Anda di halaman 1dari 40

This Issue:








I .

Volume 20, No. 11


And Thought

November, 1978


"Aims and Purposes"
1. To stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning
beliefs, creeds, dogmas, tenets, rituals and practices.


2. To collect and disseminate information, data and literature on all religions and
promote a more thorough understanding of them, their origins and histories.
3. To advocate, labor for, and promote in all lawful ways, the complete and absolute
separation of state and church; and the establishment and maintenance of a
thoroughly secular system of education available to all.
4. To encourage the development and public acceptance of a humane ethical system,
stressing the mutual sympathy, understanding and interdependence of all people
and the corresponding responsibility of each, individually, in relation to society.
5. To develop and propagate a social philosophy in which man is the central figure who
alone must be the source of strength, progress and ideals for the well-being and
happiness of humanity.
6. To promote the study of the arts and sciences and of all problems affecting the
maintenance, perpetuation and enrichment of human (and other) life.
7. To engage in such social, educational, legal and cultural activity as will be useful
and beneficial to members of American Atheists and to society as a whole.

1. Atheism is the life philosophy (Weltanschauung) of persons who are free from
theism. It is predicated on the ancient Greek philosophy of Materialism.
2. American Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly
accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a system of philosophy
and ethics verifiable by experience, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of
authority or creeds.
3. The Materialist philosophy declares that the cosmos is devoid of immanent conscious purpose; that it is governed by its own inherent, immutable and impersonal
law; that there is no supernatural interference in human life; that man-finding
resources within himself--can and must create his own destiny; and that his potenG tial for good and higher development
is for all practical purposes unlimited.


Volume 20, No. 11

November, 1978

Atheist Bares VFW Bias
Voswinkel Suing NC Libraries
Close-Up On The Tube ................................
The Dogma-Test Of Myth-Information
Atheism - America's Safeguard
Roots Of Atheism - D. M. Bennett
India - An Atheist Legacy In Asia
A View From India, by Edamaruku
Film Review: Coming Home
Our New Religion - Christian Science


Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair I Managing Editor: Jon Garth Murray
General Editor: Frank Duffy I Production: Ralph Shirley I Circulation: John Mays
Non-Residential Staff: Ignatz Sahula-Dycke, G. Richard Bozarth, James Erickson,
Wells Culver, J. Michael Straczynski, Joe Kirby, Elaine Stansfield, Bill Baird,
Gerald Tholen
The American Atheist magazine is published monthly by American Atheists, 2210 Hancock
Drive, Austin, Texas 78756, a non-profit, non-political, tax-exempt, educational organization.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2117, Austin, TX, 78768; copyright 1978 by Society of Separationists, Inc.; Subscription rates: $15.00 per year; $25.00 for two years. Manuscripts submitted
must be typed, double-spaced and accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The
editors assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts.


Post Office Box 2117
Austin, Texas 78768
Enter my subscription for one year at $15.00 (two years at $25.00).
Total Enclosed $,


City, State, & Zip






There could hardly be a more obscure,

religious ridden, culturally backward - almost primitive - area than Patamata,
Vijawada, Andre Pradish, India.
Here, in rutted roads, mud huts with
grass roofs, infested by disease, the incredibly
poor masses of India rot away their lives,
eking out an
existence by the most common labor of
their hands.
It was in this place that GORA declaredhimself to be an Atheist and boldly set up
the world's first Atheist Centre in his own
Equipped with a mud floor, slight
pads on which to sleep, woven grass mats on
which to squat to study, with an enormous
library: six or seven books, he began.
He had only his life with which to demonstrate. And, he used that life 24 hours of
every day to give witness to his philosophy
and to his intent to rid India of the plague
of religion which bound his beloved country
to the centuries which had passed, instead
of the reach to the fu ture.
The present, he saw, was only an extension of the past. His job was to break the
religious chains which bound the one to the
Today GORA is dead, but his Atheist
Centre is a hub from which radiates the
outward thrust not only to India but to the
world of his own commitment to Atheism.
The great and the near-great come here.
The rich and the poor all sign the register.
The hopeless and the hopeful all stop at
GORA's Centre to touch the magic of a man
withou t fear.
It was altogether fitting and proper then
that the head of the American Atheist Center, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, should stop
here at the Indian Atheist Centre, to pay
homage to GORA and to give to his wife,
Saraswathi, the embrace of union, one with
another, of the major forces of sanity in our
No matter where you are, your situation
could not be as bad as was that ofGORA. He
had, simply, 'the bravery of his convictions,
and object lession to you that it is not your
place, or your time, or the religious community which holds you back from commitment: your problem is you. Your place
is with the brave. Your heart being with us,
your feet too can follow and your Atheist
Center can be in your own home.
Page 1


We hear a lot about the population
explosion these days.
Posters and flyers remind us that the goemetric increase in medical technologies
will soon make it possible for a greater and
greater number of generations of any family to be alive at the
same time. We are confronted
with the soon-to-be reality of
having our great-great grandparents
alive when we are adults.
Imagine then the same thought applied to religion. What if
the older religions never died but lingered on to co-exist with
the newer ones? Generation
upon generation in the continued
evolution of humanity's
insanity would all be surviving together
side by side.
Thor, Jesus, Zeus and Krishna, all plaguing the minds of
men simulatneously
with still more mythical deities on the way.
A dim prognosis that will never be realized? No, not quite.
This very situation exists today in exotic India.
Descending into India on a modern jet, one could just as
well be landing in Florida for a vacation on the beach - until
one emerges from the airplane. One then enters the world of a
Disney-like "Religion
Land." Nothing seems quite real from
that moment until the plane thankfully lifts one out again.
In India, poverty and ignorance are the order of the day
with that civilization's countless theologies feeding off both as if
such human miseries were manna from heaven. Each passerby
has his own god(s) from origins as old as the Ganges, yet each
deity is uniquely different from those of his neighbors. Temples
and mosques litter every corner with gods so numerous that
their sequence requires the lifetimes of the pious just to memorize. Primitive sacrementals
and offerings rot in the blazing
Indian sun. Phallic totems stand proudly as they did generations before.
All of the exotica one can read about the "primitive"
peoples of our own heritage stand before one's startled eyes
in modern-day
India. Sacrifices,
holy baths in a befouled
river, potions to ward of countless devils, sacred marks superstitiously painted on the body and around doors and windows,
and symbols to curry favor from above for their
wearer - all these grotesque insanities fester side by side and
all are oblivious one to the other.
In the midst of this sea of insanity stands a few proud individuals who say "bunk"
to all the surrounding
These are the freethinkers
who go by different nomenclature.
They call themselves
for the most part with a
of Humanists, Agnostics, Realists and Ethical Culturists evident. Each group struggles against the generic concept
of god existant in their particular area. The individual sects and
sub-sects of the different cults are too numerous to address individually. The primary foe of these local freethinkers
is the
village prevaricator.
These "god men," as they call them, subsist by tricking the ignorant with magical cures and potions.
India has a near 80 percent rate of illiteracy. Hence it is
that religion has in that statistic a natural breeding ground. A
warm, moist place where its mind sicknesses can grow like a
voracious fungus. Even the most rudimentary
of sciences is
unknown to the masses.
The ugliness of past failings of the mind remain and are
India is a picture of what science prevented in the
Western world. It is a window into the past to remind us what

Page 2



can become of us as well should we slip into the path of a return to the ways of the church.
The wall of separation of state and church established by
our founding fathers separates us from and lifts us above the
same conditions of ignorance which abound on the Indian subcontinent.
The continuance
of massive individual salvation schemes
depends solely on their practioners'
being kept ignorant. This
entails not only a disregard for the lessons of the past, but an
to experiment
to determine
the lessons of our
No one religious practioner
knows what the other
believes or does concerning
the other's belief. Each has their
own road to bliss already mapped out with its own rules and
penalties. Is this so very different from the Baptist who has no
idea what a Methodist
believes; or a Catholic who knows
nothing about the evangelicals' salvation scheme, or that of the
Jews who could care less about any of the others?
All theological
systems call for a paddling of one's own
canoe to everlasting destinations
filled with whatever one considers the finest of luxuries. Whether this striving to remain ignorant is done with poise or with vulgarity matters little. The
vulgar is more shocking and evident, as in India, but the genteel is just as pernicious.
I learned a great deal from my Indian experience.
To see
religion with its mask of social graces removed is a shocking
Bared to the objective eye, all god ideas are ugly
and the people who adhere to them are ugly as well. I urge
anyone who can to visit a "backward"
or educationally
deprived nation and to observe the religion Is) of its people. Such
an experience
will lead to a reevaluation
of one's neighbors
who still believe in infant damnation,
in the superstitions
baptism and virgin birth, or in the value of a crucifix.
What is required
is a change of perspective
so that the
theistic system can be viewed by the theist as the non-theist
sees it. My journey into another culture magnified the perspective I had previously enjoyed while adding a final shading to
the overall picture of religious blight. I am now, more than
ever, determined
to see all religion become a vestigial part of
the human experience.
Witness the enemy as -it really is. Don't be fooled by ignorance and superstition
shielded with the mask of individual liberty. "They have the right to their own beliefs." "This
is a free country."
"If I can be an Atheist, he has the right to
his church as well." All of these are excuses we have heard
over and over again. Is the "right" to submit oneself to a system of institutionalized
ignorance designed to subjugate one's
mind really a right, a privilege?
There is no such thing as freedom of religion when religion itself is anti-freedom
by its nature: the freedom to be a
slave. Choose which brand of slavery, but have no option not
to be a slave at all.
We here at the American Atheist Center feel that the time
to speak up is now. Ignorance is not a right. It must be outlawed with its partner - religion. If we can vaccinate against
polio we can likewise immunize
our citizens against an infection of god ideas. I want to wipe out religion in my lifetime.

The American




Back-Burner Items

Dear Editor,
Would you have any cartoon books
,I devoted solely to Atheist cartoons?
I find the cartoons in your monthly
very. amusing. Would you
.have a collection
of cartoons
your past issues over the years?
Douglas Dean
Chicago, IL
Dear Editor,
Any new developments
on books
for children giving
the story of Atheism? My daughter's
children are one and two and a half can't start soon enough - HELP!
Rose Green
Round Lake Park, IL
American Atheists is planning both
a book of Atheist cartoons and a book
on Atheism suitable for children. We
hope to have more information on both
items by the first of next year.
Also in the works is an Atheist game
designed for children of all ages.
The Editor

Xianity - An Unnecessary Evil

Dear Editor,
In the last Newsletter you criticized
the ones who stay in the closet and go
by names other than Atheist. Well, I
don't call myself an Atheist because I
am not an Atheist. I'm not one because
I believe that we live on after we die.
If there is an afterlife it is a fact of
nature and has nothing
to do with
or the Bible. You can't
possibly believe they (Christians)
more absurd than I do.
I support American Atheists because
I believe in complete separation of state
and church and will not tolerate any
amount of Bible reading or prayers in
our nation's public schools - absolutely not.
I raised four children, the youngest
of whom is now 29, and I never sent
or took them to church or Sunday
Of course
my neighbors
expected them all to surely be hanged
one day. To the contrary,
all have
good jobs and are law-abiding citizens
and they have all expressed thanks to
me for not filling their heads with the
absurdities of Christianity.
Mary Plotner
San Francisco, CA

Church Of The Weak Knees

Dear Editor,
My magazine arrived just in time to make me realize that I'm not the only Atheist
in the world. Here I sit in a large city, totally unaware as to whether there is another
Atheist in yelling distance.
The nearest we can come to a (Atheist chapter) meeting here is the Unitarians,
and they are a poor excuse. I went to a meeting recently. On the wall was a large
sign all hand-made which stated: Think of others first, yourself last and god always.
The meeting even had a local TV personality as speaker who is a devout Catholic! I
left about-half-way
through ....
Help! Isn't there something better?
Even at the '78 convention
in San Francisco I found myself to be the only one
from Las Vegas. Maybe, if I can get in touch with someone, I can convince them to
attend the '79 convention in Dallas. Please add my reservation for Dallas,
Pauley Hughes
Las Vegas, NV
Dear Editor,
I claim that a sincere belief in Atheism or Agnosticism is a religious belief and is
exempt under the Constitution
of the United States of America. The fact that
Atheists have not organized huge tax-exempt
churches is not to their benefit. I
invite your readers and the Atheists of America to become ordained ministers and
preach the word of truth to the masses. The government
will love you for it and
will grant you the exemptions
they adore granting to all religions.
Rev. William T. Conklin
Denver, CO
William Conklin,
I can't do it. Atheism is too honorable
of a philosophy
to try to hide under a
different nomenclature,
or to pretend to be 'religious, or a religion - which it is not.
You think that what you have done is "smart."
I think that what you have done is cowardly.
You fortify the churches' right when you include yourself with these liars and
thieves. We cannot identify with them and expect to fight them. It is not possible.
I would rather be dead than have the name "church"
to me. The
churches have held back mankind for 6,000 years, brutalized women, damned the
human race to ignorance, made a virtue out of killing, perverted the human sexual
thrust, raped the land, pillaged, burned, enslaved, tortured ...
How can you as an Atheist identify yourself with this?
Thank you - but I prefer to go the honest way.
Madalyn O'Hair

Austin, Texas



Page 3

Woman To Woman

Re The Atomic Symbol

Dear Mrs. O'Hair,

I am a black woman interested in the words you speak. I listened to you when
you appeared on the Ralph Adam Fine Show in Milwaukee.
For sure you made excellent points; I really couldn't agree with you more. But
it was very embarrassing for me to see and hear all the irrelevant comments of the
black people in the audience, and especially those of minister Roy Nabors. It was
a sad commentary that because of their ignorance they didn't understand a word
you said. So I would like to take responsibility for apologizing to you for their
behavior. Nevertheless, it was obvious that you were on a much highter level than
they were.
Mrs. O'Hair, I don't know any person of your race who's more for real than you
are. It would be a big let-down not to have the opportunity to meet and talk with
you someday.
Rita Jones
Milwaukee, WI
Dear Rita,
The facts of life are that you cannot apologize for the acts of others, but
must simply suffer the embarrassment of their outrageous behavior. This is an
essential part of Atheism: that we can control only our own actions and apologize
for or correct that over which we have control.
This does not take away from your concern over the incident. Your warm,
long letter was delightful and on the day we do meet, I need to hug you to us - and
our Atheism.
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Atheism As A Solution
Dear Editor,
Thanks for sending your literature and publications list so quickly.
After reading you introductory material I had two realizations. One, that I totally agree with your stand against dogma and its effect upon gullible people. Two, I
felt profoundly depressed when you made clear the religious ideologies instilled
into us and which we are forced to accept as valid. Now I recognize the religious
indoctrination which penetrates into our motivations, governs our actions, and
actually determines our morals and beliefs for us, The problem seems almost
overwhelming and unshakable, but I believe you are a solution.
Anyway, I would like to know the number of members you now have. The information you supply is of great value to me and will surely aid in research I am currently doing for a book.
Jack L. Sabley
Bloomfield, NJ
Mr. Sabley,
Our mailing list currently numbers some 70,000 families.
The Editor
Kudos For Marsa
Dear Editor,
Thank you for sending a sam ply copy of your magazine so promptly. I most
thoroughly enjoyed it, especially on the second, third and subsequent readings.
I look forward to more accounts of the fate of other freethinkers. It is comforting to know that others have dared to stand alone because their intellect demanded it.
My hat is off to Paul Marsa for insisting [Sept. issue, p. B} on the separation of
state and church, even at graduation ceremonies. It is younger people like Marsa
whose minds are as sharp as tacks and will not be intimidated with whom our salvation (forgive me) lies. They will sort the sense from the nonsense and see that
science is used properly rather than abused. They need encouragement from The
American Atheist and itssubscribers, rather than being deserted as Hel Nelson of
Granite Falls, WA, did [Sept. issue, p. 4]. Mr Nelson seems to believe that the status
quo cannot be changed by going forward and therefore would have us regress to
what - prehistory?
My check is enclosed for a two-year subscription. Thank you.
Elke M. Mikaelian
Albuquerque, NM

Page 4




Dear Editor,
In the past year I have read several
letters in the magazine protesting the
American Atheist symbol: a stylized
atom and letter "A." I would like to
point out to these individuals, and any
other persons upset by this, that we
have been led to think of the word
"atomic" strictly in relation to nuclear
energy. This is an incorrect assumption.
Atoms are found in every element
on earth. Each element has an atomic
number, an atomic weight, and an
atomic symbol, usually one or two letters of the alphabet. Trees, cars, rocks,
goats, tomatoes, robins, whales, a glass
of water - and our own bodies - all
contain millions of atoms.
However, there aren't any atoms in
gods, devils, angels, miracles, or in
ghostly spirits; these do not exist as
every Atheist knows! So what better
symbol could we have for an Atheist
W. Callahan
Creatures Of The Universe
Dear Editor,
There have been several complaints
about our AA symbol, and as I've read
comments that most of the elements
of which humans are composed were
created in other suns long ago, I've begun to consider our symbol a good one.
The symbol well points out that we
are truly creatures of the universe,
composed of matter shaped long ago
and far away in other suns.
I think AA should have 4 by 4 inch
bumper stickers and stamps for letters
with just our symbol appearing on
them. Publicity doesn't have to be
loud, it can be quiet, persistent, and
Herman W. Von Borstel
Marysville, CA
A rational person should view death
as a top priority
to be
- an enemy to be studied,
defeated by reason and technology.
is only
one of our concerns. Others include
space industrialization,
philosophy, individualism, and more.
We put it all together. For further
please write to: The
Howard Foundation, Dept. I, 50475W
26th Drive,
OR 97201.

