March,1979

$1.75

Volume 21, No.3

The Journal Of Atheist News And Thought


Religion, Racism and the IRs

I

American4theisl
March, 1979

Vol. 21, No.3

articles

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair
MANAGING EDITOR
Jon Garth Murray
GENERAL EDITOR
Frank Duffy
ART DIRECTOR
Joe Kirby
NON-RESIDENTIAL STAFF
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
G. Richard Bozarth
Wells Culver
J. Michael Straczynski
Elaine Stansfield
Bill Baird
Gerald Tholen
Angeline Bennett

The American Atheist maga·
zine is published monthly by
American Atheists, located at
2210 Hancock Drive, Austin,
Texas 78756, a non-profit, nonpolitical, tax-exempt, educational organization. Mailing address:
P.O. Box 2117, Austin, TX,
7868. Copyright © 1979 by
Society of Separationists, Inc.
Subscription rates: $20.00 per
year.
Manuscripts
submitted
must betyped, double-spaced and
accompanied by a stamped, selfaddressed envelope. The editors
assume no responsibility for
unsolicited manuscripts.

Austin, Texas

A Closet Atheist Peeks Out

18

First To The Jew

20

The Devil's Doorway

26

Atheist Youth - A New Generation

32

The Babbling Book

35

features
Editorial - Easter Charade

2

Our Readers' Opinions

3

Atheist News
He's For "Positive Side" Of Atheism

6

Religion, Racism And The IRS

8

Armstrong's Church Guyana-Bound?

10

Cults Arming For Combat

11

• Won't Bow Head; Atheist Suspended

12

AA Radio Series - Religion Of Women

29

AA Film Review - Interiors

31

Roots Of Atheism - George Jacob Holyoake

36

our cover
THE VERNAL
March winds hasten to dispel
Darkened skies and Solstice rain
Sun-drenched buds whose perfumes tel/
Of Summer's bounties soon to gain.

EQUINOX
Recalling now the Winter's toil
As nourishment of life renews
Thawing snows quench thirsty soil
And quickly

change our anguished views.

Bare limbs donning sprouts of green
Waking creatures slowly rise

A wondrous time is now in store
AI/living things begin to spawn

Gentler days make senses keen
Now beneath the clearing skies.

As nature's magic works once more
And heralds Springtime's dawn.

Gerald Tholen

March, 1979

Page 1

1-

BY JON GARTH MURRAY

Easter Charade
theological
bent is Christianity's
annual ritual of prorrusrnq
Nature's season of rejuvenation
is upon us once again.
for our natural, healthy
, Spring, that welcomed
harbinger
of more pleasant times, '" "lite through death" as a replacement
responses to the rejuvenation
accompanying
spring's arrival.
warmth, color, and an orgy of sensory delights, arrives (that is,
We as Atheists must see to it that such grotesque religious
officially) at 12:22 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, 21 March. This
"holidays"
feasting
death and torture
are discarded
and
i is not to say that
we shouldn't partake equally of the pleasures
replaced with the enjoyment
and challenge which are part and
of all seasons, but this chapter of our year - the one of rejuvenparcel of an existence which is both pleasant and harsh.
ation - holds all the promise and joy of a bright·eyed child.
Yet, amid the abundance
of new sights, sounds and fraWe should not, however, lose sight of the fact that we as
grances of burgeoning life, the religious community
celebrates
individuals will terminate at some stage. But that termination
its morbid dogmas of death. At the very apex of life's rejuveneed only be accepted, not feared. It may even by useful as a
nation cycle we are told to believe that nature's wonders are
constant
reminder that we must provide for the continuation
eclipsed by the barbarous execution
of a religious myth. The
of. a positive life philosophy through the coming generations.
: closing of the senses forever is proposed
as a response to
We have but one chance, like our little amphibian
on this
beauty and new beginnings.
month's cover, to snatch the fly of life and pass on the techChrist dies, annually, bleeding on the criminal's cross in a
nique of accomplishing
that feat to our young.
I reinactment
of one of the most primitive of tortures:
a cruciIt is its basic inquisitiveness
concerning
all things that
makes Atheism uniquely applicable to the world of tomorrow.
i fixlon; Slow, brutal, agonizing death is supposedly followed by
In this season of the beginning of that search for data by the
, life-after-life
entirely
outside the laws of nature:
Religion
young the notion of a torturous death has no place.
promises an ascension into something ephemeral as a replaceLife has been too long time-tested.
It defies the mind to
ment for life's realities.
come up with anything better. Many have tried and failed. The
,
Life and death are mutually exclusive. We know everything
:'successors
.of those who have failed to "transcend"
life are
about living and nothing at all about death. How then can death
• still,much
as they may wish/pray
it otherwise,
a part of all
~ be a gateway to a better life?
that life is - in and of itself .
As Atheists we prefer to deal with reality, the sensory abunIsn't such otherworldlines
rather silly? It's like a frog
.\ dance in -which iwe find ourselves. We explore, we question
, what we see, we gather data of all types, and we bequeath the
-trvinq to irnaqine itself outside the pond with which it interbenefit of: our experiences' to those who replace us. We know
relates and in which it was spawned. Theism makes such a
~ better than to turn the seasonal cycle of life into a grotesque
demand on its adherents.
But we Atheists know a good thing
_ when we are in the midst of one. We bask in the spring sun
i worship of death.
.
,
Religion's
attempt
to pervert this loveliest of seasons
: warming our pond of life with no delusions of there being any
" serves as a reminder to us that the adoption of a healthy - and
- treasure "transcending"
the Here and the Now.
sane -life-style
is the most important choice we will ever make.
From the staff of the American Atheist Center I would
We owe it to ourselves and to our children to give full examlike to wish you all a "Joyous Vernal Equinox."
ination to that life-style before becoming
locked into the
; mind-deadening
delusions of religion.
P.S. - If you still ~ave any doubts about religion and other
The gestalt of Christianity,
or any religion for that matter,
• is one not conducive to the continued
such fairy tales - just try kissing
well-being of the individual. Religions
our froggy friend to the left
, project patterns of surreal experand see if your American
· iences as guidelines for us to folAtheist magazine mir, low in disregard of the realities
aculously turns in• we face day after day. The
to the Christian
, most blatant example of
Science Monitor.
this jaded, life-denying

i

i

,

'

Page 2

March, 1979:

~/

American

Atheist

LETTERS
Kudos & Comment
Dear Editor,
Congratulations! The January, 1979
issue of the American Atheist was excellent both in content and appearance. As this publication continues to
improve it will undoubtedly have an
ever widening influence.
To devote an issue to revealing just
how pernicious religion has been to
children is commendable. And to emphasize the fact that it is the mind of
the child that the religionists are most
concerned with debilitating is extraordinarily important.
The twisting and distorting of the
child's mind is the real activity taking
place in ALL institutions of learning,
both public and private. Religionists,
who by far make up the largest segment of any society, have seen to that.
Until we Atheists realize just how
rotten-to-the-core the public, as well
as the private, schools, colleges, and
universities are, the struggle to rid the
human race of religious mumbo jumbo
and bring into existence a society consisting of mentally healthy rational individuals will not become a possibility.
Thomas L. Johnson
Virginia

world at gunpoint if need be.
American Atheists does not seek
converts among Christianity's mindless
flocks. They are "stupid" by choice in
total disregard of reality and we are
better off without them. We have an
obligation to future generations to resist the envelopment of our society by
superstitious religions in our time regardless of how bothersome we may
be to "poor souls" whose ignorance
and gullibility are the bread of life for
clergymen who institutionalize
that
ignorance.
The Editors

Uncle Jake
Dear Editor,
This is a condensation of a threepage letter explaining how I can be
a Jewish Atheist.

Uncle Jake lived in Germany.
Uncle Jake was an Atheist.
The Nazis said Uncle Jake was a Jew.
End of Uncle Jake.
End of explanation.
Roz Glick
Pennsylvania
See G.R. Bozarth's "Jewish Atheists?"
on p. 24 - Editor.

Pity The Poor Souls
Dear Editor,
As a new subscriber to your magazine, I feel compelled to say that I
have a strong feeling that most of your
writers show that "look-down-yournose" attitude in their desire to make
fun of all those poor souls who can't
get over the brainwash job that was
done on them. As someone who feels
sorry for the number of brainwashed
people who almost can't help themselves, I don't think it is good to let
them know just how sorry you are
that they are stupid.
I wish your writers would just be
serious and present the facts and figures about the evils of religion without
causing persons who might possibly,
someday, be open-minded freethinkers
to appear stupid.
Richard Tilwick
Michigan
Mr. Tilwick,
The "facts" about the evils of religion are that the least aggressive of
them are content to force all citizens
to pay for the superstitions of a few,
while the aggressive cults - i.e., Christianity - are determined to convert the

Austin,

"Judaism Not A Religion"
Dear Editor,
In the December issue of the
American Atheist, there was a letter
from Louis Williams of Northglenn,
Colorado, in which he points out there
are "no Jewish Atheists any more than
there are Christian Atheists."
Now the term "Christian Atheists"
is a contradiction in terms because
there cannot be two religions existing
at the same time. But there can be
"Jewish Atheists" because Judaism is
not, per se, a religion. Neither a religion nor a race but a tradition! Take
it from me, a "Jewish Agnostic."
Jacob Cutler
California
P.S. - I'm with you and Mr. Williams
in "keeping up the fight against ALL
religions."
Mr. Cutler,
There is nothing in "Jewish" culture or "ethnicity " which is NOT
based in the sick, sadistic, masochistic
religion of Yahweh. There is no Jewish
race any more than there is an Egyptian or an Irish race, all emotional outcries au contraire. Those "Atheists"
who yammer "I am a Jew" are simply
anti-gentile and attempting to save
their horrible, psychotic,
religious
base which would exalt the selfproclaimed "chosen people. "
M.M. O'Hair

An Atheist Wedding
Dear Editor,
Occasionally Atheists are afforded welcomed signs of rational progress which
are like breaths of fresh spring air. My wife Gloria and I enjoyed one such moment on Friday, 26 Jan. 1979, at 8 p.m.
.
This particular date noted the marriage of my daughter, Linda Jo, to her fiance,
Jerry Pugh. The fact that they were married, AT THEIR REQUEST, in a como.
pletely non-theistic, non-religious ceremony was an historical event in the "metropolis" of Hitchcock, Texas (population about 5,000).
. I was overwhelmed with pride to see my Atheist daughter and her husband
break with the mind-control of a religious marriage. The ceremony was held at my
other daughter's (Lyla Dianne) home and was officiated by a local J.P. It lasted all'
of five minutes and it was BEAUTIFUL! About 30 friends and family were present
and all seemed to enjoy the fine reception party afterward - despite the fact that
"god" had nothing to do with either.
My daughter was not "given away" by me, her father, nor did she have to be
"given away" by anyone else. She and Jerry were the two adults "giving" themselves to each other.
Proud father of the bride,
Gerald Tholen & wife Gloria
Hitchcock, TX

March,1979

Texas

v

Page 3

LETTERS

( continuing controversies)

Ani- Shah Letters

.

"Your recent praise of the Shah of Iran in the AMERICAN ATHEIST magazine [Jan. issue,
p.8] is unwarranted and misleading. The Shah is a barbarous dictator whose dungeons resemble
something out of the Middle Ages.
"Iran is one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the issue of human
rights. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not present in Iran. It is the task of
SAVAK [Iran's secret police] to torture any Iranian who expresses criticism of the Shah.
"The Iranian people are attacking the Shah under religion's banner probably because
religion is the most vocal opponent of the Shah."
J.K.
Glendale, NY
"The CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Mr. Carter, and the AMERICAN ATHEIST all
neglect the real causes of the opposition to the Shah: the brutal arrest and torture of thousands
of opponents of his regime, the free rein given the hated SAVAK, the censorship of the press and
cultural life, the total violation of all basic civil and human rights, the squandering of billions of
dollars on arms purchases, the raiding of the national treasury by the royal family and corrupt
cohorts, the misdevelopment
of the economy, and continued impoverishment
of the huge
majority of the Iranian people.
"The so-called modernizer, Shah Pahlavi, installed by a CIA coup d'etat 25 years ago, is
himself, in fact, the upholder of medieval barbarity, with his absolute monarchy and horrible
torture chambers. The Shah, a Moslem himself, does not push Islam as the state religion only
because he prefers to present himself as a demigod.
"I consider it essential that the AMERICAN ATHEIST magazine reverse itself immediately
and withdraw its support from the butcher of Tehran."
M.P.
Ann Arbor, MI
"Re: your recent article extolling the Shah of Iran - the Shah is a butcher and a puppet
of imperialism. He no more represents modernism and progress (let alone Atheism) than the
theocratic racists who run Israel.
"You blew it."
A.S.
Red Bank, NJ
" ... Amnesty International has charged the regime of the Shah with the 'worst record of
human rights violations in the world.' They have documented that thousands of Iranian citizens
have been imprisoned without trial, and that there is widespread use of torture by SAY AK.
Release of political prisoners, abolition of the monarchy, and recognition of such democratic
rights as freedom of speech, press and assembly comprise a few of the demands of the opposition.
" ... Religious superstition most certainly is a problem in Iran, but the 'principal enemy' is
a military police state with a cruel dictator (backed by the CIA) at the helm."
V.S. & S.K.
Newark, DE

Reply
American Atheists has received
letters in respect to our January
ticle on the situation in Iran, and
excerpts above are the essence of
complaints.

.
five
arthe
the

Islam - funded by petrodollars is on the move. This 13-century-old
religion with its 700 million adherents
is still back in the 7th century. The
entire Middle East is a festering sewer
clogged with medieval culture and
thought with the sadistic fundamentalist Moslem clergy everywhere guarding against any improvement in the
human condition.
Algeria in its Marxist constitution
of 1976 still found it necessary to declare itself an Islamic state.

Page 4

Tunisia has been forced to abandon
its campaign against Ramadan (the
month of fasting and religious hysteria).
Libya forbids alcohol (even to nonMoslems) and refuses entry to anyone
with a passport written only in Latin
script (all airport signs are in Arabic
only). In the next three years it may
be impossible to buy a legal drink anywhere between Morocco and Pakistan.
Legislatures in Egypt and Kuwait are
debating re-introducing Shariah - Islam's sacred laws which put religion
ahead of state. In 1968, Pakistan began to exercise such "Islamic justice"
as public whippings (40 lashes for
those who drink, sell or manufacture
alcoholic drinks), amputation of the

March, 1979

right hand for thieves (the left leg for
second offenders), 100 lashes for unmarried adulterers and public stoning
to death for their married partners in
"crime."
One Egyptian law imposes the death
penalty on any Moslem Egyptian who
renounces his religion.
In Turkey, a frankly religious rightwing party takes part in politics, with
the army's consent.
Even in Malaysia, orthodox Moslem
dakhwah (missionary) groups persuade
people to throwaway their radios and
TV sets, even burn their furniture in
the name of Allah. Rioting, burning
of buildings, banks, industries, and
places of entertainment are all symptomatic symbols of the mental sickness
of Islam.
Anwar Sadat is constantly photographed praying, his forehead to the
floor in abject submission to a superstition.
Pakistan's minister seeks a return
of his nation to Islamic law.
There has been plotting in Thailand
for the secession of the Moslem provinces.

The impoverishment, exploitation,
and the brutalization of the human
community, the deprivation of human
and civil rights have always been features of these countries. Illiteracy,
contempt for justice, secret police, and
an aggrandized (religious) royal family
have been root and core of the culture
of these nations of Allah.
But what was "bad" under the
Shah was worse under his predecessors - and will be worse yet under an
Islamic theocracy funded with petrodollars and armed with 20th-century
weapon systems .
• In Iran (Persia), before the Pahlavis
came to power in 1906, Jews were
made to wear yellow stars of David,
Zorastrians were required to dress in
special colors, non-Moslem children
could not go to school.
Shall we vote for Khomeini? Will
he bring democracy to Iran? Will he
have open trials?

American Atheist

LETTERS
More than 250,000 members of the
Bahai sect live in Iran. Whether or not
they are to be slaughtered is a very
clear danger now. Their crime is a belief that Mizri Husain Ali, a Moslem
who took the name of Bahullah and
founded their sect, in 1867, was the
"last" imam, or great teacher.
There are 80,000 Jews, in Tehran
and Esfahan, principally, but spread
throughout Iran, having settled there
in 700 B.C. Shah Reza Pahlavi gave
them - as religious minorities - certain constitutional guarantees for their
continued right to exist.
The Shah has been driving his country to modernization, with an economic growth averaging 10% annually for
the last decade. Literacy was 10% in
1959, but is 60% now. Women have
been admitted to schools, given access
to jobs, big landholdings have been
nationalized and redistributed.
Factory workers have been given shares in
production. Students have been subsidized in the U.S. and in European universities. The social reforms are both
secular and obvious.
In all nations a "middle class" gives
stability, and Iran was building one of
its own before Islam's resurrection.
Education, energy distribution, health
care, housing, roads (especially farm to
market), railroads, bus service, airports, all were being established before
Islam and its priests decided to reverse
the course of progress.
Incredibly, one of the main concerns and most bitter revulsions of the
"revolutionaries" has been the use of
the non-Moslem calendar.
That the Shah offered even some of
the people anything was the "miracle"
for the rest of the Middle East still festers like a ripe sore. Even in Iran there
are desperate, impoverished masses of
peasants and workers - but, they now
dream of an Islamic golden age of
justice through the miracle of religion.
There is no choice but the will of
Allah - as interpreted by his selfordained and self-perpetuating representatives on earth. The Moslem fanatics will sweep all before them in
their grand and bloody return to the
dark ages.
If the bizarre murder of women and
children for the "sin" of attendance at
a cinema is a sign of progress and the
return to the year 610 is the goal of
the ayatollah, our vote continues to be
for the Shah, who recently released
1,500 political prisoners.
He can learn.
The Mullahs can not.

Atheist Publication Long Been Needed
Dear Editor,
My enclosed check for a one-year subscription attests the fact that I am most
favorably impressed with your publication. I anticipate receiving future issues. My
personal feeling is that a quality publication, stating the truth objectively instead of
the thoughtless parroting of stale religious superstitions and compartmentalized
philosophy, has long been a need in our society.
I am happy to know that there is a way of communion with my fellow travelers - those of who chose to declare our credos, which we base on empirical evidenc and pragmatism, rather than to allow our credos to be dictated to us by anyone, be it church or state.
For many years I was affiliated with the Freethinkers of America. Under the
leadership of the late Joseph Lewis, this organization had both direction and purpose, which it seemed to lose when he died.
The aggressive and tireless work of Madalyn Murray O'Hair has not escaped
my attention. I have a great admiration and respect for her and her endeavors.
Someday I would like to meet this fabulous lady.
A. David Ragona
Louisiana
Planting The Seed

"The Pittsburgh Syndrome"
Dear Madalyn,
Hurrah, hurrah, and. hurrah again!
Without even trying Dr. O'Hair has
drawn out the "good" Christians from
the woodwork and shown them for
what they are here in the intellectual
wasteland called Pittsburgh. I'm cheering you for your service to humanity
last night" (28 Nov. 78) on the local
talk show of Roy Fox (KTRA) and the
exposure again of the abysmal state of
mind of the Pittsburgh religious community,
which you dubbed "the
Pittsburgh syndrome."
This is one long-standing Pittsburgh
Atheist who has heard your cry in the
wilds and wants to assure you that
things aren't as bad as you think they
are - they are worse! Except for my
copy of The American Atheist making
it through every month (I'm surprised
it hasn't been sabotaged), I would
surely succumb to the mind-paralysing provincialism that exists here.
The "Pittsburgh syndrome" is, I
think you would agree, not that
unique, but is a pervasive American
disease. My wife, who is a native
German, was delighted to hear that
you did assess the European mind to
be superior to the provincial American
mind in discussing religion. She has
battled this obstinate, ignorant American mentality for the past 13 years.
The Germans certainly have their hangups, but are much less Neanderthal.
George Kniss
Pennsylvania

March,1979

Austin, Texas

/

Dear Editor,
I'm proud to be an Atheist and I
would like to comment on the frustrations of a divorced Atheist parent. I
have three boys, 18, 17, and 15, the
two youngest living with my ex-wife.
In the past three years I have been
writing to them about Atheism - a
complete contradiction to their Jewish upbringing. I must have made an
impression on their minds, because
the other day I received a long, handwritten letter from my ex-wife with
the following threat:
"If you preach
to them again about what you do or
do not believe, I'm going to take you
to court again; and you won 't be able
to write them or see them ever again."
I have good reason to believe her
and feel frustrated by her threat. However, I feel very happy in knowing I
have planted the seeds of de-programming in their minds. Time will tell.
D.M.
Fontana, CA
Free At Last
Dear Editor,
Just want .to let you know how
much 1enjoy your magazine. This is a
whole new way of thinking for me and
I am becoming quite comfortable with
it. For those of us who were "brainwashed" for so many years this is a
traumatic experience.
I am divorced, supporting a child,
and struggling. Finally I have landed a
decent job after much floundering. As
soon as I am able I will contribute
some small amount to your cause.
June Butler
Massachusetts

Page 5

NEWS

$

Wants freedom of and from religion

Repri~~ex~~it~nPl::d:ionof
By David Jones, Staff Writer

Hes for 'positive side' of Atheism
God isn't dead - he just never
existed, believes John Crump.
Crump, 30, of 632 Stratford Drive,
is director of the recently organized
Kentucky chapter of American Atheists. He doesn't believe in god, Satan
or anything else he calls "supernatural."
The Maysville (KY) native admits
he's outnumbered by "true believers"
here in the Bible Belt. But he says he's
not alone either.
"Many people are a-religious,"
claims Crump. "But they just go along
with what others say and do. They're
essentially Atheists, but they just

FLASH!-On To The
Supreme Court
The decision was terse:
PER CURIAM:
Plaintiffs question the constituionality of 36 U.S.C. Sec. 186 making "In God We Trust" a national
motto; of 31 U.S.C. Sec. 324 and
324(a) requiring the imprinting of
the motto on the coin and currency
of the United States; and of 18
U.S.C. Sec. 331 and 333, which
provide criminal penalties for removal of the national motto from
United States coi nand cu rrency.
" ... we affirm on the opinion of
the district court ... [that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust'
has nothing whatsoever to do with
. . . religion. Its use is of a patriotic
... character 1 "
The American Atheist Center
had expected the decision, but needed to pass this court, without damage, to appeal to the U.S. Supreme
Court. That was accomplished. The
appeal will be filed immediately.

haven't accepted Atheism as a positive concept."
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who gained
national attention for her battle against
prayer in public schools, is the leader
of the American Atheists, headquartered in Austin, Texas. She estimates
70,000 families belong to the organization.
Crump said about 300 persons belong to the Kentucky chapter, chartered by the state last November. He
hopes the number will grow as the result of a visit Mrs. O'Hair is expected
to make to Kentucky this spring.
Crump says his aim is not to convert believers into non-believers, but to
bring people like himself "out of the
closet," and work together to fight
what he calls religious attacks on the
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Crump talked about Atheism in a
recent interview at his home.
He relaxed in his living room beside a picture window. He wore slacks
and a sports shirt. His beard was neatly
trimmed and his light brown hair is
thinning. He spoke calmly and confidently.
Question: What do you mean by
attacks on the First Amendment?
Answer: The founding fathers understood that it is important to separate church and state. They meant for
us to have freedom of religion and freedom from religion, if that's what we
want. People are supposed to have the
right to worship as they please, but
that doesn't mean they can force it on
anyone else .
I'll give you an example. Take the
Ten Commandments legislation [see
Sept. 78 issue, p. 7] that the General
Assembly [Kentucky]
came up with
last year. It said a copy of the Ten
Commandments had to be displayed
in every public schoolroom in the state.

