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September, 1984

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought






is a non-profit, non-political, educational organization, dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of
state and church. We accept the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the "First Amendment"
to the
Constitution of the United States was meant to create a "wall of separation" between state and church.
American Atheists are organized to stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning
religious beliefs, creeds, dogmas, tenets, rituals and practices;
to collect and disseminate information, data and literature on all religions and promote a more thorough
understanding of them, their origins and histories;
to encourage the development and public acceptance of a human ethical system, stressing the mutual
sympathy, understanding
and interdependence
of all people and the corresponding
responsibility of each
individual in relation to society;
to develop and propagate a culture 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;
to promote the study of the arts and sciences and of all problems affecting the maintenance,
perpetuation and enrichment of human (and other) life;
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.
Atheism may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and
aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method,
independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and creeds.
Materialism declares that the cosmos is devoid of immanent conscious purpose; that it is governed by its own
inherent, immutable and impersonal laws; that there is no supernatural interference in human life; that man finding his resources within himself - can and must create his own destiny. Materialism restores to man his
dignity and his intellectual integrity. It teaches that we must prize our life on earth and strive always to improve
it. It holds that man is capable of creating a social system based on reason and justice. Materialism's "faith" is in
man and man's ability to transform the world culture by his own efforts. This is a commitment which is in very
essence life asserting. It considers the struggle for progress as a moral obligation and impossible without noble
ideas that inspire man to bold creative works. Materialism holds that humankind's potential for good and for an
outreach to more fulfilling cultural development is, for all practical purposes, unlimited .

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American Atheists - P.O. Box 2117 - Austin, TX 78768-2117

Vol. 26, No.9

September, 1984

Ask A.A.
News & Comments: Mental Circumcision
Reader Service
The Atheist Next Door
Historical Notes
American Atheist Radio Series
Letters to The Editor
Classified Advertising


Atheism as Therapy -- William Talley
Summer Solstice Picnic: Photo Section
They Who Prey Together -- Bret Jason Sinclair
The Philosophy of Science and The Fringes of Reality
Happiness and The Atheist -- Lowell Newby


Towards National Integration -- Margaret Bhatty
Contributions, Idols and Images -- Gerald Tholen
Robin Murray-O'Hair
Editor Emeritus
Madalyn O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Assistant Editor
Gerald Tholen
Angeline Bennett
Geraid Tholen
Production Staff
John Crump
Alexander Stevens
Steve Paige Streeter
Gloria Tholen
Non-Resident Staff
G. Stanley Brown
Jeff Frankel
Merrill Holste
Margaret Bhatty
Fred Woodworth


The American Atheist magazine is published monthly by the

American Atheist Press, 2210 Hancock Dr., Austin, TX 787562596, a non-profit, non-political, educational organization dedicated
to the complete and absolute separation of state and church. (All
rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written
permission is prohibited). Mailing address: P.O. Box 2117/Austin,
TX 78768-2117. Subscription is provided as an incident of membership in the organization of American Atheists. Subscriptions alone
are available at $25.00 for one year terms only. (Frequency
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submitted must be typed, double-spaced and accompanied by a
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ISSN: 0332-4310
1984 by Society of Separationists, Inc.

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On The Cover
In the many mediums of artistic expression
great painters and photographers have always
used a full range of color clarity and/or diffusion. This is because the trained eye has come
to know that any scene can be given unique
qualities simply by changing it's intensity and
detail with slight optical adjustments.
Our cover picture would be equally as
beautiful had the photo been shot during the
brilliance of summer sunlight. Nature has it's
own style in artistry. Who would dare to say
that some scenes, shrouded in rainfall or fog,
are not as beautiful as intensely lighted pictures of mountains or skylines?
If the availability of daylight was constant; if
humidity factors never varied - various settings, month to month, would seldom change
perceptively. One of the attributes of Nature
is that, in most locales, change adds significantly to the beauty of our world. When we peer
into the vagueness of a hazy setting we should
remember that it is the haze that demonstrates the true beauty thereof. When the
horizon is limited the foreground features
become totally different in appearance and
that visual limitation is as much a part of fall as
are the colorful leaves on a clear, crisp autumn
Over the years I have come to understand
thet there are no dreary days. There are only
differences of atmospheric limitations of daylight and every day possesses a beauty of it's
own. Even a pounding hurricane surf has a
uniqueness which is intriguing. Some of the
most famous photos in history were of droughtridden plains and fields. As intelligent living
creatures we should know how to cope with
nature's moods for that is truly one of the
"spices of life" to which poets refer.
Primitive people were fearful of Nature's
occasional "harshness". Indeed, they were
fearful of many things! Yet, any old sea captain
would be the first to say that he'd rather be
tossed in a gale than be tired by a continuing
Many people, I fear, are "mood oriented" by
the changes (or non-changes) of weather. If,
however, one can eventually come to appreciate every day - whether rainy, foggy or
clear - whether hot or cold - life truly
becomes a day to day adventure.
Have a nice one.
Gerald Tholen

Cover Art
Jeff Greenberg

Mail to: American Atheists/P.O. Box 2117/Austin, TX 78768-2117

Austin, Texas

September, 1984

Page 1


Jon G.



have been watching the Democratic National Convention ori

T.V. lately, who hasn't? The networks have the prime time
evening hours monopolized with their coverage of the event. I am
very interested in the outcome of that convention as an Atheist, much
more so than as a backer of the Democrats or any other political
party. My interest stems from a desire to turn the office of the
president, generically, away from being used as a staging ground for
the takeover of our nation by fundamentalist religionists. I support the
Democrats because, in all common sense, they have the best chance
of any political force of stopping the Reagan administration from
continuing for another four years. My Democratic vote in November
will be an anti-Reagan vote and not a vote of acceptance of the total
Democratic platform, although I suppose each individual vote they
get has the substantive effect of putting their platform into power.
I think that one of the most interesting aspects of a national political
party convention whether it be Democratic or Republican is to think
about those who are not represented in the convention hall. No one
seems to realize that many Americans fall into the category of the
"unrepresented" when it comes to our political process as a whole.
Prior to the start of the convention in San Francisco many groups,
some numbering as many as 100,000 or more, demonstrated outside
the convention center. They knew full well that their ideas, their
hopes, their desires for some real change in laws or whatever part of
the accepted and established social conscience they find distasteful,
were not welcome inside the hall. They could only stand, like a child
with his nose pressed against a candy shop window, outside the
convention not even permitted to look in. They also knew that ifthey
tried to exert their right to be heard, to be acknowledged at all, they
could possibly even be beaten by police for their trouble, and some of
them were.
There will be many demonstrations at the Republican National
Convention scheduled for Dallas, Texas. Many people will,no doubt,
be hurt in civil disobedience outside the Dallas convention center as
they try to be heard. The sad part of all of this is that nobody cares.
The convention delegates care more about jumping up and down and
shouting "for their candidate" than they do about their role as a
"representative" of the people at large in the state from which they
came to the convention. It is a "once in a lifetime" thing for these
ordinary people to brush up against governors and senators and be
involved in a prime time nationally televised event. I find this sad to say
the least. I think that both parties ought to be ashamed of themselves
that their national conventions consist mostly of useless windy
platitudinous speeches and wild childlike behavior.
The saddest aspect is that no one has the guts to speak up and call
attention to what is really going on. No one but an Atheist, such as
myself, in a little minority cause journal! Just once I would like to see a
major network anchor person look into the camera with the party
convention floor in the background and say "How foolish!" or 'What
bullshit!" Don't hold your breath for that to happen any time soon .:
No one really wants to listen to pleas for real disarmament, real
actual equal rights for women, real separation of state and church,
substantial relief of the hunger problem, definitive steps toward
improving education. Thse are all issues that belong to the corps of
"unrepresented" persons, the persons who want to "rock the boat"
for the real meaningful change. I have not heard one candidate in the
last year, Democratic or Republican, or any other party, give lists of
real tangible solutions or have one game plan already worked out to
Page 2

September, 1984

alleviate the real problems of economic and political systems that no

longer work.
The chief duty of government is' to care for the health, education
and welfare of the peoplejirst. That duty has now strangely become
last. The only mention of concern for the real world of human
conditions has come from Jesse Jackson but it is so mixed up with
Southern Baptist religiosity you can hardly separate the wheat from
the chaff.
The Democrats talk generally about a nuclear freeze. Yet the
Democrats in both houses of Congress have voted alongside the
Republicans for increased military spending down the line in this
election year. The Democrats speak generally about ratification of
the ERA yet it was voted down in one Democratic controlled state
after another just as in Republican dominated states. The Democrats
speak generally about Central America yet Reagan has received all
the funding for which he has asked for covert and other military
intervention into Central America, from the Democratically controlled House. There is talk about quality education yet both parties
bow to the religious who want a separate government financed school
system of their own. Such a system would only split between the two
systems what limited funds are available from tax revenue to the long
term detriment of both. What for - to appease religious voters!
Neither party will say anything to the creationists and the book
censors in state after state because they dare not offend the religious.
Is the sole purpose of government self-perpetuation? There seems
to be no concern for anything else but getting in power and then
retaining power. What good is that power, I ask, if nothing of true
value for the people is done with it? If our founding fathers had taken
the attitude of trying their best not to offend any group of persons we
would not have had a revolution.
I watched Jesse Jackson speak to the Democratic convention with
dismay. I could not believe that the Jewish community made him
publicly apologize to them on the convention podium and that
afterward their leaders said it was really not enough. Why should a
leader of a powerful and growing influential minority community (25%
of our population) have to grovel for less than 3% of the same on
national television, during a political convention?
I was sad when the roll call vote of delegates came and as state
delegation after state delegation cast its votes I could tell in advance,
even if I had not known how the primaries in those states came out,
which states would show some Jesse Jackson votes. All along
Jackson has received primarily the Black vote and he got the delegate
votes from the states with concentrated Black urban population
centers. Not one person in the news media has balls enough to come
out and say that what it really boils down to is that other than Black
Americans will not vote for a Black for president. We are still at the
point in America where "niggers" are for picking up your trash or
cleaning your house and not for livingin the "White" House. I sat in
front of my T.V. and looked at just that point being made right in front
of me and the look on Jackson's face as the voting continued
confirmed that he knew also he was going no place because he was
Black and for that reason first. Yet no one willsay so openly for any
When Mondale chose a woman for his running mate and the
announcement was first made the press asked Reagan for a comment
on his way out to that ever present helicopter on the White House
lawn. He smiled and said that he was pleased to run against such a
The American Atheist

ticket. Again no one had guts enough to say what the smile and
answer really meant. It meant that Reagan knew that the American
public would not want a woman as president or in a position that she
might become president. The White House is still a man's job in the
eyes of the great majority. So Reagan knew that it would make his
reelection bid easier because Mondale had picked a woman. No one
would publically acknowledge that sexism is a part of the fabric of our
nation, chiefly due to our "religious heritage."
We all know, privately, to ourselves, what is going on. We all know
that we have been acculturated into a position where we will not
accept a Black or a woman in the White House. Face it; that IS the way
it is. We are acculturated to hate the Russians. There is no way that,
Democratic or Republican, we are going to come to any meaningful
arms reduction or elimination agreements with a culture that we have
been emotionally conditioned to hate so much.
Women are seen as "unequal" to men, just plain and simple. In fact,
most women themselves feel inferior because they were taught to feel
inferior - but just won't admit it.
What is necessary is a de programming and reacculturation of an
entire nation and that takes many many generations. It cannot be
done overnight. We all know that the "majority" are still religious,
racist, sexist and hate any other political or economic systems
because they don't know anything about them and don't want to
learn. We sit, however, and play around with the symptoms of these
basic systemic problems. We place a bandage here and a bandage
there. It is like putting a little drop of ointment on each little measle
instead of looking to cure the patient as a whole. Why is the feeling
predominant that if we don't keep doing things the way our fathers
have done them, sticking to the same old problem solving methods,
that the whole nation willcollapse? We need to so something newlike have the kind of revolution that started this nation and I think that
we willfind that we can, indeed, all live through it.
I have some examples of what I am talking about. During the
Democratic National Convention, one of the American Atheist
Chapter officers (John Massen) in San Francisco was instrumental in
having drafted a paper to exhort individual delegates to place the idea
of a "No first strike" pledge on the part of the United States into the
Democratic platform, or on the convention form. He had over 6,000
of these papers printed up and, with his wife driving, he went from
hotel to hotel to hand deliver them to the heads of each of the
delegations, asking them, in turn, to distribute them to each of their
delegates. I heard no mention of "No first strike" on the convention
floor at all. Not alone our Chapter but the idea was simply ignored.
The Texas State Textbook Commission meets regularly to review
and select books for use in the Texas public schools, statewide. This
year they have been reviewing and selecting biology books. Since
Texas is the largest block purchaser of public school texts in the
nation whatever title is selected in Texas is the one the publishers go
with and thus the rest of the states are stuck with the decision of
Texas because that is the only book then published and thus
available. A controversy has been going on here in Austin at the
hearings for some time concerning" creationism" in the biology texts
versus evolution. The National Academy of Sciences, since an 1863
Act of Congress, the officialadvisory body to the Federal government
on questions of science and technology, came out with a position
paper entitled, "Science and Creationism - A viewfrom the National
Academv of Sciences." The conclusion of that paper was that
Creatioriis~ is not science and that the teaching of creationism is not
appropriate as an activity in our public schools. The textbook
selection process in Texas is confined in such a system that since this
paper was published after the deadline for submission of Bills of
Particulars to the Commission members which occurred some six
months or ago, it was inadmissible to them now during the month of
July as they sit in the middle of their deliberations on biology texts!
We have tried everything of which we know, here, at The American
Atheist Center to get copies of this National Academy of Sciences
paper to the Texas State Textbook Commissioners. The staff of the
Commission will not let the information through to them under any
circumstances. Gerald Tholen, the Vice President of American
Austin, Texas

Atheists, even made a direct personal appeal to the Governor of the

State of Texas, Mark White. This culminated in a visit to the state
house to speak to one of the governor's aides - to no avail. We will
not be allowed to "rock the boat" or" change the system." That is the
way their fathers did it and, "by God" that is the way it is going to be Atheists or no Atheists, National Academy or no National Academy.
Over the course of the last two years or so, the House and Senate
of the U. S. Congress have held numerous committee hearings on
state/ church related topics and pieces of legislation. American
Atheists have never been invited to participate in the testimony
process of any of these hearings. All we have been permitted to do is
to send a letter to all of the members of whatever committee it
happened to be. Yet, the religious community has been over represented at each and every hearing. We cannot get in for any reason, no
matter what we try. When hearings are held on ecological issues the
real, strident, determined, hard line ecology groups are always
excluded from the testimony. Groups with other than traditional or
orthodox approaches to problem solving in most areas are not
allowed to get close enough to congressmen to put on their evidence
or be heard at all. Where do they end up? In the street outside the
Capitol to be clubbed by the police.
The point I am trying to make is that we have a closed political
system in this country that operates with blinders on. It works one
way or for one kind of constituency and cannot cope with radical
change, which is what is needed. The system as a whole must remain
intact at all costs and only the window dressing can be changed.
Everyone involved with the system knows this and lives in an
atmosphere where nothing must be said aloud. It is like the fairy tale of
the emperor's new clothes. The whole crowd could see that the
emperor had nothing on but no one dared to speak out.
As an Atheist I see that the emperor has no clothes and I shout out
about it. For my trouble I am vilifiedfor the most part, even by other
Atheists. I am told, "Now we know that Jackson hasn't got a chance
at the White House because he is a 'nigger' but you can't say anything
about that because people willsay you're an anti-semite." Hypocrisy
is exalted. But, let other people say what they may. The Democratic
National Convention in San Francisco was a farce. It was a childish
spectacle at best. If no one else will say so, I will. The Republican
convention to come willbe even more farcical. We need to be talking
terms of doing away with political parties altogether. We have
outgrown them, but no one says anything and no one cares and we
continue with the drollery. ~


A second generation Atheist, Mr. Murray has been the
Diector of the American Atheist Center for 8 years
andjs also the Managing Editor of the American Atheist.
He advocates aggessive Atheism.