The American


11Ifl(~~ _N_EW_S ~1"tllIIIIIIIIIII1111IillI11tllltllllllllll1111

Atheist Bares VFW Bias

American Atheist George Sether of
Wisconsin is living proof of the effect
one determined individual Atheist can
have in rectifying a situation whereby
he was refused membership in an organization simply because he declined
belief in a god.
In 1969, Sether applied for membership in a Veteran of Foreign Wars
(VFW) post in Milwaukee. He was
denied admittance for religious reasons as that particular VFW post requires applicants to swear to a belief
in a god.
George Sether was quick to recognize the unconstitutionality of this requirement on the part of the VFW
post so he proceeded to direct correspondence to appropiate departments
of the Wisconsin state government
seeking redress of the situation.
Because god-fearing groups such
as the VFW are equally as fearful of
losing their access to tax monies [paid
by theists and non-theists alike}, Sether
directed his correspondence complaining of such discrimination to the
State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue which is responsible for granting
such tax exemptions. As is with any
action involving the wheels of govern-

ment, satisfaction was a long time in

coming for Atheist Sether.
In May of this year, however,
Sether received an official letter from
an attorney for the Department of
Revenue informing him that the taxexempt status of the VFW post he
had applied to had been revoked. The
letter informed Sether that "the revocation was made on the basis that the
post discriminated in its membership
on the basis of religion."
As a result of Sether's efforts the
state of Wisconsin began an investi-

gation to determine if other VFW

posts in Wisconsin were likewise demanding of their members that they
must believe in a god.
David R. Nichols, deputy secretary of the department, directed the
post in question to file 1977 income
tax forms within 90 days so that the
government might review the organization's policies and practices which
might possibly have resulted in discrimination in connection with exemption
Nichols said he did
not know if all VFW posts had similar
oath requirements and that the revocation was based on a specific' complaint [Sether's] about a specific post.
Such individual but determined
actions by Atheists who know their
constitutional rights and are not" timid
in defending them are the means by
which the encroachment of religion
into the lives of non-religious citizens
will be stopped. It is to the benefit of
American Atheism that such determined persons as George Sether, Paul
Marsa of New Jersey, and Patricia Voswinkel of North Carolina [see below]
are willing to clear a path through the
religious onslaught so that others may
reap the benefits of their actions.

Voswinkel Suing IC libraries

As does George Sether [above],
American Atheist Patricia Voswinkel
exemplifies her own life philosophy to
such a degree that others seeking a
pathway out of the religious saturation
currently enveloping America would
do well to follow in her footsteps.
As American Atheists' chapter
director for North Carolina, Pat has
long since realized that Atheists must
always be vigilant in assuring freedom
of thought and inquiry for our children
and those who come after us as well as
for ourselves. In addition to protecting
our public schools from subversion by
religious fanatics, Pat recognizes that



we must make available to the public

Atheist news and literature to awaken
them to the religious encroachment.
Pat took The American Atheist to
the public libraries in the county of
her residence, Mecklenburg, N.C. She
advised that she would pay for a gift
subscription to our journal if the libraries would accept it so that others
might have an alternative [and factual!}
periodical to the 30 religious periodicals displayed in Mecklenburg libraries.
"They turned it down because
it's an Atheist magazine, and that's
unpopular in Charlotte," Pat said.
She filed a complaint in federal

November, 1978

district court charging the libraries

with violating her constitutional rights
of free speech and religious rights by
carrying publications about Catholics,
Protestants, Jews and Moslems but
refusing her request to make available an Atheist journal.
Patricia is suing the county of
Mecklenburg for and in behalf of
herself, American Atheists, and The
American Atheist magazine. Because
this is in a federal district court, it
means that all libraries in all states
will be put on notice that they must
carry Atheist journals if they carry
any religious ones.

Page 5

J. Michael Straczynski
Close-Up On The Tube
Normally, this column in The American Atheist is reserved for excursions
into what shall tentatively be described
as "humor,"atleast until wecangetasecond opinion on the matter. This one
time around, however, a mild exception
must be made in order to deal with a
topic that is of immense importance to
myself, both personally and professionally, and which should be of equal importance to the readership. I am referring, in a general sense, to the relationships and antagonisms between the
media, the religionists and Atheists.
Lately, the media -specifically television - have been coming under attack from all sides. The religionists
scream for the propagation of Christian mythology; the sponsors scream
for ratings at any cost, moral or qualitative; the materialists decry the plethora of fantasy on the tube; the producers change story lines as often as they
change their socks in order to keep up
with the demands of the latest pressure
group; and the networks live in perpetual fear of even the smallest criticism.
Throughout all the difficulties, the
writer inevitably gets caught in the middle of the shooting. To capitalize on
an adage for a moment, whether the
pitcher hits the stone, or the stone
hits the pitcher, it's going to be bad
for the pitcher.
To put it another way, we get it
coming and going, folks.
(Parenthesis: By the use of "we" in
the last sentence, the reader may have
gotten the impression that the humble
author is a member of the dubious species in question, an indictment which I
shall not deny. Briefly, I am a writer. I
write. I do a lot of it, to the tune of over
125 articles in over a dozen publications in the last year alone. I also write
for film and television along the way
and hope to continue doing so in the
future. So my familiarity with the problem is both firsthand and quite personal. There is a very real, almost tangible
fear among the ranks that we are headed
smack into a new era of McCarthyism
in the media, and each member knows
that it is of vital importance to let the
public know exactly what is going on
behind the scenes. Hence, this essay.
(End of parenthesis. We now restore

Page 6

control of your television set to you.)

Each day, the Big Three networks
receive tons of mail from what one producer jokingly referred to as "the Cyclops Brigade." These are people who
have been trained in the tactics of pressure, who monitor prime-time and other
television programs and evaluate them
primarily on the basis of how and to
what extent they support the tenets of
Christian theology. This is a steadily
growing outrage perpetrated upon the
networks by a group of people so insecure in their own beliefs that they
must go so far as to attempt to control
the media, so that no ideas contrary to
their own are presented.
Many, in fact, are given evaluative
kits that include pre-stamped, pre-addressed postcards to assist them in
making their adjudications known to
the networks.

And the networks do listen. You

wouldn't believe how much they listen.
Networks, you see, are run by accountants, lawyers, and over-aggrandized
initial stampers whose sole collective
goal is the dollar and a "fifty-share" during prime time. The total number of
shows that have been altered, restructured, rewritten and just downright
cancelled because of pressure tactics
and boycotts by these groups is scandalous in the extreme.
Some few have the guts and the tenacity to stand up for their principles,
however. In recent months, there has
been the "James at 15" controversy.
Rather than restructure on demand the'
second half of a two-part episode in
such a way that it would promote Christian attitudes and the politics of guilt,
the two writers walked off the show.
In the pursuit of my own career, I
have personally encountered this growing trend on many occasions, ranging

November, 1978


from the extreme, when a script was according to an inside source -rejected
purely on the basis that it would irritate
the religious community, to the trivial
but irksome. (In a situation-comedy
pilot that I'd written appeared the line,
"If this job doesn't work out, I'll probably go into politics, religion, or somr,
other branch of organized crime." The
producer didn't want the line because
of the trouble he felt it might cause,
but I fought for it and it stayed, at least
during shooting. But in the final edited
version, the line was gone. The rationale:
"Gosh, Joe, we were 14 seconds over
time, see .... ")
The program was aired 30 seconds
Another difficulty, painful and embarrassing as it may be to admit, is that
often we as Atheists actually - albeit
unintentionally - aid the religionist in
his tactics. The religionist writes in to a
network criticizing a show because it
presents non-Christian fantasy programming; theAtheist decries the purveyance
of the fantasy over the materialistic.
End result: a double whammy, and the
series folds.
Speaking primarily as a television
writer for a moment, I cannot urge the
Atheist community strongly enough to
make their views known to the networks
in the most positive and constructive
manner possible.
Yes, there are programs on the air
now that are populated by flying saucers, spooks, space operas, impossible
fantasies and things that go bump in the
night. But there is a very distinct difference between fantasy qua fantasy
and fantasy masquerading as reality, as
is the case with Christian theology, and
it is with the latter that we must concern ourselves.
Some of the greatest literary works
of known history revolve around a fantastic theme; Milton, Homer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bierce, Shelley and
others may be indicted for using fantasy
in their literary endeavors and convicted
on every charge. But their works are
not to be judged or classified with religious matters, but rather purely on literary merit, which is the jurisdiction
of the critic.
The point to be derived from the pre-

The American Atheist

ceding is simply this: For as long as our

actions and our energies are diffuse directed at too broad a field - or opinions shall be of no consequence. We
cannot go after everything at once,
using the shotgun technique. To have
any effect whatsoever on this growing
trend in the media, an intensive 'and
personal effort must be directed toward
curtailing the direct involvement of religion and the media.
We may laugh at it now, but programs
like the "700Club"and the "PTL Club"
are becoming ever more extensive and
powerful by the day. They own their
own satellites, assemble their own networks and affiliates and have the capability and the resources to rally vast
numbers of people with incredible rapidity. We may not stop to think about
it, but many stations offer reduced or
nonexistent broadcast rates to religious
programs and their sponsors, an act
which is in direct violation of the FCC's
regulations regarding equal time and
fairness laws. We may not take seriously such things as the "PTL Club's" once
expressed goal of someday making ALL
television programming just like their
own, but there are some very real and
sinister implications behind such statements, as well as the bucks to bring
them to fruition.
Network executives, producers and
writers do not like the idea of having
religiously inspired programming decisions or censorships being shoved down
their throats with a tire iron, but they
cannot fight back without support from
the community. Each person must be
willing to write to the networks in support of the separation of media and
church. Such letters, written with such
specificity, playa surprisingly important role in sponsor negotiations. If you
think that your local station is giving






free or reduced-fee air time to religious
programs, notify the FCC. Wemusttake
a clear and determined stance in the support of network independence from religious indoctrination.
The electronic media constitute far
too potent a force to allow them to fall
into such a situation. To bring a quote
from Mark Twain up to date, "it makes


J. Michael Straczynski
AGAMEMNON - Originally the mythological commander of the Greek army during the Trojan War, rumor has it
that he is presently a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys, and
is supplementing his income by ventures into the countrywestern recording industry.
AGENDA -n- A list of things you never get around to
AGGRA VATE -vt- To become upset, usually at a person
who has the same habits as yourself, but handles them badly.

Austin, Texas



a mighty power, the mightiest conceivable, and then when by and by it gets
into selfish hands, as it is always bound
to do, it means death to human liberty
and paralysis to human thought."
Along with state-church separation
must come media-church separation.
The consequences of any other action
are too disturbing to consider.

AGNOSTIC -n- One who refuses to believe until the belief ceases to need belief in order to be believed in, and is
therefore no longer a belief but a fact, which inevitably
opens itself up for disproval.
AHEM -interj- A device used to interrupt a conversation
by a person who has read too many bad novels. The trademark of one destined for obscurity.
AIN'T -contr- A weapon which, when used in the presence of a grammarian, is usually fatal.
ALIENATE -vt- To give someone your honest opinion.
ALIMONY -n- Death on the installment plan. Akin to
buying a ring for an amputated hand.
ALLEGIANCE -n- An oath of fealty made to a cloth
while one's house is burning down.
ALLELUIA -interj- The sound of god's sneeze.
ALL Y -n- One who is sent into the den to determine if
any lions are present.
ALTAR -n- The focus of a sacrificial ceremony whereat
a man and a woman offer up their happiness and their sanity
for a secure future of mutual annoyance. God's cash register.

November, 1978

Page 7

The Dogma-Test




~''~ ''-~



1) Define "Mazda."
a) A rotary-engine car
b) A deity of ancient Alaska
c) One of the Gabor sisters
d) A rotary-engine religion

8) Who is the successor to Aimee Semple McPherson?

a) Ruth Carter Stapleton
b) Elizabeth Claire Prophet
c) Anita Bryant
d) Debbie Boone

2) What is "Freemasonry?"
a) A charitable bricklaying organization
b) A front for the Illuminati
c) Club begun by H.G. Freemason for fence post collectors
d) A front for the Kiwanis Club

9) What has been the greatest overall cause of wars?

a) Famine
b) Economic Depression
c) Autocratic rulers
d) Religions

3) How do you cure "Glossolalia"?

a) Wash the person's mouth out with soap
b) Have the patient read Webster's Dictionary from A to Z
c) Give him/her a good dose of Epsom Salts
d) Feed him/her a Dieffenbachia ("Dumb Cane") plant

10) What do the Mormon Church, Church of Scientology,

Church, Worldwide Church of God and the
Christian Crusade have in common?
a) Their leaders have grown rich at the expense of the flock
b) All have extensive real estate and business holdings
c) Their leaders all have highly questionable ethics
d) All of the above
11) What does the Masonic logogram "T .. S.. G.. A. .0 .. T .. U"
a) The Sovereign Grand Artichoke Of The Uncircumcised
b) The Sanctimonious Great Arbitrator Of Taoist Utopia
c) The Sacredotal Gnome Association Of The Ukraine
d) To Ease Gastritis Attacks, Buy "Thompson's Upchuck"

4) Describe "illusions."
a) "Usions" that got sick
b) Things that religious leaders have no shortage of
c) Things our Founding Fathers fought against
d) Things that religions brainwash people with
5) Give an example of "karma."
a)lf you fart in church, you sit in your own pew
b) Be good or you'll come back as Wayne Newton
c) Richard Nixon's demise
d) All of the above
6) Define the term "ESP."
a) Extra Salt, Please
b) Exiguous Siamese Philosophy
c) Especially Sordid Proselytizing
d) Exorcism, Shamanism and Polytheism

13) "Tantra" means

a) More than one tantrum
b) A "how to" guide to the perfect tan
c) Cosmic writings left behind by Casey Stengel
d) Last word spoken by Charles Kane in "Citizen

7) What do the letters "IHVH" stand for?

a) Izzy Has Veneral Holes
b) Made in a Kosher Kitchen
c) The Grammatetraton
d) International Home for Vegetarian Hermits

Page 8

12) Define "Gnostics."

a) Philosophers who claim to gnow a lot
b) Sticks used to play the Babylonian game called "Gno"
c) Pre-Christian Rotarian mystics
d) Pre-Oriental Presbyterian clerics


14) What is the definition of "reincarnation?"

a) A strain of carnations developed by Luther Burbank
b) Nation whose major mode of transportation is "reincars"

Novem ber, 1978

The American Atheist

c) Doctrine that after death one's soul goes to Akron, Ohio

d) Doctrine that after death one's soul ends up in a shoe

21) After Harold K. Jehovah of Fayetteville, Ark. got hit by

a car, police looked for
22) Californians living along the San Andreas fault fear
23) The favorite sea lion at "Marineland of Tel Aviv" is
24) What do you say after hearing "Satchitananda"?
25) A pseudo-hip record company in San Francisco is

15) The initials "A.M.O.R.C." stand for

a) Almighty Mendacious Orthodox Ragweed Church

b) Ancient Mystical Order, Rubber Crutch
c) Arcane Mixcoatl Organization, Redneck, Colorado
d) Adept Mahatmas Of Rural Cincinnati



Completion Quiz

16) An actor who follows"The Method" is called a

17) Star Wars, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Book of
Mormon can all be described as

is the religion whose aim is confusing.
19) Put a light bulb in your mouth, stick your finger in a light
socket, say "Hare Krishna" and you'll obtain
20) A "vana" that is in close proximity is a




Matching Quiz

Aaron's rod
The Bible
Holy Ghost
L. Ron Hubbard
Oral Roberts' brother
"Guru Ma"



a) How a Texan says "I am."

b) Anal
c) Prize-takerfor silliest sobriquet
d) Testy
e) First name of Mr. Berra
f) Casper, full of holes
g) An Indian faker
h) Makes a good doorstop
i) A phallus
j) Mother Hubbard's mistake

Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Dictionaries and their definitions of words trace back to
1755 and the work of Samuel Johnson. The early lexicographers who faced the word "Atheism" were largely 'adherents of
Christianity and therefore defined an Atheist as a person who
denied the existence of a "god" or "gods." Since then, this definition has been modified. The modern American Heritage
Dictionary now defines an Atheist primarily as one who disbelieves in the existence of any "god."
This points out the wide chasm between denying any "god's"
'existence and simply disbelieving those who say that "god"
exists. So there's really no necessity for the denial of any "god's"
existence; that he exists is something that those who pray to
him should prove. In debate the burden of proof devolves on
those who defend a given proposition; in the present case the
burden of proof rests on those who pray to a "god" who they


Austin, Texas


say exists, but who fail to nail it down with tangible evidence.
I decry Christianism because it breeds and exalts mental infantilism through lurid promises of carnal resurrection. Its
"god," couched on the clouds of heaven, awaiting' the believers
"saved" by "son" Jesus, is a bald fantasy. This and others, presented as truths to an undeveloped intellective complex, enter
its subliminal, wherein combining with or modified by various,
perhaps long-dormant atavist factors, they divert the complex
from rational functioning at its conscious level.
Far too many people are thus being brainwashed in our
America, the hallowed land of the free, and virtually forced to
exist from birth until death in a trance haunted by apparitions
of theological contrivance to manipulate humanity's minds and
bodies - all of it primarily for the sake of the power which the
priests long ago perceived this offered them. I see the province
of theology as an area fenced by dogmas within which are confined the unthoughtful masses.
Those who lack the acuity to perceive this remain as prisoners within it, constituting the material source of organized religion's whatsoever power - the power that religion applies as
effectively as it can wherever it sees its fences being weakened
and its province threatened.
Were I to be so rash as to deny the existence of the spectre
that haunts the consciousness of religion's fanatical believers,
I'd have to descend to their level- the level at which their brainwashing keeps them stuck and working for the various priesthoods. They don't even suspect that this belief in and worship
of a "god" is a fixation they failed to overcome - one to which
they cleave blindly and blithely, gripped by its staid promise
of an impossible immortality.

November, 1~78

Page 9

Their excuses for it, if not based on the Bible, are always of
the variety defined as tautology,
this being understood
by those who are a bit brighter than most of their run-of-themill brethren who simply believe what they believe because they
were from childhood trained to believe it - insensate victims
of a habit they failed to break. But in most instances the believer
belongs to a majority that's as impervious as a stone wall to any
words contradicting
their addiction to religious habits.
But, finally, there's little of consequence
to be gained from
any debate between theology and Atheism. The latter stems
from sanity nourished by facts, the former from faith in fanaticism evoked by dogmas. The two fields are poles apart, totally
disimilar, each field contributing
its esoteric bit to the interplay
of forces rife in the universe for no known purpose or for anything that man can understand.
Some of the humans side with one of the two factions, some
with the other. Which of the two factions is "right" and which
"wrong" is a matter of opinion - of human opinion and thus
of no importance whatever in the universe which dynamized it
all in the first place and did it without consulting our sorry
human species or asking us for any kind of help in it. The universe of course matters to us because we exist within it and are
sensually aware of it. But in that cosmic vastness we count for
even less than does a microscopic
speck of sand lifted off the
desert floor by a sudden whirlwind.
Despite this we must consider causes and results, ideas and
their consequences,
popular beliefs and their connotations,
because matters of this and similar kinds affect the very breath
every living one of us draws into his lungs to stay alive. Such
matters affect everyone now living as well as those yet to be
Steps taken by man many centuries ago have prevented him
from living the life he might today be living more contentedly
but for the haphazard or expedient action taken by his less intelligent ancestors. Human life, today, is far more the result of
man's previously made mistakes than of his rationally directed
earlier behavior. Yet every day we must take up where we left
off on the day before. We have been most fortunate to be citizens of a nation offering to everyone of its people an opportun-

rl"I want an Atheist

Page 10

stamp ...

and I want it NOW!"




ity for working out even their most involute problems without
too many impeding regulations.
To protect this freedom we must be constantly
on guard
against those whom history points to as likely to deprive us of
it. Our Constitution
and Bill of Rights were devised to protect
us against such danger to an extent as generous as any written
compact in all history. But the same forces that ever aimed at
the limitation of personal freedom and liberty are at work today as in the past and, by lullabying us with the tune that this
is a new day and a different set of circumstances,
are attempting to re-establish the very same conditions that, for centuries
before our Declaration
of Independence
was written, kept the
people of Europe under the thumb of religious prelates -- a situation from which our Constitution
enabled the people of the
United States to escape.
But the Constitution,
just like any document,
will protect
us only if the temper of the people guards its provisions. Should
the people wax drowsy, those who resent constitutional
provisions will surely do everything in their power to destroy it and
for it their own kind of tyrannical,
mind- and bodyenslaving over-rule.