That is obviously unconstitutional,
a violation of the concept of the separation between church and state. I've
talked to two state senators about it
and they both agreed the thing was unconstitutional and predicted the courts
would throw it out the first time it
comes up.
Still, one of them voted for it. He
said he would have lost the next election if he hadn't.
(The law is yet to be carried out,
because the legislators neglected to appropriate any money for it.)
There are other examples. The Sunday closing laws in this state. The slogan, "In God We Trust," on our currency. Nativity scenes on government
property at Solstice, or Christmas.
(Solstice is the point in late-December when the sun is farthest from the
northern hemisphere. It was celebrated
thousands of years ago because it
meant that the days would be getting
longer again and that spring was on
its way.)
.
Q: Solstice? You mean you won't
even call 25 December Christmas? Do
you celebrate Solstice and have a Solstice tree and give Solstice presents?
A: We do the same things Christians do at Christmas, like exchanging
gifts. But we don't have any religious

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

Page 6

March,1979

v

American Atheist

NEWS
ceremonies. We have had a tree, but
we don't call it anything. I do have
some Solstice cards though.
Q:
Have many people tried to
change your mind about god?
A: I get a few letters and phone
calls. One woman called me up the
other day; said she was a Presbyterian.
She wanted to save my soul and I
guess I was trying to free her mind.
Neither one of us made any progress. I told her she had a distorted
view of history. A lot of people have
misconceptions
about religion and
what it has to do with our government.
Some people think we're communists, but that's not true. I think the
American political system is the best
anyone's ever come up with.
Thomas Jefferson is one of my
heroes. If I did believe in divine miracles, it would be that he and the
other founding fathers came together
when they did.
Q: What are some of the misconceptions you mentioned?
A: Most people think the founding
fathers, like Washington and Jefferson,
were deeply religious. They were
about as close to Atheists as anybody
could be in those days.
You go back and look at the origins of religion. It's the oldest con
game there is. It's all based on superstition and people's fear of the unknown.
Q: What convinced you to become
an Atheist?
A: I grew up in the Methodist
church, but I don't think I ever really
believed in anything it said. It was confusing. When I accepted Atheism as a
positive concept, everything became
clear.
The cosmos is impersonal. We have
no special reason to be here. I see no
evidence of supernatural interference
with the way things are. Man can create his own destiny.
Q: You seem to be most concerned about Christianity. Why is
that?
A: Because it's the biggest religion around here. If I lived in Iran,
I'd be concerned about Islam. I'
think the guy who wants to turn that
country into an Islamic state is going
to put Iran back into the 7th century.
Q:
What do you think about
having a "born-again" Christian in the
White House?
A: Well, I voted for him. But the
alternative was no better. It bothers
me that the president of the United
States is shown speaking from a

church (as he did in Atlanta recently
when he accepted an award from Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King).
Q: Is it hard to be an Atheist in
Lexington?
A: Well, no one's ever threatened
me because of it. But I was dismissed
from my job because of an anti-religious letter I wrote to the newspaper.
I've turned that over to a lawyer, and
I think that's all I better say about it
right now.

LATEST
PONTIFICATION:
Motherhood
Women's
Eternal Vocation
Pope John Paul II, the high priest
of male celibacy, proclaimed in January that women's vocation in life is and always will be - motherhood.
"I want to remind young women
that motherhood is the vocation of
women," the pope said to a crowd
of 12,000 in his weekly general audience. "It was that way in the past. It
is that way now and it will always be
that way. It is women's eternal vocation.
"The world has a hunger and thirst
more than ever for motherhood, which
physically and spiritually is the vocation of women as it was of (the Virgin)
Mary."
Going by that papal definition, all
Roman Catholic nuns are aberrant deviates from their "natural" vocation.
Betty Scott, a spokesperson for the
400-member Baltimore chapter of the
National Organization for Women, had
a few words of advice for the pope:
"If all women are destined to be
mothers then one would have to assume all men are destined to be fathers.
And that would eliminate a large percentage of devout Roman Catholic
men who are called to the celibate
priesthood," Scott said.
"We don't get pregnant by ourselves," reminded Carolyn Duvall,
state council representative for NOW
in Columbus, Ohio.
"We certainly approve of both apple pie and motherhood; however,
there are millions of women who do
more than that."
Maybe so. Nevertheless, the pope,
whose vocation demands life-long
virginity, declared that "it (motherhood) is women's eternal vocation."

Austin, Texas

March,1979

v

Drive-In Divinity
Perhaps no facet of American "culture" so typifies our processed lifestyle
as does the drive-thru fast-food joint
where one can fill up on a bagful of
carcinogenic
grease-burgers without
ever having to budge from a reclined
position.
Well, just as the PTL & 700 clubs
copied their couchy format from the
tried-and-true Johnny Carson Show, so
too have the god-guys gone and cashedin on Jack-in-the-Box's success.
Worshippers in a hurry can now
hear a sermon while sitting behind the
wheel of their car in the latest in auto
ministrations - drive-in divinity.
When the faithful arrive at one such
drive-in located in Oreland, Pennsylvania, they're ushered into the church
courtyard. In front of them is a fourfoot-high platform bearing a pulpit, a
white cross, flower boxes and a small
table for communion paraphernalia.
Minister Murray addresses his congregation of cars over an AM radio
low-watt broadcast system. "They simply tune in to 640 on their dials," he
said.
Folk-guitarist Cathy Myers, on the
platform, strums religious music and
hymns to the motorists.
"Some of the worshippers feel a
bit silly singing alone or with their
passengers inside the autos, or praying solo," said the minister, "but they
soon get used to it."

Because of the congregation's confines, the worshippers cannot kneel.
"So I begin Just by saying, 'Let us
pray,' and they all bow their heads."
The ushers, he says, collect the offering, moving from car to car pushing
wheelbarrows.
Drivers wind down their windows
to gobble down the bread and wine
served by church elders for communion - a barbaric ritual as harmful to
the human psyche as is the regular
consumption of the lard-burgers served
up in the more standard drive-thru
joints.

Page 7

;NEWS

eligion

aClsm
Religion
in the United States has always demanded that the government
keep "hands off" its practices, no matter how irrational the theistic behavior
in which it participated. Yet, religion
has also always demanded that the
government lend a helping hand to
give Theism tax dollars, tax exemptions, and special status and privileges ..
Lately, because of the need to entice the "religious vote" into the polling booth, both parties and all political candidates - without exception have increased their promises and commitments to religion. The wall of statechurch separation has been under constant assault in the last 25 years and
the religious victories have been diverse and of great magnitude.
Fortunately,
a human "enemy"
has come to the rescue, since atheistic
efforts have not as yet been sufficiently rallied. "Government bureaucracy,"
in the form of the Internal Revenue
Service on the national level and
various educational standards commissions on the state level, is intervening
in the situation, curiously on the side
of state-church separation.
At the federal level, on 22 August
1978, the Federal Register (a technical
compendium issued by the government) published a new "revenue procedure" promulgated by the IRS which
became effective on 23 October 1978.
This procedure questions certain
practices of religious schools set up or
expanded following the desegration of
local public schools. National news media had been careful to keep from public awareness the flight of middle-class,
white American children into private

Page 8

and the

7•
schools. Because our nation could not
afford ·to internationally
be openly
branded as racially bigoted, the news
of the "white flight" had been ignored,
or deliberately suppressed.
With the Carter and prior administrations' bold meddling into other nations' internal affairs under the banner of "preservation of human rights,"
it could hardly be acknowledged that
the WASP in the United States eschewed the association of their children with the blacks.
The religions of the United States
are bold to move in on any cultural
difficulties and new religious schools
popped up like mushrooms after a
rain, while riots in the streets (over
busing) from Boston to Texas took up
the news.
What was happening was obvious to
the controlling and regulating agencies
to which the new schools applied for
tax breaks, or for tax money. In 1970,
in respect to private secular schools, a

March, 1979

v

federal court ruled that it was unconstitutional to give tax breaks to private, secular, segregated schools - but
excused that crime when committed
by religious schools. Some 3,500
such institutions exist, parochial and
religious.
.
The IRS proposal required private
(religious) schools which desire to
keep their tax exemptions given them
by the government to bring themselves into compliance with existing
anti-segregationist laws, court decisions
and governmental regulations. The requirement was moderate. The schools
were expected to have in their student
bodies at least 20 percent of the percentage of minority children in the local public school district.
If the blacks were 50 percent of
the public schools, the private, religious schools were expected to have
20 percent of that - or actually 10
percent minorities (i.e., blacks). The
standard
"affirmative
action"
approach was expected of the schools
such as the granting of scholarships,
minority recruiting, and employment
of minority teachers on the staff.
It was (oh horrors!) expected that
school facilities would be made available to outside, integrated civic or
charitable
groups and that there
would be minority orientation programs and minority board members.
If the schools desired to keep their
whiteness intact, the federal government felt they should self support.
With government
funds and tax
exemption came government strings
requiring fair play for blacks. The
schools had an option: accept government regulations with government lar-

American Atheist

NEWS
gess or be free and independent, not
accepting such largess.
The position of the IRS was simple.
It desired to enforce what the courts
had commanded the nation: to have
racial equality, by not helping in any
way schools which violated that
national commitment.
The IRS officials noted:
"The proposed revenue procedure
results from our concern that existing
procedures
have permitted
some
schools to obtain and continue tax
exemption by having 'paper policies'
of non-discrimination, while in fact
continuing to operate in a racially
discriminatory manner."
The schools were to be required to
show they operate within the law to
be entitled to the tax subsidy. The
almost universal reply from the
(church-related) religious schools was,
"This is religion. Give us the money
(or the tax exemption) and don't inspect what we do with it."
The IRS had accompanied its Federal Register announcement
with a
note that the matter was not sufficiently "significant" to merit a public
meeting. But the notice caught the eye
of Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who
- to protect the offending Mormon
Church - called for public hearings,
congressional intervention and a return
to the status quo (i.e., protection of
religious institutions from a penetration
by blacks).
The good Baptists - the so-called
champions of state-church separation mounted the first protest, followed
quickly by the Roman Catholics, the
Lutherans and the Mormons. The howl
was a great thumping of their statistics
(27 million members for the Baptists
alone), as the Theists demanded a hearing for both their tax exemptions and
their lily-white schools.
Knowing that they had a target
generally not held in esteem - the
IRS - religious leaders pulled out all
stops. The attack was vicious. Parents
were told the schools "were being shut
down" by the IRS. Innocent children
were "to be thrown out on the streets,"
The First Amendment to the Constitution was enveighed. This time,
while insisting religion was a private
matter, the demand was also for continuous public financing: tax exemption for the schools, a tax write-off
(on their 1040) to anyone who gave
the school any money, exemption
from sales taxes, the right to own businesses which pay no taxes, the right
to speculate in the stock market tax

free, all the while demanding free
agricultural products from the government, funds from goverment for school
buildings, funds to help with teachers'
salaries, funds for "record-keeping,"
funds for books, and for free transportation for religious white children.
December 5, 1978 was scheduled,
but as the religious letter-writing mill
(100,000 letters) was cranked into
operation, as the same tired columnists
thumped the religious case (William
Buckley, Phyllis Schlafley, Patrick
Buchanan, Stanton Evans, Andrew
Greeley, and Senator Moynihan), the
hearings were broadened first to three
and then to four days, with 250 witnesses from across the nation scheduled
to be heard.
Among the religious lackey organizations the Americans United loomed
large.
At the hearings, Memphis, Tennessee
was a stand-out. That city has a 40
percent black population, but the white
Baptist school system formed in 1973
- while public schools were being integrated under a court order - has yet
to enroll one black student, or hire
one black teacher. Known popularly
as "segregated
academies,"
these
schools were formed only to cater to
the white flight.
Actually, while the white Christian
parents confronted the black children
in the streets with "No Busing" signs,
their quiet meetings with legislative
members were to demand that their
children be bused crosstown, free, to
the white religious schools.
Carl Rowan's columns alone spokefor the blacks, and the NAACP protests
were rarely covered. Sadly Rowan
spoke of "Christian" racism and, as a
Christian, concluded " ... the people
attacking the IRS on the school taxexemption issue are not pursuing 'fairness,' they are trying to preserve racial
discrimination. "
The ACLU, now largely discredited
because of the Nazis' Skokie, illinois,
battle, also supported the IRS, as did
the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights.
However, the media ignored the voices
of reason and catered to the caterwauling church voice. After all, which
group spends the most money on advertising in the media?
Even the Baptists who led the fight
were forced to admit that the schools'
admission and enrollment policies may
be "reprehensible to many outside
their religious communities."
After the five-day hearing, the IRS
- oh! wonder of wonders - was holding firm while the Christians pointed

Austin, Texas

March,1979

v

out that Congress opened on 15 January and they would be there en masse
to influence legislation to be passed to
override the IRS promulgation.
Of course, another IRS regulation,
Sec. 501(c)(3), precludes tax-exempt
churches from tryint to influence legislative bodies to pass such regulations.
But then, these are "votes."
The United States does not have
one "statesman" in the nation. We are
saddled with petty, intellectually cheap
politicians who would sell any or all of
our heritage in return for a vote. Like
Phil Donahue in his TV talk show format, they cater to the lowest elements
of our society.
The Baptists coldly called their ~'reIigious right to racism" a "constitutional right" of "churches in what they
conceive to be their religious mission."
All that can be done is to wait and
see what damage is done in Congress.
Again, this is an object lesson on the
need for Atheists to organize and to
act in concert to stop the funding of
illicit activities of the churches.' Racial prejudice is being funded by your
tax money. Your congressmen, your
senators need to be educated that
tax supported "religious racism" is not
a part of the American dream,

UPDATE
On 9 February, the Internal Revenue Service succumbed to religious
pressure groups and announced a
revision of its plans for attacking
discrimination practiced by religious
schools.
The revision to give "greater
weight to each school's particular
circumstances" means only that the
"evidence of good faith" moving
toward desegration which IRS had
proposed that the religious schools
show, has been abandoned.
IRS will "receive comments" on
the revisi~ns until 20 April before
finalizing - which only means it
allows that much more time for
more religious pressure to be
brought.
There is a need for your comments, too. IRS must be educated
that religion does not run the
United States. Write your opinions to:
Jerome Kurtz, Commissioner
Internal Revenue Service
IRS Building
1111 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20224

Page 9

NEWS

Armstrong's Church
Showing no fear of the god for
whom Herbert W. Armstrong is the
self-proclaimed apostle of, Los Angeles
Superior Court Judge Julius M. Title
placed in receivership Armstrong's
Worldwide Church of God, the $80
million religious empire based in Pasadena, Calif.
Ruling in January that there was
"some possibility of truth" in the
charges that Armstrong and his chief
aide Stanley R. Rader were ripping off
the church at the rate of millions per
year, Judge Title turned the administration of the church over to retired
Superior Court Judge Steven Weisman.
Title instructed Weisman to "conduct a thorough audit" of the church,
as well as the church-owned and operated Ambassador College and Ambassador Int'l Cultural Foundation, and to
"review all allegations of malfeasance
and neglect." Weisman's powers are
nearly absolute. Although he cannot
interfere with the ecclesiastical affairs
of the church, he can hire and fire
whomever he wants with only two exceptions. He will require the court's
permission to fire Armstrong or Rader.
The church's troubles began with
the power struggle that saw Rader triumph over Armstrong's son Gamer
Ted, who had seriously weakened his
position with his "unorthodox" sexual
activities. Among the excommunications that followed Gamer Ted's were
those of the six plaintiffs responsible
for the astounding action taken in January. Represented by attorney Hilliel
Chodos, they made the following
charges against Armstrong and Rader:
1) They had violated California law
by not providing an accounting of
the church's financial position.
2) They had "pilfered" millions of
dollars each year from church property and assets for their own personal use.
3)
They had liquidated massive
amounts of church-owned property
at less than its market value.
4) They had destroyed vital records
of financial dealings to cover up the
giant rip-off.
5) They had hoarded gold bullion
in a Swiss bank account.
The California Attorney General
quickly joined as co-plaintiff, putting
the case in the hands of Assistant Attorney General Lawrence R_ Tapper.
In a comment sure to terrify hundreds

Page 10

Guyana-Bound?

of religious leaders accustomed to manipulating freely the power of their
tax-exempt wealth, Tapper said, "It's
public property we're talking about."
His theory is that a church is a nonprofit charitable organization, and as
such its property is public domain.
Allan Browne, attorney for the
crumbling religious empire, is seeking
shelter behind the First Amendment
by claiming state-church separation
means the state has no right to investigate anti prosecute any criminal activities done by a church or its leaders.
Meanwhile, America is getting a rare
look inside the financial morass of
American religion. The record is just
incredible. Rader, whose church salary
is $200,000 a year, has had three
homes, the cheapest costing $150,000,
paid for by the church. He also has
several corporations set up to service
the church, among them a law firm,
an accounting firm, an advertising company, and an aircraft-leasing company.

Browne demanded to know, "What
business is that of the state?" He predicted that if the state can prohibit religious leaders from enjoying their
church's wealth in any way they see
fit, "it is a dark day for religion."
The church's legal troubles are
crippling it financially. Understandably nervous, the United Bank of
California has called in $1.6 million
owed it by the church. Even church
members are finally seeing the light as
tithes have fallen off so drastically that
the church payroll cannot be met.
The latest development
in the
church's troubles came on 21 January
when Rader announced that the church
will leave California "to seek a safe haven" where it can "propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ in an unfettered
manner."
It was not announced where the
church intends to relocate, but there is
speculation that the the safe haven will
be Guyana, which is rapidly becoming
a sort of "elephants' graveyard" for
sick cults (aren't they all?) opting for
the "Kool Aid Solution" to their temporal ailments.

Young Atheist's Testimony
About Guyana Barred
In a ruling as obscene as the
mass religious murders at Jim
Jones' Guyana retreat camp, a
Georgetown, Guyana magistrate
ruled in late January that the
9-year-old adopted daughter of
Jones may not testify about who
tried to kill her because she does
not believe in a god.
Magistrate Prem Persaud said
the girl, Stephanie Jones, who
earlier admitted that she does
not believe in any god, "has no
capacity to understand the seriousness of the oath, and not believing in god she cannot even be
affirmed" as a witness.
The ruling at the preliminary
hearing into murder charges
against two Temple members -

March,1979

45-year-old illiterate shoemaker
Charles Beikman and Stephan
Jones, the 19-year-old son of the
late fanatic - was a victory for
the defense.
The defense had sought to bar
the girl's testimony about the
knife slaying of a family of four
in the Temple's Georgetown office.
Stephanie, an Athiest who
chooses not to swear to a god
of someone else's delusions, also
had her throat slashed with an
18-inch butcher knife but survived, only to have her testimony ruled invalid because she
at nine years of age is too mature
to believe in superstition.

