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July 1992

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought


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is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, educational organization dedicated to the
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tral figure, who alone must be the within himself - can and must cresource of strength, progress, and ate his own destiny. Materialism reideals for the well-being and happi- stores to man his dignity and his inness of humanity;
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fecting the maintenance, perpetua- that man is capable of creating a
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American Atheists, Inc. P.O. Box 140195 Austin, TX 78714-0195

American Atheist

A Journal of Atheist

News and Thought

July 1992

Editor's Desk
R. Murray-O'Hair

Director's Briefcase
Jon G. Murray

After examining religion's effects on

society, Atheists must realize that
now is "The Time To Be Negative."

Ask A.A.

Cover design by Wendy Hale

Davis. Convention logo design
by Greg Anderson.

Leaving the church may take a bit of

paperwork, but it is worth it to help
correct inflated church membership

Convention 1992 Report

Volume 34, No. 7

Austin, Texas

separation at a time when federal

courts are becoming increasingly hostile to First Amendment claims. - 41
Body Ownership Rights of Children: The Circumcision Question Circumcision is the most common
surgery on males in our country. But
Marilyn Fayre Milos, R.N., argues that
it is nothing but a religious and medical anachronism. - 50


Atheists from all over the United

States came "home" to Austin,
Texas - headquarters to American Atheists - for the TwentySecond Annual National Convention of American Atheists.
All About the Convention - Jon G.
Murray gives the inside scoop on the
preparations for and the excitement
of the 1992American Atheist Convention. - 11
Atheists: The Next Generation The founder of it all, Madalyn O'Hair,
looks to the future. - 16
The Wild, Wild World of Creationism - Frank R. Zindler gives a rollicking overview of the scientific foibles
and follies of the leaders of creationism. - 20
Atheist Rights and Religion's Wrongs
- Conrad Goeringer warns against
the newest "politically correct" taboo:
criticism of religion. - 29
Photo Section - A photographic
account of what many called the best
American Atheists Convention yet.
Courts and Constitutions: Utah Litigation - Attorney Brian Barnard reviews tactics that are making impres-



American Atheist Radio Series

Madalyn O'Hair


Letters to the Editor


sive state level wins for state/church



July 1992

Talking Back


The question "What made you turn

from god?" evokes a variety of heartspoken responses from Atheists as
they address the problem of "Common Sense and Belief."

Was Jesus unique? Or was he just

another crucified god? According to
"Kersey Graves - American Atheist," the very commonness of his tale
is proof of his lack of divinity.

Me Too


Author Martin L. Bard has a few

words "Regarding Hostility" and how
the philosophy of determinism can
promote peace, harmony, and joy.

Page 1

Allerican Atheist
R. Murray-O'Hair
Editor Emeritus
Dr. Madalyn O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Angeline Bennett
Non-Resident Staff
Margaret Bhatty
Victoria Branden
Merrill Holste
Arthur Frederick Ide
John G. Jackson
Frank R. Zindler
The American Atheist is published by American Atheist Press.
Copyright 1992 by American Atheist Press.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole
or in part without written permission is
prohibited. ISSN: 0332-4310.
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no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts.
The American Atheist Press publishes a variety of Atheist, agnostic, and freethought
material. A catalog is available for $1.00.
All Christian Bible quotations are from the
King James Version, unless otherwise
This magazine is printed on recycled paper.

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Page 2

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July 1992

American Atheist

Editor's Desk

Seeking respectability


dignantly, insulted that they have been

istinguished scientists, popular
accused of Atheism. The percentage
actors and actresses, literary
giants, news-making celebrities, who politely decline makes one wonder
and noted politicians - every once in a that all of these Atheists could be so
great while one of them allows it to leak consistently "otherwise engaged" on an
out to the public that he or she might be Easter weekend. Others reply fearfully,
a nonbeliever. Some: like Linus Pauling begging that they not be exposed as
nonbelievers. But the most usual reply
or George Carlin, admit it frankly.
Others only imply it in statements to is silence. Probably more often than not,
esoteric societies, in the publications of a low echelon secretary or aide consigns
which it is unlikely to be noticed by our our inquiry to the wastebasket, lest his
general populace. Alert members and noted employer be tainted by the charge
supporters take note and pass the in- of non belief.
Mr. Murray will continue to send his
formation on to American Atheists.
Sometimes American Atheist GHQ offi- polite invitations to noted nonbelievers,
cers find out about their convictions
of course. Given the state of our society,
when personally meeting them back- with its government -endorsed religion,
stage at talk shows or in the dark cor- he will probably continue to receive
ners of parties.
polite (and impolite) refusals for a very
And then the inquiries start. Why not, long time.
In the meantime, organized Atheism
members ask, invite Dr. So-and-so to
address the Annual National Conven- must seek respectability for Atheism tion of American Atheists? Could over- not wait and hope that the respectability
tures be made to Mr. Famous Enter- of celebrities will rub off onto it. And
tainer so that he might attend the Con- that's what the American Atheist Convention? Perhaps Ms. Well-knownSinger vention is all about. Rather than wait
could be persuaded to say a few words passively for an equal place in society to
to the assembled group? How about Mr. be given to Atheists, we must organize,
Much Published Author?
speak up, and demand our civil rights.
Much is to be said for what is called
Thus it is appropriate that the Athestar power. An individual who can ist Pride March was the star of the show
attract 20,000 people to a stadium would when the 1992 American Atheist Consurely draw a few more people to the vention came "home" to Austin, Texas,
Annual National American Atheist Con- site of the American Atheist General
vention. The argument that usually Headquarters. In this issue of the Amerarrives with such suggestions is other, ican Atheist, you will read all about the
however. It is basically that Atheism is Convention, enjoy many of the speeches
despised in our nation, that Atheists as which were presented, and view the para group have a poor reputation among ties and gatherings through the lenses of
believers. If a person who is respected
our photographer.
becomes known as an Atheist, ChrisBut take an especial, and long, look at
tians willlearn to respect Atheism as an the photos of the Atheist Pride March.
alternative world-view. The celebrity's Our slogans were brave, but our Marchpopularity will enhance the image of ers were braver as they took to the
streets in the so-called Bible belt. BanOver the years, our Convention coor- ners and placards were held high, as
dinator, Jon G. Murray, has invited Marchers roared out calls for state/
many of these noted figures. The answers church separation and Atheist pride.
received are varied. Some respond in- There were scattered catcalls from the
sidewalks, but these were drowned out
by the loud cheers led by our marshalls.
R. Murray-O'Hair
That youngsters were a part of the
Austin, Texas

July 1992

parade is particularly satisfying to those

of us who have been in the movement
for decades. To insure that our effort
survives, it is important that Atheists
rear the upcoming generation free from
fear-filled religion. Atheists are doing so,
and the beaming young faces of their
children were beacons in our March.
The Atheists who took the Austin
streets were not headliners. They were
dentists, insurance agents, retirees,
truck drivers, postal clerks, writers,
laborers, lawyers, business owners, mechanics, computer programmers. Some
are respected leaders in their communities, and some just ordinary working
stiffs. But together they made headlines
and - more importantly - a point. The
days of discrimination against Atheism
are numbered.
This is the way in which Atheists must
seek any "respectability" they desire by standing up to bigotry, by lawfullybut
firmly countering the craziness called
religion. Legions of closeted or uncloseted Atheist celebrities willdo us no
good if we are unwilling to stand up for
our own rights day in and day out.
Of course, we would like to see the
day when in-the-closet Atheist celebrities are able to mix and mingle with the
out-of-the-closet hoi polloi. No Atheist
should fear losing social or professional
position because of his nonbelief, whether he is a janitor or a Nobel scientist.
That is what the American Atheist Convention and the Pride March both work
The tragedy of the existing situation
- and it is, indeed, a tragedy - is that
Atheism is the respectable position.
After the ordinary Atheists have won
the field, after Atheism is accepted as
the proper intellectual norm for our and
future generations, celebrities can go
back to their vocations - be they
authors, singers, comedians, scientists
- and continue to keep quiet.
The brave Atheists of the here and
now obviously can, will,and are accomplishing our purposes without their aid.
Page 3

Director's Briefcase

The time to be negative

Are organized Atheists

opposed to prayer at
public events or to the
idea of prayer?
The president of
American Atheists
argues that the Atheist
movement should focus
less on the effects of
religion, and more on
the harm of religion

A graduate of the University of Texas

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

Jon G. Murray
Page 4

The following speech was presented during the Members' Dinner

on April 18, 1992, at the Twentysecond Annual National Convention
of American Atheists.

ou have heard Dr. Madalyn O'Hair

speak on "Atheists: the Next Generation." That next generation includes me and my sister, Ms. Robin
Murray-O'Hair. I am a second generation Atheist, which is a rare breed
among Atheists. I was reared by a single
Atheist parent. The vast majority of
Atheists of whom I know have been
reared in religious homes and have had
to go through an intellectual and sometimes also emotional escape or separation process from the theology of parents or guardians.
Ms. Murray-O'Hair and I were lucky,
in that we were spared that separation
process. We did not have any theological baggage to discard to get on with a
rational life.
As the heads of the American Atheist
movement, following in the wake of Dr.
O'Hair, we have a hard job ahead of us
to guide the movement through the 90s
and into a new century. What can we do
differently than Dr. O'Hair's generation
in terms of organizational or outreach
techniques? That is a tough question.
The picture at present is dismal. Atheist
activism is at an all-time low in this country, down from the freethought revivals
of the 1880sthrough the 1920s.We must
reform the Atheist movement, reshaping it for the 1990s and beyond, or lose
it as it falls by the wayside in the sweep
of historical events.
In order to talk about what needs to
be done now and for the future of organized resistance to theism, we must
learn from what has gone before. We
must take a long, analytical look at the
tactics of a generation of great freethinkers and pioneer Atheists and social
reformers of which Dr. O'Hair was a
. part.
The prior movement in dissent to religion, including American Atheists' preJuly 1992

decessor organizations, focused a large

part of their efforts on definition of
themselves. The great freethought conventions of the turn of the century spent
hours and days wrangling over the definition of an Atheist, or how that differed
from an agnostic. Many earlier conventions of this organization also dwelled
on definition. We have always defined
ourselves as what we did not want to be,
rather than what we were. That is, the
Atheist would point out what he did not
like about the religionist and define
himself as being "not like that."
What evolved out of that definition
process was a movement which was in
dissent to the effects of religion, instead
of being in dissent to the basic tenets of
religious thought. The symptoms of the
irrational theistic thought process are
many in our culture, but to effect a cure
requires treatment of the disease itself
and not merely the symptoms. No
movement in dissent to religion, past or
present, has really taken aim at the
mental disease of religion itself, directly,
head-on. Instead they addressed only
the effects that the disease has wrought
on society.
Let me give you a few examples.
Every prior movement has been
against prayer at city council meetings.
The reason for the opposition was
always that the prayer was "unconstitutional," that is, it "established" religion
through the imprimatur of the state. Not
a word was ever said about the intellectual futilityof the prayer. Did prayer ever
change the outcome of the deliberations
of a single government body? No, of
course not! If prayer has no effect, then
why do it? The root problem is that governmental officials believe that they cannot handle their responsibilities on their
own and need "divine" assistance. Instead of addressing that core issue, the
irrationality of asking the nonexistent to
assist with human decision making,
prayer in government was always challenged on the basis of its being an "establishment of religion." The effect of
government officials having a religious
American Atheist

Once you have reached the Atheist position in your own mind,
you owe it to your fellow travelers on this planet
to do something to try to make it easier
for them to become Atheists too.

The next generation of Atheists participated in the Second Atheist Pride

March - with a little help from Dad.

mind-set is that prayers are said at the

opening of their meetings. The prayer itself becomes the issue, not the alleged
necessity or desirability in the minds of
those who are saying it. The effect of
religion, the council prayer, was being
fought, not the cause or reason behind
the call for prayer.
City seals with religious graffiti thereon (slogans, churches, crosses, doves,
etc.) are a placebo placed there to pacify the populations. As long as the
"magic words" are on the city emblem,
the townspeople would believe that they
were protected from "evil." Instead of
challenging that highly irrational premise on which the inclusion of the symbolism was based, countless plaintiffs became ensnared in the web of the courts
and questions of "entanglement," "intent," and "perception of the average
viewer" with regard to the symbols. The
underlying psychological reason for the
religious graffiti's being there in the first
place never came into play. Only the
effect the words or symbols might have
on a nonbeliever, or whether or not any
Austin, Texas

citizen could construe the symbols as

government's endorsement of religion,
was ever discussed.
Once the Pledge of Allegiance was
contaminated with the phrase "under
God," those in dissent to religionattacked
it for placing government on the side of
the church. Government has always
been an ally of the church and vice
versa, in every nation. That is nothing
new. The placement of the god phrase
in the Pledge was the invocation of the
"bogeyman" to remind little minds that
they were being "watched" from above
and that they had better play by the
rules. More specifically to the historical
moment and geopolitics, it was a talisman against the specter of Atheistic
communism. Once again the emphasis
was on the effect, that is, general government support of religion, rather than
. on the irrational cause or justification
for the inclusion of god language in the
Pledge in the first place.
The swearing of an oath in court, on
a Bible, is an offense to the unbeliever.
That practice was challenged with the
desired end being the establishment of
'an alternative truth-telling formula sans
the G-word, not the elimination of the
process altogether. But in fact, the ori-

gin of the oath process was in primitive

ritual. That origin was never allowed to
be brought into the discussion, only the
effect that an alternative oath might
have on the taker's ability to testify. The
proper question should have been "why
have an oath at all?" Ifthe answer to that
question is "because of religious superstition," then the oath process should
be done away with altogether, instead of
the Atheist fighting to be included in it in
a different way than the theist.
Religious ceremonies in the public
schools were fought because they
offended the sensibilities of the nonreligious or those of a minority style of
religion. Never a mention was made of
the harmful psychological effect of
teaching children to seek outer direction from an ethereality rather than being urged to rely on their own intellect
and inner personal strengths. The target
of the Atheist's ire was the uncomfortableness of nonparticipation in an event
in which his peers seemed content,
rather than the moral being taught all
the participants through the medium of
the event. That moral was that man
cannot achieve on his own but must
seek "divine" guidance to be successful.
The Atheist was reacting to the effect of

The capitol of Texas was alive with Atheists during the Atheist Pride March on April
18, 1992. The March was sponsored by American Atheists.
July 1992

Page 5

Atheists have always been accused of espousing a negative philosophy.

We are told that we are "against" religion and that we are not "for"
anything. We are free from religion and that freedom has earned us the
right to be negative whenever we speak of religion.

As president of American Atheist Veterans, Madalyn O'Hair made sure that Pride
March spectators were aware of the patriotic service of Atheists. She served in the
Second World War in the Women's Army Corps as a commissioned officer.

the prayer on him, rather than the reason for its inclusion into the school day.
Prior movements in dissent to religion, as well as focusing on definition
and jousting with the effects of religious
thought, also focused on individual
introspection. What I mean by that is
that much time was devoted to the telling and retelling of the personal stories
of each member of the group on "how
I came not to believe" rather than "how
I could convince others not to believe."
Members wanted to render their confessions of the circumstances which had
brought them, personally, to give up religion. Meanwhile the entire point of having an organization, reaching out to help
others find their way out of religion as
well, fell by the wayside. Think about
this for a moment. Ifnothing you do during your lifeas an Atheist diminishes the
effect of religion on our culture, even a
little bit, then why bother? What is the
point of being in dissent to religion ifyou
do not act upon those convictions?
What is the point of any of you as individuals reaching the intellectual position
of Atheism ifattaining that state of mind
Page 6

does not move you to try to help others

reach the same conclusions? Once you
have reached the Atheist position in
your own mind, you owe it to your fellow travelers on this planet to do something to try to make it easier for them to
become Atheists too. True enough,
each of you can recite the litany of perils
you faced along the road to becoming
an Atheist, but it does no good for you
to do so just to other Atheists. The question is, have you helped one other person come to the end of that road more
smoothly by avoiding the potholes into
which you might have stepped? We
must stand upon our Atheism and from
that base reach out into the culture to
move it away from the irrationality of
I have grown tired of attending gatherings in Europe and the United States
and watching, primarily, old men sit
around and pass resolutions in lieu of
action. Our movement has been primarily male for more than two hundred
years. Dr. O'Hair was a rare example of
a woman speaking out against religion.
The old male guard of the American
July 1992

freethought movements of the 1950s

looked askance at a female protagonist.
Women have been the traditional carriers of religion, passing it from one generation to the next,
The resolutions passed by these old
groups were characteristically unrealistic ones. They reminded me of pledges
made during a church fund drive or public broadcasting telethon which were
uncollectible once the frenzy of the
moment turned to the calm of reckoning. A just simile would be to call those
resolutions the "prayers" of the faithless. If the assemblage of grey heads
could write down and sign their names
to their fondest hopes for one effect of
religion or the other to wither away before they did, the meeting would be declared a success.
We need young blood in our movement. That is why I always make time
for students. If a student from any
nearby university in Austin calls and
wants information for a term paper, or
an interview for a class project, I set

Robin Murray-O'Hair,
the youngest
member of the family, was at the head of
the Pride March.

aside often more important items to

gather up information or to point an inquiring mind in the right direction. If we
cannot attract the young, who willcarry
on when we all grow old together?
The movements which have gone before have been extremely concerned
with their images: "How can we be
American Atheist

It is time that we spoke directly against religious ideas

and let the chips fall where they may. If that is negativity, then we should be
proud to be negative. Yes, we are against the concept of living to die,
getting through life as best we can to reach the glory of death. That's sick!
against religion, but in a nice way?"
They wished to be thought of by the
theist as a friend, a buddy, a pal- someone who just had a different point of
viewbut who was not, in any way, a challenge to the belief systems of the sincerely religious. The most opprobrious
adjective that could be hurled at an
Atheist, agnostic, or freethinker by one
of his fellowswas that he was "abrasive."
It would be unseemly to ruffle the
feathers of a theist because it might
besmirch the good name and reputation
of Atheists everywhere. The efforts
against the irrationality of religion were
carried forth with all the viciousness of
Mary Poppins. I have always thought
that many who joined the various movements in opposition to religion were not
Atheists at all- not in the way my sister
and I are. I think that they could never
really and fully sever the umbilical cord
that tied them to religious ideas. To
come down hard on religionists would
have been tantamount to criticizing a
part of themselves, that little voice that
kept telling them that perhaps they
might be wrong and that mother was
right, that there was a god.
One was required to walk a tightrope
so that criticism of religion remained forever separate and distinct from criticism
of the individual who claimed to be religious. That is "soul thinking." One cannot separate a person from the positions or philosophies he espouses. It is
a religious game people play to say that
you can "hate the sin but love the
sinner." If people attach themselves to
the idea of, say, racism as an acceptable
concept, they are guilty of misjudgment
or of being racists and not some invisible entity like the infamous Harvey the
rabbit standing by their sides. Iwillnever
forget one particular time that Iappeared
on television with a Roman Catholic
priest. He strode unto the set and thrust
his hand out to me. I refused to shake it.
He was so shaken up that he could hardly speak for the first few minutes of the
program. I would not shake hands with
him because that is a sign of respect and

than the sheets in a brothel when it

came to calls for much-needed funding. Another current of faith was in
the ability of science to win out in the
end. Even if the movement did nothing to slay the dragon of religion, science would disprove all the assumptions of the faithful one by one and in
the end triumph like the proverbial
white knight. We know that this was
and still could be a fatal assumption.
Irrationality has always dominated
the rational. One can see this in interpersonal relationships. The rational,
calm, collected, thinking partner
most often succumbs to the irrational, hysterical, impulsive one and
goes along to avoid further turmoil.
The former Soviet Union is a demonstration of the dominance of irrationality.The people of the U.S.S.R. needed
generations of education out of religion to make the transformation
Grand Marshall Jon Murray stirs the Pride
from a heavily theistic Russia to an
March crowd to a rousing cheer.
Atheistic Soviet Union.
It is time now, after realizing what
I do not respect merchants of religion, we have been through as a movement in
who teach that foolishness to young and generations past, to hear something
old. The local Chapter of American
from the next generation. At the culmiAtheists in that city nearly broke up that nation of today's Pride March, as we all
night with anger over the fact that I had stood in front of the Texas state capitol,
failed to shake hands with that priest on Robin Murray-O'Hair said something
television. I could criticize the religion he that rang true to my ears. She said that
peddled, but I was not allowed to criti- it was time to be negative. Atheists have
cize the man for peddling it.
always been accused of espousing a
There was also an underpinning of negative philosophy. We are told that we
"faith" in the movements opposed to re- are "against" religion and that we are
ligion, that the means for outreach and not "for" anything. We are free from religrowth would be provided "if there was gion and that freedom has earned us the
a need." Faith is a strange word to apply right to be negative whenever we speak
to a nonreligious group, but I know no of religion. It is time that we spoke diother that fits the situation so well. This rectly against religious ideas and let the
theme is replete in the newsletters and chips fall where they may. If that is negother publications of various groups. It ativity, then we should be proud to be
took two forms, "the members would negative. Yes, we are against the conalways come through" when there was cept of living to die, getting through life
a need for this or that, or "things will as best we can to reach the glory of
work out in the long run." This is a reli- death. That's sick! We don't need to be
gious concept of "God willprovide," and "forgiven" by anything or anyone other
we must now recognize it as such. As an then our fellow men and women whom
Atheist leader Ihave had to face the real- we may have wronged. We can deride
ity of being turned down more often the idea of life after death, of the "soul,"

Austin, Texas

July 1992

Page 7

If a former Ku Klux Klan member

can run on the Republican ticket in the South,
then of what are the Atheists afraid?

or of sin (original or otherwise), or of

"virgin births." All of the fantasy of religion needs to be pegged for what it is,
hogwash. When you see a priest in his
medieval costume, laugh at him; he deserves it. When you see a nun similarly
attired, laugh at her too. Married to
Jesus Christ, that's absurd.
All of you here tonight must take on
a new mind-set for activist Atheism.
Don't ask how this, or any other, organization can serve you. Ask how you
can help it and in so doing help your
community. There is an urgent need to
make information available to the masses
on the nonnecessity of religion. We
must be ready to encourage those who
have come on their own to doubt any
aspect of religious teaching and at the
same time try to plant the seeds of that
first doubt in others.
To do this we all need to become fundamentalist Atheists.
It is time that we become involved in
the schools. The religious have seen the
schools as a fertile proselytizing and recruitment ground for many years. There,
young people are held captive by the
state in buildings six hours a day. The
churches have tried every angle to feed
religion to these waiting minds. The
Atheist community has stood idle thinking that science courses would be
enough. Not so. The religious are moving rapidly into positions on school
boards and textbook selection committees. They must be opposed each step
of the way. The ideas of creationism and
censorship have already found their
way into the administrations of many
school districts.
It is time for us to get into government. We can no longer sit and bemoan
what government is doing to us, as a
minority. If you don't like what the government is doing on separation of state
and church issues or civil rights for
Atheists - replace it. That is just what
the religious right set out to do in the
1980s and they proved that they could
do it. The politicians have played to
them ever since. We are 10 percent of
Page 8

the nation's population and we can be a

powerful political force if we can come
to realize our own strength. We must
know what we want and how to get it.
Witness the actions of Pat Robertson's
troops within the Republican party
structure. They show up, they volunteer, they get into position, and when
the time comes for a vote on a policy
here or a platform there, the Christian
concepts rear their ugly heads and afterward the majority of the party wonders
how those concepts came up for adoption. The Christian Coalition knows
how, simply by being there instead of being apathetic. There is no reason that an
open Atheist cannot run for public office. If you are otherwise qualified, your
name cannot be kept off the ballot. If a
former Ku Klux Klan member can run
on the Republican ticket in the South,
then of what are the Atheists afraid?
In the courts we need to change strategy. It is futile to keep beating our heads
against a brick wall in the federal court
system. More than two-thirds of all the
federal judges in the country are Reagan
appointees who are of the mind-set that
separation of state and church means
only that government is not to interfere
with religion. We must develop a state
court strategy of litigation under the
provisions of state constitutions. The
battle over legal access to abortions has
been thrown by the federal courts into
a state-by-state fight, and I have no reason to believe that future federal cases
in the state/church separation area will
not do the same. We need to prepare to
fight a grass roots, state-by-state battle.
One of the biggest mistakes we have
made in the past is to take on incompetent, naive, immature legal counsel.
Most of the attorneys who have represented the Atheist movement in the past
twenty years have been those who graduated at the bottom of their class and
who were not fully convinced on any
issue litigated of the merit of the case.
We need to be represented by counsel
who are with us all the way, understand
the principles in question, and have a
July 1992

desire to win. We cannot merely make

do with second-strings any longer. If we
cannot afford to hire the best counsel
we can find, we should simply get out of
the litigation business.
Publishing has been the mainstay of
Atheist movements for more than two
hundred years. Books, over time, have
made more people Atheists than any
other outreach. We must keep up that
tradition of publishing. The problem has
been primarily distribution. There have
been sufficient Atheist writers, but their
works have reached a very limited audience. Rank and fileAtheists like those of
you who are here tonight can be a grass
roots army of salespersons for Atheist
literature. Just about a thousand libraries in the entire nation have but one
Atheist book or periodical in their collections. We need to change that statistic. Every library in every community
has religious books and periodicals
without stocking the other side of the
coin. It is possible to get our books into
libraries; it is possible to distribute them;
and it is even possible to break into the
main line publisher works. Some of my
essays from the American Atheist are in
diversity of opinion texts for high schools
and colleges.
In short, with any activist Atheist outreach, the key thing to remember is not
to lose by default to the religious. Atheists constantly do because they do not
volunteer and take advantage of opportunities. The religious folks are willingto
speak up for their belief systems, volunteer, and be present when it counts to
make their voices heard or get their
materials in place. We need to be willing
and able to do the same.
In closing I want to say that Atheism
willnot die with the next generation beyond Madalyn O'Hair. I am living proof
of that, and Ms. Murray-O'Hair stands
ready to carryon when I no longer can.
The next generation is here, ready, willing, and able, but we can't do it without
your help. Thank you for listening and
now to the after-dinner entertainment.
American Atheist

Ask A.A.

The Bible and abortion

I believe the Bible contains a passage
which condones or sanctions abortion,
although Ihave been unable to locate
the chapter and verse on this, either in
The Bible Handbook or in The Bible
Contradicts Itself.
Now that the abortion issue is heating
up, Ithink a valuable weapon for free
choice would be such a citation, and I
would be grateful if you could help me
on this.

nant, thus causing the death of the

fetus? If so, what do we do about the
great god Jehovah who killed we know
not how many pregnant women in the
"Flood"? What about the pregnant
women in Sodom and Gomorrah when
he wiped out those cities? What about
his orders in 2 Kings 15:16for the Jews
to rip open the pregnant women with
their swords as they conquered the

Leaving the church

Charles Patterson

In "Letters to the Editor," readers give

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

Austin, Texas

We have found no passages in the

Christian bible which we could call
"pro-choice" as meant by today's activists.
The Mosaic law of the Old Testament makes no direct mention of abortion, that is, a termination of a pregnancy which is deliberately induced by
the mother or on her behalf. In one Old
Testament passage, an accidental miscarriage is not treated as a "murder" of
the fetus - Exod. 21:22 states, "If men
strive, and hurt a woman with child, so
that her fruit depart from her, and yet
no mischief follow: he shall be surely
punished, according as the woman's
husband shall lay upon him; and he
shall pay as the judges determine."
Such an incident was only considered
murder if the mother died: "And if any
mischief follow, then thou shalt give life
for life." This, however, does not relate
to an intentional abortion.
The Jews rely on Gen. 9:6 which
states that "Whoso sheddeth man's
blood, by man shall his blood be shed."
An abortion under this biblical verse is
viewed as feticide under Noahide laws.
Eccl. 11:5 is more obscure. "As thou
knowest not what is the way of the
spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the
womb of her that is with child: even so
thou knowest not the works of God
who maketh all."
There is another related issue: is it
feticide to kill a woman who is pregJuly 1992

About fifteen years ago, in 1976, I left

the Episcopal church to become a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Association. The Episcopal church was the
Christian denomination into which Iwas
born and raised. While I left their denomination back in 1976, I am not sure
they would have stricken my nan -e off
their registers.
I once asked Mr. Don Sanders, the
director of American Gay and Lesbian
Atheists, about pursuing this subject. I
remember that he told me he had removed his own name from his former
Christian denomination by writing them
and requesting that they remove his
name. However, Iam unsure as to how
I would go about doing this with the
Episcopal church. Of course, Iwould be
informing them about the removal of my
name from their denomination's register of non-communicants, as Iam (and
have been for the last eight years) a
member of American Atheists.
Might American Atheists know how I
would go about having my name removed from the Episcopal church? The
last Episcopal church Iattended was not
far from where Ilive now.
Henning Fernstrom
To rid yourself of the onus of church
membership, you must write to both the
Episcopal church in which you were
baptized and the one you last attended
as "a communicant member." All you
need to state is that you want removed
Page 9

Church Membership
"full and confirmed"

Assemblies of God
Disciples of Christ
Episcopal church
Evangelical Lutheran

Statistics from Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, 1991 (Nashville:

Abingdon Press, 1991).

from any of its records, active or dormant. You should, however, advise
them that you have left religion behind,
else they will console themselves with
the idea that you have simply gone to
another denomination and that you are
really still a Christian.
All of the churches count persons
whom they designate as "members"
and "non-current" members. They also
designate a certain class as "inclusive
members" as opposed to "full or confirmed members." For the last seventysix years, beginning in 1916, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the
United States has put out annual reports
of church statistics. The last issued,
that of 1991, is titled Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, 1991. Its
statistics rely on the last reports received, such as:

Last report

Armenian Church
of America . . . . . . . . . . ..
Greek Orthodox
Diocese . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Polish National
Catholic Church
Progressive National Baptist


The difference between "inclusive"

and ''full or confirmed" membership is
enlightening also. Take a look at figures
right out of the mouths of the churches
Page 10

themselves in the accompanying chart

"Church Membership."
It is obvious that the lying is tremendous. But the churches are unabashed
in adding this all up to make claims of
their political and cultural power. The
publications from the 1930s, the 1950s,
even the 1970s, were more open, but
now the churches are becoming more
sophisticated in their deceits.
As long as churches can give puffed
figures of membership, the better they
are able to influence government.
If you have an inclination to get out of
church records, do it!Everyone should.