God Not A Factor

We presently need to be especially alert to this, for we might
easily forget that when our founders framed the Constitution,
all of Europe's people were being ruled by theocratic
governments headed by kings, emperors and other kinds of churchsponsored
sovereigns. Our founders, far ahead of their times,
recognized the evils in this system, and hence our Constitution
refrained from any and all references to a "god" as a factor in
the political handling of the nation they envisioned, and likewise it dispensed with any appeals to "god" for his blessings in
the American venture.
Certainly, for at least the past two centuries their judgment
has been amply vindicated by the unparalelled
material and scientific unfoldment
here, and the fact that "god" is an unnecessary adjunct in politics was fully demonstrated.
As mentioned,
we need to be doubly alert and watchful, for
no few members of our Congress seem to take our Constitution
much too lightly. Too, we now have in the White House an occupant whose election to this high office, for all anyone knows,
might well have been decided by the few whom he convinced of
something or other by announcing
during his campaign that he
was a "re-born" Christian.
Much too late many of us now realize that this was an indication of a tendency to be vacillating. Only very few of the promises he made us before we elected him have been fulfilled: the
is larger than ever, inflation is rampant, the dollar
at a new low at this writing. I can't deny, and won't, that when
he took office, the citizenry perked up. But that was two years
In view of the fact that most Americans still call themselves
Christians, it would be foolish - of those who don't - to wish
our chief executive were a combination
of politician and freethinker.
The freethinker
arrives at his religious indifference
through philosophic
thinking. Our American way of electing a
president decrees that we choose him from among those who
every four years arise as candidates.
They like to be known as
politicians, and those who are philosophically
inclined keep it
under their hat, seeing that the voters are largely Christians and because the politician
knows that this type of voter has
been conditioned
to suspect the freethinker of being an Atheist,
a radical or a communist.
Today's politician lets it be known
that he is a believer long before he begins campaigning.
All of
them know that Thomas Jefferson
risked defeat, and almost

The American


lost, because it was gossiped that he was an Atheist due to his

friendship with Thomas Paine. Jefferson staved off defeat by
countering that he had been an Episcopalian and was a deist.
(He avoided explaining that deism is a belief in truths disciosable by light of reason apart from biblical revelations.) After a
tie with Aaron Burr, the House of Representatives elected him
to the first of his two terms. An interesting question is: What
did Jimmy Carter believe before he became a re-born Christian?
The desire to be president takes an extraordinary kind of
mentality, one almost philosophical before the stumping begins.
But once the campaign starts, the candidate turns politician and
the hunt for votes into a handshaking nightmare and an experience which only the hardiest of men can surmount - certainly not any scholarly type, whom the first trip to the hustings
and back would more than likely send to bed.
As to the politicians who seem to take it in stride, it seems
to me that every one of them should somehow learn or be made
aware of the fact that Christianity fell lock, stock and barrel
by the wayside sometime during the middle of the 19th century,
of the presidential hopefuls to evaluate it impartially, their concept of it would undergo a radical change which might promptly
take our State Department out of the missionary business. This
would signally help whoever happened to be elected president
to perform his weighty duties of office in a manner compatible
with the times to whose demands every nation in the world today is answerable, times to which we are now responsive only
when boxed in or cornered by our international rivals.
In my opinion it's regrettable, even tragic, that our chief's
religious outlook prevents him from recognizing that the world

has for the most part rejected the Nicene ethic as an impediment and has for more than a century been looking for something else in its stead - and that no amount of missionarying
on his part will, or can, revive what now is dead.
It goes without saying that standing up for the world's oppressed people is commendable, but first of all at home. But
not even the most altruistic of nations is justified to spout indignantly when another views the matter differently in its own
way, especially not when the indignation looks as though it
were triggered by a preacher goading hislisteners to crusade for
Jesus or by some religious zealot who says that "god" chose
him to point out the lack of morality in the opposing camp.
And thus it goes these hectic days. For any nation whose
people and officialdom rant about "trusting in god," as of late
we have, this way betrays that it lacks something of what it
needs to get things properly done. This indicates that it has
been besmirched so much by the hypocrisy with which organized Christianism is so replete that it has lost the nobility that
in its early days earned it respect throughout the entire world.
Something yet remains within it of its halcyon days that it can
depend upon to stop the dry rot introduced into its sinews by
fanatic religionism. It is its cadre of Atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and all others who, by parting from organized holiness, gained the sanity and perspicacity prompting them
to combat theistic conceits. These are the nation's unsung
patriots, dedicated to American principles - not first to some
vapid "god." In their numbers and in their loyalty rests the lone
rational hope for the perpetuation of Jeffersonian constitutionalism and the safekeeping of our democratic republic.

Solstice A"airs



Los Angeles

Saturday, 23 December 1978

Cash bar opens at 5:30, Dinner
at 6 p.m.
Sheraton Hotel In Southfield,
17017 West Nine Mile Road
(east of Southfield
Hoad and
west of Greenfield Road)
Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, author of Freedom Under Siege,
president of American Atheists
$20.00 per person

are necessary
must be paid in full by 5 December.
further information
please contact:




Atheism: The CaseAgainst God.


$15.00 per person.

Advance reservations are a must. All reservations must be paid by 5 December. Advance reservations can be made sans money,
but they must be paid for by 5 December.

Loretta Cruz
Atheists Detroit Chapter
P.O. Box 37056
Oak Park, M I 48237
(313) 721-6630

Don Latimer
American Atheists LA Chapter
15339 Naranja Ave.
Paramount, CA 90723
(213) 634-8055


Austin, Texas

Saturday, 16 December 1978

Social hour 6-7 p.rn., Dinner at 7
Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.
George H. Smith,

November, 1978

Page 11

Roots of Atheism
D.M. Bennett / American Atheist



* * * ,~D.M.



The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was incorporated by the Legislature of New York on 16 May 1873,
chiefly through the efforts of Anthony Comstock, its secretary
and active agent, and the Young Men's Christian Association
Comstock also procured the enactment by the United States
Congress, and by the Legislature of New York State of a series
of acts, which were placed in both the national and state
statute books, and which are believed by many to be subversive of the very principles of American liberty and destructive
to individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Of the some half dozen of these Comstock acts which by
his urgent, Christianity-inspired efforts became the laws of
this land, the following section is characteristic of the excessively severe and grossly indefinite nature of these laws enforced to protect the "public morality:"
Sec. 3893 - No obscene, lewd, or lascivious book, pamphlet, picture,
paper, print, or other publication of an indecent character, or any article or thing designed or intended for the prevention of conception or
procuring of abortion, nor any article or thing intended or adapted for
any indecent or immoral use or nature, nor any written or printed card,
circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving
information, directly or indirectly, where or how, or of whom, or by
what means either of the things before mentioned may be obtained or
made, nor any letter upon the envelope of which, or postal card upon
which indecent or scurrilous epithets may be written or printed, shall
be carried in the mail; and any person who shall knowingly deposit, or
cause to be deposited, for mailing or delivery, any of the herein beforementioned articles or things, or any notice or paper containing any advertisement relating to the aforesaid articles or things; and any person
who, in pursuance of any plan or scheme for disposing of any of the
herein before-mentioned articles or 'things, shall take or cause to be
taken, from the mail any such letter or package, shall be deerried guilty
of a misdemeanor, and shall, for every offense, be fined not less than
one hundred dollars, nor more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned
at hard labor not less than one year, nor more than ten years, or both.

The inherent vagueness of such laws was intendedso that

the accused "blasphemers" would be at the mercy of Christian
judges, lawyers and juries who would be uninhibited by the
burdens of precise statutes in conducting their campaigns to
rid the United States of all who deviate from orthodoxy. It
was left up to Christian warriors such as Anthony Comstock to
decide what was obscene and what was not.

Scare Tactics
To procure the enactment of such laws, Comstock made
frequent journeys to Washington, and he carried with him a
satchel full of lewd, filthy books, pictures and devices which
he spread out before congressmen and which he induced them
to believe were being sent through the mail by scores of tons
to the youth of the country and to young schoolkids at seminaries and boarding-schools.
The time and mode by which these laws were enacted were
extremely discreditable to American legislation. The final passage took place in the closing hours of the 42nd Congress, on

Page 12

November, 1978


Atheist publisher D.M. Bennett

3 March 1873, when within a few hours, and when the house
was in the wildest state of confusion, and numbers of the
members were under the influence of ardent spirits anticipating recess from their jobs, some 260 acts were hurriedly
pushed through without inquiry or consideration. In many
instances even the titles of the bills voted upon were unknown
to members.
Through the personal exertions of Anthony Comstock, a
set of such laws were passed by the New York Legislature in
Albany and became a part of the laws of that state. As active
agent for the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice
Comstock was in a unique position of being able to entrap
and prosecute persons he deemed "obscene" according to
those laws of imprecise language which he himself was largely
responsible for having enacted.
As is often the case with Christian soldiers who would suppress others' sexual rights, Anthony Comstock had a bug-eyed
preoccupation with enforcing celibacy on all citizens outside
the oppressive institution of Christian matrimony. As is with
modern-day guardians of the public morality, Comstock sought
to withhold all functional sex and birth control education
from those who most needed it; and he expended his most
vigorous prosecutions in attempts to jail and silence abortionists, Atheists and those who would disdain to cringe before the

The American Atheist

D.M. Bennett / American Atheist



'D.M. Bennett / American Atheist

* * ;~*


* * * ~,D.M.

. ;(.

absurdities of the Christian cult.

Here are a few examples of the more than 350 cases prosecuted by the boastful Comstock during this American Inquisition:

* George Francis Train was arrested in 1873 by Comstock on

a charge of obscenity, and was thrown into the infamous
Tombs' damp, gloomy prison, where he lay in a small cell for
six months. His offense consisted in publishing certain indecent passages from the Christian Bible without a word of
comment. It is evident that his accusers eventually became
ashamed of their conduct in arresting a highly intelligent man
for publishing a limited number of extracts from their own
Bible in all their native purity.
Train's persecutors wished to get him off their hands
without a trial, but he refused to leave prison until duly tried
and discharged. This they evaded. Finally, an order was issued
from Albany to raze the unhealthy Tombs prison to the
ground. Under this state of things Train left the prison, after
which nothing was done toward tearing down the Tombs.
* Frank Rivers was a bookseller and publisher in Boston. In
early January of 1878, Comstock arrested him for selling and
sending through the mails, The Fruits Of Philosophy, written
more than 40 years before by Dr. Charles Knowlton, and reo
vised by English Atheists Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant
[see "Roots" series, June issue). It was the same work for
which the London Society for the Suppression of Vice,
through its agent, Mr. Green, so bitterly prosecuted Bradlaugh
and Besant for selling, causing a sentence of fine and imprisonment to be rendered against them in 1876.'

,x D.M. Bennett/American




wished to procure a syringe from her, but on account of illness was unable to be present on the occasion of the doctor's
residence for one of the instruments. In fact, Comstock himself took this letter to the lady, and passed himself off as the
vertiable Mr. Farnsworth whose wife wanted a syringe. He reo
ceived the instrument, with full directions as to how it should
be used. He was so well pleased with it that, on the following
day, he took his bosom friend, Joseph A. Britton, to see the
doctor and procure one of those valuable instruments for his
"Dr. Chase being, of course, willing to sell these valuable
syringes to every married lady who wished them, cheerfully
sold one to the honorable Mr. Britton; and then it was that
the pure and spotless Mr. Anthony Comstock made himself
known, telling the lady that he was himself no less than
Anthony Comstock, and that she must accompany him to
the Tombs.
" ... On the way to the Tombs, Comstock spoke to the
lady about her paper, The Physiologist, and said he' regarded
it as an immoral paper and one that ought not to be allowed
circulation. She found no trouble in giving bail, and thus the
Christian Comstock was cheated out of the pleasure of causing
her to be kept in the Tombs over night.
"The crime which the agent of the Society for the Suppression of Vice charges against Mrs. Chase, is that by the syringes
which she recommends and sells, she places it in the power of
wives to prevent conception. This he holds to be very criminal
in anyone whom he chooses to make his victim, but when the
president of his society, Mr. Samuel Colgate [president of the
New York Baptist Education Society and son of William
Colgate, founder of the soap and perfumery house of Colgate

"When the will defies fear, when the heart applauds the brain, when duty

the gauntlet

down to fate, when honor scorns to compromise


death - this is heroism."

Robert G. Ingersoll

* Dr. Sara B. Chase was arrested by Comstock in May of1878

when, as reported by D.M. Bennett's The Truth Seeker, she
was taken "before Judge Morgan at the Tombs, where she was
held in $1,500 bail upon the enormous charge of having sold
two female syringes, gotten up expressly for cleansing and
healthful purposes.
"Dr. Sara B. Chase has resided in this city nearly four years,
and has become well known as a lecturer on physiological subjects before separate classes of ladies and gentlemen, and also
as a successful practioner in homeopathic medicine. She has
recently started The Physiologist, and excellent reform and
health monthly, of which she is editor and publisher.
"She has given several courses of lectures in Brooklyn, and
that is the home of Anthony Comstock. It seems that not long
since he opened a correspondence with the lady, upon the subject of procuring a syringe from her. He did not write in his
own name, but followed, rather, the course for which he has become nototious, 6f writing over a fictitious name. He this time
personated a Mrs. Farnsworth, who had attended Mrs. Chase's
lectures and had received valuable information thereby, and
Austin, Texas

& Co. - Editor} , wishes to engage in the business of selling an

article which he recommends as a preventive of conception, he

does not interfere in the enterprise and does not try to bring
his friend Colgate to justice, and in this laudable clemency he
is seconded by the amiable United States district-attorney, Mr.
Stewart L. Woodfor, who knows how Mr. Colgate has violated
the law, but, himself being an honored member of the Society
for the Suppression of Vice, refuses to prosecute its honored
but intolerant president.
"It is of course very criminal in Dr. Chase to take any
means to provide persons with the means for preventing
conception, yet Mr. Colgate may sell tons of vaseline, which,
blended with salicylic acid, he recommends as being potent in
preventing conception or removing the effects of it, and he
shall not be disturbed. He is a pious man, he supports the
Church, he loves Jesus and hates Freethinkers - and he is at
liberty to sell all the vaseline he wishes. No laws nor courts nor
Comstocks shall be sufficient to interfere with him in his
lucrative career. Being a "truly good man," he is to be allowed
the privileges which belong only to the

November, 1978

Page 13

faithful. He may do as he pleases sitting under his own vine

and fig-tree, and none shall make him afraid."
D.M. Bennett had had his own run in with Comstock just
six months before Dr. Sara Chase was involved with the Christian crusader.
In the early autumn of 1877, Anthony Comstock and deputy U.S. marshall Fritz Bernard visited the office of The Truth
Seeker and looked over Bennett's stock of books, pamphlets,
tracts, etc., to see what he could find upon which to found a
charge. Among the selections made were An Open Letter To
Jesus Christ, by D.M. Bennett, and How Do Marsupials Propagate Their Kind? by A.B. Bradford. The first is a theological
polemic, the second a scientific question in natural history.
These two works were laid before Comstock's Christian
legal advisers and the tracts were deemed sufficient to justify a
prosecution. In order to bring his case before his favorite court
[that of Judge Charles L. Benedict], Comstock had to induce
Bennett to send a copy of each through the mails. Accordingly
he wrote a decoy letter in the fictitious name of S. Bender,
Squan Village, N.J., inclosing the necessary money, and
ordered, with other publications, the two tracts named. The
order was filled.
On 12 November 1877, Comstock visited Bennett's shop
armed with a warrant from a U.S. commissioner and arrested
At this juncture the condemned tracts were by Colonel
Robert Ingersoll brought to the attention of the PostmasterGeneral in Washington and Ingersoll demanded to know if it
was the purpose of the Postmaster-General to prosecute the
publishers and mailers of "theological polemics." Ingersoll remarked that if they intended to prosecute cases of that kind
that he would defend Bennett, not only in the U.S. courts, but
before the country as well. The result was that in less than two
months, on 1 January 1878, instructions were sent from
Washington to New York that the case against Bennett was to
be dropped.,
Comstock vowed revenge and moved against Bennett in
August of that same year on charges of his having sold another
"forbidden" pamphlet entitled, Cupid's Yokes, for sale of
which Comstock had earlier sent to prison publisher E.H.
Heywood for a two-year term. In that instance also, Comstock had purchased the pamphlet by mail under the fictitious
name of E. Edgewell.
Comstock had vowed to "get the old Infidel [Bennett]
into prison," and the vehicle of "obscenity" by which he
planned to do away with Bennett was E.H. Heywood's Cupid's
Yokes. The subtitles to that pamphlet would reveal the contents more readily than the flirtatious title does. The complete
title reads: Cupid's Yokes; or, The Binding Forces of Conjugal
Life. An Essay to Consider some Moral and Physiological
Phases of Love and Marriage, Wherein is Asserted the Natural

Right and Necessity of Sexual Self-Government.

