
Vol. 33, No.4

8Smith v. Denny, 280 E Supp. 651 (Eastern
District of California).

9Hall v. Bradshaw, 630 E2d 1018 (4th Cir.),
cert. denied, 450 U.S. 965 (1981).
Page 9

News and Comments

had held:
References to the Deity in our
ceremonies and our coinage and
seals do not violate the Establishment Clause because they merely
reflect this fact of our history and
no longer have any potentially entangling theological significance.
And in a 1970easel? the Ninth Circuit
held that:
[i]t is quite obvious that the national motto and slogan on coinage and currency "In God We
Trust" has nothing whatsoever to
do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no
true resemblance to government
sponsorship of a religious exercise.
To cap it all, an old 1%3 case was
dragged out of the legal records!' in regard to public school children singing
the National Anthem:
[T]he singing of the National
Anthem is not a religious but a
patriotic ceremony, intended to inspire devotion to and love of country. Any religious references therein are incidental and expressive
only of the faith which as a matter
of historical fact has inspired the
growth of the nation.
However, the court concluded, it
would look to see if Ricky Sherman's
"free exercise" of religion was violated
by compelling him to recite the Pledge of
Allegiance. How in the hell an Atheist,
even a small one such as Ricky Sherman, can have free exercise of religion

IOAronow v. United States, 432 E2d 242 (9th
Cir.1970).
llSheldon v. Fannis, 221 E Supp. 766 (D.
Ariz.).
Page 10

was not explained by the judge.
With that behind her, the judge moved
on to the next partial decision given on
August 17, 1990.12In this, she found that
since every member of American Atheists had not "suffered injury" by Ricky's
coercion to pledge taking, the Society of
Separationists did not have the prerequisite standing to be a party to the case
and that Sherman must continue alone.

No theological significance
On February 28, 1991, the court
issued its finaljudgment. Ifthis is not the
dumbest decision which has come out
of a federal district court, it stands next
to that. The judge was interested in
drumming home the idea of civilreligion
and added to the cases she had previously cited another one from 1980:13
[R]eferences to the Deity in our
ceremonies and on our coinage
and seals do not violate the Establishment Clause because they
merely reflect this fact of our history and no longer have any potentially entangling theological
significance.
She was off then to the Lemon test to
see if the Establishment Clause claim
has failed. As to secular purpose, the
law was passed to instill patriotic values
in elementary school students. As to
whether saying the pledge advances or
prohibits religion, it inspires only love of
country and patriotism. As to government entanglement by forcing young
children to recite the pledge - it just
doesn't, so there!
In regard to Ricky Sherman's free
exercise of religion, the school did not
punish, or threaten to punish, Ricky if
he did not comply with the requirement,

12Sherman v. Community Consolidated
School District 21, 745 E Supp.1271 (N.D. Ill.
1990)

13Hallv. Bradshaw, 630 E2d 1018 (4th Cir.
1980), cert. denied, 450 U.S. 965 (1981).
Vol. 33, No.4

which - of course - he had been
forced to do for over two years during
which the litigation proceeded.
"The Court agrees that it was an
unfortunate choice [for the legislature]
to use the word 'shall' in the statute." In
regard to an affidavit of Mr. Sherman
that his son is "asked by the principal of
the school to stand with one hand over
his heart and participate with the other
pupils in reciting the pledge," the judge
sloughs this off, saying, "Mr. Sherman
does not allege in his affidavit that this
statement is based on personal knowledge." Therefore, tough luck, kiddo. To
add insult to injury, the judge goes
further:
Mr. Sherman states in his affidavit that his "son has been knocked
down by other children who are
angered at his opposition to pledging." ... However, Mr. Sherman
does not explain how he knows
that the reason his son was
knocked down was because of his
refusal to recite the pledge. Mr.
Sherman just expects the court to
take his word for it.
However, the court took every affidavit from every school authority, from the
principal, from the teacher, at face value, without criticism or a murmur, and
simply remarked that the discomfort of
Ricky Sherman and the bias of his peers
against him was not sufficient reason
"to deny the other children their right to
learn how to participate in this patriotic
. "
exercise.
But still the federal district judge sits
and does not designate that the decision
is final, as she rules in bits and pieces.
Well aware that Sherman will appeal
that final decision, she closed that avenue too by refusing to finalize.
After three years' time and effort put
into this case, the handwriting is on the
wall. The United States is "one nation,
under God, indivisible" - and every
Atheist in it had better face that fact. Madalyn O'Hair ~
American

Atheist

Visions of the future
he doctor placed his palm flat
against the flashing screen for exactly three seconds before the
computer recognized his palm print and
slid the gray metal door open with a
swish of mechanical efficiency. Once he
stepped inside the room, it slid shut behind him.
Sunlight flooding through floor-toceiling windows along one entire wall
blinded him for a moment, and he had
to blink several times before he could
clearly make out his patient seated behind a white desk in the center of the
chamber. The man's balding crown and
white clothes almost reflected the light
as easily as did the desk, like camouflage, and several days of gray beard
growth stippled his pale face. Redrimmed eyes in a puffy face searched
the doctor for some answer, but finding
none, the man barked out in a croaky
hoarse voice, "Heaven or hell?"
The doctor smiled and suppressed
the urge to chuckle.
"Heaven or hell?" repeated the man in
a louder, more insistent voice. "Am I in
heaven or hell?"
The doctor sat down slowly in a large
chair facing him. "Neither, Mr. Falwell.
You're in Bertrand Russell Hospital in
Atlanta, Georgia."
The man's chin dropped, and for a
few seconds he sat staring blankly at the
doctor, his heavy breathing the only
sound to be heard. "You mean ... I'm
not - dead?"
"Not at all, Mr. Falwell," said the doctor, placing his hands into the deep
pockets of his lab coat and settling down
comfortably into the chair. "You are as
alive as you have ever been. Even in a
little better condition than the last time
your eyes were open, if I might say so."
The man shook his head in disbelief.
"But I was dying - a brain tumor. This
can't be. What kind of trick is this? What
kind of demon are you?" He gripped the
arms of his chair tightly, fear washing
over his face in waves that came and
went as his mind contemplated the horrors within it.

T

Would a well-known
minister be able to face
a world without
religion?

Leland Myrick, a former teacher, is a
freelance writer. He has been
published in several major newspapers
and one poetry magazine.

Leland Myrick
Austin, Texas

Vol. 33, No.4

"I am a doctor. Not a medical doctor,
though - a psychologist. I'm here to
talk to you, to help you understand what
happened to you."
"What's your name?"
He pointed to his identification badge.
"Doctor Moleno." He watched his patient steel himself to ask his next question.
"What did happen to me?"
"Cryogenic suspension. You were
frozen. It seems your family and some of
your followers weren't ready to let you
go. With the hope of a cure, they placed
you in a cryogenic state."
Falwell's hands shook so that he had
to place them flat on the desk in order
to slow them. "How - how long?"
The doctor smiled. "One hundred
and forty-three years."
Dropping his face into his hands, he
moaned, "That means no one I knew is
alive. Are they?"
"I'm afraid not," said the doctor, sympathetically shaking his head.
Falwell ran his hands over his scalp,
probing with his fingers in the gray hair.
"No scars?"
"No surgery," said the doctor. "At
least not the way you would think of it.
But that's not important right now. I'lllet
the other doctors explain that to you."
Falwell stood clumsily and walked to
the side of the desk, where he stopped
to steady himself. His breath came
quickly, and panic began to rise in his
eyes.
"I need to get to a church." He
reached out for the doctor. "Please take
me to a church!"
The doctor took his arm gently and
led him to the bright window. Falwell
blinked and shaded his eyes, but forced
himself to look out onto the trees and
flowers hedged in by a tall brown-brick
wall. The doctor spoke slowly, in a calm,
reassuring voice.
"Things have changed since you were
last conscious. Very little of the society
you remember remains."
"Please take me to a church. I want to
pray. There are so many things I don't
Page 11

understand. So many things. I need
guidance. I need .... "
"That's why I'm here," said the doctor.
"Look. I'm going to be direct with you.
There is no church for me to take you
to."
Falwell stared at him, unbelieving.
"No churches? But this is Atlanta.
There are hundreds of churches here. I
don't care what kind it is. Even a Catholic church willdo." His voice broke on
the last sentence and he seemed to
weaken. The doctor tightened his grip
on the man's arm.
"What about that building there?" he
pointed to the top of a gray stone bell
tower just visible over the wall.
"That's a library."
"No churches?"
The doctor shook his head again.
"None."
Falwelljerked away from the doctor's
grip and balanced himself against the
glass window, staring accusingly into his
face.
"It can't be! America has gone communist?"
The doctor laughed. "Certainly not.
Communism is a sort of religion, isn't
it?"
"You mean, there's no religion, and
we're still a democracy?"
The doctor placed his right palm on
the large pane of glass to his left and it
rose straight up into the ceiling with a
hiss. The smell of warm grass basking in
the sun flowed into the room and around
the two men.
"Let's go outside where it's nicer, and
I'll explain."
Falwell allowed the doctor to take his
arm again and lead him into the garden.
The enclosure was rectangular and ran
about twenty yards on either side of the
glass wall they had come through; large
roses grew up alongside thick hedges,
making a sort of path that led to a round
stone bench surrounding a small fountain. The doctor settled Falwellonto the
bench before sitting himself.
"You see, Mr. Falwell, many years
ago, as the world became a harder and
Page 12

harder place in which to survive - the
environment was deteriorating, the
economy was collapsing, perhaps for
the final time - a large group of people
began to turn away from religion as a
source for answers about how to live
their lives. It just wasn't working. In fact,
it was leading to disaster."
Falwell grimaced. "I can't believe it!
People turn toward religion in hard
times."
The doctor smiled. "Not this time.
They shunned all religions."
"Ohhh, God!" Despair was written
clearly in the heavy lines around his eyes
and mouth. He stared around him at the
walls, flowers, hedges, and finally into
the blue sky itself. "Atheists?"
The doctor smiled broadly. "You
might call it that. Reality is what I call it."
Falwell moaned again to the unheeding heavens. "Everyone? It can't be everyone. There have to be some Christians out there somewhere carrying on
the ministry."
"Of course there are a few - camped
out in the mountains somewhere waiting for Judgment Day. It's still a free
country. They're mostly ignored, unless
they try to harm someone else. Less
than five thousand of them all told, I'd
say."
The doctor took out a pipe. His face
made the motions of a man smoking,
but no fumes or aroma emanated from
the object. He leaned back and folded
his. arms across his chest, apparently
enjoying his history lesson.
''There are a few churches still standing, museums, historical landmarks.
But no one uses them." In his own mind,
the doctor associated them with the
likes of the Dachau Museum and Hiroshima Memorial.
"You see," he continued, "when people began to see what could be accomplished without religion to interfere with
the natural way of things, Atheism
spread like wildfire. We were able to
curb the population explosion, improve
the economy, make great strides in
medicine - your treatment, for examVol. 33, No.4

pie - clean up the environment, you
name it."
Though he continued to stare up into
the sky, Falwell turned away from the
doctor, who didn't really mind; he was
sure his patient was listening.
"What about the rest of the world?
What about the Muslims, the Jews, the
Buddhists, the Christians of Europe?
What do they say about all this?"
"Oh, it didn't stop here. Oh, no, indeed! When the rest of the world saw
what was being accomplished in America, movements sprang up all over. It
took time, but it happened all right.
Why, there hasn't been a full-scale war
in more than sixty years - small border
disputes, but nothing much. Without
the fury and hatred aroused by dogmatic belief systems, leaders haven't been
able to whip their people into nationalist frenzies the way they used to."
A warm breeze blew across the garden, wafting the fragrance of the manycolored roses across the doctor's face.
He inhaled deeply and sighed with the
satisfaction of a happy man.
"You're in the future now, Mr. Falwell.
You might as well enjoy it now that
you've been lucky enough to have a second chance. Sort of an afterlife for you,
if you know what I mean."
The doctor placed his hand on the
man's back and realized he was crying,
his muscles convulsing with each sob.
When he finally found his voice again, it
was weak and pitiful, like a winter wind
wailing through an abandoned pipe in a
ditch.
"May god forgive you!"
"Oh, I don't think that willbe necessary,
Mr. Falwell. Not necessary at all." ~

Dial- THf-Atheist

512-458-5131
Listento Madalyn O'Hair, the founder
of American Atheists, give her views
on the news of the day. Messages
change each week.
American Atheist

Dressed in sheep's clothing
used to wonder at the relative ease
with which people could repress
their own opinions when in a minority position among others who held different views. I felt that people conformed too easily in their efforts to avoid
rocking the boat - whether that boat
be the schoolyard, the social club, or the
workplace. I could never understand
those who were willingto suppress their
opinions and let themselves be subjugated by the majority's opposing view. I
have virtually made a second profession
of protesting matters I personally opposed, yet I realize that not everyone
can bring himself to actively protest. But
the very least one can do is let his voice
be heard. To cave in to someone else's
views seemed to me a kind of hypocrisy,
if not a defeat of the conscience.
I can't remember a time when I believed in god. However, I was outnumbered livingin a Christian house with my
parents and four sisters, and religion

O

Austin, Texas

Lane Parker
was the focus of many of my trial runs
at rebellion. Although from adolescence
I was not forced to go to church, a few
confrontations developed out of my refusal to sit at the dinner table while grace
was said. My mother argued that remaining seated during grace was a sign
of respect, and I countered that it was a
symbol of my acceptance of, and my
conformity to, their religion. A few of
these skirmishes I lost, and the act of
obediently sitting through their ritual
filled me with humiliation and tugs of
self-betrayal.
When I left home for college, I had the
opportunity at last to strip the Bible belt
from my moral and philosophical pants;
I was not surprised that they held up
quite well on their own. Along with personal growth came the realization that I
could be good without god, and my inVol. 33, No.4

trospection and avid reading led to
much self-discovery and, just as importantly, the discovery of the eloquent logic of Bertrand Russell. This newfound
consciousness encouraged me to officially come "out of the closet." I decided that to remain silent about my Atheism would be to capitulate to the Christian majority (I refused to be counted as
another sheep in the flock), and therefore would have been hypocritical. I
quickly became comfortable with my life
as an unashamed Atheist, and still could
not understand those who were too
afraid to speak their minds. Then I took
a job as city government reporter in the
town of Delano and everything changed.
Delano sits in the arid San Joaquin
Valley about 144miles north of Los Angeles. Like other towns in the Central
Valley, Delano is a contradiction of the
California image and more closely resembles the small towns that seem to
crop up out of nowhere in the desolate
Page 13