Atheism in a crisis
Here are a couple of questions that
have been on my mind for a while:
1. Was religion inevitable in human
history? Could we have evolved without
it? It is disappointing to think that we are
a flawed species in this regard and that,
if intelligent life ever evolved elsewhere,
there might have been species that managed to develop without ever needing
recourse to the supernatural.
2. I suspect that somewhere in the
corner of many an Atheist's mind (especially "first generation" types) there
lurks an argument that goes something
like this: "Yeah, sure, it's easy to think
you're an Atheist when things are going
fairly well for you, when nothing major
has happened to you yet, when you
haven't had to 'face your mortality.' But
what if you were to experience some
July 1992

personal crisis or devastating event?"

How would you respond to such fears
of "getting religion" or reverting back to
it during a stressful situation?
Les Leist
1. Homo sapiens appears to be an
intellectually flawed species, yes. The
more our ability to reason developed,
the more we mired in supernatural
thought. The stunning cowardice which
resulted in the refusal to examine ideas
is a part of us yet as humans throughout
the world cling to the irrational.
As to any species which managed to
develop without recourse to the supernatural, every animal with a brain
knows more - vis-a-vis religion - than
does the human species, for none of
them countenance it. That makes us
wonder how, and why, our own species
started on its destructive behavior. As
you surmise, so do we, that it must be
a flaw in the ability to ideate.
Yet that conclusion leaves us with
the fact that there are Atheists. Some
of us got out of the trap. Perhaps it is
like carrying a gene for left-handedness
or blue eyes. All we can do is speculate.
2. Atheists have faced personal crises
or devastating events, as they must,
head on, relying on the resources at
hand. Those who have faltered, turned
to god or prayer, quickly realize that
there is no remedy in entreating nothing. They are additionally, then, faced
with the revelation of their own intellectual weakness, which further demoralizes them.
"Facing our mortality" is tough. It is
the ultimate enigma of life, but we have
no choice: individual units of all species
die. Life passes through us to the next
generation. If we cringe with fear, if we
face with bravery, if we grovel to the
unknown, we all still die. Nothing can
alter that inevitable. And, perhaps, in
the last analysis, it really doesn't make
any difference what we think as we
terminate. Death is irrevocable. ~
American Atheist


All about the Convention

he Twenty-second
National Convention of American Atheists was held in Austin, Texas at the Hyatt Regency hotel
over the weekend of April 17, 18, and
19, 1992. The last Annual National
Convention held in Austin, home to
the American Atheist General Headquarters, was back on AprilS through
7 of 1985.
The 1992 Convention was a trendsetting Convention in its own right. In
1987, when the Convention was held
in Denver, Colorado, the premiere
event was the first Atheist Pride March.
All Conventioneers happily took to
the streets of downtown Denver to
march from the' Convention hotel to
the steps of the Colorado Capitol,
where an Atheist Pride Rally was held.
In 1991 it was decided to hold future
Annual National Conventions in state
capitals to make Pride Marches a continuing part of American Atheist Conventions. Thus Atheist Pride March II
was planned as the premiere event of
the 1992 meeting in Austin.
Convention XXII began on Friday,
April 17with the opening of American
Atheists' registration desk staffed by
employees of the General Headquarters and local volunteers. Eager Conventioneers lined up to receive their Convention folders, schedules, and tickets
even before the registration staff was
quite ready to begin.
Next to open was the US. Postal
Temporary Philatelic Station. The US.
Postal Service erected a booth where
Conventioneers could obtain a special,
pictorial postal cancellation
commemorating Convention XXII. American Atheist Press had designed three
cacheted envelopes especially for the
Convention weekend so that those
who desired to take home a piece of
history in the form of the postal cancellation would have a meaningful
medium on which to carry that memory. Board member Walt Wilkinson, a
Austin, Texas

sive display of Atheist and freethought

works, as well as many products and
memorabilia of interest to Atheists
and agnostics. Many of the items are
not available for sale by mail from the
American Atheist Press. Some are
homemade or regional items produced
by members and supporters. At the
end of every Convention, Atheists can
be seen carrying home American Atheist Press shopping bags full of good
reading, fond memories, stimulating
listening, and little badges of expression (in the form of buttons, bumper
stickers, and T-shirts).

Media outreach

Atheists have
a grand old time
in Austin, Texas.
Ton G. Murray
postal worker, first suggested requesting US. Postal Service to issue such a
cancellation for the Conventions. The
cancellations were so well received
that it was decided to ask the local
postal authorities to provide the same
service at all future American Atheist
Conventions. The specially designed
cacheted envelopes from the 1991 and
1992 Conventions,
complete with
postage and cancellation, are still
available from American Atheist Press.
The book and product display also
quickly opened. A feature of every
Convention is a large and comprehenJuly 1992

A Friday morning press conference

is held at every American Atheist Convention. The news media in the Convention city are always eager to cover
the event, and the press conference
serves as an orientation session for
them to the coming weekend of Atheist activities and personalities. The
Convention XXII press conference was
co-chaired by Robert 1. Sherman, national media coordinator for American
Atheists, and Jon G. Murray, the organization's president. The conference
was well attended by representatives
of news-gathering organizations from
across the state of Texas. Many Convention speakers were in attendance
as well, in order to be introduced to
the media and to have the opportunity
to say a few words in preview of their
weekend talks. American Atheists had
placed advertising for Convention
XXII in the Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas newspapers a couple
of weeks prior to the event.
The video screening room, another
regular Convention feature, opened on
Friday for a weekend schedule of a
variety of episodes of the "American
Atheist Television Forum." The "Forum"
is seen on more than 120 cable systems
throughout the United States each
week. Regardless of what else was goPage 11

ing on during the Convention weekend, a peek into the video screening
room would find a group of Conventioneers watching a "Forum" program.
This Convention service is particularly valuable to those who live in
communities in which the "Forum" is
not aired and who may have never
seen any of the broadcasts, which now
number over six hundred programs.
A look at the GHQ
That Convention XXII was held in
Austin, home to the national headquarters of American Atheists, afforded
many Conventioneers the opportunity
to take guided tours of those facilities.
Vans provided by American Atheists
left the Hyatt hourly all day Friday to
take Conventioneers to the American
Atheist General Headquarters. There,
staff member Scott Smith gave a quick
and friendly overview of the internal
workings of the national headquarters.
The General Headquarters is normally open only to visitors who are
card-carrying members of American
Atheists. However, on this special first
day of the Convention XXII weekend,
the tours were available to all Conventioneers, members and non-members
alike. So enthused were they by the
sight of the GHQ, that more tours had
to be arranged on Sunday.
While the tours were taking place,
the board of directors of the American
Atheist General Headquarters affiliated corporations held one of their
semi-annual meetings. Afterwards,
the board members continued their
discussion over a private luncheon in
the Hyatt's rooftop restaurant overlooking downtown Austin.

Special meerrngs
On Friday afternoon, beginning at
3:00 P.M., a series of meetings and seminars were held. The first was that of
American Gay and Lesbian Atheists
(AGLA), co-chaired by founders Don
Sanders and the late Mark Franceschini.
AGLA, headquartered
in Houston,
Texas, is an independent cooperating
Atheist organization. The guest speaker
was Texas State Representative Glen
Page 12

Maxey, Texas' only openly-Gay elected

official. Rep. Maxey updated the gathering on the wins and losses of Gay/
Les bian -related legislation in the
Texas legislature. The AGLA meeting
also featured Mr. Steve Dean, local
Austin representative of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign
Fund (HRCF).The HRCF is the nation's
largest and best-funded Lesbian/Gay
rights lobbying organization.
Dean briefed the gathering on the important legislation affecting Gay /
Lesbian rights on the national level.
He also talked about how Gays and
Lesbians can make their voices heard
in the hallowed halls of Congress.

the 1990 American Atheist Convention, held in Saint Petersburg, Florida,

this group is open to all Atheists who
are veterans of any armed services.
The principle discussion at this year's
meeting revolved around outreach
strategies and internal structure for
this newly emerging voice for Atheist
veterans. The group was formed in reaction to the requirement of a belief in
a god as a prerequisite to membership
in the nation's major veterans' groups.
This leaves Atheist veterans out in the
cold. The veterans at this session were
living proof that there were indeed
Atheists to be found in foxholes.

The foibles of Christians

German Atheist editor Ursula Dunckern

gave Conventioneers the background of
the religious hatred in Yugoslavia.

Standing in the halls

Simultaneous to the AGLA meeting, American Atheist magazine columnist Frank R. Zindler presented a
lecture on "The Wild, Wild World of
Creationism." Mr. Zindler's talk was
standing room only. In fact, a small
crowd gathered outside the room to
listen as best they could from the hallway. Mr. Zindler is one of the most
popular of regular Convention speakers. Informative and witty, he casts an
intellectual spell over his audience,
which is not broken until his final
word. The text of his remarks can be
found in this issue.
Next the American Atheist Veterans meeting got underway. Founded at
July 1992

Two very outspoken Atheists then

held forth with simultaneous seminars. Conrad Goeringer, Arizona Atheist activist, presented "What Do You
Say to a Naked Christian?" This was a
satirical look at the foibles, past and
present, of the prevaricators of Christianity. Mr. Goeringer wields a jocular
but devastatingly accurate analysis of
various aspects of organized religion
in his presentations, often complete
with slide shows. His remarks are reproduced in the Convention section of
this issue. After a break, Mr. Goeringer beguiled a new audience with a
talk on "Satan's Underground: The
Myth Lives On." A critical look at the
claims that a national satanic movement has risen up to defile America's
youth, this lecture was an update on
"Bimbos for Satan," his feature article
in the May 1989 American Atheist.
Meanwhile Dr. Arthur F.Ide, author
of Unzipped: The Popes Bare All and
dozens of other works on the history
of the church, presented "The Closet
Crimes of Christianity" to a second
group of Conventioneers. Dr. Ide has
been a regular speaker at American
Atheist Conventions since 1987. It is
well known to scholars of the history
of organized religion that Christianity
gained power by the sword to a far
greater degree than through mere intellectual persuasion. Few do a better
job of explicating that history than Dr.
Ide. Both Mr. Goeringer's and Dr. Ide's
lectures where filled to capacity.
American Atheist

Atheism in Germany
Since 1976, American Atheists has
proudly sponsored the visit of representatives of a foreign Atheist group
to each Convention in a spirit of international cooperation. The guests for
Convention XXII were leaders from
the German group Bund Gegen Anpassung (Alliance Against Conformity],
formerly Bunte Liste Freiburg. Early
Friday evening, Dr. Manfred Histor of
West Germany presented a lecture on
"Silencing a Minority: The German
Atheist Experience." Dr. Histor is a
member of the Freiburg Citizens' Committee against Berufsverbote,' a working group of the Bund Gegen Anpassung, a political organization based in
southern Germany which promotes
an anticlerical outreach program of
university lectures and publications
based on the views of Marx, Freud,
and Wilhelm Reich, toward the aim of
a classless and necessarily religionfree society.

to allow his listeners to experience the

eloquence of the orator as brilliantly
as Ingersoll's nineteenth-century
audiences did. A member of American
Atheists since 1984, Mr. Francis makes
his home in Alaska. He has been in the
theatre for forty-one years as both an
actor and director.
After the "Lifers" returned from
their cruise and finished their dinner,
an evening welcome reception for all
Conventioneers began, with "Dave's
Trio" providing dance music for the
occasion. That welcome party went on
until the wee hours of the morning as
Atheists from all across the nation got
the chance to mix it up socially with
others of their ilk.

Lifers sail away

Each year at Convention time, Life
Members of American Atheists are
treated to a special banquet of their
own. At Convention XXII, "Lifers" as
we like to call them, boarded the Lonestar paddle wheel riverboat for a sunset cruise on the Colorado river which
flows right behind the Hyatt hotel.
The weather had been rainy and overcast, off and on, all day, but the rain
stopped once the riverboat was underway. Those on board sipped cocktails
and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres as a prelude to their elegant dinner.
Meanwhile, back at the Hyatt, actor
William Boyd Francis brought alive
the fire and oratory of the "Great Agnostic," Robert Green Ingersoll, in a
presentation of some of his most stirring words in "The Laws of Moses." Mr.
Francis delivered the one-man drama
in full costume, dressed as Ingersoll,

'The politically motivated professional

bans in West Germany during the 1970s
and 1980s under the dominance of the
Social Democrats, led by Chancellors
Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt.
Austin, Texas

Many new friends were made during the

Members' Fete.

The first day of each Convention

weekend, Friday, is normally devoted
to business meetings, short seminars,
and entertainment. The real meat of
Convention activities takes place on
Saturday and Sunday. Most Conventioneers are traveling to the Convention on Friday, and many need to beat
a hasty retreat back home on Sunday
afternoon or evening so that they can
return to their jobs on Monday. The
most important Convention events,
therefore, must always be scheduled
for Saturday or the Sunday morning or
July 1992

early afternoon of a Convention weekend. So it was with Convention XXII.

Let the Pride March begin

Jon Murray, president of American
Atheists, officially opened Convention XXII on Saturday, April 18 at 8:30
A.M. The usual introductions
of invited guests, members of the boards of directors, local organizational officials,
and an overall orientation
of the
weekend's events was presented.
The first order of business was the
giving of directions and instructions
to participants for the Atheist Pride
March to the Texas State Capitol
which was to end with a rally on the
Capitol steps. The Pride March was set
to begin at lO:30 A.M. sharp. Signs for
the March had to be passed out to one
and all; the marshalls
had to be
assigned, introduced, and given their
brightly colored sashes; Conventioneers needed to be assembled in front of
the hotel for distribution of heliumfilled, "Atheist Pride" balloons. Disabled marchers were assigned to rented
convertibles so they too could participate. Led by a contingent of American
Atheist Veterans, the marchers, more
than three hundred strong, set out for
the walk north up Congress Avenue
through downtown Austin to the
steps of the Texas Capitol. The marchers filled multiple blocks of Congress
Avenue as they made their way to the
Capitol, shouting slogans of Atheist
pride as they went. Onlookers were
sparse on the sidelines, but the media
were out in full force.
Weather is always a consideration
when any outdoor event is planned.
An aside is appropriate here on that
point. At all past Conventions, the
"luck" of American Atheists with regard to weather conditions for its outdoor activities has been uncanny. That
tradition held fast for Convention
XXII. Not alone did the rainy skies
abate their gloom for the "Lifers" predinner cruise, but the foggy and overcast skies of Saturday morning only
served to shield the marchers from the
hot Texas sun until they reached the
Capitol grounds. Then the sun parted
the mist for a fine setting for the AthePage 13


ist Pride Rally. On Sunday morning,

April 19, the clouds returned and
poured heavy rains on all of the Austin "Easter" service churchgoers while
American Atheist Conventioneers enjoyed their magnificent and dry brunch
at the Hyatt.
When all the marchers had reached
the Capitol grounds, they gathered
around a small riser and portable podium. The Rally speakers were Robert
Sherman; Don Sanders, founder of
American Gay & Lesbian Atheists;
Robin Murray-O'Hair, editor of the
American Atheist; Chris Allen, Utah
representative of American Atheists;
Jon G. Murray; and Dr. Madalyn OHair,
founder of American Atheists. The
Rally presentations lasted for about
one hour, with many of the marchers
releasing their balloons. Media coverage of the Rally speakers was heavy,
and the point was made that "Atheists
are citizens too!" and should not be
ignored by politicians. Excerpts of the
Pride March and Rally were carried
nationally on Cable News Network.
After the Rally, Conventioneers had
free time for lunch as they made their
way back down the sidewalks of Congress Avenue and across the Colorado
River to the Hyatt hotel. Once back in
the Hyatt, the afternoon session was
devoted to a series of speakers.

Speakers galore
First up was investigative journalist
Russ Bellant. Mr. Bellant is the author
of The Coors Connection and Old
Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party. His work has appeared in
the Texas Observer, the New York
Times, and the National Catholic Reporter. He spoke on "The Newest Religious Right," detailing those in
power in the right wing religious
movements in this country and outlining part of their nefarious agenda.
Then Dr. Madalyn O'Hair, the most
famous Atheist in the world, came to
the podium. She presented a talk on
"Atheists, The Next Generation." The
text of her remarks is reproduced in
this issue. Dr. O'Hair was followed by
the other half of the contingent from
Germany, Ursula Dunckern, editor of
Page 14


the Ahriman-Verlag, the publishing

house of the Bund Gegen Anpassung.
Ms. Dunckern spoke on "The Yugoslavian Auschwitz and the Vatican."
Her talk dealt with the massacres of
thousands of orthodox Serbs and with
the responsibility of the Vatican in
Ustasha-Croatia during World War II.
The final speaker of the afternoon
was attorney-at-law Brian M. Barnard
of the Utah Legal Clinic, who presented a lecture on "State Court Litigation
of Separation of State and Church
Issues." The current climate for litigation in the federal court system, in the
wake of eight years of Reagan era judicial appointments, presents such an
impenetrable gauntlet for advocacy
groups that many are switching to the
use of state and local courts and reliance upon state constitutional provisions instead of the federal First Amendment. Mr. Barnard currently is taking
several state/church separation cases
through the Utah court system for
Society of Separationists,
Inc., the
legal arm of the American Atheist
GHQ. His remarks can be found in
this issue's Convention section.
Once all the speakers made their
presentations and a break was had,
members of American Atheists gathered on the Hyatt's lovely terrace overlooking the Colorado river for the
Members' Fete. Strolling minstrels of
"The Europa Trio" serenaded the members through their cocktail hour and
on into the ballroom during their
annual banquet. This year's banquet
featured an Italian buffet, which
turned out to be the best tasting and
most attractively presented meal yet
had at an American Atheist Convention. The dinner speaker was Jon G.
Murray, whose remarks are reproduced in his column in this issue.
The member's banquet is also the
setting for an annual awards ceremony for American Atheists. Every
year the founder, officers, and members of the boards of the associated
Atheist corporations attempt to acknow ledge the efforts of a few of the
many fine Atheists around the country who contributed to the organizations' success during the prior year.
July 1992

Once the members had finished

their meal, and all the awards had
been presented, they joined the rest of
the Conventioneers for the Saturday
evening dance with music provided by
the "Janet Lynn Band." The party went
on until the early morning hours on
Some of the party-weary Conventioneers were able to sleep in a little on
Sunday, April 19 before arriving at a
wonderful buffet brunch in the Hyatt's
lounge. The Hyatt has a lounge area
with twinkle-lit trees and a babbling
brook running through the middle. It
was the perfect setting for a scrumptious brunch. Many stalwart members
of American Atheists, however, had
started off the day with a member's
business meeting at 8:30 A.M.

Ci'rcrrmc.iaion, charity,
and a last rn irruee party
The Sunday afternoon session got
off the ground with Marilyn Fayre
Milos, R.N. presenting "Body Ownership Rights of Children, the Circumcision Question." Ms. Milos is the
founder and executive director of the
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
(NOCIRC) and co-founder of the International Symposia on Circumcision. Her informative talk, which ineluded video of live circumcision rituals, is reproduced in this issue. Next
up was your editor, Robin MurrayO'Hair, who spoke on "Atheism and
Charity." She answered the insult
often hurled at the Atheist community that religion does fine charity
work and good for the community
while Atheists do not. Then actor William Boyd Francis rendered a repeat
performance of his "The Laws of Moses,"
as Robert Ingersoll, for those who had
missed him on Friday night.
Jon G. Murray offered formal closing remarks and thanked the many individuals responsible for making Convention XXII the grand success which
it had been. That was not the final end
to the weekend, however. A farewell
party was held that evening for those
who would be staying on until Monday, April 20. Then, on Monday mornAmerican Atheist

ing, a bus full of good-to-the-last-event
Conventioneers loaded up for the trip
eighty miles south to San Antonio for
a visit to the historic Alamo and other
sites of interest in one of Texas's oldest
and most scenic cities.

American Atheist Conventions are

wonderful weekend oases for those
who have found all the joys of a lifestyle free from religion. You are cordially invited to come and join other
Atheists from around the country at a

Outreach Award
To American Atheists member
Wayne Aiken of Raleigh, North
Carolina, for his successful introduction and continuation of the
"American Atheist Forum" on North
Carolina cable access television.
The "American Atheist Forum"
could not continue without the
efforts of many local At heists. Mr.
Aiken was honored for his work in
a right-wing religious stronghold,
the home state of the infamous Sen.
Jesse Helms.
Dedication Award
To American Atheists member
Dave Kong for his consistency of
support for and dedication to the
San Francisco Chapter of American
Atheists. Although American Atheists, Inc. was forced by monetary
reality to phase out its local Chapter
network at the end of 1991, Dave
Kong would never call it quits. He
continued to press hard for the civil
rights of Atheists and state/church
separation in the San Francisco Bay
area. Mr. Kong volunteers many
hours of his time each week to the
promotion of Atheist ideas.
Outstanding Member Worker
Two of this category of awards
were given out this year, both presented by Conrad Goeringer, Arizona Director of American Atheists. The awards went to members
Scott H. Ketcher and Orin R. "Spike"
Tyson for their dedicated and loyal
service in the Tucson, Arizona,
area toward the furtherance of the

Austin, Texas


aims and purposes of American

Atheists, Inc. Stirred to action by
Mr. Goeringer, these two dynamos
have kept the "A-word" on the lips
of most of the residents of southern
Arizona for years. They were both
saluted for energetic
efforts on behalf of all Atheists.
Pioneer Atheist Award
Life Member Lloyd H. Thoren,
now of San Francisco, California,
was presented with this year's Pioneer Award for a quarter century of
devotion to the advancement of
Atheism through his founding of
Dial-an-Atheist services and maintenance of an American Atheist
Museum in Petersburg, Indiana,
from June 1978 to April 1985. "Mr.
T," as he was known for years on his
answering services in Indiana, invented the concept of a Dial-anAtheist service which spread, in
coming years, to a zenith of over
forty lines all over the country. The
American Atheist Museum was the
only institution of its kind in the
United States during its seven-year
tenure in Bible-belt Indiana.
Litigation Award
Brian M. Barnard, attorney at
law, was presented with this award
for his courageous representation
of American Atheist plaintiffs
against overwhelming odds in pioneer state/church litigation on the
state level in the cases of S.O.S., Inc.
et a1. v. Salt Lake City Council;
S.O.S., Inc. v. Board of Education of
Alpine School District; and S.O.S.,
Inc. v. R. Paul Van Dam, Attorney

July 1992

future American Atheist Convention.

Once you have attended, you will be
glad you did. Many first time Conventioneers are so enthralled by the experience that they come back every
year. k

General of Utah. The Salt Lake

City Council case involved that
body opening its sessions with
prayer. The Alpine case concerned
a school district which had prayers
at graduation ceremonies. The case
against the Utah attorney general
was for his use of state funds to assist the government of Providence,
Rhode Island, in defending its practice of having prayers at high school
exercises, which
had been challenged in the case of
Lee v. Weisman. The Mormondominated theocracy of Utah is a
more than difficult place for a
state/church separationist attorney
to exist, much less with Atheist
clients. Mr. Barnard was properly
saluted for his intrepid work.
Meritorious Service Award
Two of this category of awards
were presented to a pair of Austin,
Texas, members of American Atheists. They were Joanne W. Percy and
James M. Guthrie, who were saluted
for their many hours of cheerful
giving of helping hands at the American Atheist GHQ. Both of these individuals have gone out of their
way to provide work at the GHQ on
a regular basis.
Life Membership
Mrs. Ellen Johnson from New Jersey, longtime board of directors
member and former director of the
New Jersey Chapter of American
Atheists, received a complimentary
Life Membership
in American
Atheists, Inc. in recognition of her
many years of dedicated service.

Page 15


Atheists: the next generation

Born on April 13, 1919, Dr, OHair
initiated the Supreme Court case
Murray v. Curlett, which removed
reverential Bible reading and prayer
recitation from the public schools of
our nation in June 1963, She founded
American Atheists in the same year,
Together with CORA she founded
the United World Atheists, sponsor
of the triennial World Atheist Meet.
A champion of freedom of speech,
freedom of assemblage, freedom of
conscience, and the right to be free
from religion, she is known nationally
and internationally
as an Atheist
The following speech was presented on Saturday, April 18, 1992, at the
Twenty-second Annual NlAional Convention of American Atheists.

omeone has given me the title of

a speech I am to make here today. That's the problem with getting old. Someone advises you what to
do and when to do it. The title here is
"Atheism: the Next Generation."
What the hell would I know about
I realize that seers of old would cut
up a sheep's kidney and read the
future from it, or from a birds intestines. Fortune-tellers have always been
big in human culture. As a practical
person, who is a realist before anything else, I can't tell you what is going
to happen later today, much less tomorrow, or a generation from now.
All I know is that as of today, the situation is grim. I can read the signs of
today - and that's all.
Reality, which is to say Atheism, is
under attack in the world - in the entire world. Fantasy is accepted as the
basis of the lives of most people. And
fantasy is abroad in the land. The
American culture is richly flavored
with fantasy: the movie industry, television, the myths and fantasies of capitalism, the entire advertising indusPage 16

Does Atheism have

a future in a nation
which embraces and
promotes fantasy
at every turn?


try, the stock market, what we call politics, the drug culture which transports drug users into a never-never
land of make-believe fantasy, the same
with booze, the lotteries which state
after state now mount in order to surviye financially, the four trilliondollar national debt, the recourse to
the Gulf and other wars, and of course,
underpinning of it all: religion, the
ultimate fantasy.
There are also abroad in the land
several other singularly fantastic
ideas. One is the idea of democracy. It
July 1992

is apparently felt that if people pour

into .the streets and shout, "Democracy, Democracy, Democracy" that
the troubles of any nation will disappear. It's a magic word having the
power that "Open Sesame" had in the
old fairy tales.
I watched with some fascination as
over 'One million Chinese students
gathered in Tiananmen
Square in
Beijing shouting, "Democracy, Democracy." I wondered at the time why
those in power did not have the leaders
of that demonstration
brought to
them. They could have sat them down
at a conference table and said to them,
"China has one billion people it must
feed. Tell me what you would do about
that today. Will standing in the street
screaming, 'Democracy, Democracy'
help? What, exactly, is your solution?"
The same could be said of all of the
so-called satellite countries in Eastern
Europe, and all of the component parts
of the U.S.S.R. What solutions have
been found? By taking to the streets
and yelling "Democracy, Democracy,"
have any basic problems been solved?
Aren't the U.S.S.R. and the Eastern
bloc worse off economically
than they were several years ago? Or is
the call for 24 billion dollars in U.S. aid
a phony one?
Excuse me, but I thought that the
U.S.S.R. collapsed under the burden of
military spending. The economy of
the United States is apparently going
to do the same; it is just taking us a
little longer to get to the complete
But if democracy and god are the
answers What is a democracy? It's supposed
to be a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people
and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodically
held free elections. Let me see the
hands of the idiots in the audience
American Atheist

here who really think that is what
occurs in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter.
I am terrified of "the people." I am
happy to know that they really don't
have the so-called supreme power,
that layers of bumbling politicians are
between them and me.
The people. Let's contemplate that
word for a moment. Over generations,
"the people" have been very carefully
programmed, indoctrinated to think
what they think they think. Their
value systems have been dictated to
them, artificially fastened upon them.
They are told that the nation in which
they live really belongs to them, that
"the voice of the people" is the voice of
god, and they are permitted to stick a
piece of paper in a box once a year as
proof that they are sovereign. They
are hopelessly benighted and gullible.
They submit to any form of coercion
or servitude by tradition, by the preaching of demagogues, by misinformation
thrust upon them by the media.
In this farcical charade called democracy, legislative bodies sit in endless sessions doing nothing but arguing and this is supposed to heal the
world. This is another fantasy. If every
legislative body in the world were disbanded tomorrow, it would probably
be a better place in which to live. In
the United States we have had our federal, that is, our national Congress
meeting now every year for two hundred years, passing thousands and
thousands and thousands of laws - to
what purpose? Add to that the congresses of each state of the Union and
you get some idea of how looney this
whole thing is. Why do we need that
many laws? What is the purpose of
I don't know. I have studied the phenomena of government for years. Every
system of government ever devised in
any era of history has failed. Ours is
failing magnificently today.
What is government? It is a small
group of persons holding simultaneously the principal political executive
offices of a nation, or other political
unit, and responsible for the direction
and supervision of public affairs.
Austin, Texas

The supposed idea is that anyone

can run for public office, the common
man in the street, and if elected, he
will magically be given the knowledge
to run the nation, or the state, or the
county, or the city, or the school board.
But - whether we like it or not human beings are apparently not intelligent enough to govern themselves.
They don't have the brains that a herd
of elephants has. This leaves the earth
and all of its inhabitants in one helluva

it all the more exciting. More Atheists

should want to be involved.
The Supreme Court of the United
States and the Reagan/Bush administrations are in an attack mode against
two previous state/church separation
decisions of the Supreme Court. Those
two are Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973,
and Lemon v. Kurtzman, decided two
years before. In respect to the Lemon
case - and the current administration
and the Supreme Court both feel that
the case is exactly that, a lemon - the
Court put forth a tripartite test for
measuring if the government was involved in state/church
First, the [practice,law, regulation, ruling] must have a secular ... purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be
one that heither advances nor inhibits religion; [third], the [practice] must not foster "an excessive entanglement with religion."
State action violates the Establishment Clause if it fails to satisfy any of the three prongs of
the test.'

mess. Humankind is destroying our

ecosphere as fast as humanly possible.
And someone asks me what the next
generation is going to do?
Drop dead, I hope.
Homo sapiens, I am happy to say, is
an endangered species - and all of its
own doing. When it kills itself, if it
doesn't take everything else with it,
perhaps there will be some chance for
bunny rabbits, field mice, cockroaches,
bamboo trees, blue jays, plankton, or
other living things.
Well. Let's see. I ramble. To return to
the subject of the speech: the next generation of Atheists.
The situation, as it is now, is extremely dangerous. This should make
July 1992

Hardly anyone wants to face the

facts of life. All of the state/church
separation cases filed in the last fifty
years have been filed by private citizens attempting to force the government of the United States to abide by
its Constitution, particularly the First
Amendment thereof. In each instance
an egregious marriage of state and
church had occurred. The government
- wait a minute - the government in
our nation is a small group of undistinguished politicians who rule the
roost. Let's have that clear. They
remain in power by pandering to voter
blocs. And the churches and religious
institutions have a lot of votes to sell.
The name of the game for any hack in
political power is "Don't offend the
Roman Catholics - or the Mormons,
or the Baptists" - or the real estate in-

1Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602; 91 S.Ct.