American Atheist

NEWS

Cults
Arming
For Combat
The Jonestown horror has brought
cults under close scrutiny, and one
frightening aspect of them is that some
of the over 4,000 cults in the U.S. are
deliberately seeking members with
military combat skills, or arranging for
their members to receive such deadly
training. The infiltration of the U:S.
armed services by youthful cult members desiring to bring to their sect that
little something only the combat arts
can supply has reached the point
where the Army has had to write and
distribute a handbook to help its chaplains keep track of the dizzy, ugly
fringe of religionism.
Some cults are but jokes (such as
the Universal Life Church), or are no
more than justifications for unorthodox sexual tastes (such as the Gardenerian Wicca, which worships nude during the new and full moon, and which
has Army career officers as members).
Other cults take themselves much
more seriously, and believe their
"truth" must be protected by bullets,
just as Christianity once believed its
"truth" had to be protected by the
stake and the sword. Synan on has an
armed force of devotees called the
"Imperial Marine Corps" which has
displayed its willingness to use murder for the greater glory of the cult.
Moonies are told they should be ready
to murder for their "heavenly father"
Sun Myung Moon. Jim Jones had an
armed, elite squad which slaughtered
Congressman Leo Ryan, then executed
any of the few faithful who wouldn't
voluntarily kill themselves.
Sound training produces the most
effective warrior-killers, and as Army
sociology expert Prof. Charles Moskos
of Northwestern University points out,
"You can go to any major airport and
see cults singling out GIs for attempted
conversion. "
The Kansas National Guard in 197778 gave weapons training to hundreds
who are members of the large cult called The Way International, headed by
Paul Wierwillie. As a non-profit or-

ganization, they had a right to receive
such training. When the military had
given them the basic skills of marksmanship, the cult then honed these
skills to perfection at a privately owned
gun range.
"The Way" sees their mission in life
as a holy war against communism (i.e.,
Atheism), which they believe is an extension of the American Revolution.
The revolution in their distorted theology is described as a holy war fought
for religious freedom. In a newsletter,
Milford Bowen, who heads the cult's
computerized
printing operation in
Ohio, declared frankly that if the law
and the courts cease to protect and uphold the cult's interpretation of religious freedom, "we'll be out in the
streets again with our rifles, just as we
were 200 years ago."
Robert- Wuthrow, professor of sociology at Princeton University, greatly
understated it when he said cults "could
be endangering our national security.
Having cults infiltrate the Army could
pose a major threat."

Nothing so effectively silences the
pretensions to historical authenticity
claimed by religionists as when one of
their own produces evidence debunking
biblical myths.
So it was when an Old Testament
scholar at Duke University Divinity
School concluded that no evidence
has yet been documented to prove
that Noah's Ark (much less Noah himself) exists now or ever has in history.
Dr. Lloyd R. Bailey has examined
popular and scholarly works on the
existence of the artifact, including the

Austin, Texas

March,1979

v

recent film, "In Search of Noah's Ark."
He reported his conclusions in a book
entitled, Where Is Noah's Ark?, published by Abington Press.
The Methodist scholar begins by
noting that "'Mount Ararat' as such
never appears in th'e Bible." Rather he
said, the Genesis account states that
the ark came to rest "upon the mountains of Ararat." He then describes
varying accounts of just where those
mountains may be today.
Bailey writes that "the fact that
there are many proposed ark landing
sites is often ignored by some modernday ark-researchers, who indiscriminately gather all ancient reports and
present them as if every mention of
Mount Ararat automatically
meant
Agri Dagi (in Armenia)."
Bailey said that over the years,
wooden crosses and wooden buildings
have either been constructed on or carried up Agri Dagi. He said it may be
possible "that such wood might be, or
even has been, discovered by later expeditions and mistaken for part of the
ark."
He is particularly critical of the recent Sun Classic Pictures release, "The
Search for Noah's Ark," which has
been shown on television and is currently playing to packed theaters where
members of the Christ cult flock to see
fiction passing for documentation.
Bailey documents several instances in
which the film has either repeated oldclaims that have been discredited, or
makes claims without
citing any
evidence to support them.

Bailey complains that the film "has
a fondness for citing 'the scientific
community,"
'scholars,' and 'scientists',' as if there were strong, if not
near-unanimous support for the movie's
claims among such groups. The is simply not in accordance with the facts.

Page 11

rNEWS
Won't Bow Head,
Atheist Suspended
Immigrants arriving in North America are no less free from Christianity's
intrusi~n into their lives than are those
born here.
Those already indoctrinated
in
Christianity by nature of their sickness
expect all others to embrace their
creed as the one, true faith notorious
in its intolerance of other religions and
particularly so for freethinkers who
would be free of theism and its attendant mind sicknesses.
Jeffrey Lau, 16, a landed immigrant from Hong Kong and a twelfth
grade student at Appleby 'College in
Oakville, Ontario in Canada, was suspended late last year because he refused to bow his head during a daily
Anglican prayer service.
Jeffrey was told by headmaster
Ed. Larsen not to return to the school
unless he bows during the school's
mandatory chapel prayers. The school
says bowing heads at prayers is part of
"certain practices," such as silence until grace has been said before meals,
which must be obeyed.
But Jeffrey is an Atheist and would
of his own free conscience prefer not
to partake of other people's creeds. In
an interview he said; "I don't have a
religion. I cannot bow my head and
satisfy my conscience."
Jeff has been boarding at the school
for 21h years. Tuition and board cost
his parents $6,000 annually.
His
parents don't agree with Jeff's attitude
and have threatened to cut off his
allowance if he does not return to Ap. pleby.
An assistant headmaster at the
school said, "We have certain practices here, like going into the dining
room in silence and not speaking until after grace. If that was disobeyed,
a student would be asked to leave."
He said the school is non-denominational [sic) , but 15-minute Anglican

Jeffrey Lau
prayers before classes are compulsory
for all students every weekday morning
except Friday, when there is a half-hour
prayer at noon.
The prayers are read by an Anglican
minister from the Anglican prayer
book. "We don't ask the boys to pray
but to lean forward and bow their
heads. It's standard procedure," the
assistant claimed.
Martin Baggaley, one grade ahead
of Jeffrey at Appleby and president
of the student council, described Jeff
as a good student and a "well-liked
guy" who was a weightlifter and
football player,
"A lot of us were sorry to see him
go," Jeff's schoolmate admitted, but
he added that he agrees with the headmaster's decision.
Well-liked yes, but not tolerated because he chooses not to worship other
persons' gods. The highly touted
freedoms in the "New World" still do
not include the right to be free from
religion.
It is unfortunate for both Canada
and the U.S. that young individuals of
Jeffrey's caliber are made to feel outcast by a system whose voracious creed
and its adherents are threatened by
one who "would prefer not to."

NY To Charge Sewer Parasites ~
Despite howls of protest from
clergymen seeking ever-expanding tax
breaks, New York City Mayor Ed
Koch has defended his decision to
charge religious institutions for water
and sewer use.
"Water and sewer charges are not
taxes - if you don't use water you
don't pay for it," Koch told 50 priests,

Page 12

ministers and rabbis at a meeting of
local religious leaders in New York late
last year.
In past years, the city customarily
has waived such charges for certain institutions. Such freeloading by large
religious businesses only added to New
York's enormous indebtedness from
which it had to be bailed out with

March,1979

v

state and federal funding.
"We now have to make up $139
million in cuts and there are three
ways we can do it," Koch said. "We
can reduce programs, layoff people or
enhance our revenues. We're going to
have to do all three. So I don't think
it's unfair that you pay the water and
sewer charges," he told the clerics.
He said that he had asked the Board
of Estimate last fall not to cancel water and sewer charges to religious and
educational non-profit institutions because $2.5 million a year is involved.
"Without it, cops could be laid off or
there could be less sanitation people."
Churches and synagogues would be
exempt from such charges only if the
buildings were "used exclusively for
worship," according to a mayoral
spokesman. If the religious institution held bingo nights or community meetings in its building, it would
be subject to the charge.
Koch also said that no decision
had been made on possible reduction
in the city's chaplain force. But, he
said, "no areas of government are
exempt from examination. No areas
are sacred in terms of not being' the
subject of scrutiny."

Sewer Tax Rate
Less For Marrieds

Meanwhile, in another part of New
York state, complaints have been
voiced in the village of Cayuga Heights
because that town charges a higher
sewer tax for couples "living in sin."
Cayuga Heights charges a lower
rate for a family than it does for unrelated people living together. That
policy came into dispute when a landlord told the village board he had no
right to ask his tenants if they were
legally married.
"If I have a couple living in an
apartment, I don't think it's my place
to ask them if they're married or not,"
said Rocco Lucente, the landlord protesting the village's system for sewer
charges.
And Mayor Frederick Marcham
agrees a change may be in order.
"There was a time when a family
was a family," the mayor wrote to
village trustees. "But what old-timers
have called 'living in sin' has become
as virtuous as a wedding ring."

American Atheit

NEWS
FEUDAL IDOLATRY
Mao's Mummy
on The Way Out?

American missionaries of the Christian cult are eager to drop their pious
pants and proceed with their rape of
mainland China which was temporarily halted by Mao Tse-tung in 1949.
The hope among U.S. missionary
officials is that if the Chinese are
willing to let in Coca-Cola and Pierre
Cardin, then perhaps the Chinese leadership might ignore Christianity's
bloody past and allow the Caucasian
"god-guys" to return and take up where
they left off 30 years ago when Mao
ran off Chiang Kai-shek, a Methodist.
There may once have been three
million Catholics and a million Protestants in China which was once a
fertile field for Western missionaries
who entered the helpless (at that time)
"Middle Kingdom" riding in the wake
of U.S. warships.
But considering China's huge population, Christian missionaries have
made scanty headway. It is estimated
that at best less than one percent of
the country's population was ever
Christian and that was before ·communists took over.
"While our Western image of Jesus is as the son of god, the Chinese
think of Jesus in terms of gunboat
diplomacy," said Dr. Eugene Stockwell, associate general secretary of the
National Council of the Churches of
Christ.
Christianity
is associated
with
China's "national humiliation" -when
foreign powers tried to carve up the
country - and the Chinese are believed unlikely to welcome it back.
The image of the Western missionary has been equated with Western politics since the first Presbyterian, Methodist and Roman Catholic missionaries
moved into the country in large numbers late in the 19th century.
Missionary leaders think that the
best chance for Westerners to have any
religious impact on China is through
personal efforts by teachers, scientists
and business officials who are admit-

Austin,

ted to the country for other reasons.
Since they were run out of mainland China in 1949, gurus of the Christ
cult have concentrated on Taiwan,
where there are many Catholic clergymen and about 600 Protestant missionaries, according to Dr. Wade Coggins, executive director of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association.
"We try to be optimistic and think
they'll be able to stay if the situation
stays moderate," Coggins said. "However, we must admit we are concerned
for the future of Taiwan."
No doubt. Missionaries on Taiwan are worried that the land and
wealth they have accumulated on
that island will be seized as the occupying pimps of an alien cult are
divested of wealth not belonging to
them.
Such is what happened
after
1949. Most property on the mainland
which had been seized by voracious
missionaries
has long since been
converted to secular uses by the
Communist government in power. The
United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, which once operated
13 universities in China, was a big loser
among "non-profit" groups in China,
according to figures from the Foreign
Claims Settlement
Commission in
1972.
Scholars who have visited China
say most churches in the country
have been turned into grain storage
bins, warehouses or basketball courts.
The commission recognized 384
valid claims against the Peking government at a value of $196,861,834. Not
a penny has been paid for any claim,
including the United Board's total of
$23,245,557.
Mission officials hope
and pray these "debts" are being dis- •
cussed by U.S. and Chinese officials.
Meanwhile, the crusade to divest
the Chinese of their innate Atheism
arouses the passions of Christian
missionaries whose reasons for going
abroad are a national disgrace.

Texas

March, 1979

II

Another encouraging sign that China
is ready to get on with the necessary
process of modernization is the r~cent appearance of wall posters in
Peking calling for the removal of the
mummified body of the late Chairman
Mao Tse-tung from his memorial hall,
which was mysteriously closed for
several weeks.
A poster written by the "Human
Rights Alliance" said keeping Mao's
body in public view was "feudal
idolatry" and should cease since the
hall itself was enough to preserve his
memory. The posters provided the
most lively addition in some weeks to
the controversy swirling around the
late Chinese leader, who is still officially praised as a sort of Marxist deity
(a la Lenin's mummy in Moscow's
Red Square) while his politics are
swiftly dismantled.
"Thoroughly
root out spiritual
superstition, as well as the worship
of idols," the Human Rights Alliance
poster said, "move away the crystal
sarcophagus and change the building
to a memorial hall for Chairman Mao."
The huge Mao Memorial Hall, which
dominates the southern end of Peking's
Tienanmen Square, closed about 24
December, two days before Mao's
85th birthday. Chinese officials told
American journalists who asked to
visit the hall that it was being repaired,
but said they did not know exactly
what had to be fixed.

A FRAGRANT REPLY
A Christian missionary saw a
Chinese strewing rice over the
graves of his ancestors.
The Christian asked mockingly, "When do you expect your
departed ones to come back and
eat this rice?"
The Chinese replied bitingly,
"At about the same time your
ancestors come back to smell
your flowers."