A bit verbose, perhaps, but probably the part found most
offensive by Anthony Comstock and his ilk is the final phrase
["Sexual Self-Government"] which, if attained, would divest
the clergy and other male guardians of the public morality of
their divine authority to dictate sexual norms to a sheepish
citizenry too long under the thumb of offensive Christianity.
Attorneys for Bennett were Abram Wakeman and T.B.
Wakeman. Both addressed this point in their arguments before Judge Benedict and the jury as they sought to demonstrate the absurdities of classifying self-government as being a
form of licentious obscenity. The following is from the court
record of that trial:


Mr. Wakeman: It is self-government which is the keynote of this production. It is not to inculcate license, freedom
of the association of sexes, or a libidinous association growing out of favorable circumstances. It is to induce and to inculcate and to teach self-government, which is the opposite
of license and freedom, as understood in obscene relations.
It is to induce an examination of each man's own individual
nature, his own structure, the relations of his mind to his
body, and of his body to his mind; and thus to discipline
the mind, under conscience, to moral influences, so that he
may have all his nature, both mental and physical, actually
under self-government. That I understand to be the keynote
of this essay; that is the object. Now, does such a study as
that, when properly discussed, tend to any of the mischiefs
at which my learned friend and his associates [Comstock
and his attorneys] strike?
"Now, on page 5 [of Cupid's Yokes, Wakeman reads],
'The popular idea of sexual purity (freedom from fornication or adultery, abstinence from sexual intercourse before marriage, and fidelity to its exclusive vows afterwards),
rests on intrusive laws, made and sustained by men either
ignorant of what is essentially virtuous or whose better
judgment bows to custom that stifles the cries of affection
and ignores the reeking licentiousness of marriage beds. Is
coition pure only when sanctioned by priest or magistrate?'
"That is an inquiry. In other words, is the relation of the
sexes only sanctioned by the interposition' of the priest?
You know that marriage is simply a contract; that it is not
necessary to be married by a priest; it is a civil contract in
the law; and when a man and woman say to each other, 'We
will become husband and wife,' and they carry it out, by
that association it is a contract which the law enforces and
it is recognized in your law. So he is only saying what is a
notorious fact, that people often are married without the
interposition of a priest.
"I remember when I was an alderman I was called upon
to marry people, and they are now married by your aldermen and your mayor without the intervention of the clergy,
and even this is not at all necessary to the establishment of
the relation, and this author in this passage is simply referring to this fact. Is there anything obscene in it? Does
that excite lustful passion in any well-regulated individual's
mind? It is a subject of ordinary conversation, and the words
used are only those suited to the subject and in a sense entirely delicate and free from indecency."


Page 14

November, 1978


A verdict for rei igious censorship of the nation's press and the
mails incites a nationwide press
reaction against the encroachment of "muscular" Christianity.

The American


"Do you think they would let up a little if we said we were Agnostics?"
Austin, Texas



Page 15




The Indian government had twice refused to issue visas to
the leaders of the American Atheist movement. At the time of
the World Atheist Meet in 1972, visas had been refused to
Garry DeYoung, Jon Murray and Madalyn Murray O'Hair. In
1976, visas again were refused.
As a matter of course, applications were made routinely
every two years and in 1978 the attempt was made again. This
time, the application was put through a travel agency - but
again was rejected. The agency, startled, decided to try again
for a tourist-visa-only and this time the American Atheist Center was startled when they came through. However, stamped
on the visa was the warning that the visa could only be used
for tourism. The extensive meetings we desired to have were
precluded before we entered the country.
Correspondence to India is a labored process. Not knowing
if we could go, or when we could go, or what we could do
if and when we got there - it had been almost impossible to
make arrangements with Indian Atheists as to meeting schedules with them. At first a trip had been scheduled from the
American Atheist Convention in San Francisco directly to
Calcutta, India. That was squelched when the "business" visas
were refused. By May, the tourist visas had arrived and plans
were made to leave the weekend of July 4.
While planning for the trip, PanAm Airways announced a
new, round-the-world trip which cost about one-third the
amount of a direct trip to India from Austin, via Los Angeles
and back the same route. With this special flight rate, the trip
to India could be made via Japan, Hong Kong and Bangkok to

Page 16

November, 1978


India, then back through Iran, Turkey, Hungary, Germany,

England, New York and Dallas to Austin. We could make 11
stops altogether as we went completely around the world.
Since Atheist organizations are everywhere, we thought this
was a fine idea and we hurriedly included it in our agenda.
The focus of the trip was India and all of the organizations
which we knew were there, in addition to the Atheist Centre
established by GORA in Patamata Vijawada, Andre Pradish,
India. That state had been struck by a typhoon and decimated,
with tens of thousands of deaths, in the fall of 1977. We were
carrying with us a $1,000 check for the repair of that Indian
Atheist Centre which had suffered with the rest of the state
and which was seeking funding for rebuilding.
Since communication time had been minimal as we were
denied and then confirmed in our visas, we had not been able
to plan in advance. We did not know if we could address a
public meeting of Atheists. We did not know if we needed to
absolutely be "tourists" or not. With the PanAm flight, we
also found that we could not fly into Calcutta, but must instead enter India at New Delhi. We had several names and addresses there but had little idea of how to reach anyone or
how different the culture of India would be from our own.
We were very apprehensive about passing through the customs check and were bathed in perspiration anticipating the
same. Not knowing what to expect, we had not one item with
us identifying ourselves as American Atheists. We took no
books, brochures, magazines, pamphlets, booklets, or any
other such literature. We were thoroughly searched and
questioned and were admonished that our visa was only for
When, therefore, we finished customs and we were called
aside by name, we were shocked. Fortunatley, we were just
given a letter which said that a Mr. Edamaruku was waiting for
us at the exit. He was identified as belonging to a Rationalist
group of the city and we proceeded outside. There was Edamaruku and his son, Sana!. They directed us to the hotel
which had been pre-arranged by the travel agency, but insisted that the following morning we must move to their home.
The first order of business was an exchange of definitions
and Edamaruku unequivocally identified himself as an Atheist, explaining that in India, the word "Rationalist" included
both the concepts of Atheism and the concept of equality of
castes. He was the spirit behind The Delhi Rationalist Association. As it turned out, he was not alone.
Atheism A Family Affair
His entire family was living, eating, sleeping and working
for Atheism. His wife, Soley, had been the editor of an Atheist
journal; his son, Sanal, had cut his teeth on Atheism, as had
his daughter, Githa. None of the family knew any other
work, nor way of life than that of Atheism. They all wrote for,
organized for, advocated for and involved themselves with
Atheism. Edamaruku had formerly lived in a southern state
of India, Kerala, and had been the driving force behind the organization of Atheism in that state. But in 1978 he moved to
Delhi to be in the geographical center of the nation so that his
outreach for the good fight could be more effective. He had
been the editor of an important paper in Kerala and, now, in
Delhi, was writing for several popular national journals.

The American Atheist

Some of the Edamarukus

India's first family of
From right: daughter
Githa, Edamaruku,
Sanal, Edamaruku's
wife Soley, Sanal's wife Sandya.

Son Niyanta and widow Saraswathi take a breather from

the day's festivities
their father and husband,
GORA, founder of the Indian Atheist Center.

S.O.S. Se'cretary Jon Garth Murray shown planting a

palm tree in front of a village school for socalled "untouchable"
children in Patamata, Vijawada.

East meets West as American

Atheist leaders join in
an active discussion of Atheism with their Indian counterparts in a courtyard conference at the Indian Atheist Centre.

Atheist leaders Dr. Madalyn Murray
and Jon Garth Murray assemble with the personnel
Indian Atheist Centre for a commemorative

The Murray-O'Hairs
and the Edamarukus
World Atheists in communication
one with the other and
supportive of the weltanschauung of Atheism.



of the



Page 17

We saturated ourselves in the history of Indian Atheism

with Edamaruku as our guide. We also wanted to see the country and Edamaruku began to show us what India and its religions meant as he led a personally conducted tour for us.
He knew his land and its customs and took us to important religious shrines, to places of historical importance, related to
the terrible suppressions which India had suffered at the hands
of both religions and conquerors.

Shown at left is an idol depicting one of Hinduism's

innumerable deities, in this case the god Krishna. At right
is a solid-gold statue of "the sitting buddha."
Edamaruku wanted to call a public meeting, but we were
afraid that we might be arrested in India if we did not explore covertly all of the Atheist (or Rationalist) organizations.
He himself had been arrested becuase of his Atheism, and had
been tortured by the police. A book which he had written describing his experiences while in police custody was selling well.
Edamaruku obtains his livelihood by writing. We asked him
if he could absent himself from that for awhile so as to accom.pany us throughout India to acquaint us with all of the Rationalist leaders, and to assist us in locating the same. He knew
everyone, at every level and was thoroughly acquainted with
the Indian Atheist outreach. By train, by bus, by car, by air.plane, even by boat - we began our scouring of India to locate what groups we could, to talk wherever we could, to encourage, to join forces, to exchange, to reinforce what Atheist
opinion we could find.
We had wanted to start at the Atheist Center, but Edamaruku stopped in Hyderabad before we went that far to introduce
us to the leaders there. Again, the man with whom we had the
most conversations had also been in jail. As we continued
throughout India we found it unusual if an Atheist we met had
not had a jail experience. For having differences of opinion in
respect to politics, to religion, to the ruling force, one could
.easily find one's self in jail. No one had seemed to suffer from
the experience, except Edamaruku who had been tortured. A
term in jail was a way of life for Indian Atheists.
Before we arrived at the Atheist Centre in India, of course,
we knew that GORA had spent considerable time in jail, out
of jail, and so had many of his followers.
The Atheist Centre was one of considerable size. Founded
in 1947, and at its present site since 1948, it is comprised of
approximatley 10,000 sq. ft. of buildings and another 10,000
sq. ft. of land.

Page 18

Novem ber, 1978

One of the main aims of GORA and of this Atheist Centre

has been to achieve social equality. The caste system and the
doctrine of untouchability, being obstacles, were first attacked
and are still a central focus of concern.
Beginning in 1966 and still continuing, inter-dining programs
were established, on customarily bad-luck, full-moon days, to
bring the usually strictly separated castes together.
Inter-caste and inter-religious marriages were and are promoted and often the nuptials take place under the badaam
tree at the Centre.
A science exhibit is continuously maintained, aimed at the
demolishing of superstition in a population which is 80 percent
After GORA's death (26 July 1975), a permanent photo
exhibition on his life and work was organized to give a graphic
description of his 1,100-mile march on foot, his satyagrahas
campaigns against pomp in government, his program of replacing ornamental flower gardens with gardens of edibles, his
global tours and his movement for partyless democracy.
The Atheist Centre provided educational training for over
1,000 youngsters during the period from 1961 to 1976, in
vasavya (reality, social outlook, development of individual
personality) classes.
Currently, the Vasavya Mahila Mandali (women's organization) provides women an opportunity to develop socioeconomic skills of sewing on 20 sewing machines at the Centre. They also learn nutrition and food preservation and 200
women have completed training there.
The Centre has published weekly and monthly journals in
the Telugu, Hindi and English languages since 1949. It also
publishes books, most notably those of GORA on Atheism,
social problems and caste problems.
A library had been maintained, specializing in Atheism, religion, humanism, science and technology; but the cyclone
and tidal wave of 1977 decimated the science display, the
photo exhibit of GORA and, sadly, the library.
Most of the ruination was caused by water damage. Every
building collapsed and needed rebuilding. The construction
was in progress during our visit, concrete foundations and
stone walls being a feature of the replacement. _
Lavanam and his wife Hemalata are the co-directors of the
Centre, ably assisted by Niyanta. Lavanam and Niyanta are
sons of GORA .
GORA's widow, Saraswathi, also at the Centre, actively
participates in counselling problems with the many young
t\~ .


Some of the assembled Indian Atheist celebrities shown

just after GORA's widow received a plaque honoring her
late husband from appreciative American Atheists.

The American Atheist

persons who visit there. All nine of GORA's sons and

daughters are active in administration concerns including Manorama, Mythri, Vidya, Vijayam, Samaram, Maru and Nau in
addition to Lavanam and Niyanta. Sixteen of GORA's grandchildren complete the personnel at the Centre.
A 16-room hospital complete with operating and recuperation rooms adjoins the Centre and is maintained by two
of the GORAs who are physicians, Samaram and Maru.
In addition, Vijayam works with a group of "untouchable" families which the Atheist Centre has relocated in a
more habitable area. The families are assisted with hut construction techniques and there is an educational program for
the children of this village. At the time of our visit, Manorama and her husband donated two palm trees which were
planted in our honor flanking the entrance to the large education hut.

Jon Murray presented a plaque to honor GORA, the founder

of the Indian Atheist Center. The plaque read:

Goparaju Ramachandra Rao
Co-Founder Of United World Atheists
"Speech Cannot Contain Our Love.
There Was, There Is, No Gentler,
Stronger, Manlier Man."
(from Robert Ingersoll)




July, 1978
After several days of idea exchanges our party left for
Madras, where we were met by A. Suryanarayana, the general
secretary of the Indian Rationalist Association.
The Rationalist Association of Madras is also located in the
same city and several days were spent visiting the offices of
both associations. Meetings of small private groups were
arranged and here we sat to talk with high-placed politicians
and businessmen, openly discussing their Atheism.
Here we encountered the legend of E. V.R., an Indian statesman, and an open and avowed Atheist whom the country
loved and memorialized by erection of statues to him and by
naming streets after him.
Our next stop was Bombay. Here we stayed in the home of
Mr. Kokhandwala and Dr. Sudha Saraiya, while we visited a
noted author of children's books, Ms. Margaret Bhatty. Slowly
losing our reluctance to be openly reported, we agreed to interviews with every newspaper in the city, meeting with increasingly larger groups of members in this organization.
A meeting was arranged for us with a group of atomic scientists and we spoke with them at the home of A.P. Jayaraman.
There we agreed upon an exchange program to implement the
formal opening of an American Atheist University in the U.S.,
with the scientists agreeing to be instructors there.
The next stop was in Calcutta with K. V.R. Nair convening
the Bengal Rationalist Association for a formal reception for
Every meeting lasted for hours. Every informal discussion
would go on, often for a two-day exchange. No American
Atheist leaders had ever formally visited India and it was an
unprecedented occasion.
We finally returned to New Delhi to find that Sanal had
formalized a public meeting there also, with P.K. Mukherjee,
the president of the Delhi Rationalist Association presiding.
By this time we had spent weeks, flown thousands of miles
back and forth across India and still had not been able to visit with the Kerela Rationalist Association, India's southernmost state, nor with Jaya Gopal and the Atheist Socity of India since that organization had moved. We had consumed
endless hours each day attempting to exchange ideas and encouragement with each segment of organized Indian Atheists.

November, 1978

Austin, Texas


To Honor Its Founder

Problems Overwhelming
The problems of India are so severe with overpopulation,
poverty and illiteracy that the outreach of this Atheist
Centre has become one of social welfare work and an attempt
at education. The Centre is situated near Vijawada, a small
(for India) town of 500,000 which has a train center and an
airport. Within the last year the village of Patamata has been
embraced by Vijawada's municipal limits and a paved two-lane
highway now gives access to the Centre.
The Centre personnel insisted that the current Indian government would give no difficulty and it was in Patamata that
our first newspaper coverage appeared. Dr. Madalyn Murray
O'Hair presented a $1,000 cashier's check to Lavanam in the
Following words:
Dear Lavanam,
The world cannot be other than indebted to your father,
and the founder of the Atheist Centre here in India, GORA.
In visiting with him while he was in the Unites States we
found him to be a determined foe of all which retards the progress of mankind. We were inspired by him to greater outreach
in the United States.
He taught us many lessons: the need for Atheists in the
world to understand the universality of their understanding of
life in all its processes and aspirations. The common foes of
mankind are alike everywhere and each is sustained and supported by the foundation of irrationality given birth by relig10n in all lands.
It is important that Atheist institutions everywhere survive.
We could not but hear and understand your plea when impersonal nature dealt th is Atheist Centre a damagi ng blow last fall.
We have come to Vijawada and are here today to offer to you
this contribution of $1,000 in American dollars toward the
reestablishment of your Centre.
We will take with us your words, your needs, and as many
pictures for slides, for presentation wherever we can to demonstrate your need and your determination. The Atheist Centre
in Vijawada must be built twice as large, twice as firm as it
was originally. There must be nothing ahead here but growth
for you. The American Atheist Center of America wanted to
be a small part toward that growth. This is from all of us to all
of you to tell you we love you for what you are doing and we
encourage you to stay right here and fight it out.
We plan to assist you as we can, how we can. America is a
nation _of wealth - but even better - a nation of good wiII.
We plan to demonstrate this to vou as we grow in our relationship with you.


Page 19

We could not have accomplished this without Edamaruku,

who stayed discreetly in the background as he implemented
wide outreach for us.
When we returned to New Delhi he had, by that time, decided that he would drop the designation "Rationalist" in all
in which he was involved and that he would formally fight for
and advocate the use of the word" Atheist."
He was planning a meeting with his own Delhi Rationalist
Association and before we could reach the United States on
our return trip had already set up "The Indian Atheist Center"
in New Delhi and had assumed its directorship. His new publication, to be known as The Indian Atheist, will begin with the
January, 1979 issue, and one of the editors will be Soley, his
wife. A national co-ordinating convention is scheduled for the
same month.
Edamaruku and Soley will be featured speakers at the
Ninth Annual National Convention of American Atheists, in
Dallas, Texas, on April 13-14-15 of next year.
We came away from India convinced of the need for international comraderie among Atheist groups in diverse nations.
The magnitude, outreach and growth of the organizations
there paralleled our own experiences in the United States, and
of the groups we had visited in England, Germany, France,
Italy, Spain, and Switzerland in 1976.
The Rationalist associations of India plan a national meeting in Bombay in April of 1980 and have asked that this be
considered as a possible site for the next projected WAM (World
Atheist Meet). The last such meeting was held at the Atheist



Atheist spokesperson
her counterparts
in India, Edamaruku

Dr. Q'Hair embraces

and wife Soley.

Centre in Patamata, Vijawada, Andre Pradish, India.

Other suggested meeting places advanced have been: Paris,
London, Dallas, Texas, Melbourne, Australia, and Toronto,
Canada. The U.W.A. (United World Atheists) is still in the
organizational phase and no decisions have as yet been made.
It is apparent: we need to know one another, to be in communication one with the other and to be supportive of the
weltanschauung of Atheism around the world.