2105; 29 L.Ed.2d 745 (1971).

Page 17

terests, or certain business interests.
But everyone knows that the religious
bloc is more volatile, more politically
retrogressive, more brutal, more ugly
than any other of the power blocs. But
political hacks need to buy votes by
catering to them. They want to stay in
power. They savor it, like one does a
good wine.
Usually in these cases, the government had been solicited by a church or
a religious institution to give it special
privileges, tax money, or assistance of
some sort. The church or religious institution could not rely upon its own
practitioners to assist it in its declared
aims and went to the government for
a coercive measure, for financial help,
for special consideration, or for a privileged position.
Just exactly what-in-the-hell kind
of government is it that must be sued
in the courts of the land to force it to
bring itself into conformity with the
nation's basic laws? Stop to think of
In a great number of these cases, the
goal of the churches or religious institutions was to capture children - to
reach those of impressionable intellectual age and to destroy their ability to
evaluate that which was to be foisted,
willy-nilly, upon them. The public
schools of the nation have been a
target of religion. Attempts have been
made to introduce ministers, religious
speakers and teachers, Bible classes,
prayers, parents' choice of textbooks,
religious ceremonies, religious songs
in choirs and bands, and religious
books. If nothing else, the Pledge of
Allegiance - corrupted by the addition to it of the phrase "Under God" has been introduced as a required
morning exercise. Conversely there
have been efforts to keep science out
of the public schools, to restrict school
agendas, to place religious nuts on
school boards, and to censor books or
classroom teaching.
How simple some of the assaults
against the public schools have been.
How subtle. How skillful have these
nefarious forces been. Take out chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy,
higher math and make drill teams,
Page 18

bands, basketball, and football the

most important part of public education. Make mindless, ofttimes brutal,
sports the quintessence of education.
And when the female of the species
wanted to become a part of this quagmire of intellectual corruption, cheerleading was introduced.

In a great number of
these cases, the goal
of the churches or
religious institutions
was to capture children
- to reach those
of impressionable
intellectual age
and to destroy their
ability to evaluate that
which was to be foisted,
willy-nilly, upon them.
The public schools
of the nation
have been a target
of religion.
And someone is asking me about
the next generation? It will be further
down the scale of human achievement. The future is here today: an
economy of capitalism more or less
unrestrained; a foreign policy based
on nationalism and chauvinism reinforced by adventuristic militarism;
a social organization of society in
which women continue to be subordinate to men and at most, now, focus
their lives on sexual satisfaction; a
system of education that discourages
analytical thinking; a system of science
which will function only to serve and
support commerce. Meanwhile, there
is and will continue to be the standard
July 1992

suppression of cultural, intellectual,

ethical, or sexual expression.
Have any of you listened to what
currently passes for music? Have any
of you looked at yourselves in the
mirror to see what bimbos you are?
Now I don't happen to be one of
those who revere the Constitution to
such an extent that it is a Holy Writ
that I must follow. The founding
fathers (not the mothers) did a somewhat decent job when they wrote the
thing, but it isn't sacrosanct. There is
a helluva lot wrong with the Constitution. To demand that a nation hew to
all the political ideas promulgated in
1776 is an expression of unrelieved
But we were trying. Hearty, but
damn-fool, individuals challenging
the government to change, forcing it
through court procedures to opt for
the best - this was an era of heroes,
oh! and heroines. I can't forget myself;
I was a part of it and I am a woman.
That heroic age has passed. The window of opportunity has been closed.
That was simple too. Reagan and Bush
appointed new federal judges on local
and appellate levels, right up through
the Supreme Court. To whom or to .
what can one appeal when one discovers aspects of our culture which
are, basically, anti-human? One views
the intellectual
maturation of our
nation and finds that there are many
areas of psychological intimidation,
repressive laws, legal harassments,
monetary reprisals, and - if need be
- raw physical force to restrain any
attempt at change in a cultural system
which is outdated, inefficient, almost
totally inequitable, rotten. There is no
remedy to be had by going to the legislative bodies. That they are corrupt
is to be expected, but what none of us
really understood was that they are
simply inept. They are useless appendages of a time past. They do not, and
cannot be expected to, function in our
new technological age. There is no
remedy to be had by going to the executive branch of government. The governor of the state of Texas, for example,
is well-coiffed; that is her only achievement: she found a good hairdresser.
American Atheist

There is no way out. There is no way
to fix it. What in the hell do you expect
of the next generation? The ties that
bind are more, not less, restrictive.
Throwaway the next generation; introduce it to cocaine, to crack, to gang violence, to mayhem, to murder. Introduce
this current generation to unemployment, to food stamps, to homelessness.
Who the hell cares?
Iudeo-Christianity has taught us a
magnificent lesson. It is called "individual salvation." As the ship of state goes
down, get in your one-man lifeboat and
paddle to an uncertain shore.
We have forgotten that we are pack
animals. We do not understand that we
are elements of a species.
What am I raving about? A case has
been brought to the Supreme Court of
the United States. It was argued in October 1991, and decided at that time. The
decision has been withheld now for over
half a year. It will probably be unleashed
upon us at the end of the Supreme Court
The government of the United States
has asked the Court to find that the
Lemon test for constitutionality of state/
church laws is no longer applicable to
the situations confronted now everywhere throughout the nation. The Bush
administration seeks an accommodation of civic religion. It asks the Court to
approve of "In God We Trust" slogans
printed on our coins and currency, "one
nation under God" intruded into our
Pledge of Allegiance, oaths to god for
truth telling in the courts of the land,
oaths to god to hold public offices and
positions of public trust, prayer in government bodies and particularly in the
public schools - the sanctification of
the intrusion of religion into every
aspect of our lives. The criterion which
the Bush administration wants used as
a test is, "Is the practice coercive?" If
prayers are said in schools, no one
coerces you to listen. If "In God We
Trust" is printed on money, write a
check. If the phrase "one nation under
God" in the Pledge offends you, you are
not coerced to say it or to really listen to
it as your classmates recite that line, or
your men's club, or your civic club.
Iudeo-Christianity is part and parcel of
Austin, Texas

our cultural heritage. It isa substantive

part of our history. We cannot turn our
backs on it. If a nativity scene is erected
in your county court house, you are not
coerced to endorse it. You may keep your
sensitivities aloof. All it represents is
the historical birth of Jesus Christ,
which you must admit occurred. If
courses on religion are introduced in

July 1992

your public schools, your children are

not being coerced to attend them.
It would insult the religious if you
made your objections known. This is the
same as saying to a dog, "Down, boy."
What is the next generation going to
do? Probably accept what it cannot
change. There are no heroes left in
America. ~

Page 19

The wild, wild world of creationisll1
Formerly a professor of biology and
geology, Frank R. Zindler is now a science writer. He is a member of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. the American
Chemical Society, and the American
Schools of Oriental Research. His articles appear regularly in this magazine
in "The Probing Mind."
The following speech was presented
on Friday,April 17,1992,at the Twentysecond Annual National Convention
of American Atheists.

Although the laboratory nook for

astro/geophysics has no equipment
presently functioning, I believe the
biology nook, however, has more than
one microscope. How is that for being
well-equipped for graduate study?

Craters of the moon

he war between the creationists and the public schools is

over. The creationists appear to
have won. Despite the fact that they
have failed to impose laws outlawing
the teaching of evolution, despite the
fact that they have failed to impose
laws forcing "equal time" for creationist mythology and evolutionary science,
and despite the fact that scientists
daily discover ever more evidence
proving the reality of evolution, almost
no evolution science is taught in the
public schools of the United States.
School boards and teachers have been
so intimidated by the Genesis-junkies
that almost no one dares to deal with
the supposedly controversial subject
of evolution.
As if this were not bad enough, in
California, the Institute for Creation
Research (ICR) has recently been given nearly a quarter of a million dollars
by the state as reimbursement for legal
expenses incurred when it brought
suit against California for its attempt
to prevent the ICR from granting master's degrees in the sciences.
We are told by Henry Morris, Duane
Gish, and the other creationist superstars that it is nothing short of outrageous that the state of California has
tried to prevent the ICR from granting
master's degrees in astro/geophysics,
biology, geology, and science education. What are the facts of the matter?
Page 20

Creationism's advocates
espouse more wacky
ideas than you would
imagine - but they are
winning the fight for
the education of the
next generation.
Frank R. Zindler
The fact is, the ICR is the best-equipped
creationism school in the world. For
example, it sports a four-room grad
school, something no other creationist
believe-tank can match. Each department has an entire room for itself.
Since there is a laboratory nook at the
back of each room, ICR master scholars
can conduct laboratory work as well
as Bible study in the same room.
July 1992

One of the hallmarks of genuine scientific theories is their capacity to explain puzzling features of the physical
world. In the case of so-called "creation science," this explanatory power
can sometimes be little short of breathtaking. In his 1972 book The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, Henry
Morris, the president of the Institute
for Creation Research in San Diego,
applied the never-defined principles of
"creation science" to explain why
Mars and the Moon are cratered. To
do so, however, he had to include a biblical explanation of the stars also.
Since Morris teaches that the universe is only a few thousand years old,
there is the embarrassing fact that
many stars are millions or indeed billions of light-years distant. If the stars
themselves are only a few thousand
years old, their light should not yet
have reached us, and so most of the
stars of the universe would be invisible if creationism were true. But
Morris can explain:
This problem seems formidable at first, but is easily resolved
when the implications of God's
creative acts are understood.
The very purpose of creation
centered in man. Even the angels
themselves were created to be
"ministering spirits, sent forth to
minister for them who shall be
heirs of salvation" (Hebrews
1:14).Man was not some kind of
afterthought on God's part at all,
but was absolutely central in all
of His plans.
The sun, moon, and stars were
American Atheist

formed specifically to "be for
signs, and for seasons, and for
days, and years," and "to give
light upon the earth" (Genesis
1:14, 15). In order to accomplish
these purposes, they would obviously have to be visible on earth.
But this requirement is a very
little thing to a Creator! Why is
it less difficult to create a star
than to create 'the emanations
from that star? In fact, had not
God created "light" on Day One
prior to His construction
"lights" on Day Four? It is even
possible that the "light" bathing
the earth on the first three days
[before the sun was created] was
created in space as en route from
the innumerable "light bearers"
which were yet to be constituted
on the fourth day.'
In other words, the light we see coming from a star a hundred million
light-years away has not been travelling for a hundred million years. God
created the light close to the Earth;
the light never came from a star at all.
It just looks that way! God, it would
seem, has created a world of deceitful
appearances. Curiously, Morris seems
unaware of this embarrassing implication of his explanation, and he overlooks a further difficult point: if god
created the stars to be indicators of
times and seasons to the prescientific
inhabitants of the Earth, isn't it odd
that it is precisely the stars for which
he had to create false rays of light
which are invisible to the naked eyeand thus could not be used "for signs
and seasons"?
As president of ICR, Morris presides over an institution which, we
have already noted, is empowered by
the state of California to grant master's
degrees in "astro/geophysics." Thus it
is of more than a little interest to see
what Dr. Morris can tell us about the
stars and planets.

'Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Birth

of Planet Earth (San Diego, CA: CreationLife Publishers, 1972 and 1978), pp. 61-62.
Austin, Texas

From the mouths of

creationists ...

he "stars" associated with

the solar system, such as
the planets and asteroids (and it
should be remembered that the
term "star" in Biblical usage applies to any heavenly body other
than the sun and moon) would
be particularly likely to be involved, in view of the heavy concentration of angels, both good
and evil, around the planet
- Henry Morris
President, Institute for
Creation Research

second possible thing that

creationists might look for
is some kind of an instrument
that will detect darkness. It is
my conclusion, based on [scripture] that darkness is a positive
- Richard Niessen
Christian Heritage College

f God cannot be taken literally when He writes of the

rising of the sun (S-U-N), then
how can one insist that He be
taken literally when writing of
the rising of the Son (S-O-NH
- Professor Gerardus Bouw
Baldwin- Wallace College


really have dinosaurs

t't' today, without any ques-

tion. You just need the right

weather conditions, as Isee it, to
get huge creatures. And in the
ocean, of course, we have huge
creatures .... This is where the
plesiosauruses seem to be today,
and perhaps also this firebreathing dragon is still down
there - very rare, but occasionally there.
- Rev. Walter Lang
Bible-Science Association

We still do not know the full

answer to the problem of the
total purpose of all the stars. Especially is this true of the innumerable stars that can only be
seen through telescopes .... The
stars that are visible to the naked
eye are, of course, valuable for
navigation as well as beauty, but
these only constitute an infinitesimal fraction of the total numbers of stars. What, then, was the
purpose God has in creating all
the others? ...
[Slince in Scripture stars are
frequently associated with angels, it may be that the stars are
in some way involved in the ministries of the angels .... This
possible association of angels
with the stars, incidentally, is
the only suggestion that Scripture makes concerning intelligent
life on other worlds .... 2
Give that man a master's degree in
Morris then discusses the astronomical results of sin and gives a brief
account of the revolt of Satan and his
angels and of their warfare with
Michael and his angels. Using some
sort of creationist principle - perhaps
something like "the eosin of the star is
proportional to the angle of the angel"
- Morris opines that:
The physical stars, which are
somehow associated with the
spiritual host of heaven, may
thus be also involved in this
heavenly warfare. The "stars"
associated with the solar system,
such as the planets and asteroids
(and it should be remembered
that the term "star" in Biblical
usage applies to any heavenly
body other than the sun and
moon) would be particularly
likely to be involved, in view of
the heavy concentration of angels, both good and evil, around
the planet Earth.!

2Morris, Remarkable Birth p. 63.

July 1992

Page 21

Just how Dr. Morris was able to
measure the concentration of angels
in the vicinity of the planet Earth is
not revealed. But we continue:
There are a number of Biblical
references indicating that in
some way the stars may actually
participate in human battles
(Numbers 24:17; Judges 5:20;
Revelation 6:13; 8:1O;etc.).... In
any case, the possibility is at
least open that the fractures and
scars on the moon and Mars, the
shattered remnants of an erstwhile planet that became the
asteroids, the peculiar rings of
Saturn, the meteorite swarms,
and other such features that
somehow seem alien to a "very
good" universe as God must have
created it may have been acquired
later. Perhaps they reflect some
kind of heavenly catastrophe
associated either with Satan's
primeval rebellion or his continuing battle against Michael and
his angels ....
The long fascination of men of
all nations with pagan astrology
can only be understood if it is
recognized that there is some
substratum of truth in the otherwise strange notion that objects
billions of miles away could have
any influence on earthly events.
Certainly the physical stars as
such can have no effect on the
earth, but the evil spirits connected with them are not so
Perhaps the ICR can add a master's
degree in demonic astrology to its list
of unnatural science degrees granted!
But we have not exhausted the explanatory power of creation science. Morris
can explain UFOs as well:
... the well-documented association of certain "u.F.O." sightings with occultic influences

3Morris, Remarkable Birth, p. 66.

4Morris, Remarkable Birth, p. 67.
Page 22

and tendencies suggests that the

"rulers of the darkness of this
world" (Ephesians 6: 12) are increasingly imaginative in their
battles for the minds of men.>
Like Billy Graham, Morris seems to
think that UFOs are actually angels
- evil angels.

Dividing the darkness

While most of the creationists busily at work undermining science education are fundamentalist Protestant
Christians, Catholics and Jews can be
creationists also. We have just seen
how Henry Morris deals with the
problem of distant stars seeming to
prove the great antiquity of the universe. Creationist Jews have pondered
the problem also, and one of them has
come up with a rather different
In 1988, the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists published a volume of articles entitled Cballenge:
Torab Views on Science and its Problems. Among the articles in that book
is one written by one Rabbi Simon
Schwab. Its title is "How Old Is the
The rabbi writes:

SMorris, Remarkable Birth, p. 67.

July 1992


Our question is: Howald is the

Universe? Answer: the Universe
is 5735 years old, plus six Creation Days [The article was
originally published in 1962, so
we can add thirty more years to
the age of the universe.]
Rabbi Schwab, like Henry Morris, is
concerned with light. Unlike Morris,
however, he focuses on the problem
posed by light being created on the
first day of creation, even though the
sun and stars were not zapped into existence until the fourth day. He also is
concerned to explain the peculiar fact
that Elohim is said to have divided the
light from darkness - a process Mark
Twain likened to picking black-eyed
peas out of tapioca, ridiculing the
authors of Genesis for not knowing
that darkness is merely the absence of
According to Rabbi Schwab, however,
Light was first intermingled with
darkness. This "darkness" seems
to have been not an absence of
light, but a created "darkness,"
the exact nature of which is not
revealed. Maybe it was akin to
what scientists today call a concentration of cosmic dust, dark
"nebulae" or the like. When Light
appeared for the first time, it was
obscured partly by some dark
matter and it did not unveil its
You can see already we have gone
light-minutes beyond the reasoning of
the experts at the ICR! It should be
mentioned, however, that Professor
Richard Niessen, of Christian Heritage College - which is closely affiliated with the ICR - back in 1985 told
attendees (including me) at a creationism conference in Cleveland that ere-

6Aryeh Carmell and Cyril Domb, eds.

Challenge: Torah Views On Science and
Its Problems, 2nd rev. ed. (New York: Feldheirn Publishers, 1976 and 1988), p. 168.
7Carmell and Domb, Challenge, p. 167.
American Atheist


ationists should devote more time to

darkness research. Agreeing with
Rabbi Schwab that darkness is a thing
in itself, not just the absence of light,
Professor Niessen laid out projects for
the assembled creationist savants to
A second possible thing that
creationists might look for is
some kind of an instrument that
will detect darkness. It is my
conclusion, based on [scripture]
that darkness is a positive thing.
But to get back to Rabbi Schwab: the
thesis of his article gets better - that
is to say, more difficult to understand.
According to the rabbi, there is a universal, unalterable marker of the passage of time, the appearance and reappearance of what he calls "the creation light." As you know from the
Bible, the first "day" began in the "evening" - and to this day, Orthodox
Jews consider the Sabbath to begin at
sundown on Friday.
Hearken unto Rabbi Schwab:
Here we have a clear definition
of the first creation Day. It begins
as "evening" by the appearance
of the creation Light, partially
obscured by darkness, until the
darkness disappears to leave the
creation-Light to shine brilliantly for some time until it disappears. In other words, the first
creation Day is equal to the time
it takes the creation-Light to appear, alternately shining dimly
and strongly until it fades
away.... 8
Although no one was aware of the
fact until Rabbi Schwab revealed it in
Each time our globe turns, the
creation Light appears until a
full rotation of the earth has
been completed; whereupon it
reappears again for the same per-

8Carmell and Domb, Challenge, p. 168.

Austin, Texas

Thus, we have
Genesis chapter one
telling us that green
plants are older
than the sun,
whereas the record in
the rocks gives us
something more than a
sneaking suspicion that
the sun is older than
green plants!
It quite boggles the
mind to contemplate
green plants waiting
millions of years for the
sun to begin to shine.
formance, and so on and on,
until the end of days.
A word of caution is in place.
It is obvious that what nobody
can see cannot "appear." What
we mean to imply by the word
"appear" is, that a real event
takes place in the Universe regularly, which our human senses
cannot register at the present
time. Yet the Torah informs us
that such an event is occurring
with undeviating regularity."
Although this now-undetectable
light has always flashed on-and-off at
twenty-four-hour intervals, during the
six days of god's creative activity other
measures of time were not working
the way they do now. During creation
week, all the processes of nature
worked much, much faster than they
now do. During what are now six peri9Carmell and Domb, Challenge, p. 168.
July 1992

ods of twenty-four hours, billions of

years of physical, geological, and
chemical processes were able to transpire by virtue of their enormous
rapidity. Thus, both Gentile science
and the Torah are correct. All the
processes that would take billions of
years to complete did in fact run their
course; they simply were compacted
into six days. Beginning with the evening of the seventh day of creation
week, when Elohim had to take a rest,
natural processes slowed to their current rate, with each rotation of the
Earth on its axis corresponding to one
reappearance of the "creation-Light."
Dazzling, isn't it? The reasoning, I
mean. The "creation-Light" you can't
even see!
While the rabbi seems to have come
up with an unfalsifiable method for
reconciling the great age of the universe required by astronomy with the
absurdly young age required by Genesis, there remains a problem. Apart
from the fact that unfalsifiable statements - statements for which you
can't even imagine a way to devise a
test - are scientifically meaningless,
there is the awkward difficulty involving the sequences of events recorded
by Genesis on the one hand, and geology on the other.
Thus, we have Genesis chapter one
telling us that green plants are older
than the sun, whereas the record in
the rocks gives us something more
than a sneaking suspicion that the
sun is older than green plants! It quite
boggles the mind to contemplate green
plants waiting millions of years for
the sun to begin to shine. Genesis tells
us that birds are older than reptiles,
whereas the paleontological evidence
is crystal clear: birds are descended
from reptiles, and did so many, many
millions of years after the first reptiles
appeared. In addition to the problems
with the sequence of creation given in
Genesis chapter one, there is the stupendous problem of Genesis chapter
two. In that chapter we learn that
Adam - the first male of the human
species - was created before all other
kinds of living things, even before
plants - and Eve was created as an
Page 23

when Adam couldn't
quite get into bestiality. Perhaps the
timewarp proposed by the good rabbi
also worked as a sequencewarp.

April's Fools
Perhaps the greatest danger posed
by the creationists results from their
almost universal lack of a sense of
humor and their incredible credulity.
They never laugh whenthey read each
other's books, and they easily can be
made to believe almost anything. A
society where everyone is gullible will
not survive for long, and a world without humor is indistinguishable from
hell. I fear that creationist dominance
of the schools is leading to a generation of Americans who have no training
in critical thinking and will believe
anything - a generation which has
never been allowed to laugh at
During the eight years that Ronald
Religion was Evangelist-in-Chief, many
humorless gulls found high places to
roost in America, and NASA became
broadly infested with creationists.
The infiltration of creationists into
NASA had actually begun earlier,
during the period that Richard Nixon
and Billy Graham were occupying the
White House. One of these early infiltrators was the astronaut James Irwin,
a man who walked on the Moon in
July of 1971. By the time that Reagan
moved into the White House and began to question the actuality of evolution, Irwin had moved beyond both
NASA and the Moon. He had begun
the quest for Noah's Ark.
It was in 1982. With a B-grade actor
having made it as far as the Oval
Office, no one was laughing at anything any more. If Irwin had gone to
Turkey in pursuit of a rowboat on a
mountaintop, there might yet have
been some smiles. But when he announced that he was launching an
expedition to find an ocean liner-sized
boat - a boat 50 percent longer than
a football field and four stories highan ocean liner on top of a seventeen
thousand-foot high volcano, no one
among the religiously repressed media
raised an eyebrow, let alone laughed
Page 24

aloud. No one investigated to find out

that Irwin, supposedly a product of
the flowering of American technology
and know-how, the ambassador of
high tech science, was being advised
by people totally devoid of a sense of
humor. No one knew that Irwin's credulous companion Eryl Cummings had
been taken in by an April Fool's joke,
and had infected the credulous Irwin
in turn.
The story began about ten years before James Irwin fell off a cliff atop
Mount Ararat and made the United
States the laughingstock of the civilized world. The story can be reconstructed from material published by
Violet Cummings, the wife of Irwin's
expedition partner Eryl Cummings. In
her book Has Anybody Really Seen
Noah's Ark?, Mrs. Cummings tells of
a telephone call her husband received
at their home in Farmington, New
Mexico. Eryl was being called by Dr.
Charles Willis, a physician from Fresno,
California. After a long conversation,
the doctor told Cummings, "I have in
my possession actual photos of the
Ark." The photos were illustrations
accompanying a Russian-language
article which had been published in
the early 1930s, in a White Russian

refugee publication
called Mech
Gedeona ("The Sword of Gideon").
Violet Cummings learned that the
editor of Mech Gedeona had adapted
the story from an earlier photostory
which had appeared in Rubez, another
refugee publication. Rubez, in turn,
had picked up the story and translated
it from a German feature story published in the Kolnische Illustrierte
Zeitutig, on Apri11, 1933.
At this point, anyone except a fundamentalist would have started to
laugh. But fundamentalists, as I have
already remarked, are utterly bereft of
a sense of humor. April 1 is just as
good a day for divine revelation as any
other day. After the editor of Mech
Gedeona saw the German article with
its photos of explorers, native guides,
and the great-granddaddy of all the
mountain boats itself, Mrs. Cummings
tells us:
In all good faith the editor, a
Christian minister and physician, thanked God for the verification of the Bible and used the
story for Mech Gedona [sic). He
was completely unaware that on
April 8, a week after its original
publication, an editorial had appeared in the same German newspaper confessing that the entire
story of the "discovery" had been
a huge joke - a "hoax" perpetrated upon the unsuspecting German public as part of their annual
"All Fool's Day" ... celebration. to
The first version of the story seen by
the Cummings
was the Russianlanguage Mech version, and they had
a bit of trouble transliterating
names of the expeditioners
Cyrillic into the Latin alphabet. They
wanted, of course, to get in touch with
these people so they could get needed
information with which to plan their
own expedition to Mount Ararat. The

James Irwin, shown here in his spacefaring days, spent his later life searching
for Noah's Ark.
July 1992

IOViolet M. Cummings, Has Anybody

Really Seen Noah's Ark! An Affirmative
Definitive Report (San Diego, CA: CreationLife Publishers, 1982), p. 172.
American Atheist


names of the archaeologists in charge

appeared to be either Stonehouse,
Stoness, or Stone ass on the one hand,
and Meade or Mud on the other. Harvard, Yale, the Smithsonian, the Royal
Geographical Society of London and a long list of other likely institutions - were queried about the supposed archaeologists, but none of the
authorities had ever heard of them or
their expedition.
"At this juncture," Violet Cummings tells us, "those involved in the
exhaustive and meticulous analysis of
the photos began to harbor a slight
suspicion of a hoax."!' Presumably, it
was only the photoanalysts - who
noticed that flints were missing from
all the flintlock weapons in the 1933
pictures - who felt any flutter of
doubt. The rest of the soon-to-be advisors of astronauts continued their
quest all the more intensely.
Just how strong their predisposition
to believe must have been can be appreciated only after one discovers that
it was just two days after Cummings
got the Russian pictures that he received a letter from John Bradley president of another boat-hunting outfit, the SEARCH Foundation - revealing that Bradley had tracked down the
original German article with, we must
assume, the correct spellings of the
names of the alleged participants.
Quite early on, Eryl, Violet, and their
daughter Phyllis knew the correct
spellings of the outrageous names in
question: Professor Stoneass, Professor Mud, and Mrs. Putrid Lousey.
Violet reminisces that

. Study of the original German article

now revealed a lot of new "facts." "Professor Stoneass," it turned out, was "an
American archaeologist from the Royal
Yalevard University, Massachusetts,
U.S.A., and an exchange professor to
the French Academy." His financial
backing came from one Mrs. Putrid
Lousey, the wealthy "widow of the
American sugar king."13
After a thorough search of Massachusetts and New England, the Cummings concluded sadly, "It [the Royal
Yalevard University], as well as 'Stoneass' and 'Mud' appeared to be nonexistent."14 Did this end the search? Of
course not! The Cummings carried it
to Turkey.
In Turkey a native guide who spoke
fluent English was queried about the
Stoneass discovery and the Yalevard
University. The guide knew all about
it, of course, having had an English
professor at the University of Ankara
who was from the University of Yalevard - the University of Yalevard in
London, that is. So! Off to London to
check out the University of Yalevard.

Noah's Ark, p. 176.

Noah's Ark, p. 176.

Alas, the search turned up no Yalevard University in London, and apparently no British Massachusetts, either.
It was at that time that Phyllis Cummings noticed the April 1 date. Do the
Germans observe April Fool's day?
After learning that they do, mother
Violet wrote: "The puzzle had been
partially solved" (emphasis mine). Just
what remained to be solved is not
immediately clear, but the Cummings
finally located one of the publishers of
the German newspaper. On July 19,
1973, he sent them a photocopy of the
April 8, 1933, editorial explaining the
hoax. Of course, this still was not the
end of the affair. The diluvialist crusaders had to find "proof of the authenticity of the hoax." I'm not certain they
ever found it. Exactly when they
stopped looking for the Royal Yalevard
is unknown,
but Mrs.
Cummings confides to her readers,
"Note: To this day [1982] the existence
of such an institutiori has never been
confirmed: If James Irwin had not
died so prematurely, perhaps he could
have found the college. If he had, I'll
bet you a dollar to a doughnut, it

Noah's Ark, p. 182.

By April 4, 1972 - exactly

four months to the day after he
had been given what he sincerely believed at that time to be
photos of Noah's Ark to Eryl
Cummings - even Dr. Willis
was beginning to entertain certain suspicions of his own. "The
Stoneass story might be a hoax,
but time will tell," he declared.P

Austin, Texas

Noah's Ark, p. 174.

Noah's Ark, p. 175.

If creationists had their way, this mythic scene would be depicted as fact in world
history books. Some go further, however, accepting the idea of a flat earth or explaining the craters of the moon as sites of the battles of the angels.
July 1992

Page 25

would turn out to be an institution
granting Ph.D.'s in Diluvial Demonology and Genesis Geology.