Page 13

NEWS
Silly Symbol Ruled

~

tJ- ~

4

The newspapers and the religious
~~~ h
folk constantly look down their col~~
~
·0
d1 0
lective noses at American Atheists and
charge them with being "trivial," "nit~.C:)
,G
picking," or "silly" as we try to reo 4~V
capture our nation's symbols,
~~
"Why don't you do something im.
.
,
portant?" they jeer. Yet, when the
.. The California Supreme Court s d.e.
cross was erected on the hill when
cision was a good one. It noted, In
legislation was carefully she~herded
part, that:
through the U.S. Congress to put "In
". . . the California Constitution,
God We Trust" on our coins and curlike the United States Constitution,
rency, THAT was not "trivial," "nitdoes not merely proscribe an estabpicking," or "silly."
lishment of religion. Rather, all laws
In mid-December
of last year, a ferespecting an establishment of religion
male Los Angeles attorney won a
are forbidden. The California Constisuit to prevent such a violation of the
tution also guarantees that religion
First Amendment by religion. The
shall be {reely exercised and enjoyed
suit had been in litigation for three
without discrimination or preference.
years.
Preference thus is forbidden even when
It seems officials in the Los Angeles
there is no discrimination. The City
City Hall building had been selectively
Hall is not an immense bulletin board
lighting windows to display an illumiwhereon symbols of all faiths could be
nated cross on the building's tower
thumbtacked or otherwise displayed.
during the Winter Solstice and Vernal
"Would it be justifiable to allow only
Equinox seasons.
a Star of Bethlehem, a Star of David,

l###BOT_TEXT###quot;

'I~(?L~

and a Star and Crescent? In the California Constitution there is no requirement that each religion always be represented. To illuminate only the Latin
cross, however, does seem preferential
when comparable recognition of other
religious symbols is impractical."
A separate decision by another of
the California Supreme Court justices
noted:
"Since the display of a sectarian
symbol on the Los Angeles City Hall
involves that city in the promotion
of one particular religious faith, it
violates both the California and United
States constitutions. Religious freedom
is one of our most cherished heritages.
As judges ... we have no more solemn
duty than to preserve this heritage ...
This we can only do by guarding
against every governmental intrusion,
large or small, into the inner sanctum
of conscience."
In the final analysis, the courts of
our land know how important symbols
are. The attack on Atheists is a specious
one. We understand where the roots
are - and there we stand to fight.

(9'F crt1E ctMf11\{'rH DEPT._---.
Fooling Foliage Div.

,",CfOlkS,
if you're ready for this
month's Christian Concoction hype,
here goes.
So far we've seen the face of J.C.
turn up on a burnt tortilla in the U.S.
southwest, on a greasy pizza in New
Jersey, on some dog droppings clinging to a dead priest's shoe in Canada,
and on a leaky ceiling in godless Russia.
Another miraculous apparition has
turned up in Las Vegas where a wo°
man taking a wedding photograph
claims to have captured the beatific
vision for posterity as it hovered eerilyabove (not surprisingly) a Bible.
The ghostly image of Jesus Christ
appears in the photograph of an altar
set up for the wedding.
"It wasn't there when I snapped the
picture," marvels Rosemary King, director of the Lighthouse Christian
House for women, a kind of halfway
house in Las Vegas.
"However, as we prepared for the
wedding of one of our girls, I had an
overpowering feeling - a reverent,
holy feeling - around that altar."
King devised the altar herself,

draping a dining room table with a
sheet and arranging a Bible, candles
and flowers. As she finished, she said
felt the uncanny religious presence.
"I really didn't pick up on what
was happening," she reveals. I thought
it was the beauty of the setting, and
the upcoming wedding, that made me
feel that way. I didn't realize how holy
it was."
The same roll of film was used to
photograph the wedding, so King gave
the exposed film to the bride and
thought no more about it until one
day months later the bride invited her
over to view the slides.
"We got through all the slides and the one of the altar was the very
last one. We flashed it on the wall and we all got goosebumps."
The slide showed the altar, with an
open Bible, against a backdrop of a
bay window outside of which are trees.
What King claims is the face of Jesus
appears in the foliage of the trees.
As is with all such "miraculous"
apparitions, the viewer reads into the
object that which (s)he wants most

Page 14

March,1979

v

to see. Another viewer of the photo
(Mrs. King has had many copies made
for distribution) commented that "If I
see anything, our lord seems to resernble a woman eating leaves."
To still another man who is a Vietnam veteran the image appeared to be
that of a Vietcong soldier peering from
a hedge of bamboo foliage.
"I believe this picture is god's stamp
of approval on my work of helping
troubled young girls find themselves
through god. At the Lighthouse home,
we live for Christ seven days a week."
Skeptics say the whole thing is a
coincidence - the way the evening
sun was shining through the trees
outside the bay window. But Mrs.
King doesn't think so.
"The face of Christ is too real, so
full of compassion."
Maybe so. And maybe Mrs. King is
full of something other than her zeal
for Jesus.
A local Atheist commented that it
is more than just coincidence that Mrs.
King lives in a home for troubled
women.

American

Atheist

NEWS

Jews Seek Converts
A national organization of reform
Judaism has launched an active, proselytizing campaign to win converts to
the Jewish religion.
This campaign was announced in
December of last year by the board
of directors of the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations at the urging
of its president, Rabbi Alexander
Schindler.
Schindler rejected the widely held
conviction that Judaism does not
proselytize.
"The notion that Judaism was
never a missionary faith is wide of
the truth," he said. "That may have
been true for the last four centuries,
but not for the 4,000 years before
that."
The rabbi mentioned the present
situation in the United States which
finds millions of young people so
traumatized
by the Vietnam War,
Watergate, the drug scene, and an
an inability to deal with "future
shock" that they sometimes fall

RADIO REPORT:

Atheist
Series
Broadcas

in LA
KPFK, the Pacifica station in
Los Angeles, California, is now
broadcasting a twice monthly
commentary by George H. Smith,
author of ATHEISM: THE CASE
AGAINST GOD.
Mr. Smith's five-minute commentaries began being broadcast

"prey to mystical cults which literally enslave them."
Schindler opines that these zealots
hunger for faith and that it might as
well be the Jewish faith which satiates
their yearning to believe in the unbelievable.
"It will be low key, and not hard
sell," said Albert Vorspan, the Union's
vice president. "It won't involve buttonholing people, street campaigns, or
claiming Judaism is the only true faith.
"It will be aimed at the unchurched
[stand by, Atheistsl] and seeking, and
will be done mainly through information centers, study courses and literature."
This particular sect of the Jewish

on the first and third Thursdays
of each month as of February.
They are part of the station's
newly inaugurated Commentator
Series, presenting many points of
view unacceptable by commercial
media. The station's listener sponsorship assures independence
from pressure of commercial
sponsors.
Mr. Smith's appearance is the
result of months of effort by local American Atheist Ken Bonnell, who first convinced the station's management that Atheism
should be given a radio voice,
and then approached George H.
Smith to do the programs.
KPFK broadcasts at 90.7 FM
at a radiated power of 150,000
kilowatts, and is received from
San Diego to Santa Barbara counties in California.

March,1979

Austin, Texas

v

cult consists of 1.2 members among
735 congregations and represents the
most liberal branch among the largest
Jewish groups. Like the orthodox and
conservative branches, its members
have been showing increasing concern
for the "loss" of Jews through intermarriage and assimilation.
A low birthrate, a high number of
intermarriages
and the assimilation
of Jews into the American ethic are all
responsible for a drop in the number
of U.S. Jews who take interest in the
Jewish religion. Figures compiled in a
population survey show that at least
one-third of Jews' marry non-Jews and
the birth rate among Jewish couples
has fallen to 1.4 children for each family, below the replacement level.
This negative population growth
among U.S. Jews, should it continue,
would reduce the current six (6) million
Jewish population in the U.S. to four
(4) million by the year 2050.
Schindler said repressive laws and
fear of persecution no longer block
Jewish convert-seeking, and he called
on members to "resume their timehonored vocation" by taking "affirmative action in championing the Jewish
faith."

Raspberry
Pope John Paul's Xmas message to
his worldwide flock included a direct
blast at Atheists who disdain from acknowledging the "supreme" pontiff's
authority over all the earth.
On his last general audience of 1978,
the pope stated that "Atheism is contrary to the fundamental rights of
man," when it inhibits his right to
seek the one, true (Catholic) god.
"Man is the being who seeks god,"
he proclaimed. "This is the truth
about man. It cannot be falsified. Nor
can it be destroyed."
In a monumentally fallible proclamation the pope asserted that Atheism
conflicts with the freedom of the human spirit "when it denies a priori that
man is the being who seeks god, or
when in various ways, it mutilates
that search in social, public and culturallife."
With this pontifical put-down we
end this month's news section.

Page 15

Don't Just Stand There!
BE AT THE HEAD OF THE CROWD
The 1979 Convention of American Atheists in Dallas
will be one to remember. For years American Atheists
were forced to play the "do-it-yourself" game as
media persons and famous names feared association
with the dreaded word "Atheism." The barriers are
still not down - but we are getting there. Scheduled
speakers for this year's convention include:
Nicholas Walker - head of England's Atheists,
representing the the RPA (Rationalist Press
Association), a descendant organization of
Charles Bradlaugh's days.
Bill Baird - father of the modern abortion rights
movement in the United States. Mr. Baird is the
man who fought for the right to have birth
control devices displayed and sold over the
counter.

Edamaruku - founder and director of .the Indian
Atheist Centre, located in New Delhi, author,
lecturer, Atheist organizer.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair - founder of the American
Atheist Center and associated Atheist organizations and activities.
Albert Ellis, Ph.D. (tentative) - Dr. Ellis is the
executive director of the Institute for Advanced
Study in Rational Psychotherapy in New York
City.
Jon Garth Murray - Director of the American
Atheist Center.

*

A special feature of this year's convention will be
David Sonenschein's presentation and sociological
analysis of 13 years of "Nut Mail" received by
Atheist spokesperson Madalyn O'Hair.

For registration info write Convention Coordinator John Mays at P.O. Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768.

Page 16.

March, 1979

v

American Atheist

ON OUR WAY
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke

THE AMERICAN DOCTRINE

It

happens quite often that in conversations at informal gatherings I'm
forced to speak up for my Atheism;
usually when one or another in the
group tries to put an end to any further discussion of the subject by saying that, after all, everyone has to believe in something,
But, always, I've noticed most
minds of this kind really mean that
everyone just naturally and instinctively believes in some supernatural
entity upon whose supposed existence is structured one of the standard doctrines of the 250 or more
sects to which American addicts accord worship. And in most cases of
this kind I always attempt to explain
that, upon being born, every American
citizen has by virtue of his belonging
been endowed with the best doctrine
of all that exist, namely this nation's
Declaration-of-Independence
outlook
upon life.
I've lived in different spots on this
planet of ours almost fourscore years;
and during my sojourn, in reading and
delving into the subject of doctrine,
haven't run across any variety of it
that could come anywhere near favorably comparing with ours. This impels
me to wonder how anyone who is as
extraordinarily favored and benefited
by ours (as all American citizens are)
can suppose that people need to entertain a belief in something mystical or
supernatural or spectral (like god, for
instance) in addition to it.
Any mental attitude such as this
not only belittles our heritage of liberty
and freedom, but threatens to destroy
within such minds the most precious
of all the boons which the American is
so lucky to possess: his collective yet
independently and personally established integrity.
I'll trust this to point out that our
Constitution's Bill of Rights safeguards
the American to develop his individual
self - to express his psychic drive in
his own way - the way he alone of all
people can develop it. This American
doctrinal safeguard enables him to derive, from the mere fact of his American
existence - of his citizenship - a variety of joy that anywhere but here in

our US of A is largely denied to the
people of the world's other nations.
Citizens of other lands must conform with rules or obey laws or observe customs and traditions that (in
some localities or countries) were devised to prevent our type of free
self-expression.
Our
American
news-gathering
media report cases of this kind in other
lands time after time. The supremely
important fact clearly emerging from
deprivation of this tragic kind is that
while the thoughtless American is fritering away his time attending to matters that merely amuse him, the people who live in other lands are trying
to figure out how to attain the kind
of freedom we lightly take for granted
as though it were something that
comes hand in glove to everyone born.
We've over the years become so
used to it we no longer prize and really
appreciate it as we should. We are presently more and more careless about
guarding it, foolishly assuming it to be
something that's ours for keeps something that'll always be there, like
air, or night and day, requiring nothing
from us but our turning on the tap
from which it'll gush forth whenever
we really need it.
Well, have another think. It wasn't
always that way: it only became that
way scarcely more than 200 short
years ago - and - only here in America.
And the most prudent thought that
any of us will ever be able to generate
is that we will surely lose it if most of
us will devote our loyalty to anything
but it alone. There's plenty afoot aiming to deprive us of it.

I

t has long flabbergasted me to see
the American, who vehemently and at
all times ruffles up when called superstitious, go trotting off to church on a
Sunday where he prostrates himself in
worship of what? What besides the
thing that he denies he is submissive
to? This puzzling behavior of his of
course is what stamps him a Christianist - is what deludes him, makes him
forget that he is a citizen of the nation
whose yet unparalleled progressiveness
came to term because religious scruples

March,1979

Austin, Texas

v

were removed from the path of the
colonists who originally peopled it.
The way to the future was cleared
of any such obstructions for them. It
made them courageous, unafraid to go
forward. That's how it was in the US
in the beginning - but isn't now. We
since those days made good; accumulated too much, have grown fat and
lazy, and have forgotten that freedom
is what makes the US go. Either we
now don't like what we in the past
produced, or are afraid to face and
make the best of it. Have we been
staled by our freedom? Has it made
us into ingrates?
.
ThiS grand possession of ours: this
personal freedom which we.enjoy, will
by force of circumstances remain ours
only as long as we stay awake watchful and alert. We must guard
against everything and anything that's
apt to lull us to sleep, be especially on
guard against those who urge us to
trust them or some afreet for its safekeeping. In every such instance we
should and had better remember that
advisors of this kind were what had to
be distrusted and rejected long before
this personal freedom and independence became a factual reality.
The principal impediment that stood
in the way of the American's personal
freedom was the lying that was done
for very many previous centuries
about the god who was credited with
having provided it. This big lie that
was told about god was, as always,
tempting to believe because it invited
the sorely oppressed who craved freedom to leave the responsibility of acquiring the freedom to the device of
brazen liars.
It was so simple, so easy for them
to do; and consisted almost entirely of
various kinds of promises that everyone should have known couldn't possibly be fulfilled. The lying depended
for belief on the people's superstitious
fears of nature's unexpected manifestations and partly on the mysteries
of astronomical
phenomena.
Had
those people of long ago known
everything that is known about nature today, the lie of course wouldn't

Page 17

have been believed; the lying would
have produced no effect. The people's
ignorance obscured knowledge and
made good the lie - until our modern
day. Now we know.
, Hence let's make sure that the qualities and power of our modern enlightenment aren't used as chains and
shackles by the astute opponents of
our personal freedom - as has already
peen done in other lands where people, betimes as informed as we, lost
sight of the basic principles without
which freedom can't come into existence. Those principles must be defended and kept robustly operable and
dynamic. Although thoughts such as
these sound trite or old-hat when expressed, they take on importance once
we dig down to their potentialities.
I honestly hope that our prevailing
wishy-washyness won't turn out as
badly for us as it often threatens to but wishfully trust that our common
sense will see us safely through to an

improved situation. Maybe the American people as a whole aren't being
fooled as badly as I fear. At times like
this I feel a bit more optimistic after a
look at figures that aren't likely to be
lies. Consider the ones that follow.
In the year 1778, around 98 percent of the Western peoples, most of
them European, still believed' that
Christianistic postulates were guides
beyond reproach. Today, on the average, only 68 percent of Western peoples believe so. Thus, 200' years later
in 1978, belief in the Christianist doctrine and its tenets and dogmas has
suffered a decrease of 30 units: a linear
reduction of one and a half tenths of
one unit per year (0.15).
Hence, at this rate, to reach the
year in which only 50 percent of the
people will be believing what 68 percent of them now still believe can
be reasonably expected to be the year
2098. Here, in the US, the nation
wherein worship of Nicene dogma is

A C{[)set

Atheist

Peeks Out
By Donald R. Borthwick

Too

bad so many people are so insecure in their faith.
What other reason can there be to cause them to fear us? Because we COULD have something to offer them that might enrich their lives.
What might an Atheist have to give to a Christian? Well,
for one thing, a profound belief in, and acceptance of, mankind, of life, of trees and animals ... a belief that engenders
unlimited kindness, patience, and understanding of chance
events, acceptance of science, and an understanding of fear,
ignorance, and wrong thinking.
,
From my experience, Atheists are far more interesting
than Christians. And more honest. Or perhaps they just seem
more honest, because they aren't trying to sell me a piece
of the sky.
I believe I understand the anthropomorphic concept of
god and how it arose. Every evidence indicates it was thought
up by another human being, in another time, with less knowledge and more superstitions than I am burdened with. Poor
devil, would that he were here so I could set him straight on
a few things!
As an Atheist and pacifist, I feel I am infinitely more reinoved from war, murder, and chauvinism than the Christians
I see in Ireland or in the U.S. government.
Pity the poor Christian! He is trapped in the twin infin- ,
ities of time and space, because he cannot accept the thought
that there is neither time nor space. Else, how can he live forever in heaven at the right hand of god?

Page 18

March, 1979

more prevalent than elsewhere in the
West, it may take a little longer.

WhY

this is happening in our US of
A is another story which would take
no few pages to narrate in entirety.
But one way or another the figures
speak encouragingly to all those of us
whose outlook has been enlightened
by the philosophy of American Atheism, for we can rest easy that whatever these figures say it is far more dependable than the confusing theistic
fantasying being dished out to the
American people by religionists whose
opinions stem from outworn traditions
and selfish motives.
Take a look in the mirror, and ask
yourself what you'd have left were
you forced to give up your status as an
American citizen. I feel sure you will
find out and answer that, without your
Americanism, you couldn't get a pair
of thread-bare blue jeans in trade for
the doctrine you'd have left.

I am happy without time and space. Without these constraints I am free to judge events alone as reality. And I see,
where the Christian errs. Poor, misguided creature, he ascribes to god (or to the devil) the smashing descent of a child
falling from a 10th-story window. How foolish of him not to
think about the parents' contributions in leaving their
child near that open window!
"Only god has the power of life and death," cries the
Christian. Rubbish. I see that power demonstrated by many
persons every day as they kill. I know I have the power to
end my life any instant I please. Or yours. Birth? I make
babies, too. Or not, as I choose. Life and death.
"Oh, but you need something to fall back on ~;hen things
get tough." Why? I don't expect to receive any more than the
next person, and I can't stop the cosmic rays from slowly aging my cells so that I have little chance of surviving beyond
100 years like everyone else.
"As it must to all men, death came today to John Smith."
That's not important, it's just an event. What is important is
that someone noticed the event, and that it affected their lives
for good in some way - made them reflect on what a good
man John Smith was, or how he taught them to appreciate
Bach, or abhor war.
.
Atheists have no heaven, no prayers, no "spirits" to "help
them out." And they don't need any - in fact, are happy to
be so unencumbered. (I tried prayer once, when I was a boy,
and after about five seconds I was so ashamed of myself I
was almost sick.)
Christians must maintain the status quo or all is lost.
"Dirty commie Atheists" will take over the world, then what
would we have? Peace? The thought is chilling that there's
no way a Christian can talk to an Atheist. Why should it be
easier for me to talk to an Atheist commie than to a Christian senator? Perhaps politics and Christianity aren't compatible.
There's a universal appeal to Atheism that encompasses
all men, indeed, all living things. I believe that if everyone in
the world was as pacific as are most Atheists, the world might
A
have some hope for survival.
ItA

American Atheist

SPOIL THE BROTH
Madam Bryant is so defiant
in pushing her point of view.
If she were god, she'd have outlawed
the things that others do.
And all the clients of Madam Bryant,
who yearn to turn to a bigoted tyrant,
should learn to be more self-reliant;
still, they line up at the pew
to baa and bleat on cue.
Oh, let us let them have their fake.
They have exactly what it takes
to give themselves a bellyache.
Too many cooks - but let them bake
their, cake, Anita too.

CONFEREE
Jesus is the way
On a bumper sticker
Stuck to chrome metal.
He moves on wheels
And ignition power
Engineered by science.
On His own He stalls
On pews and on knees
Spent by religiosity.

Kendal Bush

His way up is here
Where earth, the sea,
The wind, all confer.

TIME PASSIN G BY

He follows his host
Who follows in turn
Like a wheel on a rod.

Frederick Glasser

POPE JOHN PAUL, TAKE TWO

Time passing by Like water in a stream
We flow by the shores,
Never to return.
The irresistable forward flow
Creating an illusion of stillness,
As a leaf is carried along
We move.
And time in its stillness
Measures our passing.

Joe Carter

A pill,
a pope,
and still
no hope.

THE DOCTOR OF DIVINITY

"An earth
patrol
for birth
control. "

The pastor bellows at his sheepish flock
As if he were a bull, his horns about to lock.
He thumps his pulpit in pretended rage,
Like some cheap actor on a tawdry stage.
He shouts that man must be indeed reborn.
Of sex his slimy lips do ever warn.
.
The world of modern science he tries to laugh to scorn.
He views intelligence defensively.
He praises witless piety extensively.
He is a first-rate fundamentalist.
By Lady Wisdom he has ne'er been kissed.

Said he,
"We will
your freedom kill."
"Lest sin
should win. "

Lee Carter

Maxwell Morton

Austin, Texas

March, 1979

v

Page 19

TheEvolution
of an
American
Atheist
by
Samuel Carter McMorris

A

year ago, my beloved mother
died at the age of eighty-two, still a
firm believer in the "faith of our
fathers," the Judeo-Christian religion,
That this should be so was natural in
the context of her heritage. My grandmother, her mother, was a somewhat
celebrated evangelist of the African
Methodist Episcopal (AME) branch of
Protestantism, in whose honor, following her death, a temple was erected in
her home town of Huntington, West
Virginia and named, for her, the Rev.
Lula J. Morgan Church.
I have often said that my interest in
and, hopefully, aptitude in the law is
due to the inheritance of my preacher
grandmother's eloquence or "gift of
gab," and my policeman father's communicated experiences in his chosen
trade. In any event, that I should be
equally exposed to the Judeo-Christian faith was a foregone conclusion
and I shall always remember the annual
Easter and Christmas Sunday school
programs at Mt. Vernon Avenue AME
Church in Columbus, Ohio, at which
my mother proudly viewed her growing son's delivery of the longest recitation, until I discontinued this twiceyearly practice at the age of 15. The
last piece was entitled, ironically, "No
Sects in Heaven."
At that age, the first definitive step
toward my evolution away from Christianity, and toward the freethought of
the Agnostic, anti-cleric, or Atheist,
also occurred. I was then, at East High
School, in the third of my four-year
Latin studies; and just fortuitiously,
my teacher, with what I remember as a
knowing or mischievous look in her
eye, assigned her prize pupil, for my
term paper, the historical and com par-

Page 20

ative study of the rise and fall of ancient religions. This study brought
home to my adolescent mind the fact
that, as each civilization rose and fell,
it first established, and later died with,
its gods and demi-gods. This was startingly true of the mightiest nations of
the ancient world, the Greek and Roman empires, which, as it appears,
were devoutly faithful to their multiple gods, until their existence was disproved, centuries after their founding,
by the historical fact of the fall of
Greece and Rome.
Soon, I began to apply the logic of
history to my own bi-furcated religious belief, the Judeo-Christian. As I