Overleaf: Delano's oldest congregation,
First United Methodist, was established
in 1887. The current church was constructed in 1926 and is located on the
same street as the city hall building (in
background), built in 1978.

expanses of the Midwest. The town's
version of a high-rise structure is to be
found only in the two-story city hall
building and the medical center complex. But despite its forgettable appearance, Delano has a few modest attractions, most notably a Voice of America
relay site and a mortuary designed by
Frank Lloyd Wright. The town has also
made a name for itself by being, albeit
unwillingly, the home base for United
Farm Workers President Cesar Chavez.
McFarland, a smaller town just five
miles down the road, has become infamous for its childhood cancer cluster.
Both Delano and McFarland rely on
agriculture, mainly table grapes, for
their livelihood, but I soon discovered
that the annual crop yield wasn't the
only obsession in these communities. I
knew when I moved to Delano in July of
1988 that I would be facing a culture
shock, coming from Sacramento to a
small town where in winter the entire region is covered in a blanket of fog and in
summer the temperature rises to the
same number as the price of gas. I also
knew that I would be facing a challenge
as city government and police beat reporter for two communities. I had no
idea, though, that I would once again be
questioning the convictions I thought I'd
affirmed during my college years.
I wasn't in Delano long before I encountered an example of the town's religious enthusiasm. Nothing travels faster than the news in Delano, and I was
still unpacking boxes in my apartment
when I received an invitation in the mail
to attend a service at one of the local
churches. I was stunned by the speed
with which the church had found me,
especially considering that I hadn't even
officially started my job at the newspaper. I was further surprised to learn
that the town's twenty-one thousand
residents had twenty-two churches to
choose from, but only one bookstore:
Delano Christian Books & Gift Shop.
McFarland, with a population of about
four thousand, had eight churches - a
figure which is double that of the numPage 14

ber of officers on that town's police
force.
Being a reporter in Delano - which
I assume is similar to being a reporter in
almost any small town - is a highprofile job, and the editorial staff is given celebrity status. I was constantly approached by people who addressed me
by my first name and spoke as if they
knew me. This was partly because most
of the people there were friendly, and

I wasn't in Delano long
before I encountered
an example of the
town's religious
enthusiasm.
Nothing travels faster
than the news in
Delano, and I was still
unpacking boxes in my
apartment when I
received an invitation in
the mail to attend a
service at one of the
local churches.
partly because I was seen as a "prominent citizen" in the community. Even reporters were not immune to hostility,
though, and voicing unpopular ideas
could result in an outcry of unfavorable
public response. In researching back
issues of the paper, I found that a previous reporter who voiced liberal ideas
in his weekly opinion column was branded a "commie," and frequently received
hate mail telling him to "go back to
Russia." If liberals were an endangered
Vol. 33, No.4

species in Delano and McFarland, then
Atheists were extinct: they were neither
heard of nor heard from.
Given the religious composition of
the towns, I shouldn't have been surprised that at least some form of prayer
was held before each city council meeting in Delano and McFarland. In Delano
the prayer was recited by a reverend,
and in McFarland it was a city councilman who led the session. I had never attended city government meetings before I took the newspaper job, but I had
always assumed that all city governments recognized and respected the
separation of church and state.
The invocations in both councils
always asked god's guidance in carrying
out the affairs of the city, but, recognizing religion's often detrimental role in
history, I felt that the last thing anyone
needed was for religious guidance to
play a hand in public affairs. After the
first few meetings, I was ready to approach the city administrators and take
issue with the prayers, but then I found
myself in a tough position. In light of the
overwhelming religious feelings in the
communities, I felt that being vocal
about the separation of church and
state could have messy ramifications. I
might risk alienating myself from acquaintances and, much worse, possibly
damaging my relationships with sources
upon whom I relied during my daily reporting. Not everyone is understanding
of or tolerant toward Atheists, and such
antireligious proclamations can induce
reactions ranging from a raised eyebrow
to a soapbox sermon on hellfire and
eternal damnation.
So I was silent, but my silence had its
price: My semiconformity produced
feelings of self-betrayal and self-doubt,
and all the tugs of hypocrisy I thought I'd
shaken in my college years came flooding back. Nowhere were these humiliating feelings stronger than when I stood
with everyone else for the prayer at the
beginning of the council meetings. I
didn't bow my head, but for me there
was almost no difference at that point.
American Atheist

Ifelt as ifI were back home, sitting at the to endure the possible letters, glances,
family dinner table and waiting for or confrontations that might have reeveryone to finish praying so we could sulted from people knowing that I was
get on with business. Each time I stood an Atheist. Consequently, for the fifteen
before the meetings, Ithought about not months that I lived in Delano, I took the
standing for the next one, but I remind- position of not taking a position. In
ed myself that I was there to report the effect, I stepped back into the closet.
news, not to make it. .
Now that I'm living in San Francisco
Matters didn't get easier or more tol- and have been separated from Delano
erable, either. People in Delano, proba- by both time and distance, I'm still not
bly noticing that I had not yet commit- sure I made the right decision by supted to a church in their town, approached
me with invitations to, and information
about, their churches. I was besieged . My semiconformity
everywhere. Pastors dropped by my
desk at the newspaper office, parishio- produced feelings of
ners stopped me on the street - even
at the bank I encountered a teller who self-betrayal and selfattempted to shed holy light on my
doubt, and all the tugs
shadowy religious status.
Although I sometimes addressed
such topics as separation of church and of hypocrisy I thought
state in my opinion columns, I always
I'd shaken in my college
took the objective viewpoint to avoid
being put in the position of defending my years came flooding
personal position on the issues. All this
must have looked pretty ambiguous and back. Nowhere were
interesting to the local clergy, who - in
my more paranoid states - seemed to these humiliating
make a contest out of discovering my
true sentiments. I was questioned about feelings stronger than
my religious affiliation and was asked by
some of the more astute pastors to have when I stood with
coffee and discuss politics and current
everyone else for the
events. I always skirted the issues and
never accepted an invitation for coffee. prayer at the beginning
I was ashamed of myself as I nodded,
grinned, and grunted my way through of the council meetings.
conversations, conveniently dodging
questions rather than giving candid anpressing my views. At times I feel that I
swers. I felt as if the defiant freethinker
in me had yielded to the irresolute cow- should have just spoken out and enard who was afraid of being branded a dured the criticism; sometimes I think I
heretic and losing his sparkling reputa- was just paranoid, and that nothing
tion in the community.
would have happened had everyone
Had Delano been a bigger city, and I known my opinions. But other times I
a smaller fish, I would have been more have the strange feeling that I exercised
outspoken, taking issue with the city prudence in keeping my mouth shut.
officials and proudly defending myself
My experience in Delano helped me
against the rank and file of probing to understand how some people can
churchgoers. But I was unsure of the suppress their opinions when surroundcommunity's reaction and was unwilling ed by others with opposing views. It also
Austin, Texas

Vol. 33, No.4

helped me realize that I will never suppress my own opinions again, no matter
what the circumstances. I am secure
enough in my convictions to handle any
criticism directed against me. I am reminded, however, that I felt exactly the
same way before I moved from Sacramento to a town called Delano. I also believe that my struggles in Delano were
simply a microcosm of a much bigger
and longer-lasting dilemma.
Atheists must confront religion every
day. In a country which claims to live
and breathe the First Amendment,
most people would choke if they had to
accept that freedom of religion also
means freedom from religion. Freedom
for everyone to practice - or not practice - his own religion looks good on
paper, so long as Christians can still
print "In God We Trust" on the nation's
currency and chant "One Nation Under
God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Let's
face it: Atheism is about as popular in
this country as communism, perhaps
even less so, and for an Atheist the urge
to succumb to this pressure with silence
might seem to outweigh the benefits of
a purged conscience. But Atheists
should take a lesson from certain Christians. Members of the religious right are
not a bit self-conscious about speaking
their minds and forcing their morality on
the public, for their faith seems to have
given them the confidence that they are
speaking on god's behalf. Meanwhile,
Atheists remain a silent minority, allowing themselves to be herded around by
religious zealots like so many sheep in a
flock.
Atheists must make themselves
known. There has been renewed vigor
on the part of the religious right, which
has strengthened its invasion on schools,
government, politics, and America's privacy. Now more than ever is the time for
Atheists - indeed, everyone who wants
freedom from someone else's religion to make their voices heard. ~
Lane Parker is a San Francisco-based
reporter.
Page 15

Director's Briefcase

Body and soul:
the euthanasia question

The plight of parents
trying to end the long,
tragic life of a
vegetative daughter
highlights the most
basic issues in the
national battle over the
right to die.

here are many arenas of controversy which seem to plague the
society in which we live, as it is
presently constituted. The majority of
those controversies center around variations in interpretation of religious belief
systems coming into conflict over particular fact situations. At the bottom of
almost every social, ethical, or moral
question of importance to a majority of
persons in our present culture lies a belief system which is in turn rooted in
some form of theology.

T

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
Page 16

Vol. 33, No.4

One such area of controversy is over
the concept of the education of minors.
The questions of who should provide
educational opportunities, who should
pay for those opportunities, who should
administer them, who should decide
what to teach, what should ultimately be
taught, etc., are matters which engender a variety of honestly and vigorously advocated positions. It seems, however, that no matter which side one
takes on the many issues involved in the
education question, the moral "necesAmerican Atheist

sity" of religious teaching is an underlying "given." lcall this the "religion is just
okay with me" syndrome. Many people
feel that religion is a "wholesome" pursuit in any context. The role of religion
in education has therefore been a persistent one. The answer to the question
of who should provide educational opportunities was first and foremost "the
church." Government has only, historically, been in the tail end of the education game. Who should pay for educational opportunities for the young? The
taxpayers, of course, no matter who administers the teaching programs. Who
should administer education? The first
answer is always either the church, professional religionists, or at least individuals for whom the allegedly "outstanding" moral precepts of religion are held
in high regard. A nonreligious individual
is presumed to be a bad example to
place in front of impressionable minds.
Those particular issues in education
which involve the subject matter of religion per se, like classroom prayer, have
involved Atheists in that public debate
for more than one hundred years.
Another area of controversy is human
sexuality and reproduction. The questions here center around what types of
behavior mayor may not be sanctioned
by society for "consenting adults," but
they also branch out into concerns for
the effects of those behaviors on minors. Here also religionists have become deeply involved in the public debate, pushing a code of sexual behavior
based upon various biblical narratives.
The debate over the how, when, where,
and why of abortion, for example, has
gone from verbal to physical and has the
potential for still further escalation. All
of the pyrotechnics of the moment on
the abortion issue boil down, though, to
a belief that all life is "sacred," that
sperm are sacred, and that the human
egg is sacred. Human reproduction is
seen as somehow different from the reproduction of any of our fellow mammals. This is absurd, but it is the basis
of the conflict. Principally because of the
Austin, Texas

religious undertones, Atheists have
been at the forefront of the battles over
freedom of expression and conduct with
regard to human sexuality.
Yetanother area of controversy is the
proper function of oaths, swearings,
pledges, vows, affirmations, declarations, and testimonies in civiland judicial
as well as ecclesiastical contexts. Atheists have been involved in those controversies in a variety of settings. The posi-

belie that notion. If we are created for a
special purpose, then we dare not pursue knowledge, for in that pursuit we
might find out that there is no "meaning" or "purpose" to life. If we are created for a special purpose, then to have
an abortion is a direct slap in the face to
our creator, a denial of the creation
function. If we are created for a special
purpose, then we must keep the words
which refer to the creator sacred and

If humans feel, collectively,
that they are a special and unique creation
of intelligent design,
then they will tend to fight against any and all
things which belie that notion.
tion of those religious has by and large
been one of maintaining "traditional"
forms for these activities while begrudgingly and occasionally allowing some minority variance. "Magic words" are very
powerful and often remain so far beyond
the ability of the best debunker to rationalize them away.
Icould go on and on citing the various
areas of argument within society over
essentially "pack" behavior and what
the "pack" leaders (humans are basically pack animals) will decide to allow. In
doing so I would get back again and
again to belief systems which are based
upon a supposition that man is not an
animal at all, but a special creation of a
higher power. Though the definition of
that higher power as he, she, it, or them
has never been resolved among those
who believe therein, that does not mitigate the overall effect that the notion of
special creation has on people's way of
life.Ifhumans feel, collectively, that they
are a special and unique creation of intelligent design, then they will tend to
fight against any and all things which
Vol. 33, No.4

"magic" and punish and shun those who
do not utter them with the proper reverence. If an Atheist will not take a "So
help me God" oath, that is an insult to
that which created all life and such an
insult cannot be tolerated.
Icannot think of even a single issue of
current public debate that does not involve religious thinking in some wise.

Technology introduces
new issues
The geometrically expanding technologies in the fields of medical science
have opened up a new battlefield of
opinions with regard to the so-called
right to die. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, if an individual fell ill or
was injured it was a foregone conclusion, in most cases, that death would be
the result. The various fields of medicine
have only very recently, in, say, the last
forty years, come to the level of expertise at which vital functions can be sustained over significant periods of time by
mechanical, surgical, or chemical means
once the body can no longer do so on its
Page 17

own. This technology has created a
problem. Who decides what is life and
what is death? Is a continuing brain function alone life,or is sustained body function after cessation of brain function life?
What is the "quality of life," and to what
ends should it be maintained?

