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Messidor 188 [7/801Volume 22,No. 7

II

n
On, ann"Y " ,,14, F~noi' Ellingwood
Abbn<
pnbli,,,,don"",nn' p.g' ofhi' w~klYp"'" ""
d
of ,,,,, and ,hn"h. M ,h'
g ,im', ", N.'io"" Rdn<mA"",,,uo
Ifoond,dby p",by""'"
and EPi"O,.h''') w" .u,mp'in \0 .m"d the Co",,,n,,on of,~, Um"d
d
5"'" \0 "do'" Ch'i,,~nilYoff"i"lY.Abbn'w" .,ud" ". "nnl" ",o"""nI \0 ,,",oon a"h~nn
d
ofhn""nilY:
,n;d,d bY""onn,on
d",off"ing
n<"niu'io""
10 non,h,i"'
,n' narionp,"'i""d
,o'ili'" id"
of",,,.'ion 'hO"'"
of,,,,,,n
,hn"h. w, are- .'"",d,'lY
nn
_ nowh'" near ""in ' ,",h "p""ion. Sino' ,,14. in ,06 yu'" onlYone"" of
of,h'"
d,m dsha "''' w",,,d
m "go' ."n,"'
'n jene \961,
in ho ,o""m'" and"., ''1 abiu" and,,",,,,,,d
n
m ,,,,,,,'i" Bib,,,,,din, w" .""d ho ", ,nbl" "hon" oflh,,u
in""." of
vs.cu"''''
I'" ""n p"', ,oinl', of'I)<man ,' .dow) ''1 ,h' M",,,yO'",i' f,milY,fou "" of", Am",,,n
d
oU
Th'
ni" d,,,,,n ' ." ",'inl,d h'" \0 ",,,m on' \0 yon, in ,,,nuun,,g
w.y. ,"" Am,,,,,n
d
Mh,i.,.,,,ni,,,,,on.
Mh"'" un no', d,,' not, ,,<mil ann<h" hund"d ,,,,, 10 p''' . wilh '.',u,ining ,h''''' Th'" . are
d
n
d,,,,,n ', now,fn<ou' 'im" and Ior 0", ",omph,hi '
We de",.nd th.t chU"he' .nd oth" "cle'i".i'"
,hOlI no
d1.
n
2.
We
de",andtrom
that just
the taxation.
e"",oV",ent ot cha,'ai , in Cong,e'" in ,tate
longer
be exempt
'egi,"tu,e"
in the n"V and ",lIltla, and in ,,,,on,, asV'U"'" and all oth"
an
in"ltutlO ' ,upp
bV""bhC ",oneV ,hall be di,continued.
3.
We de",and
thOt all,ubli app,o,dation' to' ,ectali
educatIOnal and
orted
c
n
in d
.
W. institutions
d
th.tshall
all cease.
",lIgio"" ,",,"c.s n"'" sust.
by the gOv'
charitable
dly Bibl. in the
n n sh.1I b nd
bo
; .nd .spedally th.t the us, 01the
d
publiC schools, w llsh ost.nsibly .s. teXtbook 0' .vow.
.s. book 01
t
thel
h
i
5.
Weworship,
de",and that
religioUS
shanthe
be a,point",ent
prohibited. bVthe p,esident
U of the United States
0' bVthe gove<Oo" oi the valiOUS,tate' ot all "ligio ' te,t ""
and fas"

[.d,x. nine d",,,n ' for ~,,,"inn

0"

",","'I

,'0'"''

6.

We demand that the iudicial o,th in the court, and in all other
ad
d
'hall be abOh,he , and that ,i""le atll,,,,a'
nce
nt
tion und" the ,ain' and ,enalties ot po'iu" ,hall be establi,hed in i" ,te .
n de",and tha laW' di"ctlV 0' indi"CtlV ento,dn9 the ob""va
7.
We
ed
t 1I
lI loo"ing to the ento<ce",ent ot "Ch'i,tian"
B. Su We de
that all,hO
laW'
ot
a' ",and
the Sabbath
be re,eal
ndav ,hall be .b'Ogated, and that all laW' ,hall be.con ",ed to thO
",o"litv
requi,e",en" ot nalUl ",o"litv, equal ,igh", and ,,,,,artial libertV
9.
We de",and that,al not onlV'n the con,titution, ofthenUnited Stat" and
al
ot the ,eve,,1 ".te' but al,o in the ,,,ctical ad",in""atio
ot the "",e, no
,,;vlleg 0' advantage ,hall be conceded to Chd,tianitv
nded 0' anVoth" es"eci
,elig ; thet our enti,e ,oliti
",,,e'" ,hall be tou
and ad",,,,,,,,,ed on
cal
e
a ,u,,1V ,"cui ar b"i" and that whatoVel chang" ,hall p,ove nee ""
to
ion
thi' end ,hall be con,i"entlV, unflinchinglV, and "o""tlv ",ade

shall
wholly
de,art",e
" cease.
ot the gov"n",e

-Vol. 22, No.7

Messidor, 188

NEWS
My Experience with the "Born Again" Christians
in Washington, D.C

Religion and Taxes Don't Mix

Religion and Graduation

"

In Defense of Rhinos and of Artistic Use of Rhinos

Picketing

the Prof

Heidennummer
Secularists

Rally in Israel

10
ARTICLES

A Defense of Clarence Darrow The MYth of the Soul -

Jerry Wayne Borchardt

Clarence Darrow

.....

11

IS

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

COLUMNS
G. Richard

Bozarth -

Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Gerald Tholen -

Bozarth's
-

Hall of Fame -

Your Own Government

Pestilence,

Madalyn Murray O'Hair for Catholic Rights

Pitchforks

Roots of Atheism -

and Prayers

Irish Catholics

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair
MANAGING EDITOR
Jon Garth Murray
ASSISTANT EDITOR
G. Richard Bozarth
ARTIST
Felix Santana
NON-RESIDENTIAL STAFF
Bill Baird
Angeline Bennett
Wells Culver
Conrad Goeringer
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Elaine Stansfield
Gerald Tholen

27
30
32

Fight

FEATURE

Francis Wright

Bible

34

SPECIAL

The Woman's

Part Two
or Religion's

22
:

25

The American Atheist magazine is


published monthly by American Atheists, located at 2210 Hancock Drive,
Austin, Texas 78756, a non-profit,
non-political,
educational
organization. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2117,
Austin, Texas 78768. Copyright 1980
by Society of Separationists, Inc. Subscription rates: $20.00 per year. Manuscripts submitted must be typed, double-spaced and accompanied
by a
stamped, self-addressed envelope. The
editors assume no responsibility for
" unsolicited manuscripts.
The American Atheist magazine is indexedin:
MONTHL Y PERIODICAL INDEX

MESSIDOR

Letters to the Editor

Editorial - Jon Garth Murray


Is Victory So Certain They
. Only Need Their Second
String?

Serious Smiles

188 (6/80)

21

Poems
Film Review Dark

"
Promises

37
in the
38

Essays of an
Atheist Activist by Jon

Book Review -

Garth Murray
Classifieds

ISSN: 0032-4310

AUSTIN, TEXAS

REG ULAR FEATURES

39
40

PAGE 1

LETTERS TO THE"EDITOR
Placing the Fiducial Year
Editor,
My reading of "Something Old Has
Been Added" in your [American.Athe-

sion, which marked our entry into the

Boston, Massachusetts,

atomic age. But personally I accept the


French Revolution as a good date.
Don Mcintosh

1870. Though Boston is still around,


Abbot's noble paper is not. However,

Washington

ist] Radio Series article [See the


Floreal 188 (5/80) issue of the Amer-

Dear Don,
The Athiests

ican Atheist, p. 34 - Ed.] has prompted me to write to you concerning

were still calling themselves freethinkers or "religious liberals") once undertook to find a fiducial.date. A Mr. G. N.

adoption of a new secular calendar.


For quite a lonqtime I have specu-.
lated on how the years should

be

of yore (when

1882, suggested in a Letter-to- The-

numbered. I consider this to be the


basic faultof our Gregorian calendar:
the fiducial year is too recent, That is,

Editor of the "Truthseeker"

when We record dates within ancient


civilizations we have to count back-

Giordano Bruno was burned at the


stake by the Roman Catholic Church.

wards from the fiducial year. The B.C.


(minus) years are confusing when
studying ancient history. The calendar

The "Investigator Freethought Society


of Boston, Massachusetts," then began to date all its publications' and

that adopted its fiducial year to be the


year of the French revolution is less

letters from that date; in a calendar in


. which each year was designated a

magazine

that the fiducial year should begin on


the 16th of February, 1600 when

desirable than the Gregorian calendar


because its fiducial is a more recent

certain

date, therefore, if adopted, we would


have to use negative dates previous to

282."
It is true, you are right, American
Atheists - and the entire world- need

1792 - only 188 years ago.


This is my suggestion: date the year
of the French Revolution 100,000.
This year - 1980 - would be officially recordedt 00,188, but in common usage only 188 would be recorded. We would go backward
100,000 years before a negative date
would be used, which means that
throughout recorded history no negative dates would be required. The only
persons who would need to use negative dates would be scientists in such
fields as geology and archeology.
I had considered good calendar fiducials to be the year man first walked
on the moon, or the first atomic fis-

to find a new fiducial year. Let's all


work on it and make a decision and
then a commitment and try to change
the calendar dating worldwide.
Something else is needed too. Every
day of the week is named after a god
All

of that

It should be noted that with

the

ancients the time of the vernal


equinox was the most important date
of the year and that most "veers"
started at that special moment: remember Stone Henge, for example.
We anticipate further comments,
please, from each and all.
Editor

t'?"'5c:nri

JS

with the

year 1882 being "The Year of Science

from some mythology.


needs to be changed.

you can look for his history in a future


issue of this magazine as a part of the
Roots of Atheism series.'

they.

Hill of Boston on the 29th of January,

"Year of Science:'

beginning in

Editor,
In your May issue of the American
Atheist you published the Nine Demands, but you didn't say in what city
or state Francis Abbot published his
weekly paper.
Arthur Filiney
Michigan

Editor

A Whiff of Humor
Editor,
Enclosed in a portion of the newspaper The Pittsburgh Press. [See below - Ed.] How about it? It looks like
these preachers are beginning to r'ealize that religion stinks. I figure you
folks can use a good laugh once in a
while. It helps you shoulder life's
burdens.
I sent a subscription for the American Atheist to be sent to the Carnegie
Library North Side branch and also a
copy to Carnegie Library Oakland
branch. Have these subscriptions expired yet? One of our members visited
the Oakland branch and they said they
never have received the subscription.
Sorry to load you with another question and a letter to answer.
Reynold Bourquin
Pennsylvania
Dear Reynold,
No need to apologize - and thanks
for the chuckle. As you see, we're
passing it on to all our readers.
Our records show the t.wo library
subscriptions
good until' Pluviose
(Feb.] 81 - so I think you have a
problem here. What must be done is to
go to the library and demand that the
magazine be displayed like all the
other religious pubs they have. If they
do not respond honorably. then write
the American Atheist Center for a
copy of the Voswinkel Library Suit.
Once vou receive it, take it to the
library and inform them that you will
file an identical suit against them if
they do not display our magazine. You
will probably have the satisfaction of
winning a battle for American Ather
ism in your neighborhood.
Editor

eSltabside Bes~
AMBERSON

II:OOA.i\1.
OK. II. IIWIlT UE\ EL\\J)

1101.1,\:\1)

"TH E ODOR OF CHRISTIANITY"


wu,o 1:00 p.,,,_

8W~.1~llhruu~h
fltri~l;iI"

Dear Arthur,

Churc

AVENUE JUST Off. FIFTH

l.l!lril11Un

n., ~

.:j"; hlll\.\ al I !:05 p.m.

>.: .r.-

Francis Abbot's The Index was published out of Toledo, Ohio and then
PAGE 2

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80)

~/

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

EDITORIAL

JON GARTH MURRA Y

IS VICTORY SO CERTAIN THEY ONLY


NEED THEIR SE'COND STRING?
.

It retards the trial and error system that generates solutions.