matured toward manhood, religious
reading and thought became one of
my hobbies; and, after graduating
from high school at the age of 17, the
evolution of my skeptic's thinking

March,1979

came to a climax, again because of the
sociological and historical facts of my
own life.
Although I did not yet fully comprehend the reasons, I became increasingly aware that I was one contributor, for a while, to the statistics
which show the American black man,
and particularly the black teen-ager, as
the last-hired and first-fired; that I was
a part of the nearly 50 percent of
black youth for which this economy
habitually finds no place. I saw some
of my peers begin to resort first to petty, then to more serious, crimes of
self-preservation: theft, burglary, robbery. I could not understand why I,
then a devout believer in the religion
my mother had taught me, saying my
nightly prayers, obeying all the laws of
god and of Caesar, even (at that time)
. the rule of celibacy, asking only for an
honest job and the chance to work my
way through college, was apparently
abandoned to unemployment, frustration, insecurity, and, conceivably,

American Atheist

J

starvation (or crimes of survival) by
the god to whom I prayed.
I asked myself whether, if faced
with the choice of abject poverty or
starvation on one hand and the violation of the law and the commandments on the other, I would have sufficient faith in the reality of a hereafter to welcome the latter and a
chance to find the "milk and honey
in heaven" which the preachers held
out as the carrot to balance their stick
of punishment in hell for the nonbeliever and the unrighteous. What
if the clerics were mistaken, honestly
or fraudulently?
My budding interest in social
science, in which I hoped to (and
later did) majorIn pre-law studies,
further brought hometo me the great
injustices, such
racial discrimination and economic exploitation, which
seemed to be the way Of the world and
which somehow seemed inconsistent
with the control of man's destiny by
a benevolent superpower. The senseless slaughter of war, the mass starvation of innocent children, the human regression of alcoholism and drug
'ab\lse, tlie,prevalence of crime, organ~, ized and individual, illiteracy, pover;::~;
ty, depression, suicide, all suggested to
thatman was on his own; and that
. ·.~perhaps his problems were even agv: gravated precisely to the extent to
which he prayed to and depended on
'an only imaginary deity for deliverance.
During this period, too, I became
aware of the writings of the freethinkers and Atheists, such as Robert Green
Ingersoll and Clarence Darrow, some
of whose works would soon be left to
me by my father who, unlike my
mother, in his later years, at least, began to question the foundations of his
religious faith. I learned that many
such thinkers, after full studies for the
religious ministry, abandoned the profession of the clergy as a fraud and
turned to other pursuits, such as the
law.
My reading had made me aware of
many inconsistencies in the New Testament. Much of what we were taught
as divine gospel was remarkably similar to the myths of the gods and heroes
of ancient Greek and Roman writers.
The story of the life of Jesus as told
by the Apostles, (most of whom never
even knew or saw him so that, their
versions of his life and sayings were
hearsay), seemed, in reflection, solely
and totally the product.of fertile imagination - from the "immaculate conception" through the water-into-wine
miracles to the alleged resurrection. I
joined with those who questioned the

as

>'rlre

resurrection as either a pure invention
or a contrived fraud, such as removal
of the body from the sepulchre, as a
first step in a religious charade which
was to last for centuries.
I could not accept the divinity of a
man whose garment was too good to
be touched by Gentiles, nor believe in
a god, or son-of-god, who proclaimed
any race or subrace or nationality as
god's "chosen people." So I did not
argue to the contrary when my best
friend of the time suggested that the
immaculate conception was the lie
Mary told Joseph. Thus, even before
I reached 18, my freethought in the
religious field had caused me totally
to reject the Christian half, at least,
of Judeo-Christianity.
What I had learned of the gospel
writings led me to the conclusion that
those ancient scribes had gradually
evolved a Christ well beyond what he
himself had believed, taught, done, or
preached during his brief span on this
planet. It was significant to me that
the Jewish people, some of whom
were the very first Christians just before and after the death of Christ, believing for a while that he was their
messiah foretold by the Old Testament, eventually denied that he was
either divine or in any way a fulfillment of the prophesy.
It appeared ironic that, as the Hebrews moved away from the acceptance of Jesus as their "savior," the
hierarchy of the budding Christian
church of that ancient day miraculously manipulated the faith which had
been claimed and heralded as an in-·
strument of Jewish salvation, to now
encompass the Gentile world. To the
latter, first in Greece and Rome, those
who now proclaimed belief in Christ
had to resort to keep alive their new
religion, hidden, as it was for the
first 400 years or so, in the Roman
catacombs.
I could not accept as my personal
savior a Jew who proclaimed his mission as favoring that one nationality
or subrace ("king or messiah of the
Jews"), and who never, to my understanding, preached equality of Jew
and Gentile. Since Jews essentially are
born, not made, I felt excluded for
life, if I accepted the literal language
of the New Testament, from full participation both in humanity and divinity. I could not identify with a belief
which made of me a second-class citizen in the eyes of god.
Years later, in the decade or so before the writing of this essay, I would
see liberal, freethinking members of
the clergy throughout the world begin to question the divinity of Jesus -

Austin, Texas

March,1979

1/

or even his existence, at least in the
form in which he is presented in the
gospels. The latter-day discovery of
the Dead Sea Scrolls, coupled with
centuries of research and thought in
the field of religion, collectively raised
serious questions regarding a divine basis for the Christian faith. The religious
philosophers were beginning to catch
up with my adolescent thinking: that
Jesus Christ, if not a figment of the
imagination, was at best a purely human being, who became an instrument
and tool, a product of historical religious evolution, carefully guided and
shaped by the clergy for the past
2,000 years into an institution for the
self-preservation and well-being of the
men of the cloth at the expense of the
rest of us.
HaVing rejected Christianity, I was
left only very briefly with the other
half of the "faith of our fathers": the
Judaic belief, as presented in the Old
Testament, the other side of the coin,
which I immediately called into question. If Jesus was only a man, developed by the gospel writers into an
alleged divinity which he himself did
not claim, what was left to me of the
belief I had been taught? Only the Old
Testament, written of, by and for the
Jewish people. Could I logically accept the Jewish-Gentile dichotomy
which placed me at a disadvantage in
this life and for all time to come?
Would not my own mental and physical salvation demand, rather, that I
recognize the Judaic faith as simply a
product of the historical development of a tiny minority of the human race, a subgroup of the Semitic
subrace?
My studies made it appear that, all

Page 21

of ancient and medieval man to answer questions which his science did
not yet understand. This differential
development was a function of this
very isolation and the absence of a
unifying force, such as an all-encompassing divinity. By this reasoning,
man created god in man's own image.
Were there in fact a god it would
seem that he would manifest himself to man uniformly, and not leave
the divisions of humanity with the
kind of religious diversity and conflict which has spawned fratricidal
wars through all history: as witness
the ancient conflicts of the Jewish
state with all its Gentile neighbors, the
centuries of struggle between Christianity and Islam beginning. with the
Crusades, and today's Irish CatholicProtestant and Israeli-Arab civil or
not-so-civil wars, one of which might
well lead to atomic Armageddon.
By this reasoning, it was automatic, even necessary, to reject the
Judaic faith as encompassed in the
teachings of my childhood, from the
Old Testament which clearly stated
that the Earth and its creator were
"first to the Jew."
I can understand how the Hebrews,
in their historical evolution, their
nationalistic struggles with their neighbors, would develop a faith which sustained their own self-image and justified their existence, just as other
pockets of men invented and developed or accepted beliefs which advanced their psychic and political
needs. What was not logical was for
the Gentiles, the opposite end of the
dichotomy, to attempt to apply to
themselves a philosophy from which
they were, by definition, excluded.
As man moves, through the development of modern travel and communication, inevitably toward one. world,
and as man has answered, through
science, most of the questions which
troubled his ancient and medieval
ancestors and which led to myths,
superstitions, and religions, it would
appear that there is no need for the
perpetuation of these faiths. I for one
am not content simply to oppose the

Page 22

right of the various cults and sects of
the American religious community to
a tax-exempt status (though I do support the Atheists in this endeavor). I
must constantly hope and strive for
the next phase in man's progress, in
which religion will be no more.
I believe that historical extinction
faces all faiths, large and small, Judaic,
Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Shinto,
Hindu, Moslem; and my discussion,
therefore, of the religion which once
formed a part of my own philosophy
is by way of example and not an intention to present it as especially vulnerable or blameworthy. I must say,
however, that it seems clear to me that
the stories of the Old Testament were
the fictions and inventions of biased
scribes, attempting to glorify the Jewish experience on Earth as in league
with their god, by interweaving incidents or' alleged divine intervention
into the prosaic and mundane facts
of history. For example, even they
now admit that the story upon which
one of their religious holidays, Hanukkah, is based, is a myth. The same
should be said, I believe, for every
instance in which an alleged god is
said to have participated, from the
giving of the law to Moses through
the divided-sea escape from bondage
in Egypt. The biblical short stories are
of the same level of credibility as are
Grimm's Fairy Tales or the Greek and
Roman gods and heroes.

I

could never accept a religion that
holds up one group of men, whether
I am a part of that group or not, as
first in the eyes of god. Thus, I opposed
the recently developed so-called Black
Muslim cult, both on the basis of my
general anti-clericalism and on the
ground that it is (or was) racist. I will
concede that some white men (the
Nazis, for example) are "blue-eyed
devils," but this is due to social malfunction, not divine creation.
A religious statement to the effect
that one segment of the human race
is chosen by god is inherently racistic,
nationalistic, and invalid.
Finally, since I have demonstrated
from earliest childhood the mental
capacity which was eventually to
master the legal profession, I cannot
accept a religion that makes of me a
"hewer of wood and drawer of water
to all eternity," which could be used
to justify the 200 and more years of
slavery of my ancestors in this country, and which to the present day
makes of me .and my kind secondclass citizens in the religious word, not
acceptable, for instance, as an equal
member of the Mormon congregation

March, 1979

or the Southern Baptist church schools.
In the past so years, man has made
a strong movement away from religious
belief. The first and highly dramatic
step in this direction was taken by
Russia in 1917-1918, when a formerly
highly religious country replaced the
church teachings with science upon
the triumph of communism. A genera- .
tion later, China, the most populous
nation on earth, broke the parasitic
grip of the men of a different religion.
A similar development has occurred in
every country which has adopted the
communistic system. In spite of the
strenuous (and profitable) efforts of
highly publicized American evangelists, the pendulum has not swung and I predict will not swing - the
other way. With this recent history in
mind, and looking at mankind as a
whole, it is clear that there is much
less religion today than ever before.
Upon my abandonment of the
Judeo-Christian myth, I had the option, of course, of turning to another
of the world's religions, most of
which would not make of me a secondclass citizen in the eyes of god. In fact,
only Shinto, of the world's major religions, shares the nationalistic or
racistic stance of the Judaic one. Shinto is a peculiarly ethnocentric and exclusionary faith, in which the emperor is god and hence first to the
Japanese. A study of and comparison
of the two in fact reinforce the position that isolation leads to religious
diversity and conflict.
In any event, it would seem that,
when the religion taught and accepted
as "The Truth" has been rejected
through study and logical reasoning, we are left with science, not
another superstition, to replace the
former philosophy; and that all religions are frauds, rackets, self-perpetuating devices for the support and
security of confidence-men, self-appointed and annointed as the emissaries or spokesmen of their alleged
god.
After the defeat of Japan in World
War II, there was apparently a weakening and loosening of the divine hold
of the emperor upon his subjects since
the supposed god had not delivered
victory to his subjects in their holy
crusade to establish lebensrarum for
themselves. To me, the experience of
the Japanese is a model and harbinger
of the future of religion - the symbolic handwriting on the wall.
ConVerSelY and miraculously, the
Jewish faith is the only one I know of
which has survived massive defeat of
its homeland base and dispersion

American Atheist

over this earth, where men and nations
developed in isolation one from
another, the various nationalities, in
the same way that different languages
and cultures arose, also fashioned divergent religious faiths, in the attempt
throughout the world. They have been
held together, through adversity, pogrom, Diaspora, by the belief, nurtured
by their clergy, that they remain god's
chosen and will inherit the Earth or,
at least, the Promised Land - whatever that is.
Accepted throughout the civilized
world, in greater or lesser degree, it
would appear that this people, scattered by Diaspora yet bound together
by their faith in a special relationship to god, have been Jews first,
Americans second; Jews first, Germans second; Jews first, Russians
second; and so on. Thus while blaming the populations into which they
have migrated for what they call
anti-Semitism (although the Jews
are only a minority of the Semitic
subrace), in all fairness it must be
stated that, at least to some extent,
they have been the architects of their

own misfortunes.
The fact that they did not accept
Christianity (justifiably, in the opinion
of this writer) led to ostracism and resentment of many within Christian
nations, rightly or wrongly. Also, the
clergy of the Christian faiths, notably
the Catholic one, and particularly in
medieval times, found it convenient to
enhance their own positions and philosophies by making of the Jews
scapegoats as the killers of Jesus
Christ (again, justifiably, under the
laws of that day).
However, the most important single
ingredient of anti-Judaism is the reaction to the dichotomy of Jew-versusGentile which appears to be central to
the Judaic religion, and for which they
alone are thus responsible. It would be
to the advantage of the people of Israel to adopt the religious approach
of Russia and China, substituting
science for the insistent teaching of
their clergy of a self-defeating dichotomy, and the myths and fairy tales
of the Old Testament.
Because the Jew has been the greatest victim of religious conflict since

the Diaspora, the removal of the cause
of this divergence by the spread of
Atheism and its eventual triumph might
well be sought as the "final solution"
by both Jew and Gentile. All of mankind should and must move toward a
one world of scientific understanding
in which all religions are rejected as
man-made products of superstition
and ignorance, a prime cause of interhuman conflict because (A the inconsistencies and nationalistic tendencies
of this spawn of isolation.
Atheism may exist independently
of communism and compatibly with
other systems. It is inherently a philosophical, not a political determination. Conversely, religion historically
has been used for political purposes,
notably in the unholy alliance of
state and church symbolized by the
divine right of kings. In our time, we
have the example of the apparent belief, or official line, that the military
acquisition of the lands of national
neighbors may be an act of god - the
delivery of the Promised Land.

To

this writer, a religious state,
whether Christian, Moslem, Shinto,
or Jewish, is a modern-day anachronism, leading away from the sociological progress of which man is capable
and must espouse if we are ever to
eliminate war, famine, pestilence, and
untimely death from the lot of man.
The next stage in man's evolution will
be a step into that bright future when,
not depending upon a non-existent deity, we shall learn to resolve all our
problems through human solutions
and apply the energy- and wealth
which we now invest in church edifices
and clergy to the eradication of famine, to the promotion of universal education, to the minimization of crime
by full employment, to a better and
fairer distribution of our collective
product.
This world must be not to the Jl\w,
not to the American, not to the Russian, but to all mankind - living together, working together, not just tolerating but fully accepting and understanding each other, regardless of race
or color, and not divided by religious
creed.
Atheism well may become the
common denominator of the unification of humankind.

.

"It's the only way we could get the stubborn Jew to move the cross. "

March,1979

Austin, Texas

v

Page 23

A JOYOUS ATHEIST
G. Richard Bozarth
JEWISH ATHEISTS?

I

can't help it. "Jewish Atheist" is a contradiction in terms
as far as I am concerned. However, I am willing to be persuaded
if the arguments against mine are convincing. One reader, who
described himself as a "Jewish Atheist," tried to convincingly
explain it to me in a letter. He told me things like:
"'Jewish' is not a religion or a race, but a 'point of view'
of the world ... Judaism is just another 'point of view' of the
cosmos ... History is really our god more than anything else
... Today Judaism is basically a cultural movement. It's an
identity, a symbolic passage into history ... There is no contradiction to being an Atheist Jew or a Jewish Atheist. It's
like being an American Atheist or a French Atheist or a
Chinese Atheist. Or an Israeli Atheist, for that matter."
I wrote back wondering what this Jewish "point of view"
is. I've read enough theology to know what Judaism's "point
of view" is, and there is nothing secular about it, any more
than the "points of view" of the world of Mormonism or
Catholicism or Islam or Hinduism are secular. To be a Jewish
Atheist, if such is possible, the Jewish "point of view" must be
totally secular.
I'm still awaiting a reply. As of this writing, it has been
two and a half months.

I

cannot disassociate Judaism from Jewishness. From my
study of the latest Jewish god, I am convinced that the. Jews
exist today only because of their religion. I don't think there is
any other example in all history of a nation being so totally
defeated as the nation of Judea (the last remnant of the Israel
established by Saul, David, and Solomon) was by the Romans
in 70 A.D., then so thoroughly dispersed among so many
nationalities, yet retaining a common identity as a people that
spanned borders and cultures and so much persecution.
There is only one aspect of Jewishness that can account
for this remarkable survival, and that is Judaism.
Jews have been "leaking" out of Jewishness, and ceasing
thereby to be Jews, since the very first moment the Jews rec/ognized themselves as Jews. Those who have passed out of
Jewishness were, and are, the ones who gave up all that makes
up Judaism. The famous "lost tribes" of Israel did not become
lost. They were assimilated into the surrounding cultures.
These tribes of the northern state of Israel (the nation
split into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah after the death of,
Solomon in 926 B.C.) were "more sophisticated and open to
pagan influence," and consequently "the northern kingdom
drifted into religious ambiguity," then drifted out of Jewishness and history as a recognizable ethnic group (Man, Myth,
& Magic. Vol. 12, p. 1,644). Judah in the south remained solidly in Judaism because it possessed Jerusalem where the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant were. So, "the main body of
the Jewish community everywhere is of Judahite descent."
(Ibid., p. 1,643)
How often has this been repeated over the centuries? Unlike the blacks or the Indians or the Orientals, there's no racial distinction to make the Jew readily identifiable as such. If

Page 24

March, 1979

v

a Jew could get out of the Jewish community, he or she could
disappear into the general population simply by non-kosher
behavior. This person's children could in no way think of
themselves as Jewish if not raised to live the kosher life as described by Judaism. I'd like to see a black or a Chinese try the
same trick. Even if raised from infancy by white parents and
totally indoctrinated in WASPism, they would know they
weren't white.
Is the answer culture? I'd like to know one single part of
Jewish culture that isn't so thoroughly rooted in Judaism that
it canbe accepted by a true Atheist? Judaism is Jewish culture;
Jewish culture is Judaism. The Jews have no secular traditions
because since 70 A.D. they have preserved their identity as
Jews only through Judaism.
Another way to look at it is to ask how would one give or
teach a Jewish identity to a child without also imparting Judaism to him or her? Consider that an American identity is
gained by imparting the basic philosophy of American life,
morals and government as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. This basic philosophy is what makes an American, and it is independent of any theology. A person of any nationality or theological background can become an American without becoming a Christian.

_at

is the basic, secular, Jewish philosophy that gives
one a Jewish identity while at the same time being independent of Judaism? If "Jewish Atheist" is not a contradiction
in terms, then such a basic, secular, philosophy must exist.
If it exists, then a person born and raised in China should be
able to become a Jew without having to accept one single part
of Judaism, just as that person can become a true and loyal
American without accepting any part of Christianity.
I submit this is not possible. Judaism makes Jews and
Jews perpetuate Judaism, just as Christianity makes Christians and Christians perpetuate Christianity. There can be no
Christians without Christianity. It is inconceivable that there
should be Jews without Judaism.
Is there unity in identification with the history of the Jews?
I wonder. Most Jews in America are Ashkenazim, or European Jews. I wonder if they really identify with the history of
the Sefardim, or Oriental Jews? They do not. After all the interviews of Israel's Ashkenazim leaders I've read in Time, it is
obvious their historical orientation is entirely European. They
identify with the centuries of European Jewish history, but
not with the centuries of, say, North African Jewish history.
I doubt if the Ashkenazim even have a cultural identification with the Sefardim, because the Oriental Jews have different "liturgical rites, customs, ceremonies and popular
foods." (M, M, & M, Vol. 11, p. 1,530) This whole historicalcultural argument is nonsense because the Jews of the world
do not share one history or one culture. They share only one
thing in common: Judaism. Without Judaism, what link
would a Jew whose ancestors had spent the last 2,000 years in
North Africa have with a Jew whose ancestors had spent the

American Atheist

same 2,000 years in Europe? Absolutely none.

Wat

really is the Jewish identity? Doesn't it derive from
the concept of the Jews as the holy "chosen people?" It
doesn't derive from history, nor from culture, nor from
nationality. As Arthur Hertzberg writes in Judaism (p. 12),
"Jews have regarded it as self-evident that the god of all the
world had made them his priest-people, his 'suffering servant,'
to live by the Law and to bear the burden of the woes that
might come to them. Their task is to achieve redemption for
themselves and to lead mankind to the day when, in the words
of the liturgy, 'the Lord will be one and his name one'."
In other words, the Jew is the most superior person on
this planet. That is the Jewish identity. It gives to little egos
an easy pretention to greatness. It gives to the Jew a sense of
special uniqueness that need not be earned by any display of
especially unique merit. Just as too many whites still feel they
are superior beings simply because they are white, so does the
Jewish identity impart a sense of being a superior being simply because one is a Jew.
One who describes himself as a "Jewish Atheist" is one
who may have intellectually given up Old Yahweh, but he or
she has not psychologically given up the theological nonsense
of the dogma of the "chosen people." That ego-flattering sense
of superiority so inherent in the Jewish identity is so satisfying that the "Jewish Atheist" must hide his or her continued
support of Judaism under such phrases as "cultural movement"

or "point of view of the world."
There is no Jewish identity independent of Judaism, and
Judaism is a religion as surely as Atheism is not a religion. The
Jewish identity is just another religious need, and cannot exist
for an Atheist. There is no such thing as a Jewish Atheist.
When the human beings of the world no longer identify
themselves as Jews or Christians or Muslims or Hindus or Budhists or any other type of religionist, then human life will become far more free and pleasant than it currently is. The only
identity that can bring this about is an Atheist identity.
And I mean that to preclude nationalistic qualifiers as
well. I am an Atheist who happens to be an American because I was born in the US of A. I am not an American Atheist except in the sense that I belong to an organization that is
called American Atheists because it is an organization of Atheists in America.
(While Ibelieve the basic philosophy of America -life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - is of universal virtue,
I also understand that it can only have universal application
by being adapted in context of each culture. America's saddest mistake has been to insist life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness can only be obtained by mimicking Western culture - particularly Christianity. This has failed spectacularly,
much to the glee or communists everywhere.)
The Atheistic identity cannot be clothed in the sad rags of