The body as a thermos bottle
The religious have placed themselves,
as one would anticipate, squarely in the
middle of the "right to die" issue. Basically the religious position is that only a
god can create life, so only that same
god can take life away. This position is
based firmly on the premise that "life" is

supposition of creation. The further
question then arises as to who may say
when a given individual human organism has reached a state of no longer possessing "life" or a "quality of life." Is that
determination for a medical practitioner, for a court at law, for next of kin, or
for a deity?
Can individuals, on their own recognizance, determine whether or not to
continue their life? If so, would this not
negate the belief that a deity alone can
make such a determination? This question branches immediately into a number
of possible areas. Are we talking about
an adult or a child? If we are talking

Some contend that only a deity can say
what is and is not "life."Others contend that
medical science and/or the state can make that
determination. In either case there is still the
underlying supposition of creation.
not a function of matter but is an ethereal quantity which can exist independent of the physical body. In simpler
terms it is thought that each human has
a "soul" which is the essence of his individual personality and which can survive the point at which his body ceases
to function. The body, in the religious
mind-set, is like a thermos bottle which
holds the "soul" or unique essence until
it departs to "another world," leaving
the empty container behind to decompose. Only the entity which creates this
"soul," the deity, can cause it to vacate
its container. It is this set of beliefs that
drives, in the majority of cases, both
sides of the "right to die" controversy.
Some contend that only a deity can
say what is and is not "life." Others contend that medical science and/or the
state can make that determination. In
either case there is still the underlying
Page 18

about adults, are we talking about the
right of adults who are not ill to terminate themselves if they so desire? Are
we talking about adults asking other
adults to help them terminate themselves? Are we talking about adults who
are illdesiring to terminate themselves?
How ill is the individual in question?
What is the prognosis for recovery ifthe
individual does not decide to terminate
himself? Can the individual be considered "competent," in a legal sense, to
make the decision about continuing to
live? There are a myriad of such questions within the large area of the "right
to die" issue. I would like to examine
here only a microcosm of the larger
issue, centered around a particular fact
situation.
I have always liked to keep up with the
daily news. I read newspapers, magazines, and listen to media broadcasts. I
Vol. 33, No.4

read material from all over the United
States and not just from within the region in which I live. I recently got my
hands on a series of newspaper clippings from Indianapolis, Indiana, about
a "right to die" case which has been the
center of great controversy in that area.
It was interesting reading, but it was also
shocking when I realized just how backward we still are as a culture for the
events surrounding this particular case
to have taken place. I want to relate the
story of events in Indiana, as briefly as
I can, as I have gleaned them from dozens of articles covering yards of column
inches.
I need to interject something of an
aside before going on at this point. One
of the major newspapers involved in the
coverage of this "right to die" case in Indianapolis, Indiana, was the Indianapolis Star. On the front page of each and
every issue of the Star, just under the
masthead between the date, on the left,
and the price, on the right, there is a
quote which reads "Where the Spirit of
the Lord is, there is liberty" with the reference given as "II Cor. 3:17." I must say
that I find it curious to be reading about
this particular issue in a newspaper with
such obvious Christian bias. That little
tidbit aside, on with the story.

The story of Sue Ann Lawrance
A woman in Hamilton County (northeastern Indianapolis), Indiana, who was
forty-one years of age, was in what her
doctors describe as a persistent vegetative state. She was comatose and in a
nursing facility.The woman's name was
Sue Ann Lawrance. She was the youngest of a family of five children. Sue reportedly had been a healthy child until
she was nine. At that age she began to
experience severe headaches and vomiting spells. In 1958 doctors found that
Sue had a brain tumor that had caused
a large part of her brain to liquefy.Shortly thereafter she lapsed into a coma
which lasted for months. When she
came out of that coma, she was mentally
retarded. At age fifteen Sue's parents
American Atheist

placed her in a center for disabled persons in Kentucky. Sue returned to the
Indianapolis, Indiana, area in 1978at the
age of thirty. Sue suffered, overall, from
thirty years of progressively debilitating
brain disorders. In 1987Sue fell at a recreational camp and required more surgery for a head injury sustained in that
fall and lapsed into a persistent vegetative state. By 1991, her body was stiff,
and she was unable to swallow, though
she had occasional involuntary twitches
and seizures which left her muscles rigid. Response to communication was impossible for Sue. She could react to pain
and breath on her own. Her weight was
maintained at 126pounds by the regulation of liquid nutrition supplied artificiallythrough a tube. Tests showed that she
was not medically "brain dead," but her
doctors could offer no hope of consciousness or recovery. Her normal
signs of life were maintained by the natural automatic functions of the lower
brain. She had no awareness and could
not intentionally respond to her surroundings.
Sue's parents were Dr. William I. and
Bonita Lawrance. Her father is a dentist
and her mother is a registered nurse.
For more than two years, considering
the state of their daughter's health, the
Lawrances discussed the idea of withholding nourishment from Sue and allowing her to die. This seems, from all
the information I have, to have been a
reasonable and logical decision. That
decision, made with the consultation of
other family members, Sue's doctors,
and clergy, culminated in the Lawranees' approaching the nursing home
at which she was a resident about "unplugging" her.
The Lawrances are Unitarians and
attend the AllSouls Unitarian Church in
Indianapolis. Given the reputation of
the Unitarian churches as hiding places
for Atheists, one might assume that
there was a possibility of the Lawrances
being nonbelievers. That is not the case,
I suppose, since they were often quoted
in the media as "praying" for their
Austin, Texas

daughter or for a given court to make
the right decision.
Sue was a resident, at the time of her
parents' decision, of the Manor House
facilityat Riverview in Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana, where she had
been since July 1987. The Lawrances
felt that it would be safer, from a legal
perspective, to go before a Hamilton
County judge to ask for permission to
have Sue's feeding tubes turned off.
This would cover the Manor House. After all, health care providers are mostly
more concerned with legal immunity
than a debate over what is right or
wrong.

Cruzan to die in December of 1990. In
Sue's case, in Indiana, we have a different situation altogether. Sue was never
legally capable of telling anyone whether she wanted to die or be maintained by
artificial means, having been mentally
retarded since age nine. Nancy Cruzan,
having been a competent adult before
her accident, had ample opportunity to
relay to those around her thoughts on
artificial life extension prior to her suddenly being thrown into a comatose
condition.
The Hamilton County judge, taking
into account Sue's lifelong retardation,
allowed Sue's parents to speak for her

Christian intruders from outside of Sue's family
found a sympathetic judge who gave them the
right to override the concerned and thoughtful
consideration and motives of her own parents in
order to impose their biblical prerogatives.
A departure from Cruzan
That Hamilton County judge to whom
Sue's parents made their appeal issued
a ruling which departed sharply from
U.S. Supreme Court precedent which
had been laid down in the case of Nancy
Cruzan, a Missouri woman who had
been in a vegetative condition for years.
In the Cruzan case, the Supreme
Court of the United States recognized a
right to die in general constitutional
terms but ruled that states could set
their own limits on that right contingent
on individual fact situations. The Court
upheld a Missouri standard that a person must show clear and convincing
proof of an incompetent person's wish
to withdraw life-sustaining medical care.
The Cruzan family eventually demonstrated such evidence, back on the
lower court levels, and feeding tubes
were disconnected
allowing Nancy
Vol. 33, No.4

without being required, unlike Cruzan's
parents, to show evidence in court of
Sue's own desires. The judge did make
a point, however, of stating that under
the Cruzan decision "Indiana could require clear and convincing evidence of a
person's subjective intent" (emphasis
added)! before care could be discontinued. He went on to rule, however, in this
particular case that such a requirement
could deprive Sue and any other similarly situated Indianans
of their constitutional right to be
free from unwanted treatment.
Any constitutional right that Sue
Ann Lawrance possesses, or has
ever possessed, has been exercised for her by her parents, the
Ilndianapolis Star, May 16, 1991, sec. A, p. 7.
Page 19

people who brought her into this
world and who have continued to
love and care for her.
He further opined that guardians could
use objective reasoning to decide without "clear and convincing proof" that
an incompetent person would want to
be disconnected from life-support apparatus. The judge reasoned that under
the Indiana Health Care Consent Law,
Sue's parents were allowed to decide
what was best for their daughter where
no other legal guardian had been appointed. He said,
[i]f competent adults can refuse
lifesaving nutrition and hydration,
there is no reason why surrogate
decision-makers cannot refuse it
for them in circumstances such as
this."
The day after that Hamilton County
judge rendered his decision, Sue was
moved from Manor House nursing
home to the St. Vincent Hospice Center in Marion County (southeastern Indianapolis), Indiana. Under Indiana
health care law, nursing homes must
provide food and fluids to residents. The
Hamilton County judge, however, felt
that prevailing medical opinion was to
categorize artificial nutrition and hydration through a tube into the abdomen as
a medical treatment rather than a natural act of eating food. He said,
There has been some debate as to
whether the term "health care" includes the withdrawal of artificially delivered nutrition and hydration .... The definition in the statute is silent on the point, but there
is a growing body of decisions . . .
that treat the artificial delivery of
nutrition and hydration as a medical procedure which would be in-

2Ibid.
3Indianapolis Star, May 31,1991, sec. 0, p. 9.
Page 20

eluded in the definition of health
care."

had ever cared for her during her long
and medically difficult life, as had her
parents. The "fellowship coordinator"
The judge also included in his order a of this Christian group had no children,
provision that state agencies could not had never been a father, etc. Armed
take action against Manor House nurs- with a "right to life"zeal, an outside third
ing facility if it cooperated in allowing party had intervened between the LawSue to die by disconnecting feeding ap- ranees and their own daughter and her
paratus. This leads me to the conclusion doctors.
The attorney for the fellowshipclaimed
that Sue was moved out of Manor
House immediately after the judge's rul- that the Hamilton County judge's order
ing because that nursing facility got failed to follow state law requiring that a
"cold feet" over the idea of having any guardian be appointed for a person inresponsibility for her death. Despite that competent to make his or her own lifeand-death medical choices.
order, Manor House was subsequently
subjected to three inspections by the
The Marion County probate judge appointed the attorney for the Christian
state board of health when nursing
homes normally receive only one rou- Fellowship With the Disabled as a limtine state inspection a year. The appar- ited temporary guardian of Sue but did
ent apprehensions of Manor House offi- not also grant the new guardian the aucials over participating in allowing Sue thority to reconnect Sue's feeding
to die were not then altogether unfound- tubes. This attorney for the Christian
ed. The state board of health decided, fellowship hosts a weekly program on a
though, not to intervene formally in local Christian radio station on Suncourt between Manor House and Dr. days. The appointment of the fellowship's attorney as guardian was limited
and Mrs. Lawrance.
only to the purpose of giving the attorEnter a cast of strangers
ney the right to test the Hamilton CounFourteen days after Sue's feeding ty judge's original order by means of
tubes had been disconnected by order appeals to the Indiana Court of Appeals
of the Hamilton County judge, a local or Indiana Supreme Court.
group called the Christian Fellowship
So, Christian intruders from outside
With the Disabled filed a petition to in- of Sue's family found a sympathetic
tervene in the probate division of the judge who gave them the right to overMarion County Superior Court, the ride the concerned and thoughtful concounty in which Sue was now being sideration and motives of her own parcared for at St. Vincent Hospice. The ents in order to impose their biblical prepetition asked the Marion County court rogatives. Let this be a lesson to all
to appoint a guardian for Sue other than Atheists. In a predominantly religious
her parents. It also asked that either the society where belief systems are re"fellowship coordinator" for the Chris- spected, you can be in danger of having
tian Fellowship With the Disabled or the your rights usurped by a variety of outIndiana Protection and Advocacy Ser- side entities.
Immediately following the temporary
vices Commission be appointed as
Sue's guardian. This Christian fellow- appointment from the Marion Superior
ship was an outside entity which had Court, the new guardian went back to
never evidenced any prior interest in the Hamilton County judge and made
an oral request that he stay his original
Sue's well-being. None of its members
order while it was under appeal. Under
an agreement arrived at between the
4Indianapolis News, May 23, 1991, see. 0, p. newly appointed attorney guardian,
5.
Sue's parents and their lawyers, the
Vol. 33, No.4

American

Atheist

\

f

Hamilton County judge delayed further
implementation for his original order for
twenty-one days. So, fifteen days after
ordering tube feeding for Sue to be discontinued, the same judge ordered the
feeding to be restored for twenty-one
days. In similar circumstances I would
have never agreed to that. Remember,
though, that Sue's parents are not Atheists, and we can see why they would perhaps think that the intrusive Christian
group was just "trying to do the right
thing" and that perhaps their decision
might have been a bit hasty. After all, as
I have said, the prevailing cultural attitude is that religion is a good thing and
that it motivates people to do good
deeds. Thus the motivation for the
Christian group to interfere in Sue's parents' decision must certainly have been
one of caring and compassion.
Things changed rapidly, though. The
attorney for the Christian Fellowship
With the Disabled resigned from her
position as guardian just six days after
her appointment after she came under
fire for releasing part of Sue's medical
records to the news media. That was no
doubt a shining example of good Christian ethics? The Marion County probate
judge then named a staff attorney of the
National Legal Center for the Medically
Dependent and Disabled Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, as replacement guardian.