Back in the winter of '79, Gerald Tholen, National Chapter
Religious representatives feel comfortable with a position of
Coordinator, and I undertook an organizing tour of the Eastern
U.S. At that time, we had the occasion to participate in a radio
condoning acceptance of directives without discussion or trial'
talk show in Virginia. The opening phone-in question on that
and error processes. Even a basically authoritarian
nation
show initiated discussion of whether clergymen should be in
such as the United States offers the opportunity to question
authority and express dissatisfaction even though one most
governmental positions. Was this a violation of state/church
often ultimately ends up accepting what is handed out.
separation? Our answer was yes.
Clergymen and women, in general, owe their allegiance to
Totalitarian nations, however, go for straight hand-to-hand
their theology above all else. We maintained that such an
spoon-feeding of the population. Even smelling the food first is
prohibited, or asking for it, content unchanged. in a different
allegiance seriously hampers their abilityto consider and vote
flavor. Such totalitarian systems fit the ideals of any religious'
upon a number of secular issues. Their religious "values"
system. Thus, increased participation of religious oriented
cloud their Qetter judgment. Also, in the case of Roman
individuals in influential positions in government moves us
Catholic nuns or priests, they are of the lower strata of a
towards totalitarianism. The pope is a totalitarian figure, not a
system of ranks accountable to a foreign head of state, the
merely authoritarian one.
pope. As minions of a foreign leader, they must reflect his
Then, in May of '80, Father Drinan responded to the papal
desires on many issues that should be considered internal
directive that priests and nuns resign from public office. The
U.S. policy. What right does a foreign dictator have to
callers on that show back in November said that clergy in
influence government policy in the U.S ..throug-h~tlis agents,
especially under the cover of religion, in a nation founded on . - government would not necessarily respond to god or religious
. leaders first. Well, who was right? The pope's minions
the principle of separation of state and church? .
It is absurd to expect a government to uphold separation of
responded to his orders like a dog on a leash. The Constitutlen,
state and church when some of the state officials are
their duties to the general. public, and their duty to their
contituency went out the window.
concurrently church officials.
.
Make no mistake, however. This was not a move on the part
Our position, of course, was poorly received. The response
of the pope to come into compliance with the constitutional
was a torrent of angry calls, the thrust of them being that it
would be a violation of the constitutional rights of the clergy to - principle of state and church separation. No pope has ever felt
any compulsion in that direction. Instead, it is a recognition on
exclude them from holding public office. "The people can elect
the pope's part that he can, and in tact does, control elected
any person they please to any office," was the cry. The callers
officials anyway. He does not need his people in power
would not accept the notion that the allegiance of an elected
positions directly anymore. This is as important as the I.R.S.
representative to a foreign power or to an authority outside of
announcement 'of recent years that church income in general
reality would do anything to hinder their impartiality on any
issue.
.
has reached a level where it no longer needs donations from
the flocks. I.R:S. reported that church income would double
The realization that the essence of clericalism, namely
every twenty years just from the earnings of the churches'
unquestioned obedience to authority, makes for an ineffective
holdings on prior investments.
representative for anyone, could not be tolerated by the
This means that the power of the Roman Catholic Church is
listeners. Any representative who goes into a collective barmuch greater than one may have expected. As an Atheist I am
gaining position as a member of a government body when that
glad to see Rep. Drinan and his cohorts out of office. At the
representative has obedience training is going to sit quietly by
same time, I realize the implications of the pull-outorder given
and let the tide roll in. In doing so he fractures the democratic
to them. It only tells me that, as an Atheist, I must double my
idea of competition of spokesmen for differing positions
effort to see that true separation of state and church is
reaching a compromise acceptable to all parties. Instead, the
achieved before it is too late.
.
outspoken parties win out, as long as they are speaking out for
. A theocracy is unthinkable in the U.S. for me, but I realize
conservative trends with which a stagnated mind can identify.
that slavery in a land-acrossthe Atlantic was unthinkable to
Clergy in public office, then, only serve to strengthen
the African Negro until it happened. I plan to b~ prepared. As
conservative opinion by their lack of participation or originalAtheists we can begin to look-more carefully before we pull
ity. Solutions to often complex problems do not come out of a
that voting lever for those who exhibit a compulsion to align
group of persons taking the path of least resistance, which is
to remain with programs that are stagnant and provide no new
themselves with religionists, regardless of our stance on other
altejnatives for solutions.
issues. If separation breaks down, other issues will become
Any scientist wi Il tell you that the way to arrive at the correct
unimportant. Remember, the most effective population conformula to do something is to try many combinations until you
trol device yet used has beenandstill is crqanjzed religion. Its
find the one that works. If you try to do this with a group of
alignment with any secular control system (i.e., government in
people reluctant to try anything new, you don't get very far.
general) makes an unbeatable team.
This is exactly what religious intrusion does in government.
~~~~~~

~.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

PAGE 3

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

~-~~~--------------------------------~
....
-~
~.

MY E,XPERIENCE WITH ----;::;--'


"BORN AGAIN" CHRISJ,HE
IN WASHINGTON, D.C. ANS
G'ERMINAL 29TH, 1'88
/
(4/29/80)
'.
' ~0

----

-, /./

JI

~~--'

\11

=-------

---'

-:----~----~

--=-----====~

by Arnold L. Via

As soon as the local newspapers


were invaded with full page advertisements promoting - "Washington . for
jesuchrist," my mind exploded with
ideas how to oppose the zanies' idiotic
plan.
I settled for what seemed to be the
most logical and effective method to
harass the marchers without going to
jail.
Sure enough, at exactly 8:30 A.M.,
I was standing on the corner of 7th St.
and Constitution Ave. Oh, yes, I was
adorned in my full battle dress, button
uniform and picket sign.
The main flow of 'born-againers'
heading to the mall came past my corII-__ ~' nero Needless to say, but an awesome
I~
expression fell upon their faces as they
came near enough to read the sign and
11\
buttons. They paused in disbelief and
then muttered some religious phrase as
I~,---- they continued to the mall to joirithe
flock.
A city policeman parked his motortr:~:.----cycle near by and in a loud voice said,
'tc':t'I----- "I'm a button collector. Do you have
~1
any .extra ones?". I stood smiling while
1 __
-he surveyed my person, The big smile
quickly disappeared as he said, "Oh, I
didn't know they were that kind'!" I
broadened my smile so my teeth
"'1._-- would show, wishing that he could
vl.-----read
my mind for I was thinking obscene thoughts and silently hurling
obscene names at him.
,
In a stern voice he remarked, "I
wouldn't go over to the mall if I was
(sic) you. You might get stoned." I
gently replied, "Yes, you're so right."
The second' nut who approached
--

11====

l----

PAGE 4

=:->

MESSIDOR

~I

188 [6/80]

me started a garbage conversation


about how great jesucrist is and that I
would be sorry for turning my back on
him and the all-loving merciful white
sky daddy. The next one tried to explain the true meaning of his King
James version of the bible. I told him
to shove it.
One after another confronted 'me,
attempting to sell their holy dung.
They were infuriated with my boldness. Some shouted as they passed,
"God will judge you." I gave them a
smile and a boy scout salute with the
third finger.
'0'
I held my own on that corner for
three hours. The incredible unadulterated bullshit from the loud speakers
was nerve racking. It could be heard
for one mile and I was standing only
one block away. Wow! Never again!
As the march from 7th St. to 14th
St. started to move at 11:30A.M., I
walked along with the "born-againers"
on the grassy strip, until a policeman
warned me to stay on the sidewalk. It
happened that the grassy strip ended
at 13th St. so I took my stand right on
the edge of the street facing the
marchers.
There are rio words to properly describe what really took place the next
four hours. It was 'the most pitiful display of religious ignorance ever shown
in public. James L. Farmer said it all
when he told reporters, "If the Jesus
I knew were looking down on the mall
today, he would probably feel compelled to say, 'Thank god I am not a
Christian'."
The banners, signs and
singing were specimens of the lowest

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

"form of intelligence ever exhibited in


rthe twentieth century. When a bare"'foot peasant, dragging a 16-feet. long
wooden cross, passed byme an uneasy
, sensation
of medievalism
flashed
through my brain.
At least a hundred pictures (and I
did not .get a gawddamned one) were
taken of me by people on the street,
by the media and even some of the
marchers stopped to snap them. Some
of the non-participants on the sidewalk gave me an "O.K." signal after
reading my signs and buttons. Others
whispered, "I'm with you." as they
passed. I gave out eight magazines during the day.
A young Black boy.. with a press
tag hanging on him walked up to me
and said, "Man, you've got a .lot of
nerve." I asked him, "Why do you say
that?" He answered; "Because there
are thousands of christians here and
you're tile only: Atheist.i, I responded,
"I'm stiH alive, ain't ~?" He, too,
asked to take some pictures for his
school paper. Then, he snapped away.
, I didn't know; at first; why the
marchers began to halt in front of me
and then to, break into a nervous, stupid laugh. I happened to look to my
left and some dim-wit had made a big
sign with an arrow pointing toward
me, reading, "He's all .dressed up and
has no where to go." He thought it
-was' funny until I said, "You know,
, you ate right. There ain't no place to
, to go, now, is there?" The sign disappeared shortly after.
'
,
,' ,A number of the people were sym
'pathetic toward me. They were sorry
for a poor sinner. Some were shocked
by
presence. Others were just
- simply amused. They had never seen a
real live Atheist before ~ without a
tail and horns!
The following represents about four
hours of repetitious exchanges be,tween me anti the marchers. "B.A."
stands for born againassholes (a classic
breach birth) and "Via" is, of course,
_that shining intellectual Atheist, the
brave and perceptive, buttoned, Don
Quixote, quick on the repartee.

my

BA: "Why don't you go to Russia?"


VIA: "Why don't ~ou go to Guyana?"
BA: "You'all are going to hell."
VIA: "Sllye me Ia ' seat."
BA: "Look at the lovely sunshine:'
VIA: "I appreciate natural phenomena."

BA: "God loves you." ,


VIA: "Which one?"

OBSESSIVE NEUROSIS

BA: "Jesus is 'coming;."


.
VIA: "What! please - there are children here today."
,BA:''~'Do you believe everything on
that sign?"
VIA: "I wouldn't be carrying the
gawddamn thing if i didn't."
BA:"God

loves you."_ .
?'" keep him away
from me.",'
,

V1A:' "I'm not gay

BA: "Jesus is lord:~~.~


VIA:. ~'Jesus was ~ay."-

BA: "Can pray for you?"


VIA: ""How much will it cost?"
BA: "God loves you."
VIA: "Zeus loves me, too."
BA:, "You're a lost soul."
VIA: "Take me to your leader."
BA: "God will judge you."
VIA: ""Fuck your gawd."
BA: "Man, I love you."
VIA: "Good,let's have an orgy."
BA: "What do you mean, religion is
bunk?" ,
VIA: "Do you know what 'bunk'
means?"
BA: "No, not really." ,
VIA: "Then why ask me dumb questions?";
<

BA: "You're sick."


VIA: "But, I'm not stupid;"
BA: "Why do you believe in something you can't see?"
VIA: "You're asking ME that? You're
the one who believes in something
that you can't see.?..'~',.
BA: (He shows a small bible.) "I mean
this."
VIa: "Stick it, Buster. And ask yourself the question you asked me, if you
ever grow up."
BA: "Jesus loves-you,"
VIA: "Like the AY:atollah loves you."
That was an experience, I will never
forget. It is just too bad that I had to
be alone.
If anyone wants to .organize a D.C.
chapter, I will help. That city needs
us!

BA: "Jesus loves you."


VIA: "I prefer women."

AUSTIN', TEXAS

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

PAGES

~ht RegiJfer
EVER STRIVING FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
TO BE AN EVEN BETTER~Pt:ACE TO LIVE

Let Peace Begin With Me


This newspaper is dedicated to furnishing information to our readers so that they can better
promote and preserve their own freedom and encourage others to see its blessing. For only when
man understands freedom and is free to control himself and all he possesses can he develop to his
utmost capabilities.

Religion And TaxesDon't Mix

Santa Ana (CA)

Sat., Apr. 19, 1980

Atheists are again raising an issue concernchaplains hi tHe military and at federal penal
ing tax money and religion. This time they are
institutions tbroughout the country.
concentrating on the numerous members of
The arguments that these chaplains offer a
the clergy who are on government payrolls.
social rather than a religious function does not
Though it is difficult to listen to the usually
hold up. Theircounseling usually focuses, as it
shrill Madalyn Murray O'Hair, president o{ should, on spiritual answers to problems. The
the organization that brought the lawsuit that
prayers and. services they conduct are without
banned prayer in tax-supported schools, some -question religious and not social in nature.
of her arguments make sense.
Many Catholic priests have their checks sent
-directly to their churches, which then pay
Atheists have long been upset that they are
them small' portions, keeping the rest for other
forced, through taxation, to pay the salary of church activities.
those who are performing religious functions
This is not .to suggest that the chaplains,
for the government. Specifically, they are up- whether working in the military or in the
set that more and more ministers, priests and
prisons are not, needed. Undoubtedly these
-rabbis are finding their way onto government
.dedicated individuals have done a tremendous
payrolls as chaplains in the armed forces.
amount of good over the years. The question is
prisons, mental hospitals and police departhow they should be paid. Churches in America
-ments. Atheist organizations persuasively
send missionaries all over the globe to preach
complain that using their tax money to pay for ~the GOspel and minister to people's spiritual
ebaplains is a' violatioh of their rights and a needs. The'responsibility of providing religious
contradiction of the concept of separation of services and spiritual guidance should be left
church and state.
to the churches and not to the taxpayers.
An issue like this lends itself to emotional-"
believes
that religion is an important and positive
force. This does not mean, however, that those
who do not believe in God should be forced to
pay to promote religious beliefs, even if those
beliefs reflect the opinion of the majority.

"

,.

Church support rather than tax support for


chaplains is not only the right thing to do, it
will likely result in increasing the effectiveness of their message. Prisoners are more
likely to heed the words of a person who is not
part of the prison staff. Similarly, members of
the armed forces will probably have more
respect for 'pE!Oplewho desire to be with them
Government-provided religion is no costle~ .. than for those ordered to minister to the men of
affair. For example, the starting pay for a .a particular unit.
chaplain working for the state of California is
The impulse is to contend that only the tax
$19,488per year; senior chaplains make al- money otthe country's faithful is paying for
most $24,000per year. There are 74 full-time
the chaplains. Unfortunately;such an explanaand 25part-time chaplains on the state payroll
tion would be nothing more than an excuse for .
at this time. The cost to the federal governusing tax money to provide a service that

ism, This newspaper emphatically

\ __
PAGE 6

m.e.n.t.is_e.ve.n.
.m.o_re
. T.h.e_r.e.a.r.e.th.o,!""us_an_d.~.o.f_.Sh.O.ul.d_be_su.p.po_rted_
.b.y.th~e.c.hu.r.c.h
.__
MESSIDOR

~I

188 [6/80]

.~
AMERICAN

,.,
ATHEIST

'I missed being a part of the graduation


ceremony with my classmates. I had my
cap and gown and I went to the
rehearsals but since the school board
felt it could not uphold the Constitution
and give us a ceremony completely free .
of religious overtones, I did not go.'

RELIGION
AND
GRADUATION

- Scott Smith

The first indication that something


had been wrong - wrong for years
-came to the attention of the populace.of Hillsboro, Hew Hampshire, on
June 18th when The Messl!nger
newspaper announced the defiant act
of an eigl1teen year old American Atheist member, Scott Smith.
Scott, scheduled to graduate from
the Hillsboro-Deering
High School,
discovering that members of the
clergy were to conduct invocations
and benedictions as a part of the
graduation
services, demanded a
hearing with the school board to protest such an intrusion of religion into
_ his school.. Obtaining the help of the
New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union
he went to the board and ?nade his
plea to eliminate all religious aspects
of the public ceremony.
The Civil Liberties Union attorney
took a stand on a strategic tactic rather
than an Atheist principle - but, in a
fight, anything helps. He stated that it
was his belief that the issue reaches to
most of New Hampshire schools. He
argued that publicly funded institutions have traditionally been meeting
places for people of all faiths and that"
by singling out a particular faith for.
representation in a public ceremony,
such as a graduation,. the school was
"creating potential for ill-will between
all faiths."
Actually, that is a "weasel" issue.
The bold Atheist approach is simply
that any religious expression (not one
of a particular faith) is impermissable
in any public sponsored or funded
institution under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United
States. However, the AACLU (American Atheist Civil Liberties Union) has
not as yet been established and Scott
Smith had to take what help was at
hand.
The request was denied 4 to 1.
Scott had early made his objections
known to the principal of the school
who, fearing "that the senior might
take action disruptive to the ceremoAU.STIN, TEXAS

ny," had called Scott into his office and


laid four options on him:
(1) Smith could either participate in
the full ceremony;
(2) remain seated during the invo-.'
cation and benediction;
(3) leave the stage from the side
during the invocation and, after receiving his diploma, leave the school
before the benediction; or
(4) not participate at all.
Every option was an insult to Scott
Smith and a blow against the constitutionally protected doctrine of state
and church separation. Scott saw the
insult and contacted the school superintendant who recommended he
request a school board hearing.
One member used an old ploy arguing that "timing was not right" as
the graduation was upon the school
and therefore there was not enough
time "to merit serious consideration"
of the issue. The school board chairman.Ibowever.
said that he had to
endorse the request since it was
"more important to vote on principle
than convenience or practicality." He
was immediately put to a defensive
position but in a determined show
resolved that he would recommend a
study committee to review future
graduation ceremonies,
Scott, a bright young man, (naturalIyl he's an Atheist, isn't he?) had won
the school's Social Studies award this
year and the principal, himself, noted
sadly, " ..... we teach government and
the dernocratlc process and can't expect kids to forget these concepts; they
should behave in a manner that reflects their education." This was tantamount tothe principal admitting that
Scott is right. Several students in attendance at the board meeting supported Scott in his request.
When graduation day rolled around
Scott declined to take any of the options offered by the principal. "It was
not a matter of doing things just for
me. Even if I had conceded to any of
those adjustments, it [graduation cerMESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

emony]
would
still
have
been
religious, I originally planned to leave
the stage during the invocation and
benediction, but on principle decided
not to take-part in the ceremony at all."
Scott explained further that aJthough
an annual baccalaureate service held
for seniors is strictly religious, he had
not complained against it because he
had simply decided not to attend it,
knowing its content. However, the
graduation exercises were a part of
what should be a secular activity. "I
should think that if they're going to
keep the [religious]
baccalaureate
there's no reason the graduation
could not be made secular,""he noted.
Once again of course, the ploy of
"majoritarian"
wishes
was introduced, and why I oh, whyl, must it
always be a woman who vig.orously
defends the curtailment of human
freedom in whatever name or under
whatever cover? This time it was a
female member of the school board
who insisted that the clergy were a
part of the community, that the community was religious and that their
needs had to be served. This argument
was answered for all times by the
United States Supreme Court in a
classic analysis of a state/church situation back in 1943.
r

(1) The very purpose of a Bill of


Rights was to withdraw certain subjects
from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of
majorities and officials, and to establish
them as legal principles to be applied by
the courts. One s right to life, liberty, and
property, to free speech, a free press,
freedom of worship and assembly, and
other fundamental rights' may not be
submitted to vote; they depend on the
outcome of no elections.
(2) If there is any fixed star in our
constitutional constellation, it is that no
official, high or petty, can prescribe what
shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion,
orforce citizens to confess by word or by
act their faith therein.
PAGE 7

Another board member introduced


a similar ridiculously ineffective argument. He thought that "acknowledging 'god' in a quiet sort of way"
does not mean that anyone "is going
to be converted." That is equivalent to
saying that a small breach is acceptable when the Constitution speaks of
"NO" breach. It flies in the face of
reason.
Scott Smith summed it all up: "I
missed being a part of the graduation
ceremony with my classmates. I had
my cap and gown and I went to the

rehearsals but since the school board


felt it could not uphold the Constitution [of the United States] and give us a
ceremony completely free of religious
overtones, I could not go.
"There should be an absolute separation of state and church and we
should have, as our right, a completely
secular system of education available
to everyone.
"The other students seemed to respect my position and a few agreed
with me but were too timid to come out

openly with me.


"The schools teach the law but don't
observe it. I am aware that majority
rules, but when the majority wants
something which is illegal it should
work to change the law .....
not to
break it."
American Atheists, of which Scott is '
a member, salute him for his courage
and determination and admonition the
older generations among the membership to emulate the actions of this
wholly admirable young man.

IN DEFENSE OF RHINOS
AND OF ARTISTIC USE
OF RHINOS
Although the personnel of the American Atheist Center are roundly and deservedly (?) denounced by all for not
answering mail (an impossible chore), all
of the incoming mail is read - often by
all - and lively discussions ensue. And,
so it was when the following letter to the
editor was received:

IN DEFENSE OF RHINOS
Editor,
I wish to express my disapproval of
the derogatory manner in which you
symbolize
and
describe
the
rhinoceros.
The animal deserves our deepest
respect for having the ability to "hang
on," cope, and endure the millions of
years of unspeakable agony of ruthless huntingl (See Run. Rhino, Run
- Extinction is Forever, a public service advertisement by Ogilvy & Mather below.) I admire the rhinocerosl
Hooray for its courage (ill-temper to
hunters) which accounts for its survival today I
Let something good be said about
this magnificent animal, unique, in
that it doesn't cringe, tremble, and run
in fear at the sight of the earth's most
destructive predator - manl
R. Gehlert
Maryland
RUN, RHINO, RUN EXTINCTION IS FOREVER
The Rhino's problem is its horn.
Smugglers sell it for $300 an ouncealmost ten times the price of silver.
PAGE 8

The poachers kill the Rhino [ust.to get


its horn.
As a result, the total population of
the rare Northern White Rhinoceros of
Africa has been reduced to less than
two hundred and fifty.
In East Africa, illegal slaughter of
the Black Rhino has reduced the population by 90 percent over the past five
years.
In the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, there were seventy-six Black
Rhinos one year ago. Today there are
less than twenty-six.
In Kenya's Meru National Park,
more than a hundred Rhinos were
poached
in the
past
eighteen\
months.
In Asia, less than two hundred-and
fifty Sumatran Rhinos survive:-+he
population of the Javan Rhino is down
to fifty.
--The situation is critical.
The World Wildlife Fund is coordinating an urgent campaign to save
all species of Rhino from total
extinction.
Fifty-nine nations have agreed not
to trade in Rhino horn and the Governments of Kenya 'and Hong Kong
have announced a crash effort to stop
the trade. But stricter measures are
needed:
1. Vulnerable
Rhinos
must
be
removed to sanctuaries.
2. More people and better equipment are urgently needed to stop
poachers.
3. Ways must be found to stop the
illegal trade, and to reduce the demand for Rhino horn. Efforts will be
MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

~/

made to persuade other governments


to follow the lead of Hong Kong and
Kenya.
[This advertisement was prepared
as a public service by
Ogilvy & Mather]

Although not overtly expressed, there


was an underlying principle to be perceived and the Editor-in-Chief replied in
this wise:
Dear R. Gehtert,
You are right. We are wrong. It is the
irrational game plan of religion which
makes animals talk and have-'buman
characteristics Any accepted irrationality such as this always fortifies
religion - the master of it all.
Atheists should know better than to
play that game. We retract. We
, retreat.
Never - never - again in this
journal will we equate an alleged
"stupidity:' to rhinoceri, or "slyness"
to foxes, or "subletv" to a cat, etc.
Each species is its own. with whatever attributes it has for survival and
for enjoyment oflife.
Our initial reference was to a play
titled after the Rhinos but actually,
that is no excuse for our repeating the
error of that playwright.

Dr.O'Hair
Our artist, Felix Sanatana, went
through the roof. When we managed to
get him back down to the ground and the
drawing board, he undertook a heated
argument in defense of the "artist s IiAMERICAN

ATHEIST

cense" and suggested the following reply


letter:
Dear R. Gehlert:
We Atheists have an extraordinary
respect for any kind of animals in their
different degrees of evolution and of
course we hate to use them as representations of the negative (or positive)
behavior of their brothers, the human
beings. Nevertheless, writers, artists
and poets usually have had the iicense
to use animals' natural behavior in
their works (I accept that some of them
did that in an abusive way) for a better
, comprehension of the idea they like to
develop. We share with you a rational
respect for animals, including crows
(page 22 of Floreal issue) and vultures
(page ,28 of the same issue) that you
seem to have forgotten in your letter in
defense of the rhino.
Felix Santana

The difficulty is that the best of the


biting, satirical, cartoons of Felix Santana use animal characterizations. Those
scheduled for publication with articles
concerning the Roman Catholic influx
into the United States from Mexico,
.Cuba, Puerto Rico, Central America,
Vietnam, Cambodia, use' mean-looking,
fast-breeding, identical-behaving mice.
On the one hand we agree with poetic
license, although / have always looked
askance at the poetic line of women's lips
resembling rubies - personally, / feel

lips are lips. Eyes are eyes - not stars,


and in their own generic terms, each are
beautiful.
This is an extremely important, basic,
radical of Atheist thought. Each species
is unique and the generic characteristics
of each are important to its survival. If we'
want to derogate a certain human activity, such asfollow-the-leader, we should
leave lemmings out of it.
Therefore, we are going to try to hew to
this decision. Felix Santana is gifted - (/
shouldn't say that I It has religious overtones. We need to "reform" our language
in many areas tool) To start over: Felix Santana is a brilliant theo-politician, especially in the area of South
American state/church politics. Somehow, we will work this out together so
that he can continue to use his black,
analytical, sarcastic drawing pen to point
out humankind's enemy, on target .....
while we remember that the enemy isn't a
rhino, or a mouse, or a vulture we can
mock by identifying with the worse traits
of man. The enemy is theism, a product
of mankind. Mankind must be dealt with
itself, artistically, not represented as another species - all of which, incidentally,
have no gods. Only man is sofoolish as to
have invented his own bane.
Your comments are invited.

~~~~~.~~~~

r--------------------------------------------------~~
HBEHOLD THE FOWLS OF THE AIR: FOR THEY SOWNo:r
NEITHER DO THEY REAP OR GATHER INTO BARN:5
YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDETH THEM.
ARE "IE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY?"MIITr. 6:26

PICKETING THE PROF

Chicago - On April 19, 1980, six


members of the Illinois Chapter of the
American Atheists picketed a seminar
conducted by the "Reverend" Peter G.
Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian morals, Harvard University Divinity School. The seminar was for members of the Harvard and the Radcliffe
Clubs of Chicago. The subject was
"The Future Is Not What It Used to Be"
with "The Emerging Order" byJeremy
Rifkin as suggested reading. It' was
held at Leverone Hall, North Western
University in Evanstown, III. 54 people
attended.
The pickets called for disbanding the
Harvard Divinity School and for clergymen to resign.
The handout material listed 28
damning, quotations
on Christian
morality and on religion by well known
historical people. It also listed a few
biblical quotations which encourage.
abuse against
non-believers
and
infidels.
Harvard Divinity School' trains people for Christian ordination. The pickets claimed that church ordination is
an immoral act because it perpetuates
religion.
The pickets taking part were Troy
Soos, Christine Oleynickak, Jefferson
Paine, Christopher, Lorrene and Clayton Drew. Christopher
Drew is a
member of the Harvard Club of
Chicago.
Mr. Gomes talked to the pickets. He
was good humored and, according to
Time magazine, is a skillful preacher.
He said the divinity school was usually
criticized
for not being religious
enough. He promised to carry the
Atheist message back to Harvard.
Some attendees said they agreed'
with the pickets. Some passers-by
liked the picketing. Some were upset
by it. Most important it was, again,
American Atheists being visible, having a good time getting their message
across and not suffering any untoward
consequences.