Among the leaders of the creationist movement are some very interesting
- some veeree innteressting - individuals. There are, of course, the geo.centrists - the advanced scientists
who teach that the Earth is the center
of the universe, just as the Bible requires, and that the Sun and all the
universe revolve around the
Earth every twenty-four hours.
There is Dr. Gerardus Bouw, of
Bald win -Wallace College in
Ohio. Dr. Bouw holds a Ph.D. in
astronomy from Case-Western
Reserve University. He can prove
the Sun goes around the Earth.
"If God cannot be taken literally when He writes of the rising
of the sun (S-U-N)," asks Dr.
Bouw, "then how can one insist
that He be taken literally when
writing of the rising of the Son
There is Professor James Hanson, of Cleveland State University, who has declared: "Ceocentricity vs. Acentricity: that's
the argument. Acentricity meaning there is no center whatsoever ... To me, this is a hellish
nightmare. This is worse than
evolution, as far as I'm concerned." Curiously, Professor
Hanson has had no comments
to make on eccentricity.
But most memorable of all the geocentrist creationists are Marshall and
Sandra Hall, the authors of the widely
distributed paperback, The Truth:
God or Evouuicu; Their demonstration that the Sun goes around the
Earth, at a creationism conference
back in 1984, is a performance I shall
never forget.
The conference was in Seven Hills,
Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. Marshall
and Sandra got up together to give one
talk. But as the discourse bounced
back and forth between husband and
wife every minute or so, things began
Page 26

to unravel. Clearly enough, they explained that the heliocentric theory

was a "Satanic counterfeit," and they
told of vacationing on the plain of
Gibeon - where Joshua had commanded the Sun and the Moon to
stand still - and receiving a revelation from god that the Moon is the
clue to it all.
Without telling how long they played
twenty questions with god after receivirig this clue, the Halls proceeded to
prove that the Sun goes around the
Earth. Marshall had hardly launched

into his "proof" before his train of

thought became derailed. He groped
for words and stalled. He couldn't find
a way to pass the ball to Sandra. Soon
he was weeping openly, announcing
that god "any minute now" was going
to give him the right words.
But god didn't get involved quickly
enough, and so Sandra got back into
the show. She told once how they had
watched an eclipse of the Sun in
which the Moon's "shadow" had moved
the wrong way! (She never made it
clear when she was talking about the
Moon's blackened image viewed against
July 1992

the Sun, and when she was talking of

the eclipse shadow moving across the
Earth's surface).
Hope springing up eternal, she took
two Styrofoam cups and tried to model
the motions of the Sun and Moon during the eclipse. Marshall stopped crying and gave encouragement. But alas!
Within another minute, both of them
were hopelessly befuddled by the Satanic counterfeit. Not only could they
not realize than when facing the Sun
their left hands had faced east, but
that when turning their backs to the
Sun (and to the audience) their
left hands were pointing west,
they also seemed to be unaware
that the pinhole cameras commonly used to view the eclipses
also reverse left and right.
When the time for the Halls'
performance ran out, they could
only announce that they had
given everybody the key with
which to unlock the treasure
chest of astronomical knowledge, and they implored those
with experience in the subject
to go for it. As far as I know, a
number of creationists today are
doing just that.
Besides the geocentrists, there
are geobiblical chronologists.
One of these is E. W. Faulstich,
the proprietor of the ChronologyHistory Research Institute in
Rossie, Iowa. A computer expert,
Faulstich has calculated that
the Earth was created in 4,001
B.C. - not 4,004 s.c. as calculated
by Archbishop Ussher. Sunday,
March 17, to be precise.
And there is the Rev. Dr. Dr. Dr. Dr.
Carl Baugh, a reincarnation of P. T.
Barnum operating out of the Glen
Rose region of Texas. Although I am
unaware of anyone who has ever succeeded in locating the source of even
one of his doctorates, Dr. Baugh seems
to be able to acquire new ones whenever a turn in an argument requires
one. Baugh leads expeditions along the
Paluxy Creek near his "Christian Evidence Museum" - a house trailer witnessing against the heresy of evolution.
The expeditions turn up fossilized
American Atheist

human footprints amidst the dinosaur
trackways for which the Paluxy Cretaceous deposits are famous. Baugh believes that Dinnie and Alley-Oop
lived at the same time, you see. Although most of the alleged human
prints are indescribably unimpressive,
Baugh does display one that is most
impressive. Being at least sixteen
inches long, the "bigfoot track" is as
perfect a giant's footprint as ever was
sold at the fair. For some years, Baugh
"gave away" aluminum casts of the
track to anyone giving one hundred
dollars or more to his "museum." Unfortunately, the bigfoot track has
fallen upon hard times.
Dr. Ronnie Hastings, a friend of
mine from Waxahachie, Texas, learned
from Marian Taylor that the bigfoot
print - generally known as the Caldwell print - was a fake. Although
every scientist who has ever seen the
print or a cast of it has known immediately that it was a fake, it was nice
to get corroboration from a creationist.
According to Hastings,
Marian Taylor revealed that
this print, whose cast is in prominent display in Baugh's Creation
Evidence Museum and a copy of
which was sent to contributors
of Louisiana's Creation Legal Defense Fund, was actually bought
at Glen Rose as a carving by the
Taylor's in the 1960s and [was]
not found in the Paluxy riverbed
as claimed by Baugh .... Jacob
McFall identified the cast as a
copy of a carving done by one of
the Adams brothers of Glen Rose
carved-footprint fame. Mrs. Taylor was not very pleased about
the false claims concerning the
cast displayed by Rev. Baugh."
It should be noted that during the
Great Depression, a number of Glen
Rose residents took to carving "fossil"

16Ronnie Hastings, personal communication. Some of this material later was published in Creation/Evolution, issue 17, vol.
6, no. 1, pp. 25-6.

footprints to sell to gullible city slickers.

Among those city slickers were a
number of creationists, who found the
prints confirmation of both the Garden of Eden and Noah's Flood.
One last word about the Rev. Dr. Dr.
Dr. Baugh. Impressed by the reported
longevity of the early patriarchs catalogued in the Book of Genesis, Baugh
decided that the antediluvian Earth's
atmosphere was both heavier and contained more oxygen, and that oxygen
was the clue to longevity. When I visited his establishment a number of
years ago, I noticed a large metal tanklike object set up not far from his
Inquiring about it
later, I learned that Baugh was planning to live in it after pressurizing it
and filling it was an atmosphere enriched in oxygen. Somewhere along

the experiment.
Another creationist who has had an
enormous impact on public education
in the north-central states is the Rev.
Walter Lang, a Missouri Synod Lutheran minister and founder over
thirty years ago of the Bible-Science
Association - generally referred to as
the BS Association. Lang is a geocentrist, a young-earther, and a believer
that the dinosaurs never went extinct.
The Behemoth and Leviathan of the
Book of Job are nothing less than
Brontosaurus and the Loch Ness Monster, respectively. Apart from his discovery that dinosaurs probably could
breathe fire, just like St. George's
dragon, there is little else remarkable
about the Rev. Lang's teachings. Well,
maybe there is one thing more to
When he was in the Galapagos, he
saw iguana lizards which looked to
him exactly like very small bipedal
dinosaurs. (Ican just see those iguanas,
up on their hind legs dancing the
quadrille). If they
look like dinosaurs, they must be
dinosaurs! Lang explained it all to me:
I talked to a missionary in El
Paso. He remembered seeing some

The Paluxy Creek tracks, the creationist

"proof" of the coexistence of humans
and dinosaurs, are clearly not human.

the line, Baugh had acquired some

knowledge of chemistry - perhaps a
Sears-Roebuck doctorate in chemistry.
He found out that the formula for atmospheric oxygen is O2 He also learned
that the formula for ozone is 03, Presumably reasoning that if O2 is good
03 must be better, Baugh was planning to "enrich" his Edenic atmosphere
with ozone also! As I said, he was planning to live in it.
I hoped to return several months after Baugh began his experiment. By
then he would have been a rather
crispy critter, and I had a morbid curiosity to hear what his voice would
sound like after his larynx had rusted.
But alas, someone seems to have warned
him of the side effects of "Edenic"
atmospheres, and he never carried out
July 1992

Pet theories of creationists vary from

the outlandish to the downright odd.
One creationist advocate claims that
iguanas resemble bipedal dinosaurs.
Page 27

ten-foot 'guanas in the Philippines ... so you see, you just
need the right weather conditions. We really have dinosaurs
today, without any question. You
just need the right weather conditions, as I see it, to get huge
creatures. And in the ocean, of
course, we have huge creatures .... This is where the plesiosauruses seem to be today, and
perhaps also this fire-breathing
dragon is still down there - very
rare, but occasionally there.

think creationism should be presented

favorably in biology classes. Fifteen
percent of high school biology classes
in Ohio actually do this. At least eighteen public school teachers present
creationism in a favorable light," and
I have just received a complaint from
an OSU student that his instructor in
physical anthropology has declared
that creationism is just as valid as evolutionary science in explaining the
origin of humans.
Since the public schools have been
lost as a source of information about
evolution, what about the press - the
Some day I hope to get Rev. Lang to freedom of which we Atheists defend
explain the physics of underwater fire so vigorously? Dr. Zimmerman has
. surveyed the top news executive at
each of the 1,563 daily newspapers in

The cast of characters I have just
discussed is only a handful of the creationist leaders who have won the war
for the public schools and for the
hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. An exaggeration, you say? Consider these statistics collected by my
friend Michael Zimmerman, now associate dean of Oberlin College.
A majority (52.7 percent) of school
board presidents in Ohio believe that
"creation science" should be favorably
taught in public schools. That was
school board presidents. Only 49.7 percent of them accept the theory of evolution as being correct."
Almost half (48.4 percent) of the
members of the Ohio legislature feel
that creationism should be taught of course, "impartially" - in public
schools, and almost a third (30.2 percent) of the members of the U.S. Congress think so. About two-thirds of
Ohio legislators believe that Adam
and Eve were real, and more than onefourth of the members of Congress
think so tOO.18
What of high school biology teachers? Twenty-five percent of those in
Ohio (public and private combined)

17Michael Zimmerman, "The EvolutionCreation Controversy: Opinions of Ohio

School Board Presidents," Science Education, vol. 75, no. 2 (1991), pp. 201-214.
Page 28

18MichaelZimmerman, "ASurvey of Pseudoscientific Sentiments of Elected Officials:

A Comparison
of Federal and State
Legislators," Creation/Evolution, issue 29
(Winter 1991-19921, pp. 26-45.
19Michael Zimmerman, "The EvolutionCreation Controversy: Opinions of Ohio
High School Biology Teachers," Ohio
Journal of Science, vol. 87, no. 4 (1987), pp.

the United States. Only 51 percent of

the editors disagreed strongly with
the statement "dinosaurs and humans
lived contemporaneously."
Only 57
percent disagreed strongly with the
statement "Every word in the Bible is
true." Although 16 percent of the editors think that "creation science" has
a valid scientific foundation, approximately one-fourth of them indicate
that they personally accept the prernises of "creation science.P''
And don't forget: 30 percent of
American high school seniors don't
know that the Sun appears to rise in
the east and set in the west in the
U.S.A. The number that knows what
things look like in Europe, of course,
is presumably less: not many know
where Europe is, let alone how the Sun
appears to move at that location!
Truly, a new age is dawning. A very
old new age is dawning. We are completing the twentieth century and are
about to embark upon the eighth. ~
WMichael Zimmerman, "Newspaper Editors
and the Creation-Evolution Controversy,"
Skeptical Inquirer, vol. 14, no. 2 (Winter
19901, pp. 182-195.

At the 1992 American Atheists Convention, Frank Zindler presented "The Wild,
Wild World of Creationism" to a standing-room-only audience.
July 1992



Atheist rights and religion's wrongs
A resident of Tucson, Arizona, Conrad Goeringer has been involved in
community politics and social issues
for over twenty-five years. He is a
regional representative for American
Atheists and was a plaintiff in legal
actions to remove prayer from Tucson
City Council meetings.
Mr. Goeringer is a rare book dealer,
with specialties in decorative arts,
astronomy, Southwest and general
Americana, and first editions. He is
the proud owner of a personal library
of over 6,000 volumes on history, politics, and astronomy and of a '69
The following text is adapted from
a talk presented on Friday, April 17,
1992, at the Twenty-second Annual
National Convention of American

ost of the democratic nations of the West have, to

With fundamentalist
varying degrees,legal guarantees concerning freedom of expresmovements gaining
sion. As rap singer Ice T recently remarked, though, "It's OK to say anypower in both the East
thing, but when you say something ... n
Civil libertarian organizations, particand West, a basic
ularly in the United States and Britfreedom - the right to
ain, are fighting a rearguard action in
defense of freedom of speech. Each
criticize religion - is
year, more laws are proposed which
attempt to censor or regulate what
under concerted attack.
people may say in print, musical lyrics,
plays, even on cable television or in the
classroom. And, yes, in school districts
Conrad Goer inger
throughout the country, groups are
still trying to ban literature such as
of secular criticism. Coincident with
Catcher in 'the Rye and even the
this, especially since the demise of the
American Heritage Dictionary.
One aspect in this growing intoler- Soviet Union, have been efforts to
ance of what people may say or think promote religion - in all its various
concerns our freedom to criticize reli- denominational forms - as a panacea
gious belief. There have always been for social ills. One recalls the praise of
the notorious blasphemy laws, of Mr. Gorbachev for Russian Orthodoxy as a "moral force," or Mr. Yeltsin's
course, but since the late 1980s there
recent baptism into the arms of Mother
is renewed vigor to insulate religious
beliefs and movements from any form Church.

Austin, Texas

July 1992

Recently, there has been the not-sosecret involvement of the Vatican and
Central Intelligence Agency in the
events throughout Eastern Europe;
and too there was the diplomatic recognition of the Vatican as a political
state by the Reagan administration (a
status not accorded to any other religious movement). George Bush has
been most enthusiastic
in tearing
down what remains of the "wall of separation" between religion and government, and has even gone so far as to declare that he does not consider Atheists to be citizens. GOP stalwart Orrin
Hatch declared it a "great day" when a
Muslim cleric delivered the opening
prayer last year to a session of the
United States Congress. And Marilyn
Quay Ie, wife of the besieged vice president, was raised on the religious philosophy of Colonel Robert Thieme, an
armageddon-millenialist who has been
described as being "far to the right of
Jerry Falwell."
The list of those defending religion
- again, any religion - and attacking
the secularism of modern society goes
on and on. Columnist William Rusher
charged that lack of religious faith
was the cause of the recent Los Angeles
riots. Irving Kristol, editor of Public
Policy, suggests that everyone accept
the fact that the United States is a nation founded upon Christian religion.

The fall of "godless" communism
has also been accompanied by the
notion that religion should be immune
to any and all criticism. Religious belief has now joined the "politically correct" category of taboos and social institutions to be considered above reproach; some have even suggested that
unfavorable comment, hatred toward,
or so-called "verbal harassment" of religion be made against the law.
The most flagrant example of this is
Page 29

the case of Mr. Salman Rushdie, author
of the book The Satanic Verses. When
his novel first appeared, comment
about it was confined to a relatively
small literary subculture of devotees
who admired his unique brand of literary fiction. The book was reviewed
favorably and sold modestly well, even
in the Middle East where for years
Rushdie had been considered a leading writer and intellectual. This all
changed when Ayatollah Khomeini
pronounced The Satanic Verses to be
blasphemous of Islam because, in part,
Rushdie had allegedly depicted the
prophet Mohammed in one of his
characters who lived in a house with
prostitutes. The death sentence was
ordered, Muslim countries quickly
fell into line, and most of the Western
democracies, to varying degrees, began
to waffle on what clearly was a paradigm case of freedom of expression.
Throughout Europe and the United
States, there was often a chilling silence from religious leaders, who said
nothing about Rushdie's fundamental
right to free commerce in ideas and
opinion, or there was outright hostility. An argument emerged that while
censorship was wrong, we should "respect" and develop sensitivity to the
religious convictions of so many Muslims - namely, mobs of fanatics (mostly
males), hitting themselves on their
heads with rocks until they were
bloodied, and calling for the death of
Rushdie. The Vatican Observer, official
mouthpiece of the Roman Catholic
church, excoriated Rushdie far more
than it criticized the ayatollah and his
hired hit squads. Cardinal John
O'Connor of New York ordered his
flock "not to dignify the publication of
this work." Cardinal DeCourtnay of
Lyon, president of the French Bishops'
Conference, labeled The Satanic Verses
"an insult to religion."
In Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger
echoed the duplicity of the religious
elite. First, he declared that Western
governments had no business meddling in the religious affairs of other
nations (as if this is what had transpired!). Then he asked if one could be
condemned to death sans the benefit
Page 30

of trial, a piece of legal and theological

minutia that had been raised by the
Saudis. As it turned out, Lustiger and
the Saudis agreed that there was no
need for Rushdie to appear before a
court of religious inquiry, as he would
"probably" be found guilty anyway.
This sort of sophistry was practiced by
a number of religious prelates and
political figures who endlessly debated the technicalities of the Rushdie
affair, while ignoring the more sweeping civil liberties and human rights
question in this drama.

Religious belief
has now joined
the "politically correct"
category of taboos
and social institutions
to be considered
above reproach.
It was the archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, who insisted that
Britain's notorious blasphemy laws be
extended to include Jews, Muslims
and other religious cultists. The chief
rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth agreed,
saying, "the book [Satanic Verses}
should never have been published,"
and demanded legislation to stop what
he termed" excesses in the freedom of
expression." Israel's Abraham Shapira,
chief Ashkenazi rabbi, called for a ban
on the Verses, fearing that such attacks
on religion would become "contagious." Jimmy Carter, ex-president and
born-again Christian (a "practitioner"
of sorts of u.S.-Iranian relations), did
little to defend Rushdie, and instead
wrote that we should be "sensitive to
the. concern and anger" of Muslims.
The wider dimension of the Rushdie
case was this: religionists of nearly all
major sects viewed the publication of
The Satanic Verses as proof of yet another secular attack on the sanctity of
religion. London's Economist noted:
July 1992

Rabbis, priests and mullahs

are, it seems, united to restrain
free speech, lest any member of
their collective flock should
have his feelings hurt .... The
Rushdie affair is showing not
just that some Muslims do not
understand the merits of free
speech. It shows that many Western clerics do not either. ...
If Jews and Christians were busy defending the intolerance of their Muslim brethren, Muslims returned the
favor as the authoritarian posturing of
Western clerics was gleefully publicized in Teheran. Khomeini's interior
minister, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi (head
of the secret police), noted "the insulting anti-Christian films which have
recently been released by some Western countries," and decided that there
existed "an insidious colonialist movement working against the sanctities of
all divine religions and prophets."
Iran's ambassador to Greece, upon
learning that The Last Temptation of
Christ was to be shown at the Istanbul
Film Festival, tried to link the controversial movie to Rushdie's novel.
What amounted to de facto censorship was justified or rationalized under a long list of trendy, even liberal
sounding slogans, cliches, and analogies. Some insisted that Viking Press,
the publisher of Satanic Verses, simply refuse to continue publication; it
would not be censorshi p since the government would not have to ban it. This
was the same doublespeak found in
many of the protests over The Last
Temptation of Christ. Christian activists who picketed the movie in effect
declared, "We're against censorship
but this is an insult to our religious
belief and we would prefer the film
studio to simply withdraw all prints of
the movie and burn them .... "

The B-U- T of the argum.ent

What may be termed the "But Argument" is heard increasingly when the
censorship issue is discussed. There is
hardly a censorship advocate who
does not feel the compulsion to preface his or her remarks by insisting,
American Atheist

"I'm not in favor of censorship, BUT
... " Religious activists and their allies
frequently will attack the First Amendment indirectly; they will insist that
"freedom of speech is not license," or
that it entails "responsibility," or that
the First Amendment is fine as a principle, but in practice "has gone too far."
A similar rationale is that books,
movies or television shows do not reflect "traditional values" or are "antifamily" or "anti-religious," despite the
. popularity of such entertainment fare
and the lack of definition of these
A recent issue of Parade Magazine,
for instance, asked the question "Has
Hollywood Gone Too Far?" The same
question is raised about the rights of
individuals to criticize, joke about, or
even insult religion. Time magazine
asked in similar fashion, "Separation
Of Church And State - Has It Gone
Too Far?"The criterion for "going too
far" appears to be anything that is secular, or which religious authorities do
not happen to approve of, as in the
case of the Rushdie book.
Like the "But" and "Going too far"
arguments, another ploy consists of
simply redefining notions such as censorship and freedom of expression a stratagem used especially on college
campuses where "politically correct"
ideas are tolerated, but "incorrect"
ones are taboo. By this reasoning,
there is no free speech for groups or individuals who may end up hurting, insulting, or discomforting others; the
usual reference here is to racists,
homophobes, or those using sexist language. Civil libertarians must constantly point out that the First Amendment was not designed for ideas and
opinions which everyone happily agrees
with; as obnoxious as many remarks
or ideas may be to some or many individuals, the answer to them is more,
not less speech!
The "Codes of Conduct" now so popular on high school and college campuses which so often attempt to contain or limit expression, actually arose
back in the days of the anti-Vietnam
War movement; their original intent
was to curb political dissent and activAustin, Texas

Novelist Salman Rushdie is still a fugitive from Islamic law.

ity. The fight against these notorious

codes has for the most part been abandoned; groups such as Blacks, gays,
and women (once considered the "outs"
in the collegiate environment I now
often attempt to utilize them as a
mechanism to muzzle university newspapers; to keep controversial and unpopular speakers off campus; and to
ban the distribution of unauthorized
or unapproved leaflets, newsletters, or
meeting notices.
The national equivalent of these
codes of politically correct conduct is
fast emerging in proposed "anti-hate"
legislation, which (it is suggested]
should include religious belief. Roman
Catholic and Protestant "civil rights"
groups, pointing to movies, books, or
lyrics critical of religion or making
fun of religious figures, are clamoring
for state protection. The Christian
Film Commission, for instance, has
formulated a long list of criteria by
which it judges movies to be "acceptable."
Censorship (the "C" word I is not
usually mentioned by groups proposing guidelines. We are assured that
they are voluntary, although there is
July 1992

,- ,

frequently the threat of pickets, letters,

boycotts, and other tactics against
bookstores, libraries, or theaters which
refuse to comply. There is also the argument that television and movie
studios have "lost touch" with fundamental and traditional values - this
despite the popularity of the very
shows and movies being criticized.
More frightening, though, are some of
the survey data quoted by fundamentalists in support of their position. A
survey in Parents magazine indicated
that 75 percent of respondents believed
"vulgar" language should be kept off of
television, while two-thirds supported
moves to suppress shows dealing with
various topics. Seventy-two percent
agreed that television should not
make fun of religion.
It must be said that Ted Behr, founder of the Christian Film and Television Commission, yearns for the good
old days when representatives of major
denominations assisted the Motion
Picture Association in policing the
media giants. Behr laments, "Only a
generation ago (1939-19601, the Church
was effectively exerting its influence
to redeem the values presented into
the film industry." Behr also echoes
the hoary myth that the Church of
Satan Film Office operated after the
Protestant Film Office disbanded in
1966. The result, according to Behr,
was a rash of films such as Rosemary's
Baby, Midnight Cowboy, and The
Wild Bunch.
The more direct approach to outright censorship is to have religious
belief made a civil right - one that
supersedes freedom of expression and,
therefore, the right to criticize or insult.

The perceived threat

of secular society
A fundamentalist recently responded to letters in the local paper defending state/church separation by claiming that religious people "were being
forced to practice their faith behind
closed doors." There is a growing sense
within many religious movements
that they are "under attack" from secular institutions, particularly courts;
Page 31

their freedom of worship is not enough
- they feel a growing need to be protected from remarks which criticize,
question, or demean religion. There is
also the recurrent call-to-arms from
religious media and political shakers
like Pat Robertson, urging the flocks to
become politically active and follow
the example of women's groups, gays,
Blacks, and others.
We are now, in the .United States,
witnessing the development of a movement with the goal of banning or
stifling any criticism of organized religion or religious belief. This movement is already attempting to link its
agenda with other campaigns to alter
the content and focus of the mass
media. It is also attempting to capitalize on civil rights issues where "antihate" legislation is proposed in order to
protect various ethnic, cultural, sexual, or other groups.
This is one reason why Atheists in
particular must seize the high ground
now to protect and exercise First
Amendment rights, including the
right to criticize religion.

The religious response

The breakup of the Soviet Union
has become a major impetus on behalf
of religious unity. The Vatican in particular has been engaging in an intensive outreach to the hierarchies of
other religious movements; in some
cases, there has been a near merger
with Rome. Even with Islam, there is
talk of cooperation and "dialogue,"
especially where there are fundamentalist backlashes against secular societies. In the United Nations, religious
lobbies and groups have enthusiastically supported moves which would
give individual nations the right to
block or jam signals from broadcast
satellites, under the guise of protecting various ethnic and cultural groups
from "contamination." The same technology is quickly embraced by many
religions, including the Roman Catholic church, when it involves worldwide
publicity of religious opinion or ceremony. Masses and other Vatican events
are 'regularly beamed into the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Page 32

can challenge
religious figures
from the international
to the local level
when they speak out
on social issues;
clerics should enjoy
no special status
merely because
they wear collars
or have religious titles.
A bill of rights for Atheists
As Atheists we have the right to
question and challenge religious claims,
especially when they appear in the
mass media. We can and should emphasize that religious claims are not
exempt from the burden of proof; simply because something is said by a religious personality does not mean that
it should be accepted at face value.
Especially in cases where religious
"miracles" are reported, you may insist
that the news media investigate these
claims, and not merely be an electronic public relations firm for religious
sideshows, beliefs, and hucksterism.
Atheists can challenge religious figures from the international
to the
local level when they speak out on
social issues; clerics should enjoy no
special status merely because they
wear collars or have religious titles.
Being a priest, rabbi, mullah, nun, or
anything else within a church does
not render these people more intelligent, more moral, or more competent
to discuss social, economic, or political
issues. They may be correct on some
(and you may even agree with them),
but remember that it is often for very
different reasons. Realize also that the
mere fact that a church or religious
association supports or opposes one
July 1992

side of an issue is not cause to support

that side, let alone suspend critical
debate on it. Much of the Roman Catholic church's impact concerning the
abortion issue is due to its carefully
cultivated image of moral authority.
Atheists should challenge claims of
moral superiority, especially when
civil liberties issues are involved and
where church authorities may call for
censorship of movies, television, books,
and theater or want similar restrictions placed on human rights. Remember as well that awe of religious figures, doctrines, and institutions
usually programmed
into people
through ritual and ceremony, thus inculcating respect for authority, titles,
and costume.
Finally, Atheists must insist that religious belief (or the lack thereof) is
ultimately a private matter, and that
religious ceremony has absolutely no
place in our political institutions. You
can travel to nearly any location in the
United States, pick up the local telephone directory, and find many pages
with listings under the heading of
"churches." There is an abundance of
temples, chapels, mosques, and other
places where religious people may
pray, chant, read, gyrate, burn incense,
and otherwise appeal to the god or
gods of their choice - all on their own
time and at their own expense.

We have the right to criticize and

question religious doctrine. If the fate
of Salman Rushdie is any guide, if the
calls to reassert so-called traditional
values are any indicator, organized religion wants special privilege, not a
right; it wants not debate, but immunity from criticism. It wants special
status and exemption, not civil liberty.
Under the guise of ameliorating the
problems and uncertainties of an uncertain world, religion would abolish
secular guarantees of human freedom,
all for the narrow certainty of dogma.
It is up to Atheists to make sure that
this will not happen. ~

American Atheist



Left top: By plane, train, or bumper stickerbedecked automobile, the Atheists came to
Left upper center: Jon G. Murray chaired
the press conference, as Rob Sherman,
Midwest representative, looked on.
Left lower center: The Convention's Book
and Product Room was always filled with
Left bottom: Conventioneers toured the
American Atheist GHQ for a behind-thescenes look at activist Atheism.
Right top: Members of the boards of the
cooperating American Atheist corporations
met on the first day of the Convention.
Center: Volunteers helped at registration as
eager Conventioneers lined up for tickets
and badges.
Right center: A philatelic station in the
Convention hotel cancelled postage with
the Convention's fancy commemorative
Austin, Texas

July 1992

Page 33

Above left: American Atheist Veterans met on Friday, April 17, to discuss their concerns.
At the top of the list was rebutting President Bush's claim that Atheists are not citizens or
patriots. Also on the table were plans to challenge the VFW for excluding nonbelievers.
Above right: Texas State Representative Glen Maxey (Dem., District 51), the only openly
Gay member of the Texas legislature, addressed the American Gay and Lesbian Atheists
session on Friday, April 17.
Below: Ursula Dunckern, the editor of Germany's Ahriman Verlag (press), the publishing
house of the Bund Gegen Anpassung (Alliance Against Conformity), chats with American
Atheists' Utah spokesperson, Chris Allen, during the Life Members' cruise. Ms. Dunckern
edits the Ketzerbrieie, a journal chronicling the persecution of Atheists in contemporary
Germany. She addressed the Convention on Saturday, April 18 on "The Yugoslavian
Auschwitz and the Vatican." Her talk dealt with the massacres of Serbs with the aid of the
Vatican in Ustasha-Croatia during World War II.
Above: Mark Franceschini (right), who died
on August 24, 19'12, presented special awards
to members of AGLA at the Convention.
Below: Speaker Arthur Frederick Ide gave
his audience a humorous - but critical look at religion.

Page 34

July 19'12

American Atheist

Left top: Two longtime friends, New Hampshire member Norma Cardinal and Madalyn
O'Hair, share a toast during the Life Members' Cruise on the Colorado River.
Left center: The three oldest Conventioneers - George Tanner of Heward, Saskatchewan, Canada; Toivo Helin of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Merrill Holste of Albuquerque, New Mexico - assemble for a
photo with Madalyn O'Hair.
Left bottom: Dancing madness overtakes
two Conventioneers at the Welcome Reception on Friday night. Nightly parties, complete with entertainment, are regular features
of American Atheist Conventions. "Dave's
Trio" provided the music on this occasion.
Right center: The marshalls assemble to
receive their instructions to lead the Pride
March participants.
Right bottom: Conventioneers reconnoiter
in front of the Hyatt, checking their signs
and balloons, prior to the start of Pride
March II.