On The Edge Of A Knife
Edamaruku, the Director of the Indian Atheist Centre in New Delhi,
was born in, speaks the native language
of and is native to the state of Kerala
in southern India. He is a graduate of
the University of Madras, where he
majored in Oriental languages. He is
an acknowledged Sanskrit scholar and
intellectual leader.
For 20 years he has been an author,
columnist and lecturer travelling extensively throughout India. In 1954, he
first began anA theist journal called
ISKRA, meaning "spark," which he
describes as a "revolutionary rationalist
magazine. " Through this voice and by
his own organizing abilities he began
the Kerala Rationalist Association,
which by 1977 had over 5,000 members.
In order tohaue more outreach, in
early 1978 he moved to New Delhi, a
more nearly central location in India.
By August of this year he had deter-

Page 20

mined to found an Atheist centre

there, and in October "The Indian
Atheist Centre" began its history, with
Edamaruku as the director thereof.
The American Atheist magazine begins with this issue to carry Edamaruhu's "A View From India" as a
regular feature.
I was born into a family of orthodox
Christians which numbers several bishops and priests among its ancestors.
Hence it was that during my childhood
my ambition was to become a priest, so
I began reading the Bible at an early
As was with Dr. O'Hair, it was my
reading of the Christian Bible with all
its contradictions, brutalities and gross
distortions which confirmed me in my
In 1953, when I was 19 years old, I
wrote a book establishing that Jesus,

November, 1978 .


the god and shepherd of Christianity's

sheep, was but an ordinary man. The
shock waves caused by this book in
India were immediate and severe. I
was expelled' from the church of my,
family and later-my family drove me
from my home.
Fortunatly .for me, a few friends
and fellow intellectuals extended their
assistance to me in my hour of need.
I was invited to give a lecture at a meeting in a neighboring village where there
was more of an audience for one who
can think unencumbered by religious
superstitions. While travelling alone at
night to this village I was accosted by a
large man wielding a knife. As the road
was bordered by muddy paddy fields
on both sides I was without avenue of
"Bloody bastard! You called the.
mother of god a prostitute and I won't
allow such blasphemy any longer!" he
shouted as he came at me.

The AmericaliiAtheist

I had no choice but to look my

assassin in the eye, which
probably saved me from certain murder. For as the light from his torch
fell on my face he seemed to recognize
He lowered his knife and said, "Oh!
It's you, the son of the physician!
must spare you for when I was very
ill with malaria your father treated me
without taking a single penny."
He could not murder me out of
respect for my late physician father's
earlier kindness shown to him in his
own hour of need. The next morning
he came to my friend's house where I
was staying. Seeing me, he began"tO
"Dear boy, I did not want to harm
you, but your uncle paid me 1.0.0 rupees to kill and bury you in the night.
Please forgive me."
It was then that I realized that my
uncle, who was a staunch Christian,
would have me murdered for daring to
think for myself. In my village 75 percent of the inhabitants were Christian,
so I found it necessary to move to a
safer location some 1.0 miles distant.
Before going any further with my
history I would like to acquaint American Atheists with India's
caste system and the ways in which it
is inextricably
bound up with India's
religious sects.
India with its 6.0.0 million inhabitants is the largest democracy
in the
world. Supposedly
in India we have a
secular system of government. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of
and Ambedkar,
one of the
of the Indian Constitution,
were responsible for establishing India's
But, after the
death of these two leaders, the very
word "secularism"
became adulterated
in India.
A new interpretation
- that it is a form of
peaceful coexistence between different
religions - has emerged in India.
Legally, Atheists as well as religious
persons have equal rights in India. One
can become president, minister, judge
or member of parliament by taking an
oath - but not necessarily in the name
of god. Jawaharlal Nehru did not swear
to a god when he took his oath as
prime minister. We have ministers and
judges who do not hesitate to identify
themselves as Atheists.
For at least the last 3,.0.0.0 years"
has been accepted in India as a major branch of philosophy.
The Hindu religion does not expel. a
person if he or she is an Atheist. Buddhism and Jainism were founded 2,5.0.0

I'" "

r-f -



India - an impoverished

land cluttered

years ago as, basically, atheistic movements; but their adherents

later embraced theistic beliefs which were not
founded in fact. Despite its long history in India, Atheism is still not well
in this land steeped in centuries of religious superstition.
No one considers
it a problem if
one admits to being an Atheist. But
should that person attempt
to propagate Atheism to others, he or she would
then encounter problems resulting from
the insecurities of religionists who feel
by others' refusal to believe.

Infamous Caste System

In India the hereditary caste system
is more powerful
than any religion.
Hinduism is hierarchically
divided into
3,.0.0.0 or more separate castes and subclases. At the top of this social hierarchy are the Brahmins,
or sacredotal
class. Yet even among the Brahmins
there are various groups or sub-castes,
which have or have not the authority
to perform poojas (worship services).
The Kshatriya caste is the next after
the Brahmin. Before independence
1947, Kshatriyas
were composed
mostly warriors
and soldiers and as
such they were responsible for India's
defense and diplomacy.
the Kshatriyas
were the
the mercantile
and agricultural class, and the Sudras, the servile
The entire system was strictly hierarchical.
A person
of "low caste"
could not even look at one of "high


Austin, Texas


with gaudy religious


caste." Those of lower caste must not

get within a hundred
yards of their
By a thousand laws each
and every caste was separated from the
A person of the Hindu religion could
convert to Christianity
or Islam, and
vice versa. But a person born into one
caste could never change.
With India's
of Independence
from Britain in 1947, the
caste system
was legally
banned - on paper, at least.
But in India to this day the Brahmins remain. the group
society. Even Indian communists who come from Brahmin families receive special consideration
their comrades.
Fellow Marxists who
come from lower castes call the Brahmins thirumeni ("lord"),
not "comrade." The reins of the various communist parties are in the hands of those
Indjans of higher birth privileges. India's other
are no
Though the communists
claim to be
most of them dutifully go
to temples or churches and partake of
various religious ceremonies.
The majority
of them likewise select their
from members
the same caste.
c: Unfortunately,
.a large number of
Indians who claim -to be Atheists or
are also adherents
of this
unjust and discriminatory
caste system.
These pseudo-Atheists
are much like
religionists in that they criticize and
ostracize any who would actively practice and propagate their Atheism."

Page 21

For those who adhere to the Hindu

religion, a member of one caste may
not enter into marriage with a person
of another caste. Likewise, the Jains,
Christians, Muslims and Buddhists
marry only within their religion.
As an Atheist, I wanted to discard
that superstitious tradition as I consider it a vestige of mankind's days of
barbarism. So it was that when I, born
into a Christian family, decided to
marry an Atheist girl from a Hindu
family it became a great issue in our
My wife Soley and I chose not to
be married in a temple or church, so
after the marriage we faced fanatical
opposition from all sides, especially
from religionists. Many landlords refused to rent to us, and those who
would soon asked us to vacate the
premises when they discovered we
were Atheists.
Kindness Condemned
In desperation we sought shelter
with my family because Soley was
pregnant at the time with our firstborn due soon. Though my mother was
a conservative Christian, she nevertheless took us in out of sympathy. However, those of my uncles who were bishops and/or priests would not condone
such human kindness and they threatened to excommunicate my mother
and other family members for sheltering my pregnant wife and 1.
Hence it was that we were asked to
depart. We did so and had to walk 10
kilometers over rough terrain to get
to the home of Soley's family. My
wife was by this time experiencing
labor pains as our child was due at
any moment. After a long and arduous
hike we arrived just 30 minutes before
Soley gave birth to our son, Sana!.
To assist other Atheist couples experiencing similar such hostility from
religious bigots, we later founded an
Inter-Marriage Association to promote
and assist marriages between partners
who were born into different castes.
This organization in the state of Kerala
has prospered to the extent that an
average of 1,000 .such marriages take
place annually in Kerala. Such intercaste marriages are encouraged by the
government and the newlyweds are
eligible for government grants to assist
in the new partnership.
Experiences such as the above were
stark proof to me of the necessity of
organizing a strong and active movement for Atheism in India, a land deci-

Page 22

mated with the dregs of religious superstitions. Yet when we attempted to organize our association in the state of
Kerala even groups such as the longestablished Rationalists opposed our
existence - as long as we went under
the banner of Atheism.
Ignoring their expected opposition,
we began to organize Kerala's Atheists
and I have travelled this and many
states in promotional
tours intended
to make Atheists
realize that they need not be ashamed
or fearful of defining themselves as
fear neither mythical gods nor the
clergy who invent them.
As you might have expected, the
religious establishment could not tolerate such criticism lest it lose its ageold grasp over the minds of its docile
followers. In a village called Kottarakara, I strongly criticized Hinduism
and was stoned and beaten by a
group of fanatical Hindus who would
not let me speak. If it weren't for the
assistance rendered to me by the local
police I might have been killed in the
name of Hinduism's many deities.
In another village it was fanatical
Catholics who stoned me and disrupted my efforts to have a peaceful
discussion with those who chose to
listen. One zealot indignantly asked,
"Don't you believe that the birth of
Christ by a virgin mother was itself
evidence. enough that Christ was
truly a god?"
To this I related to him the historical accounts of at least a dozen such
saviors born to virgin mothers in religions whose adherents were just as
naive as those who stood before me.
I told him of Isis, the mother of Osiris of Egypt; of Semiramis of Babylon; of Krishna's mother Devaki and
of Buddha's mother Maya Devi.
As I am sure many of America's
Atheists realize, reason has little or
no effect on the minds of those who
opt to believe that for which there is
no proof. The Catholic fanatics began
to throw stones rather than listen, and
this time it was the Atheists in attendance who saved me from certain
harm at the hands of religionists who
would kill in the name of the Catholic
At this particular rally the police
sided with the Catholic aggressors, as
did the numerous religious newspapers who played up the sinister
role played by the "fanatical Atheists."
Even the Atheists who go by
other names, such as the Rationalists,
joined in the criticism of us for daring
to speak publicly about our Atheism.

November, 1978



No magazine in the United States

can survive without either (1) advertising or (2) subsidization.
We have often asked our readers to
give $$$$ to our magazine fund.
The response has not been overwhelming.
Therefore, effective 1 January 1978,



will increase


$20.00 a year. It is simply a matter of ~

survival. When you do re-subscribe , it
would be helpful to add a tax-deductible gift.
If you can help now, please do so.
Our financial situation is chronically
critical. The address: AA Magazine,
P.O. Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768.
.. Quiz Answers From Page 8 ...

01) a
05) d
06) None of the choices
08) They're competing to find out
11) c
12) b
14) b
15) d
16) Methodist
17) Science Fiction
1 $) Confucian ism
19) Enlightenment
20) Nirvana
21) Jehovah's witnesses
22) Quakers
23) Solomon's Seal
24) Gesundheit
25) Akashic Records
27) i
28) h
29) f
30) a
31) j

33) b

The American Atheist

A crucifix
Hanging over me
In blood


A call
F rom two thousand years
Twisted as the body
To die
The only reality
But of the mind
A vice
My brain
My humanity
A light
In the wilderness
By blindness
Inqu isition
Sold as salvation
When we know
When we realize
The limitations
Of what we are

When I gave up my lord
I gave up an idea
Something to rely upon
Some god to praise
For creating each day
each sunrise
When I quit believing in a god
I had to believe in myself
Now, I'm alone in the world
alone with each day
and each day I survive!
I see - beauty and ugliness
I hear - harshness and melody
I feel - the warmth of the sun
the pain of ignorance
I taste - the sweat from my brow
my daily bread
I touch - a moment of truth
an ocean of doubt
I sing - the song of solitude
the hymn of reality
the cantata of origins
the symphony of futures
I praise the fact that I AM
I am today!
It is sufficient.

Dallas Bernard LeBlanc


Pamela A. Marshall





Page 23


By Robert Stricklin
"I believe!" gasped the old man rattling in the wheelchair, clasping his
hands together in one great fist of
faith. "I believe! I believe!"
Gideon extended his arms and gently rested his fingertips on the fluffy
white locks of the old man's trembling
head. "Do you accept Christ as your
saviour?" he asked for perhaps the one
millionth time.
"Yes!" came the expected response.
"Sweet Jesus, yes!"
"Lord God," prayed Gideon, his
eyes solemnly closed. "Consider the
faith of this man. Touch him with thy
holy hands of love and mercy. Heal his
body as he has healed his own soul for
thy namesake. Restore to him the gift
of movement. Raise him from the
depths of despair and suffering. Let
him stand in the sunshine of thy eternal glory. Oh, God! Heal this man. Let
him walk again that he may carry your
sacred word in his heart forever."
Opening his eyes, Gideon gazed
into the astonished face of the old
man. "Walk," he commanded quietly,
seemingly mesmerized by his own spell.
Then, with a force that set terror and
fascination into the minds of all those
assembled, he roared, "Stand on your
feet, brother, and walk!"
The old man faltered, his eyes filled
with anguish and fear, his hands suddenly grasping the armrest of his wheelchair. He heard the breathless murmuring of the audience behind him. He felt
the prickling heat of the spotlights surrounding him. He struggled, but could
not stand.
"Do you believe?" Gideon challenged him again, a tone of severity in
his voice.

Page 24

"Yes!" the old man insisted, desperate to prove himself.

"If you believe, you will walk."
"I believe! I believe!" the old man
bellowed on the verge of tears. "God
Almighty! I believe!" And on the crest
of that emotional wave, the old man
"Hallelujah!" cried a woman in the
rear of the hall.
"I believe," the old man whimpered,
dragging himself forward, still erect,
reaching out for Gideon, clutching his
neck, burying his sniveling joy in the
young man's chest. "I believe."
Gideon stood silently, more amazed
than anyone, for the old man had indeed walked, and for the first time in
his life, Gideon did not believe.

Matthew Tobias ran his hand
through his peppery gray hair and fixed
his tired eyes on the figure in the doorway of the all-night diner. Recognizing
his son, he waved to get his attention.
Matt was surprised at how well the boy
looked at two in the morning, having
presided over a three-hour revival
meeting that had charged several hundred people into a virtual religious
frenzy. But then he was an extraordinary young man, all of twenty years
old, tall, handsome, robust and energetic, and one of the most dynamic evangelists of the last twelve years.
"Sit down, son," said Matt. "What'll
you have? Coffee?"
Gideon slid into the booth and
shook his head. "Water will be fine,

November, 1978

"You must be starving," his father

assumed, glancing around for a waitress. "Let me get a menu."
"No. That's all right," Gideon insisted, clearing his throat. "I'm just a
bit dry."
Tobias studied the seriousness on
his son's face. It was a look of concern,
not exhaustion. "Quite a service tonight," Matt noted. "I don't have any
figures yet, but according to Jack
La Rue we collected more tonight than
in the last two cities combined."
Gideon nodded his token approval.
"Yes. It was a big success."
"Well" Matt sighed "it's on to Indiana and then we head 'on home to Virginia."
Gideon was avoiding eye contact,
pretending to be observing the action
around the counter. "Home," he muttered.
Matt felt a draft, a cool, discomforting breeze that made his shiver. "Is
anything wrong?" he finally asked.
Gideon hesitated, awkwardly formulating his answer. "Something happened tonight," he replied, unable to
"I don't understand," said Matt.
Gideon's fist opened and closed as
he struggled to understand it himself.
"Something came over me while I was
... healing."
"A revelation?"
Gideon smiled, but it was an ironic
smile. "In a way."
A waitress interrupted, placing a
cup of coffee before Matt and asking
Gideon what he wanted. "A glass of
ice water," he told her.
"Well?" asked Matt.
Gideon shook his head. "I don't

The American


"You said something came over you
while you were healing," Matt encouraged him.
"A thought," said Gideon, "a realization. "
Matt's patience was ebbing. "What
did you realize?"
"That the folks I healed were not
cured by the power of the Lord, but
by my power of persuasion."
Matt thought about it for a moment. Then he raised his cup of coffee
and sipped. "But you see, son, you are
a tool of the Lord. It is through you
that the Lord persuaded those folks,
not the other way around."
Gideon still had that troubled look.
" He paused for a long interval. "
I'm not sure I believe anymore."
Matt was stunned, but resisted the
implications of the words. He had felt
a change of outlook weeks ago, but
had underestimated it. He had convinced himself it was more of a phase
than a crisis. Gideon was merely questioning his beliefs. Matt was confident
the boy would emerge from his doubts
with those beliefs intact. It was only natural. Nothing would change. Twenty
years of Christian ethic couldn't possibly vanish in the course of a few weeks.
He resorted to nostalgia. "When I was a
young man, I was given to sinning. I
had no notion of God or religious convictions. Well, that was before I had
the calling. Unfortunately, I wasn't
much of a preacher. That's why I gave
you that responsibility as soon as you
were old enough to stand up and give
witness to the Lord. Let me tell you,
at eight years old you were ten times
as effective as your old man."
Gideon murmured something too
soft to he heard.
"What's that?" asked Matt.
"But it was your calling," Gideon
repeated, "not mine."
Matt took a gulp of his coffee.
"Look, son, I understand how tired
you must be."
"I'm not tired, Dad. I'm wide
awake. "
"Then what? You mean to tell me,


all of a sudden everything you've ever

believed in, ever preached, ever took
for granted no longer makes sense to
"That's exactly what I mean."
Matt shook his head and coughed a
laugh. "You know what I think? I think
you've had a hard night, your belly's
empty, and ... why don't you let me
order something for you?"
Gideon looked away. "I might as
well have not said anything."
His father sighed, using a spoon to
trace a circle around the rim of the coffee cup. "What else could you possibly
want from life?"
"I want to travel," said Gideon.
"Out west. California, Oregon ... "
"But you've been travelling around
the country for years."
"From hotel and motel rooms to
meetings to press conferences and interviews. I've seen nothing, Dad. Nothing. What's more, I don't have any
friends. I know I've met thousands of
people, but I haven't been able to establish and sustain a genuine relationship with anyone. I hardly ever speak
with people my own age."
"Now, that's not true," Matt contradicted. "What about all the young people in the volunteer corps of the Mission? Jesse, Sarah, Michael, Pam ... "
"They don't know me and I don't
know them. I don't even know myself.
When I was a child I was a religious oddity. Now I'm becoming a religious institution. I want to be a person."
Gideon noticed his father's eyes
glancing over his shoulder. "Jack?"
Gideon asked intuitively.
Matt nodded.
Tall, tanned and burly in a gaudy,
gold leisure suit, Jack La Rue wore a
smile that managed to be both reassuring and intimidating. Ten lucrative
years as financial manager for the United Christian Mission had given him
reason to smile. "Evening," he drawled.
"I am the harbinger of good news." He
slipped into Gideon's side of the booth,
nudging him to the wall.
"What's the good word?" asked
"Eleven thousand,
six hundred
plus," La Rue declared, his smile never
waning for an instant.
Matt's eyes widened. "I thought you
figured on eight."
"Well," Jack explained, "it seems a
certain Mr. Reeves who runs some sort
of textile mill in Little Rock was so impressed with Gideon's sermon tonight
that he donated over two thousand
dollars to the Mission."
Matt whistled. "Two thousand?"
"The rest were the final proceeds
from the four hundred people in attendance. "
"This is one generous state, Arkansas," Matt mused.
Jack lit a cigarette. "Yeah, well, the
auditorium we've booked in Indianapolis is twice as large as this one was, so

November, 1978


who knows how well we'll end up?"