any religion, whether it be Judaism or any other. There are
no Jewish Atheists. There are only Atheists.

A

"His Holiness requests that you get your smart ass down to see him, presto!"

Austin, Texas

March,1979

Page 25

This article is reprinted
from the New Zealand
RATIONALIST as
part of our United
World Atheists series
featuring the activities, thoughts, and
writings of Atheists in other countries.

by Sandra Coney

At

the hearings of the Select Committee (New Zealand) on Women's
Rights, one of the committee members
asked me: "Why do you think god
made men and women different?" I
was rendered speechless by this question and can't remember what I answered, but I can remember thinking
"What the hell has god got to do with
it?" Silly me. Unfortunately god has
an awful lot to do with it, as my recent excursions into biblical and Christian teachings have made very clear
to me.
Whilst few people in our community
today are active churchgoers, our society is regarded as a Christian one and
few people admit to being outright
Atheists or Agnostics.
Christian practices and beliefs are
so much a part of our ordinary lives
that we often overlook the religious
origins of some of the things we do .
and think. To a limited but
~,
significant extent we
"

still observe Sunday; we observe Christmas with great gusto albeit rather differently than was initially envisaged; Christian teachings are
. quoted in places as diverse as Parliament and the letters to the editor
columns to justify opposition to such
things as homosexuality and abortion;
and opinions about woman's place and
woman's role are sometimes overtly,
sometimes covertly, the result of ingrained Christian dogma.
Christianity is a male religion; a religion devised by men for men and
with a male god. Its teachings both in
the Old and New Testaments are antiwomen and relegate women to a very
narrow role as servers of men.
People in the church today are
rather anxious to stress that the church
today follows the teachings of the
New Testament, not those of the Old,
and that the Christian religion follows
the teachings of Christ.
On looking at the Old Testament I
can see why, but their protestations
are not convincing. Jesus was the "son

Page 26

of god" and his father sent him to
Sarah acquiesced and was taken as
wife by Pharoah. Women are men's
earth to save mankind by spreading
possessions, and as such can be used to
the good word. Jesus preaches the commandments which god revealed to Moseal a peace, settle a debt, buy freeses and the teachings of the New Testdom or maintain a friendship.
ament are developments of the philosophies expounded in the Old. Actions
Wmen
were regarded as recepwhich are sins in the Old Testament
tacles for men's seed. They were necesare still sins in the New, but the modes
sary for the continuation of the male
of punishment for falls from grace are
line, Man, having made the connection
softened in Christ's teachings.
between the sexual act and paternity,
Physical retribution was heaped on
had to apply strict taboos to insure the
hapless sinners in the Old Testament;
purity of the line. By passing on his
in the New Testament the sancitons
name, wealth and territories to his
against transgressions are more subtle.
sons, a man could insure for himself
Adulterers in the Old Testament were
a kind of immortality. Pre-marital virto be burnt or stoned to death. Jesus
ginity and post-marital faithfulness
had this to say about adultery: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust
after he hath committed adultery with
her already in his heart." So he removed
were important in women for this reaariy possibility you might get away
son. And, of course, it was essential
with it.
that the mother of the "son of god"
be a virgin so that there could be no
A very rigid role is ascribed to
doubt about the paternity of the child.
women in the Bible. They are
Even after Joseph married Mary "he
seen as wives and mothers,

but in these roles they
t:~, knew her not" till Jesus was born.
Childbirth is the lot of biblical wo~~~~'''~''''
.":".
men - as many children and as often
"~l~' .,1::=:'; •.
as possible. Of course the Old Testaare totally at the mercy of their
ment patriarchs were polygynous and
male masters - their fathers, brothers,
so often had several wives as well as
and husbands. Women are given away
concubines. To be barren was a woor taken in. marriage: there is never
mall's greatest sorrow and many Old
mention of the feelings of the woman.
Testament wives humbly arranged alWomen are the possessions of their
ternative childbearers for their husmale kin, and transgressions that they
bands when they found themselves so
make are condemned not so much beafflicted.
cause they besmirch the perpetrators,
Sarah was barren, so she gave her
but because they reflect badly on their
Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, to Abramale kin.
ham so that his seed might multiply.
"And if a man shall take his brother's
And Jacob had sons by his barren
wife, it is an unclean thing; he hath unwife Rachel's handmaiden after Leah
covered his brother's
nakedness."
reached the menopause. Jacob had 12
"And the daughter ·of any priest, if
children by his wives and their handshe profane herself by playing the
maidens. In typical biblical proporwhore, she profaneth her father: she
tions there were 11 sons and one
shall be burnt with fire." (Leviticus)
daughter.
In the Old Testament wives could be
If all the biblical patriarchs propassed from hand to hand if the occaduced children in ratios like that it is
sion called for it.
difficult to see how there would have
"And it came to pass when he was
been enough wives for each man to
come near to enter into Egypt, that he
have one wife, let alone several. Obvisaid unto Sarai his wife, 'Behold now,
ously the births of daughters were not
I know that thou art a fair woman to
considered important enough to record
look upon; therefore it shall come to
since their part in the perpetuation of
pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee,
the race was only as incubators.
that they shall say,' This is his wife.
'And they will kill me, but they will
be
justification for casting women
save thee alive. Say I pray thee, thou
in such a narrow role is contained in
art my sister; that it may be well with
the third chapter of Genesis. Eve
me for thy sake; and my soul shall
tempted Adam, he gave in and as a
live because of thee'."

.---.

c

March, 1979

American Atheist

punishment god said to her: "I will
greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy
conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring
forth children; and thy desire shalt be
unto thy husband, and he shall rule
over thee."

PaUl

uses the same arguments in
the New Testament. Woman was made
from man, therefore she is subject to
his domination. In Paul's eyes woman
must eternally pay for her sin in
tempting Adam in the garden of Eden.
"Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." Therefore, he argues
she shall not speak

~

.....::=:!:::- .
in church; she shall not
usurp authority over her man but be
silent.
The only path to salvation for females was in childbirth. "She shall be
saved in childbearing, if they continue
in faith and charity and holiness and
sobriety." Woman is damned from the
moment of birth and must purge herself of her innate guilt by constant
motherhood. It must have been difficult for Paul to reconcile his existence
with the rather fundamental fact that
he was the result of a sexual act and
was popped out from between a woman's loins.
Wmen
in the Bible rarely step outside this role. They must be virutous
women or be damned. Female transgressors of the strict Judaic moral
code were punished savagely. A woman who was found not to be a virgin upon marriage could be stoned and
killed. A man and a woman who had
sex while she was menstruating would
both be cut off from their people.
Today's double standard has nothing on the Judaic double standard. Tamar was promised the third son in
Judah's family as a husband (Jehovah
had struck dead the first two brother I
husbands) but Judah didn't keep his
promise. So Tamar disguised herself
as a harlot and waylaid Judah and he
"went in unto her" and she conceived.
And when Judah perceived that Tamar
was pregnant he was outraged. "She is
with child by whoredom," he said, "let
her be burnt." Of course he aboutfaced when he discovered that he was
the father of the child.
Women in the Bible are either black

Austin,

or white - there are no in-betweens.
They're either sober and godly matrons
- Virgin Mary types - or Delilahs or
Jezebels. There are plenty of "evil"
women in the Bible - temptresses,

."~.

::;~y-----~~~--~--~~~----~
'."').;"::~

.;~: adulteresses. A sweaty fear of women
comes through - you must either keep
them barefoot and pregnant or watch
out.
Eve started it all by tempting Adam
and bringing about man's fall from
-:=.;.~! grace. (Other versions of Hebraic legends are even more interesting. In some
Adam had an earlier wife Lilith who
objected to lying beneath her husband
when copulating. "I also was made of
dust, and am therefore your equal."
Adam then tried to force her submission with which Lilith, in a rage, flew
into the air and left him. The authors
of the Old Testament overcame this
potential
ideological difficulty
by
making Eve out of Adam's rib.
Women tempt men and subvert
them from the path of righteousness.
Women are dangerous, unpredictable,
treacherous. A man must watch carefully that he does not become ensnared
by a woman. "Give not thy strength
to a woman" is one of the Proverbs.
And there's always the horrible fate
of Sampson to drive the message
home. Women emasculate.
Women are often blamed for wickedness and catastrophies - as in the fall
of man. Evilness is often described in
female terms. Tribes or cities which
displease the lord are described in
terms of whoredom and wantonness
and harlotry. Ninevah is addressed in
the following terms: "Woe to her that
is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing
city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction."
With the omission of Lilith, biblical
women are reduced to the two categories I discussed above, with one exception. After pages of "seeds" and
childbirth it was a relief to meet Vashti - the only "uppity woman" I found
in the Bible.
Vashti was the wife of King Ahasuerus. He gave a great feast for all his
princes and servants and Vashti at the
same time entertained the palace ladies
to a feast. After seven days of feasting,
the blind-drunk Ahasuerus ordered
Vashti into his presence to show her
off to the princes. Vashti refused and

::::i

March, 1979

Texas

j

this enraged her husband. In consultation with the court wise men he decided he must make an example of
Vashti or all the women of the country would despise and be contemptuous
of their husbands. So he banished her
and sent letters to all his provinces saying that all women must be subject to
their husbands.
The king then set about finding
another wife. He had all the fair young
virgins of the land brought to his palace where they were purified for 12
months before they could come before him. Then each virgin went to
the king's palace in the evening and
left in the morning for the concubines' house, never to see the king
again. Eventually the- king hit a virgin
who pleased him sufficiently and took
her as a queen - and that was Esther.

be

Old Testament is not anti-sexuality so much as pro-procreation.
There is a healthy animalism in their
attitudes towards sexual activity - at
least on the part of the men - there is
rarely any indication of what was going on in the minds of the women. Sex
is accepted as a normal appetitie and
although there were many prohibitions
about who you could or could not
sleep with, it was accepted that at
least you would.
Women are even sometimes allowed
to take the initiative. Joseph's master's
wife takes a fancy to him and propositions him. One day when she catches
him alone "She caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me' and he
left his garment in her hand and fled,
and got him out." Of course, she turns
out to be thoroughly evil, but at least
it is acknowledged that such appetites

Page 27

are normal.
In contrast, the New Testament on
sex is mealy-mouthed. Mary conceives
without performing the sexual act;
Mary Magdalene repents of her life of
prostitution; Jesus appears to be celibate and surrounds himself with a
group of seemingly celibate men.
Most influential of all on attitudes
towards women and sexuality was
Paul. After reading his many pronouncements on women and sexuality
I couldn't help thinking, "Methinks
the man doth protest too much."
Whilst being anti-sexual activity of any
kind his writings are littered with "fornication," "concupiscience," "carnality." I think he must have had troublesome nights.
In Paul's eyes women are definitely
second-class citizens - he fears and

despises them. "It is good for a man
not to touch a woman," he says, but
realizing the futility of this stricture
for normally lusty persons, he suggests
marriage as an alternative. He stresses
that this is not to be recommended,
"I would that all men were even as I
myself. But if they cannot contain,
let them marry; for it is better to
marry than to burn." Paul stresses the
importance of striving for spiritual perfection which he finds imcompatible
with more worldly delights. For this
reason, priests and servants of the lord
- male and female - must be celibate.
It is depressing to look at the attitudes towards women as expressed in
the Bible and through Christianity
when you yourself have to live in a
culture where these values are em-

FREEDOM UNDER SIEGE as it appeared in 1974
was heavily edited by its publisher so as not to offend
anyone by even once using the dreaded term "Atheist."
All but Atheist leader Madalyn O'Hair felt at that time
that "god's country" was not yet able to handle the
mountain of evidence gathered by her attesting to organized religion's unrelenting attempts to deify the male
of the species while degrading women.
Especially threatening to the male censors (and hence
heavily edited) was O'Hair 's chapter on Women & Religion in which the censor's "blue pencil" deleted whole
paragraphs deemed too unsettling to women's "rightful
place" - on her knees:

/r, ~,
,\\

"J

0

7

~
uO'8ol'
Modo"" M--!:",
J

bodied. So much opposition to reforms
towards gaining women's rights are the
result of outright religious bigotry or
internalized religious dogma.
The effect of organized church opposition to such issues as sex education, abortion and contraception is
easily recognizable, but nonetheless
formidable. The origins of attitudes towards woman's role and woman's place
in society are less easily pinpointed
but as I have tried to show the idea of
the virtuous childbearing, stay-at-home
woman is central to Christian theology.
A pervasive ideal in our society, is
that girls should "save themselves up
for marriage." Try asking someone
who expresses this view, "Why?"
You'd be surprised how quickly
you get back to god.
~

-::

~

"The essenceof it [Christian theology J is anti-sexual,
anti-life force, anti-female. To change it is to destroy it.
It can only be abandoned. It is part of the childhood of
the human race. Women, more than the male of our
era, must realize we are grown now."

The American Atheist Press has published the unexpurgated version of Madalyn Murray O'Hair on Women
& Religion and is offering it in a booklet available to
subscribers of the AMERICAN ATHEIST for only
$2.50.
"Women's Liberation is going nowhere until it understands where it has been and why."
"Women & Atheism - The Ultimate Liberation" pre-

sents the wheres and the whys, and American Atheists
are now ready to hear it as it was written five years ago.

Page 28

March,1979

v

American Atheist

........

.......................................................

The American Atheist Radio

.

~

Series

Religion of Women
Program 363 .....

11 Oct. 75 ....

KLBJ .....

Austin, TX

******************************************
Hello there,
This is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheist, back to
talk with you again.
I have just obtained a booklet, The Religion of Women,
An Historical Study, written by a man, of course, in England
in 1905. It has some interesting statistics and some conclusions
drawn therefrom.
It seems that about that time "a most careful inquiry"
was made about attendance at church. This was conducted by
a careful male researcher with a large body of trained assistants.
It was, allegedly, exact and impartial. It erred a little on the
side of loyalty to the church and estimating how many people
might attend church, but its ascertainable facts were solid. The
religious bodies immediately got themselves into a stew over
the report and declaimed against it.
As published, the general result was that out of a total
population of 6,240,000 persons in England, only 1,500,000
attended church or chapel and this included a double count
since those who attended morning and evening were counted
as persons attending separately, not one person attending
jointly. It was estimated that 500,000 persons were so counted
extra. This meant that 24 percent of the population attended
church, if one double counted, and about 20 percent in a more
accurate count.
The superintendent of the British census commented on
this, to wit: "Four people out of every five, not dwelling in
institutions, are either careless or hostile as regards public worship. "
This census was compared with that taken in 1886. At
that time London had 3,816,000 people and 1,167,000 attended church. In 1900, when this second census was taken, London had a population of 4,500,000, yet now attendance at
church had dropped to only 1,000,000. In 1886, it was 30
percent, but by 1900 it had dropped to 22 percent. In spite of
the immense increase in population and the very remarkable
stimulation of church-work, there had been a positive loss of
worshippers.
One of the most noticeable features of this census, and of
similar calculations elsewhere, is that women have remained attached to the churches in a far higher proportion than men.
Thus, for greater London, the attendance of women was found
to be double that of men. It is important to note, too, that the
higher proportion of women was much more conspicuous in
the older churches - the Anglican and Roman Catholic - and
in the so-called "cultured districts." In three districts of London which housed the better-educated classes, women outnumbered men by three to one.

Austin, Texas

Our author, who is Joseph McCabe, states of this:
"It would be idle to question that these figures have a
significance, and it would seem that every thoughtful woman
should be anxious to discover what the meaning is. It is not a
question of England alone. That distinguished woman-worker
in the United States, Susan B. Anthony, tells us that (in 1897)
women formed 'from two-thirds to three-fourths of the membership of the churches of America.' Jules Simon said of
France, even in his day, that 'woman had lost the force of religion,' but that she remained committed to the church. In
1890, a statistical study in Paris, France, indicated that among
Roman Catholics, four women attended to one man. At that
time, it was one woman in 12 of the population but only one
man in 50 who owed allegiance to the church.
"In the matters of religion it is established that woman is
far more conservative than man. The proportion of women in
the churches is vastly greater than their proportion in the general population. Why is this? The facts are even more disturbing - for few women will doubt that many of the men who do
frequent the churches only do so under the pressure of professional interest or social or domestic influence. But, we must
be content with the figures that we have."
There are three reasons advanced for women remaining attached to the church. One of these is that women have a gratitude to the church for liberating them from the tyranny of
men. It is also argued that woman's more emotional and refined nature affords greater hospitality to the religious sense
than does that of man. The third argument is that woman, as a
mother, has a deeper realization of the moral need of ideas in
the training of children and goes to church to obtain these
moral ideas. There is a vague feeling that woman's greater attachment to religion has both dignity and utility. McCabe examines the three arguments.
He notes that at the most intellectual period of the history of women, in classical Greece, there were great numbers of
women philosophers. Thrity-four,
by name distinguished
themslves in the Pythagorean philosophy. Of the 600 sects of
religion throughout the ages, seven have been founded by women. These seven sects were obscure, mystical. Why would
many women be distinguished in philosophy in one small
time unit in the time of classical Greece, and yet, add little or
nothing to religious philosophy for 2,000 years? McCabe feels
that a look at ancient Egypt, modern England and modern
United States, would be instructive, He states:
"We have so rich a collection of the ancient Egyptian
civilization, and so careful and industrious a scholarship ... that
we can with confidence reconstruct the life of woman in that
country 2,000 years before Christ was born. There, we find
that woman was more free and more honored than she is in
any country of the world today. She was the mistress of her

March, 1979

v

Page 29

home, her husband being merely a sort of boarder, or visitor,
who had to keep up to the establishment, She inherited
equally with her brothers and had full control of her property. She could go where she liked, or speak with whom she
liked.
"She was juridically the equal of man, having the same
rights and being treated in the same fashion. An authority on
Egypt (M. Paturet) states that this was not derived from her
being a mother, but that it was as a woman, as a being equal in
human dignity. There was polygamy in theory, but the first
wife was generally able to exact conditions in her marriage
contract which effectually prevented it. She could bring actions, and even plead in the courts. She practiced the art of
medicine. As priestess she had authority in the temples. Frequentlyas queen she was the highest in the land."
In her marriage, even should she be unfaithful, the husband was told to "Be kind to her for a season, send her not
away, let her have food to eat."
Now let us go to the United States - Boston, Mass. - just
about 4,000 years later. Elizabeth Cady Stanton reports on
the situation in her History of Women's Suffrage:
"Woman could not hold any property, either earned or
inherited. If unmarried, she was obliged to place it in the
hands of a trustee, to whose will she was subject. If she contemplated marriage, and desired to call her property her own,
she was forced by law to make a contract with her intended
husband by which she gave up all title or claim to it. A woman,
either married or unmarried, could not hold office of trust or
power. She was not a person. She was not a recognized citizen.
She was not a factor in the human family. She was not a unit,
but a zero in the sum of civilization.
"The status of a married woman was little better than that
of a domestic servant. By the English common law her husband was her lord and master. He had the sole custody of her
person and of her monor children. He could punish her 'with
a stick no bigger than his thumb," and she could not complain
against him ... The common law of the State (Mass.) held man
and wife to be one person, but that person was the husband,
He could by will deprive her of every part of his property, and
also of what had been her own before marriage. He was the
owner of all her real estate and her earnings. The wife could
make no contract and no will, nor, without her husband's
consent, dispose of the legal interest of her real estate ... She
did not own a rag of her clothing. She had no personal rights,
and could hardly call her soul her own. Her husband could
steal her children, rob her of her clothing, neglect to support
the family; she had no legal redress. If a wife earned money by
her labor, the husband could claim the pay as his share of the
proceeds."
McCabe notes,
"So painful a contrast as this in two civilizations, one of
which long preceded the coming of Christ, while the other is a
high type of Christian culture, must surely give ground for reflection. It is clear that the notion held by so many religious
women - that their cause languished until the coming to
power of Christianity, and then entered upon a grateful period
of advance - is greatly in error. One need not be surprised at
the error. It has long been the custom to judge pre-Christian
civilizations by the lowest depths they ever touched, while the
application of such a test to Christianity itself was bitterly resented. The result has been a:wholely romantic idea that the
world lay in the shadow of death until the first century of the
Christian era, and then at last the pale dawn of a higher idealism broke upon it. This is a myth, and a very mischievous one.
It is particularly foolish in relation to the progress of women's
cause. The growth of justice in this or any other section of life
is not for a moment comparable to the dawn of a new day ..

Page 30

March,1979

I

Rather has it been like the slow advance of a tide up an uneven
beach."
Religious-minded people who are convinced that Christianity brought a deferred hope to womankind have a vague notion that she was degraded and enslaved under the Greek and
Roman systems.
Yet, she was in equal dignity with man in the earliest periods of the Chaldaic and Assyrian civilizations. In Japan, women were freely honored prior to the the establishment of the
Bushido (cult of the warrior) mentality. During the classical
period of Japanese literature (about 750-1185), at a time when
women were at the lowest point of legal degradation in Christian Europe, a very large and important part of the best literature Japan produced was written by women, the most notable
example being the world's first novel, The Tale of Genii,
written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu.
The position which woman occupied among the Germanic
tribes, and which she retained to an extent in England for
some time after its conversion, is very well known. Monogamy
was almost universal. Even Salvianus, a Christian priest, represents them as equally superior to his own Christian contemporaries, as does Tacitus represent them as superior to the Romans of his day. Women were honored by the Germans as
something sacred and prophetic. They were often consulted
about war or other important tribal affairs. Among the Goths,
and some of the other tribes, the daughter inherited equally
with the son; and the wife retained full control over the husband's wedding gift to her.
It is important to bear these facts in mind, because European civilization has drawn upon all these earlier polities, under the direction of Christianity, for its systems, and we may
pertinently ask how these good features came to be lost.
In the very earliest period of Greek history we find a concern to treat woman justly and honorably. In the Homeric
period woman held an honored, though a restricted position.
Then came the age of the great moralists (Plato and Aristotle)
and we find a distinct perception of the injustice of the Greek
social order. But, legally we must remember the Greek woman
was capable of all civil and many juridical acts, without her
husband's intervention.
When we come to the early years of the Christian era, in
Plutarch, a Greek moralist, we find the sense of justice to woman is still growing. Plutarch openly claims for woman a mental and moral equality with man, and a perfect reciprocity of