September, 1984

Page 3

Dear Friends,
In a letter I wrote to you last January, I
closed with the statement "You do a great
job at The Center and we're behind you
100%."You ARE doing a great job, but there
is one minor but very annoying issue where
we are NOT behind you. That is the issue of
what we do and do not capitalize.
I was taught in school that all proper
names are capitalized. To do otherwise is
incorrect grammar. Ireally don't care whether there was such a person as Santa Clause
or Jesus Christ. I don't care whether two
billionpeople build a religion around Puff the
Magic Dragon. And I don't care whether
there is a single word of truth in the Bible.
The point is that these are proper names
and they should be capitalized.
I may not be as committed to Atheism as
you are, but I AM one of the first 100 life
members. I [recently bought] a computer
which is used at least 75% for American
Atheist business. And judging from the
monthly income report (which is sent to
Chapter Directors each month - ed.),
there aren't many people who donate more
than I. With this level of involvement, it still
seems childish to me to write "jesus christ"
instead of "Jesus Christ." We don't need to
resort to that kind of cheap-shot to discredit
Bible mythology.
As a Chapter Director, I've met my share
of Atheists. I've never heard anyone support
your decision to use lower-case for mythological names. And I've heard a number of
negative comments on it. Whom are you
trying to impress? I'm not impressed. The
Atheists I know aren't impressed. The peopie [to whom you have responded] in the
Letters to The Editor column weren't impressed. The Jeezers certainly aren't impressed. And I don't think ANYONE thinks
more of American Atheists because of it.
The "last straw" that inspired this letter
was when I began reading The Bible Handbook about an hour ago. Your decision to
use lower case in your quotations from the
Bible makes it harder to read. The Bible is
full of words that I don't recognize. When I
see the word "arphaxad," I have to stop and
ask myself what the H-ll an arphaxad is.
However, when I see the word "Arphaxad,"
I know it's a proper name. Probably either
the name of a person, a tribe of people, or a
city. The capitals make it easier to read! And
this applies to articles in the American
Atheist magazine, as well.
Atheists are supposed to be rational individuals. This policy makes us look childish,
both to Atheists and to Jeezers to boot. It
makes our material harder to read. And it
appears to serve no useful purpose. If I
haven't persuaded you to stop this practice,
the least you can do is ask the members
Page 4

what they think. A little piece in the Insider s

(monthly communication to
members only - ed.) asking for comments is
all that's required. And you can let the
members pay for their own stamps. I hope
you haven't gotten P O'd and thrown this
letter away by now. I'm still 99.9% behind
Robert L. Pickering, Director,
Sierra Nevada Chapter American Atheists
Dear Bob,
Several years ago, it was decided to capitalize the words Atheism and Atheist when
they were used as nouns and to lower-case
Atheist when it was used as an adjective. It
was meant as a small token of recognition of
the atheist weltanshauung to set it apart
from other nouns with extra emphasis.
Later, it was also decided to lower case the
word god. For some while, the American
Atheist magazine continued in that mode
concerning the uses of capitalization
Later it was suggested by Richard Smith,
who was at that time Assistant Editor of the
American Atheist, that capitalization of the
names of religious groups - such as 'Baptist' or 'Lutheran'
- lent those groups
dignity. Decapitalization
ensued. Under the same guidance, decapitalizatin of mythological
beings, personalities,
groups and religious places became the
dominant practice in the American Atheist.
Meanwhile, it was suggested by a reader in
the "Letters to The Editor" of May, 1980
that" ... every time we see the words Jesus

Christ in caps we are unconsciously recognizing the 'power' those words can have
over us. " The writer pointed out that in the
"original Greek-Hebrew of the early gospels
'Jesu' meant 'redeemer.' 'Christos' meant
'messiah', from the Hebrew Mashiach 'savior'. " The alternative, he suggested, was
the use of the term "jesuchrist't to "mean 'the
false prophet' or 'the alleged and supposed
Christian messiah '. " The thousand year old
practice of revering someone who had not
existed was not appealing; the use of this
new term began in the American Atheist but
it was not consistently utilized.
The issue of capitalization came to head at
The American Atheist Center with the reprinting of the Bible Handbook. The consistent practice of lower casing mythological
beings, individuals, groups and places does
make it difficult to read the book. After a
string of staff meetings and protracted discussions, it was decided that when the book was
reprinted it would be with all its capitals
When the current editor assumed her
position, she felt that clarity was the most

September, 1984

important consideration.
It is for that reason, that there has been increasing capitalization of terms associated with religion in
recent issues.
A great number of letters, both pro and
con, have been received by The Center
concerning this issue. The best "pro" opinion held that the decapitalization

"slowly but surely will have the effect of

helping people to THINK of this concept (of
gods, etc.) in a more human way. In other
words, by lower-casing 'god' one diminishes
the 'power' of the religionists' use of 'God."
Probably the best "con" argument
we've seen is that by Fred Woodworth,
editor of The Match! which appeared in the
Winter 1983/84 issue of that journal. He
stated, speaking specifically
of changing
existing religious place names and the Christian orientated calendar:

"The clear disadvantages of our adoption

of any idiolect, or specialized jargon, are
that we would be rendered less intelligible to
the rest of the world, often without even any
net gain. , ..
"Expressions such as those being published in The Match are already far enough
outside the mainstream of thought, without
adding strange usages of the language as a
handicap to our making ourselves understood. "





"[H]arking back to religious origins in language is liable to have exactly the reverse
effect of the one intended - it might rereligionize things instead of further secularizing them,"
Both sides have a point.
However, the current editor has decided
that the American Atheist will be abiding by
the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style
by the University of Chicago
Press - with two exceptions: (1) the words
and "Atheist"
when used as
nouns, will be capitalized and (2) the word
"god" will be lower-cased.
Therefore you
may expect standard usage, with these two
exceptions, in allfuture issues of the Ameri-

can Atheist.

In "Letters to The Editor" readers give

their opinions, ideas and information.
But in "Ask A.A." American Atheists
answers questions regarding its
policies, positions and customs,
as well as queries concerned
with factual and historical data.
A. A. invites questions at
"Ask A.A."
P. O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117

The American Atheist



The frustrations and difficulties the various states encounter when dealing with
fundamentalist Christians develops from an
inadequate understanding of the nature of
the beast - religion. The dominant religion
in the United States is Judeo-Christianity,
the latter being firmly rooted in the former,
one of the most insane religions ever to exist
and now a major tragedy in the world. One
only needs to look at the fanatics who fasten
the theocracy of Judaism on Israel and the
Muslin religion on the Arab states, especially Iran and Iraq, to understand the intractable, irrational, positions these religious
leaders take - with their religions rooted in
the Old Testament. Judeo-Christianity became no better with its New Testament
version, as evidenced by the current Pope,
the Falwellians, and the history of JudeoChristianity in the Western World, The
Roman Catholic version, having come to
power by the sword, has left a bloody trail of
oppression throughout history. The birth of
the Protestant religion was through decimatingwars. The Protestant Inquisition matched
the Roman Catholic Inquistion in unspeakable inhuman atrocities. Given its history,
what can humankind expect from JudeoChristianity?
Those who are not acquainted with history learn nothing from it. The fanatical
Jews were unable to live within any other
nation, or their own, even so long ago as an
alleged 1,500 years. Their record is one of
defiance of any secular power, of state and
conquering armies alike. The only way they
were ever "handled" was to be dispersed,
isolated, or annihilated. And, as they formed
small enclaves within other nations they
demanded and obtained, through intransigent behavior, special exemptions from laws
and customs applicable to all.
Jesus Christ was a Jew. In respect to Old
Testament Judaism, he stated that he would
change "not a tittle or a jot." Everyone
seems to have forgotten that.
"The law" of the Old Testament carried
over into the new modified form of Judaism
which came to be known as Judeo-Christianity and its early proponents were not less
inflexible than their mentors, the Jews.
Their quarrels with the Roman Empire were
over their uncompromising adherence to
their emotionally based, irrational New Testament type Judaism.
As the Judeo-Christians implanted themselves in the bosom of our own ill-working
Republic, they have again and again emphasized that they consider the entire United
States to be a nation "under God." They
Austin, Texas

have, indeed, forced the slogan upon the

nation that it is "In God We Trust," not in
our institutions, politics, constitution, or
And, as in the inception of Christianity,
the adamant religious hysteric is found in
the uneducated, the oppressed, the religious, illiterate who feeds on dubious "miracles," - the intellectuallumpenproletariate
of our times. Unfortunately, the substantial
component of middle and upper class JudeoChristians are those who have carefully
been indoctrinated since birth or those who
seek the thrill of the new trinity - excessive
use of alcohol, drugs, and fundamentalist
gurus, whether of the Indian, Korean, or
homegrown Baptist variety.
When on July l lth, 1955 President Eisenhower signed a law which abandoned the
nation's old motto E Pluribus Unum (from
many [people] comes one [nation]) for the
Christian proposed, "In God We Trust," the
handwriting was on the wall. The United
States should have known better than to let
the religious fanatics get out of hand or to
pander to them. However, with the Eisenhewer/Nixon regime doing anything possible to escalate the Cold War between the
good Christian capitalists and the bad Atheist communists, it was "anything goes,"
including the destruction of our precious
heritage of state/church separation.
In the Roman Empire it was the new
Jewish Christians who practiced" civildisobedience," violence, and confrontation. In the
United States, 1600 years later they are still
at it, never - really - having strayed from
their pattern. Ronald Reagan in his July 16th
remarks reiterated it when he slammed the
U.S.S.R. "accusing" the Russians of "putting their nation before God." We, of course,
put ours "second," or "under God" with a
divinity guiding all.
It was axiomatic that in the flowering of
Christian reaction under the Falwellians and
with two born-again presidents (Carter and
Reagan) occupying the White House that
fundamental Christians would come on again larger than life.And it is only within that
context that one can understand the current power struggle between our various
states and the Christian fundamentalists
who care to educate an upcoming generation into their religious insanity.
Always, there is the desire to seize the
next generation. The Jesuits say it clearly,
"Give me a child until he is six and I've got
him." The entire argument in the United
States is for the child. Necessarily, then,
trouble erupts in the schools, over the
September, 1984

schools, and at the primary levels of education. The younger the child, the more easily
malleable is his mind.
The basic battle was fought by the Roman
Catholic Church during the last one hundred and fiftyyears. When immigrants from
Roman Catholic countries flooded into the
United States during the great periods of
immigration, the Roman Catholic Church
saw its children falling away from the parent
religion because of their immersion in the
predominantly Protestant school system. In
fact, the Church has proclaimed, and rightly
so, that if all the immigrants who were
Roman Catholic had remained in the Church,
the nation would have long ago been completely captured by that religion. For a
century and a half the Church struggled to
remove or render ineffective that influence
on their children. In diverse cities throughout the United States armed conflict occurred in the streets, notably in Philadelphia, New York, and Cincinnati. The Church
went again and again to state courts to stop
the use of the Protestant King James Bible
and recitation of Protestant prayers. Finally,
the Church decided to set up an alternate
school system and instituted what has come
to be known as Roman Catholic parochial
schools. As this school system grew it came
into direct confrontation with the truancy
laws of several states which required all
children to attend public schools. After
years of court fights, the issue was resolved
with a decision handed down by the U. S.
Supreme Court on June 1st, 1925, Pierce v.
Society of the Sisters of the Holy Names, 45
S. Ct. 571.This involved the State of Oregon.
There, the Compulsory Education Act,
adopted on November 7, 1922, compelled
all normal children age eight to sixteen to
attend public schools. Pierce, the Governor, was sued by the Roman Catholic
Society ofT he Sisters ofThe Holy Names of
Jesus and Mary and by the Hill Military
Academy, both of which were corporations
desiring to continue their private schools.
Reading the decision, it becomes obvious
that the Supreme Court was swayed by the
amount of money involved, rather than by
any alleged constitutional principles. It noted
that the Roman Catholic order's income
from the primary schools involved exceeded $30,000 a year. That was a simply a
helluva lot of money at a time when eggs
sold for a few pennies a dozen. The Hill
Military Academy's average attendance was
about one hundred, and annual fees received from each student amounted to
some $800 - a total of $80,000 a year. The
Page 5


court noted the teaching contracts, the real
property, and the proprietary interest in
corporate business. It saw the schools as
businesses having an interest in possible
customers, and it granted an injunction
against application of the truancy law to the
students. However, it is apparent that this
was to protect the business enterprise (of
the schools) against interference with the
freedom of patrons thereof. Reliefwas found
in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which provides, basically, for equal
justice under the laws. The issue of religion
was not really relevant.
However, in the course of the decision,
almost as an afterthought, the Court noted:
"No question is raised concerning the
power of the state reasonably to regulate all
schools, to inspect, supervise and examine
them, their teachers and pupils; to require
that all children of proper age attend some
school, that teachers shall be of good moral
character and patriotic disposition, that
certain studies plainly essential to good
citizenship must be taught, and that nothing
be taught which is manifestly inimical to the
public welfare.
"The fundamentalist theory of liberty
upon which all governments in this Union
repose excludes any general power of the
state to standardize its children by forcing
them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature
of the state; those who nurture him and
direct his destiny have the right, coupled
with the high duty, to recognize and prepare
him for additional obligations."
The Roman Catholic parochial school
system thus felt that it had won the right to
its existence in the United States from 1925
forward and has cited the Pierce case as the
legal basis for its right of separate existence.
--....... Almost fiftyyears later, in response, partially, to forced busing for integration, the
fundamentalist Baptists of the nation began
to put together small, primarily "white flight"
schools in their churches. At first the
schools had, often, only a dozen pupils and
generally were conducted in' the churches
themselves. As they struggled with the
educational process, they began to form
into groups for aid in finding or developing
teaching tools, school books, and searching
for fundamentalist teachers. Fundamentalism and not competency in teaching was the
criteria for hiring. They had no powerful,
historically rooted church to assist them.
They had no, or few, college trained faculties. At the time only Herbert Armstrong's
Ambassador College, Oral Robert's University, and some unaccredited bible schools
existed. Later, Bob Jones University and
Falwell's Liberty College could be relied
upon. All four colleges and universities are
an embarrassment to the concept of undergraduate education.
Page 6