Gideon felt confined, uneasy. He
waited for the conversation to pause,
then interjected, "If you don't mind,
I'd like to go back to the motel."
Matt considered him with a smug
grin. "I thought you were wide
Gideon ignored the remark and
nudged back at Jack La Rue, who eventually made way for Gideon's escape.
"The boy's had a hard night," said
Jack. "We've all got to be up by nine
tomorrow. Might as well hit the sack."
"Can I interest you in a cup of coffee?" Matt asked La Rue.
, "No, thanks. I'll give Gideon a ride."
"Don't bother," said Gideon. "I'll
call a cab. Why don't you stay with
Dad and discuss whatever it is you two
like to discuss?"
"No, no," laughed Jack, patting
him on the shoulder. "I'm kind of
bushed myself. Are you coming, Matt?"
Matt shook his head. "I'll be along
Jack shrugged. "Suit yourself. I'll
see you in the morning."
"Night, Jack," said Matt. Then, almost as an afterthought, "Gideon?"
"Yes, sir?"
"Get a good night's sleep. We'll talk
Gideon smiled faintly and walked

Jack La Rue insisted on listening to
the car radio, steering with one hand,
tuning in a country and western station
with the other. Gideon sat quietly to
his right, startled once as Jack ran a
red light and streaked off beyond the
angry horn of another motorist. "Hee,
hee ," he chuckled. "Mustn't wreck a
rented car."
Gideon's question was direct, if unexpected. "I want to know something.
Do you suppose the folks that come to
be healed are really physically incapacitated?"
Jack took his eyes off the road
momentarily to cast a puzzled look
Gideon's way. "Well," he said with
that big smile, "they certainly think
they are."
"There's a big difference," Gideon
reminded him.
"Oh?" he replied, listening with one
ear to Charlie Rich.
"Are any of those people deliberately chosen?" asked Gideon.
"What do you mean?"
"Are they sent to me because their
ailments are psychosomatic?"
Jack was unfamiliar with the term.
"Well," he sighed, "they're screened, if
that's what you mean." He caught a
glimpse of Gideon's intensely serious
expression. "Didn't you know?" No
reply. "We can't just let anyone approach you wanting to be healed."

Page 25

"Why not?"
"Because" he laughed nervously.
"Someone :night want to embarrass
you, make you look like a charlatan.
We have to make sure all those who
come, come out of a sincere desire to
receive Christ."
Gideon's tone of voice took on an
edge of cynicism. "What does this
'screening' entail?"
"Interviews. "
"Do any of these people get paid?"
"For what?"
"For participating."
"Why are you asking all of these
questions? You've been preaching for
twelve years. You're a veteran. I figured
you knew exactly what was going on
around you."
"Why do you do it, Jack?"
"Why are you involved in all of this?
Is it your deeply-rooted religious convictions? Or is it for the money?"
"A little of both I suppose," Jack
admitted. "That's an honest answer,
don't you think?"
"I wouldn't know what an honest
answer is," Gideon retorted.
"Why are you involved in it?"
"I'm not involved in it," Gideon reo
plied. "I'm trapped in it."

a woman emerged, paused, stood

watching him from a safe distance. "Is
that you?" asked a lady of probably
forty or fifty years. "Is that you,
Gideon Tobias?"
"Yes?" he called back. "Who's
"Oh, you don't know me," said the
woman with a crisp Southern twang.
"My name is Gracie, Grace Endicott. I
had the pleasure of attending your
meeting tonight."
Gideon could hear her speak, but it
was as if she were speaking to someone
else, to someone standing behind him
"I was so ... so moved by your sermon," she explained, "that I had to
tell you how much I enjoyed it."
"Thank you. You're very kind," he

replied, trying to make out the features

of her face. "But it's very late," he told
her. "You really should be home by



"That's all right," she declared

cheerfully. "I wanted to see you more
than anything."
"It's hard to see anything in this
"Oh, I see you fine," she claimed.
"Y ou 're quite a young man. Lord, I
remember when you were just a little
boy. You've sure grown."
"Have I?"
<Tll say. Nowadays, it's hard to find
someone your age mindful of the ways
of the Lord. It's such a sinful world,
isn't it?"
Gideon sank further into the shad14I$u,~ows. "How did you find me here?"
"I asked around."
A glimmer of familiarity prompted
Gideon's key searched blindly for
him to ask, "Do I know you from
the lock to his room. The light fixture
above the door had blown out, leaving
"Oh, no. We've never met. I'm too
him fumbling in the darkness. When he
shy to approach a famous person in
heard footsteps approaching, he turned
public. It's much easier to talk to someanxiously and waited. Around the corone like you alone."
ner of the wing, the shadowy figure of
He felt his guard slip a drop, but

Page 26

Novem ber, 1978

still he was tired and troubled and

wished he were a thousand miles away.
"Well, as I said, it's very late. If you'll
excuse me ... "
"I've come a long way to see you,"
she confessed.
"And at a great inconvenience I'm
sure, but ... "
"Oh, it's no inconvenience. Honestly. It's just that ... well, I was hop'ing you could do me a favor."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Well, seeing how you can cure the
sick ... "
"I don't cure ... "
"The way you made that old crippled man walk," she reminded him.
"And the others. I was hoping you
could cure me."
"I can't."
"What do you mean?" she asked,
her voice assuming a sudden sense of
urgency. "I don't understand."
"I can't cure anyone. I'm not a doctor. "
"You've got to help me," she insisted. "My body's full of cancer. I've
been told I'd be lucky if I lived another
six months."
Gideon cringed. The night seemed
colder and blacker. "Oh, God," he
"I have four children," she sobbed.
"Two are grown, but one's in high
school, the other in sixth grade. My
husband was killed five years ago. I
need to live. I've got to live. And
you're the only one who can help me."
"Please ... " pleaded Gideon, as if
it were he who needed the understanding of a healing hand.
"Oh, I'll be glad to make a generous
to your congregation,"
she offered in desperation. "I'm not a
wealthy woman, but I have a few hundred dollars in savings. Just, please ... "
"Ma'am, I ... "
"Gracie," she corrected him. "Gracie
Endicott. It's really Grace, but everyone calls me Gracie."
"I think you should go home to
your family," Gideon suggested.
"What's the matter?" she demanded
indignantly. "You've healed a whole lot
of other people. Why not me? I'm a
God-fearing woman. I go to church every Sunday. Don't I have just as much
right to live?"
Gideon searched frantically for the
lock, failed to insert the key, tried and
tried again.
"I'm only forty-six years old," the
woman wept. "I don't want to die. Why
don't you do something?"
He dropped the key and had to get
down on his hands and knees to look
for it. His fingers roamed blindly along
cold pavement, searching.
"You're a phoney!" she cried loud
enough to wake the world. "You're not
a man of God. You're doing the devil's
work! No good, lousy liar!"
Gideon found the key, somehow inserted it correctly into the lock and

The American



burst into his room. He leaned against

the closed door in absolute darkness
for quite some time, listening to her
curse him. "Liar! Cheat!" she screamed.
"Come out here and let me tell you to
your face!" Then the sound of deep,
relentless sobbing, the horrid music of
human suffering. He listened until it
faded away.
He flicked on the bathroom light,
saw himself squinting in the mirror,
splashed a handful of cold water on his
face. He opened the drawer of the night
table by his bed in the hope of finding
stationery, or anything on which to
write, to record his thoughts. Instead
he found a bible, the Gideon Bible, and
laughed to himself. Shivering, he cowered beneath the bedsheets and slept
in his clothes, neglecting to turn off
the light.

Lillian Tobias brushed a shock of
brown hair from Gideon's eyes. He
smiled feebly and reared his head to
avoid another stroke. "It's all right,
Mother," he told her.
It was a gentle remark, but she felt
its edge nonetheless. "Don't mean to
baby you," she apologized, tossing
back her own wavy, red locks.
He stared out the cabin window at
the wing of the motionless jet.
"Is anything wrong?" she wondered.
"Just tired," he replied. "I didn't
get very much sleep last night."
She patted his folded hands. "I
know it's been an exhausting tour for
you, dear, but it'll soon be over. Two
nights in Indianapolis and we'll all
have a long rest."
"Until next year," he muttered
with a bitterness she failedto detect.
"And the year after that."
"We needn't worry about that
now," she assured him. She was an
eternal optimist, the daughter of a

Presbyterian minister who was a great

believer in the power of positive thinking, always cheerful, rarely perturbed
by anything, except perhaps by what
she perceived as the moral decay of society. But Gideon and Matthew were
her armor, her hope, protectors against
the barbaric world that surrounded
them. She was happy. She was healthy.
She looked ten years younger than her
Matt and Jack La Rue had been detained, but managed to board the aircraft long before takeoff. "Think
you'd leave without us?" Matt joked
as they squeezed through the aisle and
sat in the row behind Gideon and
"I've never known you to be late
for anything," Lillian replied. "Besides,
I don't suspect it would make much
difference if you came along or not."
"Does that go for me too, Lillian?"
asked Jack in an absurdly flirtatious
"Why, that goes double for you,
Jack." She laughed at her own facetious remark and turned to Gideon to
see if she had provoked a smile. But
Gideon was preoccupied, lost in his
"Well, don't expect us to keep you
company," said Matt, clicking open an
attache case. "Jack and I have tons of
paper work to keep us busy."
"I don't mind," said Lillian over
her shoulder. "I have Gideon." She
touched her son's hands, the hands
that had healed, the hands that had
punctuated the fiery oratory he had
used for twelve years. But his hands
were cold now, smooth as stone, alien.
"Have you given much thought to
what we discussed the other day?" she
asked him.
He regarded her with a blank expression. "What, did we discuss?"
"Your enrolling in a seminary."
Gideon managed to produce an ironic smile. "Do you mean to make me a

November, 1978

Austin, Texas

minister, Mother?"
"Like Grandpa," she said with delight.
"Do you really want me to give up
preaching and healing to be a true man
of the cloth?" he asked sarcastically.
"Not very lucrative a profession, is it?"
"That's a very callous thing to say,"
Lillian criticized.
"Tell me, Mother, what have you
and Dad planned for the next twenty
or thirty years of my life?"
The question contained a host of
jagged edges that cut deeply into Lillian's flimsy euphoria. "What's gotten
into you?" she wondered aloud, bewildered by his behavior.
"I tried to tell you twice before,"
he said. "I'll bet you don't remember.
I tried, in my inarticulate way, to convey feelings I've never had before, purely selfish but sincere feelings that I felt
had to be expressed. But you refused
to help me to find the proper words,
to bring those feelings to the surface.
You smile, Mother, and prop me up on
a stage and wind me up and let me
loose, but you never listen."
Lillian's eyes darted about anxiously. She feared someone would overhear. She feared she was alone with a
dilemma she had no means of solving.
She feared what Gideon might say
"Half of the year we're buried in the
self-righteous tranquility of our boring
little town," he went on. "The rest of
the time we're flying from one city to
the next, playing saviour to people
whose lives ultimately have far more
meaning than our own."
"Gideon . . ." she interrupted.
"Please ... this sort of talk is very
discouraging. You know as well as I
we have certain commitments."
"I have a commitment to myself!"
Gideon retorted sharply.
"Don't raise your voice," she coolly
commanded, turning to see if Matt had
heard. He and La Rue, however, were
Page 27

too engrossed in the fiscal affairs of the

"Mother, I'm frightened," Gideon
admitted boyishly, a look of nervous
sadness sapping his face of its usual vitality.
"Of what?" she asked.
"Of you and Dad and the people
we surround ourselves with. This is not
a crusade we're involved in. It's a business. It's an enterprise employing dozens, at times hundreds of people. It's
something we no longer understand
and can no longer control. It's going to
destroy us, one way or another."
"Honestly, Gideon," she sighed.
"You're not making any sense."
"I want to breathe, Mother. I want
to be able to walk away from all this
without feeling as if I've betrayed
something sacred. I don't want to live
in guilt, fearing a God who defies common logic. I don't want to depend on
beliefs that are centuries obsolete,
when I know that simply living an honest life will suffice." He paused, striving for the right meaning. "I want to
believe in God, but one who has given
me life for myself, not to serve Him."
His mother wore a telltale expression. She was about to skirt the issue,
but in a manner intent on finding an
easy solution to an incomprehensible
problem. "I think it would be a good
idea for you to have a talk with Reverend Mayberry," she suggested, referring to their local pastor. "You're going through a difficult phase and you
need spiritual guidance."
"I need my freedom, Mother," Gideon concluded.
"Temptation. That's what it is," she
surmised. "You're a young man in a
world of lust and greed."
"Oh, Mother. Really!"
"It's only to be expected, this inclination of yours, but you must resist."
"My only inclination is to think for
myself, to become a man, to come of
age like any other mature individual. It
has nothing to do with having to reinforce beliefs that no longer bear credence for me."
"Dr. Mayberry will have a man-toman talk with you. I'm sure he's better
equipped to deal with it."
"Why aren't you facing this plainly,
Mother? Why can't you accept it in its
actuality? You can't ignore this the
way you ignored so many other aspects
of my life."
"You have never been neglected!"
she insisted vehemently.
"The tutors instead of teachers, the
nursemaids instead of my own mother,
Dr. Mayberry instead of my father ...
You weren't raising a child all these
years. You were nurturing an investment."
With that Lillian was prepared to
slap his face, but she refrained, remembering where they were and who they
were supposed to be. "If it's a mature
individual you want to be, I suggest
you show a bit of respect for your parPage 28

ents. We've given you a good life and

will do so as long as God will allow.
We don't ask for your gratitude, just
respect. "
"I've respected you and your wishes
for twenty years," Gideon replied.
Don't you think it's about time I earned
a degree of self-respect?"
"If you think for one moment that
your father and I are going to permit
you to entertain notions of abandoning
your calling ... "
"Heaven forbid."
" ... then you're mistaken. We have
no intentions of allowing you to ruin
your life. I don't care how old you are.
We have responsibilities, Gideon."
"In other words," he paraphrased,
"there's no way out. Correct?"
Lillian would not answer him. She
assumed the tenacious stoicism of a
statue and brought a close to the matter. Gideon gazed out the window and
shuddered. He listened to his father
murmuring behind him, reviewing the
itinerary, charting his future.
"Pardon me," said Gideon, rising
on a sudden impulse.
"Where doyou think you're going?"
asked his mother suspiciously.
"I have to use the facilities," he informed her tactfully.
Gideon wandered toward the front
of the plane. Apparently, his mother
hadn't noticed that the lavatories were
to the rear of the cabin. The passenger
entrance was still open. He looked behind him and saw that his parents were
just out of his line of vision as long as
they remained seated. He recalled that
his billfold contained at least fifty dollars cash, enough. All he needed was the
nerve. Poised at the brink of escape, he
stared at the open hatch way, then
glanced back, then forward again. He
ran his sweaty palms against the breast
of his suit, inhaled and proceeded.
"You can't leave the plane, sir," declared a stewardess, blocking his way.
"We're about to take off."
"I've changed my mind," he sought
to explain. "I'm not taking this flight."
"But, sir, your luggage ... "
"That's all right. My associates will
fly on to Indianapolis. They'll take care
of it."
"You won't be able to get a refund
on your ticket, sir," she warned.
"I don't care," Gideon replied. "Just
let me off."
"Is anything wrong, sir?"
Gideon shook his head. "No. Of
course not." Then he laughed. "No.
Not anymore."
When the plane began to taxi, Lillian
poked her head into the aisle, looking
for Gideon. "Matt?" she called, turning
to the row behind her.
Her husband peered up over his reading glasses. "Hm?"
"Gideon's still in the men's room
and we're just about to take off."
Matt dismissed her anxiety with a
wave of the hand and continued studying the papers on his lap. "I'm sure he's
November, 1978

fine. "
"He's been gone an awfully long
time," she said. "Shouldn't he be ... "
"Lillian," Matt sighed, "he's a big
boy now. He can take care of himself.
You ought to cut loose the apron ... "
He looked up. A thought had struck
him. He glanced out the window and
watched the runway race by in one
long, gray streak. The plane was gaining momentum. At any moment the
wheels would leave the ground. The
thought evolved in Matt's mind. And
as the wheels did leave the ground, the
realization came and the papers slipped from his lap and fell like leaves
around his feet.

One morning, Lillian found Matt in
the garden, down on his knees among
the rosebushes, tending to the flowers.
She waited until he glanced her way
and then she held up the postcard from
San Francisco. "It's from Gideon," she
Matt examined the thorny stems.
His indifferent attitude saddened Lillian, but she understood. She herself
read the message on the card, then began to walk away, tucking the picture
of Fisherman's Wharf into her housecoat pocket.
"Wait," said Matt.
She drew close to him.
Matt reached out for the postcard
and she gave it to him.
"Dear Mom and Dad," it read. "I've
crossed the Golden Gate and seen the
town by trolley. A beautiful city San Francisco. I know you'd both like
it. I'm staying with some friends I've
made, but only for a week or two. I'll
probably head down the coast and
work my way back East. Maybe I'll see
you for Christmas (if I'm welcome).
Will keep in touch. Love, Gideon."
Matt handed the postcard back to his
wife without saying a word, then continued with his work. Lillian walked
away, entering the house through the
backdoor, pacing the corridors, climbing the stairs that led to Gideon's bedroom, opening a door, brushing smooth
the creases on the bedspread.
The house was much quieter these
days. Every room was a chamber of silence. Only their thoughts were disquieting, and for the moment all they
could think of was that Christmas was
nearly four months away.