Public funds for
a Christian agenda
The National Legal Center for the
Medically Dependent and Disabled, Inc.
deserves a closer look. The center is
almost fully federally funded by taxpayers. That's right; the vast majority of
its operating budget comes from federal government grant monies. It receives
its funding through the offices of the Legal Services Corporation.
The Legal Services Corporation is an
agency which was created by Congress
in 1974with the initial mission of providing legal assistance to the poor. When
Ronald Reagan became president in
Austin, Texas

1980, the conservatives of his administration tried to abolish the Legal Services Corporation because they feared
that it would be used as a vehicle by liberals and liberal attorneys to advocate
social changes which might be abhorrent to conservatives. The effort to
close down the Legal Services Corporation was not successful. Having failed
the direct approach, President Reagan
then appointed a top conservative aide
to the former attorney general of Indiana as the agency's president and also
appointed a conservative professor
from the Indiana University School of
Law in Indianapolis to the agency's
board. This is known as politicallystacking the deck.
Meanwhile, there was an Indiana attorney who had garnered national publicity over his filing of the infamous
"Baby Doe" lawsuit in 1982to force parents and doctors to prolong the life of a
handicapped infant in Bloomington, Indiana (about forty miles southwest of Indianapolis). Parents of that severely deformed infant in Bloomington had sought
to withhold medical treatment so the
baby could be allowed to die. The "Baby
Doe" case was unsuccessful in blocking
the withholding of treatment, but it
aroused enough controversy to prompt
changes in Indiana law and an amendment to the Indiana Child Abuse Act regarding treatment of disabled infants. In
1984 this same Indiana attorney of
"Baby Doe" fame, who was the general
counsel for the National Right to Life
Committee in Indiana (as in "pro-life" or
antiabortion), made application to the
federal Legal Services Corporation for
funding to establish a private, nonprofit
corporation to represent the disabled.
The application was approved and with
federal funds the attorney of "Baby
Doe" fame founded the National Legal
Center for the Medically Dependent
and Disabled in 1985, with offices in
Terre Haute and Indianapolis, Indiana.
The center now has fifteen employees,
including four full-time lawyers, two
part-time lawyers, a clerk, two editors,
Vol. 33, No.4

and several interns and secretaries. It
has been involved in twenty-two legal
actions since its inception but has prevailed in only two. The center is one of
seventeen such organizations funded
by the federal Legal Services Corporation. The federal funding received by the
center has been extensive over the last
five years.s The center also receives
$30,000 a year from the Horatio Stover
Foundation, which is affiliated with the
National Right to Life Committee.
The new guardian of Sue, now a staff
attorney for the National Legal Center
for the Medically Dependent and Disabled, Inc., then filed a preappeal notice
and statement with the Indiana Court of
Appeals to fulfillthe function for which
his predecessor had been allowed to intervene into the Lawrance family's decision about Sue. In that statement, the
center asked the court of appeals to declare the Indiana Health Care Consent
Act unconstitutional for the act's failure
to provide adequate due process protection to incapable adults. The statement also alleged that the trial court (in
Hamilton County) had erred by failing
to appoint competent individual legal
representation for Sue. The statement
additionally raised the issue of whether
the trial court was correct in ruling that
life-sustaining food and fluids could be
withheld from Sue at the direction of a
third party without "clear and convincing" evidence that the third party was
acting in good faith and in Sue's best interest. National Legal Center counsels
pointed out that such a standard of evidence is required in Indiana before a
person can be sterilized, so why not before one could be allowed to die?
Meanwhile, the twenty-one-day grace
period which the original Hamilton
County superior court judge had given
the right-to-life groups to appeal, during

51987 - $470,476; 1988 - $473,994; 1989 $505,673; 1990 - $487,688; 1991- $495,000
(Indianapolis Star, June 16, 1991, sec. A, p.
9).
Page 21

which time he had allowed Sue's feeding
to be resumed, was about to lapse. The
National Legal Center made a request
to that judge for an additional stay of his
original order to disconnect Sue's feeding tubes and its request was denied.
The National Legal Center then went to
the Indiana Court of Appeals to ask it to
continue the stay while the case was on
appeal. The legal center also asked the
Indiana Supreme Court to take immediate jurisdiction of the case, thus bypassing the court of appeals, to expedite the
appeal process. That request to the Indiana Supreme Court stated in part that
the case
involves substantial questions of
law of great public importance under the Indiana Constitution and
state statutes ....
A determination of the rights of incompetent
individuals to refuse life-prolonging medical treatment and guidelines for their surrogate decisionmakers wiIIhave statewide significance.s
The Indiana Supreme Court declined to
accept the Lawrance case, despite that
argument, until the Indiana Court of
Appeals had finished with it, but the
chief justice of the supreme court did
issue an order allowing that court to call
the Lawrance case up on short notice.
The Indiana Court of Appeals did then
grant an extension of the Hamilton
County Superior Court's twenty-oneday stay allowing Sue's artificial feeding
to continue for one more week.

The practical concerns
of a nursing home
At about the same time attorneys representing the Manor House nursing
home in Riverview at NoblesviIIe petitioned the Indiana Court of Appeals and
the Indiana Supreme Court asking both
bodies to decide if letting Sue die by
6Indianapolis Star, June 6, 1991,sec. A, p. 1.
Page 22

withdrawal of artificial feeding constituted legalized euthanasia. The petition
also asked the courts to determine
whether a nursing home could be held
criminally liable for helping a patient
such as Sue die. The motive behind the
petition was clear when it is noted that
one of the owners of the Manor House
nursing home is also the president of the
Indiana Health Care Association, which
is the lobbying group for nursing homes
in Indiana. The Manor House petition
asked the two Indiana high courts to interpret portions of the Indiana Health
Care Consent Act which would effect all
nursing and health care facilities in the
state. Even though the Manor House
was out of legal harm's way because it
was no longer the facility at which Sue
was in residence, it wanted to use the
Lawrances' case for its own possible
gain.
The Indiana Supreme Court did eventually grant the request of the National
Legal Center to take legal jurisdiction
over Sue's case. The supreme court
transferred the case from the Indiana
Court of Appeals and set an expedited
schedule for legal filings and oral arguments. Then the Indiana Civil Liberties
Union was granted permission by the
supreme court to have one of its attorneys appear and file a brief supporting
the arguments of Dr. and Mrs. Lawrance's attorneys. Once the Indiana
CivilLiberties Union was in on the case,
the Society for the Right to Die (out of
New York) filedan amicus curiae ("friend
of the court") brief with the Indiana
Supreme Court as well, on the side of
Dr. and Mrs. Lawrance. That filing
prompted the Indiana State Medical Association and the Universalist Fellowship for Social Justice to do the same.
On the other side of the issue, the Association for Retarded Citizens, the Nursing Home Action Group, the United
Handicapped Federation, Indiana Right
to Life, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and two Indiana
state representatives (Rep. Donald T.
Nelson, R-Indianapolis, and Rep. Jesse
Vol. 33, No.4

Villalpando, D-Griffith) filed among
them three amicus briefs in support of
the National Legal Center.

Death intervenes
In the middle of all this litigation, Sue
Ann Lawrance died at St. Vincent Hospital from pneumonia, a common complication for bedridden patients. An autopsy was performed since the matter
was under litigation.
Immediately after Sue's death, attorneys for the National Legal Center
asked the Indiana Supreme Court to
hear arguments on the Lawrance case
anyway. The Indiana Supreme Court
heard oral arguments from both sides
fourteen days after Sue's death. The decision from the Indiana Supreme Court
was not as quick in coming as might
have been predicted by the urgency
with which the National Legal Center
had pursued the case prior to Sue's
death. It was forty-seven days after oral
arguments were heard that the Indiana
Supreme Court held in favor of the Lawrance family, upholding the decision of
the Hamilton County court judge who
first heard the case. The essence of the
Indiana Supreme Court's decision was
that family members were the most appropriate parties to make a decision on
terminating lifesupport in situation such
as that of Sue Ann Lawrance. In the
end, the Lawrance family could have
been spared all of the emotional distress
through which they were put by the intrusion of religious fanatics into what
should have been a personal decision.
Throughout this long and involved
legal mess, Sue had no idea, of course,
what was going on. It was, in fact, the
same to her whether she continued longer on a feeding tube or died. The battle was a philosophical one between religious extremists on one side (the National Legal Center) and religious moderates to liberals (the Lawrances) on the
other. Sue was going to die anyway, and
the level of her sentience could not be
improved by the views of either her parents or the Christian advocacy group.
American Atheist

Acceptance of termination
Had there been a general cultural understanding that humans are animals,
part of the primate group, and not special creations of a deity, this entire
senseless battle and many more to
come like it could have been avoided.
Humans simply terminate, at some
point, due to a variety of causes, and
that is simply a part of the life cycle.
There is no soul, heaven, hell, or life
after death. A recognition of this simple
fact could mitigate such legal quarreling,
which is both costly and terribly emotionally burdensome to the family, or
next of kin, of the disputed party.
When established medical techniques
are applied and the conclusion is reached
that an individual is irreversibly comatose or vegetative, the option of termination should be immediately considered. Consideration should be given to
the views of the individual while he was
in good health or of sound mind, and in
the absence of that information the
opinion of those with whom the individual was most closely associated simply
must be substituted. There is also the
monetary factor to be taken into consideration. Maintaining a comatose or vegetative individual can be very costly, particularly over an extended period of
time. It is indeed unfair for a family to be
financially ruined to maintain care for a
vegetative individual because either the
state or an outside, third-party group
desires to impose its standard of what
constitutes "life." Such an imposed
standard is almost always based upon
religious thinking.
As an Atheist, I was appalled at Sue
Ann Lawrance's story. I can see no reason whatsoever for maintaining an individual in a persistent vegetative state. It
is a waste from every point of view. This
reminds me of an incident during my
university years. Some articles on the
abortion issue appeared in a campus
newspaper at the university I attended
during one semester of my stay there. I
read the articles on both sides of the
issue and then wrote a letter to the ediAustin, Texas

tor of the campus paper expressing my
view that the prerogative to terminate a
pregnancy, through abortion, should be
a woman's sole right and decision at any
stage thereof. I reasoned that the fetus
which any woman might carry is entirely dependent on her for nourishment
and in so doing was nothing more than
a parasite with the mother being the
host organism. Given this parasitic relationship, I felt that the host organism,
the mother, had the right to "disconnect" that which was living off her system at any time prior to birth - or the
point at which it could sustain itself outside of her womb. I hold a modified version of that viewpoint to this day. Needless to say, once my letter to the editor
was printed I was subject to a series of
vituperative counterletters for the rest
of that semester. In the same way, I suppose my attitude on the "right to die"
issue could be thought of as heinous by
some. I cannot but view an individual in
a persistent vegetative state as anything
more than just a hunk of flesh being kept
from rotting for no good reason. I certainly do not think for one moment that
a body would need to be preserved in
order to allow a deity to decide when its
contents, the soul, could be removed.
Society is at least progressing in this
whole regard. In the states of California,
Montana, New York, Connecticut, and
New Jersey, so far, new laws are making
it possible for citizens to obtain an arm
or leg band identifying them as individuals who have designated that no heroic
measures be taken to keep them alive.
Paramedics and emergency room staff
are being told that the new bands mean
"do not resuscitate." Medics may only
administer oxygen and take measures
to ease suffering, but they may not use
chest compression; cardiac pulmonary
resuscitation, defibrillation, intubation,
or heart-stimulating drugs to revive a
patient. In the presence of the arm or leg
band, ambulance crew members can
honor a patient's wishes and be immune
from any criminal or civilpenalties. 7 This
is certainly a more civilized approach. I
Vol. 33, No.4

can only hope that the other forty-five
states adopt the same kind of laws.
I also would recommend to all Atheists that they find out what the laws concerning "living wills" are and what their
rights mayor may not be should they
become comatose or persistently vegetative. They should make adequate advance provisions while they are healthy
and of sound mind so that their wishes
might be carried out if and when they
cannot do so for themselves. 2k

Sources
Boston Sunday Globe, May 19, 1991.
Indianapolis Star: May 16, 1991at sec.
A, pp. 1, 7; May 17 at sec. A, pp. 1, 6;
May 18at sec. A, pp. 1, 11;May 19at sec.
1, 12; May 20 at sec. A, pp. r, 12; May
21 front page; May 24 at sec. C, pp. 1,3;
May 26 at sec. C, pp. 1,2; May 28 at sec.
A, pp. 1, 4; May 29 at sec. B, pp. 1, 3;
May 31 at sec. D, p. 9; June 6 at sec. A,
pp. 1, 12; June 7 at sec. D, p. 4; June 8
at sec. A, pp. 1, 7; June 14 at sec. D, p.
3; June 15 at sec. B, p. 3; June 16 front
page, sec. A, pp. 8, 9; July 2 at sec. A,
p. 3; July 16at sec. D, p. 1;July 20 at sec.
A, p. 1; July 21 at sec. C, p. 3; July 22
front page and at sec. A, p. 8; July 26 at
sec. A, p. 4; August 1 at sec. D, pp. 1, 8.
Indianapolis News: May 15, 1991 at
sec. A, p. 1; May 17at sec. A, p. 4; May
18 at sec. C, p. 1; May 20 at sec. A, p.
1; May 21 at sec. C, p. 1; May 22 at sec.
A, p. 3 and sec. D, p. 1; May 23 at sec.
D, p. 5; May 24 at sec. D, p. 1; May 28
at sec. B, p. 4; May 29 at sec. E, p. 1, 3;
May 30 at sec. C, p. 1; May 31 at sec. C,
pp. 1, 3; June 3 at sec. C, p. 5; June 6
at sec. B, p. 1; June 8 at sec. C, p. 1;
June 27 at sec. B, p. 1; July 4 at sec. A,
pp. 1, 2; July 15 at sec. C, p. 1; July 17
at sec. B, p. 1; July 20 at sec. C, p. 1;July
22 at sec. C, p. 1; July 23 at sec. D, p.
1; July 26; August 1 at sec. B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1991.
New York Times, July 20, 1991,p. 87.

tLoe Angeles Times, July 29, 1991, sec. A,
pp. 3, 20; August 29, 1991.
Page 23

The Probing Mind

Apologizing for Christianity

Part I: Figures don't lie?

a-pol-o-oet-ics n. Used with a singular verb. The branch of theology
that deals with the defense and
proof of Christianity.
- The Tormont Webster's Illustrated
Encyclopedic Dictionary