Heidennummer
Troy Soos, 31, amerikanischer Atheist, hat cine
alternative
TelefonseeIsorge gegriindet. Unter
dem Motto
Ruf die
Atheisten an gibt es jetzt
in Illinois den Dienst am

lose Leitung erfreut sich


grofster Beliebtheit. Troy
Soos: Bisher hatten wir
12 000 Anrufer in einem
Monat. Aber es werden
gottlob Yon Tag zu Tag
mehr.

Heiden. Auf zweiminiltigen


Bandaufnahmen
spricht Soos iiber atheistische Philosophen,
die
Trcnnung von Staat und
Kirche und iiber religioses Brauchtum. Die gott-

AUSTIN, TEXAS

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

PAGE 9

UNITED WORLD ATHEISTS

ISRAEL

SECULARISTS RALLY IN ISRAEL


The following article is reprinted from The Freethinker
(October, 1979), which is published in London, England, and
which was founded in 1881 by G. W. Foote.
.

Recent events in Iran have provided a terrifying


illustration of-what happens when religious fanaticism
runs riot through a society, But rampant clericalism is
by no means confined to Islam and Iran, A new
secularist movement in Israel shows that Judaism has
provided zealots with the motivation and the means to
impose their will on Israeli citizens too,
Despite the progressive image the state of Israel is keen on
fostering for the benefit of the outside world, that country, in
certain respects, "has still not entered the 20th century. Many
of its present internal, legal and political arrangements
represent a cruel and oppressive danger to the quality of life
and freedom of conscience of many Israelis."
The assertions above are contained in Issue No. 1 of the
Israel Humanist Review, published by the newly-formed Israel
Secular Association which is "committed to the cultural,
social and political progress of Israel and its people on the
basis of struggle within a framework of rational thought."
Prime examples of the tyranny of Israeli religious laws
relate to marriage and divorce. "These laws," states the ISA.
"are based on what must be called legal religious intolerance.
The Orthodox religious stream of thought dominates and
determines this important part of the lives of Israel's Jewish
citizens. In innumerable cases the laws of the Orthodox,
sanctioned
as they are by the state, produce human
disasters .. , ..
"Some Israelis, out of an exaggerated sensitivity to notions
of so-called national unity or survival prefer to avert their eyes
to the danger to Israeli society created by legalised religious
coercion, accompanied by Orthodox political aggrandisement
and social neanderthalism."
The ISA states that while it has no argument with those who
personally adhere to religious viewpoints, provided that they
do not impinge on the rights of others, religion - be it Judaism
or any other - is contray to the secular association's basic
tenets.
'
"Moreover," it claims, "religion as an organised force leads
to schisms, each claiming its exclusive toehold in paradise. In
fact the ignominious bickerings among the Orthodox, Conservatise. and Reform (liberal), to name only the major Jewish
religious streams, may yet require the services of the Israel
Secular Association as mediator, since they don't seem to be
able to talk to one another about god, Judaism and the Jewish
peoplel"
In an open letter to "friends abroad," Professor Gershon
Weiler, B. Phil (Oxon] of the Department of Philosophy at Tel
Aviv University, writes:

PAGE 10

MESSIDOR

~I

"It may well be that organised humanism and rationalism


survive in the West out of sheer inertia. Forthe great battles of
the 19th century have decisively determined that the legal and
constitutional structure of the state should be based on a
secular equality of all citizens. Once this principle has been
established in practice, not only in theory, there remains but to
keep a wary eye on surviving pieces of, perhaps harmless,
superstitions.
"Not so in Israel. It would be nice tobe able to report that we
are somewhat slow in developing and that such matters as
separation of religion and state are progressing slowly, but
progressing. It would be nice, but things are not like that.
Israel, ever since independence, has firmly maintained the
Ottoman-feudal system of personal status written into the law
and thus never granted her citizens full equality.
"However, since the last General Election things have gone
from bad to worse in all things pertaining to religious freedom
and equality of citizens. The country is now in the grip of a
veritable clericalist take-over. It should be understood that
violations of the principle of freedom of religion pertain
exclusively to the Jewish population. Others, Moslem and
Christians of all demoninations, are quite free to conduct their
cults as they please.
"Not so the Jews. The legal system is that all citizens
deemed to be Jews by religious criteria are subjected, by act of
Parliment, to the jurisdiction of Orthodox Religious Courts. In
this way not only secularists, humanists, etc. ate coerced to
act against their conscience but. no less importantly, Jews of
the Reform Conservative persuasion find themselves reduced
to an inferior status.
"Their rabbis are not authorised to perform legally recognized marriage-ceremonies,
nor are they deemed to be
qualified to sit in Religious Courts, while, of course, there is no
question of allowing them to set up their own.
"The subject is vast and much exceeds the confines of a
letter. But the interested reader may find a detained and
scholarly presentation of the history and practice of religious.
coercison in Israel in the book of S. Z. Abramov, former Deputy
Speaker of Israel's Parliment,
entitled
'The Perpetual
Dilemma.'
"Lastly, a small request to our friends abroad. If ever you
chance to a meeting in which spokesmen for Israel tell their
audiences ofthe achievements of liberalism and democracy in
this country, please do not fail to ask them to explain in detail
matters relating to religious freedom, such as the 'Who is a
Jew?', law, etc. In this way you will have helped a nation that
lives, as far as basic liberties of conscience go, somewhere in
the vervrernote past."

188 [6/80]

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

~~: =A=D=E=F=E::::N~S=E=O=F=C=L=A=R=E=N=C=E=D=A=R=R=O=W==:=:::~
by Jerry Wayne Borchardt

A new book.about Clarence Darrow has been published


entitled Darrow: A Biography, written by Kevin Tierney. The
author is a revisionist who attempts to revise the popular
interpretation of the famous labor and criminal lawyer as
noble liberal, humanitarian, and freethinking iconoclast. Tierney's revision of Darrow is largely a disparaging presentation
of the man and his career. His portrayal of Darrow is vitiated by
a flaw common to the revisionist attitude, namely that all
previous interpretations, however valid, must be abandoned
in favor of new and sometimes arbitrary reconstructions.
Nowhere is Tierney's revisionist attitude more apparent than
in his treatment of Darrow the militant infidel, wherein the
champion of freedom of thought is reinterpreted as a naive,
old-fashioned, and provincial nullifidian.
Clarence Darrow was an overt Atheist and the predominant
figure of American freethought in the early 20th century. His
lectures and debates incorporated central themes reflective of
the antithesis between rationality and faith. His philosophical
discussions included such topics as the alleged existence of
god, the epistemology of faith, evolution versus creationism,
fundamentalism versus modernity, determinism versus freewill, the asserted inerrancy of the Bible, the supposed reality
of the soul, and the efficacy of reason. Darrow aligned his
irreligion with his profession; he volunteered to defend John
T. Scopes at the anti-evolution trial at Dayton, Tennessee, in
1925. At the "Monkey Trial," Darrow was pitted against the
chief prosecutor, William Jennings Bryan, defender of the
faith and champion of fundamentalism.
Despite Darrow's experience as an irreligious expositor in
the field of religious controversy, he is considered by the
revisionist Tierney to be religiously naive. Tierney believes
Darrow possessed "childish conceptions of theology" and
concentrated on confronting an easily confuted, out-dated
fundamentalism. Bryan and his followers were merely anomalous, harmless artifacts, unworthy of serious refutation,
suggests Tierney; Darrow was tilting at fundamentalist
windmills. The revisionist quotes Waldo Frank, a spectator at
the Scopes Trial: "My sympathy was with Bryan. The rationalist liberals could never know that the Old Testament
story was a myth whose truth lay beyond reach.of their
sneers." It seems that Darrow's anti-fundamentalism was not
only irreverent, but also irrelevant; as one observer remarked
after Darrow debated religion with G. K. Chesterton: "He
[Darrow] seemed to have an idea that all religion was a matter
of accepting Jonah's whale as a sort of luxury liner."
The revisionist criticizes Darrow because the Atheist did not
appreciate "religious subtleties" and chose to fight against
absurd fundamentalism
rather than the establishment
churches. Oddly, Tierney believes that Darrow was incon-

AUSTIN, TEXAS

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

PAGE 11

enough to demand repudiation by revision.


Darrow, himself, did not believe that he was ineffectual and
naive about religion. To the contrary, he found that his
opponents were usually the ones off. the mark in religious
discussions. In his autebiographical The Story of My Life,
Darrow states:
Few debators that I have ever met have had
anything new to say about religion. Still fewer
quibble a great deal about the meaning of the word

Darrow and Bryan at Dayton

sistent because he attacked Bryan venomously and yet was


frequently involved in religious debates with clergymen of the
religious establishments. This alleged inconsistency on the
part of Darrow is easily explained by Darrow's personal dislike
for Bryan and the fundamentalist's anti-intellectualism.
In
debates outside the courtroom, Darrow was not encumbered
by personal animosities and he argued against ideas, not
individuals. The fact that Darrow was actively involved in
religious debates with all comers contradicts Tierney's <;Issertion that Darrow was selective about religious controversy or
ignorant of newer trends in religious thought.

"religion." I am well aware that it has been given all


sorts of meanings by all sorts of men and all sorts of
faiths. This is true because men have been loath to
give up the word "religion" after they have lost faith
in every idea that has so long been associated with
creeds. To the great majority of the people of the
Western world. religion is associated with gods and
devils and angels, with heaven and hell, with life and
death, either through the existence of a soul or the
resurrection of the body. or both. If people wish to
sense something of the change that has come over
the world in religious beliefs they should remember
that practically every Christian creed contains the
words. "I believe in the resurrection of the body," and
then ask themselves how many people that they
know have faith in any such idea, which was specifically taught by St. Paul, and accepted by the
Christian Church.

Thwarting Dangerous Tendencies

It is obvious that Darrow was well aware of the evolution of


religious faith. If he chose to do battle with the dated fundamentalism of a Bryan, rather than with the modernism of a
Harry Emerson Fosdick, it is because he considered fundamentalism a greater threat to freedom than modernism.
Darrow probably viewed modernism as the theological accommodation to the same modern knowledge which led to his
A Simple "Village Atheist"
own Atheism. The assumption made by Tierney, that Darrow
attacked old-fashioned religion and thus was old-fashioned
Although Tierney does not explicitly state the case, by
too, misses the point. Darrow would have been pleased that
inference it may be suggested from Tierney's book that
modern theology was moving closer to his own position of
Darrow was espousing an antiquated Atheism discredited by
freethought. The freethinker was interested in thwarting the
modern theology. This is an age of radical Protestant theology;
dangerous tendencies of biblical literalists instead of quibof Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultman. Existential theology is
bling with religious progressives. After all, it was not the
untouched by freethought or, for that matter, by fundamenmodernists who were seeking to outlaw the advances of
talism as well. If "god" is to be defined, as Tillich defines it, as
modern science bylegislative fiat, as had the fundamentalists
the "ground of our being," then Bryan's anthropomorphisms
and 'Darrow's militant Atheism are archaic antagonisms.
'in Tennessee.
The summary dismissal of Darrow's Atheism by the reTierney gives the ultimate insult to Darrow: he says that
visionist affects a larger context. Is the Atheism of the
"Adela Rodgers St. Johns [a Darrow distractor] was right in
freethought tradition (as distinct from Marxist and existenincluding that 'Darrow was as old-fashioned as William
tialist varieties) pertinent to present secular and religious
Jennings Bryan.'"
The portrayal of Darrow as a simple "village Atheist" by . theories? Is freethought the liberating tool which eradicates
Tierney is no surprise; Darrow's freethought has not been
the mental slavery of superstition and religion, as its protreated fairly or accurately in the literature. Irving Stone's
ponents argue? Or is the freethought movement dying as
popular biography, Clarence Darrow for the Defense, virtually
society and religion evolve. as its sophisticated opponents
argue?
ignores Darrow's Atheism and presents the celebrated lawyer
Darrow's method of freethought is basically that of ethical,
as a Christlike figure; Darrow, the avowed unbeliever, is a
skeptical inquiry. As a young man. he lived in a world which
"true Christian" at heart. The play, Inherit the Wind, and the
possessed the likes of T. H. Huxley, W. K. Clifford, and Robert
screenplay. Compulsion, have the Darrow character initially
Ingersoll. He read Huxley and heard Ingersoll. These men had
portrayed correctly as a notorious Atheist, only to have him
emerge as a closet theist in the final scenes. If Darrow the
in common a doctrine which was articulated in Clifford's
essay on "The Ethics of Belief." The doctrine is.an ethical
Atheist was ineffectual because he was irrelevant and naive,
imperative and a method. This method, according to Clifford. is
it is curious that the literature has consistently modified his
one where it is efficacious and ethical to maintain our beliefs
position. Perhaps Darrow's open Atheism was effective

PAGE 12

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80]

~J

AMERICAN ATHEIST

and purpose of the universe infer a creative intelligence,


known as god. The mathematician
Paley argued for god by use
of analogy. If a hypothetical man found a watch on a deserted
beach, upon examination of the watch he would conclude that
the watch displayed characteristics
of having been designed.
The designed watchinfers
a designer. The world too seems to
have been designed and therefore must have had a designer
- god. Darrow confutes this analogy by arguing that it
presupposes a biased viewpoint that is. ultimately erroneous.
In The Story of My Life, he argues against the watch analogy:
What the hypothetical
man would observe and
conclude would depend on the man. Most men that
we know would think that the watch showed a design
to accomplish a certain purpose, and therefore must
have had a maker. They would reach that conclusion
because they are familiar with tools and their use by
man. But, suppose the watch had been picked up by a
bushman or some other savage or an ape? None of
them would draw an inference, for the article would
be new to them. Supposing,
instead of a man, a
coyote or wolf came upon the watch, turned it over
and examined it, would the animal read or sense any
design? Most assuredly not. Suppose the civilized
man should pick up an unfamiliar object, or stone, or
a piece of quartz; he might view it and examine it, but
it would never enter his head that it was designed,
and yet on close inspection and careful study the
stone or quartz is just as marvelous as the watch ..

in accordance to evidential value. We should not believe anything that is contrary to or without evidence. Religious faith
cannot produce substantiating
evidence; it offers no real
knowledge. Ethics require us to inquire, not simply to believe.
Clifford argued: "It is wrong, always, everywhere, and for
anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." The
doctrine infers that we shculd emulate the wise and questioning Socrates, not the foolish and faithful Paul. Darrow
accepted this ethical precept as an important facet of freethought; he found it his duty to debate, doubt, and inquire
about religion.
.
The revision of Darrow is indicative of modern times; the
modern temper does seem to be at odds with Darrow's {or
anyone's) freethought. The rationalism of Darrow, was Voltairian in nature; that is, he considered reason the sovereign
guide in philosophical
matters. Darrow argued that' reason
has a greater claim to knowledge than faith, that rationalism
proscribes religion. Today, the method employed by a Voltaire
or a Darrow has been ignored. This IS an age of wide
acceptance of sociological and psychological views, of Marx,
Weber, and Freud. These views do not undertake frank and
open discussions against religious dogmas, but instead look to
why people believe as they do, not to what they choose to
believe. Current sociology and psychology posit that man's
acceptance of reliqionis due to profound emotional needs that
are not penetrable
by reason. Darrow's Atheism would
polarize, not enlighten. The Marxist paradigm epitomizes the
sociological viewpoint. Marx argued that religion is an opiate,
that social conditions render religion a necessary narcotic.
The eradication of the alienating social order, not rational
inquiry, is the death of 'religion. Was, then, Darrow's trust in
reason really naive, or have the distractors of freethought
erroneously overlooked the pertinence of overt Atheism?

Scientific Reason
"

Reason in the freethought vein is distinguished by definition


and practice from the reason manifested in some old and
some current schools of philosophy. Reason is considered by
the freethinker as it is by the scientist; the purpose of reason is
to synthesize the faculties of rationality and thought with
empiricism
and the senses. This view of reason identifies
nature as ultimate reality. Scientific, or naturalistic,
reason
stands opposed to the 17th century rationalism of Descartes
and Leibniz. These rationalists believed that reason need not
be concerned with empirical data, but reality coutd be discovered by thought alone. Current schools of philosophy, such
as phenomenology
and existentialism,
practically abandon
reason for subjective intuition; Husserl and Sartre depreciate
scientific reason and adopt an esoteric subjectivism.
The freethinker believes that scientific reason is propitious
in understanding reality for the very fact that itls objective and
presents claims that are verifiable or falsifiable by experience.
Reason, in this vein, is more pragmatic than the old rationalism or the newer philosophical trends. It is open for all
individuals to ascertain and is not restricted to the mental
ability of a few rationalists
or the subjectivism
of a few
phenomenologists
and existentialists.
Scientific reason can
also be applied to all aspects of experience, including the
guidelines for conduct. This is the type of reason that Darrow
believed and expounded ..
Far from being naive philosophically, Darrow busied himself
with discussions
on metaphysical
and epistemological
themes. For instance, theists argue that the apparent desiqn

The question remains: is the Atheism of Darrow of no use


for the needs of modern society? Is the rationalistic "Ethics of
Belief" irrelevant? Perhaps Tierney would say yes. In support
of such a conclusion, Tierney might put forth the fact that
modern theology has demythologized and humanized religion.
He would say that Darrow was hopelessly mired in debates
useful a century- ago, ,concerning the existence of an anthropormorphized
god or of scriptural liberalism - ideas to
which most modern theologians do not ascribe any longer.
Tierneywould
be right here; maybe Darrow would have-found
no argument with the virtual atheistic Christianity of a Tillich,
except perhaps to brand modern theology as hopelessly
abstract, ambiguous, and illogical.

MESSIDOR

AUSTIN, TEXAS

188 [6/80]

PAGE 13

Unreason's Foe
On the other hand, modern theology can be viewed as
confirmation of Darrow's irreligion. The theologians have
taken the message of freethought and have synthesized
freethought with previously antithetical theism. The new
theologies are more progressive and humane than the "rockribbed religionists" who believed in a tyrant up in heaven and
brimstone down below. But Darrow would have been amused
at the mental gymnastics of modern theologians, which could
be considered acrobatics in an effort to retain religion in the
face of modern science. Actually, Darrow was more progressive than modern theologians; he knew a sinking ship
when he saw one.
Still, Darrow's relevance today is not in the realm of modern
theology. Modern Christian thought, however progressive,
would nevertheless be a retrogression for freethinkers. Modern theology, by and large, is not relevant to the religious
masses. While a few seminarians may read Tillich, the large
body of religionists still propound antiquated and discredited
faiths. Orthodox Christianity, Islam, alternative cults, astrology, oriental mysticism, and quasi-religious Marxism are
the real currents of religion today. Darrow is relevant today
because he was an unequivocal foe of the type of unreason
that is prevalent in this era of rampant cultism and resurrected
fundamentalism. How could Darrow not be relevant in this
age of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Rev. Moon, Jim Jones, Pope
John Paul II, Billy Graham and Anita Bryant? These religious
leaders are clearly unprogressive and show a closer kinship to
the dogmatist Bryan than to the radical Tillich, It.is clear that
this irrational age needs the type of rationalism and skepticism espoused by Darrow. Atheism is a healthy affirmation of
reason and individualism in this time of gregarious unreason.
As mentioned before, freethought is in conflict with a strict
sociological viewpoint concernirig the relationship of religion
to the life of individuals or societies. Sociology is a valuable
science, but as a science it is necessarily narrow in scope. The
sociological discipline cannot advocate, but must manifest a
purely descriptive role. Atheism goes beyond sociology. Freethinkers, as well as being popularizers of science, are also
deeply committed to advocacy and ethics. As Clifford's method
implies, at issue is an ethical world view. To the contrary,
sociology is uncritical towards religion and limits itself to
describing., not condemning, religious persuasions. Modern
sociology thus allows the climate of the proliferation of
religious nonsense to go unchallenged. While the sociological
viewpoint is amoral and impotent to challenge religious
claims, freethought is a moral imperative which offers an
impetus to confront and confute the irrational claims of
religion.
The call for reason in todav's anxious and irrational world is
not a trivial partisan plea. The industrialized world is in the,
midst of cultural schizophrenia. Great advances in modern
technology exist concomitantly with a breeding ground of
irrationality. The ability of modern technology to effect a;
nuclear holocaust is terrifying' alongside the unreason discernable in the masses. The Islamic revolution in Iran exemplifies an entire nation bent towards religious proclivity;
Iran's inhumanity in the name of dogma is a revival ofthe Dark
Ages. The microcosmic theocracy which existed at Jonestown
is another example to the world of the dark side of religion, of
the malevolent propensity inherent in irrationalism. The
message is clear: a world without rationality but with the
overwhelming
potential of destruction is a world, bound for
.