Austin, Texas

July 1992

Page 35


Page 36

July 1992

American Atheist


Left top: Jon G. Murray, president of American Atheists, was in the center of things
during the Pride March.
Center top: Young and old, Atheists crossed
the bridge from south Austin on Congress
Avenue in the heart of the city.
Right top: Just as important as Atheist
pride is the message that it is time for
Atheists to be allowed their full civil rights.
Left center: Once the Pride March hit the
Capitol grounds, enthusiastic Atheists assembled for a rally led by Jon Murray.
Right center: Reporters were on hand all
during the Pride March.
Left bottom: For once, there wasn't a
closet Atheist in sight.
Center bottom: The glorious scene as
hundreds of Atheists mounted the steps to
the Capitol grounds.
July 1992

Austin, Texas

Page 37


Left top: During her speech at the Capitol Pride Rally,Robin Murray-O'Hair dared Atheists
to be negative. In her view, it is time to say "no" to religion at home, at work, and in government.
Right top: Young Atheists take a well-deserved break from standing at the Pride Rally.
Left: Ricky Sherman, age ten, and his father Robert take the podium at the Rally to remind
participants that - in Ricky's words - "God is make-believe." Ricky Sherman is the litigant
in a lawsuit in Illinois challenging the Pledge of Allegiance "under God."
Center bottom: Manfred Histor, a representative of Freiburger Burgerinitiative Gegen
Berufsverbote (Freiburg Citizens' Committee against Government Job Discrimination).
The committee is a working group of Bund Gegen Anpassung. He addressed the Convention on Friday, April 17. Dr. Histor reported on the dismantling of fundamental rights in
Germany and the persecution of the last opposition in the Fourth Reich.
Left bottom: A view of the Pride Rally at the Capitol. Over four hundred Atheists took part
in the rousing, but peaceful, demonstration. Early morning fog had given way to a nice day
by the time of the March and Rally.
Right bottom: "The Europa Trio," strolling musicians, delighted members at a riverside
party before the Members' Banquet.

Page 38

July 1992

American Atheist

Left top: Journalist Russ Bellant brought

Conventioneers up-to-date on the latest
antics of the religious right.
Right top: A beautiful brunch buffet overlooking Town Lake awaited Conventioneers
on Sunday, April 19.
Left center: As master of ceremonies, Jon
G. Murray wore himself out at the podium.
Right upper center: Is that Robert Ingersoll? When William Boyd Francis takes to
the stage it is hard to tell the difference. The
Alaskan actor presented the Great Agnostic's "Laws of Moses" at the Convention.
Right lower center: The Pride March over
and done, Conventioneers relaxed and rejoiced at the Members' Dinner on Saturday
Left bottom: Not too tired to dance, Atheists went out for some fancy footwork the
evening of the Pride March.
Right bottom: Dancing and chatting were
the two hits on Saturday night.

Austin, Texas

July 1992


Left top: Jon Murray displays a photo presented to the GHQ. From Life magazine,
the snap depicts a dog expressing his opinion of a minister.
Left upper center: James Guthrie (left)
gets a Meritorious Service Award for his
volunteer labor at the GHQ.
Left lower center: Lloyd Thoren (right) is
presented with a Pioneer Atheist Award for
a quarter century of activism.
Left bottom: Toivo Helin (right) is congratulated for a donation matching the amount
collected at the Member's Banquet.
Right top: Conrad Goeringer, Arizona PR,
(right) presents Orin R. "Spike" Tyson (left)
and Scott H. Ketcher (middle) with Outstanding Member Worker Awards for their
service to the former Tucson Chapter.
Right upper center: Board member Noel
Scott (left) recognizes Jim Steamer as GHQ
employee of the year.
Right lower center: Board member Ellen
Johnson (left) gets a Life Membership for
her years of service.
Right bottom: Dr. O'Hair receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from AGLA founder Don Sanders (right).
Below: Dave Kong (right) accepts his Dedication Award for work with the former San
Francisco Chapter.

Page 40

July 1992

American Atheist

Courts and constitutions:
Utah litigation
Having obtained his law degree
from Loyola-Marymount University
in Los Angeles, Mr. Bamard served as
a faculty member of the Columbia
School of Law, Catholic University of
America, in Washington, D.C., from
1969 to 1971. He toitied Utah Legal
Services in Salt Lake City in 1971.
Since 1973, he has been the managing
attorney of the Utah Legal Clinic.
Active in the American Civil Liberties Union, his legal practice emphasizes civil rights and liberties.
Mr. Barnard is currently representing the Society of Sepatationists in a
suit seeking to end a tradition of
prayer at public high school graduation ceremonies in Provo, Utah.
The following text is adapted from
a speech presented on Saturday, April
18, 1992, at the Twenty-second Annual
National Convention of American

y claim to fame in Utah is

that I have sued the Utah

State Bar about twenty
times, usually for acts of institutional
arrogance. The legal profession is an
unwieldy and unresponsive institution. But we all deal with unwieldy
and unresponsive institutions, don't
we? By my various suits, I have not ingratiated myself with the power structure of the legal system in Utah. But
I have concerns about lawyers, how
lawyers act, and what lawyers do. I
have found that filing lawsuits, especially against the bar association, is an
effective manner in which to generate
discussion and occasionally cause
change. That is an important, but
often overlooked, function of the legal
profession. Lawyers can make people
think and can change the system.
Some lawyers, thus, have redeeming
social value.
Lawyers in general love to talk.
Austin, Texas

What's stronger than

the First Amendment?
the Utah Constitution.


Lawyers love to tell war stories. A

human being has two ears and one
mouth. Most people think that means
you should listen twice as much as
you talk. Lawyers believe that they
have two ears so that they can listen
more easily to themselves talk.
Utah was settled in 1847 by a group
of pioneers led by Brigham Young. He
came to the Western states along with
a band of Mormons after having been
run out of Missouri and Illinois. The
Mormons did not enjoy a very good
July 1992

reputation after the founding of their

religion in the 1820s. They moved
from New York to the Western frontier
in the 1830s. They were persecuted in
Illinois and Missouri for their odd religious views. Their most unusual idea
was the practice of polygyny. That
strange religious practice offended
the mainstream of the United States.
Mormons were also run out of Illinois
and Missouri because they were very
clannish; they presented a strong
united force against other groups and
other people; they practiced their own
brand of socialism, printed their own
money, and had their own army. Mobs
ran them out of Missouri and Illinois.
The majority of the "good people" in
those states did not want the Mormons'
odd and strange religious beliefs there.
Brigham Young took over leadership
of the Mormons after the founder,
Joseph Smith, was murdered by a mob
in Illinois. Brigham Young led the
Mormons to what is now Utah.
The Mormons or, as they were
known then, the Mormonites came to
Utah in July 1847. They founded the
City of Salt Lake and declared the area
to be the Territory of Deseret. Deseret
is a Mormon word that means "honey
bee." The territorial government and
the Mormon church thrived together
as a clear and unquestioned theocracy.
The religious leadership of the territory was exactly the same as the governmental leadership. The Mormons
to espouse the idea of
polygyny from 1840 until 1890. During that period, they tried repeatedly
and unsuccessfully to become a state
and part of the United States. The territory, after five times, finally, on the
sixth try, was admitted to the Union.
One reason for rejection was that
the rest of the nation was concerned
that Utah was a theocracy, a churchrun state. They were also concerned
Page 41


about this odd practice of polygyny. It
is reported that god spoke to the leader
of the Mormons in 1890 and, in what
they term a revelation, he was informed
that polygyny need no longer be practiced. At that time, Church President
Wilford Woodruff issued what is
called the Woodruff Manifesto announcing to the world that Mormons
would not (publicly) practice polygamy
any longer - at least nor on earth. The
church continued to and still does
espouse that, if one properly practices
Mormonism here on earth and is male,
when one gets to heaven one can once
again practice polygyny. For another
twenty or thirty years after the Woodruff Manifesto, however, polygyny
was privately practiced and condoned
by certain church members, including
high-ranking leaders. But that is another story.
In 1896, to gain statehood, the Territory of Deseret drafted a proposed
constitution which was acceptable to
Congress, which showed the country
that Utah was no longer a theocracy.
A major provision was that polygamy
would be forever outlawed in Utah.
That was a specific condition to become
a state - polygamy had to be outlawed
in Utah. Also, the proposed name for
the state was changed from Deseret to
Utah in recognition of the indigenous
native American tribe, the Utes.
Another addition to the 1896 constitution was a very strong separation of
church and state provision. It recites
language similar to that of the United
States Constitution - the state shall
enact no law respecting an establishment of religion. The Utah Constitution goes on to say that no public
monies or public resources shall be
used or appropriated for any public
worship, exercise, or instruction. It
further recites that no church shall
dominate the state. The strong separation of church and state provision was
put into the sixth proposed Utah Constitution to gain statehood.
So, on the sixth try, with that separation of church and state provision
and prohibition of polygamy (on paper
and on earth), the Mormons of Utah
were allowed to join the Union.
Page 42

The Utah Constitution

goes on to say that
no public monies
or public resources
shall be used
or appropriated for any
public worship,
exercise, or instruction.
It further recites that
no church shall
dominate the state.
The strong separation of
church and state
provision was put into
the sixth proposed
Utah Constitution
to gain statehood.
That strong separation of church
and state provision has been in the
Utah Constitution since 1896, but it
has been rarely followed and rarely
used. There has been very little litigation involving that specific provision.
Digressing for a moment, I mention
another case in Utah, some church/
state litigation began in 1985. In a few
minutes we will get back to the Utah
Constitution's separating church and
state, and back to the idea of the
majority of good citizens of Illinois
acting as a mob running the Mormons
out of the state.
In southern Utah is a city called St.
George. That St. George does not relate-in any way to dragons. St. George,
Utah, was named after a Latter Day
saint, a Mormon. Brigham Young sent
one of his lieutenants, whose first
name was George, to southern Utah to
create a settlement. To honor that pioneer for settling southern Utah, the
July 1992

city was named St. George. The City of

St. George has an interesting history;
Brigham Young wanted a settlement
in southern Utah to, among other
things, raise grapes. The Mormon doctrine, their "words of wisdom," which
prohibits the consumption of alcohol
did not go into effect until the late
1800s. Prior to that time, Brigham
Young and the rest of his Mormonites
thought nothing of a glass of good beer
or a drink of fine liquor. In the 1860s,
St. George was planned as an oasis in
the desert where grapes were to be
grown and wine was to be produced.
In 1940, a practice started in St.
George which ended with litigation
we filed in 1985. The practice was to
give an electrical subsidy on the power
bills to the Mormon temple in St.
As part of their religious practices,
Mormons build temples. Those temples
are open only to the worthy of the
faith. Mormons go into those temples
and perform secret rites and rituals in
which only the faithful and very righteous may participate. Temples are a
very poignant religious symbol for
Mormons. In order to fulfill their religious obligations and to get to the
highest level of salvation in heaven,
Mormons must participate in temple
rituals. A temple is not open to the
general public.
The St. George Temple was built in
approximately 1870 and was the first
Mormon temple completed after the
Mormons had been run out of Illinois
and Missouri. The St. George temple
is a large, beautiful, white structure. It
is actually built of red sandstone,
indigenous to southern Utah, but the
exterior is stuccoed and painted bright
white. It sits on a knoll in the small
valley in which St. George is situated.
At night the temple is lit by large
spotlights; you can see it from all over
the city of St. George and ten miles
away as you approach the town on the
interstate highway.
In 1940, it just so happened in that
small southern Utah town, the city
fathers who ran the town council and
operated the municipal power system
were also the church elders who ran
American Atheist

the local Mormon church. One fateful
day, the city council and the church
leaders determined that it would be a
good idea for the exterior of the temple
to be lit all night long in order to
attract tourists. Thus, people driving
by would see the brightly lit temple
and would stop and inquire and maybe
spend some money in the city of St.
George. Or, a tourist or two might stop
and ask, "What's that church all about?
Tell me more about the Mormon
faith." The temple lit all night would
be an attraction for people to visit St.
George and/or to learn about the
Mormon church.
To encourage the church to light
the temple all night long, a subsidy
was given. That subsidy began at $15
a month and went unnoticed. The
municipal power system simply took
the money off the Mormon church's
electrical bill each month. Finally, in
the mid-1980s, my client, a former
county prosecutor in St. George, got
wind of the subsidy and started making
inquiries. "Why are we using city
money to subsidize a building that
belongs exclusively to one religion?"
He said to the city council, "There's a
problem here. You shouldn't be doing
this. You're favoring one religion over
another. You're using city money to
support religion in violation of the
Constitution." The city council told
my client, "Shut up and get out of here.
We've done this for forty-five years.
We're not going to change; there's
nothing wrong with it; you're just a
A group of non-Mormon ministers
also went to the city council and said
the same thing. "Why are you using
taxpayers' money to support religion?
Why are you supporting only one religion?" Those non-Mormon ministers
were rebuffed by the council just as
my client had been rebuffed. So we
filed suit.
While challenging that electrical
subsidy, we questioned another city
practice. The city of St. George had a
city logo, used to advertise the city. It
was used on the city stationery, on city
vehicles, on city signs, and on a city
flag. The logo contained representaAustin, Texas

Non-Mormons are not allowed to enter

the St. George temple, but in the past
they were forced to pay for lighting it.

tions of six items to remind people of

the city of St. George. One was a cluster of grapes. One was a red bluff, a
local mountain site. There was a picture of a golf course and a river. There
was a sunburst and a motto - St.
George claims to be "Where the summer sun spends its winter." But, most
importantly, there was a picture of the
St. George Mormon temple on this
logo. The city fathers and one city
mother again saw nothing wrong with
having this religious symbol on the
city logo.
The city's main argument throughout the litigation was, "The temple is
a tourist attraction; the city's aid to
the temple has no religious purpose."
When we were presenting the case before the federal court in Salt Lake City,
arguing that it was improper for the
city to light this religious symbol and
to use it on the city logo, the city attorney from St. George stood before the
judge and made a startling comment.
He said, "Your honor, for the city the
temple is just a tourist attraction, it
brings people to our fair city. We put
it on our city logo and we light it because it encourages people to visit." He
said, "Anaheim has Disneyland, and
we have the St. George Temple. The
temple to St. George is just like Disneyland to Anaheim." I resisted; I smiled
and I didn't laugh at that fantastic
July 1992

analogy, at least, not in the courtroom.

People in Utah are so numb to the
religious significance of what they do
that this city attorney, a member of
the Mormon faith, was willing to analogize his own important religious
symbol and building, the physical
source of his salvation, to the fantasy
of Disneyland.
The lawsuit against the St. George
city logo is similar to other lawsuits.
In New Mexico, a lawsuit was brought
several years ago against the seal of
Bernalillo County, where Albuquerque
is located. There has been litigation by
the Society of Separationists' in Illinois
against a couple of cities for logos
using religious symbols.'
We sued St. George in United States
District Court for the District of Utah
before Judge J. Thomas Greene. As I
indicated earlier, the justifications
that the city used for that logo and
also for the electrical subsidy were,
"We've always done it that way. Who

When sued, St. George, Utah, stopped

using a city seal featuring a Mormon
temple - even though a city attorney
claimed it was as secular as Disneyland.

'Sociery of Separationists is the legal arm

of the American
2Kuhn v. City of Rolling Meadows and
Harris v. City of Zion, both at 729 F, Supp.
1242 (N.D. IlL 1990).
Page 43

could be offended by what we're doing?
It doesn't involve very much city
money. It's a tourist attraction. There
are reasons other than religious
At the trial court level, the judge determined that the presence of that religious symbol on the logo did not
offend the Constitution, and he threw
us out of court. As to the electrical
subsidy, my client, a lifelong resident
of St. George, did not have an electrical account in his own name. He
shared an apartment; the electrical
account was in his roommate's name.
The judge seized on that and said, "Because you're not now directly paying
an electrical bill, you don't have standing to bring the suit. You haven't suffered an injury." Therefore, the judge
also threw us out of court on the elec. trical subsidy issue.
Judge Greene, when he dismissed
the claim on the electrical subsidy,
said, "You don't have standing, you
haven't suffered harm," and noted the
city had stopped the subsidy in the
middle of our litigation. However, the
judge added, "But I will keep this case
open, and if the city ever starts the
subsidy again, you get right back in
here and we'll talk about it." Obviously,
the judge knew that something smelled
bad, but he had avoided directly dealing with the issue.
We appealed that from the federal
district court in Salt Lake City to the
federal court of appeals in Denver,
Colorado. The appeals court reversed
both decisions. First, it said that because
my client had paid electrical bills in
the past and still paid indirectly, because he was a citizen, a voter, and a
resident, he had the legal right or
standing to challenge that electrical
subsidy. The appeals court reversed
the trial court and said, "This electrical subsidy was wrong."
The city claimed to have voluntarily ceased using the logo in the midst
of our litigation. Nonetheless, the
Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
ruled that we were entitled to present
evidence as to what an ordinary citizen
would feel looking at that logo. If an
ordinary citizen, a reasonable person,
Page 44

looking at that logo felt that it had religious significance, then the logo violated the Constitution. If the logo did
not cause such a response by an ordinary reasonable citizen, then it would
not violate the Constitution.

If an ordinary citizen,
a reasonable person,
looking at that logo
felt that it had
religious significance,
then the logo violated
the Constitution.
The end result of our litigation was
that St. George stopped the electrical
subsidy and stopped using the logo but only after a long battle. The city
even asked the Supreme Court of the
United States to review the case. That
request, made for the city by Rex Lee,
former United States solicitor general
and now president of Brigham Young
University, was rejected.
One nice part of that lawsuit was
that when we had won, we made an
application to the court for our attorney
fees. The fair city of St. George paid
$85,000 in attorney's fees for me to
teach them a lesson. I got them to read
the First Amendment and maybe understand it, and then I got to send
them a bill for tuition.
Other litigation I have been recently involved in, on behalf of the Utah
Chapter of the Society of Separationists, relates to a case pending before
the Supreme Court of the United
States. That case is Lee v. Weisman3
which deals with a practice of the
Providence, Rhode Island, school district, in having prayer before junior

3Editor's Note: The Supreme Court of the

United States on June 24, 1992, ruled in
Weisman and upheld the lower courts' ban
on prayers at public school graduation
July 1992

high school graduation ceremonies.

Take note that this happened in Providence, Rhode Island. Given the name
of their city, why would they even
need prayers? Providence, Rhode Island,
had in its school district a practice of
prayers before graduation ceremonies
in junior high schools. That was challenged, approximately two years ago,
by a Jewish parent who said,"] and my
child choose not to sit through a graduation ceremony and listen to government sponsored prayers to Jesus Christ
or any other god." At the trial court,
the judge ruled that prayers before
graduation ceremonies violated the
federal Constitution and said, "Stop."
The court of appeals ruled the same
way, saying there should be no prayers
offered in those public schools.
Approximately a year ago, the Providence School District petitioned the
Supreme Court of the United States
for a discretionary review, called a
writ of certiorari. If the Supreme Court
justices think a case on a writ of certiorari is important, they will review
the decision. So, the Rhode Island
School District, having lost twice,
petitioned the Supreme Court for the
discretionary review. That request
was granted.
That case spawned three lawsuits in
Utah on behalf of the Society of Separationists. As we noted earlier, the
Utah Constitution says that no public
resources or money shall be appropriated or used for any religious worship,
exercise, or instruction. The first lawsuit deals with action by the Utah
attorney general, R. Paul Van Dam.
The attorney general filed an amicus
brief, on behalf of the state of Utah,
supporting the position of the Providence Rhode Island School District
seeking Supreme Court review. As I
mentioned, the school district lost,
prayers were outlawed, and it then
asked the Supreme Court to review
the lower court's decision. Obviously,
the only reason it wanted a Supreme
Court review was to reverse the lower
courts. The Utah attorney general
filed a friend of the court brief, urging
the Supreme Court to review the case.
The only purpose for a Supreme Court
American Atheist

review was to reverse the lower courts.
The Utah attorney general claimed,
"We're neutral but we want the United
States Supreme Court to review that
case." Then R. Paul Van Dam said,
"We're going to file a brief on the
merits." First step is getting the Supreme Court of the United States to
review the case; then one files written
arguments on the merits. After we saw
his neutral brief asking for the discretionary review, we knew his brief on
the merits would not be neutral.
We filed suit in Utah state court
based on the Utah Constitution. Our
case said the promised filing of a brief
on the merits in Lee v. Weisman,
which is obviously going to be proprayer, violates the Utah Constitution. We argued that using state money
to support a religious practice in
another state, supporting this Rhode
Island appeal, encouraging the Supreme
Court of the United States to review it,
and aiding the Providence, Rhode
Island School District is supporting
prayer and religious exercises in another
state. So we sued the Utah attorney
general and said, "Don't file that other
brief because you will again violate
the Utah Constitution."
In the midst of our litigation, Van
Dam had second thoughts and decided
not to file the brief. The trial court
judge threw us out, saying, "Well, Paul
Van Dam's promised not to file the
next brief." And we replied, "Now, wait
a minute. This is an important issue;
this conduct may reoccur." So we have
filed an appeal to the Utah Supreme
Court. We are arguing that although
he has already filed the first brief for
the discretionary review, and he has
now promised not to file another one
on the merits, we want to make sure it
does not happen again. We want the
Utah Supreme Court to say what he
did and what he proposed to do was
Our second case involves an expenditure of $10,000 by Jay Taggart, the
former Utah State Superintendent of
Schools. He got so excited about the
Rhode Island school prayer litigation
that he gratuitously sent $10,000 to
the Providence School District and
Austin, Texas

said, "Here's some money to help with

your litigation." He took Utah taxpayers' money, mailed it off to Rhode
Island, and said, "We want to support
your position." He claimed that giving
away that $10,000 would be cheaper
than litigating the same issue in Utah.
He saw nothing wrong in sending off
$10,000 of taxpayer's funds to support
the Rhode Island prayer case. He said,
"Well, there has been all this litigation
but no final answer. We want the Supreme Court to look at it. We want a
resolution, and by spending that $10,000
we hope to get a final resolution. We
want a definite binding final decision."
Needless to say, he did not send money
to the ACLU, which is representing
the other side in the Rhode Island
case. Supporting the ACLU would
have also helped get the matter litigated
and finally resolved. He chose to send
$10,000 only to the Rhode Island
School District. Again, Utah's neutrality at its finest was displayed.
+Editor's Note: In April 1992, the Utah
Supreme Court dismissed the case. The
issue is also addressed, however, in a third
Utah suit: Society of Sepatationists. Inc., a
Maryland nonprofit corporation; and
Harvey Gaster, Plaintiffs, v. The Board of
Ediicatiou of Alpine School District, a
body corporate and politic of the State of
Utah, Defendant, Civil No. 91-0400647, in
the fourth Judicial District Court in and
for Utah County, State of Utah.

Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam

July 1992

We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the

Society of Separationists against State
School Superintendent Taggart. We
were thrown out of court on that one
also. The trial court found nothing
wrong with him giving away that
money; the judge didn't see a violation
of the Utah Constitution. We are on
appeal in that case to the Utah Supreme
The third Utah lawsuit that came
out of the Rhode Island case is filed
against the Alpine School District.
Alpine School District covers the
northern half of Utah County, thirty
miles south of Salt Lake City. Utah
County is the home of Brigham Young
University. Some of you who follow
football or basketball may have heard
of it. The Alpine School District has
had prayers, an invocation, and a benediction at its high school graduations
for more than eighty years. It was
already involved in litigation in federal court in Salt Lake City in which
the ACLU brought suit against that
practice. That federal case, based
largely on the federal Constitutional
provisions, is stalled right now because
United States District Court Judge J.
Thomas Greene (of our temple lighting
lawsuit) wants to avoid making a
wrong decision. Judge Greene has
stayed all the proceedings in that
ACLU case until the Supreme Court
of the United States renders a decision
in Lee v. Weisman.
The Alpine School District filed an
amicus brief on the merits with the
Supreme Court in Lee v. Weisman.
That brief is clearly pro-prayer with
no pretense of neutrality. The Alpine
School District used Utah taxpayer
money to support a religious practice
in Rhode Island. The Alpine School
District had so much heat and pressure from the public about wasting
money on litigating prayer in schools
that it authorized the filing of that
amicus brief in Lee VS. Weisman in a
secret meeting, violating the Utah
Open Meetings Act. So we filed a lawsuit saying, "Hey, wait a minute. You
shouldn't be spending taxpayers' money
to support religion in Rhode Island.
You shouldn't be spending it in secret
Page 45


meetings." Since we were in court anyway and talking about the Utah Constitution, we added a third cause of
action. Under the Utah Constitution,
we want Alpine School District to
cease having prayers at high school
graduation ceremonies.
We brought that lawsuit in state
court solely under the Utah Constitution. In that litigation, again, the judge
does not want to make a decision; he
has stayed the proceedings in our
state case until federal Judge Greene
rules in the ACLU lawsuit against
Alpine in federal court. And that case
is stayed until the Supreme Court
rules in Lee v. Weisman. So our Alpine
litigation is at a standstill. Another
factor in that case is that our judge has
announced that he is retiring. By the
time that case livens up and the stay
is lifted, our judge will be off the bench
and off the hooks
The final litigation in which we
have been involved, a notable, recent
success, is against the Salt Lake City
Council. Salt Lake was founded in
1847, right after the Mormonites
arrived. The City of Salt Lake had a
commission form of government until
1980, when it was changed to a mayorcouncil form. One of the first acts of
that new city council was to announce,
"We want a better and different opening ceremony, we're going to have the
Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation." For ten years prior to that, the
old city commission did not have
invocations before its meetings. We
are not sure exactly why. I doubt it
was because of any conscious thought
or concern for people's rights. Probably
there was an oversight. But in 1980 it
announced that it would start a practice of opening prayer.
Richard Andrews and Chris Allen
from the Utah Chapter of the Society
of Separationists protested to no avail.
The city council went so far as to

SEditor's Note: After Lee v. Weisman was

decided, the judge lifted his stay. The Society of Separationists has filed an amended
brief citing the Weisman decision and
seeking attorney's fees.
Page 46

Jay Taggart, former Utah State Superintendent of Schools, donated state funds
to keep prayers in Rhode Island schools.

actively recruit people to give prayers,

rather than simply saying, "If you want
to pray, please call us." Annually, a city
council employee spent a day or two
calling all the local churches and saying, "Are you interested? Do you want
to come in? Do you want to offer a
prayer?" That recruitment became important when the city argued in our
lawsuit that "We're only spending
thirty seconds of time saying a prayer;
it's no big deal. Using a microphone,
lights, a room, a podium, for thirty
seconds to pray is no big deal. We just
let people offer prayers. We aren't
spending enough government money
that it matters."
To their argument, "We're only
spending a little bit of money," the response is, "It doesn't matter how much
money you're spending; if you're violating the Constitution,
even by a
penI).y,you are wrong and must stop."
We pointed out the city employee
who had spent days recruiting people
to offer prayers. The judge homed in
on that saying, "You are encouraging
people to pray; you are recruiting
them; you are actively encouraging
prayer; you're spending government
July 1992

money for the salary of that employee."