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 24

Revelation 13:1 tells us, "And I
stood upon the sand of the sea, and
saw a beast rise up out of the sea.
. . ." This is how John describes the
appearance of the antichrist in his
vision of the end times. One moment the sea was calm and tranquil
and then the beast bursts upon the
scene - suddenly and unexpectedly. This is exactly how Mikhail Gorbachev appeared upon the world
scene - suddenly and unexpectedly.... A multitude of people may be
described as 'a sea of people.' I believe this is exactly what is meant by
the sea [rom which the beast arises.
It is possible that the 'sea' from
which Gorbachev has so abruptly
risen is the great mass of people
which make up the Soviet Union. He
has risen from the 'Russian sea.'
- Robert W. Faid, Gorbachev! Has
the Real Antichrist Come?
We have seen just twenty-five of
the examples of perfect squares
which God put into the Greek in
Vol. 33, No.4

which the Holy Spirit directed the
writing of the New Testament whenever miracles were described. The
probability of these perfect squares
occurring by chance is computed
for just these twenty-five examples.
The odds against these twentyfive examples are one in 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
- Robert W. Faid, A Scientific
Approach to Christianity

tt

hristianity is so outrageous, in its
essence as well as in its history,
that it has always required the
help of "apologists" to keep it going. In
ancient times, Christianity had to make
apology for its bizarre moral system and
magical beliefs in the face of glaringly superior pagan systems of ethics and practical science. From the Renaissance onward, it has had to apologize for the
ever-widening gap between its claims
and the findings of science, the growth
of historical research, archaeological
findings relating to the origins of its holy
books, and the widespread diffusion of
an ethically superior social conscience.
Ethically as well as scientifically,
Christianity is without excuse - as a
moment's reflection on its claims will
demonstrate. We are told that the first
humans committed an act of disobediAmerican Atheist

ence before they knew the meaning of
good and evil. Nevertheless, they were
punished for their deed. Not only that,
but all their descendants were held accountable and were to be punished as
well!As ifthat were not outrage enough,
we are told that thousands of years later
there appeared a man who was absolutely perfect - completely blameless
and without guilt. Because he was put to
death unjustly (the Christian formula
goes), all others were released from the
guiltthey had somehow incurred through
no acts of their own. Certainly this is a
system for which much apology is
needed!
Given the fact that Christianity can
be justified neither morally nor scientifically, one must wonder what kind of
people would set out to do exactly that.
Are they ignorant? Stupid? Are they dishonest, seeking to use Christianity as a
lever with which to elevate themselves
to positions of power and wealth? Or
are they simply "nuts" - to use the
term so amusingly employed by the
Bhagwan? Readers can decide for themselves, as I take a look at a Christian
apologist named Robert W Faid, whose
book "proving" Gorbachev to be the
Antichrist! has already sold zillions of
copies. Faid has come out with a new
printing of his book A Scientific Approach to Christianity,2 and it can also
be expected to earn a bundle. It is this
latter book that I wish most to examine
with "The Probing Mind."

tionships which tie together the Scriptures, relationships which ca'n be accounted for only if the Scriptures are of
supernatural origin. These numerological arguments almost supplant the
abuses of probability customarily found
in fundamentalist claims. Faid does, of
course, commit some crimes against
probability theory, as when he discusses
the alleged Old Testament prophecies of
Jesus: "Mathematically," he tells us without showing his arithmetic - "the
odds against all of the prophecies being
fulfilledby one man in one lifetime are a
staggering one out of eight times ten to
the 132nd power."3
Faid adopts a numerological system
said to have been developed by Ohio
State University basketball star Jerry
Lucas- and a fellow named Del Washburn:
The Bible really does prove itself. In fact, all through the pages
of both the Old and New Testaments the fingerprint of God is indelibly stamped. It is on every
page, every verse, every chapter
and book. This' fingerprint had
been there all the time, but not
until very recently was the means
of seeing it discovered. . . .
What a young man named Del
Washburn has discovered is a
mathematical system which ties
every verse in the Bible together
with what he calls "God's best
kept secret.">

Faid's numerology
One of the more peculiar features of
Faid's apologia for Christianity and its
bible is his use of numerology ("theomatics") to try to show that there are incredibly profound mathematical rela-

3Faid, Scientific Approach, p. 31.
4Jerry Lucas and Del Washburn, Theomatics
(Briarcliff Manor, New York: Stein and Day
Publishers, 1977).
5Faid, Scientific Approach, p. 69.

lRobert W. Faid, Gorbachev! Has the Real
Antichrist Come? (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Victory
House Publisher, 1988).
2Robert W. Faid, A Scientific Approach to
Christianity (Green Forest, Arkansas: New
Leaf Press, 1990).
Austin, Texas

Faid then goes on to explain that in
Greek and Hebrew the letters of the
alphabet can also be used as numerals
(see sidebar "Letters as Numerals"),
and so words can be thought of as having numerical values. These values, in
turn, can interrelate words or phrases
supposed to reflect the same theme, or
"theornatic design." These designs are
revealed by factoring:
Now let us look at the secret
which was found which unlocks
God's fingerprint in these words.
. Theomatics depends upon factoring. Back in about the third grade
we learned that the number four
could be factored into two times
two, and the number 115could be
factored into five times twentythree. The discovery which Del
made is that there are entire sets
of words and phrases with the
same meaning which can be factored using the same number. . . .
For instance, the theomatic number which God has assigned to the
topic of truth or light is 100.Hence,
words and phrases on these topics
should be capable of division by
100 to within plus or minus two
[emphasis added]. Acts 5:326 has a
numerical value of 11,301,or 100 x
113 plus 1. For convenience, we
will write this as 100 times 113.7
For convenience, indeed! One would
think that a divinely authored system
could have its arithmetic come out exactly. There is no explanation for why
we are permitted the plus-or-minus-two
handicap in computing the divine scores.
It just falls off his Christmas tree.
The passage just quoted has some

6Acts 5:32: "And we are his witnesses of
these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost,
whom God hath given to them that obey
him." The relationship between this verse
and "light" or "truth" is not revealed.
7Faid, Scientific Approach, pp. 70-71.
Vol. 33, No.4

Page 25

LETTERS AS NUMERALS:
The Basis of Biblical Numerology
Greek
Letter

Hebrew

Value

Letter

Value

Cyrillic & Russian

Aa

1

1

Aa

Old
Value
1

B ~

2

2

56

2

2

ry

3

3

BB

3

3

D. 8

4

4

rr

4

4

E E

5

5

ntl

6
7

5
€€ (Ee) 6

5

*

,

7

6
7

C;;

z (,

ii

6

Hll

8

r
n

e

9

e

I

K

8
L
K

Letter

)K)!(

7

8

s.s

8

10

9
10

33
1111

9
10

20

20

(l1

Fald's
Value
1

8
9
10

m

AA.

30

30

L

20

M~

40

Clel

40

12

30

N

50

J

1

50

KK

40

20

60

o

60

flJI

50

30

70

l)

70

MM

60

40

80

El~

50

V

o

0

n

TT

<? *
p p

90

~r

100

p

80

HH

70

90

00

80

60

On

90

70

Pp
Cc
TT

100

80

200

90
100
200
300
400

~ a S 200
T T
300

.,

100
200

iJ)7Jj

Y

n

300
400

1)

<P <I>
X X

400
500

Greek letters marked
with an asterisk were
600 obsolete by New Tesft);
700 tament times and used
as numerals only. UnOw
800 derlined Cyrillic letters
*
900 no longer exist in modern Russian. Cyrillic
letters in parentheses are found in modern
Russian but not Old Cyrillic. The :3 marked
with an asterisk is confused with € in
Robert Faid's book Gorbachev! Has the
Real Antichrist Come? Although Cyrillic
letters were used as numerals a thousand
years ago, Russian letters are not. Faid's
attempt to assign numerical values to
Russian letters resulted in many errors, as
comparison of his values with the old
values demonstrates. The irregular order of
letter values after 700 results from a
change in the order of the Cyrillic alphabet.
(Cyrillic letters which had no number value
and have not survived in Russian have
been omitted.)

-:q

Page 26

0LY
<Pcp

Xx
co
Ull

44

300
400
500
600
700
900
1000

111111
~

au IU)

800
800
900
1000
2000

bb
bI bI
bb
"E
(3

500
600
700

800
3)*

1O1O
5I5I

serious problems which are not likely to
be noted by Christian readers. While it
is true that the Greek word for light
(phos) is factorable by 100 - due to the
trivial fact that all three letters of the
word (when written in the Greek script)
stand for multiples of a hundred (500 +
800 + 200), the principle breaks down
when one tries to use it in Hebrew. The
Hebrew word for light 'wr (pronounced
ohr)8 totals 207 (1 + 6 + 200). Certainly,
this number is not divisible by 100, even
with the plus-or-minus-two handicap.
Then there is the problem that the
verse in question doesn't really add up
to 11,301. When I add up the Greek of
Acts 5:32 given in The Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland et al.,? I
arrive at a total of 12,514 - a number not
at all factorable by 100. Either Faid or his
ball-bouncing source must have been
taking liberties with the material in order
to get it to come out as 11,301. If they
were going to fudge, why didn't they go
whole hog and have it come out as
11,300 exactly?
A clue to the possible shenanigans
used to get the Acts verse to add up as
desired can be found in the way Faid
deals with the 666 verse itself (Rev.
13:18)1° in his book on Gorbachev. On
page 4, he prints what he alleges is the
Greek text of the verse, then tells us that
its total is 9990, which is the equivalent
of 666 times 15 (i.e., fifteen times the
number of the beast). Comparison of
Faid's Greek text with that of Aland's
The Greek New Testament, however,
shows that many words have been left
out, several have been added, and the

3000
4000
5000

Vol. 33, No.4

8The Hebrew script is defective in that it represents only consonants and semivowels. In
transliterating Hebrew words, I omit the
vowels needed for pronunciation, since they
had no numerical value and would misrepresent the Hebrew original if included.
9Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren,
eds., The Greek New Testament, 3d ed.
(New York: American Bible Society, 1975).
American Atheist

"number of the beast," expressed with
three number-letters in Faid's text, is
written as words in the Aland Bible. The
result of all these differences is that the
correct total of the verse is 12,017 - 29
shy of being a multiple of 666.
But this is only the beginning of Faid's
manipulation and misunderstanding of
biblical texts. He claims that there is a
divine relationship between the Greek
and Hebrew languages, such that the
numerical values of "theomatic designs"
are the same in both languages.
There are many other theomatic
designs which run throughout the
Bible, with the same numbers
holding true in the Hebrew of the
Old Testament and the Greek of
the New Testament.
In order for God to have placed
this interlocking network of theo-

10Rev.13:18: "Here is wisdom. Let him that
hath understanding count the number of the
beast: for it is the number of a man; and his
number is Six hundred threescore and six."
Faid (Gorbachev!, p. 4) has the verse read
"The one therefore having wisdom, let him
calculate the number of the beast: for it is
the number of man, and it is 666." The
Greek text which Faid quotes - supposedly
the text of the Chester Beatty Papyrus reads "echon oun psephisato arithmon tou
theriou arithmos gar anthropou estin estin
[sic] de 666." The actual text in my Greek
New Testament reads (omitting the "Here is
wisdom" clause, which Faid does not quote
in Greek): ho echon noun psephisato ton
arithmon tou theriou, arithmos gar anthropou
estin. kai ho arithmos autou hexakosioi
hexekonta hex." (Words and letters omitted
by Faid are in bold; the word de quoted by
Faid is not to be found; the number 666 is
cited as numerals in Faid's text but is written
as number words in my Bible.) Only by
considerable juggling of words and spelling
does Faid arrive at his desired result. It is
revealing (not in the apocalyptic sense, of
course!) that Faid wrote oun (therefore),
where the actual word is noun (intellect).
Noun seems to be lacking in the rest of Faid's
work as well.
Austin, Texas

matic designs allthrough the Bible,
He had to have directed the development of both of these languages. Otherwise, the same theomatic numbers would not hold true in
both Hebrew and Greek.!'
In fact, however, Faid's arithmetic is
so muddled, inaccurate, and contradictory that his system falls apart almost
immediately upon being investigated.
For example, we have already seen the
system fails with the Hebrew word for
'light'. But he tells us also that the name
"Adam" (symbolic of humankind) totals
46 (the human chromosome number,
Faid is careful to note) in both Hebrew
('dm) and Greek (Adam).12 In point of
fact, 'Adam' totals 46 only in Greek. In
Hebrew, 'Adam' is a three-letter word;
the second vowel is not expressed in
writing. The Hebrew 'Adam', therefore,
scores only 45 points.
And then there are words for 'god'.
Faid tells us that "The theomatic
number which is God's general fingerprint is thirty-seven."13 Less than two
inches farther down the page he tells us
that" 'God' has a value of 484, or (22)2,"
even though 484 is not divisible by 37! To
arrive at the ungodly number of 484,
Faid used the Greek word theou ('of
god') as the object of computation. The
odd thing about this is that the word
theou is in the genitive (possessive)
case. Had it been in the nominative case
(theos) - the case used for dictionary
entries of Greek nouns - it would have
totaled only 284 (also not divisible by the
godly number 37).
Needless to say, all the different inflected forms of the Greek word for
'god' yield different sums (see sidebar
"Why Greek Words Cannot Have Theomatic Values"), showing the absurdity of
trying to assign a single number to any
particular Greek word. Indeed, Faid

llFaid, Scientific Approach, p. 76.
12Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 127.
13Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 71.
Vol. 33, No.4

327-:-4

,

,,\

WHY GREEK WORDS
CANNOT
HAVE
"THEOMATIC
VALUES"
In his book A Scientific Approach To
Christianity, Robert Faid makes the
claim that "The theomatic number
153 seems to indicate the way to
salvation" [page 72] and gives, as an
example the phrase "The Words,"
which he claims is equal to 153 x 16.
Faid does not indicate which Greek
words he has in mind, however, and
an examination of Greek grammar
shows that Greek words, because
their spelling changes according to
their use in sentences, cannot be
associated with specific numbers.
The dictionary entry form of the
Greek word for word is )..oyoS, but
this spelling Changes as the word is
"inflected" in the various cases:
Singular
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative
Vocative

AOYOS
AOYOU
AOY~
AOYOV
AOYE

Form

Plural
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative

AOYOL
AO yc.w
AO'YOLS
AO Y01JS

Value
373
573
903
223
108
183
953
383
773

Not surpisingly, none of these forms
is factorable by 153. Of course, Faid
claimed that it was "the words," not
simply "word" that was factorable by
153. If we add the definite article to
the plural forms we get ol AOYOL
(263), Tc.iiV AO'Yc.w (2103), TOLS
AOYOLS (963), and TOVS
AOY01JS
(1743). None of these numbers is
divisible
by 153. Perhaps in
Armenian ...
Page 27