PAGE 14

MESSID6R

~I

self-destruction.
In the face of these perilous times of power and unreason,
Darrow is a voice in the wilderness. Freethought is not archaic
or irrelevant to the needs of today. The Atheism of a Darrow is
a viable alternative and an optimistic hope.

188 [6/80]

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

THE MYTH OF THE SOUL


by CLARENCE DARROW

Like almost every Atheist and Agnostic intellectual in the first


half of the 20th century, Darrow was published by HaldemanJulius Publications, the publishing house founded by E. Haldeman-Julius, [Atheist]father of the paperback book industry. The
following article originally appeared before the reading public as
Little Blue Book No. 1404 - Editor.

Is The Belief in Immortality Necessary or Even


Desirable?
There is, perhaps, no more ~triking example of the credulity
of man than the wide-spread belief in immortality. This idea
includes not only the belief that death is not the end of what
we call life, but that personal identitv' involving memory
persists beyond the grave. So determined is the ordinary
individual to hold fast to this belief that, as a rule, he refuses to
read or to think upon the subject lest it cast doubt upon his
cherished dream. Of those who may chance to look at this
contribution, many will do so with the determination not to be
convinced, and will refuse even to consider the manifold
reasons that might weaken their faith. I know that this.is true,
for I know the reluctance with which I long approached the
subject and my firm determination not to give up my hope.
Thus the myth will stand in the way of a sensible adjustment to
facts. Even many of those who claim to believe in immortality still
tell themselves and others that neither side of the question is
susceptible of proof. Just what can these hopeful ones believe
that the word "proof" involves? The evidence against the
persistence of personal consciousness' is as strong as the
evidence of gravitation, and much more obvious. It is as
convincing and unassailable as the proof of the destruction of
wood or coal by fire. If it is not certain that death ends personal
identity and memory, then almost nothing that man accepts as
true is susceptible of proof.
The beliefs of the race and its individuals are relics of the
past. Without careful examination no one can begin tp
understand how many of man's cherished opinions have no
foundation in fact. The common experience of all men should
teach them how easy it is to believe what they wish to accept.
Experienced psychologists know- perfectly well that if. they
desire to convince a man of some idea, they must first make
him want to believe it. There are so many hopes, so many
strong yearnings and desires attached to the doctrine, of
immortality that it is practically impossible to create in any
mind the wish to be mortal. Still, in spite of strong desires,
millions of people are filled with doubts and fears that will not
down. After all, is it not better to look the question in the face
and find out whether we are harboring a delusion?

Reasons Necessary for Belief


It is customary to speak of a "belief in immortality," First,
then, let us see what is meant by the word "belief." If I take a
train in Chicago at noon, bound for New York, I believe I will
reach that city the next morning. I believe it because I have
been to New York. I have read about the city, J have known
many other people who have been there, and their stories are
not inconsistent with any known facts in my own experience. I
have even examined the time tables and I know just how J will
go and how long the trip will take. In other words, when I board
the train for New York, I believe I will reach that city because I
have reason to believe it.
.
If, instead, I wanted to see Timbuktu or some other point on
the globe where I had never been, or of which I had only heard,
I still know something about geography, and if I did not I could
find out about the place I wished to visit. Through the
encyclopedia and other means of information, I could get a fair
idea of.thelocation
and character of the country or city, the
kind of people who lived there and almost anything I wished to
know, including the means of transportation and the time it
would take to go and return. I already am satisfied that the
earth is round. I know about its size. I know the extent of its
land and water. I know the names of its countries; I know
perfectly well that there are many places on its surface that I
have never seen. I can easily satisfy myself as to whether
there is any such place and how to get there, and what I shall
do when I arrive.
But if I am told that next week I shall start on a trip to
Goofville; that I shall not take my body with me; that I shall stay
for all eternity: can I find a single fact connected with my
journey - the way I shall go, the time of the journey, the
country I shall reach, its location in space, the way I shall live
there - or anything that would lead to a rational belief that I
shall really make the trip? Have I ever known anyone who has
made the journey and returned? If I am really to believe, I must
try to get some information about all these important facts.
But people hesitate to ask questions about life after death.
They do not ask, for they know only silence comes out of the
eternal darkness of endless space. If people really believed in a
beautiful, happy, glorious land waiting to receive them when
they died; if they believed that their friends would be waiting to
meet them; if they believed that all pain and suffering would
be left behind: why should they live through weeks, months,
and even years of pain and torture while a cancer eats its way
to the vital parts of the body? Why should one fight off death?
Because he does not believe in any real sense: he only hopes.
Everyone knows that there is no real evidence of any such
state of bliss; so we are told not to search for proof. We are to

MESSIDOR

AUSTIN, TEXAS

188 [6/80]

PAGE 15

accept through faith alone. But every thinking person knows


that faith can only come through belief. Belief implies a
condition of mind that accepts a certain idea. This condition
can be brought about only by evidence. True, evidence may be
simply the unsupported statement of your grandmother; it
may be wholly insufficient for reasoning men; but, good or
bad, it must be enough for the believer or he could not believe.

Two Forms of This Nonsense


Upon what evidence, then, are we asked to believe in
immortality? There is no evidence. One is told to rely on faith,
and no doubt this serves the purpose so long as one can
believe blindly whatever he is told. But if there is no evidence
upon which to build a positive belief in immortality, let us
examine the other side of the question. Perhaps evidence can
be found to support a positive conviction that immortality is a
delusion.
The belief in immortality expresses. itself in two different
forms. On the one hand, there is a belief in the immortality of
the "soul." This is sometimes interpreted to mean simply that
the identity, the consciousness, the memory of the individual
persists after death. On the other hand, many religious creeds
formulated a belief in "the resurrection of the body" - which
is something else again. It will be necessary to examine both
forms of this belief in turn.
The idea of continued life after death is very old. It doubtless
had its roots back in the childhood of the race. In view of the
limited knowledge of primitive man, it was not unreasonable.
His dead friends and relatives visited him in dreams and
visions and were present in his feeling and imagination until
they were forgotten. Therefore the lifeless body did not raise
the question of dissolution, but rather of duality. It was
thought that man was a dual being possessing a body and a
.soul as separate entities, and that when a man died, his soul
was released from his body to' continue its life apart. Consequently, food and drink were placed upon the graves of the
dead to be used in the long journey into the unknown. In
modified forms, this belief in the duality of man persists to the
present day. But primitive man had no conception of life as
having a beginning and an end. In this he was like the rest of
the animals. Today, everyone of ordinary intelligence knows
how life begins, and to examine the beginnings of life leads to
inevitable conclusions about the way life ends. If man has a
soul, it must cre~p in ~omewhere during the period of

\!v ~.

liV,
~,

gestation and growth.


All the higher forms of animal life grow from a single cell.
Before the individual life can begin its development, it must be
fertilized by union with another cell; then the cell divides and
multiplies until it takes the form and pattern of its kind. At a
certain regular time the being emerges into the world. During
its term of life millions of cells in its body are born, die, and are
replaced until, through age, disease, or some catastrophe, the
cells fall apart and the individual life is ended.
It is obvious that but for the fertilization of the cell under
right conditions, thebeinq would not have lived. It is idle to say
.that the initial cell has a soul. In one sense it has life; but even
that is precarious and depends for its continued life upon
union with another cell of the proper kind. The human mother
is the bearer of probably ten thousand of one kind of cell, and
the human father of countless billions of the other kind. Only a
very small fraction of these result in human life. If the
unfertilized cells of the female and the unused cells of the
male are human beings possessed of souls, then the population of the world is infinitely greater than has ever been
dreamed. Of course no such idea as belief in the immortality of
the germ cells could satisfy the yearnings of the individual for
a survival of life after death.
If that which is called a "soul" is a separate entity apart from
the body, when;then, and where and how was this soul placed
in the human structure? The individual began with the union
oftwo cells, neitherof which had a soul. How could these two
soulless cells prod~ce a soul? I must leave this search to the
metaphysicians. W~en they have found the answer, I hope
they will tell me, for I should really like to know. We know
that a baby may live and fully develop in its mother's womb
and then, through some shock at birth, may be born without
life. In the past, these babies were promptly buried. But now
we know that in many such cases, where the bodily structure
is complete, the machine may be set to work by artificial
respiration or electricity. Then it will run like any other human
body through its allotted term of-years. We also know that in
many cases of drowning, or when some mishap virtually
destroys I'ife without hopelessly impairing the body, artificial
means may set It in motion once more, so that it will complete
its term of existence until the final catastrophe comes. Are we
to believe that somewhere around the stillborn child and
somewhere in the vicinity of the drowned man there hovers a
detached soul waiting to be summoned back into the body by
the pulmotor? This, too, must be left to the metaphysicians.

(:;-,+ in
( cr;

in.

&_-

I \

MESSIDOR

~J

188 [6/80)

IMAGINATION
WAS POWERFUL
IN ANCIENT
EGYPT; AS
ILLUSTRATED
BY THIS WALL
DRAWING
REPRESENTING
A FINAL
JUDGMENT

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

Soulless Life
The beginnings of life yield no evidence ofthe beginnings of
a soul. It is idle to say that the something in the human being
which we call "life" is the soul itself, for the soul is generally
taken to distinguish human beings from other forms of life.
There is life in all animals and plants, and at least potential life
in inorganic matter. This potential life is simply unreleased
force and matter - the great storehouse from which all forms
of life emerge and are constantly replenished. It is impossible
to draw the line between inorganic matter and the simpler
forms of plant life, and equally impossible to drawthe line
between plant life and animal life, or between other forms of
animal life and what we human beings are pleased to call the
highest form. If the thing which we call "life" is itselfthe soul,
then cows have souls; and, in the very nature of things, we
must allow souls to all forms of life and to inorganic matter as
well.
Life itself is something very real, as distinguished from the
soul. Every man knows that his life had a beginning. Can one
imagine an organism that has a beginning and no end? If I did
not exist in the infinite past, why should I, or could I, exist in
the infinite future? "But," say some, "your consciousness,
your memory may exist even after you are dead. This is what
we mean by the soul." Let us examine this point a little.
I have no remembrance of the months that I lay in my
mother's womb. I cannot recall the dayof mybirth northetime
when I first opened my eyes to the light of the sun. I cannot
remember when I was an infant, or when I began to creep on
the floor, or when I was .taught to walk, or anything before I
was five or six years old. Still, all of these events were
important, wonderful, and strange in a new life. What I call my
"consciousness,"
for lack of a better word and a better
understanding, developed with my growth and the crowding
experiences I met at every turn. I have a hazy recollection of a
boy soldier who was shot toward the end of the Civil War. He
was buried near the schoolhouse when I was seven years old.
But I have no remembrance of the assassination of Abraham
Lincoln, although I must have known about it at the time, for
myfamily and my community idolized Lincoln, and all America
was mourning at his death. Why do I remember the dead boy
soldier who was buried a year before? Perhaps because I knew
him well. Perhaps because his family was close to my childish
life. Possibly because it came to me as my first knowledge of
death. At all events, it made so deep an impression that I recall
it now.
"Ah, yes," say the believers in the soul, "what you say
confirms our own belief. You certainly existed when these
early experiences took place. You were conscious of them at
the time, even though you are not aware of it now. In the same
way, may not your consciousness persist after you die, even
though you are not aware of the fact?"
On the contrary, my fading memory of the events that filled
the early years of my life leads me to the opposite conclusion.
So far as these incidents are concerned, the mind and
consciousness of the boy are already dead. Even now, am I
fully alive? I am seventy-one years old. I often fail to recollect
the names of some of those I knew full well. Many events do
not make the lasting impression that they once did. I know that
it will be only a few years, even if my body still survives decay,
when few important matters will even register in my mind. I
know how it is with the old. I know that physical life can persist
beyond the time when the mind can fully function. I know that
if I live to an extreme old age, my mind will fail. I shall eat and

AUSTIN, TEMS

drink and goto mybed in an automatic way. Memory-which


is all that binds me to the past - will already be dead. All that
will remain will be a vegetative existence; I shall sit and doze in
the chimney corner, and my body will function in a measure
even though the ego will already be practically dead. I am sure
that if I die of what is call "old age," my consciousness will
gradually slip away with my failing ernotionsl l shall no more
be aware of the near approach of final dissolution than is the
dying tree.

The Once Reasonable Belief


I am aware that now and then at long intervals there is a
man who preserves his faculties until a late period in his life. I
know that these cases are very, very rare. No superstition
needs to be called into service to account for the unusual
things that are incident to life. There may be those who retain,
in a measurable degree, consciousness and mental activity
beyond the time of the ordinary mortal. Still, everyone with the
least information knows that it is almost a universal rule that
the body declines with age, and that those who live a long life
gradually yield their intellectual activity until they reach the
period of senility and unconsciousness.
In primitive times, before men knew anything about the
human body or the universe of which it is a part, it was not
unreasonable to believe in spirits, ghosts, and the duality of
man. For one thing, celestial geography was much simpler
then, Just above the earth was a firmament in which the stars
were set, and above the firmament was heaven. The place
was easy of access and in dreams the angels were seen going
up and coming down a ladder. But now we have a slightly
more adequate conception of space and the infinite universe
of which we are so small a part. Our great telescopes reveal
countless worlds and planetary systems which make our own
sink into utter insignificance in comparison. We have every
reason to think that beyond our sight there is endless space
filled with still more planets, so infinite in size and number
that no brain has the smallest conception of their extent. Is
there any reason to think that in this universe, with its myriads

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80]

PAGE 17

of worlds, there is no other life so important as our own? Is it


possible that the inhabitants of the earth have been signaled
out for special favor and endowed with souls and immortal
life?ls it at all reasonable to suppose that any special account
is taken of the human atoms that forever come and go upon
this planet?
If man has a soul that persists after death, that goes to a
heaven of the blessed or to a hell of the damned, where are
these places? It is not so easily imagined as it once was. How
does the soul make its journey? What does immortal man find
, when he gets there, and how will he live after he reaches the
end of endless space? We know that the atmosphere will be
absent; that there will be no light, no heat - only the infinite
reaches of darkness and frigidity.
If there is a future place for the abode of the spirits of the
dead, where is this place? Trusting people have made pictures
and mental images of this abode of the dead. The revelation of
St. John treats rather specifically of this far-off land, but it is
evident that St. John was a psychopath and his case would be
plainly recognized' today. True, this picture of St. John's is not
-,very alluring to intelligent men. Still, trusting and confiding
mortals have visioned in words, at'least. a land where families
would be re-united and neighbors and friends come together
once more. In this smug little place, fashioned upon experiences of life upon this mundane sphere husbands and wives,
long parted, will be united. Parents and children,and grandparents and grandchildren, too, will assemble in families in
that land of the blessed and the dead.

These conceptions were formed early in the history of man,


in fact, it has only been in recent years that we have had any
. knowledge or vision of the immensity of space and of theimpossibility of any such place as is visioned by the credulous
.andtrustinq. We know.now that the earth revolves upon its
axis at a terrific speed. This motion makes a complete
revolution in twenty-four hours. We know down to the second
of time that no spot bears the same relation to space as it did
before. If one who dies at midnight has a soul and starts on his
trip to Heaven, he goes in an opposite direction from one who
dies at noon, and the chances to meet under any circumstances which can be conceived would grow less as they
traveled on. Besides this, revolution .on its axis, the earth is
traveling at an inconceivable speed around the sun, which, at

all times, is about ninety-three


million miles away. This
complete journey is made once a year. In its orbit around the
sun it travels more than a thousand miles a minute. This
constant appalling speed would evidently add to the confusion
of two mortals locating themselves in the same spot in space,
even though they had souls. The atmosphere, even in its most
attenuated form, does not reach over five hundred miles away
from the earth, and for only a small fraction of that space could
life as we conceive it exist. And when the earth leaves a given
spot in space the atmosphere is carried along with it. In
addition to the motion of the earth on' its axis and its
unthinkable speed in its circuit around the sun, the whole
solar system is traveling around the pole star, accompanied no
doubt by many other systems like our own; no one can tell how
fast it goes or how far it goes, in what seems endless space.
And these systems travel in turn around some other central
point in the far-off Milky Way, and no one knows how may
other apparently central points somewhere off amongst the
stars and worlds and suns furnish foci around which the earth
and all the systems constantly revolve. What possible means
of locomotion could be furnished for mortals to find a place of
rest, and what possible unimaginable guide could pilot individuals going in different directions at all times of the day and
night and all portions of the year and century, and other
greater periods of time, to this haven of the blessed? All of
these conceptions beggar any sort of imagination and make
and substitute the wildest unthinkable dreams in place of real
beliefs.

Apocalypse Then
There are those who base their hope for a future life upon
the resurrection of the body. This is a purely religious doctrine.
It is safe to saythatfew intelligent men who are willing to look
obvious facts in the face hold any such belief. Yet we are
seriously told that Elijah was carried bodily to heaven in a
chariot of fire, and that Jesus arose from the dead .and
ascended -into heaven. The New Testament abounds in
passages that support this doctrine. St. Paul states the tenet
over and over again. In the fifteenth
chapter of first
Corinthians he says: "If Christ be preached that he rose from

PAGE 18

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
And if Christ be not risen, then is our
preaching in vain
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ
raised." 'The Apostle's
Creed says: "I believe in the resurrection
of the body." This has been carried into substantially all the orthodox creeds; and while it is more or less
minimized by neglect and omission,
it is still a cardinal
doctrine of the orthodox churches.
Two thousand years ago, in Palestine, little was known of
man, of the earth, or of the universe. It was then currently
believed that the earth was only four thousand years old, that
life had begun anew after the deluge about two thousand
years before, and that the entire earth was soon to be
destroyed. Today it is fairly well established that man has been
upon the earttrfor a million years. During that long stretch of
time the world has changed many times; it is changing every
moment. At least three or four ice ages have swept across
continents, driving death before them, carrying human beings
into the sea or burying them deep in the earth. Animals have
fed on man and on each other. Every dead body, no matter
whether consumed by fire or buried in the earth, has been
resolved into its elements, so that the matter and energy that
once formed human beings has fed animals and plants and
other men. As the great naturalist. Fabre, has said: "At the
banquet of life each is in turn a quest and a dish." Thus the
body of every man now living is in part made from the bodies of
those who have been dead for ages.
Yet we are still asked to believe in the resurrection of the
body. By what alchemy, then, are the individual bodies that
have successfully fed the generations of men to be separated
and restored to their former identities? And if I am to be
. resurrected, what particular / shall be called from the grave,
from the animals and plants and the bodies of other men who
shall inherit this body I now call my own? My body has been
made over and over, piece by piece, as the days went by, and
will continue to be so made until the end. It has changed so
slowly that each new cell is fitted into the living part. ;:rnd will
goon Changing until the final crisis comes. Is itthe child in the
mother's womb or the tottering frame of theold man that shall
be brought back? The mere thought of such a resurrection
beggars reason, ignores facts, and enthrones blind faith, wild
dreams, hopeless hopes, and cowardly fears as sovereign of
the human mind.
Some of those who profess to believe in the immortality of
man - whether it be of his soul or his body - have drawn
what comfort they could from modern scientific doctrine of the
indestructibiliity
of matter and force. This doctrine, they say,
only.confirms
in scientific language what they have always
believed. This, however, is pure sophistry. It is probably true
that no matter or force has ever been or ever ca n be destroyed.
But it is likewise true that there is no connection whatever
between the notion that personal consciousness and memory
persist after death and the scientific theory that matter and
force are indestructible. For the scientific theory carries with it
a corollary, that the forms of matter and energy are constantly
changing through an endless cycle of new combinations.
Of
what possible use would it be, then, to have a consciousness
that was immortal, but which, from the moment of death, was
dispersed into new combinations, so that no two parts of the
original identity could ever be reunited again?