their obligations. He claims, in particular, that woman should
be equally educated with man. Thus, when Christianity was
first brought to Greece, the age of woman's oppression was virtually over, and a clear promise of a more enlightened social
order can be discovered.
But in Rome where the effect of the coming to power of
Christianity was felt, woman was the slave of her father until
she was married, and then the slave of her husband for the
rest of her life. During the time that the Christian church was
in power, in Europe particularly, woman fell to a lower position than she had ever occupied under either the Greek or
the Roman systems.
Renan, looking at the age of Christianity from Marcus
Aurelius to the later development of European history, explained, "human life was suspended for a thousand years.".
For women, it was even worse.
M.
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a public
service by the Society of Separationists, lnc., a non-profit,
non-political, tax-exempt educational organization dedicated
to the complete and absolute separation of state and church.
This series of American Atheist Radio Programs is continued
through listener generosity. The Society of Separationists
predicates its philosophy on American A theism. For more
information write to P.O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas 78768.

American Atheist

Film

Interiors

Review
elaine stansfield

-

Woody Allen aiming to become the American (Ingmar) Bergman -

"Interiors" marks Woody Allen's debut in attempting, and
generally succeeding, in making a fine and serious film, a fact
for which we should all be doubly grateful. Not only is this
film carefully and thoughtfully designed and executed, but as
an avowed Atheist, Woody as the film's writer and director
has been able to place therein some strategically incisive
comments about the absurdity of religion.
The picture is made almost like a jigsaw puzzle, but with
far more important ramifications. Each piece of character information fits into another so that the tensions and eventual
confrontations, however disastrous, all make sense. We have
been given all the clues we need. The film is not perfect (who
or what is?), but although I did not feel that certain techniques
played fair with the viewer or were justified (to be mentioned
in next paragraph), I could not criticize the inevitability of the
character development. A capsule synopsis is therefore in order.
At the outset we are made aware, by a camera exploration
of their sterile house, that the marriage of Marshall and Page is
a dead thing. This knowledge is underlined by the first scene in
which Page - who permits herself to be shown looking old and
unattractive, her hair sternly drawn straight back into a bun on
top - is pushing her decorating ideas onto her younger daughter Joey and the man she is living with, ideas which do not fit
their lifestyle and which they cannot afford. When Michael
raises a mild objection, Joey snaps at him, "Humor her - she's
a sick woman." The mother has, we soon learn, only just been
released from a sanitorium.
The movie then proceeds to cut, without confusion, to
show us the lives of the now separated mother and father, and
the three daughters, including flashbacks of the homelife and
the girls when very young. Although we see all of them growing
frustrated and unsatisfied by their lives, we also see why, and
we watch with sorrow their painful attempts to rationalize
their behavior intellectually, their variously unsuccessful attempts to attain fame in one or another of the creative arts.
One is puzzled at first to see that the only character who
is completely successful is the father, who is a lawyer. The
girls and their men, involved in writing, poetry, photography,
acting, etc., justify taking dad's money to live on in the name
of Art. There is some subtle innuendo that they, and even the
mother in her pretentious expensive decorating, are all pseudointellectual dilettantes, even snobbish poseurs.
While not exactly a plot flaw, it is strange that Allen, actor
and writer, should see certain aspects of his field of work this
way. It is sticky that he decided to do the film entirely without music, thereby in effect giving the back of his hand to
that art form as well. The film suffers from this, in my opinion,
because it forces him into a phoney device - that of accenting
sounds. Footsteps sound like' clumps, the pulling of adhesive
tape from a roll sounds like prehistoric animals cutting through
underbrush, and when Page sweeps to the floor some votive

Austin, Texas

candles in a church, the sound is of several plate glass windows
crashing.
On the other hand, the sound of children playing on a
beach or in a park is non-existent, as if the children were
ghosts, an effect I seriously doubt was inteneded to be quite
that startling. There are also some cuts which didn't make
sense, as when two of the daughters were walking with the
mother, making conversation out of pleasantries, when suddenly the two girls start talking about the mother's psychological problems without our being shown that the mother has
apparently drifted away from them.
It is roughly at this stage of the film that we have been
shown just how seriously disoriented the mother is, first in a
scene where she is enjoying watching an evangelist on television, and later one daughter mentions "all of mother's religious nonsense," the other replies "Well, whatever makes her
happy." The shot of the ornate church is obviously satirical, .
pointed up by the fact that when the father remarries one has
completely understood his choice of the warm, friendly, pragmatic Pearl, played by Maureen Stapleton, and the simplicity
of the home ceremony attended only by the daughters.
"My god," says Keaton, "I've never seen my father dance
in my whole life," as father and Pearl get potted and dance
to the only piece of music in the film, some over-loud dance
music on the stereo. Representing earthy life, as Pearl does,
we recognize that even if the symbolism is overloaded, it has
to be Pearl who breathes life back into an almost drowned
Joey at the end of the film. With nothing really resolved, it is
not a happy ending, but merely one tinged with a few vague
hopes.
What we have here, then, is a slice of life - not so existential as to be confusing, dramatic enough to be absorbing,
and thoughtful enough to give rise to speculation long after
seeing it. It is perfectly cast, finely written, and expertly produced. We cannot say there is one star; indeed, Diane Keaton
as sister Renata takes second place to Marybeth Hurt as the
generally unlikeable Joey who dislikes herself as much as she
dislikes everyone else, but who is the catalyst for the film's
climax. The third sister, beautiful Kristin Griffin, plays a Raquel Welch-type movie star, tired of her sex-symbol status,
who flirts with Renata's husband Fred (Richard Jordan). Since
the cast is listed in alphabetical order, Griffith's name comes
first.
There is little doubt that Woody Allen has taken many of .
the techniques and subject matter from Ingmar Bergman, and
he would perhaps aim to be the American Bergman, which is
fine with me since he obviously doesn't have Bergman's darkly
religious bias. Woody should be commended for this fine effort, and hopefully when he is more at ease with his serious
side, he will be able to lighten up his dramas enough to easily
satisfy his comedy fans.

March, 1979

Page 31

~ tM~rpttvJ ~ ~

ATHEIST
by Kaz Barksdale

As

said a blessing. When I was five it came to my mind that if
there was a god somewhere listening to my prayer, just exactly
how did it/she/he get there?
At this time I was visiting my grandmother about every
two weeks. She would take me to church on Sunday but I
never could understand why church was necessary. I also
thought - and still do - that it is very boring, Catholic church
anyway. I resisted my grandmother's attempts to indoctrinate
me, and I would often talk my way out of having to go to
church. She would criticize me and tell me that if I didn't go
to church with her she wouldn't let me go outside on Sundays,
sort of a one-for-one punishment. It was a good thing those
services didn't last more than an hour.
Since I'd arrive at my Catholic grandparents' house on
Friday, we'd have fish for supper that night. That, too, seemed
a strange custom.

an American Negro, my ancestors were presumably
brought from Africa on a slave ship, hundreds of years ago.
As it is today, Africa then was predominantly Moslem with
tribal religions. North America was predominantly Christian.
Slaves arriving in America were made to adopt their master's
Christian religion and forced to discard their native African
customs.
With emancipation, American Negroes continued to cling
to the white man's religious customs. Black Americans did not
revert back to their African religions, excepting for the Black
Muslims, who came to realize that the white man's ways were
wrong for them. They obviously did not consider the consequences of their giving up Christianity for Islam. Had they
done so they would have become Atheist/Agnostic.
I suppose few Atheists will ever really understand why
religious people choose to look at the consequences of their
being so misled. In the case of Christians, possibly it's because
they're afraid they'll go to hell, or because their parents taught
them not to look at themselves in any but a subjective view.
Worse yet is the historical fact that Christians discriminate against all other religions. They are taught that any other
brand of theism is no good. Through the centuries Western religions have warred with and tortured one another.

In 1977, a movie called "In Search of Noah's Ark" came
to town. It's mission was to prove the biblical tale of Noah's
Ark to be historically accurate. The film implied that: 1) a
comet could have hit the Earth and knocked it off its axis,
thereby causing the Earth's oceans to overflow their basins
onto dry land; 2) fish fossils can be found on most continents, thereby proving the flood; 3) tests "prove" that the ark
could have withstood waves of over 200 feet; 4) many 19th
and 20th century people claimed to have seen the ark.
What this film didn't account for was: 1) how did a few
people care for thousands of animals? 2) with only one window, how could anybody see in that thing? 3) how did the
vegetation which was buried under miles of water manage to
grow back? Apparently these questions were too difficult to
answer.

I come from an all-Christian background. My father became a Unitarian, which is vaguely a Protestant sect, but which
is more on the verge of making this world a better one-He
claims to be an Agnostic and neither he nor my mother forced
religion on me to a great extent.
My grandparents did, however. They and society had me
believing in god for a while. But I knew nothing about religion; god was just there. My mother would sometimes say
a blessing before we ate dinner, sometimes not. This confused
me, so I asked her if it were necessary to say a blessing before
eating. She replied, "You should."
So every night before eating I would say, "Thank you for
our food. Amen." That seemed sufficient to me. She didn't
say it was necessary to make up a lot of words; just that you

A character named Nicholas Thompson III, whom we
called "Third," lived two houses away from my grandparents.
On those weekends when I visited my grandparents I would
often go to his house. He had a lot of games, as did I, so we
played all of them. We couldn't play cards on Sunday, however, because his religious mother wouldn't allow that.
My father had custody of me in 1958 and I spent that
summer with my mother. Third, who had moved across town
by this time, would come to my house every once in a while.
One day after my mother had talked on the phone to Third's
mom she said Third's father (his parents were also divorced)
was upset because Third's friends were younger than him and
because they were Atheists. Later I called Third and told him
what his mother had said. He told me that his father wouldn't

L-

~

March,1979

Page 32

v

Continued on page 34

American Atheist

,..
)

YOUTH
Religion
has always been a world of fascination to me.
One can spend all of his/her life just searching for the "true
path to salvation" because so many religions exist at this time
in our history.
A large percentage of modem-day faith centers around an
"inspired" book. Although most of these "holy books" are but
a figment of their authors' imagination, one of these books, the
Christian Bible, could hold the true key to the meaning of
man's existence. However, there have arisen a few doubts in
my mind as to the validity of the Bible.
The preservation and historical accuracy of the Bible have
been a main concern of mine. The Old Testament must have
been written nearly 2,000 years before the invention of, printing. There were but few copies, and these were in the keeping
of those whose lack of interest might have prompted interpolations and whose ignorance might have led to mistakes.
The Old Testament was printed for the first time in 1488.
Until this date it existed only in manuscript form and was constantly exposed to deletions and additions. It is widely acknowledged that copyists made not only minor changes but
dropped whole sections; that the speeches of Elihu in the
Book of Job were all interpolated; and that most of the prophecies were made by persons unknown.
The accuracy of the Bible should be a consideration of its
followers. It is now admitted by the most learned in the Hebrew language that our present English version of the Old
Testament contains at least 100,000 errors. Are not these
errors sufficient enough in number to cast suspicion upon any
passages upholding what are called the Christian faith's "fundamentals?"
The primitive language and grammar that was in use during
the time that the Bible was written leaves ample reason for
doubt. Hebrew, the language in which the Bible was written,
when put into writing at that time was composed entirely of
consonants, without any markings for vowels, making total
accuracy quite difficult.
One can understand the difficulties in this handicap by
writing an English sentence leaving out the vowels. It would
take far more inspiration to read a book of this nature than to
write it.
The system of punctuation of the Old Testament is also
largely inaccurate. The books composing it were not divided
into chapters or verses, and no punctuation system was known.
If one considers this for just a moment, (s)he would see
how difficult it would've been to read such a book. The fact
that language is continually changing, that words are constantly
falling into disuse while newer ones are incorporated, that the

__________________________________________________

Austin,Texas

~_~_~&-<1

by Michael Marlow
same word has a variety of meanings during its period of usage,
all show how hard it is to preserve the initiaIideas which might
have been originally expressed in the scriptures.
Many Christian denominations which adhere to the Bible
differ in their opinion as to what sections were actually
"divinely inspired." Catholics disagree with other Christians by
believing that the books of Maccabees, Job, Esdras and many
others are supposedly inspired by a god. They also believe that
the books of Esther and the Song of Solomon are not inspired
by god but were placed in the Bible due to human error.
In these two books, Esther and the Song of Solomon, the
name of the Hebrew god is not mentioned, and no reference is
made to any supreme being, nor to man's religious duty.
These "errors" are sufficient to cast doubt upon" the "word of
god."
Whatever there was of the Old Testament seems to have
been lost from the time of Moses until the days of Josiah, and
it is probable that nothing like the Bible existed in any permanent form among the Jews until a few centuries before Christ.
It is said that Ezra gave the Pentateuch to the Jews, but
whether he merely discovered or actually wrote it is unknown.
It is claimed that Nehemiah gathered up the manuscripts about
the kings and prophets, while the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, and some others were either collected or written long after this time.
The Jews themselves did not agree as to what books were
really inspired. Also, there are various contradictions within
the pages of these books which prove their inaccuracy.
Many literal contradictions which are found in the Bible
can supposedly be explained away by biblical scholars, but
some passages are obviously r itradictory. Several contradictory accounts of the same t .curences are to be found in the
Old Testament.
In the twentieth chapter of Exodus, the first account of
the ten commandments is given. Yet in the thirty-fourth chapter another account is given. These two accounts could not have
been written by the same person. If one reads these two versions

~----------------------------------Continuedonpage

March,1979

v

<'d~_~~

34

Page33

Kaz

Michael

care about something like that and that those were his mother's
sentiments. Third told me that his father wasn't even religious.
Why should his father have a say in something that is none of
his business? He wasn't even living with his family.
Third and I would often talk about Atheism and Christianity. He told me that there was an Atheist woman appearing
downtown at the Benton Convention Center who was tearing
pages out of the Bible saying, "This is what I think of the
Bible!" He said she was the president of the "American
Atheist Association" [sic]. I knew nothing about this group
but I was interested in learning more about it.
I would talk to my brother about it all the time. Thanks
to a boy named Kenny Hirsch, I found out about American
Atheists. Kenny was a logician and a philosophic kind of person. He gave me the address of the "Atheist Association," but
not that of "American Atheists." But I later found the address
of American Atheists and wrote to both of them right away.
I did not like the Atheist Association because it was too
small (300 members), because their literature was poorly
written and, in my opinion, it reflected a racist viewpoint.
However, American Atheists is well organized, has a mailing
list of 70,000 families and they are very much for civil rights.
American Atheists say that 27 percent of Americans are
non-theistic. This may be true, for I know whole groups of
friends who are Atheists. My grandmother, along with others
I have known, often said "I wonder how people can say there
is no god?" The best argument for the Atheist when asked this
is, "How can you say there is a god?';
If more people would ask themselves that question and
proceed to answer it honestly ... then we would have many
more 20th century Americans like myself who have awoken to
the weltanschanuung of Atheism and discarded the unnecessary
evil of religion.
•••

(s)he is forced to admit that (at least) one of them cannot be
true.
There are also two accounts of the creation, of the flood,
and of the manner in which Saul became king. It is now
generally admitted that Genesis must have been written by at
least two persons, and the parts can be seperated, and when
seperated they are found to contradict each other in many
important particulars. There have been numerous scholarly
works about the many contradictions so I will stop at the few
above-mentioned.
Bible believers must compare its different chapters and
then decide which ones to accept as "the gospel truth."
Such is why no two persons, much less denominations, have
ever agreed on the Bible's meaning. Were this book the true
word of an omnipotent god, it would have one comprehendible
meaning, and all would understand it.
Instead the multitudinous, self-serving interpretations of
the Bible's contradictions fill the world with contending sects
and contradictory creeds which all too frequently result in religious warfare between the zealots of opposing sects.
Thus it can be seen that there are some doubts concerning
the inspiration of the Bible. A skeptic should not be considered
"odd" because (s)he questions what is put before him/her.
If this is the case, then our country is headed in the wrong
direction. However, if we do look at every religious book
objectively, we might reveal one book that can stand the test,
and instead of taking a "shot in the dark," we can be positively
sure of our faith.
If all the peek-a-book gods are discarded during this test,
humanity will have to begin to deal with its future rationally.
Only with such a freethinking attitude will man be capable
of achieving a sensible, self-satisfying existence.
•••

'J'Jae 'Ba""ling 'Book
by Sheri Seal

Religion, that well-organized superstition, is purposely
perpetuated, perpetrated, and percolated by the "ruling class"
to keep the "working class" working. This systematically sly
and sneaky scheme of keeping the "have-nots" from becoming
the "haves" is based upon the divine principle of deferred
gratification.
By psychologically indoctrinating and manipulating the
minds of the masses, the poor ignorant slobs are programmed
to scoff at disaster. They applaud famine, cheer pestilence, and
clap their blistered palms over floods.
After all, the suffering souls are promised eternal bliss in
that happy hunting ground in the sky as their supreme reward.
The bubbling babble of the Bible spouts forth endless phrases,
glorifying the good of the worker:
" ... let him labor, working with his
hands the thing which is good." (Eph. 4:28)
or
". , . worketh for us a far more exceeding
eternal weight of glory." (2 Cor. 4: 17)

"And that which fell among the thorns are they,
which, when they have heard, go forth and are choked
with cares and riches and pleasures of life, and bring
no fruit to perfection." (Luke 8: 14)
or that old classic,
"For the love of money is the root of all evil." (1 Tim. 6: 1 0)
A necessary ingredient in the master-slave recipe is a large
portion of obedience. The slaves are programmed to operate as
hollow robots mechanically functioning as trained dogs jumping through a hoop. Of course, a little positive reinforcement
from the babbling book makes all things possible:
"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall
eat the good of the land." (Is. 1: 19)
or
"Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters,
and to please them well in all things." (Tit. 2:9)

If phrases of praises aren't convincing enough, an occasional threat makes the point nicely:
" ... this we command you, that if any would
not work, neither should he eat." (2 Thes. 3: 10)

Page 34

Of course, we're not supposed to notice that the employer
is reaping the monetary benefits at the expense of the laborer's
perspiring armpits. If, however, that paradoxical paralogism
seems perplexing, one need only be reminded of:

March,1979

v

The intricate thread tying this massive and complicated
system together is that universal farce, better known as
marriage. Sensitivity in this area has forced the wrath of religion
to continue its garble into modern times as this recently re-

American Atheist

leased rhetoric illustrates:

$200 alligator skin shoe (illegally imported) firmly against
their sunken bellies.
Waste from our abundant tables together with the waste
from our cellophane-wrapped packages would buy meat and
milk for millions of malnourished Americans. The majority
of fish we import from Peru and Ecuador goes into dog and
cat food, which, unfortunately, some have been forced to consume as a last resort.
Do not despair, however, if you are hungry or starving.
The good book may have just the thing for you - fasting:

"With regard to premarital sex: It is not sufficient
that the partners 'love one another' nor intend to
marry in the future. Before sexual intercourse can
truly correspond to its divinely established purpose
and to proper human dignity, it must be safeguarded
by the stability of marriage." (Father Hugh O'Connell,
C.SS.R.)
Ah, yes, the "stability" of the sacred marital vows. In
the 10-year span between 1960 and 1970, almost 20 million
giddy Americans tied the nonsensical nuptial knot. In that
same time span, however, 5.5 million dissatisfied customers
changed their I do's to I don't's and their divorces were
granted.
If you're the follow-the-Ieader type who finds security in
knowing that "everybody else does it," then wedding bells
may be just the thing for you. After all, 90 percent of all males
and females have been blessed with the sanctity of marital bliss
by the time they've huffed and puffed over 35 candles. As a
matter of fact, some silly souls are so eager to jump on the
bandwagon that they're trod down the aisle two three four or
even five times by their thirty-fifth year.
'
,

" ... that ye may give yourselves to fasting
and prayer." (Luke 18:12)
and
"I fast twice in the week, I give tithes
of all that I possess." (Luke 18:12)
About the only items the system is willing to grant to
the poor are faith and prayer. And faith is nothing more than
a cleverly installed safety catch which protects the babbling
book from questioning. The creators of religious mythology
regularly utilize "faith" to explain away the unexplainable.
With that problem out of the way, the masses are free to
follow the wondrous word, as sheep follow their sheperd:

"Marriage is honorable in all ... " (Heb. 13:4)
What better method for keeping the head of the household hassled than having (s)he bearing the burden of responsibility for several squalling brats all in need of food, clothing,
and shelter. And propagation appears to be the principle proponent supporting the preservation of marital malignancy.
Let's face it, the poor struggling suckers seldom get a
chance to catch up on accumulating bills. How are they supposed to break the chains of servitude and branch out on their
own?
We moan and groan about the millions of "lazy bastards"
on welfare and other public charities, yet seldom do we admit
that it is the ingenuous invention of the middle class (sometimes referred to as those of the "Protestant Work Ethic")
that keeps the poor in their place - poor.
The 40 million poverty-stricken Americans provide an
indispensible service for the middle-class - a vast CHEAP
labor force. If it weren't for the down-and-out, who would
wash dishes in restaurants, pick apples in orchards, babysit our
bouncing brats for 50 cents an hour, and the swarm of other
jobs that aren't covered by the minimum wage legislation?
A 60-hour work week that pays $75 is certainly not a
condition the ruling class would choose for themselves. What
alternative is left for the poor? Welfare with its inadequate
benefits, mounds of forms, crowded reception rooms snooping social workers, not to mention being branded "needy?"
The alternative is malnutrition,
starvation, or both.
Another generation of illiterate children who can't attend
school because they don't own a pair of shoes. Another generation of children with rotting teeth and foul-smelling gums
because they will never see a dentist. Another generation of
children suffering from negative nitrogen balance because their
bodies are consuming their own protein tissue.
The big, black book is quick to innoculate us all into accepting the lot of the poor as just another one of nature's
misfortunes:
"For the poor shall never cease out of the land." (Deut. 15: 11)
It is a curious phenomenon that a country priding itself
on affluence and wealth refuses to share any meaningful portion of its prosperity with the indigent populace. Instead we
continue to stifle their existence by pressing the heal of our

Austin, Texas

" ... we are his people, and the sheep
of his pasture." (Ps. 100:3)
The ruling class appears extremely generous in giving
away such a precious commodity as prayer. It is, after all,