CALCULATING

himself has beautifully demonstrated
the impossibility of the idea without realizing it. In his Gorbachev book, he
uses this same Greek word theos to
prove that a different number, 111,is the
theomatic value representing Jesus
Christ! In order to achieve this feat (and
obtain a number divisible by 37!)he has
to use the Greek word for god in the accusative (objective) case - and add on
the definite article for good measure!
Unfortunately, even ton theon (the pair
of words in question) totals 554 instead
of the 555needed to yield exactly the 11l
times 5 Faid claims. (Of course, this is
within. the plus-or-minus-two that Faid
asserts is acceptable precision.) It goes
without saying that the real total, 554, is
not factorable by 484 or 37!
So much for Faid's god in Greek. How
does it score in Hebrew? Abysmally.
Let us begin with the name Yahweh
(yhwh) - the word deliberately mispronounced as Jehovah by Orthodox Jews
and believed to be the unpronounceable
(under pain of deathl}," secret name of
the deity. Jehovah scores only 26 points
(10 + 5 + 6 + 5). The most common word
for god in the Old Testament, however,
probably is the word Elohim ('Ihym). As
readers may expect, it exhibits neither
the 484- nor the 37-factor properties
Faid requires of god words. Elohim
totals just 86 (40 + 10 + 5 + 30 + 1). In fact,
no Hebrew words for god that I can find
satisfy Faid's peculiar requirement. The
most common Hebrew names for the
deity are EI ('I = 3l),Eiah ('Ih = 36), Eloah
('Iwh = 42), and Shaddai (the almighty),
which in Hebrew is written with just
three letters (sh-d-y), and totals 314.
Before ending this examination of numerological relations alleged to be characteristic of the Bible, let us look at
Faid's claim that "God has chosen to

14Lev.24:16: "Whoever utters the Name of
the Lord shall be put to death: all the community shall stone him; alien or native if he
utters the Name, he shall be put to death"
(New English Bible).
Page 28

ANTICHRISTS

We cannot be certain whom the author of the Apocalypse intended as the "Beast"
whose name added up to 666 if its letters were treated as numerals. It is suggestive,
however, that the name of Nero, one of the distinctly not-nice Ceesars, if pronounced
in Greek (NEpulV Kclonp, Neron Kaisal) but written in Hebrew (1Dp 1nJ, 50 + 200 +
6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200, right-to-Ieft) totals precisely 666! It is interesting also that a
very early manuscript (the Rarisian Codex Ephrsemi Rescriptus) gives the number of
the name of the Beast as 616, not 666. Curiously, the name Nero - if pronounced in
Latin (Nero Ccesarj instead of Greek - but written once again in Hebrew (10p r»),
totals exactly 616.This would seem to nail down Nero as the target of the biblical
writer. Unfortunately, the name Caligula - more properly known as Gaios Kaisar - if
written and summed in Greek (ratos KaLaap, 3 + 1 + 10 + 70 + 200 + 20 + 1 + 10+
200 + 1 + 100) also totals 616. And then there is the annoying fact that some Greek
manuscripts give the naughty number as f6 or even 606!
In his book Gorbachevl Has the Real Antichrist Come? Robert Faid has attempted to
show that the name of Mikhail Gorbachev totals to a multiple of 666 in Russian, even
though Russian letters do not have numerical values. (See Letters As Numerals for
Faid's fanciful assignment of values to Russian letters.) Faid takes Gorbachev's full
name,
MI1XaI-UI Cepreesnu Fopoavea,
adds up the letters and finds that using his complete patronymic (Sergeevich) "did not
yield anything meaningful." Using just the middle initial, however, produced 666 x 2,
making Gorbachev the Beast. Actually, not even this works out exactly. Using Faid's
number values, MHXaHJ1 C. fopoa4eB totals 1334, whereas 666 x 2 = 1332. If we
use the actual values for the Old Cyrillic letters we get 2127 - not a multiple of 666.
Apparently Faid didn't know how to spell Gorby's name in Hebrew, so he got help from
a "professor" at Bob Jones University. Small wonder that the result is quite ridiculous.
In fact, the spelling actually is more Yiddish than Hebrew. Faid renders the complete
name in Hebrew as

,,~tDt!)t!)':l'~'tDt!)"'''''~O ~~~'rJ
(mykh'l stsrgyywwytsh

g'rbyttsh'ww)

and claims it totals 666 x 2. Actually, the Hebrew letters printed total 1352, not 1332
as required, although substituting the letter l' for the obviously incorrect ~ of the
example does yield 1332 as claimed. Unfortunately for Faid's case, if one spells
Gorbachev's name in something looking like real Hebrew instead of Yiddish, things
don't come out so well:

:l,tDt!):l",tDt!)':ll""O ~~~'rJ
(mykh'l srgy'vytsh

gwrbtshwv)

Alas for Faid's assertions, this rendering totals only 1293: no multiple of 666 in a
credible Hebrew spelling.
Faid's real incompetence comes to the fore when he tries to spell Gorbachev's name
in Greek. Astonishingly, Faid says that Gorby in Greek has the same "theomatic
value" as Jesus Christ (888 x 2, or 111 x 16) - proving at least to Faid's satisfaction
that this is the Antichrist! Unfortunately, he misspells the name in Modern Greek:

This would be pronounced Ghormvakhov in Modern Greek, Gormbakhob in Ancient
Greek. (The sound of b is represented as ~1T in Modern Greek.) There is no ch sound
(as in 'chump') in either form of Greek, and no v sound in Ancient Greek, and so
Gorbachev's name cannot be totalled at all in that language. Why Faid does not
welcome Gorby as the returning "Prince of Peace" (888 and all that) is a mystery,
since he did win the Nobel Peace Prize. Nowhere in the Apocalypse does it say the
Antichrist will win a Nobel Prize.
Vol. 33, No.4

American Atheist

represent the perfect things as perfect
squares."15 We have already seen that if
one uses the Greek word for god in the
genitive case (theou) instead of the normal nominative, it totals 484, which is exactly equal to 222, and we remind readers that that dazzling fact applies to no
other grammatical form of the word.
Surely this is a mystery on par with the
Trinity.
Other examples given by Faid, however, are even less impressive upon investigation. He asserts - without revealing the Greek or Hebrew words being evaluated - that 'holy' has a value
of 484 (222), 'spirit' has a value of 576
(242), and 'shepherd' is equal to 162
(256). In point of fact, only one of these
assertions is true. The Greek word for
'spirit' is pneuma= (in the nominative
case, not the genitive), and it does indeed total 576 (242) as claimed. Unfortunately, ruach (rwch), the equivalent
word in Hebrew, totals a mere 214 and is
not a perfect square at all. The Greek
word for 'holy' is hagios, and it totals 284
(not a square); the Hebrew equivalent is
qadosh (qdwsh), and it totals 410 - also
not a square. In the case of the word
'shepherd' (hardly a model of perfection
in the days before deodorants and hot
showers), the Greek word is poimen in
the nominative case, and it totals 258.
This is just two more than 256, the perfect square (162) claimed by Faid. While

this is close enough for Faid's loose standards, it must be noted that all the other
inflections of the word deviate farther
from the value of the perfect square.
Thus, in the possessive case, the form
poimenos totals 525 - just 269 points off
the mark. In Hebrew there are two
words which can be considered equivalents of poimen: ro'eh (r'h) and ro'iy
(r'y). These total 275 and 280, respectively. No square there, either. So much
for the odds of "one in 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000"
that Faid's
examples of perfect squares in the Bible
could have occurred by chance. Most of
the perfect squares don't exist at all, and
those that do are derived by means
which deprive them of significance. The
mathematical relations which Faid claims
weld the Bible together simply do not
exist. To the trusting faithful, the numerological argument in favor of the divine
origin of the Bible is very impressive. To
doubting Thomases, the argument is
underwhelming at best, fraudulent at
worst.
Given the dismal failure of "theomatics" when looked at carefully, we see
that it provides no reason whatsoever to
believe that the Bible is other than the
product of bumbling scribes writing in
an age before science and formal logic
existed.

15Faid,Scientific Approach, p. 71.
16Readers willrecognize this Greek word as
the source of English words such as pneumatic (referring to systems operated by
wind or air pressure) and pneumonia (a disease of the breathing organs). Like the Latin
word spiritus, from which our word 'spirit'
descends, the Greek word pneuma originally meant 'breath'. The so-called Holy Ghost
in Greek is simply the "holy breath." Why
the Christian god comes equipped with
breath - quite useless in most of the observable universe - is a mystery beyond
that of the Trinity: it is right up there with the
mystery of why creationist men like Robert
Faid have nipples.
Austin, Texas

A Nobel Prize for the Antichrist?
Robert Faid has gained notoriety during the last few years for his book "proving" by the numerological methods analyzed above that Mikhail Gorbachev is
the Beast-Antichrist!"
of which the
Book of Revelation (The Apocalypse of
John) speaks. He boasts that
The probability of Gorbachev's
name giving us the theomatic values in Russian and Greek which
are functions of the numbers 666,
46, 111 and 888 is one in 318,300,604,672p8
Alas for all the people who have wasted
money on Faid's books! A brief examination of the sidebar "Calculating Antichrists" will show how deceitful and incorrect Faid's calculations are.
When Robert Faid revised his book
on Gorbachev in 1988, just prior to its
publication, it is clear that he did not
have any insight into the changes that
were afoot in the Soviet Union, nor did
he expect that the target of his libel
would win not only a Nobel Prize, but a
Nobel Peace Prize. Even aided by a
pocket calculator, Faid has proven to be
just another false prophet.
The real 'Antichrist' lived at the same
time the unknown author of the Apocalypse lived. The books of the Bible
were not written for the remote future;
they were written in response to problems contemporary with their writers.
Faid's inability to understand this principle and his misuse of biblical and other
"evidence" willbe examined next month
in "Part II:Babbling about the Bible." ~

17Contrary to common opinion, the Book of
Revelation never uses the term 'Antichrist'.
It speaks, rather, of 'the beast'. The term
'Antichrist' is to be found only in the two
Johannine epistles: 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22,
1 John 4:3, and 2 John 7.
18Faid,Gorbachev, p. 13.
Vol. 33, No.4

Page 29

Poetry

Happiness: Copyright 1 A.D.
Yet, I've been
walking around
with my head in the ground
not seeing you
r
as you really tend to be
I realize Jcan't offer
you peace and happiness with "God"
only a life with me
whatever that may be.
But
happiness is a state of mind
you don't win it
or buy it
or subscribe to it
or bump into it on the street
you have to work to create it
inside of you
and radiate it.
No "God"
has exclusive copyright to it
like your happiness
is better and deeper than mine
the only difference is this:
I find bliss in being alive
you find yours when you die
Greg Seyranian

Door
Each prophet knows the only door to truth
is his, and brands all others' gates to hell;
believers earn eternal spring and youth,
the ignorant damned along with infidel.
Good priests and imams, righteous, erudite,
peruse the sky to chart their god's true plan;
and each one bathes in broadly diverse light,
for what's revealed reflects the charts of man.
Then even grand, immortal spirits die:
in sacred graveyards sans perpetual care
forgotten hosts of ancient gods now lie)
discarded idols sleeping, unaware.
Uncompromising truths reduced to myths;
cold monuments; forsaken monoliths.

A Brief History of Prayer
The war dragged on it seemed forever
so the ladies in charge of the Prayer Chain at church
voted to set aside the last Sunday in the month
as a Special Day Of Prayer For Peace
and the Secretary made a note of it in the Minutes
and made mention of it
in her weekly Power Of Prayer report in the local paper
and when the paper came out that Tuesday
the Mayor decided
to push a resolution through the City Council
to have a City-Wide
Prayer For Peace Breakfast
during which a petition
calling for a State-Wide
Day of Prayer For Peace
materialized and was circulated
and sent to the Governor
and the newspapers did a big write-up about it
and it made the national news
and then it was all over the place
impacting the national consciousness
you know and the President telecast a Special Announcement
proclaiming a National
Day Of Prayer For Peace
and by the time the National
Day Of Prayer For Peace finally came
it had caught on big with the UN and the Vatican
and points east west north south and had mushroomed
into a Worldwide
Day of Prayer For Peace complete with hordes
of white balloons quivering on tethers and
multi-racial penitents grovelling on knees and
day-long solemnities in every single
church cathedral temple mosque on the face of the earth
and the cry went up from the throats of the earth
and the cry went up from the hearts of the earth
and the cry went up for peace
and the cry went up
and up
and up
and
the war dragged on it seemed forever.
Emily Newland

William N. Nesbit

Page 30

Vol. 33, No.4

American Atheist

American Atheist Radio Series

Jefferson on Christianity

Il
Thomas Jefferson once
wrote that he wished to
be remembered as the
author of the Statute of
Virginia for Religious
Freedom. In a series of
personal letters, he
revealed why that
accomplishment was so
important to him.

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. 357,
first broadcast on August 30, 1975.

Madalyn O'Hair
Austin, Texas

n the current times of the celebration
of the bicentennial of our nation, it
might be appropriate and timely to
consider what Thomas Jefferson (17431826) really thought about Christianity.
His Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellaneous, edited by his grandson,
published in 1829,1 is instructive. Let me
read just a few items to you from that
work.
In a letter to his nephew and ward,
Peter Carr, Jefferson offers the following advice:
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and
call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god;
because, if there be one, he must
more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
. .. Do not be frightened from this
inquiry by any fear of it's consequences. If it ends in a belief that
there is no god, you willfind incitements to virtue in the comfort &
pleasantness you feel in it's exercise, and the love of others which
it willprocure you. (Letter to Peter
Carr, August 10, 1787)

The god of the Old Testament Jefferson pronounces "a being of terrific character' cruel, vindictive, capricious and
unjust" (letter to William Short, August
4, 1820).
In his letter of advice to Peter Carr
(August 10, 1787), he thus refers to Jesus
Christ:
Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions 1. of those who say he
was begotten by god, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the
laws of nature at will,& ascended

"Thomas Jefferson Randolph, ed., Memoir,
Correspondence, and Miscellaneous from
the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 4 vols.
(Carlottesville, VA: E Carr and Company,
1829).
Vol. 33, No.4

bodily into heaven: and 2. of those
who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart,
enthusiastic mind, who set out
without pretensions to divinity,
ended in believing them, & was
punished capitally for sedition by
being gibbeted according to the
Roman law which punished the
first commission of that offence by
whipping, & the second by exile or
death in Jured.
His later opinion of Jesus was expressed in a letter to John Adams (April
11, 1823) written shortly previous to his
death:
And the day will come when the
mystical generation of Jesus, by
the supreme being as his father in
the womb of a virgin willbe classed
with the fable of the generation of
Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
In the gospel history of Jesus, Jefferson discovers what he terms "a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms
and fabrications" (letter to William
Short, August 4, 1820); and he says,
For if we could believe that he
really countenanced the follies,
the falsehoods and the charlatanisms which his biographers father
on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and the fanatics of the latter
ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that
he was an impostor. (Ibid.)
For the Christ of theology, Jefferson
had nothing but contempt. What he
thought of the doctrine of the Trinity
may be gathered from the following:
The hocus-pocus phantasm of a
god like another Cerberus, with
one body and three heads, had its
Page 31

Thomas Jefferson remained inteUectually
vigorous until his death at age eightythree. This life mask of him was made
when he was eighty-two.