Since, also, every state in the Union has

compulsory school attendance laws, it was
inevitable that the various states would
make inquiry as to where allthe children had
gone and as to what the nature of these
small fundamentalist schools was.
Yet, it is difficult to find the cases as one
reviews news clips. inquiries to the religious
institutions bring no response. Bias is obvious in much of the reporting, and gross
errors are apparent, prima facie, in what is
reported. However, it appears that one of
the first encounters between a state and
several fundamentalist schools was in 0 hio.
There, in 1975, twelve parents, including the
church's pastor, were found (criminally)
guilty of violating the compulsory school
attendance law, by placing their children in a
private religious elementary (the Tabernacle Christian) school in Drake County,
Ohio, near the small town of Bradford. (As
one reads this report, it is apparent that this
phenomenon is confined to very small semirural or rural communities.) The church
pastor and school principle, combined, held
classes in the basement of the church.
There were twenty-three students of all
ages, in all twelve grades, in one room.
There were three staff members supervising. Prosecution was for failing to send
children to schools chartered by the state as
meeting certain minimum standards. The
trial court held that eliminating state minimum standards for such religious schools
would deny the children attending those
schools" ... the right to equal educational
opportunies." It ordered that the children be
placed in accredited schools.
Ohio, it should be noted, has a plethora of
private religious schools, of which the number of Roman Catholic parochial schools is
the largest. By and large the old, main-line
religions have no psychological difficulty
with meeting state minimum standards,
when they are applied to them, which is not
often. Since their goal is to capture and hold
the new generation by early, repeated, extensive indoctrination they come into compliance readily in order to keep their religious
enclave intact and unchallenged. In fact,
they are quite active politically to obtain
more and more largess from the state in
order to intensify and proliferate the religious indoctrination they can give to children
through the totally controlled milieu of their
own schools. And, generally, such "nonpublic" (the current euphemism for "religious") schools in most states receive statefinanced textbooks (Board of Education v.
Allen. 88 S. Ct. 1923. 1968), teaching aids
and instructional material, financing of
standardized tests and scoring, speech/hearing diagnostics, therapeutic aid and guidance assistance for students, (Wolman v.
Walter, 97 S. Ct. 2593, 1977), money toward
student lunches, aid toward teacher's salaSeptember, 1984

ries (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 411 U.S. 192,

1973) lunchroom workers' salary supplements, publicly financed transportation if
necessary (Everson v. Board of Education,
67 S. Ct. 504, 1947) money for "mandated"
administrative functions, and other benefits.
in their case, the schools said that the
state requirement that five hours daily be
devoted to standard school subjects "restrains the ability of the school to incorporate its religious teachings." They argued
that standards for teaching citizenship, for
example, reflected "a philosophy of secularhumanism." They particularly objected to
two Ohio state axioms that (1) "Citizens
have a responsibility for the welfare of
others and for being willing to sacrifice for
the common good." and (2) "Organized
group lifeof all types must act in accordance
with established rules of social relationships
and a system of social controls."
The case (State v. Whisner) was appealed
to the Ohio Supreme Court, which reversed
the criminal convictions of the parents on
July 28, 1976.
Almost immediately another case developed in Kentucky. There, the Kentucky
Association of Christian Schools, on behalf
of twenty non-accredited schools, the students in attendance and their parents, sued
the Kentucky Board of Elementary and
Secondary Education in 1977, after the
schools had been denied accreditation. incidentally, at that time, as so often in many
states, the State Board of Education was
headed up by a minister. in this instance, it
was the pastor of a Baptist church in
The decision came on October 4,1978 in
the Franklin Circuit Court. Basically the
holding was that private Christian schools
can operate without state regulation, except
for adherence to minimum fire, health, safety, and attendance requirements. Thejudge
ruled that other state regulations such as
certification of teachers and the use of stateapproved textbooks violated Kentucky and
federal constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of religion.
The state gave notice of appeal. However,
a similar ruling had been handed down in
Vermont where the state had deferred action on measures to give the state greater
control over the private schools. Government officials in that state simply feared that
bills proposed to the legislature by the state
education department (and endorsed by the
Education Board of Vermont) would interfere with the constitutional rights of fundamentalist schools to exist. The planning
director asked the National Council on
State Governments to furnish gUidelines
employed by other states to review private
religious schools. He noted, "Given the
depth of feeling on this issue, it appears that
people are damn well going to make a fight
The American Atheist


of it. We've got to be prepared and on solid
ground if we're going to do anything."
If the research indicated that other states
had failed to gain some measure of legal
control over private religious schools, the
proposed legislation in Vermont would be
scrapped. Two bills were being considered:
one would require private schools to obtain
state approval before opening, the other
would shift the burden of proof from the
state to the parent to show that the education provided to a child was at least equal to
what was available in public schools.
Ohio, Vermont noted, had just given
approval to the schools, and in North Carolina a lower court ruled that the state had no
right to require reports from church related
schools to ensure that all students were
receiving a competent education.
In the Kentucky case the judge specifically noted the "free exercise of religion" right
of the First Amendment to the Constitution
of the United States. He based his decision
on eighty-one separate "findings of fact" in
the case, concluding that standards governing building facilities, library books, and
"other such externals" had no "reasonable"
relationship to student development.
Incidentally, the state was running scared
to challenge these schools and had for its
counsel a former governor who was also a
one-time federal judge.
The case was appealed and the Kentucky
Supreme Court handed down its twelve
page ruling on October 9th, 1979. This was
simply that the state cannot prescribe standards for teachers and textbooks in parochial (or other) private schools. The question involved was found to be how far the
state could go in controlling schools outside
the free public system and ultimately hinged
on an interpretation of Sec. 5, Kentucky
Constitution: "Nor shall any man be compelled to send his child to any school to
which he may conscientiously be opposed."
The judges concluded that this section of
the state constitution did not permit the
state to force "non-public" schools to meet
the same accreditation requirements on
course instruction, books, and teachers as
for public schools. However, it did add that
the state could monitor performance of
religiously trained students through standardized achievement testing.
The brouhaha concerned with "state approved books" centered on the Christian
schools refusal to use any texts that ignored
or discredited the biblical account of creation, which is accepted and taught by the
fundamentalist schools. In regard to the
"teacher certification" issue, the schools
argued that their schools were a religious
mission of their church and taught a fundamentalist Christian doctrine in all subjects.
They affirmed that their religious faith
should pervade every aspect of their living,
Austin, Texas


their church, and their teaching schools.

As these cases surfaced, more and more
often a system of teaching known as AC.E.
was involved. The Denver Chapter of American Atheists was finally able to obtain a 32page brochure put out by AC.E., which is
headquartered in Garland, Texas. Unfortunately it was substantively puff and made as a
propoganda appeal to fundamentalist ministers and parents. The document quotes the
Bible to reassure parents that "The fear of
the LORD" is important for their children
and emphasizes that while church and parents know that "Man is a sinner," the "non-


Christian" - i.e. public - schools teach

that "Man is good." In this brochure, issued
circa 1979, A C.E. was claiming that" A New
Christian School" opens in the United Statesevery seven hours, with two-thirds of them
using AC.E. material. A growth chart on
page eight indicated one school in 1970 and
2,500 in 1978. The only indication of management also appeared on this page.
"Committed to Christian education for a
lifetime, Dr. and Mrs. Donald R. Howard
were determineed to discover how children
learn and how to help them to learn. In 1970,
they planned, selected curriculum, and developed self-instructional, individually prescribed, continuous progress material for
the first forty five children. In September, a
truly Christian school was born, geared to
meet the learning needs of each individual
The pattern of growth was hardly four a
day. In the second year there were eight
such schools. In the third year there were
eighty-seven. By the end of the fourth year
there were two hundred and forty three, a
growth of about sixty a year. In the eighth
year of growth, the schools opened were
alleged to be about 550 a year. It is not
September, 1984

known if those were operational schools or

were simply those which had been negotiated between a pastor and AC.E. Still the
growth was phenomenal going from one
pilot school in September, 1970 to 2,500 in
1979 - a period of nine years.
The appeal was to the minister who could
not find teachers for his fundamentalist
school for with the AC.E. method, the
"teacher is freed from class instruction" and
can work with individual children, who are
going it alone, ("AC.E. materials are selfinstructional.") The children are to "Learn
Math, English, Science, and Social Studies
from God's viewpoint - and do it all for
God!" Every "package" from which the
children learn "quotes the Scriptures and is
carefully planned to glorify God and to teach
and encourage Christian living. Each contains character cartoons which inspire a
child to live a quality of life consistent with
the character traits of our Lord Jesus
In the AC.E. scheme science begins with
the creation story. Every subject centers
"around what God would have us know to
live rightly in His world." All twelve grades
(and one can also go through Junior College) support and teach "the word of God."
Every course of study assumes the Bible is
"God's Word" - and is accurate. Every
subject is taught from "the viewpoint of
eternal values."
In the "sales pitch," for that is what the
booklet is, it is pointed out that a fundamentalist pastor has an ideal background.
He needs only five days of training to take
over as principal, teacher, administrator,
and supervisor. He can use his existing
building. There is no need for separate
rooms for each grade since the school can
be small and include all grades and ages of
children. (The first pilot school, operated by
the Howards, was large with forty-five children.)
Bound into the 32 pages was a copy of a
speech which had been delivered in Garland, Texas,on November 19, 1977, by the
founder. This called for the "rebirth" of our
nation and pointed out that each prior
"rebirth" was directly proportional to the
depth and duration of Christian education
outreach. The "fundamental truth" which is
the basis of such "rebirth" is:
" ... that God created everything and that
God entered this world through the body of
a virgin; that He lived a perfect, sinless life;
that He performed miracles; that He died a
substitutionary death on the cross; that He
rose, literally rose, from the dead and ascended into heaven and sits on the right
hand of the throne of the universe."
"Fundamentalism teaches that man is by
nature sinful, that he is born a lost sinner,
that men who are lost go to a literal burning
hell, that men can be saved by grace
Page 7


through faith, by the operation and instrumentality of the Holy Spirit as a work of
grace and mercy, and then man saved can
go to heaven."
The entire educational program for innocent children is based on these premises. To
make certain that the program would remain in this mode, a statement of faith and
practice must be signed by all persons
involved in the development of the program,
materials, and curriculum that "We believe
in the inspiration of the Bible, equally in all
parts and without error in its origin."
By 1979, AC.E. had reached out to
establish some of the then 2,500 schools in
Canada. Australia. New Zealand. the Philippines, Spain, Norway, Ghana, Liberia,
Great Britain, Sirre Leone and India. But, a
careful note added that AC.E. must not be
identified with any church that is a member
of the National Council of Churches or the
World Council of Churches.
It is sickening that small, innocent, trusting children are the projected victims of
such tutelage.
By 1981 some hard media took a look
back to the Ohio case and found that God's
Tabernacle School, with absolutely no pretense of conforming to the state's minimum
standards, had grown to 110 students. A
classroom had been built behind the church
in 1975 and a recreation building in 1977.
The staff then comprised nine persons.
Before a child could be enrolled it was
necessary to sign an agreement to dress
. modestly, participate in Bible instruction,
show respect for school property, teachers,
and fellow students. Prayer was said three
times a day and discipline included the
biblically enjoined "Spare the rod and spoil
the child" of corporal punishment. God's
Tabernacle School was, by then, a fullblown AC.E. school.
In Rhode Island, the state Board of Education notified every school district to take
action against uncertified fundamentalist
religious schools and particularly pointed
out those in Woonsocket and Warwick. The
legal counsel for the Commissioner of Education noted, " ... if you look at the General
Laws (of Rhode Island) you can see the
requirements laid down by the legislature
for school approvals. What we're saying is
you've got to conform to those, otherwise
you're not going to get approval." The
response of the two schools in Woonsocke
and Warwich was to file a lawsuit (in 1979)
challenging the state's authority to approve
either the establishment or the continuing
operation of religious schools. The Baptist
principal/pastor in Warwick conceded that
the state had a legitimate interest in education so that children could be reasonably
able to function as citizens upon attaining
adulthood. "But we're not going to say our
school exists by state authority. It exists by
Page 8


God's authority, not the state's." The state

went the route of attempting to enforce
truancy laws to coerce compliance with the
state law.



The same problem appeared in Maine.

There, where 25 percent of the schools are
religious, it was conceded that the situation
was volatile. About one-half of the religious
schools are fundamentalists, now formed
into the Maine Association of Christian
Schools. But, again the issue was licensure.
For the opening school term of 1980, eight
new fundamentalist schools operated without state approval. But the education commissioner and the attorney general were
intimidated when faced with fundamentalists and announced that they would take no
action against the schools until the state
had a firm grasp of its legal position."
However, the Association decided in 1981
that it would sponsor a bill in the legislature
exempting Christian schools from stateregulations. With both the Maine Council of
Churches and the Roman Catholic Church
schools opposed to-the exemption bill the
legislature's Joint Education Committeegave it an adverse report. It was killed in the
House when that body's members voted to
"indefinitely postpone" action by a roll call
vote of 102 to 42.
And, no wonder that there is such hesitancy. The head of the Maine Association of
Christian Schools issued a broad challenge:
"They (the state) would never even suggest that they (the state) could regulate our
Sunday school; so here's what we maintain:
that just as we have a Sunday school, we
have a five-day-a-week school We have a
Monday school, aT uesday school, Wednesday school, Thursday school, and Friday
school - and that this school is an integral
part of the church. And just as the government does not have the power to regulate
the educational aspects of this church, it has
no right or authority to tell us what we're
going to teach, how we're going to teach,
H ..

September, 1984

and who is going to teach in our school."

In the debates, the legislature pointed out
the two ends of the argument:
(1) Any group can say it is a church and
teach what it wants to teach.
(2) Fundamentalist church schools are neither asking for nor taking anything from the
government, so why should they be governed? One could, of course, say that about
almost any family in the United States, or
even about Sears Roebuck.
Fifteen other fundamentalist schools discovered a philosophical difference between
themselves and this Maine Association of
Christian Schools and founded their own
organization which they called Christian
Schools of Maine. The philosophical differences were not spelled out with such specificity that the media could report on it
except to note the conclusions of all concerned: "We are not going to relinquish our
books because we are not schools. We are
ministries of our churches."
The Department of Education, meanwhile, bent over backwards, including the
granting of waivers to four schools that did
not choose, because of their religious convictions, to seek certification or approval by
the state. The Bangor Baptist Church
School was, meanwhile, adamant that it did
not need to have state approval, or maintain
and report ec'ucation records.
In Indiana, the state penal code was
amended in 1978 to give the Commission on
General Education authority to determine if
a "child is being provided with instruction
equivalent to that given in a public school."
However, the State School Superintendant
is afraid to enforce the law. A representative
of the Indiana Federation ofT eachers, which
supports the law, can only opine that " ... if
the private schools are as superior as they
The American Atheist


claim to be, I should think they'd no fear of
minimum standards." But, in the meantime,
the fundamentalists have descended on the
Indiana Legislature to see if they can press
that body into a repeal of the law.
But, what was to become the main show
was just then slowly heating up in Nebraska.
There, Louisville, population 1,022, sits on
the South Platt River and a rail line and is the
home of Ashland Cement and Lime Co. The
business district is just two blocks long. In
1976 a new preacher came to town to run
the seventeen member Faith Baptist Church.