That active recruitment
made an
impact on the judge's decision.
When we challenged the city council, it also responded by saying, 'This
is a long-held tradition; in the 1800s
the Salt Lake City Commission prayed
at every meeting. And the Utah Legislature opens its sessions each day with
a prayer." That argument is translated
as, {{We'vebeen able to get away with
it this long; why are you challenging
us now?"That's its tradition argument.
Another defense was "we're offering
nondenominational prayers, non-proselytizing prayers; so why should anybody be offended?" Interestingly, when
persons signed up to give prayers, the
city would give them a list of rules
drafted by the city attorney. The rules
say to make the prayer nondenominational, to please make it non-proselytizing, to not mention the name of any
specific deity, and please to not offend
any other religions. The people giving
the prayers were handed that list of
rules and told how to pray. I brought
that up to the council and the city
attorney, and said, "Look, you are telling people how to pray! Isn't that offensive?" They did not make the connection. They said, {{Weare only suggesting." They did not understand.
major concern of the First Amendment
is that when government starts encouraging prayer, it is a very easy next
step to controlling prayer or telling
people (or suggesting, if you will)
when or how they should pray.
The Mormons, as a majority in Salt
Lake City, do not understand that
nicety. They do not understand that
the valued right that they have to
practice their distinct religion may be
affected if they let government encourage, control, or even suggest a
version of prayer.
Another notable argument was that
prayer before the city council could be
offered by anyone. In fact, the city
attempted to recruit people from what
it considered to be non-mainstream
religions to offer prayers. In actuality,
only representatives of fairly mainstream churches gave prayers, and
most of the time, the prayers were
American Atheist

from members of the Mormon faith.
The falsity of this professed open and
equal access will be shown on the day
a Satan worshipper appears before the
Utah state legislature and says, "Please
bow your heads, fold your arms and
join me in a prayer to our Almighty
Lucifer," and then takes a swig from a
vial of real blood.
When people talk about approving
prayer at government meetings or at
high school graduations, they think of
prayers from their own religions and
always assume the prayers offered will
be mainstream and palatable to the
masses. I look forward to the day
elected officials in Utah refuse to
allow a Satanist or a witch to offer a
prayer or drink blood before a government meeting. Johnny-on-the-spot, I
will be there to file a lawsuit.
Another argument the city council
made was that the prayer was voluntary; there was no coercion. It said, "If
you were at a city council meeting and
somebody started praying, you can get
up and leave." Of course, this is wrong.
If one attends a city council meeting
to ask for a business license or a zoning variance, and the officials see one
grimacing or leaving when they pray,
that is going to influence them. Again,
the city council and the city attorney
do not understand that coercion and
The final argument used was the
most unusual; it was simply: "The
Utah Constitution doesn't mean what
it says. Although the constitution,
says 'don't spend any money on religious exercise,' it doesn't mean that."
The logical conclusion of that argument is that Utah lied when it became
a member of the Union. Utah lied to
Congress when it said, "We'll no longer
be a theocracy." An interesting twist
to that argument is that I was accused
of being "a strict constructionist"
since I said simply, "Read the Constitution and do what it says." I advocated
the strict and literal reading of the
state constitution as opposed to those
damn liberals who always seek broad
interpretations and find new and different meanings hidden in the words
of the Constitution.
Austin, Texas

The falsity of this

professed open and
equal access will be
shown on the day
a Satan worshipper
appears before the
Utah state legislature
and says,
"Please bow your heads,
fold your arms
and join me in a prayer
to our Almighty
Luciiet,' and then
takes a swig from
a vial of real blood.
My dealings with the Salt Lake City
council members and with the government officials in general convince me
that they have no concept of the feelings of minorities; they have no idea of
the concerns of people not of their
religious faith, or of people who have
no religious faith. The government
officials simply do not understand
when someone says, "Wait, stop, I
don't want to be forced to be a part of
your religion. Don't use my tax money
to further your religious views."
From this litigation has corne a
bunch of letters to the editor to Salt
Lake's two newspapers. One suggestion from a letter to the editor was
simply, "Let's put the issue of prayer at
government meetings to a vote. Let's
have the majority decide." That is odd
in Utah. The Mormons do not remember their own history. Today, as the
majority in Utah, the Mormons are
saying, "Let's put it to a vote of the
majority." If Mormonism had been put
to a majority vote a hundred and fifty
years ago in Illinois, Mormonites
July 1992

would have been banished from the

face of the earth. Even a hundred
years ago in Utah, the Mormons were
suffering great persecution from the
federal government for their religious
beliefs in the name of the majority.
The majority should never rule on
matters of religion - not in 1840, not
in 1890, and not today.
In that Salt Lake City Councillitigation, we won the first round. In his
opinion, the judge came down loud
and clear on our side. He said, "The
Utah Constitution means what it says.
'Spend no money' means spend no
money." The judge did not buy any of
the city's desperate and novel arguments.
When I presented the final order to
the judge to sign, the city attorney
carne back and said, "Your honor, this
outlaws prayer. And we don't know
what a prayer is." He asked, "If we read
off the back of a dollar bill, 'In God We
Trust/ is that a prayer? If we say the
Pledge of Allegiance, and recite 'One
nation under God/ is that a prayer?"
The judge did not buy that argument
and essentially said, "You know what
a prayer is." He signed the order.
I am reminded in that regard of
what a justice of the United States
Supreme Court once said while the
Court was having a continuing problem
defining pornography. The justice
said, "I can't define pornography, but I
know it when I see it." Perhaps, that is
how it should work with prayer. I suggested to the city attorney, "Maybe
you can't define a prayer, but you'll
know one when you see one."
The city council has appealed and
its practice of prayer will be reviewed
by the Utah Supreme Court. I am optimistic that the court will follow the
decision of the trial court.
In response to our victory over the
city council, the Utah legislature has
threatened to amend the Utah Constitution to eliminate the strong church/
state separation language found in the
Utah constitution. Such an amendment requires a two-thirds vote of the
legislature and a majority vote of the
populace at a general election. The
move for an amendment was been
Page 47

quieted for now. It appears that there
will not be an attempt to amend the
constitution until after the Utah Supreme Court decides the case, and the
amendment will not be on the ballot
until 1994, if at all. I am hopeful that
with an appropriate ruling by the
Utah Supreme Court, dispelling some
of the pro-prayer and pro-amendment
hysteria we are now suffering, and
with some education of the public,
that an amendment will not be offered
or voted upon in Utah.
The first ten amendments to the
United States Constitution are a set of
negative rights. The Bill of Rights says
the government shall not enact a law
affecting this or that right. The federal
Bill of Rights sets minimum standards.
These are the minimum that every
state and the federal government must
follow. Individual states, however,
may place greater restrictions on government action than the federal Constitution does. States have the power
to give more rights and more protections to their citizens than set out in
the federal Constitution. As I indicated earlier, the Utah state constitutional separation of church and state
provision is more detailed and more
specific than its federal counterpart,
and says that no government money
shall be spent for religious exercise.
Most states have religious protection provisions in their state constitutions. Ten states have establishment
clauses virtually identical to the federal provision - "Congress shall make
no law respecting an establishment of
religion." Those ten states have additional provisions. Five of those state
constitutions also provide that no individual shall be compelled to contribute to a religious institution, denomination, or place of worship. Nine of
those states have constitutional provisions that prohibit the state from exercising any preference or discrimination respecting a religious denomination. Twenty-three states have provisions which include both of those
additional protections.
Twenty-five states specifically forbid
the appropriation of state funds or
property in aid of any religious activity.
Page 48

As an example, the state of Idaho provision recites that

the legislature shall never make
any appropriation or pay from
any public fund whatsoever, anything in aid of any church, or sectarian or religious society, or for
any sectarian or religious purpose; nor shall any grant or donation of land, money or other personal property ever be made by
the state to any church, or for any
sectarian or religious purpose.
Four state constitutions prohibit indirect as well as direct aid for religions.
Those state constitutional
provisions may be a means of salvation, if


you will, to protect the rights of religious minorities and of nonreligious

people. In litigation before the Supreme
Court of the United States in the near
future, I fear we are going to see a proreligion court. We will have to fall
back on state constitutional
provisions, as we have done in Utah, and
remind state officials that those state
provisions are to protect the rights of
all people. Those provisions which
often provide more specific protection
should be enforced and followed.
I hope that state courts and state
constitutions will be a source of protection while the Supreme Court of
the United States goes through what
may be a conservative, unpleasant experience for individual rights. ~

Attorney Brian Barnard is presented the 1991 American Atheist Litigation Award
by Richard Andrews, a Utah representative of American Atheists. Conferred by
American Atheists at its annual national convention, the award recognizes significant contributions to separation of state and church in the United States.
July 1992

American Atheist

A review of state constitutional

regarding separation of church and state

The United States Constitution provides: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."The Utah Constitution provides:
The State shall -make no law
respecting an establishment of
religion or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof. ... There shall
be no union of Church and State,
nor shall any church dominate
the State or interfere with its
functions. No public money or
property shall be appropriated
for or applied to any religious
worship, exercise or instruction,
or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment .... (Art. I,
Sec. 4, Utah Constitution)
Eleven states have establishment
clauses virtually identical to the federal provision:
Alabama: Const. Art. I, 3.
Alaska: Const. Art. I, 4.
California: Const. Art. I, 4.
Florida: Const. Art. I, 3.
Hawaii: Const. Art. I, 4.
Iowa: Const. Art. I, 3.
Louisiana: Const. Art. I, 8.
Montana: Const. Art. I, 5.
South Carolina: Const. Art. I, 2.
Utah: Const. Decl. of Rights,

Art. I, 4.
New Jersey: This charter also

forbids establishment of "one

religious sect in preference to
another" (Art. I, 4).
Five states mandate that no one
shall be compelled to contribute to a
religious institution, denomination or
place of worship. The precise wording
varies from charter to charter:

Iowa: Const. Art. I, 3.

Maryland: Const. Decl. of Rights;

Art. 36.
Michigan: Const. Art. I, 4.
Rhode Island: Const. Art. I, 3.
Vermont: Const. Ch. I, Art. 3.
Austin, Texas

Nine states constitutions prohibit

the state from exercising any preference
or discrimination respecting a religious

Twenty-five state constitutions specifically forbid the appropriation of

state funds or property in the aid or
support of religious activity:

California: Const. Art. I, 4.

Maine: Const. Art. I, 3.
Massachusetts: Const. Decl. of

Arizona: Const. Art. II, 12, Art.

Rights, pt. I, Art. 3.

Mississippi: Const. Art: III, 18.
Nevada: Const. Art. I, 4.
New York: Const. Art. I, 3.
North Carolina: Const. Art. I, 19.
North Dakota: Const. Art. I, 3.
Wyoming: Const. Art. I. 18.

Constitutions of twenty-three states

both protect the individual's right not
to donate to religion and forbid the
state from doing so:
Alabama: Const. Art. I, 3.
Arkansas: Const. Art. II, 24.
Colorado: Const. Art. II, 4 (fino

person shall be required to

attend or support any ministry
or place of worship, religious
sect, or denomination against
his consent. Nor shall any
preference be given by law to
any religious denomination or
mode of worship").
Connecticut: Const. Art. VII.
Delaware: Const. Art. I, 1.
Idaho: Const. Art. I, 4.
Illinois: Const. Art. I, 3.
Indiana: Const. Art. I, 4.
Kansas: Const. Bill Of Rights, 7.
KentUCky: Const. 5.
Minnesota: Const. Art. I, 16.
Missouri: Const. Art. I, 6-7.
Nebraska: Const. Art. I, 4.
New Jersey: Const. Art. I, 3, 4.
New Mexico: Const. Art. II, II.
Ohio: Const. Art. I, 7.
Pennsylvania: Const. Art. I, 3.
South Dakota: Const. Art. VI, 3.
Tennessee: Const. Art. I, 3.
Texas: Const. Art. I, 6.
Virginia: Const. Art. I, 16.
West Virginia: Const. Art. III, 15.
Wisconsin: Const. Art. I, 18.
July 1992

IX, 10.
California: Const. Art. XVI,S.
Colorado: Const. Art. IX, 7.
Florida: Const. Art. I, 3.
Georgia: Const. Art. I, 2, 7.
Idaho: Const. Art. IX, 5 (fI[T]he

legislature ... shall [n]ever

make any appropriation,
pay from any public fund or
moneys whatever, anything in
aid of any church or sectarian
or religious society, or for any
sec tarian or religious purpose ... nor shall any grant
or donation of land, money, or
other personal property ever
be made by the state ... to
any church or for any sectarian or religious purpose"],
Illinois: Const. Art. X, 3.
Indiana: Const. Art. I, 6.
Massachusetts: Const. Art. 46, 2.
Michigan: Const. Art. I, 4.
Minnesota: Const. Art. I, 16.
Mississippi: Const. Art. IV, 66.
Missouri: Const. Art. I, 7.
Montana: Const. Art. X, 6.
Nevada: Const. Art. XI, 10.
Oklahoma: Const. Art. II,S.
Oregon: Const. Art. I, 5.
Pennsylvania: Const. Art. III, 29.
South Dakota: Const. Art. VI, 3.
Texas: Const. Art. I, 7.
Utah: Const. Decl. of Rights,
Art. I, 4.
Virginia: Const. Art. IV, 16.
Washington: Const. Art. I, II.
Wisconsin: Con st. Art. I, 18.
Wyoming: Const. Art. I, 19.
Four state constitutions prohibit indirect as well as direct aid for religion:
Florida: Const. Art. I, 3.
Missouri: Art. I, 7.
Montana: Const. Art. X, 6.
Oklahoma: Const. Art. II,S.
Page 49

Body ownership rights of children:
the e.i'rctrmcdaion question
Marilyn Fayre Milos, R.N., is the
founder and executive director of the
National Organization
of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
(NOCIRC) and the co-founder of the
International Symposia on Circumcision. She has spoken widely on the
subiect of genital mutilation of both
males and females. She produced an
educational videotape, "Informed
Consent" and a documentary on the
First International Symposium
Circumcision. She is the editor of the
NOCIRC Newsletter. In 1988, the California Nurses' Association presented
her with the Maureen Ricke award
"for her dedication and unwavering
commitment to righting a wrong" and
"for her work on behalf of children to
raise public consciousness
America's most unnecessary surgery."
The following text is adapted from
her presentation on Sunday, April 19,
1992, at the Twenty-second Annual
National Convention of American

Circumcision is not primarily

a medical issue but rather has
its roots in deeply held religious
beliefs and social customs that
defy rational and humane understanding.
- Tames Prescott, Ph.D.

didn't know what circumcision

was when I consented to the surgery for my sons, but I had been
told it was medically necessary and
that it wouldn't hurt the baby. I did not
witness a circumcision until 1979,
when I was a nursing student. I was
shocked to see a baby strapped spreadeagle to a plastic board and, without
an anesthetic, have part of his penis
cut off, and to hear his piercing screams.
Equally shocking was the doctor's
comment, "There is no medical reason
Page 50

Are there valid

scientific or cultural
reasons for

F. Milos,


for doing this." "Then why do it?" I

thought. My research and my activism began on that day.
Initially, I thought circumcision
was a medical issue and challenged it
as such. But I soon realized that circumcision is a deeper and more complex issue than the medical excuses
used to justify it.

Some researchers believe that circumcision was practiced as early as
July 1992

6,000 years ago on the west coast of

Africa. Noted anthropologist Ashley
Montagu, at the Second International
Symposium on Circumcision, related
the myth that predates written history: every human being is endowed
with both male and female parts. In
the man, the female part is the prepuce
(foreskin) and in the woman, the male
part is the clitoris. Circumcision and
excision are the remedy.
The earliest record of circumcision,
an Egyptian bas-relief, dates back to
2800 s.c.' Theories suggest that circumcision was practiced for religious
reasons, as a punitive measure, as a
puberty or premarital rite, as an absolution against the feared toxic influences of vaginal (hymenal) blood, and
as a mark of slavery. Some claim it was
a diminution of human sacrifice. The
first written documentation
of circumcision appears in the Old Testament. Both Jews and Moslems circumcise in accordance with Abraham's
covenant with god (Gen. 17:10),which
historians date to 1897 B.C2 Moslems
also perform female circumcision,
genital mutilation that often includes
clitoridectomy, a practice probably of
African origin."
The circumcision which Abraham
performed on himself and his sons was
the removal of just the tip of the foreskin. This type of circumcision (milah)
was practiced by Jews for about 2,000
years. A second step to ritual circum-

IJames De Meo, "Desertification and the

Origins of Armoring: the Saharasian Connection," Journal of Orgonomy, vol. 24, no.
1 (1990): pp. 99-110.
2Jim Bigelow, The Joy of Un circumcising!
(Aptos, CA: Hourglass, 1992), p. 55.
3Mohamed Badawi, "Epidemiology of Female
Sexual Castration in Cairo, Egypt," The
Truth Seeker vol. 1, no. 3 (1989): pp. 31-34.
American Atheist

cision (pariah), the tearing of the remaining inner lining of the foreskin
off the glans (the head of the penis to
which the foreskin is normally attached
during infancy) and, with a sharpened
fingernail, removing all mucous tissue
that comprises the inner lining of the
foreskin, was introduced during the
Hellenic period and had become the
predominant method of circumcision
by about A.D. 140.4 This radical form of
circumcision is the same procedure
used on the majority of American
newborn males today. The dulling of
sensation following denudation of the
glans led some Jewish historians to
speculate that circumcision was intended to curb the sexual appetite:
As regards circumcision,
think that one of its objects is to
limit sexual intercourse, and to
weaken the organ of generation
as far as possible, and thus cause
man to be moderate .... This
commandment has not been enjoined as a complement to a deficient physical creation, but as a
means for perfecting man's moral
shortcomings. The bodily injury
caused to that organ is exactly
that which is desired; it does not
interrupt any vital function, nor
does it destroy the power of
generation. Circumcision simply
counteracts excessive lust; for
there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes
lessens the natural enjoyment;
the organ necessarily becomes
weak when it loses blood and is
deprived of its covering from the
One final step in the circumcision
procedure, the metzitzah, was added
to the ritual during the Talmudic period (A.D. 500-625):

4Bigelow, Joy, p. 56.

sMoses Maimonides, The Guide for the
Perplexed (New York: Dover Publications,
Inc., 19561, p. 267.
Austin, Texas

Now follows the exsuction of

the wound in such a manner that
the mohel takes the circumcised
member into his mouth and with
two or three draughts sucks the
blood out of the wounded part.
He then takes a mouthful of
wine from a goblet and spurts it,
in two or three intervals, on the
This procedure, never adopted by
all Jews, was modified by some to include the use of a glass tube for suck-

Theories suggest that

. .
cucumctsion was
practiced for religious
reasons, as a punitive
measure, as a puberty or
premarital rite, as an
absolution against the
feared toxic influences
of vaginal (hymenal)
blood, and as a mark of
slavery. Some claim it
was a diminution of
human sacrifice.
ing the blood to avoid the spread of disease through mouth-to-genital contact.
With the fear of the spread of AIDS
during the 1980s, the rabbinate also
approved placing cotton in the glass
tube to prevent blood from entering
the mohel's mouth. The ritual circumcision commanded by god has been
altered and exalted by man in each of
its forms.
While some were altering ordained
instructions, others were pondering

6Felix Bryk, Sex and Circumcision (North

Hollywood, CA: Brandon House, 19671, pp.
July 1992

motives that would allow for such a

practice. Psychoanalysts looked for
unconscious motives, while anthropologists considered rites of passage.
To understand the functions of circumcision, Karen Ericksen Paige and
IeffreyPaige studied a worldwide sample of 114 tribal societies.
We first asked how prevalent
the custom is, and where it occurs. Only 23 cultures in our
sample practice circumcision,
and they tend to share a particular economy and form of social
organization. These societies are
all advanced horticulturists
nomadic pastoralists - such as
the Tiv of Nigeria or the Kazakh
of Russia - that share a common
political structure.
They are
composed of what we call strong
fraternal-interest groups, related
males who are united to pursue
common political objectives. Because of the strength of these
large groups, kinsmen are especially successful in defending
property, allocating resources,
and negotiating explicit agreements over women and wealth.
Women are pawns in such societies, exchanged in kinship bargains and marriages.
We next asked: For whom is
the circumcision ceremony performed? Not for the child, not
even for the father. The child is
a passive participant, according
to most ethnographic accounts.
The most common pattern is for
a village elder or chief to command a reluctant father to have
his sons circumcised. Among
the Thonga, the chief orders the
ceremony for all boys between
10 and 16, and if necessary he
will use force to carry out the
command. Victor Turner, who
studied the Ndembu of Zambia,
observed one wily old chief revive
his flagging power over factions
within his tribe. He called for a
circumcision of the warring factions' sons - and he presided.
Because the timing of the ritual
Page 51

varies from infancy to adolescence, both across and within
cultures, kinsmen continually
fight over who should do the
operating and when. Sometimes
the scheduling of a circumcision
settles a brewing feud - or escalates one.
Evidence like this persuaded
us that male circumcisions are a
public demonstration by fathers
to elder kinsmen of their loyalty
to the fraternal-interest group.
The greatest sign of loyalty is to
entrust one's son's reproductive
ability to someone else, and it is
precisely because the ritual involves this risk that it is such a
powerful emotional symbol. ...
There is a reason these societies perform ritual mutilations on
the penis, the organ of procreation and power, and not on the.
ear, or finger, or elbow. In societies that practice circumcision,
the obedience of fathers and sons
is of particular economic and
political importance. A father
who leaves the fraternal-interest
group, taking with him the reproductive power of his sons and
of his sons' sons, represents an
immense threat to the continuing ability of the group to defend
itself and its valuable resources.
Among tribes that lack fraternalinterest groups, such as the Mbuti
break off from their kin groups
frequently; but the departure of
a son's family is no loss of power
or wealth for the father, since
they control nothing of great
value in the first place. Only
when military and political power
depends on continual expansion
of males in the father's line does
the departure of a son and his reproductive assets represent a
major political crisis ....
The ancient Hebrews had the
exact form of economic and political organization
in which
male circumcision (and female
virginity tests at marriage) is
most likely to occur today ....
Page 52

Westerners commonly assume that the practice of circumcision began with Abraham's covenant with Yahweh. Egyptian reliefs depicting the practice, however, predate the alleged time of that event by a thousand years.

Modern Jews often defend circumcision by arguing that the

custom, like the pork taboo, protected Jews against disease and
illness whether they were aware
of it or not. But the ancient Jews
knew exactly what circumcision
was: a loyalty oath, a political
deal. Any Jew, even today, who
does not circumcise his sons is
announcing the limitations of
his loyalty to the tribe.'
A reexamination of circumcision is
occurring within the Jewish community today, and some Jewish parents
are celebrating their sons' births with
alternative btit (naming) ceremonies.
Interestingly, the first Christians were
Jews who also argued the merits of the
sign of the covenant. This, probably
the first, circumcision controversy is
described in the New Testament beginning with Acts 15.The New Testament brought a different proclamation: "For in Jesus Christ neither cir-

cumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh

by 10ve."B


III yth

to medjcfne

Circumcision evolved, then, from a

religious ritual or puberty rite into
routine surgery for "health" reasons in
the English-speaking countries during
the late 1800s when the etiology of
most diseases was unknown:
Within the miasma of myth and
ignorance, a theory emerged that
masturbation caused many and
varied ills. It seemed logical to
some physicians to perform genital surgery on both sexes to stop
In 1891, P. C. Remondino, MD., advocated circumcision to prevent or
cure alcoholism, epilepsy, asthma,
hernia, gout, rheumatism, curvature

/Karen Ericksen Paige, "The Ritual of Circumcision," Human Nature, 1978: pp. 4048.

July 1992

9Edward Wallerstein, "Circumcision: The

Uniquely American Medical Enigma,"
Urological Clinics of North America, vol.
12, no. 1 (19851: pp. 123-32.




of the spine and headaches.'? His book
was last printed in 1974.
By the turn of the century, when the
cause of disease was no longer blamed
on masturbation, circumcision as a
cure for masturbation was not only
futile, it was also meaningless. However, circumcision had already become widelyaccepted, so new excuses were used to validate it. About this
same time, modern medicine was
coming into its own:
The role of the doctor, as well
as that of the entire field of medicine, changed dramatically. The
priest and the minister rather
suddenly found themselves competing with the doctor in terms
of giving advice and counsel in
matters of health and even life
style .... Modern medicine at
that point in its history began to
take on a rather
aura .... 11
Indeed, our modern medicine men
are trusted as reverently as the medicine men or tribal priests of earlier
times. And we have trusted them as
they have adopted one excuse after
another to justify and perpetuate the
routine practice of a surgery most of
the world has never even considered.
Let's look at some of the most common
Hygiene and prevention of venerealdiseases became popular excuses for
circumcision during World War I. But,
while personal hygiene is a major justification for circumcision
in the
United States, the experience of the
world's 85 percent intact men indicates that the intact penis is easily
cared for. Hygiene of male or female
genitalia is simply a matter of common
sense. Washing with warm water is all
that is necessary. Leonard J. Marino,
M.D., wrote:

C.Remondino,History of Circumcision
from the Earliest Times to the Present
(Philadelphia: Davis, 1891; reprint, New
York:AMS Press, 1974),pp. 161-89.
IIBigelow,Joy, p. 83.

Austin, Texas

After the age of reason, one

hopes that a boy who has already
learned to tie his shoes can be
cajoled into washing behind his
ears and directed to clean his
penis. It is painless, takes only a
few seconds, and when it takes
any longer is probably associated
with a smile."
The American Academy of Pediatrics claims: "good personal hygiene
would offer all the advantages of routine circumcision without the attendant surgical risk."13

As the American
medical community was
finding one excuse after
another to justify
. .
its European
counterpart was
researching the normal
structure and function
of the external male
Venereal diseases have not been
prevented by circumcision because
the foreskin does not cause them.
There is an epidemic of sexually
transmitted diseases in the United
States today where most sexually active men are circumcised. Contact
with specific organisms causes specific
diseases, and education about and the
practice of safe sex, not amputation of
healthy body parts of newborns, will

12LeonardJ.Marino, A Reappraisal of Neo(New York: S.M.B.

Celsius, 1980),p. 6.
13American Academy of Pediatrics AdHoc
Task Force on Circumcision, Pediatrics,
vol. 56, no. 4 (1975):pp. 610-11.
natal Circumcision

July 1992

prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Prevention of penile cancer as an
excuse to perform prophylactic circumcision was adopted during the
1930s and is still used today. Yet, penile cancer, which has been documented in both circumcised and intact men, is an extremely rare disease
of elderly men, representing 0.5 percent of all cancers in men. It occurs at
"a rate of less than one case per 100,000
per year in the United States."!" Research indicates that good hygiene
prevents penile cancer and, according
to Dr. Sydney Gellis,
It is an incontestable fact ...
there are more deaths from circumcision each year than from
cancer of the penis. IS
Cervical cancer of women was
blamed on their non-circumcised sexual partners because of inaccurate
studies of the 1950s.16The most recent
American Academy of Pediatrics report
The strongest predisposing factors in cervical cancer are a history of intercourse at an early
age and multiple sexual partners."
Researcher bias and flawed medical
research was exposed in 1980 with the
publication of Edward Wallerstein's
book Circumcision:
An American

14JamesL. Snyder, "The Problem of Circumcision in America,"The Truth Seeker,

vol. 1, no. 3 (1989):p. 40.
ISSydneyS. Gellis, "Circumcision," American Journal of Diseases in Children, 1978,

no. 132:pp. 1168-69.

16EdwardWallerstein, Circumcision: An
American Health Fallacy (New York:
Springer, 1980),pp. 91-104. See also: E. L.
Wynder, et al., "AStudy of Environmental
Factors in Carcinoma of the Cervix,"
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 68, no. 84 (1954):pp. 1016-46.
17AAPTask Forceon Circumcision, Report
of the Task Force on Circumcision (Elk

Grove Village, IL: American Academy of

Pediatrics, 1989),p. 2.
Page 53

Heau]: Fallacy. Without

statistical support, proponents of circumcision moved right on to "social"
issues. A boy should "look like" his
father or his peers in the locker room.
Yet if dad had a finger missing, baby's
finger wouldn't be amputated to make
a match. With a simple explanation,
children can understand that there are
individual differences and be helped
to feel good about themselves. It may,
in fact, be the father who is worried
about being different from his son.
One man wrote:
What was so difficult in leaving my son intact was not that
my son would feel different in a
locker room, but that I would feel
different from him. I would then
have to accept that I'm an amputee from the wars of a past generation."
Protection against urinary tract infections (UTls) during the first year of
life and decreasing the risk of AIDS in
the sexually active male were embraced during the 1980s as new medical justifications for routine neonatal
circumcision. Not only have the UTI
studies been refuted, but common
sense tells us that non-circumcising
countries (Europe,Russia, Japan, China,
etc.) don't have an overwhelming "UTI
problem." And it defies reason to suggest that circumcision will decrease
the risk of AIDS in a country with one
of the highest circumcision rates and
one of the highest AIDS rates in the
As the American medical community was finding one excuse after another to justify circumcision, its European counterpart was researching the
normal structure and function of the
external male genitalia.

From medicine to politics

Medical enlightenment
began in
1949 with publication in the British
Medical Journal of Dr. Douglas

Moslems and Jews share the same rationale for ritual circumcision of males Abraham's covenant with his god - so it is not surprisingly that their circumcision
instruments are similar. Among those used are a split slab of wood (left), a split reed
(middle), a perforated plate through which the foreskin is drawn (upper right), and
the Jewish barzel (lower right). The foreskin is drawn through the slit of the barzel.

Cairdner's article, "The Fate of the

Foreskin."!" Gairdner declared that
the foreskin is normal, healthy tissue,
and its adherence to the glans by a
common membrane serves the important function of protecting the glans
penis from urine and feces in infancy
and early childhood. Following publication of this study, the British National Health Service discontinued
payment for the surgery and the practice ceased.
Nineteen years later, Dr. Jacob Oster,
a Danish medical officer, provided additional information on normal male

19Douglas Gairdner,
IS"A Father's Lament," NOCIRC Newsletter,
vol. 2, no. 2 (1987): p. 3.

Page 54

British Medical

"Fate of the Foreskin,"

1949, no. 2: p.


genitalia. His longitudinal study with

nearly 10,000 observations, published
in the British Medical Journal, reported
that the continuous, shared epithelium
of the foreskin and glans penis separates spontaneously during childhood.
He stressed that this natural process
should never be interfered with, and is
usually complete by the age of 18.20 Sir
James Spence, quoted in Oster's study,
The anatomists have not studied the form and the evolution of
the preputial orifice .... They

wJacob Oster, "Further Fate of the Foreskin,"

Archives of Diseases of Children, 1968, no.

43: pp. 200-203.

July 1992

American Atheist

do not understand that Nature
does not intend it to be stretched
or retracted .... What looks like
a pinpoint opening at 7 months
becomes a wide channel of communication at 17.

evidence. By doing so, the AAP had not

upheld its own professional code to
"Do No Harm," and had also withheld
essential information for helping parents make an informed choice.