In his work entitled Notes on the State

of Virginia, the followingcaustic allusion
to Christianity occurs:

birth and growth in the blood of
thousands and thousands of martyrs. (Letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822)
In a letter to John Adams, dated August 22, 1813,he says,
It is too late in the day for men of
sincerity to pretend they believe in
the Platonic mysticisms that three
are one, and one is three; and yet
that the one is not three, and the
three are not one. . . . But this
constitutes the craft, the power,
and profits of the priests. Sweep
away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would
catch no more flies.
His hatred of Calvinism was intense.
He denounces the "blasphemy and absurdity of the five points of Calvin"
(letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, November 2, 1822)and says that "[i]t would be
more pardonable to believe in no god at
all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin" (letter to
John Adams, April 11, 1823).
What Jefferson thought of the Christian system as a whole is expressed in
the following passage, found in a letter
written to Dr. Woods:
I have recently been examining
all the known superstitions of the
world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity]
one redeeming feature. They are
all alike, founded upon fables and
mythologies.
Page 32

Millions of innocent men, women,
and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been
burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced
one inch toward uniformity. What
has been the effect of coercion? To
make one half of the world fools,
and the other half hypocrites.
Writing to Dr. Cooper, he alludes to
Christian revivals in the following language:
In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the
women. They have their night
meetings and praying parties,
where, attended by their priests,
and sometimes by a hen-pecked
husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in
terms as amatory and carnal, as
their modesty would permit them
to use to a mere earthly lover.
(Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper,
November 2, 1822)
Of the priests and ministers he says,
In every country and in every
age, the priest has been hostile to
liberty. He is always in alliance with
the despot, abetting his abuses in
return for protection to his own.
(Letter to Horatio Spafford, March
17, 1814)
In 1820Jefferson wrote:
We have most unwisely committed
.to the hierophants [a priest in ancient Greece] of our particular superstition, the direction of public
opinion, that lord of the universe.
We have given them stated and
privileged days to collect and catechise us, opportunities of deliverVol. 33, No.4

ing their oracles to the people in
mass, and of moulding their minds
as wax in the hollow of their hands.
(Letter to William Short, April 13,
1820)
His hatred of the priests was lifelong.
In addition to the remark I have just read,
he had written half a century before:
Ifanybody thinks that kings, nobles,
or priests are good conservators
of the public happiness send them
here [Paris]. It is the best school in
the universe to cure them of that
folly.They will see here with their
own eyes that these descriptions
of men are an abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the
mass of the people. (Letter to
George Wythe, August 13, 1786)
While Jefferson detested the entire
clergy, of whatever denomination, regarding them as a worthless class, living
like parasites upon the labor of others,
his denunciation of the Presbyterian
ministers was particularly severe, as evidenced by the following:
The Presbyterian clergy are the
loudest; the most intolerant of all
sects, the most tyrannical and ambitious; ready at the word of the
lawgiver, if such a word could be
now obtained, to put the torch to
the-pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in
which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his
Euclid the proposition which has
demonstrated that three are one
and one is three, nor subscribe to
that of Calvin, that magistrates
have a right to exterminate all heretics to the Calvinistic Creed.
They pant to re-establish, by law,
that holy inquisition, which they
can now only infuse into public
opinion. (Letter to William Short,
April 13, 1820)
American Atheist

Below: Jefferson's later life was centered
around his home, Monticello, which he
had painstakingly designed.

A short time before his death, Jefferson made the following significant declaration respecting his belief system: "I
am a Materialist." In support of his materialistic creed, he argued as follows:
On the basis of sensation, of matter and motion, we may erect the
fabric of all the certainties we can
have or need. I can conceive
thought to be an action of a particular organisation of matter, formed
for that purpose by it's creator, as
well as that attraction in an action
of matter, or magnetism of loadstone. When he who denies to the
Creator the power of endowing
matter with the mode of action
called thinking shall shew how he
could endow the Sun with the mode
of action called attraction, which
reins the planets in the tract of
their orbits, or how an absence of
matter can have a will,and, by that
will, put matter into motion, then
the materialist may be lawfullyrequired to explain the process by
which matter exercises the faculty
of thinking. When once we quit
the basis of sensation, all is in the
wind. To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say
that the human soul, angels, god,
are immaterial, is to say they are
nothings, or that there is no god,
no angels, no soul. I cannot reason
otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism
by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart.
(Letter to John Adams, August 15,
1820)
These anti-Christian views of Jefferson were for the most part written after
he had retired to private life. When he
ran for president, however, the more
orthodox journals violently opposed his
election on these grounds. At his inauguration, some of these journals appeared in mourning, while flags were
displayed at half-mast, in token of grief
because an "Infidel" had been elected to
Austin, Texas

the presidency.
His administration was probably the
most purely secular that the country
has ever had. Christians were accorded
the same privileges accorded to deists,
Atheists, and Jews - and no more.
During his eight years incumbency of
the office, not a single thanksgiving

by John Adams as compelling In its
statement as this from Jefferson.
Have we been purposely kept from
the information? Who has done this?
Why? The myth of a Christian nation
has brought to us in our times a church
which feels that it owns the country. I
speak of Christianity. The churches

proclamation was issued. Referring to
his action in this matter, he said:

now, indeed, overtly and covertly, receive more money per year from the
taxpayers than does the military. At the
same time we are reading exposes,
which creep out, that the military and
the missionary have been partners for
years. The CIA has funded some of the
missionaries in return for intelligence in
the countries where they practiced. Our
president condones the practice and indeed applauds it. Religion has been built
into our military at a high cost to the taxpayer. It almost took over our space
program, with the Pentagon planning all
of the moves and the religious community being overzealous in its desire to be
used by government.
It frightens me quite a bit that there is
little or no interest in uncovering the
Watergate of religion. Everything can be
exposed in the United States but Christianity - it is still sacrosanct.
Well, I will hammer away at the small
hole which gives the trickle of information until I break it agape. If no one else
will do it, I shal1. ~

I know it will give great offence
to the clergy; but the advocate of
religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from
them.
Jefferson manifested the strongest
attachment to Thomas Paine. When
Paine returned from France, Jefferson
furnished a national ship to bring him
home. After his return, he became the
honored guest of the president, both at
Washington and Monticello.
As I find these references from Jefferson, I am stunned by just how successfully the Christian advocates have rewritten our nation's history so that the
pabulum we ingest at our public schools
puts Jefferson in the camp of the Christians. He wrote with a frankness to John
Adams which can only be interpreted to
be an exchange between confidants. Yet
I am still unable to find correspondence
Vol. 33, No.4

Page 33

Under the Covers

Eisenhower and the
"Disarmed Enemy Forces"
tis not really possible to purchase
Other Losses by James Bacque in
the United States. Finally issued in
Canada, it had been rejected by thirty
American publishers. And it was on the
market for over a year before it was possible for the American Atheist to obtain
a copy.
In the interim, your reviewer had
turned on the television very early one
morning to find the tail end of an "author
interview" on C-SPAN. Everyone was in
an obvious state of shock because of the
subject matter, and the telephone calls
which came buzzing in were full of incredulous and aghast voices.
The author had apparently attacked
an American icon: Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It seems that our hero had simply
killed over a million German prisoners
of war, deliberately, slowly, with malice
aforethought, and with the absolute approval of the American government.
The book was reviewed nowhere in
mainstream media that your reviewer
could find. An article did appear in the
September 1989 issue of the Canadian
magazine Saturday Night, sent to American Atheist GHQ by a member - an
eight-page article. After the article appeared, the Canadian Broadcasting
Company devoted a half-hour news
special to the controversy that arose.
One other magazine took notice of
the book. In the January 1990 issue of
Instauration, a three-page condensation
of the Saturday Night article appeared.
Nothing appeared in the United
States.

O

A Canadian author
investigates one of the
dirty secrets of
postwar Europe.

A square meter to exist
Other Losses: An Investigation into
the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners
at the Hands of the French and
Americans After World War II
by James Bacque
Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co., Ltd.
Hardback, 1989,248 pages, $26.95

Page 34

Astonishingly, the American army
had taken 5,250,000 prisoners in the
closing days of World War II. The midApril 1945German captives were taken
first to Gotha, in central Germany,
where they were put in pens. There
were no guard towers, tents, buildings,
cooking facilities, water, latrines, food,
space, or medicine. Theoretically they
each had a square meter in which to
Vol. 33, No.4

exist. They received a small ration of
food on the first day, but by the second
day it was cut in half. On April 27 they
were transferred to Heidesheim, the
U.S. camp further west in Germany.
There they received no food at all for
days. For liquid intake, they drank their
own urine (with the Rhine River not two
hundred yards from one camp, running
bank-full). Being deprived of food, they
ate the grass. Having no toilet facilities,
being forced to defecate on the ground
and to urinate where they could, they
turned the fields into mud holes with
their excreta. In the open, surrounded
only by barbed wire and armed and
watchful United States Army personnel,
exposed, starved, thirsty, they began to
die. The bodies were simply dragged out
of the area, thrown loose on top of one
another onto wheelbarrows or trucks.
In big garages they were stripped of
clothing and any possessions of worth,
then spread in layers of fifteen or twenty,
each with shovelfuls of quicklime over
them, until they were stacked a meter
high.
The prisoners dug small holes for
themselves in the ground - their only
shelter - in which they lived. In May,
typhus broke out. Meanwhile at BingenRudesheim in the Rhineland near Bad
Kreuznach, another 300,000 prisoners
were herded together without shelter,
food, water, medicine, or sufficient
space. The death rates in the camps
were about 30 percent per year (normal
civilian death rates are between 1 and 2
percent). When the British took over at
Rheinberg (an enormous camp six miles
in circumference), the last act of the
American army was to bulldoze one
section level while the German prisoners of war were still living men in their
holes in the ground. But in addition the
pens held displaced German civilians,
pregnant women, children as young as
six, and men over sixty.
When the International Red Cross
attempted to send some of the 100,000
tons of food stockpiled in Switzerland to
the starving prisoners, in two trainloads,
American Atheist

u.s.

Army photos reproduced in Other Losses help illustrate the
desolation of the American prison camps established at the end of
World War II.These are scenes from the camp at Sinzig on the Rhine.

the food was sent back by the American
army.
"How can anyone ever prove that!"
your reviewer thought and went after
the book. Noel Scott, our man in Washington, D.C., can find anything, and
soon the sturdy hardback of 248 pages
- of which seventy-three pages were
appendices and notes - was in my
eager hands. How did the author go
about proving it? He and a colleague researching for the record of a French Resistance hero simply stumbled upon
official army records in the United
States National Archives, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., and in
the George C. Marshall Foundation in
Lexington, Virginia.

Russians. On the western
front there were mass surrenders since they hoped
to be in the more merciful
hands of the Western Allies
under the supreme military commander, General
Dwight Eisenhower.
But they did not know
of the fierce and obsessive

A new status for prisoners
But to the book itself - the authenticated quotes in it slap one in the face:
• May 1943 - Eisenhower complains
to Marshall about the German prisoners of war, "It's a pity we could not
have killed more."
• November/December 1943, Teheran
Conference - Stalin and Roosevelt
toast to the deaths of 50,000 German
officers to be shot after the war;
Churchill storms out of the room.
• March 10, 1944- Eisenhower initials
and signs an order creating the lethal
DEF status for prisoners, which
breaks the Geneva Convention.
• September 1944- Eisenhower writes
to his wife, "God, I hate the Germans." Earlier in front of the British
ambassador he says that the 3,500
officers of the German General Staff
should be "exterminated," and that
100,000 prominent Germans should
be liquidated.
Whoa. Back up. Wait a minute. What
is DEF status for prisoners? "Disarmed
Enemy Forces" in the hands of the United States Army in northwest Europe.
The Germans fought a rear-guard action
on the eastern front since they did not
want to be captured by the advancing
Austin, Texas

hatred which Eisenhower had, not only
of the Nazi regime but of all things German. Over 5,000,000 German soldiers
were then herded into barbed-wire cage
pens in the American ~nd French
zones.
"The camps grouped the men literally
shoulder to shoulder in areas open to
the weather, lacking sanitary facilities.
The prisoner-of-war reports laid it all
out: underfed, the DEFs soon began dying of starvation and its related diseases.
Vol. 33, Noo 4

Starting in April 1945, the United
States Army, primarily, under the knowing eye of Eisenhower casually annihilated about one million of the prisoners most of them in American camps.