The American Atheist

G. Richard Bozarth
The Atheist
During Easter week there occurred in Solano County an
event called the John Wesley White Crusade. This is a minor
league team in the Billy Graham organization. I guess the big
man doesn't show up anywhere for less than 50,000 ding-a-lings.
The best White could do in five days was a total attendance of
over 7,000 - in a county over 100,000 strong! It is encouraging to find out the county is more heathen than I had previously given it credit for.
Before the figures proved them wrong, the local hard-core
religionists were going into ecstasy over this crusade. Some of
this delirium showed up in the letters section of the Vacaville
Reporter, where starry-eyed Jesus freaks made the arrival of
this crusade sound like the actual Second Coming itself. The
crusade would, they euphorically promised, bring Solano
County to Christ and restore us in god's favor. Finally, one
idiot wrote in that "the gospel that the evangelist will preach"
is that JC Superstar is the answer to all our problems.
That did it. I sat down and wrote a zinging rebuttal to that
nonsense. The letter was published in the 22 March 78 issue of
the Reporter, and started me off on another letter-debate.
The Charge
1. "Jesus Christ, god's son, is the answer to every problem
in society."
Pastor Bruce Moore
The Answer
Bruce Moore, in a letter in the 10 March 78 issue of the
Reporter, declares, "Jesus Christ, god's son, is the answer to
every problem of society." It is absolutely necessary to deny
and refute this ridiculous assertion that human problems will
be solved by superstitious reliance on magical intervention by
some non-human being whose existence cannot be rationally
proven. Indeed, the person Jesus Christ cannot be proven beyond a doubt to have existed historically, and even if one feels
he did exist, Christianity is far from certain about his godhood
(I refer to the latest denial of his godhood published as The
Myth of God Incarnate by six Anglicans and one United
Reformed Church member). It seems presumptuous to me to
claim Jesus Christ can solve all our problems when Christianity
itself cannot present one unchallengeable, unified and consistent description of who and what Jesus Christ was.
Jesus as a problem-solver seems inept against the serious
problem of racism. The Mormons frankly describe the black
race as inferior to white people. We see private church schools
used by white parents to segregate their kids from black kids,
thus thwarting one of the best means of lessening the problem
through childhood friendships between people at an age when
skin color is the least effective as a barrier between humans.
During Jimmy Carter's campaign we saw, in the spectacle of
the racial controversy surrounding his church in Plains, Ga.,
how white racists use the church as one of the last places where
they can enjoy the evils of their racism. If Jesus could solve
problems for us, then the churches would have led the fight
against racism. This is not the case.
Nor is Jesus Christ of any help against sexism. In Wisconsin
Judge Archie Simonson described the gang-rape of a 16-year-

Austin, Texas

old girl as a normal reaction by three boys and refused to
punish one of the rapists. He proudly claimed, "A lot of support has been coming from church people, ministers and the
like," after his disgraceful decision (San Francisco Chronicle,
28 May 77). Judge Simonson was ousted in a recall election
thanks to a campaign by outraged women led by feminists
and Atheists whose efforts were reported in the August 1977
issue of The American Atheist that none of the churches even
criticized Simonson. If women are to attain equality in the
courts, and if sexism is to cease to be a problem in our society,
it won't be Jesus Christ who brings it about.
What about prejudice - that is, the xenophobic flaw in
humans that tends to cause us to persecute minorities different
from us? We have seen how Anita Bryant has adroitly used
Christianity to persecute gays by cloaking her mental disorder
with appropriate verses. Jesus seemed curiously incapable of
preventing the obscenity that took place in Dade County,
Florida, last year. In the town of Belmonte, Portugal, where
the Catholic Church still reigns with her old medieval authority, Jews are known as Marranos, a word meaning pigs. They
are compelled to attend mass and participate in other Catholic
rites. They must practice their Jewish rites in secret. Even
though everyone knows they are Jews, they are still kept
under the burden of this ugly prejudice. Human society,
obviously, cannot rely on Jesus Christ to solve the problems of
Corruption is another problem in our society. There are
Koreagate in Congress, civil rights abuses by the CIA and FBI,
and international bribery scandals by corporations. Is Jesus
Christ to help us here? If so, why do the Catholic churches in
Pennsylvania openly violate state law by running criminal
gambling operations and rely on Christians on local police
forces not to make arrests? This is the essence of corruption,
a fine example for the youths of their congregations who will
be future congressmen, FBI and CIA agents and corporation
executives. Let us not forget the corruption of Faith Center,
the "TV Church" under investigation for tax evasion, selling
unregistered securities, and discrimination against minorities.
What does it take to get Jesus to solve the problems of Christianity? If he can't handle his own flock, it's nonsense to tell
us he can handle human society.
It's plain to any rational person that Jesus Christ can't solve
a single problem in human society. It is more accurate to say
that religious faith aggravates and makes worse too many of
our human problems. What are needed for human society are
Atheist solutions; that is, solutions sought in the rational, realistic application of human reason and common sense to our
problems - solutions based on secular knowledge of human
psychology and sociology. We'll never solve a single human
problem on our knees praying to a mythical, nonexistent being
for magical solutions.
This letter drew a private response from Gerry Carroll, who
.is the sports editor for the Reporter. It had some interesting
charges worthy of answering, as you will see.
The Charges
1. "Christianity doesn't have problems, but Christians do.

November, 1978


Page 29

You should define your terms and quit confusing them if you're
going to put Christ down properly."
2. "I would like to see some proof behind your statements - some kind of tangible evidence that what you state is
true beyond a doubt."
3. "Do Atheists have one unchallengeable, unified and consistent description of who and what Jesus Christ WASN'T?"
4. "Christ did exist. This has been proven through archeological finds and through writings of various types throughout
history. "
5. "How can Atheists deny and refute the teachings of
Christ when they themselves have no explanation how mankind came to be?"
6. "The only applicable explanation for the existence of the
universe involves a force, a power humanity can't comprehend.
That force is god."
7. "Do me 'a favor and read Revelation. Then look around
you and see if it doesn't paint a pretty accurate picture of
what the world is today."
8. "Atheists have no answers."
Gerry Carroll (who added after
his name: "A fearful, humble,
Iittle Christian soul")
The Answer
You accuse me of confusing my terms, evidently because I
don't accept your confusing use of them. "Christianity doesn't
have problems, but Christians do." THAT is confusing. Do you
perceive Christianity to be something like one of Plato's Innate
Ideas floating about in perfection, but, alas, only imperfectly
grasped and expressed in reality? Or perhaps you see Christianity like Catholics see their church, as the "Mystical Body of
Christ," perfect as a whole, perfectly realized as the "Church
Triumphant," but not so perfectly realized as the "Church Militant?" No matter. Christianity is a human institution perpetuating a collection of human ideas disguised as "Divine Truth."
Most of these ideas are irrational, absurd fictions, unsupported
assumptions and obtrusively related to reality - and THIS is
why Christians have problems and Christianity is bankrupt as a
source of morality.
You accuse me of having no proof of this. My recent letter
to the Reporter was full of proof, but I don't expect anyone
who believes in biblical fairy tales to recognize rational proofs,
even should one bite him in the ass. The immoralities and
crimes I recorded are all taken from news stories in Time or

the San Francisco Chronicle or the Sacramento Bee. They

were committed because these people were Christian and therefore had their morality corrupted by Christianity's nonsensical
However, if this isn't enough, I challenge you! Get two
scrapbooks. In one place all news stories from the above sources
that report crimes and immoralities done by Christians because
they are Christian - meaning their religion was such a factor in
the crime that it was necessary to include it in the story to fully
explain the crime. In the other scrapbook include similar news
stories about Atheists. At the end of the year you tell me who
is causing more crime and immorality in this nation by hard,
factual proof of deeds done. It won't be Atheists, I can assure
You seem to think Atheists don't have a unified description
of what JC Superstar wasn't. What nonsense. Every Atheist
will tell you that JC WASN'T god, WASN'T the son of god,
WASN'T divine in any way, shape or form and WASN'T resurrected. One could hardly be an Atheist if one didn't maintain
these wasn'ts, and this is a unity of opinion you 'II never find in
Christianity. I've got enough theologians in my personal library
to know this for a solid fact despite your personal opinion that
Christians are only Christians if they believe as you do about JC.
I also possess an excellent paper by the Encyclopaedia
Britannica organization called "Extra-Biblical Evidence of
Jesus Christ's Existence." The person Jesus is duly mentioned,
but only as a person. Big deal. Mohammed, Luther, Joseph
Smith and Sun Myung Moon all existed or exist. Existence of a
person hardly proves the truth of a theology. About JC several
excellent arguments against his existence also exist (such as
Jesus Son of Man by Rudolf Augstein). It's a pretty pathetic
sort of god who can't even remove all doubt about his existence.
You may answer faith removes all doubt. Faith! If faith proves
a god's existence, then every god and goddess people have faith
in must exist.
You say Atheists have no idea about man's origins. I assume
you're ignorant of the mass of scientific evidence supporting
evolution. That is all the answer I need. Of course, you may
deny the conclusiveness of the evidence. I would expect it.
Christians denied that the earth orbits the sun when science
first informed the world of it. Christians denied "that blood circulates by the power of the pumping heart when science first
revealed this fact. What was Christianity telling the faithful
while denying these and other discoveries? The good Christian
fathers of the Sorbonne in France put forth the "scientific"

By Wells Culver

Page 30

November, 1978

The American Atheist-

discovery that chimeras in a vacuum can feed on good intentions! A mind corrupted by biblical nonsense is easily convinced
that chimeras exist, but it will literally kill to avoid believing a
scientific fact it doesn't like.
Now, you proceed with typical Christian logic: Science
doesn't yet know how the universe was created; therefore, god
exists. What a twisted bit of intellectual dysfunctioning. God is
not an answer for ignorance except to the childish mind which
doesn't have the adult strength to endure an ignorance that
can only be overcome by long labor by trained scientists. Two
centuries ago Jean Meslier saw the absurdity of proving god's
existence by what we are ignorant of. In his Common Sense he
wrote: "Sages! study nature and her laws; and when you can
from them unravel the action of natural causes, do not go in
search of supernatural causes, which, very far from enlightening
your ideas, will but entangle them more and more and make it
impossible for you to understand yourselves." Science will win
in the end, and all I need to know is what science knows to
satisfy me .

you challenge me to read Revelation, probably thinking I

haven't. Wrong! I have - twice. You're right, I do think it's all
garbage and nonsense. I've looked around, but reality in the 20th
century in no way is reflected in that childish production which
comforted a persecuted minority by spectacularly destroying
Rome and the pagans on paper - a comforting fantasy for a
.silly people full of vindictiveness.
Lastly, you say Atheists know none of the answers. I suggest
you read The American Atheist. We'll give you answers enough
to shake up any "fearful, humble, little Christian soul." Atheism
is the future because science reinforces Atheism with each new
discovery and makes a mockery of religions's silly, infantile
fairy tales written thousands of years ago to awe the pitiful
minds of illiterate, ignorant peasants.
Atheism is for proud, strong, rational humans committed to
reality and dedicated to bettering the lot of our species here
and now.
Christianity is for the fearful, humble little souls committed
to unreal fantasies and dedicated to a nonexistent afterlife.



The American Atheist Radio ~t~~~~Jr


Program 327 ....

11 January 75 ....

KLBJ ....

Austin, TX

Hello there,
This is Madalyn Mays 0 'Hair, American Athiest, back to talk
with you again.
When I was a very small child I was early taught the horrible
dangers of masturbation. My father's brother owned and operated a private insane asylum, as they were called in those days,
and a great number of the persons confined therein had come
by the route of masturbation.
It was drilled into my head by this good Protestant that this
activity always led to the most extreme insanity. I have often
wondered since then what the theological foundation for this
might be - and have never seen a better exposition of it than
in the book titled Satan in Society which just now comes over
my desk. It is authored by "A Physician" who remains anonymous, and it was printed by the Edward F. Hovey Company
in Cincinnati in 1883.
The author states in a preface that he has conceived the idea
of exposing the vices of the age and the consequent dangers
which menace the nation. He goes on to say,
"Our pages attest that we are of those who believe in a 'live
God;' our title [of the book] that we believe also in a 'live devil.'
Those who ignore the latter are very sure to end by ignoring
also the former. All forces which operate in this world are resolved into these two: The powers of good, and the powers of

evil. The one creates, the other destroys. It is in pure and undiluted Christianity only that our nation may hope, not for reform merely, but even for prolonged existence."
The physician author then surveys all the evil in the world,
and for the most part it is sexual. The third chapter deals with
"Male Self-Abuse." Self-abuse is the old description of masturbation. It was also called "self pollution" in those old days, too.
The author begins the chapter noting,
"Viewing the world over, this shameful and criminal act is
the most frequent, as well as the most fatal, of all vices .... It is
encountered in all ages, from the infant in the cradle to the old
man groaning upon his pallet. But it is from the age of 14 to 20
that its ravages are most frequent and most deplorable. Nothing
but a sense of inexorable duty, in the hope of effecting a radical
reform by awakening the alarm of parents and teachers to the
enormous frequency and horrible consequences of this revolting
crime, could induce the author to enter upon the sickening revelation.
"Granted that, as already stated, it must, if persevered in, reveal itself, it is only the most aggravated cases that are brought
to the notice of the physician, and these usually are hopeless
and incurable. The vast majority escape detection, and the
practice in such, though indulged to a comparatively moderate
extent, does not the less seriously, but only the less completely impair the intellect and lay the foundation of physical,
mental, and moral maladies, the causes of which are usually as
unsuspected as they are consequently persistent in their operation."

November, 1978

Austin, Texas


Page 31

The good doctor then goes on to give several horrible examples

such as, "Dr. Doussin Dubreuil relates the case of a child who
contracted the habit spontaneously at the age of five years,
who, in spite of all that could be done, died at 16, having lost
his reason at 11. Deslandes, in his work ... speaks of a confirmed
masturbator at eighteen months.
It was in the early part of this century, of course, that my
uncle managed his asylum, and the theory at the time was that
insanity was a result of masturbation. The doctor confirms this,
even for bright persons, viz:
"A young man ... a student of medicine, died from excess
of this kind of debauch. The idea of his crime so agitated his mind
that he died in a kind of despair, believing that he saw hell open
at his side to receive him."
In another instance, "A child of this city, six or seven years
'of age, instructed, as I believe, by a female servant, polluted
himself so often that the slow fever which resulted very soon
terminated fatally."

Just A Call Of Nature

Can you imagine what the youth of all ages felt under this
type of teaching, reinforced by physicians and the clergy? Of
course, anxiety is the most eroding of human experiences, and
the heightened anxiety produced by the idea of evil and guilt
attached to this activity, masturbation, in which almost everyone engaged, and still engages, would be a problem with which
to deal. The anxiety and the fear is what produces an emotional
problem and not the ordinary activity of masturbation. The
Atheist position is that there are enough problems in this world
as it is without attaching the idea of sin and of guilt to such a
personal activity as masturbation.
However, this does not touch, as yet, on the specific theology
of the crime, as it used to be designated. But, how. does one
spot a person who masturbates? The description given by the
good physician is classic:

loss of memory and intelligence, morose and unequal disposition, aversion and indifference to legitimate pleasures and
sports, mental abstractions, stupid stolidity. A distinguished
German physician, Gottlieb Wogel, gives the following truthful
'The masturbator gradually loses his moral faculties; he acquires a dull, silly, listless, embarrassed, sad, effeminate exterior,
He becomes indolent; averse to and incapable of all intellectual
exertion; all presence of mind deserts him; he is discountenanced,
troubled, inquiet, whenever he finds himself in company; he is
taken by surprise and even alarmed if required simply to reply
to a child's question; his feeble soul succumbs to the lightest
task; his memory daily losing more and more, he is unable to
comprehend the most common things, or to connect the simplest ideas; the greatest means the most sublime talents are soon
exhausted; previously acquired knowledge is forgotten; the
most exquisite intelligence becomes naught, and no longer bears
fruit, all the vivacity, all the pride, all the qualities of the spirit
by which these unfortunates formerly subjugated or attracted
their equals, abandon them, and leave them no longer aught
but contempt; the power of the imagination is at an end for
them; pleasure no longer fawns upon them, but in revenge, all
that is trouble and misfortune in the world seems their portion.
Inquietude, dismay, fear, which are their only affections, banish
every agreeable sensation from their minds. The last crisis of
melancholy and the most frightful suggestions of despair commonly end in hastening the death of these unfortunates, or else
they fall into complete apathy, and, sunken below those. brutes
which have the least instinct, they retain only the figure of their
race. It even frequently happens that the most complete folly
and frenzy are manifest from the first."
According to a certain Dr. Franck, who is an expert on the
subject and cited throughout the book, "Masturbators are not
only a charge upon society, but are even dangerous." This celebrated physician exhorts governments to exercise over them

"At the first glance the [masturbator] presents an aspect of

languor, weakness, and thinness. The countenance is pale, sunken, flabby, often leaden, or more or less livid, with a dark circle
under the sunken eyes, which are dull, and lowered or averted.
A sad, shameful, spiritless physiognomy. The voice is feeble and
hoarse; there are dry cough, oppression, panting, and fatigue
on the least exertion; palpitations; obscured vision; dizziness,
tremulousness, painful cramps; convulsive movements like epilepsy; pains in the limbs, or at the back of the head, in the spine,
breast, or stomach; great weakness in the back; sometimes
lethargy; at other times slow, hectic, consumptive fever; digestive derangements; nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or progressive emaciation. Sometimes the body is bent, and often
there are all the appearances of pulmonary consumption, or
the characteristics of decrepitude joined to the habits and pretentions of youth.
"Such is the physical degradation of the masturbator."
Well, hopefully, if a person presented himself to a physician
today with all these symptoms, the physician would not then
accuse him of masturbation instead of attempting to find the
physical basis of such a condition.
Yet, our good author physician, combatting sin for Christ,
continues in this wise:
"But while the physical symptoms are so grave, the moral
degradation goes even further. Prominent characteristics are,

Page 32

November, 1978

"Oh, but you must remember ... we didn't know what

shame was, until Jesus came along."

The American Atheist

the most active supervision.