the only hope for the future. The only cure for the pain:
"And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and
the Lord shall raise him up." (James 5:15)
How unselfish of them to only keep the little things for
themselves. The 2,000-square-foot sprawling ranch-style home
in surburbia with a heart-shaped heated swimming pool. The
newly purchased 10-mile-to-the-gallon gas hog with stereophonic music and power windows. The occasional jaunt to
Hawaii or the Bahamas to calm a frayed nerve.
And the prophets profit ... Amen.

riould f!lJe.~Me

;r--~-,
§t

.1

~

J

.

FABRICATOR.

.

We are not created equal
Nor do we have equal chance
Those myths are fed to the innocents

I
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By the crafty who crave to enhance
Their own positions and pocketbooks

,
-

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March, 1979

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Page 35

Ro ts
of theism

... No enemy can dishonor
him who will not
dishonor himself.

GEORGE

J.

HO LYOA KE
During the six months he was jailed
for the "crime" of being an Atheist
and a blasphemer, George Holyoake
was visited by numerous clergymen
seeking to convert the now infamous
Atheist. On one such occasion the
prison chaplain swept into Holyoake's
cell to try and convince him that he
really wasn't an Atheist.
Holyoake gave the pompous priest
a lesson in the principle of reciprocation, i.e., of retorting the chaplain's language back upon him so effectively that he never again condascended to lecture to Holyoake with
that insensible arrogance of speech so
common among "men of god."
On the occasion referred to, the
chaplain began:
"Are you really an Atheist, Mr.
Holyoake?"
"Really I am."
"You deny that there is a god?"
"No, I deny that there is sufficient
reason to believe that there is one."
"I am very glad to find that you
have not the temerity to say that
there is no god."
"And I am very sorry to find that
you have the temerity to say there is
one. If it be absurd in me to deny
what I cannot demonstrate, is it not
improper for you to assert so dogmatically what you cannot prove?" •
"Then where would you leave the
question of Atheism?"
"Just where it leaves us both. It is
a question of probability."
"Ah! The probabilities in favor of
Atheism are very few."
"How know you that? Did you ever
examine the question without prejudice, or read that written in its favor
without fear? Those who dare not
look at all never see far."
"But if the Atheist has so much on
his side, why does he not make it

known? We do not keep back our evidence."
"Has the Atheist an equal opportunity with you? Is it generous in you
to taunt him with lack of evidence,
when you are prepared to punish its
production?"
"The reason is that your principles
are so horrible; as Robert Hall has
said, 'Atheism is a bloody and ferocious system'."
"Permit me, sir, to return that gentle speech - to tell you that your principles are horrible, and that Christianity is a bloody and ferocious system."
"Really I am shocked to hear you
speak so dreadfully of Christianity."
"Why should you be shocked to
hear what you are not shocked to say?"
"But- Atheism is so revolting."
"How dangerous is it for Atheism
to corrupt the minds of children."
"How pernicious is it for Christian
doctrines to corrupt the thoughts of
infancy."
"But you are only asserting."
"Are you doing otherwise? I sometimes think that Christians would be
more respectful in their speech if the
same language could be applied to
them with impunity which they apply to others."
"But, my dear sir, has it never occurred to you that the language of
the Christian is shocking to atheistical feeling?"
"Atheists 'have a right to their
opinions, I allow, but not to publish
them."
"I shall think you speak reasonably
when you permit the same rule to be
applied to the Christian."
"But you really cannot be an Atheist?"
"And you say this who have been
a party to imprisoning me here for being one! If you believe yourself, go
and demand my liberation."
"Ah! When you come to die you

Page 36

March,1979

v

- George Holyoake

will wish that you were a Christian."
"Can it be that I shall wish to hold
a creed that I distrust - one that leads
me to deny another the liberty I claim
for myself? If to be capable of looking
back with satisfaction on conduct
like this is to be a Christian, may I
never die the death of the righteous,
and may my last end never be like
his."
Upon his release from prison, George
Holyoake rejoined his colleagues of
the Oracle of Reason and soon thereafter he issued an address to that journal's and later to the Cheltenham Free
Press's readers outlining some of the
experiences he had while jailed for
refusing to genuflect before Christian
mythology:
"My Friends,
"It is now six months since cut and
hacked, 'I fell,' not merely in the language of the parable but literally,
'among theives.' Of those who caused
that contact, I am afraid I must say, as
Wiiliam Hutton said of an untoward
sweetheart - 'There was little love between us at first, and heaven has
been pleased to decrease it on a further acquaintance.' Christians profess
to draw men to Jesus with 'cords of
love,' but were it not for their judicious foresight in telling us that they
are 'cords of love,' few would findit
out.
" ...
That is true of Christianity
which has been said of Catholicism:
'Humane individuals may express their
abhorrence of the sentiments of persecution - bodies of men, sections of
the church itself, nay many of the dignitaries may abjure them, and protest
that they have never acted upon them,
nor ever will enforce them - yet all
this will not avail to give a discerning
man the smallest security for his liberty, his property, or his life; for as long
as those intolerant decrees remain
upon the statute book, they can at
any time be revived.'
"It therefore behoves everyone to
set a guard over that liberty, for the
loss of which no religion will ever
compensate. The conviction should be
permanent
that Christianity
is a

American Atheist

fearful thing. But bad men may laud
it, mistaken men may contend that
there is some good in it, unthinking
men may give currency to its terms,
and weak men may connive at its delusions, but we ought to regard with
different sentiments a system which
tramples upon the feelings of humanity and the principles of liberty.
"Let us then secure the antidote free expression of opposite opinion.
Shall it be said that we are content to
wear mental fetters?
"Not only for ourselves but for
others are our exertions demanded.
What patrimony has the poor man but
his free thoughts? Industry will not
save him from chill penney's grip, nor
virtue from the poor-house grave -let
us then preserve and perfect the humble inheritance of those who have no
other.
" ... How my imprisonment is supposed to affect me toward religion, I
cannot tell; I only know that I have no
change of sentiment to own. During
six months I have been 'shut out from
the common light and common air'
- from those whom the bonds of
friendship connected, and the ties
of affection endeared; and some of
these ties are broken forever. After
this, I can only say, that I have greater difficulty than ever in believing that
humanity is the associate of piety; and
if Christianity has no expounders more
attractive than those I have fallen in
with, the day of my conversion is still
distant.
" ... With regard to the cause of my
prosecution, I admit that I might be
wrong in the sentiments which I held,
but I could not be wrong in frankly
avowing them. And I may answer to
Christians, as did Aristides to the tyrant Dionysius: 'I am sorry for what
you have done, but I am not sorry for
what I have said.'
". . . Christians speak what they
think useful, and the same privilege
ought to be conceded to me. A difference in faith ought not to make a difference in right. But while it does so,
those who cannot pronounce the required Shibboleth must arm themselves to bear. Those are poor principles for which a man is unwilling to
suffer when they are in danger. It is an
encouragiing reflection, that though a
man's fate may be at others' disposal,
his character is ever at his own - and
that no enemy can dishonor him who
will not dishonor himself.

[x]@DW@@]~@\) ill@]@][[@00

TI@ TIDiJ@

~Ql][[W

There
is no evidence to show that my audience were unable
to distinguish decency and propriety. But it must be already clear enough to you, gentlemen of the jury, who
have been employed during the past week determining violations
of the
' law, that I am placed here for having been more honest than
the law happens to allow. I am unaccustomed to address a jury,
and I hope to avoid the charge of presumption or dogmatism. I
have no wish to offend the prejudices of any man in this court,
and have no interest in so doing, when his lordship is armed with
the power of the law to punish it. But, while I profess respect for
your opinions, I must entertain some for my own.
There are those here who think religion proper, and that it
alone can lead to general happiness. I do not, and I have had the
same means of judging. You say your feelings are insulted, your
opinions outraged, but what of mine? Mine, however honest, are
rendered liable to punishment. I ask not equality of privileges in
this respect; I seek not the power of punishing those who differ
from me - nay, I should disdain its use. Christianity claims what
she does not allow, although she says' All men are brothers.'
I am not a bigot. I do not assume that I alone am right; nor did
I speak of deity, declaring dramatically his nonexistence. I spoke
only of my own disbelief in such an existence. Of all 'isms' I think
dogmatism is the worst.
I do not judge other men by the agreement of their opinions
with my own. I believe you consider Christianity a benefit. I regret that I feel it is not so, and I claim the privilege of saying what
is true to me.
It is laid down by the common law that a person denying the
existence of a god is a blasphemer ....
It has not been shown that
I did this. I merely stated my disbelief - and disbelief is not included by the law ....
My only crime has been the discharge of what I considered a
duty. For my difference in opinion with you upon the question of
deity, I offer no apology. I have made no contract to think as you
do, and I owe you no obligation to do it. If I commanded you to
abjure your belief you would disregard it as impertinence, and if
you punish me for not abjuring mine, how will you reconcile it
with doinq as you would wish to be done unto? . . I have said
that religious revenues should be reduced one half, I spoke only
the dictate of humanity at this season of national suffering. Surely
it is not blasphemous to argue that human misery should be alleviated at the expense of spiritual pride.
. . . You, as Christians, can imprison those who differ from
you. I do not offend your pride by asking to be admitted your
equal~ here. I desire not su~h .privileges. I claim merely "
the nght to speak my convictions:
to show a man the
right path when I think he takes the wrong one.

,

Austin, Texas

March, 1979

/

Page 37

INSIDE OUT
J. Michael Stracz nski

The

"Dear Joe ..." Letters

Since
first beginning to write for this publication, I have
received a considerable amount of mail from the readership.
(And lemme tell you; they're two of the nicest guys you ever
want to meet.) Most of the letters were forwarded to my
home in San Diego, where they have been steadily accumulating dust to the point where my office is beginning to resemble an archeological dig. So for reasons of courtesy to the
readers (and for reasons of pure sanitation, if the rat that just
scuttled across my typewriter is any indication), I've decided
to plough through the massive morass of mail and answer some
of the questions they voice.
Q: "What advice would you give to someone who, like
yourself, would like to get ahead as a writer?" - Mark O.
A: Take hostages.
Q: "Even though you don't believe in religion, perhaps
you can answer this question anyway: What is the meaning
of Life?" - Billy G.
A: Life is a great green frog sitting on a lily pad, wondering where the python went.
Q: "What does that mean?"
A: Damned if I know, but I can probably get a column,
two books, and a Movie of the Week out of it.
Q: "Have you ever had a social disease?" - Shirley B.
A: I've never had the chance. Once, though, I did contract a sudden attack of rampant Episcopalianism from a public restroom.
Q: "What do you find to be the hardest thing about being
a writer?" - Jeff R.
A: Getting the paper into the typewriter without getting
my fingers all tangled up in everything.
Q: "Have you ever had any religious training?" - Oral R.
A: Yes, I was brought up a Catholic, but was finallyexcommunicated for slipping joy buzzers into the seats of confessionals.
Q:
"What was your most embarrassing moment?" Cheryl L.
A: It was the first and only time I ever went skinnydipping. (Which at my weight is the only kind of dipping I can
do.) All of my clothes were stolen, except for my lucky blue
cap, which I used to protect myself as best I could as I headed
for home. Unfortunately, an old woman spotted me and suddenly burst out into fits of laughter.
"If you were a lady," I said, "you wouldn't look."
She countered with "And if you were a man, you'd tip
your hat."
(The bounds of curiosity of people like you know no limits, do they? Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting l)
Q: "Why is it that in much of your work, you certainly
poke fun at sex?" - Abigail V.B.
A: In my case, sex has always been a laughing matter.
Q: "Describe the one crime which, in your opinion,'
would merit the death penalty." - Betty Q.
A: Taking a blind person to a silent film festival.
Q: "What is your impression of Anita Bryant?" - Julia C.
A: She's a very influential person. In fact, considering
some of her statements, I'd say she spends most of her time

Page 38

March,1979

1/

under the influence.
Q: "I realize that you're a published author with just a
whole bunch of produced plays, songs, films, radio programs, a
comedy sitcom pilot and an upcoming movie under your belt,
but do you think you could please stop by more often?" Evelyn S.
'
A: Mom, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand
times: Don't call me at the office!
Q: "Before becoming a writer, did you ever hold down an
honest job?" - John D.
A: Yes. I once worked at a shoe store. Every time someone wanted a fit, I'd come out and throw one.
Q: "Speaking as one writer to another, have you ever
been rejected?" - Alex H.
A: Yes, but it didn't faze me. She wasn't really that attractive anyway. She had a body like a javelin, breath like a
pair of sweatsocks, and a face like a catcher's mitt. A real
sportsperson. On a good day, she resembled the back end
of a Toyota.
Q: "Given your feelings on religion, aren't you worried
about hell?" - Walter M.
A: Not at all. In fact, I'm quite familiar with the place,
having previously visited Pittsburgh on several separate occasions.
Q: "Is your social and sex life really as bad as you say?"
- Bertha Q.
A: Worse. I can deal with the blunt rejections, though.
It's the halfway-there bursts of hysterical laughing and pointing that tends to rattle my nerves.
Q: "Have you always known that you wanted to be a
writer?" - Frank O.
A: Absolutely. I'm too lazy for honest work. The way I
figure it, it's either writing, politics, religion, or some other
branch of organized crime.
'Q: "Because of the trouble most people must have in
dealing with your somewhat unusual name, have you ever
written under a pen name?" - E. Krogh
A: Yes. As a matter of fact, I've done some of my best
work under such names as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, F. Scott
Fitzgerald, Mark Twain ... Q: "In the California scene, why is there always such tension and mutual sniping between yourself and Pat Boone?"
- William B.W.
A: It's because Pat refuses to admit that Atheists exist,
and I refuse to tell him who his real father is.
Q: "Everyone knows that it is your clear goal to someday
be a filthy-rich writer, but don't you realize that you cannot
buy Happiness?" - Sandy R.
, Q: No, you cannot buy Happiness, but you can rent
Faith and Hope, who live just down the block from her.
Besides, the question is not "Can Happiness be purchased," but rather "Is it tax-deductible?" Or can it at least
be listed as a dependent? But to be dependent upon Happiness
is to err, which is human, and then to forgive, which is stupid.
Q: "Is there an afterlife?" - Bobby Q.
A: It's doubtful, since to this day no one has ever received

American Atheist

a postcard from there, and Bell Telephone does not carry a
listing for it in the Yellow Pages. Nonetheless, psychics have
tried for centuries to pierce the veil surrounding death and get
a glimpse of what lay beyond. A few of these have since been
arrested for voyeurism, while the rest have only managed to
pick up reruns of "I Love Lucy."
Even some of our more questionable scientists have tried
to cheat death. In fact, several leading scientists at MIT have
finally managed to restore life to the body of a dead chicken.
The only problem is that the chicken now claims to be Napoleon, and could they please point him in the direction of
France?

Q: "Do you ever find that people who don't know you
tend to think that you're a crude, crass and conceited dunderhead?" - Eric P.
A: No; usually that particular opinion is reserved for use
among those that do know me. But then, what are friends for?
Q: "Brother Joseph ... have you ever Found It?" Ken P.
A: No, but if it's any help to you, I once Lost It at a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico" There was this busloadof
cheerleaders from the University of Omaha, see ...
Q: "If you had one wish, what would it be?" - Ann R.
A: To be back in that motel in Albuquerque, N.M.

A Modern Cynic's
Dictionary
........
BRETHREN -n- The linguistic personification of the religious belief that all men are brothers and should treat one
another with respect historically and biblically associated
with such kinships. See CAIN AND ABEL.
BREVIARY -n- The clergy's theological shopping list.
BRIBE -Il- The Judicial System's answer to the Telethon.
BRIDE -n- See FOOL.
BRIDEGROOM -n- See DAMNED FOOL.
CALUMNY -n- A false, malicious, and unsolicited
statement made about our character, as opposed to
the insightful, corrective criticism which it is our godgiven right to make about those less moral than ourselves.
CALVARY -Ik- The place of the crucifixion, as
reported by the four infallible gospels, which took
place at the 3rd hour (Mark), the 6th hour (Luke),
and sometime later still in the evening (John), where-at he was given wine and myrrh (Mark), vinegar and
gall (Matthew), and vinegar alone (Luke), which he
tasted (Matthew) and did not taste (Mark). Given this
unique situation, there is considerable speculation
among some theologians that he was not killed by the
means described but by jet lag.
DAGGER -n- An instrument of political persuasion.
DAMNED -adj- In a state of theological disrepute.
According to Mark Twain, the human race is divided
into two categories: the damned and the ought-tobe damned.
DEATH -n- Nonexistence, the quality of which is
determined by one's finances: The rich decease, the
comfortable expire (as a library card), the poor kick
off, croak, or drop dead, and accountants migrate to
the Bahamas along with the books.
DECOMPOSE -vt- What composers do when they
stop working.
DELIBERATE -vt- The scientific method of gathering data, weighing information, validating resources,
and then, after assembling this weighty compendium,
closing one's eyes and flipping a coin.
DELUSION -n- See LOVE.
DEVIATE -n- One who does not choose to indulge in the more acceptable perversions.
DIABETES -n- A debilitating sickness which has
been directly linked to overexposure to the Osmonds.
DISCERNING -adj- This lexicographer, of course.

Austin,

by J. Michael Streczvnskt
BRIMSTONE -n- A sulphurous substance which, when
combined with fire by an evangelist, produces gold.
.
BROAD-MINDED -adj- A sinking ship loaded with every
imaginable type of ideological ballast, bereft of compass or
direction. A man standing on both sides of a slowly opening
drawbridge.

WE BELIEVE IN .IMMORTALITY,
WE BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE CAN
LIVE FOREVERl
No, we don't believe in and are not concerned with an
afterlife. LONG LIFE MAGAZINE is concerned with the
extension of the human lifespan and the eventual
eradication of aging and death. If you have any interest
in living longer, antiaging drugs, antiaging therapies, or
treatments, suspended animation, commentary on the
future of mankind and the consequences and strategies against the so-called "problems" of living longer
and staying young, then you should subscribe immediately to LONG LIFE MAGAZINE.
1 year (6 issues) for $12 - two years for $22 - three
years for only $33.
Includes free subscription (six issues) to THE CRYON ICIST
FREE TRANS TIME BOOKLET TO ALL NEW
SUBSCRIBERS
MAIL YOUR MONEY ORDER TODAY TO LONG LIFE
MAGAZINE, Box 490-AA, Chicago, IL 60690

March,1979-

Texas

v

Page 39

~OOK ~~V~~W

1

Classics of Free Thought
Edited by Paul Blanshard
Paul Blanshard, long the enfant
terrible among the more rabid antiCatholic polemicists and who turned
Atheist at the age of 80, has lived long
enough to pay his dues to his new
philosophical mistress. He has compiled a volume entitled CLASSICS OF
FREE THOUGHT. Published by Prometheus Books of Boston, the 190-page
book is now available in paperback for

ically misleading and its [sic] distressing to learn from his biography on the
book's jacket that his first calling in
life was to the clergy. He is truly a fool
in the Bible sense, otherwise he
wouldn't be able to create this work.
'The fool hath said in his heart, there
is no God. They are corrupt, they have
done abominable works, there is none
that doeth good." (Psalms 14:1)

$5.95.
Rather than penning a review in
tribute to the new convert's sacrifice laid at the feet of the godless, we
have decided that a paranoiac minireview published in the Asbury Park
Press would be more appropriate in
this instance in that it shows clearly
the eye-rolling frenzy of a reviewer
who feels betrayed by the Paul Blanshard who formerly limited his attacks
to the large and worthy target of Roman Catholicism, but who in his advanced years has become sage enough
to include all religions in his damnation by a weapon much mightier than
the sword.
Following is the "review" by Colin
Black, whose opening sentence emblazons his rather fanatical bias:
"As an orthodox Christian believer,
I find this an extremely dangerous
book, and it is just as dangerous for
Judaism as it is Christianity. Its purpose, as the editor states in so many
words, is to slit the jugular veins nourishing the belief that there is a Lord
God Almighty who reaches out to man
in love, a Holy God who created heaven and earth and all things in the ordered universe.
"This perilous work is a collection of
chiefly Atheist and Agnostic writings
by a variety of Christian skeptics,
ranging from Voltaire to Thomas
Paine to Mark Twain and Bertrand
Russell. Although the editor's preface
explains that he hopes the book will
help transform current 'religious and
moral' thinking, its main attack isn't
aimed at Buddhism, Mohammedanism,
the cults, or a particular school of
ethics. It is aimed, rather, at the divinity of the Bible that provides the doctrinal authority for Judaism and Christianity.
"In my opinion, the editor is pathet-

Page 40

"When the Christian reads this
book, he doesn't hear the witticisms of
its clever authors, only the wailing of
souls in hell who were lead [sic] their
[sic] by their writings. The editor
should publicly recant this work before its [sic] too late and personally
burn all copies of it he can find. In the
case of this review copy, I'll save him
the trouble.
"The whole tone of this book is repulsive because of its gross blaspheme
[sic]. It mocks God openly and then
laughs in His face.
"I'm sure the editor isn't surprised
to find there are people who dislike
his book. Freethinkers should look
for a wide variety of ideas and opinions, and develop a strong enough
stomach to listen to them, if they are
seeking the truth."

March,1979

_

There you have it. An "orthodox
Christian believer" finds Paul Blanshard's concise CLASSICS OF FREE
THOUGHT so threatening that he
would have all copies burned and kept
from public consumption. Yet, outrageously, he pays token dues to free
thought by ending with the hypocritical suggestion that "freethinkers
should look for a wide variety of ideas
and opinions" - but not Atheist opinions, we can only surmise.
These freethinkers whose works
Mr. Black would keep your from
experiencing include Thomas Paine,
Charles Darwin, Eleanor Roosevelt,
H.L. Menoken, Felix Frankfurter,
Hugo Black, Mark Twain, Clarence
Darrow, Denis Diderot, John Stuart
Mill, James Madison, and John Kennedy, among others.
Blanshard's introductions lure the
reader (this, perhaps, Mr. Black fears)
into the worlds of outspoken, courageous, and witty iconoclasts. His
background
explanations
of these
editorials, speeches, and retorts add
excitement as well as historical interest;
he writes with a "front page" zeal
about the incidents which sparked
these speakers.
This anthology spans 200 years of
Atheism and iconoclasm and covers
issues as diverse as abortion, evolution,
Agnosticism, and censorship.
Each of the short segments is concise and devoid of extraneous passages as editor Blanshard has collected
his favorites after a life-long devotion
to religious liberty and unpopular
causes.
What's· Eleanor Roosevelt doing in
a freethought book? Thought you'd
never ask. Her reply to a letter from
Cardinal Spellman demanding tax funds
for Catholic schools is eloquent and
barely respectful in the face of that
old warlock's charge that She is antiCatholic.
This collection of the classics is an
absolute must for an Atheist's personal
library. As a gift it is ideal for children
and grandchildren who yet possess the
ability and/or potential to reason despite the all-out attacks religion has
been waging to infiltrate the nation's
public school systems.
If there was ever a book you should
donate to your town's public libraries this is it.
$5. 95/copy; hardback $12.95/copy

American Atheist

f~lElElDO
Of lfHlE M~
~ere
States:

is something
an organization

new in the United
formed exclusively for

American Atheists. This national organization
was founded to protect the civil liberties of
Atheists, to speak for them on public issues, to
educate the citizens of our country as to the
merits of an Atheist lifestyle, to fight for sep-

maintains

an American

tinction, introduces
American Atheist

dom of the mind, i.e., freedom

Membership

AMERICAN ATHEISTS, with chapters in
most

of the United

comraderie
national

States,

of other

Atheists,

convention,

informs

events with a monthly

provides

into the nation's airways the
Radio Series, litigates for

broaden

your

fee of $15/year

horizon

with

us.

(single), $25/year

(couple) brings you a monthly
newsletter
edited by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

you the

holds an annual ,

NOTE:

you

of current

ATHEIST

Newsletter,

bership in American Atheists.

membership

of dis-

You need not be alone again with your
ideas. Come,

and other superstitions.

Center

Atheists' civil liberties, maintains an Atheist
speakers' bureau across the nation and, generally, is the voice of American Atheism - big
as life, bold and beautiful.

aration of state and church, to preserve as an
option for you the ultimate freedom:
freefrom religion

Atheist

Subscription
to the AMERICAN
magazine does not include mem-

redress of grievances .• AMENDMENT

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