He was Everett Sileven, age 47, from Missouri. His father had been an itinerant
Southern Baptist preacher in Muskogee,
Oklahoma. He, himself, held a doctorate in
theology from Faith Baptist Theological
Seminary in Morgantown, Kentucky. Taking the Bible as the literal and indisputable
word of god, he had always felt that the
Southern Baptists were too liberal. And, in
1977, he began a small A.C.E. school in the
basement of his little red- brick church, just
on the edge of town. His daughter, Tresa
who had a master's degree from HylesAnderson College, an unaccredited Bible
college in Hammond, Indiana, was put in
charge of the school. Both Sileven and his
daughter felt that she was certified to teach
by the Lord. "I dedicated my lifeto the Lord,
not the state. The Lord led me to teach.
Why should I go to the state to ask permission?" The school began each day with a
pledge of allegiance to the Christian flag,
then to the Bible and then to the flag of the
United States ("... under God ..." of course),
in that order.
The Superintendant of schools in Louisville heard about the teaching activity in the
church basement and asked Sileven for the
chidren's education records. There were
none. Since the youngsters were violating
Austin, Texas


the Nebraska truancy laws, the state sent

out two consultants to advise the church on
how to have its teachers certified, how to
meet basic educational standards, and how
to become a legitimate school. Sileven reo
fused to answer questions, refused to cornply with an standards, and took the fundamentalist hard line that what he and his
church did was not the business of the state.
He then described himself as " ... a Christian
who practices the old-fashionedBible-believing
Christian faith as known since the time of
Christ and practiced prior to the founding of
the United States or the State of Nebraska."
And he declined any compliance with the
No one could then envisage that this small
church could become a focal point of the
fight for all the Christian academies. The
two visitors had come to tell Sileven that
Nebraska required certification of teachers,
basic requirements as to the length of the
school day, and certification of instructional
materials. Instead, it was another in a series
of events which would bring religion and
Nebraska to a confrontation which would
reverberate across the nation.
In Nebraska there are approximately 30,000
students in religious schools, of which about
two hundred are in fundamentalist Christian
academies. As in every other state of the
union, the Roman Catholic, the Jewish, the
Lutherian, and other main-line churches
were in compliance with laws governing the
health, education, and welfare of school
aged children. The difficulty the state was
having was only with the fundamentalists,
and Sileven was not to disappoint the expectations of trouble with compliance by
Faith Christian School. The state was in the
embarrassing position of dealing with complying religious schools and non-complying
religious schools. The former could hardly
be held to their task if the latter refused to
assume theirs. But Sileven did refuse to
answer to the Board of Education concerned with the children or the school. He
refused to apply for creditation either for his
school, his teachers, his texts, or his required reporting.
The fight in Nebraska, involving a church
with 17 members, was to begin now to
weave itself into and out the on-going struggle between what soon came to be known as
"Christian academies" and the diverse
states. It is now taking on such symbolic
significance that it has become a focal point
for a national religious putsch.
In September, 1979, the district judge of
Cass County ordered the school to close
because it was not in compliance with
Nebraska law. In another action the State of
Nebraska ordered twenty-one other churchsponsored Christian academies closed, all
of which refused to comply with state requests for accreditation information. SevSeptember, 1984

eral of these, notably congregations in North

Platte and Grand Island were absolutely
recalcitrant. In North Platte, the church and
the minister were each ordered to pay fines
of $200 for each day their school remained
From 1979 to 1984 the story in Nebraska
has become tarnished and ugly along the
way. Wire services report that the people in
the small town of Louisville are tired of
Sileven, tight-jawed and angry when a reporter tries to get a story. But piecing it together
as best as possible, Sileven refused to report
how many children were in his school, what
they were being taught, who was teaching
them, and whether or not the teacher was
ceritified. The local authorities sought the
help of a judge to command the information.
Sileven immediately got to the press to
inform the nation that he and the seventeen
members of his congregation opposed abortion, Communism, socialism, the proposed
Federal Equal Rights Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States, homosexuality, sex education in schools, gun
control, the United Nations, court-ordered
busing, and "long hair on boys and men." All
eighteen, if one counts the pastor Sileven,
supported prayers in school, the death
penalty, and Ronald Reagan. And they all
affirmed that state regulations, including
teacher certification requirements violated
their constitutional guarantees of religious
freedom. When Sileven refused to give any
information concerned with his school, the
local judge, having been told by the school
authorities that there was no compliance to
their knowledge, under the existing laws of
the state of Nebraska ordered Sileven in
September, 1979, to close his school, which
was not, the judge said, in compliance with
Nebraska law, so that the children involved
could be sent, by their parents, to fully
accredited schools.
Sileven refused to do so. His reply was to
state that "We have to determine who to
answer to - the judge or God. We do not
look at the courts as being the final authority." And after over two years of negotiations and a direct defiance of a court order,
the judge - on November 29th, 1979 issued a bench warrant for Sileven's arrest
for contempt of court. He had agreed to
close the school on several occasions, but
each time (probably at the instigation of the
Lord) thought better of it and reopened it.
Promising to reopen his Faith Christian
School on November 30th he had gathered
supporters from across the nation to witness the event. And, he told the ministers at
a motel, which had been used as a rallying
place, that "Those dirty rats are taking me
to jail. Open the school tomorrow." At that
time he had about 57 days left on a fourmonth sentence imposed for his refusal to
obey a court order that the school comply
Page 9


with state education standards or be closed.
It was only the beginning. And the media
solemnly noted that Sileven frequently and
publicly asked his god to convert, restrain,
remove, or kill any state or county officials
trying to close his school.
All of the fundamentalists gathered to
support him continued to claim that their
children's education must be "God centered," with the teaching of history, science,
and mathematics based on the Bible and
that to apply for certification (or give information as to whether or not they met
standards) was to elevate the state over
their god.
In its approach, the State of Nebraska,
through its spokesmen, said simply that it
required all schools to meet minimum standards and that allteachers must be certified.
It insisted that it (the state) had no interest in
impeding anyone's right to worship. The
Nebraska official responsible for certifying
public schools stated that the fundamentalists were "being very immature." He went
on, "They have chosen to be lawbreakers.
That's what it amounts to. They have put
themselves out as martyrs for some kind of
religious cause. So what do you do? You put
them in jail." For, Nebraska and seven other
states require that all teachers have degrees
from four-year colleges and be certified in
accordance with the law.
The news accounts are very confused,
but apparently Sileven would agree to close
the school, get out of jail, and subsequently
reopen it. This continued until 1980 when
the judge had to deal with the dilemma that
the school was in the church. To close down
the school, he was required to close down
the church. To circumvent this, he ordered
that the church be padlocked against school
activity but be open for church services.
Sileven was charged with contempt of court.
Some reports say that the four-month sentence was given at this time. He was released after serving ten days when he promised, again, to close the school down. One
report is that "county officials" had locked
the church; another that "state officials" had
done so.
The disputed court order, in any event,
went up on appeals, but the Nebraska
Supreme Court upheld the Cass County
court in its order to close the school down.
Basically the ruling was that the state was
within its rights to require that all private
schools, including ones based on religion,
meet basic requirements as to length of day,
teacher certification, and instructional materiels. And, in 1981 the U. S. Supreme
Court declined to hear an appeal for a
review of the Nebraska Supreme Court's
decision. Both the state officials and the
pastors agree that the single issue is one of
control. The Cass County school superintendant noted, "I have been upheld in the
Page 10


courts. They (the fundamentalists) have lost

their case. The other private (religious)
schools comply." And, showing the state's
willingness to compromise, he added, "Their
teacher probably could be certified."
The response of the fundamentalists was
a large protest rally held in the small community in 1981, with Jerry Falwell in attendance.
Meanwhile, Sileven determined to stump
the country to rally other fundamentalists to
his cause and to avoid Nebraska where
warrants periodically were issued for him.
He showed dramatic videotapes of the
church's doors being padlocked and compared his previous jailings to the experience
of "the Apostle Paul." One such church, in
McLean Virginia, held a promotion for the
American Party in connection with Sileven's
visit there. The American Party was established in 1968, under the name of the American Independant Party, to handle the candidacy for president of (then) Governor
George Wallace of Alabama. With the later
name change to the American Party, it still
retains a radical right political flavor.
In a four month period, Sileven claimed to
have appeared in five hundred churches
(that works out to three and one-third
churches every day of the week, with little or
no time for even a day of travel between
cities.) He has appeared on as many television and radio progams as he has been
able to reach. An Arvada, Colorado, appearance was typical. While in that city, he
said about the United States, "I believe we
are under the curse of God. I believe that
God's wrath is being shown toward a nation
that has turned its back on God. I believe
that God is allowing our nation to be swallowed up in foreign hostilities and He is
allowing inflation and unemployment and
many other things." he said,listing droughts,
extreme cold, and volcanic eruptions.
In Michigan, meanwhile, the Bridgeport
Baptist Academy was in trouble. There, the
state education department had filed suit to
seek its suspension for failing to submit
annual reports on the number of students
and to confirm that their teachers were
At the Bridgeport Baptist Academy the
children four to eighteen years of age were
enrolled in another A.C.E. school. The day
began with a Pledge of Allegiance, a stanza
of "America," prayers outloud, and fortyfive minutes of Bible study. The school
refused to inform the state if its teachers
were certified. The media alone had information, and that was that the Academy
required its teachers to be "born-again,"
regard teaching as a spiritual calling, and live
by biblical standards. Both schools acknowledged that they hired teachers not certified
by the state but explained that certified
teachers usually attended institutions which
September, 1984

lead to certification and did "not receive the

religious training the schools desire."
Joined by the Sheridan Road Baptist
Church of Saginaw, the Bridgeport Baptist
Academy filed a counter suit against the
State Board of Education. Both operated
kindergarten through grade twelve classes
in their church buildings.
Throughout Michigan, reporters found
the schools growing. In Royal Oak, the
Luckett Christian Academy held that the
Bible was an integral part of the curriculum
and that allclasses (including Algebra) should
begin with a prayer. However, this school's
Board had decided to make certain that all
of its teachers were certified. In Allen Park,
the Inter-City Baptist School, held T-shirts
as taboo, frowned on blue jeans, had allmale
teachers and students wearing neat shirts
and ties and all female instructors and
female students in traditional skirts. And,
before lunch, there was a ten minute devotional which consisted of the Pledge of
Allegiance, hymn-singing, and prayers led
by two students. The Calvary Christian
School in Rosedale was adamantly opposed
to the "humanistic philosophy" of the public
schools. In Pontiac, the much touted Christian love seemed to evaporate as the Heritage Christian School reported that one
parent had to withdraw his child because of
lack of funds since the Michigan economy
was down. No pay - no education, sweet
Jesus or not. In Holland, the Rose Park
Baptist Academy lost a lawsuit against the
state when ajudge ruled the church building
did not meet state building codes. Although
the school was moved into a separate
building, an appeal was filed on the principle,
"If our church building is safe on Sundays,
then it's safe on Mondays." Near Clarkston,
the principle of the eleven-year-old Springfield Christian Academy, which now had 600
children, vowed to go to jail" ... before I'll let
the state dictate to us how we should run
our school." And, well he might. With 600
children at a tuition rate of $800 a year, he
had almost half a million dollars a year at
stake. The head of the Fruitport Faith
Christian School, supporting Sileven, was
later to show up in Nebraska.
Of the 1,000 parochial schools in Michigan, only 100 of the small, fundamentalist
"Christian academies" had refused to submit required information. But all the hesitancy and problems were over when, on
December 29, 1982, a Circuit Court Judge
in Ingham County outlawed provisions of a
1921 Michigan law requiring teachers in
non-public schools to be certified by the
Michigan Department of Education.
The state had argued that the" ... purpose of teacher certification serves a compelling state interest." The judge's response
"This court fails to see a compelling state
The American Atheist


interest in requiring' non-public schools to
be of the 'same standard' as public schools
in the same district. Such a scheme does not
ensure even a minimum degree of quality of
education.. _
"The overwhelming weight of evidence
shows teacher certification
does not insure teacher competency and
may even inhibit teacher competency."
The judge further ruled that the 61-yearold law" __. interferes with the practice of
plaintiffs' (the parents' and the schools') legitimate religious beliefs."
"This court IS of the opinion that (the law)
interferes with plaintiffs' (the parents' and
the schools') constitutional rights to freely
exercise their religious beliefs. Defendants
(the state and the Board of Education) have
failed to show that teacher certification is a
reasonable or effective means to carry out a
legitimate state purpose. Further, this court
is of the opinion that teacher certification
causes excessive government entanglement with religion."
He did, however, uphold the state's right
to impose on the Christian schools health
and safety requirements (to which they had
not objected.) The judge caustically pointed
out that each student who leaves a public
school deprives the local school district of
about $2,000 in state aid and that hence the
state is not a disinterested party merely
looking after the educational welfare of the
Asked if the religious schools could now
hire illiterate teachers. the Michigan attorney general's office sadly noted, "Well, I
guess you'd have to say so," and then
immediately appealed the ruling.
At the same time 10 Massachusetts the
assistant attorney general was asking a civil
court to impose a $lDO-a-day fine on two
ministers who operated the Grace Bible
Church Christian School in Dracut, Massachusetts until that school reported the
names, ages, and residences of its thirty
Back in Nebraska, the fundamentalists,
with Sileveri prodding them, had finally
rallied behind him en masse. Ministers often
came to Louisville, Nebraska, by the hundreds and took part in frequent prayer
services and rallies in defense of both
Sileven and his school. It was about in
1981/2 that the telephone call/letter/visiting
campaign began. If radio, television, newspaper, wire services, or networks did not tell
the story the way the fundamentalists wanted
it told, or as often, they were harrassed.
Hundreds of telephone calls to government
officials, and television stations were made.
Hourly calls went to newspapers. Floods of
calls everywhere would freeze the switchboard. Scores of calls were deliberately
made throughout the night to state and local
officials. A discouraged state education
Austin, Texas


commissioner noted, 'There are many ways

of getting that certificate, but the schools
and their people have refused to even apply
to learn what is required."
Indeed Sileven stone-walled and was
jailed in September, 1982 when, again, he
reopened the school. On October 18th, the
county sheriff and some state troopers
found it necessary to enter the church, drag
out all the pastors and padlock the church
once more. A few days later 1,000 pastors
descended on the town. The school stayed
in operation and more court orders ensued.
Once more Sileven promised to close down
the school and did not. When the state
authorities padlocked the school doors, this
time he defiantly held classes in a bus.
In May, the I.R.S. had filed a fax lien for
$1,805.40 on Sileven's property for failure to
pay taxes. It was after this that Sileven spit
on the steps of the Statehouse in Lincoln
and asked god to strike the legislators
dead. But no one was struck dead, and in
November the I.R.S. was back again, this
time filing another lien against Sileven for
$21,753. According to the I.R.S. office in
Omaha, Nebraska, recently, the liens were
still on file.
By the end of 1982, the number of fundamentalist preachers who were rallying to
protest an "assault on religious freedom"
had been reduced to somewhat over a
hundred. But, they were there to plot as to
how they could practice civil disobedience,
while they continually lobbied the Nebraska
legislature to have the laws changed.
Early in 1983 Time magazine decided to
look at the situation and estimated that the
current enrollment of minor children in the
independent fundamentalist Christian academies had reached 600,000. The Detroit
News reported the figure as 313,000, relying
on statistics of the Association of Christian
Schools International of Whittier, California. Either figure was staggering, to know
that this many children were being subjected to the brutalization of their minds
through ugly fundamentalist Judeo-Christian education.
Not alone are the psychological costs
going to be high, but the schools' tuition
wasn't cheap. It typically ran about $900 to
$1,100 a year, some schools being even
And Time noted the dichotomy of two
democratic values: (1) the right to religious
liberty and (2) the state's obligation to
ensure that children have access to free (soto-speak.) adequate education.
Education has always been seen in the
United States as a panacea for all of the
nation's ills, the route to individual upward
mobility, the hope of the oppressed, and the
vehicle through which immigrants become
acculturated to our society. To enforce the
founding fathers' dream of an educated
September, 1984