But it is one, Dr. Debreyne, who discloses the theological
basis of this crime, and he is quoted as saying:
"Consider now this imbruted and degraded being; behold
him bent under the weight of crime and infamy, dragging in
darkness a remnant of material and animal life. Unfortunate!
He has sinned against God, against nature, and against himself.
He has violated the laws of the Creator; has disfigured the image
of God in his own person, and has changed it into that of the
"beast, imago bestiae. He is even sunken below the brute, and,
like him, looks only upon the ground. His dull and stupid glance
can no longer raise itself toward Heaven; he no longer dares lift
his miserable brow, already stamped with the seal of reprobation; he descends little by little into death, and a last convulsive
crisis comes at length, violently to close this strange and horrible
The theological premise is that man is made in god's image
and we can not incite to sexual release an image of god.
The punishment is both physical and moral, as taught by the
church and reflected in this work:
"Let no one delude himself with the false assumption that
he can be exempt from this universal law. There can be no possible exemption! Those who persist will surely die the death
most horrible of all deaths; and those who practice the most
limited and occasional acts of [masturbation] will surely be
punished in proportion to their crimes; while the very individuals
who seem to escape, are those who must surely carry the punishment for the remainder of their Iives,never live to attain old age,
and most frequently fall victims to some grave chronic disease,
the germs of which they owe to this detestable vice. Or an acute

malady, which they resist far less readily than others, cuts the
thread of their existence in the prime of their manhood.
"The reformed [masturbator] [Throughout this, he substitutes the word 'onanism' or 'onanist' for 'masturbator,' and this
is not in current use today, so I substitute 'masturbator' as indicated.] is the earliest and surest prey of severe epidemics, as
cholera, yellow fever, etc., by reason of his bad antecedents,
and the deteriorated condition of his constitution."
The chapter is concluded thus:
"Lest we be accused of exaggerating the dangers of [masturbation], we refer ... to the following, from the father of medicine to the most eminent physicians of our time, all of whom
sustain every word we have uttered concerning the horrible
consequences of this crime ... " and he lists all the major physicians of Christianity!!
This, we feel, as Atheists, has been one of the major crimes
of religion - to take an ordinary human act and turn it into a
sin, heaping guilt and anxiety upon an ordinary human being
answering a call of nature. We hope that sanity in these matters
will some day everywhere be restored.
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a public
service by the Society of Seperetionists, lnc., a non-profit, nonpolitical, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicatedto the
complete separation of state and church. This series of American A theist Radio series programs is continued through listener
generosity. The Society of Separationists, Inc. predicates its
philosophy on American A theism. For more information, or for
a free copy of the script of this program, write to P. 0. Box 2117,
Austin, Texas. That zip is 78768.



Frank Duffy

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
It's been one week since my last confession. These are my sins:
"I said eight bad words ... I got angry three times
I had one argument
with my sister
I had six impure
thoughts ... and
[voice lowering as
heads bows] I had two impure deeds
with myself.
"For these and all the sins of my
past life which I cannot remember, I
am heartily sorry."
And so it went during most of my
Saturday night confessions at the local
Catholic church in New Jersey. They
were modern enactments of a medieval
ritual by which a celibate clergy implants and weekly reinforces a fear of
genitality among children whose par-


ents seek assurances that their descendants will inherit their own conservative, life-fearing inhibitions.
The "original sin" we are told we
must forever atone for is our natural
compulsion to enjoy the sexual act for
the pleasure it brings us. Western (read
Christian) civilization attempts to hold
what it considers asocial (read biologcial) impulses in check by means of
compulsive moralistic prohibitions in
the form of psychological taboos implanted early and reinforced daily.
Psychological Castration
According to German psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, it is organized religion's fear of our natural sexuality

Austin, Texas

November, 1978



which results in "sexual repression

[which] has the function of making
man amenable to authority, just as
the castration of stallions and bulls
has the function of producing willing
'draft animals."
Sigmund Freud arrived at essentially the same findings as Reich concerning "the most dangerous illusion religion." However, Freud, as do many
intellectuals of our own day, was resigned to the presence of religious
mysticism in a society where the older
generation attempts to keep the youth
at its own cultural level.
Reich was a contemporary of Freud
and did much speculation on what he
considered to be religion's energy core:
the negation of sexual pleasure. He
saw the anchoring of religious ideas

Page 33

taking place in childhood as the irrational belief in a god takes root

when children are forced to learn to
suppress their sexual excitation. This is
usually associated with a child's first
desires to masturbate.
Conversations with those of my
peers who were willing to disclose their
own list of "sins" confessed led me to
appreciate that I was at least developing "normal" lusts which were no less
damning than those of my fellows. As
to what infractions of mind and body
the Catholic girls I schooled with were
revealing to the padres I had no idea despite occasional attempts at eavesdropping on the confessee before me.
The Franciscan nuns who taught at
the parochial schools I attended never
once dared use the word "masturbation" when describing that habit of unauthorized seed-spilling which would,
as god's punishment, drive us to certain insanity.
"Impure deeds" was their descriptive limit and, though they never warned us of the fabled hairy palms sprouting from stroking hands, they did predict that Catholic boys who persisted
in their coitus salus would later in life
be afflicted with, of all ailments, an
aching back!
I never quite figured out the connection until JFK spawned the national
craze for rocking chairs.
Fortunately, the parish I was quartered in was large enough that the
priests couldn't recognize all the voices
of the weekly teen (and adult) selfabusers who sought forgiveness for
being - biologically, at least - healthy.

So Say The Celibates

Reich sees the child's guilt over a
normally ripening sexuality further
locked in by the family - an institution of compulsive marriage. It is only
in this limited framework that religion
will tolerate any expression of sexuality. Such inhibited families produce
passive, basically
uncritical followers who submit to the
patriarch, to the priest, to the politician and to the police as god's selfordained representatives on earth.
A certain Irish priest by the name
of Father Gogarty drew the longest
lines because he was known for quick
confessions as he would bruskly dismiss all "sinners" with a few Hail Marys
as penance andno lecture after hearing
only the first couple of infractions.
Hence it was that one could be done
with the ritual without ever getting to
the "self-polluting" violations which

Page 34

"If you ask me, reading that damned book is 'self-abuse'."

were saved for last because they were

described by that odious word used to
manner of self-employment
which easily predates prostitution MASTURBATION. It's a term so severe sounding that at first hearing I
was certain it was used to name a form
of homicide akin to murder. Certainly
it surpassed the relatively innocuous
sounding crime of manslaughter in
The only crime involved with autoeroticism is that of the celibate pudpullers who condemn in others the
very same form of sexual activity most
often indulged in by the inhabitants of
monasteries, rectories and convents.
Surely the deepest and hottest regions of hell are reserved for those of
us whose lust to get a hold of ourselves
merits such a vile designation: The

For those who still believe religion

(Catholicism in particular) to be salvageable as a viable institution in a
modern society simply because it has
been forced to alter incidentals (guitar masses, group confessions, the
dropping of Latin, etc.) - forget it.
Underneath the few strands of wispy
tinsel remains the same anti-life, anti-

November, 1978

women, sex-negating patriarchy which

would make "willing draft animals" of
us all for purposes of perpetuating its
To cite a recent example, take the
controversy aroused by the birth in
July of this year of Louise Brown, the
first "test-tube baby" (so called because she was conceived outside her
mother's womb).
The bishop of the Catholic diocese
of Austin raised the question of how
the father's sperm was obtained.
"If it's through masturbation (usually the method, but it is not known if
it was used in the Brown case), then it
can't be tolerated. It (the use of masturbation to obtain sperm) is not morally justifiable. Masturbation is outlawed in the Bible," he proclaimed.
Absurd, right? But yet there are
many who scoff at religious-based
morality but nevertheless attempt to
enforce prudish biblical taboos on those
of us who would be free of the ENTIRE
claptrap of religion and its neuroses.
Some would freeze the pace at which
we Atheists divest ourselves of Neanderthal inhibitions at a point still well
within the jurisdiction of the peddlers
of religion. They would have younger
Atheists discard the rituals but yet re-

The American Atheist


tain the righteousness

which religion
never had to begin with.
It is as though the lead runner in a
relay race team has refused to pass
the baton to those who would carry it
farther - and yes, faster.


They continue
to pay homage to
which has it that all "normal" men are veritable volcanoes of
semen, and that as such they must be
allowed to deposit their sacred seed in


a dutifully submissive woman's chalice.

Such is simply another instance of
the Bible being used as an authoritative
rather than as a book of
myths written by tribes of bare-assed
savages - which it-is.



elaine stansfield
The collective American consciousness
- or perhaps we should
say "unconsciousness"
- blindly supported
the Vietnam War
in the hazy notion that god was on our side; but when American
casualty figures grew too large to sustain that delusion, it became
apparent that god had changed his/her/its mind.
Already long before that, Jane Fonda wasspeakingoutagainst
the evil of that war, and her films suffered at the box office because of her outspokenness.
It would seem, however, that her
growing political awareness had put starch in her spine and also
improved her acting - from the foolish days of
to the superb characterization
of the prostitute
Bree in "Klute." The latter portrayal was hard to top.
Then came the protrayal of Lillian Hellman in "Julia," followed closely by "Coming Home." In each of these films we
see a different kind of vulnerable woman who has a core of great
strength which she must find and draw on. If the beginning and
end of "Coming Home" are difficult and seemingly indecisive,
it is because the character of Sally has more growing up to do.
The plot is deceptively simple. Sally, married to a man with
beliefs in god, home, mother and apple pie, is not
much of a thinking person beyond trying to be a good wife as
her parents and her Sunday school teachers obviously taught
her. But without quite knowing why, Sally is not particularly
happy. As her Marine husband (Bruce Dern) is about to ship out
for combat duty in Vietnam, he is certain of the righteousness
of his action, and so, of course, Sally is too.
When she meets him at an R&R locale in Hong Kong, she
appears to endure rather than enjoy his perfunctory
When she tells him that she has become a volunteer worker in
a veterans' hospital back home, he objects. She does not argue
with him; she is trying very hard to please him, but she will not
be deflected. There is a bizarre aspect about this little 5-day
vacation amid war. It points up the unreal quality of the whole
thinking" of those involved in this "righteous" war.
Just prior to the R& R liaison with her husband, Sally, during
her work at the vets' hospital, has run into an old classmate
(John Voight) who has become paralyzed in both legs as a result of his participation
in the war - ironically enough also as
a Marine. They become friends, sparring often due to his fear
that she only pities him, and due to her fear of mishandling
some of the situations
which arise. They eventually
lovers in a beautiful scene which makes it clear that Voight even as a paraplegic - has satisfied her far more than her husband ever did.
Because she has broken a taboo of her society, there is con-



siderable suspense built up as to what will happen when her

husband comes home. The play on these words now becomes
complex, because she has finally "come home" to new realizations of what a healthy relationship
is, with a man who came
home from the war shattered, without beliefs.
Together they have built a more satisfactory
belief system
than either ever thought possible: one which supposedly excludes
the husband, who is, in his own way, disfigured by the war and
then shattered by her news. Later, it is perhaps even more unbalancing to him when Voight bests him in an armed confrontation and quietly takes his gun (Freudian emphasis intentional?).
Despite this, Dern's subsequent suicide isn't quite plausible,
nor is the implication
that the lovers might not make it. What
we do know, however, is that they are both fully aware that if
they do, it will be due to their own best efforts, without looking backwards for religious support that isn't there.
Jane Fonda's work in this film is just about perfect, hewing
to the characterization
of a self-effacing personality
very slowly. It is almost as if she is saying to us, "Look, everybody knows how Ifeft about the war, but this woman was never
like that: she developed in an entirely different way, reluctantly seeing that something was wrong, confused at having to give up
old beliefs, unsure about the darkness ahead, but knowing she
had to go forward.".
It is our hope that many moviegoers will sense this and admire both the character as it is scripted and what Fonda has done
for it. Wouldn't it be nice if such quiet persuasion would bring
more people to Atheism - if not entirely, at least with respect
to an understanding
of our position? I should hate to believe
that if beauty is only in the eye of the beholder, then I am the
only one to view the picture this way!
This is a case where feedback from my fellow Atheists who
are also ever-hopeful moviegoers would be greatly appreciated.
This column does, after all, exist to recommend
some good,
or interesting movies to our readers.

Actor John Voight on Religion

"My problem was being brought up Catholic," says actor
Jon Voight in a recent issue of Viva magazine.
says Voight, "is the destroyer of the Catholic
Church. Such puritanical dogma seems to be debilitating to
any human being."



Page 35


An Examination Of Christian Science
in the book-selling world could be
more attractive than a new Bible, coequal with,
and supplementary to the old, and possessed of talismanic virtues, so that by the faithful study of
its contents the possessor could preserve his health
and be delivered from physical aches and pains
without the knife of the surgeon or the phial of the
doctor. For such a Bible it was wisely judged that
the great American republic would pay three dollars." Please bear in mind this was three dollars
several decades ago, which was at the then time a
lot of money.

Our New Religion, An Examination of

Christian Science, by the Right Honorable H. A. L.
Fisher, a Warden of Oxford College, England, is a
hard-back book 514 x 8'l1 inches, 201 pages in length.
It was published by Jonathan Cape and
Harrison Smith, Inc., out of New York in 1930.
That publisher is now defunct and the book is no
longer available. It was a one time printing because
of the hostility of its reception in the religious
dominated United States so that all volumes are
"First Edition".
The book was distributed by the
old Truth Seeker Company until Society of Separationists Inc. bought out the entire stock. We have
uncovered 100 copies in our storage shed, which is
the only stock left in the world. When these are
gone the book will no longer be available;' This is a
rare item.

In the light of modern medical science, the

whole idea of the efficacy of faith healing should
have been exposed as a hoax in the 1930's at the
time this knowledgeable author wrote this expose.
In terms of modern day money, Mrs. Eddy was
every bit as successful as Oral Roberts.

It is a must book for those who have

wondered about Christian Science and desired a
short summation of it.

The last part of the book is the most interesting because knowing the book was written in
1930, one can learn that the leaders, coaxing her
followers of today to donate money, are going
to continue to work to protect their incomes, tax
exemptions, and status.

Happily the book is direct and to the point.

More importantly, it is also brief, requiring a very
minimal reading time, but none the less covering
the most important facets of the life, career and
the theology of its inventor.

This hard cover collector's item will not be

found in any Christian Science Reading Room, but
you have the chance to buy one now. It is a condensed version of the true history of another one
of those varieties of at least 260 Christian religions.

The book is naturally divided into three

areas of concern. The first deals with the prophetess of the faith, Mary Baker Glover Patterson
Eddy; the second with the creed she first stole and
then later developed and the third with the church
which she erected on that purloined creed.
Especially noteworthy
ing of H. A. L. Fisher in the
which undertakes to explain
training which Mary Baker
formative years.

Reading this book and Mary's theories,

which this critic guesses still are practiced today, is
like a trip almost back to the time when some
thought the world was flat, maggots came spontaneously from putrid meat, and the smallest bugs
were those we could see with our naked eyes.

is the manner of writfirst part of the book

the early behavioral
Eddy received in her

As a book reviewer, let me test you with one

final quote from the book: "Yet this obscure
woman overcame all her rivals, formulated her religion, patented it, surrounded it with a spiritual and
legal palisade, and, after making it a paying concern, died in extreme old age, opulent, honoured
and victorious. Why was this? Why, of all the many
modes of mind-cure which had a vogue in the
United States, did Christian Science alone achieve
the dignity of an established and popular religion?"
Sorry, that's all you get in this review, but
while these books last, you could own one, and
learn the meaning of the Latin phrase, Credo Quia
Absurdum Est.
Reviewed by Lloyd Thoren.
* * $8.00 per copy including postage
* *

Her continuous
through intense stages of severe imagined illnesses, from
which she seemingly continued to suffer, eventually led her to a "faith healer". So began Christian
Science. Mary expanded, with intense melodramatic flair, the idea of faith healing. Regrettably,
she gave her teacher, Phineas P. Quimbly, a little
credit for getting her off to a flying start in the exorcism of the Devil Disease, through prayer and
faith in Christ. Mary learned well that illness, pain,
and sin would yield to the medicaments of [the
Christian] faith, and a little later in life, with the
help of husband Eddy build wealth for her, and
support her weak ego. I quote: " ... Few business

Page 36



The American


5 for $1.00


Why I Am An Atheist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
The subject matter deals with the total effort to remove prayer from public schools
in the U.S. as well as Dr. O'Hair's personal philosophy of Atheism.
2 Hours
American Atheist
Set 3
439. . . . . .
Set 4
440. . . . . .
441 . . . . . .

1 Hour
Joseph Lewis on Robert G. Ingersoll
Ingersoll on The Holy Bible, Part I
Ingersoll on The Holy Bible, Part II
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ingersoll on The Holy Bible, Part III
1 Hour
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ingersoll on The Holy Bible, Part IV
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ingersoll on The Holy Bible, Part V
Ingersoll on The Holy Bible, Part VI
Robert G. Ingersoll on Superstition

A beautiful 4" x5%" picture post

card of the Atheist Center in Austin.
Send it to your favorite minister.

Radio Series

Lucifer's Handbook
Lee Carter, PhD
Professor Carter, after 20 years of
extensive research, has compiled all of
the arguments for the existence of god
that have been proposed throughout
the centuries. These arguments, and all
of the objections to them, have been
condensed and simplified.
An Atheist Epic - Bill Murray,
The Bible, and the Baltimore
Board of Education
The complete unexpurgated story
of how Bible and prayers were removed from the public schools of the
United States.
Bible Handbook for Atheists
G.W. Foote & W.P. Ball, Editors
This extraordinary book is a clear,
precise assault upon the basis of JudaicChristianity: a review of the contradictions and irrationalities of the Old
and New Testaments. Atheists seeking
proof of the Bible's fallacies need only
open this Handbook for overwhelming

A Few Reasons for Doubting

The Inspiration of the Bible
Robert G. Ingersoll
Robert Ingersoll is the single best
known Atheist writer and orator, of
all time. In this he presents 61 cornpelling arguments as to the absurdity
of the Bible having come from god.


You have another freedom - freedom from religion. American Atheists,
Inc. is a non-political, non-profit, educational, tax-exempt organization
dedicated to the complete separation of state and church. Membership dues
are $15.00 per person per year, and contributions to American Atheists, Inc.
are tax deductible for you. Members of the organization receive a monthly
copy of "Americn Atheists Insider Newsletter." Membership in the national
organization automatically gives you entrance to your local chapter.
You don't want to miss this road into tomorrow. You will want to be a
part of the decision making, now, for a decent life today as well as in the
What On Earth Is An Atheistl
Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Why I Am An Atheist
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
One of a series of lectures delivered
to universities and colleges across the

For the first time in print, the complete texts of fifty two radio programs
presenting the Atheist Point of View.

Freedom Under Siege, The Impact of Organized Religion

On Your Liberty and Your Pocketbook
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Mrs. O'Hair deals with politics, not religion; with separation of state and
church, and not Atheism. This report shows how your treasured liberties are
slowly being eroded as the churches increase their power over every aspect of
, American life, limiting your freedom of choice and even your access to information regarding those choices.

For more information contact:

American Atheists, Inc.

P. O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768

-.. ~(/'~.,.---