The Primitive Conceptions


These natural

processes

AUSTIN, T~XAS .

of Undeveloped

of change, which

Minds

in the human

being take the forms of growth, disease, senility, death, and


decay, are essentially the same as the processes by which a
lump of coal is disintegrated
in burning. One may watch the
lump of coal burning in the grate until nothing but ashes
remains. Part of the coal goes up the chimney in the form of
smoke; part of it radiates through the house as heat; the
residue lies in the asties on the hearth. So it is with human life.
In all forms of life nature is engaged in combining, breaking
down, and recombining
her store of energy and matter into
new forms. The thing we call "life" is nothing other than a
state of equilibrium which endures for a short span of years
between the two opposing tendencies of nature - the one
that builds up, and the one that tears down. In old age, the
tearing-down
process has already gained the ascendency,
andwhen death intervenes, the equilibrium is finally upset by
the complete stoppage of the building-up
process, so that
nothing remains but complete disintegration.
The energy thus
released may be converted into grass or trees or animal life; or
it may lie dormant until caught up again in the crucible of
nature's laboratory. But whatever happens, the man - the
You and the /- like the lump of coal that has been burned, is
gone --"-irrevocably dispersed. All the King's horses and all the
King's men cannot restore it to its former unity.
The idea that man is a being set apart, distinct from all the
rest of the nature, is born of man's emotions, of his loves and
hates, of his hopes and fears, and of the primitive conceptions
of undeveloped minds. The You and the / which is known to
our friends does not consist of an immaterial something called
a "soul" which cannot be conceived. We know perfectly: well
what we mean when talk about this You and this Me: and it is
equally plain that the whole fabric that makes up our separate
personalities
is destroyed, dispersed, disintegrated
beyond
repair by what we call "death."
_
As a matter of fact. does anyone really believe in a future
life? The faith does not simply involve the persistence of
activity, but it has been stretched and magnified to mean a
future world infinitely better than the earth. In this far-off land
no troubles will harass the body or the soul. Eternity will be an
eternity of bliss. Heaven, a land made much more delightful
because of the union with those who have gonebefore. This
doctrine has been taught So persistently through the years
that men and women of strong faith in their dying moments
have seen relatives and friends. long since dead, who have
come to lead them to their heavenly home.
Does the conduct of the intense disciple show that he really
believes that death is a glad deliverance? Why do men and
women who are suffering torture on earth seek to prolong
their days of agony? Why do victims of cancer being slowly
eaten alive for months and years prefer enduring such pain
rather than going to a land of bliss? Why will the afflicted travel
all over the world and be cut to pieces by inches that they may
stay a few weeks longer, in agony and torture? The one
answer that is made tothis query is that the afflicted struggle
to live because it is their duty to hang fast to mortal life, no
matter what the pain or the expected joy in heaven. The
answer is not true. The afflicted cling to life because they
doubt their faith, and do not wish to let go of what they have,
terrible as it is.
Those who refuse to give up the idea of immortality declare
that nature never creates a desire without
providing the
means for its satisfaction. They likewise insist that all people,
from the rudest to the most civilized, yearn for another life. As
a matter of fact. nature create-s many desires which she does
not satisfy; most of the wishes of men meet no fruition. But

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80]

PAGE 19

nature does not create any emotion demanding a future life.


The only yearning that the individual has is to keep on livingwhich is a very different thing. This urge is found in every
animal, in every plant. It is simply the momentum of a living
structure: or, as Schopenhauer put it, "the lII(ili to live." What
we long for is a continuation of our present state of existence,
not an uncertain reincarnation in a mysterious world of which
we know nothing. The idea of another life is created after men
are convinced that this life ends.
I am not unmindful of those who base their hope of a future
life on what they claim are the evidences furnished by the
investigation of spiritualism. So far as having any prejudice
against this doctrine, I have no more desire to disbelieve than I
have as to any other theories of future life. In fact, for many
years, I have searched here for evidence that man still lives
after all our senses show that he is dead. For more than fifty
years until almost ten years past, I have given some attention
to Spiritualism. I have read most of the important books of
scientists: Alfred Russel Wallace, Crooks, Oliver Lodge, and
the books of many other men. of ability and integrity who
believed that they had found their dead friends who had come
back to them.

see my loved ones after death; suppose I should tell this fairy
that my father had been dead for twenty years; that I followed
his lifeless body to the crematory where he was converted to
ashes; that I desired to have him brought back to me as a living
entity, and to stay in my house for a year, that I might not be
deceived. Assume that when the year had passed I should go
out and tell my neighbors and friends that my father had been
living in my house, although he died two score years ago;
suppose that they believed implicitly in my integrity and my
judgment; even then, could I convince one person that my
statement was true?
Would they be right in doubting my word? After all, which is
more reasonable, that the dead have come back to life, or that I
have become insane? All of my friends would say: "Poor
fellow, I am sorry he has lost his mind." Against the universal
experience of mankind and nature, the dementia or the
insanity of one man, or a thousand men, could count as
nothing. The insane asylums of the world are filled with men
who have these dreams and visions which are realities to
them, but which no one else believes, because they are
entirely at variance with well-known facts.

Without The Lure of Immortal Life


Out of Their Special Field
Likewise, I have for years investigated what are called
spiritual phenomena. I am satisfied that if any intelligent man,
in possession of his senses, thoroughly investigates Spiritualism, he will find that there is no evidence to support his faith.
At least nine-tenths of the phenomena can be set down as
pure fraud.and imposition. The evidence comes in the main
from mediums who are ignorant, and whose tricks are clumsy
in the extreme. Perhaps one-tenth of the manifestations are
not the result of fraud but the evidence is entirely inadequate
to prove the cause of the phenomena.
It is possible that there are phenomena which no one can
explain. I have many times seen what are called manifestations of spirit-return that I could not explain, but all of these
failed utterly to convince me of the communication of disembodied spirits. It does not follow that because the manifestations are strange and weird, and for the present unexplainable, that those phenomena show that life persists after
death. In the realm of these manifestations, the evidence of
scientists is worth no more than the evidence of other men.
Most likely it is worth much less. The truth is that real
scientists, outside of their special field, are more helpless than
other men in detecting frauds and tricks. It is likewise true that
most of the men of science, like Sir Oliver Lodge, have come to
their conviction late in life, and under some great stress,
which is calculated to unsettle the mind, in the particular field
to which they appeal.
Sir Oliver Lodge lost his son in the great war [World War
One - Ed.]. This was a sore bereavement to this eminent
scientist. When one considers the greatness of Lodge, the
clearness with which he discusses every scientific theory with
which he deals, and then reads his book called Raymond, in
which he tells of his meetings with his beloved son, it is not
difficult to see that as to this bereavement his mind was
unsettled and he is reaching out in the darkness to find what
he so strongly wants.
Is it possible that any sort of proof could prove the existence
of an individual after his decay? Suppose that some good fairy,
distressed at my unbelief, should come to me with the offer to
produce any evidence that I desired to satisfy me that I would

PAGE 20

MESSIDOR

All men recognize the hopelessness offinding any evidence


that the individual will persist beyond the grave. As a last
resort, we are told that it is better that the doctrine be believed
even if it is not true. We are assured that without this faith, life
is only desolation and despair. However that may be, it
remains that many of the conclusions of logic are not pleasant
to contemplate; still, so long as men think and feel, at least
some of them will use their faculties as best they can. For if we
are to believe things that are not true, who is to write our
creed? Is it safe to leave it to any man or organization to pick
out the errors that we must accept? The whole history of the
world has answered this question in a way that cannot be
mistaken.
And after all, is the belief in immortality necessary or even
desirable for man? Millions of men and women have no such
faith; they go on with their daily tasks and feel joy arid sorrow
without the lure of immortal life. The things that 'really affect
the happiness of the individual are the matters of daily living.
They are the companionship
of friends, the games and
contemplations. They are misunderstandings and cruel judgments, false friends and debts, poverty and disease. They are
our joys in our living companions and our sorrows over those
who die. Whatever our faith, we mainly live in the present - in
the here and now. Thosewho hold the view that man is mortal
are never troubled by metaphysipal problems. At the end of the
day's labor we are glad to lose our consciousness in sleep; and
intellectually, at least. we look forward to the long rest from
the stresses and storms that are always incidental to
, existence.
When we fully understand the brevity of life, its fleeting joys
and unavoidable pains; when we accept the facts that all men
and women are approaching an inevitable doom: the consciousness of it should make us more kindly and considerate
of each other. This feeling should make men and women use
their best efforts to help their fellow travelers on the road, to
make the path brighter and easier as we journey on. It should
bring a closer kinship, a better understanding, and a deeper
sympathy for the wayfarers who must live a common life and
die a common death.

188 [6/80]

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

, W ARE ON THE MOON!'


NEIL ARMSTRONG MESSIDORZI, 178 (7-21-69)

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AUSTIN, TEXAS

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80)

PAGE 21

OMEN have never been welcome in the intellectual


community. With religion as the primary suppressive
force, the female of the species has, during human history,
been held primarily in contempt. Atheism has also felt the
force of this bias. The exalted heroes in the Atheist style have
been male; the chronologers have been male. It has, therefore, been difficult to uncover the history of women, as
leaders, in American Atheism or in Atheism anywhere.
As the religious males were infected through male chauvinism to an indifference intellectual concern with the female,
the male Atheists reflected that cultural morel. The attitude
was almost one of, "Isn't that cute? She has an opinion she
thinks is her own."
When research is done on Atheist women, the historians
contemporary to her speak of the lilt of her voice, the cut of her
clothes, the blush of her cheek, the occupation of her husband
but rarely of the content of her ideas. And so it is also with
Frances Wright, Madame D'Arusmont.
Frances Wright was born on September 6, 1795 in Miln's
Buildings, Nethergate, Dundee, Scotland. Her father, James
Wright, was a man of means, the only son of a wealthy linen
merchant. A graduate of the University of Dublin, he became
involved in literary and scientific associations in both England
and Scotland. He assisted in circulating popular translations
of treatises concerned with radical thought. As a part of this,
he contributed to the private printing of Thomas Paine's
revolutionary tract The Rights of Man. Naturally, because of
these activities, he was often under police surveillance,
especially in 1794, the year of its publication. He was a
numismatist and his collection is preserved in the British
Museum. He died in 1797, when Frances was just two years
old. His wife died within two months and the three children,
Richard, age 4, Frances, age 21h, and Camilla, age 1, were left
as orphans. The boy went to a great uncle and was later killed
at age 15, as a cadet in the service of the Great East India
Company. Frances and Camilla were sent to England to be
reared, near Dawlish, as a ward of the Chancery, by their
maternal grandfather, Gen. Duncan Campbell and a maiden
aunt, Frances Campbell.

'-'

Ro ts
of theism
FRANCES WRIGHT
"1have devoted my time and fortune to laying the foundations of an establishment
where affection shall form the only
marriage, kind feeling and kind action the only religion, respect
for the feelings of liberties of others the only restraint, and union
of interest the bond of peace and security."
.
PAGE 22

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80]

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

-. While still very young (age 16), at this home, Frances Wright
found a chest of old books in her aunt's library, one of which
was Carlo Botta's Storia delia guerra detrindependenza dogli
Stati Uniti d'Americs. published in 1809. The book was
concerned with our war of Independence. Startled by the idea
of a "country consecrated to freedom" she determined to
travel to it. However, it was stilt not shown on maps in the
library atlas and she had some difficulty
obtaining more
information.
Subsequent research by her established that a nation,
called the United States of America, did in fact exist and that it
had indeed been founded on the certain principles of freedom
about which she had earlier read.
Several years later, after quarreling with her aunt, she and
her sister removed to Glasgow to the home of her great uncle,
James Milne, professor of moral philosophy at the University
of Glasgow. She was then 18 years old. There she was
surrounded by rare and extensive libraries and applied herself
to the study of ancient and modern letters, languages,
_mathematics, art and the various branches of science. In the
course of this education, she was impressed by the discrepancy of views and opinions which she found. Boldly
rejecting religion and seizing upon the philosophy of materialism, she wrote, while only 18 years of age, a small book
which she titled Epicurus. (To soften the alarm of its first
London publisher,Sii'Ei'"retitled
it A Few Day's in Athens,
suppressing
the first three chapters of it because of its
admiring handling of the old Greek materialist.) The work first
appeared in London in 1822, which was some years later.
Miss Wright spent almost three years pursuing her studies
in Glasgow. Much of this was with research on the United
States, with materialism and politics. She was considerably
disturbed to see the poverty of the peasants and the working
class in Scotland and the seeming headlong flights from the
country by the masses of the poor. Finally in 1818, she
formalized her-own plans for her future and made her.decision
to leave for the land about which she had read. In August,
1818, with her sister Camilla, she embarked from Liverpool to
New York."

Ib Methodist preacher

AustiN, TEXAS

fa Frances Wright before her voyage to America

with Mrs. Trollope

She remained in the United States for two years, mixing in


the society of Philadelphia and New York and several of the
northern states. She was very impressed with the lack of
caste, the honest attempts at education, the absence of slums
comparable to those of London or Glasgow, the improved (as
compared to England) condition of women and wrote extensively and enthusiastically
to a friend in Scotland. Writing
more seriously in New York City, she produced a blank-verse
play, Attdort, which had three performances in New York and
Philadelphia.
(Later published
in a paperback edition in
Philadelphia the play was considered to be s~lacious.)
Upon her return to England in 1820, she expanded the
letters she had written to her friend in Scotland into an.
account of her travels and published them under the title
Views of Society and Manners in America in a series of letters
from that country during the years 1818, 1819, and 1820, by
an Englishwoman.
The sale of the book was large, for many were anxious to
know what was occurring in the U.S. It was sold throughout
Europe and translated into many languages. Jerry Bentham
and General, the Marquis, Marie Lafayette both invited her to
their homes to discuss it. Some years later, of course, Frances
Trollope (mother of novelist Anthony Trollope) and Alexis de
Tocqueville would both write similar travel analyses of the
United States.
After visiting with Bentham in London, Frances Wright
went to France in 1821 and there began a friendship with the
much older Lafayette which was to last for many years. On
this first visit to his estate in La Grange, near Paris, in fact she
remained at his home until 1824. At that time, Lafayette
accepted an invitation from President James Monroe to pay an
official visit to the United States. Frances and Camilla followed
him, leaving England in August. 1824.

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80]

PAGE 23

In Virginia, for the first time, she saw a slave-ship with a


cargo of chained Negroes, destined to be shipped to Savannah, Georgia, andshe listened to the candid discussions
between Lafayette and his anti-slavery friends. Since the
United States goverment made a gift of 24,000 acres (and
$200,000) to Gen'l Lafayette, land was also a subject. In one
conversation, General Stonewall Jackson, advised Miss
Wright of cheap land for sale in Tennessee where Indians had
just been removed.
In addition to the theoretics and discussions, at this level of
society, all concerned with the condition and'circumstances of
the slaves, she carefully researched by visits to plantations,
trips throughout the south, from extracts procured in Washington, D.C. and by inspection of industrial, agricultural,
political and other institutional problems. She soon came to
the necessitv of the abolition of slavery.
At this time in the United States, many experimental
communist communities were being founded, all based on the
ideas of communal sharing found in the New Testament.
Frances Wright visited a number of them, but most notably
New Harmony, Indiana. Robert Dale Owen, son of the British
Socialist and reformer, purchased the entire town, 3,000
acres, all the houses, orchards, vineyards, a distillery and silk

factory, in 1824. He invited cooperative farmers, idealists and


purists, to join him there and within six(6)weeks, 800 persons
had arrived. A church was converted into a School of Industry
for boys, and the brave new experiment was begun.
At this town, a new dress for women had evolved. This was
comfortable, practical and modest and Frances Wright adopted it, in modified form, for her own use for the rest of her
life. She had already abandoned the gussied-up hair of the
times and kept her short naturally curly hair cropped close to
her head. Her chosen dress was sensattonal in its simplicity,
being a loose, long-sleeved, knee-length tunic bound at the
waist with a sah, which covered a pair of Turkish type
trousers. Although she accepted the dress mode (but not the
hair), she was eclectic in her choice of the ideas which were
evidenced. She noted with scorn about the communes "In all,
Christian fanaticism and subjection were the means employed to stultify the intelligence and hold the physical man
subjected to the will of others."
By this time a convinced radical rejecting the conventional
role of women, all religion, the idea of slavery, and understanding the need to ameliorate the conditions of working
persons, she began to order her own priorities.
(to be continued in next issue)

IFYOU WANT TO
WALK ON FIRE
OR
WISH TO SEE HOW
PEOPLE WALK ON FIRE
PLEASE JOIN THE
~

~f~~'
h~..~~
C?

:~ct:~""tJj
K ~

-VV~

'2ND WORLD ATHEIST


CONFERENCE
FRIMAIRE 25-28, 188 (12/25-28/80)
ATHEIST CENTER
VIJAYAWADA.

PAGE 24

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80J

INDIA

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

THE WOMAN'S

BIBLE
by Elizabeth Cady' Stanton, et al
This is the seventh part of a continuing series from The Woman's
Bible. It is serialized here to encourage women of our day to
seriously inspect the bible with the same kind of audacity which
was used by the American Atheist women who were the first to
demand equal rights for all. If, over a hundred years ago, these
women led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony,
could be so strong of will and mind, so then can they.

CHAPTER VII
Genesis xxv
I. Then again Abraham took a
name was Keturah.
2. And she bare him Zimran and
Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak,
5. And Abraham
gave all that
Isaac.

wife, and her


Jokshan, and
and Shuah.
he had unto

10.' The field which Abraham purchased of the


sons of Heth; there was Abraham
buried, and
Sarah his wife.
7. And these are the days of the years of
.Abraharn's
life which he lived, a hundred and
three score and fifteen years.
8. Then Abraham gave up the ghost.
9. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him
in the grave of Machpelah,
10. The field which Abraham purchased of the
sons of Heth; there was Abraham
buried, and
Sarah his wife.
21. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife,
and Rebekah his wife conceived.
24. And when her days to be delivered were
fulfilled she bore twins.