electorate, all fifty states have compulsory

school attendance laws and eight (or ten,
depending on what wire service is reporting)
require their private (religious or not) schools
to use state-certified teachers. Generally,
the states require that the teachers be
college graduates with a certain number of
education credits and practice-teaching hours,
In Irvington Christian Academy in Houston, everything is different. There, to go to
the bathroom a student must raise a small
white flag (with a blue cross in the corner.)
As each individual student, in a small work
cell, plugs away at his individual "self instructional" packet of materiel, or workbook, he
may ask for help by waiving an American
flag. Even Grenada was not required to do
that! There are no teachers. There are only
monitors who can assist within the framework of that individual packet of informational material. There is no homework.
There is no extra reading. The Bible is the
fundamental book. And, all the children are
dressed in identical "god-and-country," redwhite-and-blue uniforms. AC.E. was blooming, and Newsweek magazine took a look at
the schools. finally, in early 1983.
The reporters visited to find out something about Donald R. Howard's AC.E. and
received reports that 4,500 schools and
250,000 students were involved with AC.E.
(Accelerated Christian Education) at the
time. If one adds this to the report from the
Detroit News, the figure does come close to
the 600,000 Time found in such fundamentalist Christian academies. AC.E.'s schools
still range from meager church basement
operations with a few dozen pupils to thriving centers for hundreds of them. And, the
programs are marketed through the Texas
based company. Howard has his doctorate
from the non-accredited Jones University.
And, in 1970, he and his wife (supra p. 7)
started AC.E. for fundamentalist parents
like themselves.
Now Howard franchises (he calls it "associating") the product. The beginning fee
for an AC.E. school is only $5,000. And for
4,500 schools that counts up to a tidy
$22,500,000 in initial fees alone which he has
collected in the last thirteen years. That
pays for a pastor to become a principal in a
magic five-day ritual and then to have him
"own a school" in his church. School administrators and educators ordinarily need
master's degrees in the subject to take over
a state school, but that is without the Lord at
their side. AC.E. then supplies the pastor
with workbooks, texts and tests. Also for
sale are the "God-and-country" uniforms,
the little stalls which hang on a wall and
which are called "room dividers," desks,
even pencil sharpeners. After all, if everything was not available from a Christian, the
client school might have to do business gawd forbid - with secular or even HuPage 11


manist providers. AC.E. trains classroom
supervisors also in another magic single fiveday program, with a later two-day follow-up
session. The current operation is projected
at $15,000,000 a year, or approximately
$3,500 in annual sales to each of the existing
4,500 schools. That's more money than
Jesus Christ took in.
The main principle of the program is still
that teaching is not important. In all AC.E.
schools, no one teaches. The students each
receive one packet of information or a workbook for each of twelve levels corresponding to twelve grades in the public schools. At
the pupil's own pace, regardless of age, he
must finish the packaged assignments to
advance to the next level. Each package is
called a PACE (acronym for Packet of
Accelerated Christian Education.) Monitors
are in the class to ensure discipline, only. Ifa
child asks a question which is not answered
in the packet. a monitor may not be able to
answer it. Relying only on themselves and
god, each student sits locked into the quiet
of the room and his confining "horse blinkers" stall. Alltests are graded by the student
(except the final) and the student repeats
one grade level workbook until he can attain
a grade of 80% on the final test.
Newsweek pointed out some idiosyncracies of some of the packets. The third grade
Social Studies PACE teaches the nine-yearold that "... the study of history is important
because it teaches that when people did
right, God blessed them." A fifth grade
English PACE instructed the copying of
sentences from the Bible. The twelfth grader, being more sophisticated, may now find
out that Jews and Roman Catholics "deny
the power of the livingGod" and so lack "the
inner power to live a truly Biblical, and
therefore a truly free life."
The Dallas Morning News pointed out
several others. One English course had
students diagraming the sentence, "Our
loving Saviour talked with the children." A
Social Studies sample taught about love and
obedience. "My father and mother love me.
... I want to obey my father and mother ... I
want to always obey God, too." The antievolution science book states "God made
all life." And concludes, "All that God made
is good." One cartoon illustrating a Math
book admonishes, "Do your best. Ask Jesus to help you." At the conclusion of the
illustration, a young boy just finished with
the test, sits at his desk with folded hands
praying, "Thank You Jesus, for Your help."
Falwell, who heartily endorses AC.E.,
wants as many "Christian academies" in the
U.S. as there are public schools by the year
Believe it or not, between the state and
the fundamentalist pastors a core part of the
issue is whether or not AC.E. students are
as well educated as are public school stuPage 12


dents. Any Atheist could settle that argument in ten seconds. But, this issue is so
charged with emotion it is "difficult to ascertain the truth." AC.E. declared in its 1979
puff that student coming to AC.E. directly
out of the public schools were able to
increase their test scores after a year in
AC.E. One fundamentalist Christian principal (Glad Tidings Institute in Sherman,
Texas), however, found that about twenty
of his high-school-Ievel students in the former AC.E. school needed remedial work.
"The students would ask the teachers questions about math and the teachers didn't
know what they were talking about because
the questions were not answered in the
packets." Another principal, Brazosport
Christian School in Lake Jackson, Texas,
found AC.E. students far below grade level
when tested. Often, however, the question
of how well the children are taught is
academic since those who continue their
education after they leave the Christian
academies often proceed to Christian colleges or Bible schools and the others may go
directly into the work force, or into marriage
and housekeeping. The Association of Christian Schools International has established
its own accreditation and certification standards and insists that in 1973, 11,000 students in 66 Christian schools in Maryland
took the California Achievement Test and
scored 25 percent higher than the national
public school average on the same test. It
could be possible because the public
schools are required to take all comers,
whereas the private Christian academies
take a select few.
Also. it is not known if the christian
programs see that children willbe especially
prepared for particlar achievement test.
A C.E. has not claimed that it has established
either accreditation or certification standards
of its own.
Meanwhile, back in Nebraska, more than
a hundred and fifty ministers came from
around the country in early 1983 to a protest
this time planned by a fundamentalist minister out of Wheaton, Illinois. Rather than
send their children to a state accredited
school, some of the parents had fled the
state. Sileven was, himself, out beating the
bushes for support. "They have been forced
to live out of suitcases, to run like a pack of
hunted animals," the Wheaton minister said
about Sileven and the parents involved.
"The school is a part of the church ministry,
and the state has no right to regulate it in any
way. You simply have to take a stand
somewhere." Along the line, Sileven had
been sentenced to eight months in jail unless
the parents of all former students enrolled
their children in schools approved by the
Nebraska Department of Education. And,
in one brief instance while he was in jail, the
parents decided that they would not enroll
September, 1984

their children in state certified schools, even

though doing so would ensure the release of
their pastor. Their basic reason was "Jesus
Christ is Lord of our lives. We cannot serve
another God."
And in the interim Sileven was successful
in gaining support. The Christian Law Association of Cleveland, Ohio, assisted by
supervising fundraising, as Sileven's first
contempt conviction is being appealed to
the U. S. Supreme Court. Also, the Concerned Women for America. Washington.
D.C. based, has supplied a lawyer to represent the Nebraska Christian schools at a
neannq for the North Platte school scheduled for late July, 1984 (well after the time
01 the wntmg 01 thrs aructe.) lhe Association of Christian Schools International,
the California-based group revealed that it
represents about 2,000 Christian academies
and pledged its support. The executive
director of that association declared, "It is
absolutely outrageous that a parent in Nebraska who is sending his child to a school
that is academically superior to a public
school can be arrested for doing it." Naturally, he claimed that students in his system
of schools "do better on standardized tests
than public school students" (always citing
the Maryland test) and that accreditation
standards of his association were adequate
to insure quality education, the state standards au contraire.
It all helped, and at the beginning of the
school year, in September, 1983, a panel
was appointed by Nebraska's Governor,
Bob Kerry, who hoped that suggested legislative remedies to the situation would be
ready fora February, 1984,report. The "Christian-School Issue Panel" consisted of an
attorney, a law professor, and two educators.
And, in the interim period a fundamentalist minister from Liberty, Missouri, was
brought in to be "acting pastor" at the
church. However, as the year drew on, the
seven fathers of the pupils who had attended Silven's Faith Christian School finally returned to appear in Court on November 27th. They not alone refused to testify, but refused to give their names during a
court hearing for a state-sought injunction
to close the unaccredited school. Sileven
and his daughter, Tresa Schmidt, failed to
appear to answer their contempt citations.
The judge then issued fugitive warrants
against both. The seven fathers were jailed
for contempt of court on that day, which
was the day before Thanksgiving, thus giving the fundamentalists more emotional
ammunition. Off they went, carrying their
Bibles with American flags affixed to their
lapels. It was the second time in jail for
several of them.
The seven mothers mothers involved, for
whom warrants had also been issued, had
The American Atheist


fled Nebraska to avoid arrest. Later, they
surfaced for a press conference in a motel in
Council Bluffs, Iowa, in early December,
1983. They revealed that one father is a
World War II veteran, another fought in
Vietnam, and a third in Korea. The women
and children were billeted in Missouri. The
mothers also emphasized that a tenet of
their worship is "God centered" education
for their children and that the teaching of
history, science, and mathematics must be
Bible based. If the parents were anything, It
was completely loyal to Sileven.
The school had twenty-seven pupils, until
the mothers and children fled. When it was
reopened after the Christmas recess there
were only four pupils left. These, later, were
allegedly "sent to nearby Christian
The prominent religious leaders who publicly expressed sympathy with Sileven's
plight included Jerry Falwell; James Draper,
president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Jimmy Swaggart, and Tim LaHaye. It
was the latter who rallied political support
for Reagan among the fundamentalists in
the 1980 presidental election. Sileven now
states that the fundamentalists who supported Reagan in those elections may withold support in 1984 since Reagan has done
little to help. "We're tired of a president who
talks good, but doesn't do anything," Sileven whined. He was referring to the fact
that he had demanded that Regean fire
James Baker who had refused to meet with
In late December, 1983, Jesse Jackson
-then in Chicago - met with Sileven and
two other fundamenlists, including the president of the Church League of America,
based in Wheaton, Illinois.
More than two hundred supporters from
thirty-eight states immediately gathered in
Louisville. The telephones were manned
twenty-four hours a day. Each minister
would "make ten calls to supporters and ask
each of them to make ten calls." Then, they
were asked to ask those ten persons "to
make ten calls to other persons who might
be sympathetic and ask them, each, to
make ten calls first and then another ten
calls to solicit ten more supporters." The
telephone banks were under the supervision of the Fruitport, Michigan, pastor
who proudly proclaimed, "We are told that
we were generating two to three calls. a
minute to the White House."
Another minister bragged, "In 1982, we
generated 250,000 calls to the White
House." as "the word was put out" through
the network of fundamentalist Christian
radio and television programs. The Nebraskans were especially plagued. The state official responsible
for certifying private
schools noted that he was awakened eight
times between midnight and 6:00 A.M. by
Austin, Texas


such telephone calls.

The volunteer ministers at the church
also operated the telephone banks to solicit
money and support. Large shipments of
food arrived daily from around the country.
The telephone bill rose to $1,000 a day,
being in use fourteen hours a day, with four
automatic telephone-dialing machines randomly calling telephone numbers (for example in Omaha). When someone answered
the telephone a tape recording about the
"plight of the jailed fathers and exiled mothers" was played.
In December, leaders from the American
Coalition of Unaffiliated Churches, which
has 5,000 member churches, came to Louisville, en masse, to form a steering committee
to plan activity. And, that activity was so
heavy that the committee pastors numbering from 150 to 400 convened twice a day. In
order to spur them on, Sileven sent a video
tape to the preachers gathered at his
One of the fundamentalists was a Greg
Dixon of Indianapolis, Indiana. He had resigned as the national secretary of the Moral
Majority in October, 1983, "in order to
devote more time to causes like Sileven's."
Calling for impeachment of the county judge,
whom he called "vindictive," Dixon went on
to say, "Jesus Christ alone is head of the
church, not the state. Ifwe went to the state
for certification that would recognize that
state over Jesus Christ. ... We believe that
Louisville will either be the Waterloo of
fundamentalism in America, or it willbe the
victory. If we lose Louisville, eventually we
will lose in our own states .... Public education in the United States is a disaster. ... The
crux of why we're here in Louisville is the
notion that the state has children. The state
has no children. Parents have children. For
us, educating our children is a religious
issue. We want to counteract the culture of
America, which is a pagan society."
State officials countered with, "Education
is a state responsibility. The state recognizes children as citizens with rights. Those
rights can't be denied by anyone, not even
parents. The state demands a bare minimum of requirements so the children get a
basic education. This assurance from the
state is something that protects children
from cults, carpetbaggers, or entrepreneurs
taking advantage of them."
The media spent some time interviewing
the gathered fundamentalist ministers and
reported their remarks. One pastor from
Odessa, Texas, proclaimed, "Nebraska is a
launching pad for control of education in
America. The National Education Association is bent on controlling education, and
the Christian church is the only thing that
stands between them and accomplishing
that." Another said, "We have been instructed by Jesus Christ and we cannot put
September, 1984

the state of Nebraska over our Lord." A

pastor from Massachusetts insisted, "In
Psalms it says, 'Sit not among the ungodly.'
If our children were in a public schools, they
would be sitting among the ungodly." Of
course, the quote was inaccurate.
Naturally a U. S. Republican congressman had to get into the act, George Hansen
of Idaho, best known for visiting the hostages in Iran. In his appearance at Louisville,
in December, he told media reporters, "We
treat our murderers and rapists better than
we treat these men who want to have their
children have a Christian education." He
then asked the U. S. Justice Department for
a civil rights investigation and had his own
staff attorney seek out several Senators so
that a subcommittee hearing could be had in
the U. S. Congress.
One reporter came away from it all noting
that "... the fundamentalists believe that
they alone know what God's laws are; they
know what He wants them to teach; and
they know how He wants them to teach it."
Another reporter described the "problem" as being that "the fundamentalists
want to withdraw from the culture and set
up their own rules. They are upset by the
modern world, sex education, evolution and
new Math. They perceive a spiritual crisis in
society and their response is to reject their
own government, go back to the Bible, and
dismiss many of the advances in science and
social thinking of the past 100 years.
There are eighty A.C.E. schools in Colorado. Anchorage, Alaska, has one which
teaches 700 students and 80 staff members,
the largest school in the state. They infest
the entire United States; a plague spreading.
In Colorado there are an estimated 315
private schools with 38,000 students only 28
of which are fully accredited. State officials
have little authority to set standards, and
local school districts lack the time and
money to assure compliance. In Colorado
private schools are asked to have 75 percent
of their teachers accredited and to provide
local school districts with enrollment figures. However, many refuse to inform school
districts of either their operations or enrollments.
Then, the issue reached New Jersey
where the Living Word Academy in Elkins
fought the need for state accreditation of its
teachers in a case which the U. S. Supreme
Court refused to review in mid-1983.
And, in Hettinger County, North Dakota,
the state's attorney prosecuted several parents who sent their children to what the
state called a "non-state-approved" school
in Elgin, North Dakota. Convicted of violating the North Dakota compulsory attendance law, the parents appealed to a state
supreme court with no success, and the
United States Supreme Court refused certiorari (review) to that case, Rivinius v.
Page 13