Infozmed choice
More than two decades passed (during which millions of babies were circumcised) before the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued an official statement on circumcision. In
1975,the Academy declared "There is
no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn.?'
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concurred by
the end of 1978.
A 1984 AAP pamphlet, "Care of the
Uncircumcized [sic] Penis," disclosed
new information on the function of
the foreskin:
The glans at birth is delicate
and easily irritated by urine and
feces. The foreskin shields the
glans; with circumcision, this
protection is lost. In such cases,
the glans and especially the urinary opening [meatus] may become irritated or infected, causing
ulcers, meatitis [inflammation of
the meatus], and meatal stenosis
[a narrowing of the urinary opening]. Such problems virtually
never occur in uncircumcised
penises. The foreskin protects
the glans throughout life.22
This pamphlet clearly exposed some
of the dangers of circumcision. However, rather than cease the harmful
practice, in 1986 the AAP revised its
pamphlet and excluded this damning

21American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on the Fetus and Newborn, Standards and Recommendations
for Hospital
Care of Newborn Infants, 5th ed. (Evanston,
IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 1971):
p. 71.
22American Academy of Pediatrics, Care
of the Uncircumcized Penis (Elk Grove
Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 1984).
Austin, Texas

To help parents make an informed

choice, I wrote a pamphlet on circumcision for the hospital where I worked

To make sure our

patients were truly
informed, another nurse
and I made
a videotape of a baby
being circumcised.
This was all most
parents needed to say,
/IN o.I"

However, a few parents

still cling tenaciously
to this cultural practice
regardless of what their
sons must endure,
which is why circumcision is a human rights
issue, not an informed
consent issue.
as a postpartum nurse. I had become
painfully aware of the misinformation
being disseminated by doctors. Then,
some parents consented to the surgery, even after being informed that
(1) the foreskin is normal, healthy,
tissue; (2) circumcision has inherent risks including hemorrhage, infection, mutilation,
and death; (3) circumcision is excruciatingly painful, even when an anesJuly 1992

thetic is used; (4) circumcision leaves

both physical and emotional scars;
and (5) circumcision denies a human
being his inalienable right to his own
body. These parents, I thought, "haven't
seen and just don't know." To make
sure our patients were truly informed,
another nurse and I made a videotape
of a baby being circumcised. This was
all most parents needed to say, "No!"
However, a few parents still cling tenaciously to this cultural practice regardless of what their sons must endure, which is why circumcision is a
human rights issue, not an informed
consent issue." Psychotherapist Alice
Miller, in discussing female circumcision, explains this phenomenon:
Were they not themselves the
victims of this custom, based on
the inhuman demand that women should not derive pleasure
from the sexual act? Wouldn't
African women wish to protect
their daughters from this mutilation, from the brutal pain and
danger of infection from which
many die? Obviously they would
- were it not for the mechanisms enforcing the repression
of anger, the mechanism by which
anger is unconsciously projected
onto the next generation.
The removal of the twelveyear-old girl's clitoris, sometimes
with, sometimes without anesthesia, is carried out by women
who were once victims of the
same procedure. Their consciousness, however, has not registered
the reality of the situation. By repressing not only the pain but
also their anger and desire for
revenge, they have managed to
banish consciousness, even idealizing the custom. Of course,
they were unable to defend themselves as young girls and were
forced to repress their feelings.
Today, as a result of their repression, they can justify the procedure as harmless and necessary.
They cannot recall their repressed
anger and have never grieved
about what happened to them. It
Page 55

was a "dictate of nature." Consequently, they inflict the same
ordeal on their children without
so much as wishing to acknowledge what they are doing to
The circumcision videotape that
Sheila Curran, R.N., and I made at
Marin General Hospital in 1982 was
censored. We were not allowed to
show it to patients or at classes given
at the hospital by independent childbirth instructors. Doctors said, "It's
too much for parents to see." We replied, "If it's too much for parents to
see, surely it's too much for babies to
I attempted to balance the impossibly delicate position of providing parents with truthful information about
circumcision with not upsetting either
them or their doctors, who describe
the surgery in terms that mask reality:
"Shall we 'trim' him?" or "I'll just do a
little snipping." In 1985, I was fired by
Marin General Hospital for not keeping
my mouth shut. Three years later, I
received an award from the California
Nurses' Association for not keeping
my mouth shut. At the same hospital
today, doctors still provide inadequate
information, knowledgeable nurses
are afraid to tell the truth, parents remain uninformed, and babies continue
to suffer.
Once unemployed, I founded the
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers to
unite activist groups who had been
working independently
toward the
same goal. During this period, efforts
coalesced to further educate an unaware, unsuspecting public. Insurance
companies such as Blue Shield/Blue
Cross dropped coverage for routine
infant circumcision. And a lawsuit
was filed in behalf of the inalienable
rights of infants and children.

23 Alice Miller, Breaking Down the Wall of

Silence (New York:Dutton, 19911, pp. 7475.

Page 56 rights and the law

The practice of infant circumcision
was challenged in a 1984 lawsuit in
which the plaintiff, Adam London, alleged eight separate causes of action,
including battery and violation of the
willful cruelty, infliction of pain, child
abuse, and kidnapping statutes. The
court struck all except the battery
and the kidnapping and false imprisonment causes of action. The defen-

circumcision is not yet
considered to be
a barmful act,
even in the face of
overw belming evidence.
In several recent

malpractice lawsuits,
jurors listened to
gruesome testimony
describing crippling,
mutilation, and death,
yet still found
the negligent doctors
"not guilty."
dants (doctor and medical facility)
brought a motion for summary judgment saying that all of the facts were
agreed to and that the mother's consent excused both the charge of battery and of kidnapping and false imprisonment. The remaining issue then
was "does a parent have the legal power to consent to a surgical procedure
that has no medical purpose?" The
case was strictly an issue of law because the physician's own form stated
that circumcision had no medical purpose. The superior court ruled in favor
July 1992

of the defendants without ever addressing the only issue in the case.
The case went to the court of appeals
where it received an equally unenlightened judgment. During the oral
argument, one of the judges of the
court of appeals asked the plaintiff's
attorney, Richard W. Morris, if winning this lawsuit would infringe on
religious freedom. Attorney Morris
A human being is not born as
a Christian, a Moslem, a Jew, or
any other religion. The fact that
the child is born from parents of
a particular religion does not
make the child a member of that
religion by choice. Yet it is by
choice that a person selects either
the religion of the child's parents, some other religion, or no
religion at all. The issue, then, is
not the religious freedom of the
parents as presented by the Court
but the religious freedom of the
Keeping in mind the religious
freedom of the child, some religions (such as Hindu) ostracize
or prohibit a male who is circumcised to become a member of the
religion. However, if the child
(for example) was born of Jewish
parents and elected at the age of
majority to become a member of
the Jewish religion, he could
then cut off his foreskin to
join .... This would leave the
child free to choose which religion, if any, the child would like
to choose when the child became
of the age to do so.
The court of appeals sustained the
lower court's decision. The California
Supreme Court denied the petition for
review without comment. Lack of
funds prevented an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
While the judges of the court of
appeals did not protect the religious
freedom of the child, in 1988 the Committee on Bioethics of the American
Academy of Pediatrics made clear its
position on the subject:
American Atheist

However, the constitutional
guarantees of freedom of religion
do not sanction harming another
person in the practice of one's religion, and they do not allow religion to be a legal defense when
one harms another.
Unfortunately, circumcision is not
yet considered to be. a harmful act,
even in the face of overwhelming evidence. In several recent circumcision
malpractice lawsuits, jurors listened
to gruesome testimony describing
crippling, mutilation, and death, yet
still found the negligent doctors "not
guilty." Jurors protected the doctors
and defended the practice rather than
face the truth about the excruciating
pain we inflict on infants, the devastating iatrogenic complications of circumcision, and the importance of the
part we amputate from the bodies of
our babies.

The harm of circumcision

Circumcision is the most commonly
performed surgery in America, but no
records are kept to determine the complication rates of hemorrhage, infection, surgical mishaps or death. However, both the physical and psychological effects of circumcision are being
exposed and the life-long consequences of circumcision can no longer be
Overwhelming evidence indicates
that experiences during the preverbal
period affect the human being throughout life. Psychiatrist Rima Laibow explains:
An infant does retain significant memory traces of traumatic
events. When a child is subjected
to intolerable, overwhelming
pain, it conceptualizes mother as
both participatory and responsible regardless of mother's intent.
When in fact mother is truly
complicit, as in giving permission for unanesthetized surgery,
i.e., circumcision, the perception
of the infant of her culpability
and willingness
to have him
harmed is indelibly emplaced.
Austin, Texas

The consequences for impaired

bonding are significant.>'
Circumcision of an infant interferes
with maternal-infant bonding, is perceived by the baby as betrayal by the
mother, prohibits successful completion of the first developmental task of
establishing trust, encodes the brain
with the experience of violence inflicted on a part of the body that should be
experiencing pleasure, and occurs during the preverbal period when memory
is locked into the emotions. Frederick
Leboyer expressed his concern about
the long-term
Once we remember that all
that takes place during the first
days of life on the emotional
24RimaLaibow, Circumcision and Its Relationship to Attachment
(Syllabus of Abstracts, The Second International Symposium on Circumcision, San
Francisco, April 30, 1991), p. 14.


level shapes the pattern of all

future reactions, we cannot but
wonder why such a torture has
been inflicted on the child. How
could a being who has been aggressed in this way, while totally
helpless, develop into a relaxed,
loving, trusting personi=
During the last decade, courageous
American men have begun to acknowledge their pain, discuss their
physical and psychological scars, and
heal their wounds. Men who recognize
their loss are enraged because part of
their body was amputated without
their consent. Others, sexually dysfunctional because of circumcision,
have begun to ask for help. These are
the victims of circumcision who must
live with the tragic consequences of
an unnecessary surgery for the rest of
their lives. One man described his
25Frederick Leboyer, letter to Rosemary
Romberg, June 4, 1980.

Marilyn Milos' presentation at the 1992 Convention of American Atheists was followed by a vigorous - but friendly - question and answer session.
July 1992

Page 57

There have been times when I
wished that my foreskin was
intact. I have even gone so far as
to use condoms, cut and placed
in a tedious, time-consuming
task, on myself to simulate a
foreskin, so strong the desire to
know what all of my original
parts would feel like.
While this man tries to recapture
what was lost in infancy, others know
exactly what they are missing. Men
who were circumcised as adults can
clearly describe the difference. I received the following letter from a man
who, at the age of thirty-seven, was
circumcised without his consent while
under anesthesia.
My newly naked, sensitrve
glans penis was protected from
irritation with bandages. Slowly
the area lost its sensitivity and
as it did I realized I had lost
something rather vital. Stimuli
that had previously aroused ecstasy had relatively little effect.
There was a short period of depression but acceptance of the
situation developed, as it had to.
The acute sensitivity never returned, something rather precious
to a sensual hedonist had been
lost forever. ... Circumcision
destroys a very joyful aspect of
the human experience for both
males and females.
Two new books by health care professionals provide essential information on the subject. In Say No to Ciicumcision!, Thomas J. Ritter, M.D.,
describes the devastating effects of
circumcision on normal sexual functioning. Jim Bigelow, Ph.D., provides
information on non-surgical and surgical foreskin restoration techniques
in his book, The Joy of Uncircumcising! Interestingly, it was probably the
Jews who "were the first to devise ways
and means by which to restore their
foreskins."26 According to Josephus,
26Bigelow,Toy, p. 3.
Page 58

[T[hey also hid the circumcision

of their genitals, that even when
they were naked they might
appear to be Greeks.
Thousands of American men are in
the process of foreskin restoration.
Often, when a man recovers the glans
penis, not only is sensitivity restored,
so is self-esteem. He becomes a "survivor" rather than a "victim" of what he
considers to be a violent violation of
his body. Men now describe the extensive scars, missing hunks or slices,

Men now describe the

extensive scars,
missing hunks or slices,
curvatures, pain,
tightness with erection,
loss of sensitivity, and
sexual dysfunction that
are the consequences of
their circumcisions.
curvatures, pain, tightness with erection, loss of sensitivity, and sexual
dysfunction that are the consequences
of their circumcisions. These problems
are not yet acknowledged by the medical community as the consequences
of a surgery it routinely performs. Nor
were these physical or psychological
consequences considered when the
American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed certain studies for its 1989 recommendation on circumcision.

Medical politics
After reviewing current research
studies, which admittedly were "retrospective," "may have methodologic
flaws," and often contain "conflicting
evidence," the American Academy of
Pediatrics broadened its 1975 policy.
Their new position statement concludes, "Newborn circumcision has
potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and
July 1992

risks." It went on to say, "parents

should be fully informed of the possible benefits and potential risks .... "27
In our recent Journal of Nurse-Midwifery article, Donna Macris, CNM,
MSN, and I wrote:
But, the AAP failed to mention
that the health benefits of maintaining the normal, intact male
genitalia far outweigh any "potential" benefits or the known
risks of neonatal circumcision.
Left with this meager AAP guideline, health care providers must
take it upon themselves to become educated in order to provide
legally correct and accurate information.>
Education is difficult, however,
when our own medical community
offers advice which contradicts medical practice worldwide. The Canadian
Paediatric Society, for example, reviewed the same research and concluded,
The present information available concerning the risks of urinary tract infections and transmission of sexually transmitted
diseases in relation to circumcision is not sufficiently compelling
to justify a change in policy.
It maintained its position that routine
circumcision is not medically indicated.

International sytnposia
on circutncision
In an attempt to counter the pro-circumcision publicity erroneously stimulated by the broadened position of
the American Academy of Pediatrics,
Donna Macris and I co-founded the
International Symposia on Circumci-

27AAP Task Force on Circumcision, Report

of the Task Force, p. 3.
28M.F. Milos and Donna Macris, "Circumcision: A Medical or a Human Rights
Issue?" Tournai of Nurse-Midwifery.
37, no. 2, (1992) (Supplement), p. 90S.
American Atheist


sion (ISe), which met for the first time
in 1989.International experts from the
diverse fields of cultural anthropology, theology, psychology, medicine,
midwifery, law, and ethics gathered to
discuss male and female genital mutilations and their human rights implications. The Declaration of the First
International Symposium on Circumcision, unanimously adopted by the
general assembly on March 3, 1989,
We recognize the inherent
right of all human beings to an
intact body. Without religious or
racial prejudice, we affirm this
basic human right.
We recognize the foreskin, clitoris and labia are normal, functional body parts.
Parents and/or guardians do
not have the right to consent to
the surgical removal or modification of their children's normal
Physicians and other healthcare providers have a responsibility to refuse to remove or mutilate normal body parts.
The only persons who may
consent to medically unnecessary
procedures upon themselves are
the individuals who have reached
the age of consent (adulthood),
and then only after being fully
informed about the risks and
benefits of the procedure.
We categorically state that circumcision has unrecognized
In view of the serious physical
and psychological consequences
that we have witnessed in victims of circumcision, we hereby
oppose the performance of a single additional unnecessary foreskin, clitoral or labial amputation procedure.
We oppose any further studies
which involve the performance
of the circumcision procedure
upon unconsenting minors. We
support any further studies which
involve identification of the effects of circumcision.
Austin, Texas

Physicians and other healthcare providers do have a responsibility to teach hygiene and the
care of normal body parts and explain their normal anatomical
and physiological development
and function throughout life.
We place the medical community on notice that it is being
held accountable for misconstruing the scientific database available on human circumcision in
the world today.
Physicians who practice routine circumcisions are violating
the first maxim of medical practice, "Primum Non Nocete,' "First
Do No Harm," and anyone practicing genital mutilation is violating Article V of the United
Nations Universal Declaration
of Human Rights: "NO ONE

Resolution on genital
mutilations of children
A resolution proposing a declaration on genital mutilations of children
was introduced to both the western
and eastern regional meetings of Amnesty International in the spring of
1992, but was not passed. A few weeks
later, a resolution on the genital mutilations of children was submitted to
the American Humanists' national
meeting, but was not passed there
either. The resolutions, which were
supported in each instance by onethird of those present, asked these
groups to acknowledge that the genital mutilations of children violate the
human rights of children as contained
in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the
United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child. They also asked
the group to give full moral and political support to bring an end, worldwide, to the torture and mutilation
inherent in the genital mutilations of
Members of Amnesty International
and the American Humanists
July 1992

especially sensitive to human suffering,

but the majority still were unable to
recognize either the torture and mutilation inherent in the practice of
genital mutilation, or a child's inalienable right to his own body. This gives
us a clue as to the degree of denial and
the need for education.
John Erickson's words make denial
It's time someone said it, loud
and clear: that infant circumcision - including so-called "religious" infant circumcision - is
an atrocity and a fraud; that it's
a brutal, perverse, outrageous
violation of a helpless human
being's right to his own body;
that it's child sexual abuse in its
most vicious, most destructive,
most cunningly disguised form;
that it literally censors a child's
life - kills part of the child because it irreversibly severs
him from a uniquely specialized,
uniquely sensitive means of perceiving, experiencing, sharing
and etuoying his existence; that
the reasons given to ;ustify it are
myths and lies; that it's the ugliest, saddest, most sickening
scandal in the history of medicine and an infamy to societies
that tolerate it and to institutions
that sanctify it; and that anyone
involved even remotely with
cutting, tearing, crushing, biting or burning off the foreskins
of babies - or anyone else by
coercion or force - is as guilty
of contributing to human suffering as the monsters of Auschwitz
and in the name of humanity
should be exposed, confronted
and stopped.29
Hear Madalyn O'Hair's thoughts
on the latest news.

29John A. Erickson, "Infant Circumcision:

Crime Against Humanity," Making America Safe for Foreskins (19891, p. 17.
Page 59

Talking Back

Common sense and belief

This month's question:

What made you turn
from god?

So you're having a hard time dealing

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

Page 60

prise turned to disgust as, day after day,

Stephen H. Frey, a retired engineer
from Pennsylvania, gives his story:
month after month, I continued reading
I was lucky enough to be born in a biblical stories that turned my stomach
"Protestant Reformed" family, with a and insulted my intelligence. Finally, on
father who was a "closet" Atheist and a October 14,I got down on my knees and
mother who went to church only at prayed for god to reveal himself to me,
Easter. I never had to go to church, but if"he" really existed, because I certainly
was required to go to Sunday school couldn't find him in "The Word of God."
until I was about thirteen years old, and From that day to this, nothing has happened that makes me think god exists,
then I was permitted to stay home and Atheism is the only logical concluand so I did.
I never was religious, and believed sion. Shortly after that, I wrote an artithat "god" had nothing to do with any- cle entitled "Thank God I'm an Atheist!"
one, so I had nothing much to do with It was published in my local newspaper.
"him." I never "learned to pray," so I The Bible has probably converted more
didn't have to give that up. But when I people to Atheism than any other book
got older (about eighteen), I began to in existence.
I had ordered Madalyn Murray O'Hair's
think for myself and had learned enough
to know Christianity was bunk, and so poster and, when it arrived, I was deI rejected Christianity completely until lighted to see that she had autographed
about seven or eight years ago (age it for me on October 14, 1983, the same
sixty). I heard Jimmy Swaggart on the day I became an Atheist! What a marveltelevision criticizing "Sekooler Hoo- ous coincidence! My years as a member
minists," and I thought, hey - he's talk- of American Atheists have brought me
ing about me. I began to study philoso- more happiness than all the decades I
phy and learned there were many others wasted being a Christian.
who were nonbelievers, and that's how
I learned that I was a secular humanist,
David Stern bergh, a graduate stuand soon after that, graduated to a full- dent in Mesoamerican archaeology
fledged, "born-again" Atheist.
at the University of Texas at San
Thanks to good ole Jimmy Swaggart. Antonio, answers succinctly:
The Bible.
("Praise the Lord.")
Robert Bandonis, a writer and
schoolteacher from Pennsylvania,
Being concerned about overpopulation, I volunteered to take a stranger to
her doctor's office for an abortion. Then
I heard my bishop say Roman Catholics
are excommunicated ifthey get an abortion or help someone get one. I told my
priest what I had done and he confirmed
that, as long as I refuse to seek forgiveness for my "sin," I am an ex-Catholic.
I began to think that, ifgod doesn't want
me, then I can do without him. That was
in 1975.
Ronald Reagan declared 1983 the
"Year of the Bible," so I started reading
one. I was surprised at the amount of
senseless violence Ifound there. My surJuly 1992

Harvey G. Gaster, an Atheist from

Utah, replies:
What god? I was reared in a home
without very much religion. In the small
farming community, most of the people
were Roman Catholics, Baptists, and
Seventh-day Adventists. I was an outsider even then. I went to Sunday school
a few times because a pretty girl was
there, but the Bible stories didn't turn
me on as much as she did.
My parents told me that there were so
many churches that when I got old
enough to make up my own mind I could
join any church I wanted.
I was told in boot camp in the navy I
had to go to some church on Sundays,
so I shopped around. They all used the
same or similar bibles, but they all had
American Atheist

different stories. I told myself they can't

all be right, but they could all be wrong.
So here I am an Atheist.

sumption," "intercession" - they were

sounds, nothing more. As I got older, I
saw no benefits from praying. Nothing
changed; nothing happened.
When I finally encountered Atheist
writings, there was everything that I had
been thinking put in black and white.
The suspicions I had had over the years
were right! There is no possibility that I
would ever "revert" to religion. I've
never had it - I never will.

Ralph B. Shirley, a retired attorney

from WashingtoJ:!, D.C., states:
Since there is no god, I did not turn
from god. I turned from being brainwashed from birth into believing that
there was an invisible ghost called
"god." When I was about eighteen years
old an acquaintance, without saying
anything, snickered as ifto indicate that Gerald P. Lunderville, an Englishhe did not believe there was a god. That as-a-second-language teacher in a
prompted me to start thinking about the public high school in California, desubject and reading books on philoso- clares:
The first rational teacher I ever had in
phy. Within one week I reached the conclusion that all evidence pointed to the my life, a history professor at the Unifact that no such thing as a god existed versity of New Hampshire, one day
and that there was no evidence what- asked the class to consider Christ as a
ever to support such a belief. I also historical figure. I began to realize that
found all religious ideas to be illogical ifsuch a man ever existed he was mereand ignorant.
lya man - nothing more. It also dawned
In the years since then, 100 percent of on me that if I were going to become a
true teacher, I must avoid the pitfalls of
events as reported in the newspapers
religion and seek the truth. Finally, I
have only supported my conclusion.
Additionally, I find the strongest reli- stopped going to church and felt as
gious beliefs to be held by the most un- though I had just been released from a
state of bondage.
informed and superstitious people.
Among the educated, believers are invariably nonintellectuals - that is, non- Arnold Via, Life Member No. 1 of
thinkers, and unable to overcome child- American Atheists and Atheist activist from Virginia, sums it up:
hood indoctrination.
In the first place, I was born an AtheSamuel Lane, former director of ist. Further, one can't turn from something that doesn't exist. However, when
the Pittsburgh Chapter of American
I was very young I was made "sick"
Atheists, writes:
I have never faced that alternative. I enough to believe in "something" that
cannot remember a time when I ever be- was called a god. So, since there was
lieved in the smallest degree. I was the "nothing" to turn from, I merely found a
product of a Protestant father and a "cure" for my "sickness."
Catholic mother; I went to Catholic
a free-lance
grade school, high school, and college; Kevin Christensen,
and in all that time I never believed a artist from Iowa, answers:
word of it. I recall being marched, as a
I realized that I had "turned from god"
small boy, to church on the various holi- the day I saw a church marquee which
days and "first Fridays" and being read, "What have you done today that
among the group as they recited prayers, a Christian would do?" When I thought
but I never understood what benefit was about the day's events, I sadly admitted
to be derived. How could I benefit from that I had not bombed an abortion clinsaying words I didn't understand? "Im- ic; I had not prevented the local convemaculate Conception," "Glorious As- nience store from selling Playboy (imAustin, Texas

July 1992

mediately thereafter going home to

masturbate); Ihad no children to alienate
by telling them that dancing was evil; I
had great premarital sex with my girl
friend and didn't feel afterward like I was
going to hell; and I did not attend the
local Ku Klux Klan meeting. I reluctantly conceded that I had come to exchange my aspirations to Christianity
for a sound mind. If turning away from
god feels this healthy, I'll have to do it
more often.
Samuel E. Brown, Life Member No.
322 of American Atheists, explains:
I turned from "god" in 1975because of
"his" people nullifying - after twentyeight years of observing inconsistencies
in those "believers" and experiencing
self-righteous mean-spiritedness
every turn - the promise of 2 Cor. 5:17:
"If any man be in Christ, he 'is a new
creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new."
The never-ending hypocrisy, the
church hopping ad infinitum, the unnecessary self-limitation in living, the denigration of self-worth - all this, with the
above, yes, but most primal, I turned
away because of the Bible's invalidity for
me in my daily life, as its false "promises"
proved worthless, thus eventually revealing to me the big lie of such an existing caring deity.

The "proof of the pudding" is that,

since my self-deprogramming
from the god concept, I've become happy and content. No longer smothered
by the stultifying "comforter" of the god
machine, I am confident, secure in myself, productive, and a damn sight less
inferior and "unworthy" - no longer a
"wretch" and a "worm." I am good!
Cliff Downing, a retired burlesque
comic from California, answers:
One cannot "turn from" an entity
which doesn't exist.
I was reared in a traditional Christian
environment, but I couldn't believe what
they. taught me. I couldn't believe that
"god" could be good and still condemn
Page 61

all but a select few to eternal damnation;

I couldn't believe that an "all powerful"
being could create an entire universe
out of thin air, yet couldn't cure the common cold, much less keep an earthquake from killing thousands of innocent people.
Consequently, I relegated the "god"
idea to the same category as the "tooth
fairy" and the rest of my childhood
Herb Ault, a retired Florida schoolteacher, opines:
In a word: reason. The same reason
that would prevent me from putting my
hand in the mouth of a big beast with
sharp teeth.
Graduate student, feminist, and
Atheist Irene Brown of Michigan
gives the scoop:
Every human being is born an Atheist, and stays one until programmed "to
believe," on faith, in nonexistent entities. Thus, once independent of religious programmers and capable of independent thought and analysis, logical
persons abandon useless belief systems.
Jon Buratti, an Atheist from Maryland, shares a personal account:
My first job was in Los Angeles. I
worked with some avowed Atheists.
These people accepted me, yet Icouldn't
accept them completely. I quit and
moved to Maryland (the nation's first
Roman Catholic colony). This was
around Easter. I came back and couldn't
feel anymore for the repetitive rituals of
the Roman Catholic church. I talked to
a priest and his words weren't his. I lost
a lot of weight and none of the "good"
Christians (or my family) were able to
help me. The pseudo-Christians at work
appalled me. They were always drunk,
breaking laws, and had no respect for
their own bodies; but yet they always
went to church on Sunday with their
wives. I started to understand why the
Atheists in California were so caring of
Page 62

me. I discussed religion with my family

and basically they all said, "Some things
are just accepted." I read everything on
religion that I could get my hands on and
even took a philosophy class. For the
first time in my lifeI accepted myself and
all my human thoughts (for I can think
only human thoughts, not machine
thoughts) and felt free! I became happy
and regained my appetite.

Catholics were explained: a good shepherd loves his sheep - and eats them.
When I stood up, after kneeling for
the last time, I was fullyhuman. I was no
longer a herd animal. I was no longer a
child of god - I was now an adult of
Earth. I no longer needed Sky Daddy or
the Easter Bunny. Having thrown off the
gentle yoke of religion, I had found freedom. Being free is much better than
being dearly bought.

Born and reared in the Netherlands, Ms. Josie Burke is a horseBrad Hampton, a member of Amertrainer and riding instructor in ican Atheists and a student at RadTennessee. She explains her growth
ford University in Virginia, replies:
to Atheism:
My personal intellectual growth, quite
Even though I did not act on the deci- simply, is what made me "turn from
sion for many years, my conviction that god," or the myth of god to be precise.
there was no god came when I was very When I made the transition to college
young. I was an only child and my par- life, I grew in many ways, the most apparent being the growth of my intellect.
ents were very old.
My mother developed cancer of the Educating myself about the irrationality
colon shortly after I was born. Many of religion and finding the courage in
times she was rushed to the hospital in myself to hold the highly unpopular
the middle of the night. Once when this viewpoint of Atheism were the beginhappened I was hiding in my room in nings of my turn from the myths of god.
fear. I had prayed to god many times be- The independence of college life allows
fore and never gotten an answer. My for a liberation of the mind, and getting
mother was still at death's doorstep and away from tenacious local church groups
suffering. Then as I clutched my little helps a little bit as well!
Statistics consistently show that highdog close to me, it occurred to me that
this little animal gave me love and sup- er levels of education drastically reduce
the instances that a person will feel the
port in my hour of need. This supreme
being the church had taught me about need to cling to the fantasy of religion.
was nowhere to be found. From then on After all, is it not the goal of religion to
my eyes opened up to the real world perpetuate the intellectual ignorance of
around me. Now I was receptive to the society in which medieval religious docbeauty and wonder of this place called trines thrive?
The answer to the annoying question
earth and the urgency of enjoying life
of "what made you turn from god?" is
obvious. My invaluable intellectual freeCalifornian Brian E. Nevish de- dom!
scribes his turning point:
Iwas kneeling, at mass, and it sudden- James W. Barclay, Sr., Massachuly came to me, as if in a religious vision, setts folk musician, gives his unique
that this was a ritual of symbolic canni- story:
As a Christian musician and programbalism. The Christians are cannibals
mer/chief engineer for a Contemporary
who worship bread. Then I understood
that the witches and heretics burned at Christian music radio show, I loved the
the stake were the Christians' own musicianship and production, but evenhuman sacrifices to their cannibal god. tually came to realize the disturbing
Even the wars between Protestants and messages of hate and intolerance.
July 1992

American Atheist

Here was a scam of hypocrisy, cloying

control, bigotry, fear, hate, and lies. It
was unanswerable prayers and a deity
who acted like a spoiled child, with followers who either acted like sheep or
enraged Fascisti. I was fed up with the
self-loathing and fear,and realized that
what I was doing was evil, insane and a
waste of a good life. I could not, and
never would be, a believer in any god.
I once again saw truth, beauty, variety, comfort and the refreshment of authenticity. Relieved, I once again found
God did not strike me dead nor the
earth swallow me. Instead, I found love,
acceptance, self-dignity, and confidence. I regained my sanity and freedom. And I became, as I am now, free
from guilt and paranoia, and free to be
who I am.
And you know, I am even a better
musician and song writer for it.
Whew! That was a close one.
George W. Johnston, a deaf adjunct
college professor in New Jersey,
has a short reply:
I didn't turn. I'm still walking straight
- he hasn't come my way yet.
David R. Clark, a luthier from Pennsylvania, gives his story:
This is a "trick" question you might
find being uttered from the mouth of a
religious zealot. The trick is that it presumes the existence of god. You can't
turn from something that doesn't exist.
I had been a deacon in a Baptist
church, when I got into a discussion on
the correct way to salvation. As a result
of the discussion, I became convinced
that god had left a sign for the intelligent
man and research would reveal the sign
- the sign of the cross. Well, I found the
sign. It read "Dead End."
Every reference I found that supported the concept of god and Jesus ended
up at the Bible. The Bible was the foundation of god's existence. And the Bible
was concocted by the founders of the
Roman Catholic church and protected

by them for a thousand years. Talk

about houses built on sand.
I never turned from god-I merely
turned toward reality and the truth.