27. And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning


hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain
man, dwelling in tents,
28. And Isaac loved Esau, because hedid eat of
his venison; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
29. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came
from the field, and he was faint.
30. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray
thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint;
therefore was his name called Edom.
31. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy
birthright.
32. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to
die; and what profit shall this birthright do to

me?
33. And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and
he sware unto him; and he sold his birthright
unto Jacob.
34. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of
lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up,
and went his way. Thus Esau despised
his
birthright.

ELIZABETH

IN these verses we have the account


of Abraham's second marriage,
and the birth of several sons. It
does not seem clear from the text
whether Keturah was a legal wife, or
.one of the Patriarch's numerous concubines. Clarke inclines to the latter
idea, on account of Abraham's age,
and then he gave all that he had to

Isaac, and left Keturah's sons to share


with those of other concubines, to
whom he gave gifts and sent them
away from his son Isaac to an eastern
country, Abraham evidently thought
that the descendants of Isaac might be
superior in moral probity to those of
his other sons, hence he desired to
keep Isaac as exclusive' as possible.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

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188 [6/80)

CADY STANTON.

1851

But Jacob and Esau did not fulfill the


Patriarch's expectations. Esau in selling his birthright for a mess of pottage,
and Jacob taking advantage of his
brother in a weak moment, and overreaching him in a bargain, alike illustrate the hereditary qualities of
their ancestors.

PAGE 25

Genesis xxvi

6. And Isaac dwelt in Gerar.


7. And the men of the place asked him of
his wife.and he said, She is my sister; for he
feared to say: She is my wife; lest, said he, the
men of the place should kill me for Rebekah;
because she was fair to look upon.
9. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said

Behold, of a surety she is thy wife; and how


saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said
unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.
II. And Abimelech charged all his
people, saying, He that toucheth this man or
his wife shall surely be put to death.
34. And Esau was forty years old when he

The account of the private family affairs of Isaac and


Rebekah; their partiality to different sons; Jacob, aided and
abetted by his mother, robbing his elder brother of both his
birthright and his father's blessing; the parents on one of their
eventful journeys representing themselves as brother and
sister, instead of husband and wife, for fear that some
potentate might kill Isaac, in order to possess his beautiful
wife; all these petty deceptions handed down from generation
to generation, show that the law of heredity asserted itself
even at that early day.
Abraham through fear denied that Sarah was his wife, and
Isaac does the same thing. The grief of Isaac and Rebekah over
Esau, was not that he took two wives, but that they were
Hittites. Chapter xxvii gives the details of the manner-that
Jacob and his mother betrayed Isaac into giving the blessing to
Jacob intended for Esau. One must read the whole story in
order to appreciate the blind confidence Isaac placed in
Rebekah's integrity; the pathos 'of his situation; the bitter
disappointment of Esau; Jacob's temptation, and the supreme
wickedness of Rebekah in deceiving Isaac, defrauding Esau,
and undermining the moral sense of the son she loved.
Having entirely undermined his moral sense, Rebekah fears
the influence of Jacob's marriage with a daughter of the
Hittites, and she sends him to her own people, tofinda wife in
the household of her uncle Laban. This is indeed a sad record
of the cruel deception that Jacob and his mother palmed off on
Isaac and Esau. Both verbal and practical lying were necessary to defraud the elder son, and Rebekah was equal to the
occasion. Neither she nor Jacob faltered in the hour of peril.
Altogether it is a pitiful tale of greed and deception. Alasl
where can a child look for lessions in truth, honor, and
generosity, when the mother they naturally trust, sets at
defiance every principle of justice and mercy to secure some
worldly advantage. Rebekah in h.er beautiful girlhood at the
well drawing water for man and beast. so full of compassion,
does not exemplify the virtues we looked for, in her mature
womanhood. The conjugal and maternal relations so far from
expanding her-most tender sentiments, making the heart from
love to grow bountiful to all, seem rather to have narrowed
hers into the extreme of individual selfishness. In obedience to
his mother's commands, Jacob starts on his journey to find a
fitting wife. If Sarah and R~bekah are the type of womanhood
the Patriarchs admired, Jacob need not have gone far to find
their equal.

took to wife Judith the daughter of Deeri the


Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon
the Hittite;
35. Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac
and to Rebekah.

In woman's struggle for freedom


during the last half century, men have
been continually pointing her to the
women of the Bible for examples
worthy imitation, but we fail to see the
merits of their character, their position, the laws and sentiments concerning them. The only significance of
dwelling on these women and this
period of woman's history, is to show
the absurdity of pointing the women of
the nineteenth century to these as
examples of virtue.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Keturah is spoken of as a concubine


in 1 Chronicles 1:32. As such she held
a recognized legal position which implied no disgrace in those days of
polygamy, only the children of these
secondary wives were not equal in
inheritance. For this reason the sons
of Keturah had to be satisfied with
gifts while Isaac received the patrimoney. Notice the charge of Abimelech to his people showing the high
sense of honor in this Philistine. He
seems also in the 10th verse to have
realized the terrible guilt that it would
have been if one of them had taken
Rebekah, not knowing she was Isaac's
wife. With all Rebekah's faults she
seems to have had things her own way
and therefore she did not set any
marked example of wifely submission
for women of today to follow. Her great
error was deceiving her husband to
carry her point and this is always the
result where woman is deprivedjn any
degree of personal freedom unless
she has attained high moral development.
Clara Bewick Colby

''Priests, we know, are not remarkable for doing anything gratis; they have in general some scheme in everything
they do, either to impose on the ignorant or derange tile operations of government. "

Thomas Paine

PAGE 26

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ATHEIST

A JOYOUS ATHBIST
BOZARTH'S HALL'OF FAME
PART TWO
G. RICHARD BOZARTH
This is the second in a series of short Atheist classics I havefound
in the Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library that Ifeel the
readers of the American Atheist should have the opportunity of
enjoying, even at the expense of not being able to enjoy my work.
Ah, noble sacrifice.....
Chapman Cohen was born in.l 868 and in 1890 started a career as
an Atheist lecturer. In 1915 he ~ucceeded G. W. Foote as the third
President of the National Secular Society and editor of the
society's publication, Freethinker. He is more than qualified to
treat his subject.

WHAT IS ATHEISM?
by Chapman Cohen
Between Atheism and Theism there is no logical halting
place. But there are, unfortunately, many illogical ones. Few
possess the capacity for pushing their ideas to a logical
conclusion, and some position is finally discovered which has
the weakness of both extremes with the strength of neither.
With many there is vague talk of a "power" manifested in the
universe, and by giving this the dignity of capital letters it is
evidently hoped that other people will recognize it as an
equivalent for god. But power,with or without capitals, is not
god. It is not the existence of a "power" that forms the kernel of
the dispute between the Theist and the Atheist, but what that
power is like. The issue arises on the point of whether it is
personal or not. That it is, is what the religious man believe.s.
As Mr. Balfour says, when the plain man speaks of god he
means "a god whom men' can love, to whom men can pray,
who takes sides, who has purposes and preferences, whose
attributes, however conceived, "eave
the possibility of a
personal relation between himself and those whom he has
'created." (Theism and Humanism, p. 21) What the genuine
believer has in view is not the worthless abstraction of a
rationalist metaphysic, but the personal being of historic
theology.
It is now my purpose to take a few of these substitutes for
Atheism by the aid of which some persons seek to mark
themselves off from a declared and reasoned unbelief. 'As
outstanding examples of this one may take two men of no less
'eminence than Herbert Spencer and Professor Huxley. Both of
these men have rendered great service to advanced thought,
but. both have only succeeded in repudiating Atheism by
mtsstatinq and misrepresenting it. In addition to the service
that Spencer unwittingly rendered the current religion by his
use of the "unknowable" (with which we deal fully later), a
further help was given by his destruction of an Atheism that
had no existence.
This remarkable performance will be found in the first part
of his First Principles. Respecting the origin ofthe universe, he
tells us, there are three intelligible propositions - although

none of these, on his own showing, is intelligible. We may


assert that it is self-existent, that it is self-created, or that it is
created .by an external agency. All three propositions, he
proceeds to show, are equally inconceivable. The noticeable
thing about the performance is that Atheism is identified with
the proposition that the universe is self-existent. .

Wise Silence amid Babblings Of Ignorance


A very sljght acquaintance with the writings of representative Atheists would have shown Mr. Spencer that "the origin
of the universe" is one of those questions on which Atheism
has wisely been silent and it has also insisted that all attempts
to deal with such a question can only result in a meaningless
string of words. To the Atheist, "the universe" - the sum of
existence - is a fact that no amount of reasoning can get
behind or beyond. To think of the universe as a whole is an
impossibility; whiletotalk of its origin isto assume, first, that it
did originate, and, second, that we have some means by which
We can transcend all the known limits of the human mind. The
Atheist can say, and has said, with Mr. Spencer himself whose final statement of Agnosticism differs in no material
respect from Atheism - that in discussing the "origin of the
universe," we can only succeed in multiplying .~mpossibilities
of thought "by every attempt we make t6 explain its
existence. "
No one has pointed out more clearly than Mr. Spencer that
"infinity" is not a conception, but the negation of one. The pity
is that he did not realize that in taking up this position he was
on exactly the same level of criticism that Atheists have
pursued. For them the universe is an ultimate fact; all that we
can do Isto mark the ceaseless changes always going on
around us, and to develop our capacity for modifying their
action in the interests of human welfare. Farther than this our
knowledge does not and. cannot .go; and it may be added that
even though ou.r knowledge. could go beyond the world of
phenomena, such knowledge would not be of the slightest
possible value.'
.
It may also be pointed out that, just as it is not true that
Atheism attempts to explain the origin of the universe, so it is
unfair to tie the Atheist down to any particular theory of
cosmic evolution. As a mental attitude Atheism is quite
independent of any theory of cosmic working, so long as that
theory does not involve an appeal to deity. As we shall see,
Atheism, from thepoint of view both of history and etymology,
stands for the negation of theism, and its final justification
must be found in the untenability of the theistic position.
Rightly enough it may be argued that the acceptance of
Atheism implies a certain general mental attitude towards
both cosmic and social questions, but the Atheist, as such, is

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AUSTIN, TEXAS

PAGE 27

<

no more committed to a special scientific theory than he is


committed to a special theory of government. Of course, it is
convenient for the theist to first of all saddle his opponent with
a set of social or scientific beliefs, and then to assume that in
attacking those beliefs he is demolishing Atheism, but it is '
none the less fighting on a false issue. All that Atheism
necessarily involves is that all forms of theism are logically
untenable, and consequently the only effective method of
destroying Atheism is to establish its opposite.
Professor Huxley's treatment of Atheism proceeds on similar lines to that already dealt with, but is more elaborate in
character. Discussing the nature of his own opinions he
repudiates all sympathy with Atheism, because:
the problem of the ultimate cause' of existence is one
which seems to me to be hopelessly out of reach of my
poor powers. Of all the senselessbabble Ihave ever had
occasion to read, the demonstrations of those philosophers who undertake to tell us about the nature of god
would be the worst, if they were not surpassed by the still
greater absurdities of the philosophers who try to prove
thereis no god. (On the Hypothesis the Animals are

Automata)
And on another occasion, replying to a correspondent, he
expresses the opinion that "Atheism is, on philosophical
grounds, untenable, that there is no evidence ofthe god of the
theologians is true enough, but strictly scientific reasoning
can take us no further. When we know nothing we can neither
affirm nor deny with propriety." (Life and Letters, p. 162)

. A Doctrine Of Final Causes


Here, again, we have the common error that Atheism seeks
in some way to explain the ultimate cause of existence. And
this in spite of continuous disclaimers that all search"for a
"first cause," or for a "cause for existence" is midsummer
madness. The fault here, we suspect, is that both writers took
their statements of Atheism, not from the atheistic writers but
from their opponents. But it is none the less surprising that it
was not recognized that both "a first cause" and an "ultimate
cause of existence," are, strictly speaking, theistic questions. I
do not mean that these questions may not suggest themselves
to non-theists, but that when they are raised clearly and
definitely they are seen to belong to a class of questions to
which no rational answer is possible.
To the theist, however, the questions arise from his primary
assumptions. His theory is one of final causes; his deity 'is
postulated as the cause of existence, and he cannot give up
thequestions as hopeless without admitting his position to be
indefensible. It is quite usual for the theist to propound
problems which only arise on his own assumptions, and then,
call upon his opponents for answers to them, but there is no
justification whatever for non-theists playing the same game.
Atheism has nothing to do with final causes, and therefore is
not concerned with defending its illogicalities. Theism is a
doctrine of final causes, and in arguing that it is absurd to
express an opinion upon the subject Professor Huxley was
adding a good reason in support of the position he believed
himself to be destroying.
Huxley's other objection to Atheism is that it perpetuates
the absurdity of trying to prove there is no god. How far is that
true? Or in what sense is it true? The danger in all discussion
on this point lies in our taking it for granted that "god" conveys

PAGE 28

MESSIDOR

a definite and identical meaning to all people. But this is very


far from being the case. What anyone means by "god" is
impossible to say until some further description has been
given. When this has been done, and not until then, "god" may
become the subject of affirmation or denial. Until then we are
playing with empty words. By itself "god" means nothing. It
offers the possibility of neither negation nor affirmation.
Now Professor Huxley would have readily admitted that the
truth of a proposition may be denied whenever its terms
involve a contradiction. And the ground of this is the sheer
impossibility of bringing the terms together in thought. That a
circle may be square, or that parallel lines may enclose a
space, are propositions the truth of which may be denied
offhand. The ground of this is that the conception of squareness and circularity, of straight lines and an enclosed space
are mutually destructive, they. cancel each other. And so far as
Atheism may be said to involve the denial of particular gods
that denial is based on precisely similar grounds. When
defined it is seen that the attributes of this defined god cancel
each other as effectually as squareness rules out the idea of a
circle; either this or they are simply unthinkable. You cannot
have a six-sided octagon, nor can you posit an infinite
personality without divesting the terms of all meaning.

The Atheistic Stance Of Cultists


It may also be noted in passing that both the theist and the
Agnostic actually do deny the existence of particular gods
without the least hesitation. No rational Agnostic would
hesitate to deny the existence of Jupiter, Javeh, Allah, or
Brahma. No Christian would hesitate to deny the existence of
the gods of a tribe of savages. Even believers in current
theology have evolved beyond the stage of primitive Christians, who accepted the existence of the pagan deities with
the proviso that they were demons. And it is a mere verbal
quibble to say that these people merely deny each other's
conception of deity.Each m~n's conception of god is his god,
and to say that no being answerinqto that conception exists is
to say that his god does not exist, and in relation-to the god
denied the.denier is in exactly the position in which he places
the Atheist.
So far then the Atheism of each is just a question of degree
or of relation. So far as Atheism involves the denial of deity the
follower of one religion is an Atheist in relation to the
followers of every other religion. Each religion - among
Civilized people - is atheistic from the standpoint of the
followers of other gods. The affirmation of one god involves
the denial of all other gods. This would really seem to be the
historical significance of the term. The early Christians were
called Atheists by the pagans, and some of them accepted it
without demur. At a later date Spinoza, Voltaire, Paine, and
others were called Atheists, and the epithet has lost its force
today only because the evolution of thought has broken down
many religious barriers, and is rapidly dividing people into two
groups - those who believe in some god and those who
believe in none at all.
Now all that Atheism - conscious and reflective Atheism
-does is to carry a step further the restricted denial of the
ordinary religionist. The Christian theist denies every god but
his own. The Atheist, seeing no more evidence for the
existence ofthe Christian deitythan for the existence of anyof
the deities discarded by the Christian, seeing,. further, that
there are exactly the same contradictions involved in assuming the existence of anyone of the world's deities, places

188 [6/80]

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

the Christian deity on the list as among those gods in whose


. existence he does not believe, and whose existence, so far as
it is defined, may be logically denied.
The really distinguishing feature of philosophic Atheism is
its comprehensiveness, the ranking of all known deities, big
and little, ancient and modern, savage and civilized, gross and
subtle, upon the same level. Historically, we see them all
originating in the same conditions, passing through substantially the same phases of development, finally to meet
with the same fate as civilization develops. In this respect
Atheism has to be considered in its historic developments. It
begins, as we have seen in the rejection of a particular god, in
favor of some other deity. It is only at a very much later stage
that the whole idea of god is subjected to examination and
analysis in such a way as to lead to the rejection of the
conception of god as a whole. But with that aspect of the
subject we shall be concerned later.
But does Atheism deny the existence of any possible god?
This question might admit of a simple answer if one only knew
precisely what it meant. It is easy enough to understand what
is meant by god so long as we keep to any or all of the gods of
the world's religions. But what is meant by god standing alone
and undefined? Historically "god" means a deity believed in by
some people, some where, at some time. And if we put on one
side these particular gods we have nothing left that can be
either affirmed or denied.

absurd likewise.
Only one other word need be said on this point. It may be
urged that educated believers mean by "god" not the anthropomorphic deity of the theologies, but a personal intelligence controlling things. But this is really not less anthropomorphic than the form in which the god idea meets us
in the popular theologies. Its anthropomorphism
is only, to
unobservant minds, less apparent. The conception of an
intelligent, ,personal being controlling nature is not fundamentally less objectionable than the frankly man-like being of
the early theologies. Intelligence, as we know it (and to talk of
an intelligence that is unlike the intelligence we know is
absurd), is as 'much a characteristic of human, or animal,
organization, as arms and legs are. Mind, after all, is only
known to us as a function of an organism. That it is more than
this, or other than this, is pure assumption. And to divest
"god" of all physical parts, while retaining his functions, is
sheer nonsense. There is the personal intelligence of Smith,
or Brown, or Robinson, but it is absurd to wipe out all the
particular Smiths, and Browns, and Robinsons, and then talk
as though their qualities continue in existence. So with god. If
we reject all the gods of the theologies one after another, what
god have we left to talk about? All we have left is the memory
of a delusion.
'

Nothing Supernatural Or Miraculous


,

The Absurdity of the Concept of God Alone


God in the abstract is not a real existence any more than tree
in the abstract is a real existence. There is a pine tree, a pear
tree, an apple tree, etc., but there is and can be no "tree" apart
from some particular tree. So with "god." There are particular
gods, but if we do away with these, we have no god left as a
separate existence. "God" then becomes a mere word conveying no meaning whatever.
Atheism does not deny the existence of a god for the same
reason that it does not deny the existence of Abracadabra
-both terms mean as much, or as little. And it is more than
absurd for people who have rejected theism to continue using
the word "god" as though it had a quite definite meaning apart
from the gods of the various theologies. We have Professor
Huxley admitting that he would have met the affirmation of
their existence with a flat contradiction. At any rate he would
have been quite justified in doing so. But when he asserts,
with a show of logical precision, but in reality with great
looseness, that "it is preposterous to assert that there is no
god because he cannot be such as we think him to be:' he is
using language for which no precise meaning can befound. To
be intelligible, the sentence implies that we have some
conception to the terms used, and this, as we have pointed out
with almost w~arisome insistence, is not the case.'
It is not a case of saying to the theist, "I fully understand your
hypothesis, but as at present I do not see enough evidence to
convince me of its truth or to demonstrate its error I must
suspend judgment." We do not understand it.And when we
seek to we discover that the terms of the proposition we are
asked to accept refuse to be brought together within the
compass of a single conception. Suspended judgment where
the subject under discussion is understandable is right and
, proper, but it is quite out of place, and indeed cannot exist,
where the proposition before us is void of meaning. In such
circumstances suspended judgment is absurd, and it may be
added that th~ affirmation or negation of such ~ proposition is

MESSIDOR

AUSTIN, TEXAS

It is equally fallacious to talk of "god" as an equivalent of


force in the abstract. or as the equivalent of some nonintelligent force. This is not what people ever meant, or mean,
by god. What religious folk believe in, what they pray to, is a
person who can hear them, and who can do things. A god only
dimly apprehended may be tolerated, but for how long will
faith continue to worship an existence that can neither do nor
hear nor sympathize? There is a limit to even religious folly.
And even a savage only worships "sticks and stones" after he
endows them with life and intelligence.
Finally, if there is one thing clear to the modern mind it is
that science has no room in its theory of thin'ds for an overruling intelligence. Sir Oliver Lodge well sums up the attitude
of science in the following sentences: "Orthodox science
shows us a self-contained and self-sufficient universe, not in
touch with anything above or beyond itself - the general
trend and outline of it known - nothing supernatural or
miraculous, no intervention of beings other than ourselves,
being conceived possible." (Man and the Universe, p. 14,
Popular ed.)
Personally, we question.whether there are any scientists of
repute who really believe in the existence of a personal
intelligence above or beyond nature. Some may make professions to the contrary, but it will usually be found that the
qualifications introduced rob their professions of all value.
Certainly their teaching is destitute of any such conception.
Modern scientific thought leaves no room for the operations of
deity. The miraculous is generally discarded. Response to
prayer is whittled down to a species of self-delusion, to be
valued on account of its subjective influence only. The
scientific theory of things, incomplete as it may be in many of
its details, leaves no room for the operations of a god.
Not alone does it leave no room for a god, but if the scientific
conception of the world is to stand, then it would be necessary
to repeat Bakunin's mot, and to say, "If there was a god it '
would be necessary to destroy him." You simply cannot have

(continued on page 36)

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ON OUR WAY

Ignatz Sahula- Dycke

YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT,


OR RELIGION'S
Environmental pressures of this socalled civilization of ours do strange
things to us fool humans. The pressures overstimulate the' imagination
with which we're somehow endowed
and we, in consequence, view ourselves as organisms having capabilities far exceeding those we actually
possess. \ This makes us 'about half
right and half wrong: split neatly down
the middle and undecided. Now, we
conceivably could develop ourselves
into beings such as those we imagine,
if we were as rational as we are
imaginative. This would establish the
balance we presently lack. Sure, we
have good reasons, as reasons go, for
thinking ourselves above other mammalians, but, I suspect, only because
of an accident or two during the
course of our evolution. Today's environment. and the products our imaginations, talents and vanities induce
us to envision and fabricate, have
turned us into people whom that technical urge has largely enslaved. Our
production of the implements, machines, clothing, foods and drink that
we use and consume, actually commands our habits, as well as our
thinking.
Our habits and thinking have more
or less separated us into groups. One
of the groups thinks we'd be a lot
better off if we found out what makes
us tick the way we do and then based
our opinions about ourselves on that
alone; others venture that there's nothing wrong with thinking we're every
day getting (as Dr. Coue once said)
better and better. The latter kind of
thinking, being mostly wishful, won't
do much good unless coupled to right
action. The former kind, being analytical, enables us to correct the ills of our
indecisions and hence has lasting value. It's the 91le I favor, though I'll
readily admit it isn't going to be easy
for me to prove it preferable for improving the quality of our life.