North Dakota, in late 1983.
In 1984 two more decisions came down.
In Maine, in February, in the case of Bangor
Baptist Church v. State of Maine, the District Judge in Bangor ruled that the state
had no authority to regulate church-affiliated schools.
But in May, in Michigan the Court of
Appeals decided that the Sheridan Road
Baptist Church of Saginaw and the First
Baptist Church of Bridgeport must hire
state-certified teachers and comply with the
regulations of the state's Department of
Education. The three-judge panel was unanimous as it overthrew the 1982 circuit
court decision in favor of the churches. The
state Department of Education was thus
given jusnficanon to dose down the churchsponsored schools for refusing to provide
enrollment data as required by the 1921 law.
The churches immediately notified that they
would appeal to the Michigan Supreme
Court, while the Michigan attorney general
reaffirmed that the decision did not infringe
upon the religious rights of the students or
the schools:
"The ruling, in its simplest terms, means
that non-public school teachers must meet
the same certification standards as those in
public schools, that non-public school students receive instruction that is comparable
to their public school neighbors."
Nationally a new issue was introduced for
on January 1st, 1984 a new law, which
required churches to pay Social Security
taxes on the wages of their employees,
became effective. It sparked even greater
activity in Nebraska where both Sileven and
other fundamendalists now proclaimed that
not alone the state but the Federal government was encroaching on their ministries
"in a tyrannical fashion." They complained
bitterly about fire codes, zoning laws, and
investigations of some churches by the
Internal Revenue Service, in addition to the
"intrusion" into church schools with state
teacher and other certification requirements.
On January 6, 1984, in Louisville, one of
the jailed fathers decided to testify and
agreed to remove his five children from the
school. He was set free.
It was also in January that the head of the
U. S. CivilRights Commission, Clarence M.
Pendleton, Jr., spent two days in Nebraska
"listening" to the principals in the dispute.
He returned to Washington after he said he
saw no immediate need for federal intervention.
Early in February, it was reported that
Sileven had gathered together $100,000 in
donations to pay the mortgages of the
incarcerated fathers. He was intent on appealing the jailings to the United States
Supreme Court and felt certain that the
court would decide to free the six fathers on
Page 14


bail while the case was being appealed. He

also prognosticated that the Nebraska legislature would eliminate the teacher certification requirement for the Christian academies.
One wire report stated that the remaining
six fathers were released on March 1st when
they promised not to send their children
back to the Faith Christian School. Another
stated that they were released on February
23rd, after 93 days in jail, three months to
the day after they were arrested. The fathers, this report said, promised that they
would not send their children to Faith
Christian School until it complied with state
laws. At this point, however, the fathers
revealed that the children had not been
attending school at all and their lawyer said
that the children would not attend school in
the state.
The judge then voided warrants for the
arrest of the men's wives. However, warrants for Sileven and his daughter, Tresa
Schmidt, who both remained out of the
state to avoid arrest, were left outstanding.
Late in February 80,000 pieces of protest
mail were delivered directly to the U. S. Civil
Rights Commission's Washington, D.C. office by a pastor out of Campbellsville, Kentucky, who was not alone a co-chairman of
the Steering Committee for Religious Freedom in Nebraska but president of the Kentuckians for Religious Freedom. The pastor
stated that he, himself, had a 2,000 membership church. He said he represented
thousands who wanted the commission "to
launch a full-scale investigation into the
improprieties of the (Nebraska) judiciary,
for one thing." In speaking to reporters he
said that the state of Nebraska had "Gestapo tactics in its courts."
An analysis of the mail found it to be
mostly postcards mailed by sympathizers of
Sileven, with a large fraction directed to the
Social Security deductions issue. Pendleton
then told the Washington Times newspaper
that he had begun a federal investigation of
the conflict to see if the fundamentalists'
right to worship had been violated by the
state. But late in March, the Civil Rights
Commission unanimously passed a resolution which was proposed by its Vice Chairman, Morris B. Abram:
"We take note of the Nebraska governor's task force report on the Faith Christian School issue. We support the principles
of religious pluralism as a necessary component of religious liberty and the free
exercise thereof.
"We are unsure of the relation of the
circumstances of the Nebraska case or even
the broader questions of religious liberty
and pluralism in the United States to the
, ..
cornrrussion s rmssion,
The commission asked its chief attorney
to recommend a commission position which
September, 1984

might then be discussed during the panel's

May meeting. Those accustomed to political
jargon interpreted this to mean that the
commission was sending out signals that the
parties "should settle it within the state" and
not call upon federal government agencies.
Actually, the commission held its own
against the intense pressure from the fundamentalists who insisted that Christian
academies must be allowed to set their own
educational standards under the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion.
Sileven, sought on a bench warrent since
November 23rd, 1983, finally appeared in
court on April 26th, ending a five-month
self-imposed exile from the state. (Actually
this was an interstate flight to avoid prosecution, and a felony charge could have
been attachable to such a fliqht.) The warrant against his daughter was quashed. The
country attorney suggested that because
six of the fathers of Faith Christian Chruch
pupils had spent 93 days In lad before being
released that it would be appropriate for
Sileven to be sentenced to 94 days, that is, at
least one day more. The judge thought
better and found him in contempt of court
(on April 26th) and sentenced him to eight
months in jail. However, the District Court
judge advised him he could be released if he
would post $10,000 cash bond and give the
judge assurances that the remaining eleven
former pupils had enrolled in schools certified by the Nebraska Department of Education. If this were done, a work-release
progam would be arranged to allow Sileven
to leave jail every day and serve as pastor of
his congregation at Faith Baptist Church.
But the former Faith Christian School pupils
had to remain in certified schools.
Sileven did testify that he would "ask
parents of the pupils to comply" with a new
state law that would take effect on July 10th,
1984. The law had been billed as a compromise by its drafters and allegedly "drew
new guidelines."
In April, 1984, at one point, there were
1,000 fundamentalist ministers gathered in
this town, which has only a population of
1,200. These then scattered with about onethird in Plattsmouth protesting the jailing of
the six fathers. Another one-third were at
the Nebraska legislature in Lincoln. Another one-third were at the church in Louisville, ready to protect the pastor, to encircle
him ifthe sheriff tried to arrest him. Thirty to
forty reporters from every kind of media
throughout the nation gathered to watch
Sileven's return. He came back - via
helicopter - with his daughter at his side.
When it came to a stop near the church,
Sileven ran from the helicopter to the front
door of the church, to shout to the media,
"I've returned because I'm the pastor here
and this is my church."
And, his daughter was there to proThe American Atheist


nounce that she met "God's qualifications
and nothing else matters." She still refused
to be certified by the state.
Sileven's "I have returned" speech, prepared purposely for the media, did much to
reinforce the perception the media had of
the situation:
"We are very much aware of the sinister
power of the 'New Age' movement, which is
trying to bring about a global society which
would destroy the nationality of the United
States of America, and would destroy all of
our liberties. We put those powers on notice
that we willresist them to the finish, in the
name of our Risen Christ and through the
power of His eternal word."
Sileven went on to proclaim that his
students ranked one to three years above
Nebraska's public school students when
given "a national standardized test." No
indication of how, when, where, or if-really
- the tests had been given, especially in
light of the fathers' revelations that the
children had not been in any school, at all,
other than the embattled, often closed,
Faith Christian School.
Sileven reiterated again. and again. "We
will not, under any circumstances, relinquish our right to free exercise of our religion by submitting any aspects of our religious authority to the control of secular
state authority."
Meanwhile, the head of a Tyler, Texas,
Institute of Christian Economics, came on
with a call for civil disobedience and acts of
"Christian resistance." Issuing a multi-volume "Christian Resistance Package," which
he desired to sell, he warned, "Christians
must not sit idly by and watch the state
attempt to rob our Lord of His power, His
authority, His crown rights." He urged the
fundamentalist churches to avoid or withdraw from state incorporations, to shun tax
exemptions because to seek recognition or
tax exemption from the government is to
acknowledge state sovereignty over the
church. He thumped the main-line churches,
the Roman Catholic Church, and those
other churches who accept state regulation.
"In doing so, they (these churches) have
abandoned their commitment to a fundamental principle, namely that the church of
Jesus Christ operates solely under the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ." His
argument in regard to Sileven was bold and
What's his (Sileven's) crime? Refusing to
submit the Christian school ... to state
licensure, refusing to grant sovereign jurisdiction over the church of Jesus Christ to
the state, refusing to place the education of
Christian school children into the hands of
the humanistic state, refusing to bring his
convictions regarding his faith, his family
and his church into line with statist policy."
Another "economic research organizaAustin, Texas


tion" based in Vallecitos, California, the

Chalcedon Foundation, urged action and
resistance. "To silence the word of God is to
silence the truth and finally freedom itself."
A law instructor at Oral Roberts University
and current president of The Rutherford
Institute (a Christian counterpart to the
A.C.L.U.) claimed,
"In modern America, the state does not
openly claim divine worship, but in effect it is
seeking to make itself the center of all
human loyalties, the goal of all human
aspirations, the source of all human values
and the final arbiter of all human destiny. In
doing so, without using the language of
revelation, it is claiming to be divine."
Full circle again, the Judeo-Christians
were challenging Caesar.
Sileven was released from jail on June 1,
1984, after his attorney posted $10,000 bail,
allegedly comprised of donations received
from (news media report) dozens. or (his
attorneys' claim) 150 to 200 churches nationwide. He preached at the church, after
his release, for the first time since November 20th, 1981 and was welcomed by 175
well wishers and members. (At the beginning of the fight, the church had had seventeen members.) After the sermon he presented individual plaques to the seven fathers of students who had attended the church
The issue, which will go finally to the
United States Supreme Court as the fundamentalists continue to gain in numbers,
organization, and financing, was in a sense
there once before in principle. The United
States Supreme Court beginning with Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878)
has distinguished between the right to believe and the right to act upon belief. The
first is protected; the latter is not. This was
settled first when Reynolds raised the question whether a statue of the United States
making the (generally only Mormon) practice of polygamy illegal could be constitutionally applied to a Mormon in the territory
of Utah. The court saw the question as
"... whether religious belief can be accepted as a justification of an overt act made
criminal by the law of the land. The inquiry is
not as to the power of Congress to prescribe
criminal laws for the Territories (Utah was
not as yet a state in 1878) but as to the guilt
of one who knowingly violates a law which
has been properly enacted, ifhe entertains a
religious belief that the law is wrong."
The Court was unanimous that:
"Congress was deprived of all legislative
power over mere opinion, but was left free
to reach actions which were in violation of
social duties or subversive of good order."
"With man's relations to his Maker and
the obligations he may think they impose,
and the manner in which an expression shall
September, 1984

be made by him of his belief on those

subjects, no interference can be permitted,
provided always the laws of society, designed to secure its peace and prosperity,
and the morals of its people, are not interfered with. However free the exercise of
religion may be, it must be subordinate to
the criminal laws of the country, passed with
reference to actions regarded by general
consent as properly the subject of punitive
Clearly Sileven and the fundamentalists
"knowingly violated a law which has been
properly enacted" in the fifteen states in
which the battles of state/or/church regulation of Christian academies rages. They
"entertain a religious belief that the (state)
law is wrong." But, to overturn the state
laws the U. S. Supreme Court would need
to overturn Reynolds. To permit individuals
to be excused from compliance with the law
solely on the basis of their religious beliefs is
to subject others to punishment for failure
to suscribe to those same beliefs. If an
atheist school was begun tomorrow in
Maine, relying on the Bangor Baptist Church
.v. State decision, it would need to pose as a
. religious school, i.e. to subscribe to the
same beliefs. If it openly ignored the laws as
an atheist school, arrests would follow.
Maine has laid a basis for placing beyond the
law any act done under claim of religious
More aware of the situation than the
general public there, the fundamentalists in
the state of Nebraska decided to form a
political action committee. The initial response was by about 1,000 persons seeking
membership in what was to be called the
Nebraska Christian PAC. Sileven trumpeted, "We hope it will be an organization
that will equal the NSEA (Nebraska State
Education Association.)" His hopes were
for 4,000 to 5,000 to belong to the Committee. He stated that income from the sale
of books he has published and an upcoming
book would help finance the organization.
He planned to stay in Nebraska to try to see
what could be worked out so that the school
could operate under the new law. That law,
which took effect in July, allows parents
with "sincerely held religious beliefs" to seek
a waiver from certification requirements. If
the issue cannot be resolved Sileven said,
"We probably willpursue this in the federal
courts and sue the state."
The Governor's task force completed its
work on time and, after having studied the
issue for six months, recommended that the
state drop all requirements for teacher
certification, licensing, and curriculum in
private schools. It also suggested that the
state's educational requirement could be
satisfied by requiring pupils in private
schools to take yearly standardized achievement tests. The Governor, hoping that the
Page 15


suggestion would cure the problems, called
the report "a document of peace." What it
actually said was:
"Nebraska teacher-certification procedures as presently defined violate the First
Amendment free exercise of religion rights
of Christian schools. This legal conclusion,
together with our view of proper public
policy, indicates to us the need to modify
present practices in order to reach an
appropriate accommodation between the
interest of the state and religious freedom
rights." And, a state senator introduced a
bill to make a law of many of the panel's
However, the legislature promptly refused to approve the recommendation. Later, however, it did approve a billwhich was
aimed at breaking the stalemate. The compromise was said to let the state education
department use "teacher competency" information as only one factor in evaluating
private schools that choose not to participate in the usual process for state approval and accreditation. The teachers would be
permitted to take a competency test designed by the Education Department or be
evaluated by it. However, Sileven and other
pastors objected to allowing state authorities to judge the competency of their teachers.
As more information is brought to hand
on the situation, it is now discovered that
the new law does not actually require the
Christian academies to provide any information directly to the state officials. Instead
parents, who elect to send their children to
such schools, must provide the state with
information about the education their children receive. This would include attendance
reports, a statement of the parents' satisfaction that the teachers are qualified "to
monitor instruction in the basic skills", and
whether or not the parents think that state
health and safety codes are met by the
school. On its face, this an absurd burden to
lay on any parent, and one which the state
willbe incapable of monitoring.
Also, at the time of this writing, in midJuly, 1984. both Sileven and the parents of
his Faith Baptist Church continue to say they
will again opt to go to jail rather than to
answer questions about its operation or to
close down. And Sileven was still stating
that he would "ask the parents" to comply.
There is much talking out of both sides of
the mouth by all parties involved, including
assorted state and county officials. It is
apparent that the state willknuckle under to
the pressures of the fundamentalists and
that schools in that state will have two sets
of standards for education, one for religious
schools and one for public schools, as
formerly most of our states had two standards, one for white-race schools and one
for black-race schools.
Page 16