I used to ask The Guy for favors, like

saving the life of my buddy, just eight
years old, who was struck down by a
brain aneurysm. At the funeral, there
was no voice from the sky saying comAndy Vena, foxhole Atheist and forting words; I faced that alone.
Later, it came to being dragged downeighty-three-year-old
member of
American Atheists, replies:
stairs in the church by the school
I didn't need to "turn from" god. I only bullies, for a massive beating in an empdipped my toes to "test the water." I ty room. How I recall the disapproving
didn't go in. I "tasted" the god "concoc- scowls of the parishioners and the mintion" (i.e., I started to read the Bible), ister for crying out to be saved from the
but found the "brew" so distasteful (il- bullies. I was making loud noises in
logical, irrational, ridiculous, absurd,
church! But The Guy (it) never struck
contradictory, cruel, incomprehensible,
the bullies down. And I faced that alone.
unconvincing, unproven, unacceptable,
And so lifeis, just going it alone. It was
incompatible with observation and ex- a wondrous event, the day the O'Hair
perience and reason, incredible) that I family made its appearance to me. To
spat it out, so to speak, never really just hear someone else say "Of course,
swallowing the crap. I found bi-BULL there isn't any god!" was my true salvabunkology devoid of sense, the clergy a tion.
parasitical class, the pope full of poop,
the evangelists raving idiots. To me the
very existence of evil debunks the existence of god - and of heaven, angels,
hell, devils, soul, hereafter, sin, salvation, creation, reincarnation, spirits,
ghosts, savior, virgin birth, resurrection
- everything "supernatural." The god
germ never got a foothold in my brain.
Age and experience only confirmed my
early convictions about religion.
Kenneth J. Schmidt, a musician
and teacher in New York, is to the
There was never anything to turn
from. I never indulge in self-deception.
American Atheist Life Member Leslie G. Cook, an Ohio autoworker
and bachelor, gives a personal account:
When I was a child, my father made
us four children go to church, a longstanding tradition in his family.
In the early days, Iwondered who was
listening to me when invocations were
made - I seemed to be the only one in
church who couldn't hear The Guy up
there. He (it) never had anything to say
to me - much like my father.
July 1992

Page 63


Of all the evil
in the world,
there is
quite more 'stinking
than to tell a child
he willbe burned
for different types of thinking.
Alan Paine

Jesus was gay

I was talking with a 72
year old woman the other
were watching a basketball
and drinking beer.
When all of a sudden she
blurted out that she
believed Jesus Christ
a homosexual and that he
. had a thing for Peter,
Paul and all the rest of
cave dwellers.
I thought about this a
moment and then it
dawned on me

Don't you see?

By Rote

"If God made the world,

who made God?"
I asked when still in
when my world was still
very new,
and I was part of the
first Sesame Street
generation "And goats have kids
like people have kids ... "
Wet sand was so much
more moldable than
dry, and we made
Cookie Monster Cookies,
not mud pies.
Disbelief is as natural
to me as "faith" is to
I believed in what I
could see and touch;
like flowers, grass, and
sunfish that wiggled and swam
in the lake.

"I'll pray for you," she says.

"Be sensible," I reply.

Some brief recollection

of my advice
is lost in the mouthing
of words
someone taught her.
Angeline Bennett

Melanie A. H. Sharp

Right to Life!
(Sonnet to a Zygote)

Although I see no evidence
of Jesus, or of Zeus,
my cynicism is not absolute.
Run the Crucifixion by me again;
let me see the fireworks!
Larry Cuthbert

"Right to Life" their banners read

They chant, they cry, they rant and yell:
"Preserve the little zygote cell
"To woman's wishes pay no heed
Exalt the Zygote - Shout the Creed!!
It's widely known she's barely human
Not SACRED like the zygote seed.
We Crusaders know the earth's dire need
For billions of zygotes to prevail
To help pollute the atmosphere
To keep the streams from running clear.
Susan Skelton

Matthew Behling
Page 64

She enters the prayer house

kneels before an altar
studies madonna and child
the cross
limp figure with crown
... long-handled basket.

July 1992

American Atheist

American Atheist Radio Series

Kersey Graves American Atheist


An early Atheist writer

casts doubt on the
existence of the
Christian savior.

When the first installment of a

regularly scheduled, fifteen-minute,
weekly American Atheist radio series
on KLBJ radio (a station in Austin,
Texas, owned by then-President
Lyndon Baines Johnson) hit the
airwaves on June 3, 1968, the nation
was shocked. The programs had to be
submitted weeks in advance and were
heavily censored. The regular production of the series ended in September
1977, when no further funding was
The following is the text of "American
Atheist Radio Series" program No. 280,
first broadcast on February 2, 1974.

Madalyn O'Hair
Austin, Texas

ack in 1875, a man by the name of

Kersey Graves presented a book
to the old Truth Seeker magazine

titled The World's Sixteen Crucified

Scuiors.' I have been wanting to give
you the story of these sixteen gods for
some time. However, I thought that I
should find out something about the
author first. I have now given up on that.
All I know is that he was born in 1813and
that his home was Richmond, Indiana.
In 1880, he was hitting the lecture circuit
for the freethinkers of those days, and
he died on September 4, 1883.
I want to read to you the preface of his
book before I go any further here, for
this is instructive as to the man.
Inversely to the remoteness of
time has been man's ascent toward
the temple of knowledge. Truth
has made its ingress into the human
mind in the ratio by which man has
attained the capacity to receive
and appreciate it. Hence, as we
tread back the meandering pathway of human history, every step
in the receding process brings us
to a lower plane of intelligence and
a state of mind more thoroughly
with ignorance
It is, therefore,
source of surprise to learn, when
we take a survey of the world two
or three thousand years in the
past, that every religious writer of
that era committed
errors on
every subject which employed his
pen, involving a scientific principle. Hence,' the bible, or sacred
book, to which he was a contributor, is now found to bear the
marks of human imperfection. For
the temple of knowledge was but
partially reared, and its chambers
but dimly lighted up. The intellectual brain was in a dark, feeble and

-Kersey Graves, The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors (New York: The Truth Seeker
Company, 1875).
July 1992

dormant condition.
Hence, the
moral and religious feelings were
drifted about without a pilot on the
turbulent waves of superstition,
and finally stranded on the shoals
of bigotry. The Christian bible, like
other bibles, having been written
in an age when science was but
budding into life, and philosophy
had attained but a feeble growth,
should be expected to teach many
things incompatible with the principles of modern science. And accordingly it is found to contain,
like other bibles, numerous state-

Kersey Graves
ments so obviously at war with
present established scientific truths
that almost any school-boy, at the
day, can demonstrate
their falsity. Let the unbiased reader examine and compare the oriental and Christian bibles together,
and he will note the following facts,

1. That the cardinal religious

conceptions of all bibles are essentially the same - all running in
parable grooves.
2. That every chapter of every
bible is but a transcript
of the
mental chart of the writer.
3. That no bible, pagan or Christian, contains anything surpassing
Page 65

A common twist in religious myths is

that a hero will be born who will overthrow the current king and that to prevent this the king murders newborns.
This element is included in the stories of
both Jesus and Krishna. The flight into
Egypt (right) saves Jesus from King
Herod. Yasoda (far right) saves Krishna
from his uncle by exchanging her own
child for the boy-god.
the natural, mental and moral
capacity of the writer to originate.
And hence no divine aid or inspiration was necessary for its production.
4. That the moral and religious
teachings of no bible reach a higher
altitude than the intelligence and
mental development
of the age
and country which produced it.
5. That the Christian bible, in
some respects, is superior to some
of the other bibles, but only to the
extent to which the age in which it
was written was superior in intelligence and natural mental capacity
to the era in which the older bibles
were penned; and that this superiority consists not in its more exalted religious conceptions,
only in the fact that, being of more
modern origin, the progress of
mind had worn away some of the
legendary rubbish of the past. Being written in a later and more enlightened age, it is consequently a
little less encrusted with mythological tradition and oriental imagery. Though not free from these
elements, it possesses them in less
degree. And by comparing Christ's
history with those of the oriental
Gods, it will be found: 1. That he taught no new doctrine or moral precept.
2. That he inculcated the same
religion and morality, which he
elaborated, as other moral teachers, to great extremes.
3. That Christ differs so little in
his character, preaching, and practical life from some of the oriental
Gods, that no person whose mind
is not deplorably
warped and
biased by early training can call
one divine while he considers the
other human.
4. That if Christ was a God, then
all were Gods.
The author hopes that the work will
ultimately effect something
Page 66

achieving the important end sought to

be attained by its publication. That hope
he saw as
the banishment of that wide-spread
delusion comprehended
in the
belief in an incarnate, virgin-born
God, called Jesus Christ, and the
infallibility of his teachings, with
the numerous evils growing legitimately out of this belief - among
the most important of which is, its
cramping effect upon the mind of
the possessor, which interdicts its
[the mind's] growth, and thus constitutes a serious obstacle to the
progress both of the individual and
of society. And such has been the
blinding effect of this delusion
upon all who have fallen victims to
its influence, that the numerous
errors and evils of our popular system of religious faith, which constitutes its legitimate fruits, have
passed from age to age, unnoticed
by all except scientific and progressive minds, who are constantly
bringing these errors and evils to
light. This state of things has been
'a source of sorrow and regret to
every philanthropist
desiring the
welfare of the race. And if this
work shall achieve anything towards arresting this great evil, the
author will feel that he is amply
for the years of toil
July 1992

and mental labor spent in its preparation.

After this, the author goes on to relate
that he has relied on two hundred unimpeachable historical records for his
theory that there were sixteen crucified
saviors in human history. He finds that
there are certain features about all of
these. Usually, the birth is forecast by a
Messianic prophecy, and this prophecy
often comes from the figure of a serpent. The gods are usually miraculously
and immaculately conceived. Most of
the mothers are virgins. In each instance, stars point out the time and the
birthplace of the savior, and angels,
shepherds, or magi visit the savior at or
near the time of his birth.
Oddly enough, the twenty-fifth of December, which is the winter solstice, is
usually the birthday of the gods. However, once the god is born, it is usually
found that he is of royal descent, but
that his mother was of humble origin.
Each one has a large genealogy.
In each instance, the infant savior is
saved from destruction while yet a child.
Each one of the sixteen saviors was crucified. Each one had darkness in the sky
at the time of the crucifixion, and each
descended into hell. They all were resurrected from hell, and after they reappeared on earth - usually to their
disciples - they ascended into heaven.
That should be enough to excite your
American Atheist

"Bibles are thus shown to be of heathen and human origin,

instead of heavenly and divine authorship,
as claimed for them by their respective disciples the Christian bible forming no exception to this statement."
interest. Who were the sixteen gods?
They were:
Khrisna of India, crucified 1200 s.c.
Crite of Chaldea, crucified 1200 B.C.
Attis of Phrygia, crucified 1170 B.C.
Thammuz of Syria, crucified 1160 s.c.
Esus of the Celtic Druids, crucified
834 B.C.
Bali of Orissa, crucified 725 B.C.
Indra of Tibet, crucified 725 B.C.
Iao of Nepal, crucified 622 B.C.
Sakia, a Hindu god, crucified 600 B.C.
Alcestisof Euripedes, crucified600 a.c.
Mithra of Persia, crucified 600 B.C.
Quexalcoatl of Mexico, crucified 587

Aeschylus (Prometheus), crucified

547 B.C.
Wittoba of the Telingonese, crucified
552 B.C.
Quirinus of Rome, crucified 506 s.c.
and Jesus Christ, allegedly about the
year A.D. 28 or A.D. 32.
This means, of course, that for a period of about seven hundred years, in the
first civilizations, stories of a crucified
savior had circulated. The story was
very old and had been accepted in all of
these cultures throughout the Far East,
Middle East, and the Mediterranean
countries. Kersey Graves, this author,
hammers at several points before he
gets to the gods.
Ignorance of science and ignorance of history are the two great
bulwarks of religious error. There
is scarcely a tenet of religious faith
now propagated to the world by
the professed disciples of Christ
but that, if subjected to a rigid test
in the ordeal of modern science,
would be found to contain more or
less error. Vast acquisitions have
been made in the fields of science
and history within the last half century, the moral lessons of which
have done much to undermine
and unsettle our popular system
of religious faith, and to bring into

disrepute or effectually change

many of its long-cherished dogmas.
The scientific and historical facts
thus brought before the intelligent
public, have served as keys for explaining many of the doctrines
comprised in the popular creed ....
Many of the doctrines and miraculous events which have always
been assigned a divine emanation
by the disciples of the Christian
faith, are, by these scientific and
historical disclosures, shown to be
explainable upon natural grounds,
and to have exclusively a natural
basis ....
The changes and improvements
in religious ideas now observant in
the most intelligent portion of the
community, are due in part to the
rapid progress of scientific discovery and the dissemination of scientific knowledge in Christian countries .... For many centuries subsequent to the establishment of
the Christian religion, but little
was known by its disciples of the
character, claims and doctrines of
the oriental systems of worship.
These religions,in fact, were scarcely known to exist, because they
had long been veiled in secrecy.
They were found, in some cases,
enshrined in religiousbooks printed
or written in a language so very ancient and obscure, as to bid defiance for centuries to the labors of
the most indefatigable, profound
and erudite archeological scholar
to decipher. it. That obstacle is
now partially surmounted.
Kersey goes on then to describe the
recent translation for the first time of the
Hindu Vedas into the English language
- and remember that he was describing this all about one hundred years ago.
He discusses Horace Greeley's- expressed surprise at the translation when
Greeley exclaimed, "No doctrine of
Christianity but what has been anticipated by the Vedas."
July 1992

If, then, this heathen bible [the

Vedas, compiled 1500-1200 B.C.]
contains allthe doctrines of Christianity, then away goes over the
dam all claim for the Christian
bible as an original revelation, or a
work of divine revelation or inspiration.
Bibles are thus shown to be of
heathen and human origin, instead
of heavenly and divine authorship,
as claimed for them by their respective disciples - the Christian
bible forming no exception to this
statement. The latter [Christian
bible], being essentially like other
bibles, it must, of course, have had
the same or a similar origin - a
fact which, though it may be new
and startling to millions, will be
universallyaccepted as truth before
the lapse of many generations,
and a fact which confronts with
open denial the claims of the two
hundred millions of Christian professors, who assert with unscrupulous boldness that every doctrine, principle and precept of
their bible is of divine emanation.
Kersey Graves feels that in this book
of his, titled The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors, he has established forever
that the two prime articles of the Christian faith - Revelation and Crucifixion
- are human and heathen conceptions.
He recognizes that no demonstrated
facts can prove an overmatch for the inherited convictions of a thousand generations of man, and that this is true
whether those inherited convictions are
Muhammadan, Hindu, or Christian but he thinks that he would like to insist
on trying. ~

2Horace Greeley, (1811-1872), American

publisher, abolitionist, and unsuccessful
presidentialcandidate of the LiberalRepublicanparty (1872).
Page 67


Regarding hostility
Martin Bard is the author of The
Peril of Faith, published by American Atheist Press.

Is Atheism best
prepared to lead
humans to fruitful

"Me Too" is a feature designed to

showcase short essays written by
readers in response to topics recently
covered by the American Atheist or of
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Essays submitted to "Me Too" (P. O.
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should be 650 to 1500 words.

Page 68

is like sexual activity in that it should be

practised between two people who are
married to each other. However, the
churches do not limit anger so severely
aving been strongly impressed by as they would restrict sexual practice.
the devastating effect of anger in The former is acceptable outside of
the affairs of people of all classes marriage, although its effect on human
and in all circumstances of life, the relationships is much more damaging
writer has considered the matter to be than those of adultery and fornication.
of sufficient importance to merit the inThe avoidance of anger can most liketerest of readers and has undertaken
ly be accomplished by people with a certhe responsibility of requesting their at- tain philosophy. While Atheism is not a
tention. Anger is most certainly not a philosophy, it tends to promote one in
subject about which people often read. its adherents, and a major doctrine of
It is considered to be so common and the philosophy of Atheists is determinuniversal that everyone experiences it. ism. This doctrine is expressed correctSo, what is there to write about?
ly in a number of ways. We may say at
I believe that there is not a public any moment that everything in the unischool in the nation which teaches the verse is exactly as it must be, that there
idea that anger can be avoided. This was no possibility that any aspect could
would be teaching ethics, and a school be the least bit different from what it is,
teacher in the United States who can that no form could be altered in its exisdistinguish between ethics and religion tence and no event in its occurrence.
would be a rarity; and no teacher wants We can assert that in all of the stupento be accused of teaching religion. Even dous history of the universe, nothing
if he were to know that ethical instruc- but what did occur could have occurred
tion is not religion, we could not expect and nothing except what did exist could
him to believe that his superiors would have existed. Therefore, all that was
understand that. Educators need to be possible did occur and exist. Everything
educated, and ethical instruction needs that did not occur or exist was impossible
to be in every school.
because there were no natural causes
We have often heard discussions of for occurrence or existence. There can
the relative merits of expressing or re- be no development without a natural
pressing anger. Should it be expressed
cause. We can say, too, that all that did
at the risk of violence with all of its pos- occur or exist was completely necessible injury, or repressed with the likeli- sary, having been determined by natural
hood of psychological damage? The causes.
third, and only logical, alternative is
This is an amazing doctrine, breathnever even considered. Hostility should taking in its various concepts. Few peobe rejected. This has nothing to do with ple have even heard of it, and most of
the need for appropriate discipline. That those do not understand it. Our educais another subject.
tional system has been dismal in its failWe would naturally expect that, since ure. This is an important and valuable
this is a matter of ethics, and since doctrine, absolutely true, and most
ethics is almost always confused with re- promising in its potential for bringing
ligion, the churches and their schools calmness and serenity to replace regret
would be promoting this concept. Prob- and anger.
ably there is no church in which it is
If one knows. that a development
taught or fostered. The nearest any which normally causes anger was absochurch will come to such teaching is in lutely necessary and could not have
urging that anger be limited as to dura- been avoided because there was no nattion and range. To the churches, anger ural cause or combination of causes for

July 1992

American Atheist

The American Atheist

Television Forum
its avoidance, and that this development essentially was a reality at the time
and place of its occurrence, there is a
strong probability that there will be
composure in place of hostility.
How is it that this indispensable doctrine has been so sadly neglected in our
society? It is because it can be the concept only of an Atheist. Only the Atheist claims that nothing occurs or exists
without a natural cause or combination
of natural causes. To someone who suggests that such nonexistent causes
could have been real, only the Atheist insists that they could not have been real
because there was no natural cause or
combination of causes for their reality.
The religionist believes that his god
brings about many developments on the
earth, and that they have supernatural
causes. His god, being uncaused, is not
subject to natural causes in his determination to intervene in the affairs of the
world. The theist insists that events are
not dependent upon natural causes,
and that his god can and does act in
many ways. He might claim that miracles no longer occur, but if he really believed that, he would no longer pray. His
concept of the world is one of randomness, a haphazard fairyland, a mythological jungle, a dreamlike monstrosity
in which anything can happen at any
time. His world-view is not conducive to
sanity and a realistic calmness. Therefore, determinism cannot be his doctrine, and this is one of the great tragedies of religion.
Determinism permits one to become
- not godlike, for the gods of the theists are filled with anger - but fully
human. The gods have remained infantile in their emotions. Only adult humans, with their evolved brains, can reject the anger which otherwise tends to
consume them. Only Atheists can put
forward the teaching which best leads to
peace, harmony, and joy in human relationships.
- Martin L. Bard
Austin, Texas

The "American Atheist Forum" is a weekly news and talk show sponsored by the
American Atheist General Headquarters, Inc. Focusing on events and issues in the
realms of religion, state/church separation, and other topics important to Atheists, it
is hosted by Jon Murray, president of American Atheists, and Madalyn O'Hair,
founder of American Atheists.
The "Forum" is broadcast on public access channels of cable systems servicing
more than 120 communities. The following list is of communities receiving the show
at the beginning of 1992. For more scheduling information, contact the Forum
Coordinator, American Atheist General Headquarters, P.O. Box 140195, Austin, TX
78714-0195, telephone: (512) 458-1244.
Alaska: Anchorage.
Arizona: Glendale, Phoenix, Tucson.
California: Concord, Davis, El Cajon,

Fremont, Garden Grove, Industry, Long

Beach, Martinez, Mountain View, Novato, Oakland, Orange, Oroville, Oxnard,
Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San
Francisco, San Rafael, Santa Barbara,
Santa Monica, Torrance.
Colorado: Colorado Springs.
Connecticut: Branford, Danbury, Fairfield, Litchfield, Meriden, Middletown,
New Haven, New Milford, Norwich,
Seymour, South Windham, Waterbury,
Waterford, Windsor.
Florida: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa.
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Hawaii: Honolulu.
Illinois: Rolling Meadows, Urbana.
Indiana: Fort Wayne, Indianapolis.
Iowa: Ames, Des Moines.
Louisiana: New Orleans.
Maryland: Rockville.
Northampton, Westfield.
Michigan: Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo,
Richland, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak,
Minnesota: Blaine, Bloomington, Buffalo, Cottage Grove, Eden Prairie, Egan,

Fridley, Mankato, Minneapolis, Roseville, White Bear Lake, Woodbury.

Missouri: Chesterfield, St. Louis.
Montana: Kalispell, Missoula.
New Hampshire: Derry, Keene
New Jersey: Union City.
New Mexico: Albuquerque.
New York: Ithaca, Mamaroneck, New
York City, Rensselaer, Schenectady.
North Carolina: Chapel Hill, Charlotte,
Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh.
Ohio: Athens, Cincinnati.
Oregon: Portland.
Pennsylvania: Franklin.
Rhode Island: Providence (simulcast tomany communities in Rhode Island and
southeastern Massachusetts).
Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville.
Texas: Arlington, Austin, Corpus Christi,
Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San AntOnIO.

Vermont: Brattleboro.
Virginia: Alexandria.
Washington: Kennewick,

Seattle, Vancouver.
Kenosha, Madison.


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Atheist GHQ to find out how you can help
have the American Atheist Forum broadcast
In your area.

Dial- An- Atheist'

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comments on state/church separation issues and viewpoints originated by the Atheist

(Austin, Texas)
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San Francisco, California
Chicago, Illinois
Columbus, Ohio
Ft. Worth, Texas
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(Houston, Texas)

July 1992

(512) 458-5731


Page 69

Letters to the Editor

nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are

both able and willing to annihilate
evil, how does it exist?

Evil and the gods

In arguing against believers, I find it
helpful to take their assertion that their
god is good, omnipotent, and creator of
all things and argue that there cannot be
any such god in view of the existence of
disease and suffering in the world.
An omnipotent creator who created a
world in which disease and suffering
were possibilities would be bad, not
good, and therefore not such a god as
they claim. If unable to create a world in
which disease and suffering could not
occur (and with free willthrown in), he/
she/it would not be omnipotent and
therefore not such a god as they claim.
The theory of evolution (general)
does not require there to be a beginning,
a creation, or a first cause as any point
of evolution could be said to have
evolved from an earlier point and so on
ad infinitum.
Need the modus operandi of the evolution of the universe be any more than
the movement of matter (subatomic as
well as solid) along the line of least resistance?
Best wishes in your work for Atheism.
The acceptance of Atheism as the fact
of the matter would put the world on a
more realistic plane and make for a
better future for humankind.
Len Bergin
Victoria, Australia

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

concern to Atheists or to the Atheist
community. Submissions should be
brief and to the point. Space
limitations allow that each letter
should be three hundred words or,
preferably, less. Please confine your
letters to a single issue only. Mail them
to: American Atheist, P. O. Box
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Page 70

Your suggested argument reminds

the editor of a quotation long popular in
Atheist circles. From the Aphorisms of
Epicurus (341-270 e.c.), it runs:
The Gods can either take away
evilfrom the world and will not, or
being willing to do so cannot; or
they neither can nor will, or lastly,
they are both able and willing_If
they have the will to remove evil
and cannot, then they are not
omnipotent. If they can, but will
not, then they are not benevolent.
If they are neither able nor willing,
then they are neither omnipotent
July 1992

Stop that digging

Those archaeologists in Jerusalem
claim they have unearthed the bones of
Caiaphas, the high priest who reportedly handed Jesus over. I hasten to caution them they had better stop digging
immediately! Ifthey accidentally find the
bones of Jesus, they will blow a whole
W. Sheetz

Black and white

Most people in the field of psychology
are aware that many people have been
so psychologically damaged, their internal structure so chaotic, so anxiety provoking, that they never developed a
healthy internal core that can be selfsoothing, nurturing and coherent.
These are the people who most often
turn to religion, especially the more fundamental kinds, the more black and
white, the right versus wrong, looking
for the external structure that they lack
These are the people who are helped
by religion, as limiting as this structure

But what is psychologically damaging

to the rest of the population is that the
federal and state governments cater
and pander to the most emotionally inadequate, the most immature, emotionally low-level functioning people who influence some of the most important of
life's issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, and existential fears
that need a healthier, broad thinker to
The problem is caused by these black.
and white thinkers who view their feelings (emotions) as some form of superior knowledge or god-given wisdom,
and act on their feelings. Their action is
seen as though reason has no value, and
is somehow inferior to their feelings.
American Atheist

James G. Blaine's contributions to state/

church separation were chronicled in
the June 1992 issue of the American

That is why there is, and has been

throughout the ages, an anti-intellectual
stand that is causing so much frustration and anger to those who are more
rational, who have the capacity to reason and can tell the difference between
feelings and intellect
Newton Joseph

Lying under oath

The articles "The Duty an Atheist
Has No Right to Fulfill"and "Disqualification and Atheists" in the June 1992
issue, regarding god oaths as a requirement for serving on a jury or giving
credible testimony in court, served to
point out yet another failing of belief.
With the example of Oliver North's
sworn testimony to Congress in mind,
believers would do well to question the
effectiveness of belief in divine punishment as a deterrent to perjury. How can
they be so concerned about the honesty
of Atheists when a true believer who
feels he is serving a higher purpose or
authority can lie shamelessly under
oath? Atheists, at least, acknowledge no
such higher purposes or supernatural
Leland M. Helms

Ingersoll in New Zealand

Thank you for the article about James
Blaine in the June 1992 issue ("James
GillespieBlaine"by Madalyn O'Hair}.That

was an area I knew absolutely nothing

about prior to your article. Your readers
might be interested to know that the
speech made by Robert G. Ingersoll in
support of Blaine's bid for the presidency
found a use way out here in New
In 1919 the New Zealand Labour
Party, then only three years old, was
contesting its first general election.
Michael Joseph Savage designed a
newspaper advertisement that said
Labour was determined to:
give to every man the fruit of his
own labour . . . the labour of his
hand and of his brain; and would
like to see this world, at last, so
that a man could die and not feel
that he left his wife and children a
prey to greed and avarice, or the
cruelties of mankind. There is
something wrong in a government
where they who do the most have
the least. There is something
wrong when honesty wears a rag,
and rascality a robe; when the loving, the tender, eat a crust, while
the infamous sit at banquets.

Savage winning his own seat He went

on to become one of New Zealand's
greatest prime ministers, initiating a
social security programme that for many years made this
country the most advanced welfare
state in the world. Savage chose this
passage from Ingersoll because it
accorded with his own aims in the same
way that Ingersoll saw Blaine as a man
of and for the people.
Bill Cooke
New Zealand

Wasteful spending
I recently received a letter from Congressman Herger, saying that he will
continue to oppose wasteful spending.
On Sunday morning I listened to the
KGO, San Francisco talk show hosted
by Bernie Ward. He said that the chaplain of the House of Representatives receives $120,000 or $125,000 a year for
spending five to ten minutes giving an
invocation before the House starts its
session. That is about what a working
congressman gets as a salary.
Could American Atheists start a drive
to reduce the salary of legislative chaplains, and possibly eliminate them as a
wasteful expenditure? Since the people
of California cut the expenditures of the
legislature, I rarely get replies from the
state legislature any more. I think a secretary is of more value than a chaplain.

Labour emerged with eight of the

seventy-six seats in parliament, with

Herman W. Von Borstel


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July 1992

American Atheist


American Atheist
introductory reading list
Literature on Atheism is very hard to find in most public
and university libraries in the United States - and most of
the time when you do find a book catalogued under the
word Atheism it is a work against the Atheist position.
Therefore we suggest the following publications which are
available from American Atheist Press as an introduction
into the multifaceted areas of Atheism and statelchurch separation. To achieve the best understanding
of thought in
these areas the featured publications should be read in the
order listed. These by no means represent our entire collection of Atheist and separationist materials.

1. Why I Am An Atheist, including a history of materialism, by Madalyn




56 pp. Product

2. All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American

Atheists with All of the Answers by Jon Murray and



248 pp. #5356


3. The Case Against Religion: A Psychotherapist s View

by Dr. Albert Ellis. Stapled. 57 pp. #5096

4. What on Earth Is an Atheist! by Madalyn


288 pp. #5412


5. An Atheist Speaks by Madalyn O'Hair. Paperback.

pp. #5098

6. All about Atheists by Madalyn O'Hair. Paperback.

pp. #5097

7. Atheist Heroes and Heroines by Madalyn


370 pp. #5414



8. The Atheist World by Madalyn O'Hair. Paperback.

pp. #5094



9. Ingersoll the Magnificent by Joseph Lewis. Paperback.

342 pp. #5216


10. Essays on American Atheism, Vol. I by Jon G. Murray.


349 pp. #5349


11. Essays on American Atheism, Vol. II by Jon G. Murray. Paperback. 284 pp. #5350

12. Essays in Freethinking,


229 pp. #5052

Vol. I by Chapman


13. Essays in Freethinking, Vol. II by Chapman


240 pp. #5056

14. History s Greatest Liars by Joseph


back. 176 pp. #5524


15. Atheist Truth vs. Religions Ghosts by Col. Robert G.


Stapled. 57 pp. #5156


16. Some Reasons I Am a Freethinker by Robert G. Ingersoll. Stapled. 37 pp. #5184


17. Fourteen Leading Cases on Education, Religion, and

Financing Schools. Paperback. 273 pp. #5500
18. Sex Mythology

by Sha




19. Women and Atheism,



55 pp.

The Ultimate Liberation

Stapled. 21 pp. #5420


20. Ages of Gold and Silver and Other Short Sketches of

Human History by John G. Jackson. Paperback. 331
pp. #5201


21. Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson.

back. 238 pp. #5200


22. The Bible Handbook (All the contradictions,

absurdities, and atrocities from the Bible) by G. W. Foote, W.

P. Ball, John Bowden, and Richard M. Smith. Paperback. 372 pp. #5008

23. The X-Rated Bible by Ben Edward

back. 428 pp. #5000



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The infl uences that have Iifted the race to a

higher moral level are education, freedom, leisure,
the humanizing tendency of a better-supplied and
more interesting
life. In a word, science and
liberalism - the two forces, fundamentally skeptical, that we have seen continuously at work in
human progress - have accomplished the very
things for which religion claims the credit.

E. Haldeman-Julius

The Outline of Bunk