PAGE 30

The Distortion of Fantasy


We've, in this somewhat frantic evolutionary journey of ours, reached
the.point of noreturn, Not even were
we to realize that our doings are all
wrong, could we now turn around and
go back to start all over again. In fact,
due to a few of our most recent inventions, we can't even feel reasonably certain that our human race will
escape the consequences that our
traits
and uncontrolled
passions
(pride, vanity, greed, etc.) have during
the past two centuries or so committed us to. Most of us don't have the
least idea that this amounts to a trap
now holding us - one we set ourselves and, if I see right. all because of
tradition's pressure. We are now virtually as much the prisoners of that
pressure - of our unreasoning veneration of tradition -as if someone
had herded us into a high, barbed-wire
stockade from which escape is totally
impossible. However, where there's
life, there's hope -IF we'll give some
thought to our unbridled fantasying
that's at the bottom of the whole
trouble.
The fantasying has affected our instinctively sound sense of values; distorted it. and the distortion has modified our outlook, directing us onto
paths that no longer lead from the dark'
toward the light, but twist. double back
and describe circles, holding us at the
half-way post near Yihich ~he dizzying
fantasying, that today prevents us
from updating our intellectual awareness, began benumbing us.
We forgot all about controlling our
imagination when our Western fore-

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188 [6/80]

bears first heard the voice of a fellow


named Saul spieling fantastic .stories
and
descriptions
of . miracles
performed by a young worthy named
Jesus, who, said Saul, was the son of
god. Our forebears swallowed Saul's
narrative hook, line, and sinker and, as
such matters go, enlarged on it.
passed it down the line, until all of the
people of the nations that bordered on
the Mediterranean Sea had heard it
over and over, and all over again. The
main reason for the story's popularity
and for its distribution was the misery
in which then lived the people to
whom Saul's ravings were addressed.
In those days all of the nations in that
part of the world were under the
thumb of the Roman empire, virtually.
enslaved. And Saul's story (by the
way, a disgustingly grim one) also told
about Jesus having been caught.
tried, tortured, and crucified, all because he had said that after dying he
would come back to life ancl:~stablish
a kingdom to which all who believed
would go after dying and be forever
happy there. This appealed to all who
in those days were miserable; practically everyone of the lowest and
middle classes.

The Irreversible Fact


Today, you and I have heard that
story of Saul's many times. Some of us
as many times as there are Sundays in
a lifetime. Many people never tire 'of
hearing it because they really believe
in that happy bogus kingdom about
which Saul talked. The story comforts
such people, enabling them to see in it
an opportunity for escaping death.
. They're additionally
comforted
by
speculating
that
the
everlasting
heavenly life is bound to be at least as
good as the best they experienced on
earth. Well, who can blame them? Life
can be mighty rough - and it takes a
bit of courage to face the scientific

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

dictum' that once we die the journey


we all make from the time we're born
is over.
This-irreversible
fact - the living
and the dying - is what makes our life
here so precious and so mysterious.
There's only so much and no more of
it. The death part of it doesn't seem
real to us when we are brimming with
health, enjoying it. But surely some of
us have known people who actually
looked forward to dying only for wanting release from the pain and suffering of one or another malady; have
seen and heard them pray to the god
they believe in, imploring him to take
them away from it all. Well, my way of
looking at this matter is one I have
fashioned out of my efforts to understand it. I realize that I didn't ask to be
born and had nothing to do with my
birth except to be there. Ever since
then my life has been a very interesting struggle against tumbling waters
threatening to drown me. I gave up
believing in Saul's story a year or two
after I first wondered why it charmed
so many people but made no sense to
me. It now does nothing but bore me.
And churches no less. They're a great
place to meditate in when empty; the
silence is relaxing, especially so if all
the lights are doused and a bit of
outside light streams here and there
through a leaded-glass window. But
on occasions such as when the pews
are occupied and the farce up front is
going on, I look around at the people
and their faked, or genuine, reverence
for a god they were told exists (but
whom they, not a single one of them,
had never seen but in dull fantasy), it
simply just makes me want out. Only,
now and then have I thought of
churchgoers as fools - mostly deeming them roundly taken in by Saul and
his tale; and by Matthew, Mark, Luke,
and John, and by everything else that,
since Nicaea, was piled on top of the
story to make it even taller, for rnolli'fying all who fear the truth bespoken
by the marvels of life,

its two millenia of sterile existence,


and its mind-subversive dogmas as
both a tragedy and a comedy,
Saul's story about "savior Jesus"
has over the centuries
spread
throughout the Western nations, and
todav's combined Christianist sects
today's combined Christianist sects
have built a gigantic religious trust
that has long needed busting, Preaching the dogma that the Christian owes
loyalty first of all to his religion's god,
the religious trust this way arrogates
to itself, and not to the believer's flag
and nation, his allegiance. I'll let you
judge whether you want your own

government or government by religion


to be the guarantor of your Bill of
Rights.
To my way of thinking, were Education to do its job forthrightly, religion's
exit from our life would be the best
thing that could happen to our Western world - at times a sorry one
mainly because religiously partisan
politics has largely made it that way,
So, to secure and enjoy our hard-won
American individual freedoms, using
your reasoning is far better for it than
entrusting
it to some fanatic's
imagined god.

Using Reasoning Far Better


.There are, have always been, and I
suppose always will be, two sides to
every question. The same goes for this
religious one. Despite all that I have
seen, heard and read about the architects, composers, sculptors, muralists, and thinkers who contributed
their talented best to make religion
reputable, I deem Christian ism's rise,

MESSIDOR

AUSTIN, TfXAS

188 [6/80)

PAGE 31

NATURE'S WAY
GERALD THOLEN

PESTILENCE,
PITCHFORKS AND PRAYERS
No matter which way a "peoples'
revolution" goes, one thing is sure the "people" never winl History has
monotonously repeated the scene of
enthusiastically
exuberant "peasants" hailing their cause and vigilantly
fighting against the ever-present "czar
of greed and oppression." The stories
always have an amazingly similar list
of "hero" characters and recurring
bloody plots - down with theinjustices of evi I authorityl The whole mess
can be likened to melodramatic old
Wild West movies -i.e.,
"good guys
vs. bad guys." Each time the format
seems a little worse for wear.
The causes for all such unpalatable
anguish are' invariably seen as manifestations of a degenerate ruler Irulers
who are less than concerned with the
welfare of their subjects. Whether
such villainous leaders be a group of
"lords," a king, a czar, dictator or
simply an American president - makes
no difference. A revolution is a revolution is a revolution! Thus, millions of
"unfortunate"
citizens become clay
pigeons for the sinister military ....
Please excuse me while I vomitl The
ridiculousness of this soap box notion
has always made me ill. Many times I.
have realized that Hitler did not "create"
the "holocaust" any more than the
czar created the Russian feudal system. By the same token, Nixon did not
create political unrest in the U.S. Ignorance did I Plain dumb-assed ignorancel That's why all of the past
glorious revolutions have been fought
by "pitchfork" armies - simply because the involved populace only had
"pitchfork" mentalities.
It should be apparent by now that
one can not leave unattended cheese,
lying around unless one intends for
some sly rat to have a banquet. Neither
can we leave freedom and justice
unattended without a similar disastrousoccurrence. Facts are that people themselves are responsible for

PAGE 32

their condition. There is only one continuinq problem in society and that is
the apathetic lack of self-education by
the individual.

Our Schools
Our schools today are turning out
graduates who, in many cases I'm
told, cannot read. Needless to say,
there is a tremendous outcry from the
public that our educational system is
"inadequate" - I q~"te agreel It is
inadequate' - but 'Iet's examine the
inadequacy. First let's identify-the expression "educational system" so as
to be efficient in our .evaluation. An
educational system must first have
educated "teachers" to do the "teaching." Next it must have facilities; i.e.,
buildings, books, equipment, etc. Now

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80)

let's take a realistic look at what we


have. I don't recall having heard very
many complaints about "teachers" who
were unable to read. Now that's not
s'aying that every teacher reads with
the eloquency of a James Mason, but
usually they can do suffi-ciently well
with Ned's First Readerll'm convinced
that this fact should enable them to be
able to properly identify and explain
the word symbols to another partyeven if with slight difficulty.
Which brings us to Item #2: facilities. America has spent more money
funding schools and educational, para. phernalia than probably any other
country in history. Indeed, we have
some of the finest educational facilities known to modern man. I should
think we deserve an A+ in facilitiesl
That brings us to #3: students, What

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

is a "student"? Oef. #2: i.e., any person


who studies, investigates, or carefully
examines a subject. One interested in
lea~ning. This is where our system
seems to collapse. Our more recent
attitude suggests, so far as some students and teachers are concerned,
that attendance in a classroom qualifies one as a student. Using this idea
as a base,
suppose that we could
assume that by simplv sitting in a
museum, one could become a qualified historian. That hardly sounds reasonable somehow. To be a historian
we all know that one has to be quite
earnestly concerned with the facts of
past erasl Interest in learning then
becomes paramount and the sole qualifying requirement for being a "student" - the finest educational system
imaginable does not necessarily incorporate brilliant teachers and fine facilities as we had assumed previouslyjust one - interest in learning, period.
Students can "learn" with or without
magnificent buildings and an.army of
professors. A "student" can learn to
read with a two week old newspaper
and a few minutes of aid from a friend
- provided the friend is literate. The
alleged problem with our educational
system is that we lack legitimate "students."
Please don't fly down my back now
and accuse me of "degrading" our fine
American youth - remember the definition of the word student (one anyone - interested in learning).
Without interest, it doesn't make a
damned bit of difference about your
age, sex, nationality or social security
number - You're simply not a studentllf your only interest in attending
a physics classroom is to ogle the
"chick" or "stud" sitting at the front
right hand work table, you're not qualifYIng.

I've tried to explain apathy a number


of times on differing occasions, but it
seems that lack of interest is its most
obvioussymptom.Ifonebecomesinterested
in something he/she usually suffers
the bother of having to do something
to satisfy that interest and becomes
hopelessly enmeshed in effort. Jesuslll
How intolerablel ... Not to be facetious, but that's been one of the
world's great attractions concerning
church attendance. All that's required
of a churchgoer is to sit in quiet.
euphoric ignorance and listen to some
jackass minister who's twice as ignorant as he or she is. Let's give the
minister credit in this case, however,
at least he's standing up and moving
his mouth and that's something.
Comparatively few people are fond
of a great deal of effort or interest. And
so it has been down through history.
Our ancestors courageously stood
ever ready to boast that THEIR'S was
the "hard life" - living with virtually
no conveniences. The truth of the
.natter is that they had no choice other
than manual labor. The modern inventive intellect of mankind had not yet
evolved. They were the architects of
"pitchforkhoodl"
If you and I were
faced with such gruesome living conditions we'd probably be sporting a few
blisters and callouses also. Collectively, by being a little smarter, we enable
ourselves to be a little lazier, and in an
entirely pompous manner we feel that
we can afford to be. The ironic thing is
that now, while sitting idly in the lap of
ingenious conveniences, our laziness
is beginning to affect the very educational efficiency that affords us our
current pleasures. And so the cycle
completes itself.
Overpopulation + negative interest +
greed + apathy = Revolution. Whether
social or military, it will come as per-

sonal effort is abandoned. The pestilence of an indigent society will fester


for a time and then the hostility of man
will again erupt. The historical "pitchfork" symbol is my favorite exhibit for
such naive cultural conditions. That is
not to say, however, that any such
involved revolutionaries
would not
gladly exchange their pitchforks in
favor of automatic rifles. All they need,
is for someone stupid enough to supply them - like the U.S., for instance.
Let's see now, so far we've examined cultural pestilence; i.e., apathetic
ignorance + time = Revolution - pitchfork weaponry being anything from
rocks to bows and arrows to nuclear
devices - whatever. Now all we need
is a fuse for the bomb - a triggering
apparatus. We needn't look far. That
was the first component of the equation that mankind devised -centuries
ago - religionl Therein is the third
word that I needed toward satisfying
the heading forthis story: prayer. What
better excuse have all past ignorant
societies had as reason to kick each
others' ass? Godl My god is better than
your god. God told me todo what I'm
doingl God is on our side I Isn't it a little
frightening?
We may have become quite sophisticated in a physical sense. Mentally
we've remained primitive. We tolerate
social pestilence, as have all political
systems, until we become disenchanted. Then, it's "take up your pitchfork
and stab your way to glory and fortune" - but by all rneans..check it out
with "god" first for needed incentive
and relief from conscience as you
wade through the blood of your fellow
man.

Euphoric Ignorance
At this point I would like to caution
all the "mommas and poppas" not to
laugh or be outraged at some of the
ridiculousness of our educational system.ln many cases, parents can't read
as well as their failing sons and daughters. What were they interested in
while in class? So much for generational bickering.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

"When the will' defies fear, when the heart applauds the brain, when duty
throws the gauntlet down to fate, when honor scorns to compromise with
death - this is heroism."
Robert G. Ingersoll

MESSIDOR

188,[6/80]

PAGE 33

THE AMERICAN ATHEIST RADI~SERIES


I

IRISH CATHOLICS FOR

CA THOLIC RIGHTS
******* Program No. 396 *******

The National Destiny At Stake

This is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheist, back to


talk with you again.
What about the Irish -,- and with a name like Madalyn'
Murray O'Hair -I should ask? But, as Reuben Maury writes in
his The Wars of the Godly, it was the Irish Catholics who drew
the rage of the native American Protestant white Gentiles and
the same Irish Catholics who returned most of the Protestant
punches will all possible vigor.
Tammany Hall began in 1789 as a roughneck, native
American order but it was founded by an Irishman (William
Mooney). In 1809, when our country was only several score
years old, the first Irish Catholic ran on a Tarnmanv-supported
ticket for a New York office (Assemblyman).
By 1812 the Society of United Irishmen boasted that six
Congressmen were members of the organization. In the same
year the Democrats of New York City appealed to the Irish
voters as a block, beseeching them to turn out at an election
and prove their gratitude to the party which had shown itself
their friend - and that was one of the first intrusions of
Roman Catholicism into American politics. Nonetheless,
there was quiet, by and large, on the religious front until an
outburst of mass emotion, related to religious hate, began in
1826 - and lasted until 1832.
Let's look at the situation in about 1825. The Roman
Catholic Church in the United States was headquartered then,
as now, in Baltimore. It had had fifty years of complete liberty
under the Constitution and,in that time it had become big with
membership, regimented by an aggressive clergy, rich in
lands, buildings and money.
There were 360,000 Roman Catholics in a total U.S.
population of about 12.5 million. The country was divided into
sees and vicariates apostolic. Every town in New England had
its Catholic congregation and priest. The church operated six
seminaries, nine colleges were under its ecclesiastical control
and three of them were universities. They had 33 nunneries
and monasteries and a number of hospitals and schools.
Rome had not, as yet, appointed a cardinal - and this was an
ideal time to calla council .ot the hierarchy of all this North
American province.
.
So, the First Provincial Council of Catholicity in America met
at Baltimore on October 1, 1829.lt was enough to scare every
Protestant in the States. Thirty-eight decrees were promulgated, most of them having to do with matters perfunctory and
administrative only. But four of the decrees were important.
Decree No.9 warned Catholics to have nothing to do with
"corrupt translations of the Bible" - meaning, of course, the
King James version used by the Protestants.

No. 17, to quote the evasive language of the Catholic


historians, "reg~rded baptism of children of non-Catholic
parents where there was a prospectof the child being brought
up a Catholic."
Numbers 34 and 35 concerned the elementary schools and
the teaching therein. No. 34 urged that. as speedily as might
be, Catholic parishes should build Catholic parochial schools
"to save children, especially those of the poor, from perversion." No. 35 had to do with preparation of school books
suitable to be studied by Catholic children.
Thus was marked out a new sector in the religious war in
the United States. Many a bloody engagement was fouqht
-right
up to 1925. A typical reply to the idea of Roman
Catholic parochial schools for Roman Catholic children was
that issued in The New Menace Magazine of 1927:
.
The school issue looks us squarely in the face. We
have reached the parting of the ways. Our national
destiny. is at stake. We must choose between the
schools of Rome and those of America. The alternative is
darkness or light. illiteracy or education. Latin America
exemplified the former; the United States, the latter ....
There is but one righteous solution of the problem
before us. The public schools must continue incomparably superior to all others. Their very excellence must
command the favor of all loyal citizens. No foreign
government, whether civil or ecclesiastical, must be
permitted further to project a rival system here or to
exclude American children from American schools.
The Catholic church made its school philosophy clearer and
clearer until at its third plenary council held at Baltimore in
1884 it issued a solemn command that Catholic parents send
their children "to the parish or other truly Catholic schools,
unless, indeed, the bishop 'of the diocese judge that in a
particular case' other provision may be permitted." The rule
still holds and many Roman Catholics are not even aware of its
existence.
What happened in Great Britain still influenced us here. The
Roman Catholic Church there had fought for recognition from
the time of Henry VIII. But the Anglican Church denied the
pope's superiority on matters of doctrine. By the 1700s and
the early 1800s, the battle lines were drawn in England. The
position of the English people toward Catholics was expressed'
in the offer: "Give up your claims for your pope, and you can
have some of our civil rights - don't and we continue to deny
civil rights to you."
In 1790, 1500 Roman Catholic bishops and laymen in
Britain accepted the. Protestant condition. What was called

PAGE 34

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80)

AMERICAN ATHIESr

~.