Now, to sum up, laws governing religious

schools differ widely from state to state.
Forty-seven states have mandated that school
teachers be state certified, but they have not
all extended this to include teachers in
religious schools. Probably the exceptions
came from the use of unaccredited nuns
who taught in the Roman Catholic schools
for over a century and a half. No state is
going to take on the Roman Catholic Church.
Generally, grade school teachers must have
a 4-year college degree in elementary education. High school teachers must have a
degree in secondary education and must
have taken "several courses" in the subject
they intend to teach. Principals and supervisory persons generally are expected to
have degrees in school administration. As it
stands today the majority of states exempt
private (mostly religious) schools from these
regulations. Eleven do not, but those eleven
have variable standards. The media reports
that Nebraska and seven other states require' that all teachers have degrees from
four-year colleges and be certified in accordance with state laws (the 1981 U. S.
Department of Education survey reported
thirteen such states rather than the eight
found by the media.) Generally, states do
establish health, fire, and safety standards,
but how these are applied to church schools
is not known.
The religious, generally and the fundamentalists in particular, never miss an opportunity to seize upon incidents or underlying principles, both represented here.
The Sileven matter thus became intertwined with the issues of Moon's conviction
(May 19th, 1982) for tax evasion and his
subsequent surrender to enter jail (July
19th, 1984), the requirement for churches to
include employees under Social Security,
and the desire of the fundamentalists to be
clear of government demands that any
institution accepting federal funding not
practice racial discrimination. In June, 300
clergymen rallied in Washington, D.C., the
beginning of projected subsequent (election
year) demonstrations. On July 9th the "Religious Freedom Rally" was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Those who attended signed a "Religious Liberty Proclamation" which included
an option to pledge spending a week of their
lives in prison with Moon and Sileven "to
demonstrate my commitment to religious
freedom." No one described how this could
be effectuated.
Incidentally, although a number of religious leaders in the United States are shrugging Moon off because of his conviction and
sentencing, he should not be underrated.
From his position as a martyr in a federal jail
cell he can be more effective than he was
outside. His arrest and conviction has brought
every "respectable" religious organization
to his side: the National Council of Churches,
September, 1984

the Southern Baptist Convention, and the

Southern Christian Leadership Conference
to name just a few. He will probably come
out of jail with more of a following than when
he went in. Remember that Eugene V. Debs
ran for the presidency of the United States
when he was in a federal prison in 1920 and
won about one million of the sixteen million
votes which were cast, becoming a national
hero. It was too classic of a lesson for us to
The proclamation also was to "declare
and establish the second consecutive Saturday and Sunday of June every year from
now on to be observed in houses of worship
throughout America as "Religious Liberty
Day." Coordinators for Moon's Unification
Church were conspicuous among organizers.
Meeting the ideas of that old boogie
"secular humanism" head on, one of the
theologians called for "Christian resistance"
and wrote a "stirring call to religious activism" to match or surpass the famous "Humanist Manifesto." This one was named "A
Christian Manifesto." When the theologian
recently died, his son took up the cause,
selling 110,000 copies of his own book, A
Time for Anger, the title revealing much.
But, the ideas are appealing to the leading
conservative Christian legal scholars (the
term "scholar" is used loosely in this case,)
theologians, economists, and writers. The
Vice President for Academic Affairs at CBN
(the Christian Broadcasting Network) University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a lawyer,
justifies defiance of government authority
by Christians.
Finally, on the weekend of July 14/15th, a
group of ministers representing ACTV
(American Coalition for Traditional Values)
went to the White House for a briefing by
the White House staff and a drop-in appearancance by President Reagan. The ACTV
has a total of thirty-three powerful fundamentalist ministers and organizations affiliated with it, including Jerry Falwell, Jimmy
Swaggart, Jim Bakker, James Robison, Rex
Humbard, Kenneth Copeland, Tim LaHaye,
Charles Stanley (current president of the
Southern Baptist Convention,) and BillBright
with his Campus Crusade for Christ. And
out of the White House conference came
Joe Rodgers,former Reagan-Bush fund raiser,
who is under contract with ACTV to raise at
least $1 millionwhile the Republican National
Convention is distributing handbooks on
politicalparticipation by" church going Christtians."
They all see this as the Bible demand that
moral Americans, like Reagan, Watts, Burford, Helms, Koop, Fritzpatrick and Meese
occupy seats of power in the nation.
The skewed banner of state/ church separation is used as a rallying cry primarily by
the fundamentalists. The Roman Catholics,
The American Atheist


the Lutherans and the Jews who have the
largest parochial school systems in the
nation want to go to bed with the churches.
All the main-line religions negotiate constantly for more tax exemptions, particularly on their businesses; for more free
media time; for tuition tax credits, and every
other indirect (or even direct) aid that the
state can give not alone for their schools but
for their other institutions. They desire to
first mate with and then swallow government. The fundamentalists do crudely and
openly what the main-line religions do with
polished sophistication. The former are overt;
the latter are covert; the results will be as
disaster.ous with the ultimate victory of one
as with the ultimate victory of the other. And
with all of the "purity" of the fundamentalists
and their continuing appeal to the concept
of state/church separation, each and every
one of them are exempt in many areas; ad
valorem tax, inheritance tax, taxes on earning from investments. ad nauseum.
Not one organization in the United States
outside of American Atheists, not one government agency; not one judicial figure; not
one legislator on either local, state, or
national level; not one television station or
network; not one newspaper; not one magazine has the courage to simply come out and
say that A.C.E. and other fundamentalist
schemes for systematicall
innocent c 1 ren with the scurri ious 1 hngsgate of fundamentalist Ju
ity is inte ectual child abuse. The parents,
me ministers, the so-called educators
should all be hauled off to padded cells
where they can obtain treatment to cure
their psychotic behavior. Their ideas are
harmful not alone to their children but to the
total human community. Instead of handling
them with kid gloves, pandering to their
incoherent and abhorent ideology, they
should be summarily restrained even ifforce
is necessary. Religion has caused more
misery to all men in every sta e 0 human
!Story t an any ot er sin Ie idea. It should
e unwelcome in t e nite States today.
As the brute minded early Judeo-Christians toppled the Roman Empire with their
adamant, inflexible, unyielding, and irreconcilable ideas concerned with their god, the
fundamentalists are well on their way in the
United States to attempt the same. Meanwhile, everyone stands back and "protects
their right" to destroy children, the educational system, the practice of medicine, the
advancement of science, and the will to
strive for the cultural and political changes
which need to be made in our society. They
should be dealt with ruthlessly and immediately. They have no such "rights."
The unfortunate dichotomy in the thinking of those handling the situation is that
individual rights must be preserved while
the state, theoretically representing the will
Austin, Texas


and wisdom (?) of all its people collectively,

posits through its laws and their adminstration by a just system "the greatest good for
the greatest number" in the human need
area of "life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness." Religion, however, and especially Judeo-Christianity has nothing to offer
humanity but sin, guilt, anxiety, sexual repression, dependency, and personal inadequacy on an individual level and the most
abject servility, oppression, and exploitation
on any group or national level.
Michael Bukunin, Anarchist, (1814-1876)
was right over a hundred years ago when he
"The idea of God implies the abdication of
human reason and justice; it is the most
decisive negation of human liberty and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind
both in theory and practice.
"He who desires to worship God must
harbor no childish illusions about the matter
but bravely renounce his liberty and humanity."

The non-existant Jesus Christ is supposed to have said, "Suffer the little chldren
to come unto me." American Atheists agree. These poor children now being programmed by the collusion of their parents
with fundamentalist ministers and educators (both of which are as much concerned
with making a buck as with "educating" the
children) willfullfillthe prophetic statement
of "suffer the little children." The psychological problems, which willdevelop for each
and everyone because of the indoctrination
they are undergoing while they are helpless
at the hands of adults, willneed treatment in
the future.
This entire tragic mess can only develop
into more and more complicated legal challenges until finally one of the cases is accepted for review by the United States
Supreme Court now composed almost exclusively of reactionaries. At that point, the
idiocy of "Christian academies" could well
become a legitimate institution for the brutalization of children's minds.


September, 1984

Page 17

William Talley

A Layman's Gestalt
verybody's an expert. Nobody knows that better than an
advertising person or a shrink. Of course, the use of psychology
in advertising dates back to the great P. T. Barnum, but no matter. I'll
make no attempt here at proving my inexpertise in psychology and
psychotherapy by making comic pronunciamentos from the exalted
position of amateur, even though ad clients and therapy patients do it
all the time.
It's okay to quote some real experts, though, so I will,starting with
the illustrious Mr. Barnum. Don't scoff. A review of his biography
earned me a desperately needed "A" in "Mass Communications" at
dear old University of Denver, back in dear old '55. Barnum said, in
effect, that everybody loves to be fooled. He was right and he was
close to a more profound truth finally articulated by Dr. Albert Ellis:
"The phenomenon of biological inertia creates a powerful resistance
to change of any kind, including that of an irrational belief system."
My amateur translation is: although we readily allow ourselves to be
fooled even in the presence of our own intellectual skepticism, we
hate being told that we have been fooled and especially that we have
abetted the process. We also hate the bother - the discomfort - of
actually changing those belief systems.

Boozy Belief Systems

Take drinking (please). If the majority of Atheists and other
skeptics are like the majority of everyone else, we cherish some very
absurd mythical beliefs about booze. We ridicule the ridiculous
religions of the world, which is excellent therapy in itself, by the way,
but we passionately cling to easily detectable myths, such as
"Atheists are too smart to become alcoholics." And, "A good wine is
good food; it can't hurt to have a small glass with dinner." Or, "Beer
isn't really booze." And the ever popular. "If Churchill could pull it off.
so can I." Here we have not applied our highly vaunted powers of
reason to some pretty loony beliefs about the drug alcohol.
For the non-alcoholic those beliefs may not seem to cause direct
harm. However, all irrational beliefs eventually cause direct or
indirect harm, one way or another, so the ones around booze must be
rooted out and corrected. For the ethanol addict, such beliefs are
dangerous beyond description. Others who hold such beliefs should
be considered carriers of deadly germs.
And here is the worst one of them all: "Alcoholism is the result of
some deep-seated severe emotional problem." If only we could erase
that one from the public memory, we'd be on our way. The fact is,
some alkies had severe emotional problems before developing,
drinking problems, but the majority do not. In all cases, the cause is
not in the mind. It's in the brain and the chemistry thereof. Oh yes,
abusive drinking is sometimes associated with emotional problems
and clears up as general emotional health is improved, but that's not
alcoholism. I'm talking about genuine alcohol addiction.
The confusion comes from this paradox - the majority of
neurotically disturbed people do not become addicts, yet virtually
everyone who drinks has trouble with it at one time or another.

Atheism as A High
Hunting down and destroying irrational beliefs in our own minds is
the sweaty side of Atheism as therapy. There's also a side that feels
good, as Atheism feels good in so many ways. Like when you have
adroitly debated a religious nut out of his holy socks; like when you
Page 18

September, 1984

realize there really isn't any such thing as "sin" and we are absolutely
free to make appropriate ethical choices based on evidence and
reason. Freedom of the mind! That feels fantastic! Taking pride, not
embarrassment, in our intellects, freeing ouselves of guilt and other
fears, learning to like ourselves just because we exist and exulting in
our abilities just because we possess them! These are some of the joys
of advanced Atheism, and they feel as good as the natural fun of
laughing, far better than any momentary high we used to get from our
But how to get there from the place where a substance is
cannibalizing our bodies and minds, or from the place where
withdrawal from it has us climbing out of our skins or so depressed we
couldn't care less whether our skins stay on or not?
Again Dr. Ellisrides (in a New York cab) to the rescue. He helps us
realize that the same inertia has us clinging to even the most painful
beliefs about ourselves, neurotic beliefs which are usually associated
with addiction. What's more we continually reindoctrinate ourselves
with painful b.s., due mostly to the fact that it never occurred tous to
stop, says Ellis. This does not, he cautions, deny the role of the
unconscious in perpetuating the neurosis, but recognizes the role of
the conscious mind in constantly reimplanting neurotic ideas into the
unconscious, obviously at the urging of another part of the unconscious.
This is the famous. vicious circle - but with a twist. The culprit isn't
"them," it's us.
Perhaps the pain started with our mommies, daddies, teachers and
preachers, but those fools are not in control anymore. So how come
their nonsense hasn't faded away, along with the hots we had for cute
little so-and-so in Mrs. Whoosit's class? The answer is that we
stopped indoctrinating ourselves about little so-and-so but we
continue to indoctrinate ourselves about ourselves, because we can't
get away from ourselves. Not even with Timothy Leary's magical
LSD! (Turns out Leary was a boozer long before he became an acid
head, according to his new book, Flashbacks.)
Upon accepting the idea of self-indoctrination, the advanced
Atheist wants to know how to stop the process.And here's where I
refer you to the reading list at the end of this.article and/or to a
professional- hopefully one who is listed in your:yellow pages as an
RET (Rational Emotive Therapy) practitioner. It may seem expensive, but to paraphrase the mechanic in the TV commercial, pay a
shrink now or pay a lawyer (and maybe a surgeon) later.
In that reading list you'll find listed a book that is a concession to the
fierce desire of most addicts to "do it themselves." Maxie C.
Maultsby, who used RET to develop an excellent method, explains all
in his A Million Dollars for Your Hangover. The unfortunate title
refers to a U.S. government grant of $1 million toward the development of an alternative program to Alcoholics Anonymous. My only
disagreement with it is that it does not recognize the importance of a
group support system.

The Denial State:

The Strangest Beliefs of All
To make a real case for Atheism as therapy, we'must deal with the
most irrational stage of addiction and recovery - the denial stage,
where we minimize the problem and maximize the task of recovery.
We need to reverse those priorities before any real progress can
The American Atheist


Ten Criteria for Vigorous Emotional Health

Generally AAARG accepts and recommends the criteria for vigorous emotional health which
have been agreed on by an international concensus of leading professionals in the fields of
psychotherapy and psychology:
1. SELF INTEREST. To be true to one's self and not masochistically sacrifice one's self for
others, though at times choosing to offer whatever help one can.
2. SELF DIRECTION. To assume responsibility for one's own life, though at times choosing to
seek help from others.
3. TOLERANCE. To fully grant to other human beings the right to be wrong, with no attempt
to control anyone.
4. ACCEPTANCE OF UNCERTAINCY. To seriously consider the idea that we live in a
world of probability and chance, with no absolute certainties.
5. FLEXIBILITY. To remain intellectually flexible, to be open to change at all times and to
choose appropriate behavior for varying circumstances.
6. SCIENTIFIC THINKING. To be objective, rational and scientific, and to apply the laws of
logic and scientific method.
7. INVOLVEMENT. To be vitally absorbed in something outside of one's self, whether it is
embodied in people, things or ideas, and to have some kind of important human involvement.
8. RISK TAKING. To be able to take risks; to ask one's self what one would like to do in life and
to try to do it.
9. SELF ACCEPTANCE. To be glad to be alive; to like one's selfjust because one is alive and
not to equate one's worth with outside achievements.
To think for one's self and make decisions based
on reasonable expectations, not on any fatalistic idea of supernatural influence.

A sample: "I'll be okay; I'llcut back (tomorrow) (after the party next
Saturday) (as soon as I get a good job) (as soon as I quit this rotten
job) (after the holidays) (after the football season) (etc.)." These are
allways of telling ourselves we may have a bad habit but it's not really
a terminal disease, and we could learn to drink moderately if only the
circumstances were right. Or, that quitting "must be so hard I won't
Some more samples: "If I quit drinking/drugging I'll lose all my
(football buddies) (bowling friends) (office associates) (girlfriends)
(boyfriends) (etc.)." And here's the worst: "No problem. I don't miss it
at all. This is a piece of cake. You're making way too much of it."
It's not too difficult to feel guilty ifyou have victimized yourself with
such irrational faith systems. We are placed in the screwy position of
having to diagnose ourselves! How can we not have some dumb ideas
about our chemicals and ourselves? Or if we find a professional who
has the guts to confront his own drugging in order to diagnose ours
and hecallsus alcoholic, we are in the position of accepting his word
without hard evidence from the hard sciences to confirm the circumstantial evidence. Alcoholism is the number one killer in the country,
and there are no lab tests to help convince us that we're dealing with
life and death.
Iwas in a "morning after" session during one of my stays at detox (a
detoxification clinic), still in denial myself, and the meeting was being
led by an achingly beautiful counselor who was saying we had to find
out why we drank. A grizzled old (before his time) construction
worker with a hangover asked her, "What do you really know about
"Unfortunately we don't know very much yet," she answered
honestly, blushing prettily.
"Do you drink?" he demanded.
"Occasionally. But very little. My husband says I'm a cheap date
because I only ... "
"There you have it," rasped the man. "We drink because we drink."
The poor woman flushed, stammered and spun on her heel, in pants
that were far too tight for a place of mostly men who were already in
pain; she undulated away down the hall, followed by all of the bleary
Austin, Texas

eyes in the room.