"Pastoralizing" a nation
What is worse: the evidence revealed
that the United States and the British
governments in 1944had planned to destroy Germany as a world power by reducing her to a peasant economy; GerPage 35

many was to be "pastoralized" with a deprived of their POW status and were
the enormous majority of Ameridestruction of both her industry and her classified as DEF, food, water, and shelcan and French people, the honmining. The industries in the Ruhr and ter need not be made available to them.
esty of the British and Canadian,
There was barbed wire and lumber,
the Saar had to be dismantled, carried
the free press, all failed. They
away by the victors. Only Churchill at water pipes and water pumps, but they
failed because men who were
heroes to us secretly seized the
first objected, but when this "Morgen- were not issued. There were empty
thau Plan" was leaked to the media, so beds and the sick were kept from them.
power of death over people who
also did the American people. When the There were deliberate efforts to keep
were helpless in our hands. Their
plan was partially abandoned, the mili- food from reaching the camps. The Red
superior officers failed to stop
tary bureaucracy simply utilized death Cross had 13,500,000 food parcels dethem, or to tell the public. Their
camps to wipe out Germany's military. signed for prisoners which it could not
peers or subordinates said nothThe number of deaths from starva- deliver. The French asked for prisoners
ing, or lied. The British and Canation, dysentery, and disease in these to be assigned to help rebuild the coundians stood by and watched.
camps exceeded all of the deaths in- try. They were denied.
Woefully, the author sums up:
curred by the German army in the west
All of which is a sad and sorry story.
between June 1941and April 1945.What
For from the fame of his handling of
is more, the deaths were knowingly
The Rules of Land Warfare, the
Germany, Eisenhower became the prescaused by United States Army officers
Geneva Convention, the Interident of the United States - and the
national Committee of the Red
who had sufficient resources to keep
author of this book about him remains
the prisoners alive. The deaths were to
Cross, the common decency of
an unknown. - Madalyn O'Hair ~
be humiliating and protracted. Private
relief organizations that attempted to
keep the prisoners alive were refused
permission into the camps by our army.
The researchers at first had to deny
the records they saw, for they reflected
by Charles C. Moore
an appalling crime against humanity.
But as they uncovered reports from the
"Jesus Christ was a man exactly like I am
Red Cross, Le Monde, Le Figaro, they
and had a human father and mother exactly
searched deeper only to finallyfind conlike I had."
firmation in military orders and records.

Behind the Bars; 31498

Unconditional surrender
and what it meant
The Allies had demanded "unconditional surrender," which meant the abolition of the German government and
the loss of treaty rights, including the
protection of prisoners under the Geneva Convention. With that gone, the soldiers were at the mercy of those who
knew no mercy - the United States
Army in Germany.
The American policy was deliberate.
When the end of the war approached in
May 1945,the decision was made to construct the prisoner-of-war cages without
any shelter. Although there were plenty
of surplus tents, Dwight Eisenhower initialed the order to not provide shelter.
There was to be actual deprivation of
food and water. Once the soldiers were
Page 36

Does that sound like a criminal statement?
Should a person be sent to a federal prison for
writing it?
A man was - and not in some far-off theocracy or dictatorship, but in the United
States, a nation which guaranteed freedom of
speech and of religion in its founding articles.
Charles C. Moore wrote this account of his
growth from minister to Atheist publisher while in federal prison in
1899, where he had been reduced from being the scion of a prestigious
Kentucky family to merely prisoner number 31498. His account is a
witty, chatty, but always compelling story.
259 pp. Paperback. Stock #5332. $7.50 plus $2.50 postage and handling. VISA and MasterCard accepted.

A vailablefrom.

American Atheist Press
P.O. Box 140195, Austin, TX 78714-0195
Vol. 33, No.4

American Atheist

MeToD

This would be
a better world if

Ii

A reader offers his
simple prescription for
curing the world's ills.

"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

his would be a better world if - If
there were no religions. Shocking? Could very well be. Recently
I read a very revealing book on religions.
It is Anatomy of Religion by Adrian
Crees. 1 The author covers the evolution
of religions from early primitive peoples
to the present. Do you know that women
were worshiped as goddesses in past
cultures? Naturally, since they were
thought to be the creators of life. The
book analyzes the history of the major
modern religions - Christianity, Islam,
Hinduism, Buddhism, and cults in general. It appears that religion is the means
to obtain power to control people. This
power is then used to wage war - annihilating or converting other people
called infidels or unbelievers.
Christianity eventually caused the fall
of the Roman Empire. The Crusaders
waged war in the name of religion to
convert the Near Eastern infidels. The
Inquisition diabolically tortured and
burned alive at the stake millions of
witches, wizards, unbelievers, heretics,
and Jews. The Christians burned learned
books and changed history. They kept
the masses in ignorance and superstition for centuries. They believed the
world was flat. Blasphemous persons
like Galileo were exiled or murdered.
The Holocaust is connected with religion.
For a long time the Christians blamed
the Jews for Jesus' crucifixion. He himself was a practicing Jew, never having
heard of Christianity.
The Bible, claimed to be the word of
god, is fullof violence, incest, contradictions, and weirdos. In Sodom and Gomorrah all the innocent women and children are killed by god for the sins of a
few men. Isaac was asked by god to sacrifice his son to show his love for god.
King David was told by god to wage war

lAdrian Crees, Anatomy of Religion: A Critique of Supernatural Belief (Castlemaine,
Australia: Freshet Press, 1989). Available
from American Atheist Press for $12.50 plus
postage and handling.
Vol. 33, No.4

- and, get this - to bring back one
thousand foreskins! Who needs a "god"
like that? Pretty cocky, I would say.
Today we see violence in the name of
religions in many parts of the world: Ireland, Israel, Iran, South Africa, Sudan.
In India the Sikhs are killing the Hindus
- and vice versa. Hindus believe in reincarnation and promote the discriminating caste system. They stillburn alive
wives of deceased husbands. All in the
name of religion. Wouldn't they be better off without such cruel beliefs?
The Muslims are very strict religionists and rule by their bible, called the
Koran. The religion of Islam was started
by Muhammad the Prophet, who conquered vast areas of Europe and Africa.
The Muslims killed all infidels who did
not convert to Islam, taking the example
of the Christians. Today there are almost as many Muslims as there are
Christians. Most Islamic countries are
theocracies and exist somewhat like the
Dark Ages of Christianity. Five times a
day the Muslims must stop and pray.
Just think of all the time that is wasted.
Without religion they could be a more
prosperous, free, and happy people.
Saddam Hussein (once a nonbeliever)
invoked the Islamic god Allah to crush
the Americans. Iread that BillyGraham,
meanwhile, convinced President Bush
that our "divine god" wanted us to stop
Saddam. The night before January 15,
the reverend spent the night at the
White House. The whole staff had a big
prayer meeting asking for god to bless
the United States and for guidance.
Why couldn't Bush's god have met with
Saddam's god and straightened out
everything peacefully? You know why:
There ain't no gods!
Atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, all of whom are nonbelievers in
some degree, have made tremendous
gains since 1900. Most of Soviet Russia
and China is Atheistic, with a combined
population of 1.4 billion. Most people in
the United States don't go to church.
Many churchgoers have their doubts
(See "Better World" on page 40.)
Page 37

Letters to the Editor

More on sneezing
I was interested in reading what John
M. Davis (vol. 33, no. 2) had to say regarding sneezes and retorts from people with their slews of bless yous.
I can say that I too have heard about
calling on Jesus by Spanish-speaking
Roman Catholics after a person sneezes.
When I lived in Spain, a Spaniard once
told me that since one sneezes with the
mouth open, the devil then has an opportunity to enter the body. By calling
on Jesus, he will (if he's not too busy, I
presume) rush to the scene of your unprotected vocal organs and with saber
in hand thwart all attempts by Beelzebub to make you do mischievous acts.
Now isn't it nice to know that each
time one of us sneezes, Christ is right
there teetering on the ledge of the lips
for Truth, Justice, and the Christian
Way? I wonder what color his cape is.
Gerald P. Lunderville
California

"What Atheists need to do"

:::~A~~n::t>l
",
nno"n,

"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 38

I am writing in response to the essay
titled "What Atheists Need to Do"
which was in the February 1991 edition
of your magazine (pages 41 and 44).
In that essay, the writer savagely
attacks the Christian religion. I know
that Christianity is not the only religion
there is. However, there is just as much
goodness and beauty and love in it as
there is in any other religion. Christianity is not a "vicious criminal organization," as the writer described it. I am
sorry if she has been permanently hurt
somehow in her life. Also, she blames
Christianity for the "rape" of the U.S.
Constitution. I believe if our constitutional rights are being violated, this is
not because of Christianity or the Bible.
It is true that our Constitution is excellent and our rights under it must be preserved.
Unfortunately, the Christian religion
has not always been a strong force for
good, although that is what it ought to
be: a strong force for goodness and
Vol. 33, No.4

love.
You may believe that I am not someone for whom that essay was written.
However, as a Christian, I believe I had
to respond with this letter. May god
bless that essay's author, and all of you.
Jonathan Lipp
Colorado
We don't think that you are going to
enjoy this issue's "Me Too" either.
It would be surprising to me if you
printed this letter and sent me the issue
it was printed in. I have canceled my
subscription.
In response to "What Atheists Need
to Do":
My reason for not continuing my subscription (my support of the organization) may be the reason many more
people do not join.
The organization is not solely of Atheism, as the name implies. It is a magazine and organization (in truthful, realistic terms) of Atheism, gays, and prochoice, of which one has nothing to do
with the other.
Ido not insist that everyone be a vegetarian. Get the point?
I am still receiving letters of money requests many, many months after writing
my reason for not renewing.
The name of your organization and
magazine is misleading and therefore
dishonest. I am disappointed!
Phoebe Rose
Oregon
The editor would be interested in
how other readers would respond to
the contention that sexual freedom
issues are unrelated to religion and its
attempt to control our lives.
After reading Irene Ayala's letter in
"Me Too" in the February 1991 magazine, I too thought I should contribute
something.
We receive an average of five letters
American Atheist

Solstice celebrations
and young Atheists

a week (sometimes three in one day)
asking for money. We now give only to
three: People's Weekly World, Greenpeace, and now you.

their efficacy by default. (Some don't
know how to evaluate evidence.)
There is a lack of objectivity among
many therapists not aware of their own
conditioning process in regard to their
most cherished beliefs. They fool themselves into thinking that their beliefs especially religious beliefs - come from
some intellectual process instead of early conditioning not unlike Pavlov's dogs.
Religion and the harm done by it is a
topic that is avoided by many therapists
(fearful that they may lose a client and
income). They give a million rationalizations as to why religion should not be
discussed, and as a consequence there
is a certain amount of collusion in maintaining pathogenic behavior.
Bertrand Russell reminds us that ifwe
were born in India we would be worshiping a god with three heads instead of
three gods with one head. A psychotherapist who accepted religious dogma
or any belief on faith would lose all credibility for me. One would expect that
one's therapist is in good contact with
reality.

Many schools are getting around the
separation of state/church issue by including all holidays in their studies, not
just Christian ones. Atheists can urge
the schools to include both Solstice
(summer and winter) celebrations in the
holiday celebration schedule, explaining
the origins of the holiday. Even very
young children willnotice the similarities
to religious holidays they have heard
about.
Atheist families who celebrate the
two Solstices at home with special
meals and presents offer their children
a positive experience. Instead of Atheist
children feeling that they are missing out
on presents their religious friends receive at Christmas or Hanukkah, they
can feel that they get twice as much!
Such positive expressions of Atheism
help children resist the notion that they
are "missing" religion, spirituality, etc.,
which they are constantly fed at school
and within the homes of religious playmates. Solstice celebrations also give
children something to boast about in
"show and tell" and similar school sharing times, enlightening their classmates.
Celebrating the Solstice can also be
used as a "time-out" when families talk
about ethics, life stance, and other important matters that we sometimes neglect to get scheduled into our busy lifestyles.

Newton Joseph
California

Nina Kraucunas
Virginia

Fred C. Hammerstein
Tennessee

An Atheist psychotherapist
speaks out
I'm a psychotherapist on the staff of a
nonprofit mental health center.
As we approach the twenty-first century, during the most scientific era in history, I find it disheartening to see so
many therapists who can see magical
thinking in their clients but who are unaware of their own magical thinking. T 0day's psychotherapists can believe in
ghosts, devils, ancient mythical gods,
higher powers, all forms of mysticism,
New Age beliefs, past lives, life after
death, otherworldliness, supernaturalism, other realities, and the list goes on
and on. When I hear of psychotherapists doing exorcisms, I wonder who
should be the patient.
These carryover beliefs of the Dark
Ages are unbecoming to modern man.
It's as if science does not exist. It's unworthy of intelligent people to cling to
ignorant superstitions of the past, but
by psychologically compartmentalizing,
they do.
Many therapists are unaware of the
latest scientific findings and cannot keep
a skeptical view where there is a lack of
evidence. Or they even hold onto beliefs
in spite of contrary evidence - and lose

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Vol. 33, No.4

Better World
(Continued from page~)

about their beliefs, too. Attendance is
even worse in Europe and declining
each year. The number of priests and
nuns has been drastically reduced. The
trend is for less religion in spite of the
polls. Good news!
Finally, more and more persons believe that we ourselves are in control of
our destiny, not a mythical god. They
are not depending on an afterlife. Some
think we ourselves are god. We make
our own heaven or hell right here on
earth. Yes, someday this willbe a better
world. Religions will not be controlling
our lives through fear, superstition, and
intolerance.
-Ed Navas
California
American Atheist

suggested

American Atheist
introductory reading list
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! by Madalyn
Paperback. 288 pp. #5412

s 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 by Joseph Lewis. Paperback.
342 pp. #5216
$10.00
7. Essays on American Atheism, vol. I by Jon G. Murray.
Paperback. 349 pp. #5349
$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 Cohen.
Paperback. 240 pp. #505L____________________ $9.00
II. Life Story of Auguste Comte by F. J. Gould. Paperback. 179 pp. #5132
$6.50

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 by Robert G. Ingersoll. Stapled. 37 pp. #5184
$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

19. Women and Atheism,
Madalyn

O'Hair.

Rocco.

Stapled.

55 pp.
$4.00

The Ultimate Liberation by
$3.50

Stapled. 21 pp. #5420

20. Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson.
back. 238 pp. #5200

Paper-

$9.00

2 I. 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
price of $130.00 - a savings of $32.50 off the listed price.
Postage and handling is $1.50 for orders under $20.00;
$3.00 for orders over $20.00. Texas residents please add 7~
percent sales tax.
Payment may be made by check, money order, or VISA
or MasterCard.
Telephone and FAX credit card orders are accepted; just
call our automated ordering service at (512) 467-9525. It is
open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

American Atheist Press
P.O. Box 140195
Austin, TX 78714-0195
U.S.A.

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.

"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his
father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with
the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain
of Jupiter."
- Thomas Jefferson
Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823