The Great Protest. signed by the group, proclaimed:


'acknowledge no infallibility in the pope:'

"We

Wagging Tongues
The Vatican waited 80 years, until the Vatican Council of
1870, to strike back and it was at that time that it succeeded in
dogmatizing the pope's "infallibility"
when, speaking ex
cathedra, he pronounces any doctrines touching faith or
morality to be binding on the whole church.
Prior to this innovation, in 1829 in the United States, Lyman
Beecher, a Congregationalist. cut loose at his Hanover Street
church in Boston with a series of anti-Catholic sermons. His
motive was simple and obvious: there were too many Catholics in and about Boston to suit his taste.
Several years later, in 1833, Rebecca Reed entered the
Ursuline Convent at Charlestown, Massachusetts, as a probationer. She was to pass six months in this status in the order to
become eligible for the veil, but before that time expired, she
fled the nunnery, in secret and by night. The things that
Rebecca told of having witnessed within the institution set
tongues wagging throughout Boston. So effective was her
whispering campaign that within a month she had all the
Protestant enthusiasts raving for Catholic blood.
The following summer another Ursuline nun became hysterical and fled - but speedily repented and returned to the
convent under the wing of her brother, But a rumor got out to
the effect that Sister Mary John was held prisoner. Although
Boston Selectmen visited the convent and talked with Sister
Mary John, religious frenzy was aroused and on August 11,
1834, some five or six hundred defenders of Protestantism,
American womanhood and Old Glory stormed the convent,
wrecked it from garret to coal bin, drove out the nuns and
burned the building to the ground.
At about the same time in New York City, Samuel F. B.
, Morse - the inventer of the telegraph - had newly arrived
back in the United States. He had discovered in "Vienna,
Austria, something called the Leopold Foundation - a Catholic society organized for the express purpose of aiding the
expansion of the Catholic church in the United States.
Morse took to writing a series of twelve letters to the New
York Observer newspaper, signed with the pen name Brutus.
The letters were reprinted, editorially commented upon, read
from Protestant pulpits and, all in all, became a sensation.
They' were later published in book form, with the title A
Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States.
The book sold widely also,
The Catholics felt that they needed their own voice and in
1830 the Catholic Expostulator was founded, Jesuit controlled.
The Catholic Hersld was initiated in 1833, and to counter all
this the American Protestant Vindicator was launched on
August 20, 1834. This was an anti-Catholic paper that really
was an anti-Catholic paper I The third issue began a serial
reprint of Samuel F. B. Morse's book. The publishing house
which printed the paper also issued -a number of books.
Rebecca Reed's Six Months in a Convent was one. But the
all-time anti-nunnery book which became a triumph of the
press was The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk. Maria Monk
had been incarcerated in the Hotel Dieu, a Catholic asylum at
Montreal, operated by nuns, The commitment was made at
the request of Maria's mother. Maria's allegations were the
usual ones of an escaped nun. There was one chapter devoted
to the murder of a recalcitrant nun, personally ordered by a
bishop. There was the usual story of an underground pas-

AUSTIN, liEXAS

sageway so that the priests of Montreal district could have


access to the nunnery for illicit intercourse with the nuns. The
babies born were baptized, smothered, and deposited in a lime
pit in the nunnery cellar. And, of course, Maria Monk had had
such a child.
Maria made a lecture tour of the Atlantic States and was
received in the best Protestant circles. She wrote a second
book called Further Disclosures of Maria Monk, but her career
came to an end when she was taken in adultery, committed
anew to a home for incorrigible girls, and died there.

Taming Tammany
All of this had its effect. when in March, 1835 the New York
Protestant Association met to discuss the question "Is Popery
compatible with civil liberties?" A crowd of Irish Catholics
broke into the hall, and mobbed the meeting.
By 1840, the Irish Catholics were back again battling for
their rights. This time, under Bishop John Hughes, they
decided to teach Tammany Hall a lesson. When Tammany Hall
did not repay, with favors, the Irish Catholic vote which had
been with them, the Irish Catholics ran their own ticket,
nominating candidates for election. In the exercise, the Irish
Catholics demonstrated where the balance of power was
between the Whigs and the Democrats. Without the Catholic
vote, the Irish Catholic vote especially, Tammany Hall could
not win against its opponents.
In return the Roman Catholics of New York got their school
funds law from the legislature. But. the native Protestants
could only control their rage until the night of the next
election, in April, 1842 at which time a nativist gang rounded
up all the Irish to be found on the streets and chased them
about town until tired of the sport, concluding the celebration
by tossing a gross or more of cobblestones through the
windows of Bishop Hughes' residence.

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80]

PAGE 35

Tammany Hall learned its lesson and from that date forth it
never bucked the Roman Catholics. The Democrats in all of the
big cities still follow the pat formula of pleasing the Roman
Catholic vote. The Republican Party is still, by and large,
Protestant - and, of course, in the South even the Democrats
need to be Baptists - but churches out of politics? Sometimes
there seems there will never be such a day.
Either the churches, and religious people, are challenged
head-on concerned with their ideology, or they will continue
to function as always - by bringing what power they can to
bear on whatever layer of government they can reach - and
the most influential and powerful church will capture the
majority through the legislation of their morality, their ethics,
their religious creeds into the culture.
After 1844, there cut loose in Philadelphia the first of a
series of "religious riots" which persisted off and on until the
Civil War began. The Irish Catholics were in these up to their
ears - and the enemy was the WASP, the White, AngloSaxon Protestants who felt that the country belonged tothem.
But that is a tale for another program.
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a public
service by the Society of Separationists, Inc., a non-profit,
non-political, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated
to the complete separation of state and church. This series of
American Atheist Radio Programs is continued through listener generosity. The Society of Separationists, lnc., predicates its philosophy on American Atheism; For more information write to P. O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas 78768.

DIAL AN ATHEIST
CHAPTERS

(continued from page 29)

for him to do if he did exist. He passes the gods of the world in


review and categorically dismisses each one as a myth. In
doing this he has the concurrence of all theists in discarding
every god save one - his own. The Atheist simply applies the
same rule to each, and metes out the same judgment to all.

PAGE 36

MESSIOOR

~J

ATHEISTS

Phoenix, Arizona

(602) 899-7411

Tucson, Arizona

(602) 623-3861

Los Angeles, California

(213) 634-8055

Sacramento, California

(916) 989-3170

San Francisco, California

(4151969-4477

Denver, Colorado

(303) 2~3-1278

Atlanta, Georgia

(404) 329-9809

Chicago, Illinois

(312) 335-4648

Lombard, Illinois

(312) 597-2433

Indianapolis, Indiana

(317) 234-9652

Lexington, Kentucky

(606) 278-8333

Boston, Massachusetts

(617) 344-2988

Detroit, Michigan

A JOYOUS ATHEIST
at one and the same time a universe in which all that occurs is,
the consequence of calculable and indestructible forces, the
operations of which can be foreseen andrelied upon, afld a
universe controlled by a self-determining
deity, capable of
modifying the action of these same forces. You may have one
or the other, but it is sheer lunacy to' to imagine that you can
have both. Either uniformity with invariable causation, or a
world in which everyscientific calculation must be prefaced
with the "DV." of a prayer meeting:
And the Atheist, who accepts the principles of modern
science, says, not merely thathe is without a belief in god, but
that he fails to see any necessity for his existence, or anything

OF AMERICAN

: .. (313) 721-6630

New York, New York

(212) 726-3647
,

Charlotte, North Carolina

(704) 568-5346

Portland, Oregon

(503) 287-6461

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

(412) 734 0509

Providence, Rhode Island

(401) 423-0883

Dallas, Texas

(214) 388-7669

Galveston, Texas

(713)935-4721

Salt Lake City, Utah

(801) 364-4939

Grottoes, Virginia. '

(703) 370-5255

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(414) 442-9786

~~~~~~~~~i~~~
l

188 [6/80)

AMERICAN

ATHEIST

f!loemrJ

,.

MEAN GREEN
Hew can the pope
Talk about hope
For the world's poor millions?
That phony sucks
He has the bucks
They add up to billionsl
Greedy Mormon
What a bore, man
All they want is money,
Insurance, banks
Big business pranks
We don't think it's funnyl

IT'S ELECTION TIME U.S.A.


The "born again"
Give me a pain
Screaming for the dollar,
Some day, you fool
Reason will rule
Gone will be your holler.
David W. Batterson

Chip Carter's giv.en up his pot


McGovern's ceased to swear
Tee! Kennedy's returned to Joan
And everyone's acting most square
Old Senator Stone's rejoined th' right
He's denouncing sin today
And we smile and we note
They're just after our vote
It's election time U.S.A.
Jerry Brown changed his stand
Who gave a purple cow?
Jane Fonda said five words for him
And he's sure a dead duck now
And Jimmy Carter's born again
Hi~ umpteenth time today
It's a lot like th' spring
YVhenth' dogs have their fling
It's election time U.S.A.

Those Mythical, Martyred Monogamists


Time and loose tongues and illusion
Have written great tales of great loves
Artistically we are bombarded
With cupids and hearts and cute doves
Some died, in a passion, of poison
Or fell on a sword (or loose rugs)
Some, scorched by the flame 'of desire,
Have taken to drink or to drugs
My love is, however, more simple
More apt to survive a-la-carte
Just a pat and a peck and a nipon the neck
With a now and then change of heart.

Big John Connally was in th' fight


But Ronald Reagancame through
For Connally pitched to big oil,
But Ronnie pitched to th' Jews
Crane's plane did not get off th' ground
But George Bush near stole the day
And I'm getting so sick
That I miss Tricky Dick
It's election time U.S.A.
I've sat through all th' candidates
Ten crooks, nine nuts, one bum
It's not so much that I'm angry now
lt's more like I'm just plain numb
My eyes are blurred and th' issues confused
ACId I ~ish that they'd all go away
For I couldn't care less
For th' whole cruddy mess
It's election time U.S.A.

Skin Deep
I study the face in the mirror
My spirit of youth appears sickly
How could this image have gone
From pimples to wrinkles so quickly?
John B. Denson
MESSIDOR

AUSTIN, TEXAS

~/

188 [6/80]

PAGE 37

FILMREVIEW

0000000000000000000

o
o

0
0
0
0

o
o

elainestansfield

To those of you movie fans who


think I am rather hard to please, I have
good news. Promises in the Dark
handles its theme well, it is well
crafted, acted and produced. I did not
squirm ill my seat, nor did I wish to
leave before it was over. In fact, if it
has a flaw, its ending is premature.
The .film is especially to be com"
mended because it deals with the
death-with-dignity
idea without ever
becoming maudlin or dwelling in
bathos. It stars Marsha Mason, who is
a versatile actress, but, being married
to Niel Simon, doesn't need to work
except in what she wants to work or
that in which she believes.Since the
picture came up from nowhere - that
is with, no advance ballyhoo - one
wonders if some of the Simon money
was invested in it. In any case, Marsha
.has a good track record, from our first
notice of, her in Cinderella Liberty (a
picture which also came from nowhere) and in which she showed a
flair for combining drama and comedy
in a warm personality. Now she plays
a doctor, not quite over the miseryof a
divorce. traveling from the mid-west
to Hartford, Conn. to take a job in a
hospital there, The tone of her performance is taken from the song playing
on her car radio en route: "l'rn gonna
lock my heart and throwaway
the
. key/if I never fall in love again that's
soon enough. for me..... "
Unfortunately,
her first
patient
turns out to be the most difficult case'
of her entire life. A lovelv young girl.
played to near perfection by Kathleen
Beller, is horsing around with her
friends during hi'gh school soccer
practice, kicks the ball and breaks her
leg. Suspicious, Dr. Kendall accuses
the pathologist of letting a poor x-ray
go through, and orders another. From
this, a biopsy is indicated, which
shows "raging malignancy" and the

PAGE 38

oooooooooooooooooo~

leg is removed. From this point, the


picture is an admirable study in the
complex psychological
interactions
between the doctor, her superior (the
administrator of the hospital), the girl,
her parents and her boyfriend.
Desperately struggling to remain aloof, sensible, and cool, Dr. Kendall is
drawn into the conflicts enveloping
her: the older doctor's determination
to play along with whatever the parents want, even if it goes against the
girl's wishes; the temptation to become romantically Involved with the
pathologist, a relationship Dr. Kendall
obviously needs as the story goes on;
, the parents' refusal to even consider
turning off the respirator ....
, Never is religion mentioned. As Dr.
Kendall becomes friends with the girl,
admiring her decision to read everything she can lay her hand on about
. her cancer, she realizes how hard it
will be. She rebels. "Please," she asks
the olderdoctor, "I don't-want to continue. I am not her priest, I am not her
analyst, I. can't get this' involved ih
making emotional decisions for her,"
, But the girl wants her to continue, as
she tries to work through her anger,
her bewilderment, her speculations.
"Maybe," she says, "maybe when you
die it feels fantastic." (I am not telling
any secrets, as this scene is used in
the television trailer.] It is an unbelievably touching, moving ,scene.

MESSIDOR 188 [6/80]

The gloom is alleviated by the fact


that, in all other respects, the film is
telling us the story of a normal teenager trying to live as normal a life as
possible during times when she feels
well, for she is a gutsy girl, poking fun
at the wig she wears when the chemotherapy causes her hair to fall out;
laughing with her girlfriends while
they do homework and play records;
kissing, hugging and laughing with
her boyfriend (Michael Brandon); and
these scenes are juxtaposed with.a'
segment when Dr. Kendall goes -rollerskatinq with her pathologist. In fact,
here again, the film does an excellent.
job of cross-cutting so the audience.is .
never bewildered as to which story is
being told and that story's time frame ..
As often as possible without being
gimmicky, a scene with the girl will cut
over to a similar scene with the doctor.
In addition to which, the conflict between the parents (Ned Beatty and
Susan Clark) is hinted but never ~lIowed to be heavy: their marriage IS not
perfect, but they both adore their daughter and want to do what is best for. but
. cannot bear the suggestion of.euthanasi a - something the daughter has
accepted all along.
It may be that the movies will never
be able to tackle this subject in, a
manner acceptable to the larger
movie-going public, but this has been
done well enough so it would be a'
.carping act to criticize its philosophy or
its intent. I, myself, think it long overdue and lapplaud not just the courage
it took to put it into production but the
thematic idea behind it.

AMERICAN ATHEIST

BOOK REVIEW ~

The A merican A theist


Press Proudly Presents
.
"

ESSAYS OF AN ATHEIST ACTIVIST


by Jon Garth Murray'

Born in 1954, Jon Garth Murray


represents the new generation of Atheist intellectuals who are dedicated
to activisim much more than they are
dedicated to debating. Being the son of
Madalyn
Murray O'Hair, he was
raised in an environment of Atheist
activism. It was quite natural that
when he completed his studies' and'
undergraduate degree (B.A.) at the
University ofTexas in 1976, he took on
the demanding position of Director of
the American Atheist Center in Austin, Texas. His creative writing abilities
quickly established him as one of the
most popular regularly featured columnists in the American Atheist magazine, of which he is also the Managing Editor.
His credentials as an Atheist activist
cannot be disputed. He has traveled
the United States organizing chapters
for the American Atheists. He has
traveled the world as a major spokesperson for United World Atheists. He
has lectured on university campuses
and has carried the banner of Atheism
on many national and regional televi-

Illinois in 1979 to carry out further


abuses of the law requiring separation
of state and church. With his famous
mother, he has been co-litigant on
many important and historic law suits
to rebuild the battered wall of separa.tion of state and church.

by
Jon Garth Murray

sion and radio talk shows. He led the


picket line that greeted Pope John
Paul II when he showed up in Chicago,

Essays of an Atheist Activist is a


collection of Murray'sAmerican Atheist essays that have appeared in the
magazine between 1976 and 1979. In
them Murray carries on the noble
intellectual tradition of past Atheist
thinkers such as Robert Ingersoll,
Joseph McCabe; and Bertrand Russell, while making a unique and originalindividual contribution of his own
to the treasury of Atheist thought. This
is an important addition to the magnficent body of Atheist literature and no
Atheist will want to have it missiing
from his or her Atheist library.
Essays of an Atheist Activist is 52
pages long and is priced at $3.29.
Please add $0.51 for postage and
handling. Texas state residents will
also have to add 5% sales tax.

THE CHARLES E. STEVENS AMERICAN ATHEIST LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES, INC. IS IN CONTINUING NEED OF FINANCIAL
CONTRIBUTIONS. IT ALSO NEEDS ANY OLD ATHEIST BOOKS OR FREETHOUGHT MAGAZINES YOU MAY HAVE. THE
LIBRARY IS TAX-EXEMPT. ANY GIFT OF BOOKS, MAGAZINES, OR MONEY GIVES YOU A TAX DEDUCTION.
'

o AUSTIN,

C.E.S.A.A.L.A.D

AUSTIN, TEXAS

MESSIDOR

188 [6/80)

TEXAS 78756

PAGE 39

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Address your reply to No. (whatever that number may be). Place
your sealed envelope in a letterto the
American Atheist Center, P.O. Box
2117, Austin, Texas 78768. We will
see that all replies are forwarded to
the advertiser. No identities are ever
revealed; we protect you from any
harassment which might come from
your home address appearing in our
columns.

To place your own LA. ad costs


$1.00 per word multiplied by how
many months you desire it to run.

IF YOU ARE GAY AND


ATHEIST,
PLEASE CONTACT:

EMPLOYMENT 2
Staff opening: lawyer .
Opportunity to become nationally
known protagonist for American Atheist Center. Aggressive legal iconoclast with Federal Court experience
preferred. We furnish office, telephone, typewriter (no secretary sorry), heavy case load, token salary
first year. Ideal for person with independent income and commitment.
Must use University of Texas Law
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and have typing and filing skills. Demanding but rewarding opportunity. Call Jon Murray, Executive Director, American Atheist Center:

Gay Atheists League of America


P.O. Box 14142
San Francisco, CA 94114
Membership: $15.00/year
($1 O.OO/year for students
and senior citizens)
Send to the same address for
subscriptions to the GALA Review: subscriptions $10.00/year;
$11.50/year
in Canada
and
PUAS; elsewhere $1 2.50.

(512) 458-1244

or send resume:
P.O. Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768

O'HAIR SPECIAL
BBB: An Atheist Epic

$4.95
Read the personal history of one family's
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WHAT ON EARTH IS AN ATHEIST?


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PAGE 40

MESSIDOR 188 [6/801

AMERICAN ATHEIST

Don't be a part of the Problem

Be a part of the Solution!

Tr~ II Membership in the


American Atheists
Austin, TX 78768 P.O. BOll[ 2117

THE UNTOLD HISTORY II


OR HOW ORGANIZED

~ 1950 -1955

RELIGION

PAVES ITS ROAD TO POWER

REVOLuTiONARY
GOVERNMENT
OF NICARAGUA
MINISTER OF EDUCA TlON

REV. ERNESTO CARDENAL


MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

REV. MIGUEL DE ESCOTO


. DIRECTOR OF THE LITERACY
PROGRAM
.

'

REV. FERNANDO CARDENAL


~

DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN IN THE UNITED STATES