"F ..k!" growled the grizzled one. "I know more about everything
than she does, and I know more about drinking than anybody in this
place." And sadly, he was right.

Atheists Have
A Distinct Advantage
As Atheists we have at least some practice in recognizing myths
and cons and in debunking them with both facts and reason. More to
the point, we accept that this is the one lifewe're ever going to get and
we have to make it as productive and enjoyable as possible now, not
in some later never-never land in the sky.
Even so, some of us may be holding on to beliefs that originated in
religion - that it is somehow immoral or sinful to have messed with
psychoactive drugs in the first place. Or that our dissipation was the
result of low character, poor morals or "shortcomings," as Alcholics
Anonymous and other churches continue to preach. Atheism's
advantage is that it can cure 'such sick thinking, and that's a very big
It also helps us take full responsibility for the rest of our lives. True,
alcoholism is a disease, but that doesn't make it okay. After we know
that, any further rationalization of substance abuse is suicidal, and
Atheists should be the last ones to indulge in suicidal behavior.
Should be.

Thorough Guilt Removal,

without Abdication
I don't need Dr. David Ohms to tell me in his video tape, "The
Disease Concept of Alcoholism," that guilt is the enemy of the
alcoholic. I knew already that guilt triggers old drinking responses,
just as surely as waving a cork under my nose. Guilt is the great
reverse motivator, which helps explain why it takes so long for most
boozers to get into treatment and why it so seldom 'takes' the first
time through. It also explains why Christianity has been so ineffective

September, 1984

Cont'd. on p.22

Page 19


The fourth annual national Summer Solstice picnic

of American Atheists was held this year on June
23rd, 1984 at the Fox Lake shore line home of
Lillian B. Ramsden a long time member and supporter of the Chicago Chapter of American Atheists,
Fox Lake, Illinois is located about 40 miles West
and slightly North of Chicago.
The first three Summer Solstice picnics were held at
the site of the American Atheist Museum in Petersburg, Indiana which is in the Southwest corner of
that state. They began there as an annual event in
1981 as the brainchild of Lloyd Thoren, founder of
the museum.
The national leadership of American Atheists
has for many years found it necessary and desirable to promote public recognition of the four
natural, as opposed to supernatural or mystical,

A. Jon Murray, National Director, (in the Atheist

T-shirt) talks with Indiana Member Harold Zarse.
B Members listen to introductions, with Lillian Ramsden seated at right enjoying a piece of watermelon.
Larry Carter, Iowa State Director, sits in the left foreground, in wetsuit, and fresh from a swim.
C. Lillian's lake front home, as seen from her boat
D Robert Sherman, Director of the Chicago Chapter
of American Atheists, tries his hand at waterskiing.

Page 20

September, 1984

The American Atheist

The religious communities of every culture have,

over generations, usurped the universal value of
natural holidays which transcend cultures, languages and geographical boundries, for their own
nefarious purposes of inculcating their particular
brand of mythology in a particular region of the
world. The four natural holidays are the Winter and
Summer Solstices and the Vernal and Autumnal
Equinoxes . The Soltices are the longest and shortest days of the year and the Equinoxes are the days
of equal length of day and night hours. Since these
events are astronomical they effect all the inhabitants of the earth. The "seasons" have a powerfull effect on all of us, although to a lesser degree
now than in our principly agrarian past. Celebration of their starting dates each quarter would represent a more unifying and less internationally
divisive expression of our needs for holidays.
This years Summer Solstice picnic was well
attended with members representing about eight
states. The actual Summer Solstice day occured
this year on June 21st at 12:02 EST. The 21st
being a Thursday the picnic was held on Saturday the 23nd.
E. Lillian Ramsden watches a skiing group depart
from the dock in front of her home.
F. Jon Murray, National Director, fills the attending members in on the latest in news on the state/
church separation
front on a national level.
G. Robert Sherman, Chicago Director, flanked left
by Jeff Frankel Central lllinois Chapter Director &
right by Jon Murray conducts some local chapter
business at the picnic.
H. Jim Williard, Chicago Chapter Treasurer (center),
gives a report on local progress under the watchful!
eye of Director, Robert Sherman.

Austin, Texas

September, 1984

Page 21


Cont'd {romp.19

over the centuries in curbing violence, but then guilt is the main theme
of the Bible.
Guilt is a form of fear, which produces the fight or flight response.
Neither fight nor flight is an appropnate response to addiction, yet
'what usually happens when you start pushing an addict's guilt buttons
is a succession of anger, resentment, rebelliousness and attack.
Tell a person he or she has asthma and you might get some sadness
and grief, but seldom anger or attack.
Most drinkers started drinking as an act of rebellion; of growing up
and doing as we damned well pleased. To use the old parental
shame-shame approach is to awaken that rebellious child of TA
(Transactional Therapy) fame.
An Atheist therapist, on the other hand, would take a nonjudgmental, empathetic approach and work toward dissipating the
client's own guilt by emphasizing the physiological nature of his
problem and the need for medical hospitalization to get past the
withdrawal stage.
Dr. Maultsby says at least twenty-five percent of all heavily involved
drinkers die from withdrawal and that only a real medical hospital and
a doctor who is experienced in withdrawal can provide the preventative measures and emergency treatment the patient willneed in case
of seizure, D.T.'s (delirium tremons), heart attack, suicidal episode
and other traumas. Most detoxes and Alcholic Anonymous groups
believe religiously in cold turkey. The only way to get any medication
is to say that you have had seizures in the past. Remember that ifyou
ever get stuck in a detox - tell them you've had seizures before. I
personally watched two miserable victims flipout, one of whom didn't
make it back. There is absolutely no excuse for that. unless vou
believe the addict did it to himself and he is supposed to suffer so he'll
remember the ordeal. You want to know what he'll remember? The
craving! That's all I remember from detox; that and not being able to
remember what football teams were playing on T.V. Whew! If you
want me to recall craving, even now going on four years abstinence,
all you have to do IS mention detox. But I have mental defenses now.

Irrational Beliefs
about Ourselves
Here's just a sampling of some of the irrational beliefs with which Dr.
Ellis says neurotics, including alcoholic neurotics, continue to reindoctrinate ourselves. I have interpolated only slightly for space.
I. It is dire necessity for an adult human being to be loved or
approved of by virtually every significant
other person in his
2. One should be thoroughly competent, adequate and achieving in
all possible aspects if one is to consider one s self worthwhile.
3. Certain people are bad, wicked or villainous and should be
severely blamed and punished for their villainy.
4. It is awful and catastrophic when things are not the way one
would very much like them to be.
5. If certain outside forces were different, I would not be so
6. If something is dangerous or fearsome one should be terribly
concerned and keep dwelling on the possibility of its occurring.
7. It is easier to avoid than to face certain life difficulties and self
8. One should be dependent on others and need some one stronger
than ones self on whom to rely.
9. One s past history is an all-important determiner of one s present
behavior, and it should have a similar effect indefinitely.
10. There is invariably a right, precise and perfect solution to human
problems and it is catastrophic if this perfect solution is not found.

Almost without exception the religionists of the world would have

us adhere to these sick beliefs. We must set about seeing that we are
free of them and all of the sillydoctrines concerning our addictions, in
order to stop the self indoctrination process and train ourselves to
use the healing and uplifting knowledge of reality. Knowledge is
always more joyous and satisfying than even the most wishful belief.
Page 22

September, 1984

Pulling The Other Foot Out

of Church
Here I must become subjective because I can't find any scientific
work like Ellis' famous lists which deals directly with residual religious
gliches in our thinking. This willsound something like an Oral Roberts
miracle cure, but I call it the major pivotal turning point in my own
recovery. For me, this is the big one.
After most of a lifetime of being an Atheist, and after experiencing
AAARG! in Alcholic Anonymous meetings, I joined the Colorado
Chapter and the national organization of American Atheists. Upon
receiving my first magazine I was relieved and pleased beyond
description: to think that I had found a whole organization of others
who think precisely as I always have. But that was not the biggest
turning point. That would take longer.
Shortly thereafter, having acquired a heightened sense of awareness of genuine Atheism and of myself, I was shocked to discover that
I still had one foot back in John Collins Methodist Church in South
Denver, the demonic spook house of my youth. I still had moments
when I automatically felt that certain things were "meant to be," and
other times when I reacted helplessly as if some "unseen force" were
intervening in my affairs. I was dismayed at these realizations, but
they weren't the worst. I was still given to fantasies of magical,
mystical, miraculous good fortune coming my way for the sole reason
that I was so deserving(!). Also, I had a tendency to have faith
everything that would turn out all right in spite of my laziness and that
justice would help me triumph when I applied myself with diligence.
When I discovered these and maybe dozens of other manifestations of latent religiosity Ibecame determined not to have yet another
gigantic emotional conflict over them, but to calmly analyze each one
thoroughly. I decided that some of these adolescent notions were
somewhat natural, human, instinctual reactions that I might have
experienced even without the early indoctrination by the adult
droolers back at John Collins. After all, I had never been trained in
rational thinking and my self-training had obviously been perfunctory
and incomplete. Like most Atheists, for most of my life I had only
wanted to be left alone and I didn't much care to what extent the
believers made fools of themselves.
Methodically, relentlessly I rooted out these irrational, sick belief
reactions and challenged them. The mere act of intervention
destroyed some of them the first time; others required repeated
analysis and opposition. As this process continued Isensed that some
of the challenges were causing some turmoil in my unconscious
-little paroxysms of fear and anxiety, but nothing awful or catastrophic. After awhile I discovered that I was becoming more aware of
the roles of my unconscious parts than ever before, and that my
various unconscious characters were extremely. maddenlv child-like
I discovered that no part of the unconscious mind is capable of

irrational beliefs.

Only The Conscious Mind

Can Make Corrections
Analysing and changing irrational beliefs is exclusively the province
of the conscious mind! And all the time I thought that Freud had been
right: that Iwas at the mercy of my unconscious and only some kind of
metaphysical psychiatric exorcism could make me "feel better."
I felt that internecine or intramural squabbling of my conscious
committee subside steadily to the point of almost disconcerting quiet.
I ceased arguing with myself about my addiction and about a whole
inventory of other things. This was new and strange to me, but I loved
it. I even came so far as to accept that automobiles and other
mechanical devices were following the laws of physics, and were not
possessed with demons bent on harrassing me. That was a pretty
good one for me.
Yes, the psychotherapy I received helped too. It was NLP
(Neurolinguistic Programming) therapy, which deals almost exclusively with the phenomena and processes of the unconscious. But
none of that, I must add with irritable disgust, dealt even remotely
with endemic, latent religiosity. That I did myself and all in the
The American Atheist

conscious processes.
things or ideas, and to have some kind of important human
Now here comes the turning point. I became more and more self
involvement. "
reliant, self directed and self confident. In spite of some objections
I would add that it should be something distinctly one's own thing,
from some parts of my unconscious, I came to like myself as myself. I apart from career, home, family and perhaps even apart from your
learned to enumerate my positive characteristics and my talents as I recovery program, and it would help ifit is something you have always
had never been able to do before, even over the now meek opposition
wanted to do. Some people get deeply involved in alcohol and drug
of my infantile unconscious characters.
rehabilitation work, but I wonder ifthat provides the gratification and
The whole challenging process started slowly and felt awkward at
pleasure we're looking for here.
first, but it accelerated and became more streamlined as I persistently
Build a boat, take a course, learn a new sport, join a group, audition
blasted each and every left-over bit of superstitious and religious
for community theatre, lift weights, restore old houses, vounteer for
nonsense that surfaced. Finally it stopped surfacing at all. I have
community do-good projects, make home movies, take up the. guitar,
become almost totally self directed, at least emotionally, though I still or whatever happens to appeal uniquely to you.
have a couple of addictions: caffeine and nicotine.
Please, you know I don't mean activities such as holding up banks,
But dig this - I now work seemingly without effort; that is without
wrestling gorillas, or raiding dormitories. You know what I mean. Get
the opposition of those twits in my head. And I have started and
involved in something that absorbs your interest and gives you
stayed with an at-horne exercise program. I have lost weight. I'm
enormous enjoyment. And if the joy wears off, get a new thing. Stay
more assertive with clients and others. There's too much to list, and
vitally wrapped up in something all your very own. It sounds selfish,
not everything of course is perfect, but most amazingly I have learned
but it's in Ellis' list, so you can say, "Doctor's orders."
to compartmentalize my time and to disallow the undue impositions
What a far cry from turning your life over to some cruel, browof associates in business, in my Turning Points group, in my chapter
beating diety and its human manipulators! Its' an even further cry
of American Atheists, and in my family. I can now control, to some
from just sitting around and being miserable. A miserable addict is
extent, the amount and kind of impositions people try to unload on
one at risk of a relapse. A wound-up, happy addict with an important
me, sometimes accepting, sometimes gently rejecting and sometimes
involvement and adquate mental defenses has little to fear except self
delegating responsibility. In my advertising business, wherein slavish
deception. ~
obeisance is the official religion, I am now able to calmly wave aside
unreasonable deadlines and in the next breath innocently insist upon
payment up front. Fast deadlines and slow payment are also part of
advertising theology,justified by the traditional creed: "That's just the
Reading List
way this crazy business is." As the world's longest surviving matador
Ellis, Albert, Ph.D. Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy, New
once said, "Ole - my arse!"
Oh with what dismay did my family, my alky friends and my Atheist York: Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy. 1962.
chapter friends view this emerging independence and self control! But
they are becoming less abusive, less intrusive, and more self reliant all Ellis, Albert, Ph.D. Humanist Psychotherapy: The Rational-Emotive
the time. Clients are more respectful, although not the least bit more Approach, New York: Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy. 1974.
honest. That will never happen. These are all basic principles of
Maultsby, Maxie c., M.D. A Million Dollars for Your Hangover,
effective time management.
Tome, as a recovered addict, it adds up to less stress, and that is New York: Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy. 1983.
extremely important. As a result of less external and internal stress,
my memory is improved and my efforts are more productive. Just
getting sober won't automatically bring all these benefits. I'm Catalogue of R.E.T. Materials
convinced they come directly and indirectly from the conscious act of
This catalogue is free and IS an essential part of the resources of every
finallypulling the other foot out of church.
Atheist booze addict, and every other addict, for that matter. Books
range from $3.50 for paperbacks to $29.95 for big hardbacks; there
Quitting Is Negative;
are audio tape and videotape cassettes, and much more. Just
Starting Is Positive
knowing there are such enlightened resources available elevates my
Not doing something is not consistent with evolved human attitude several notches.
behavior. Not drinking or drugging runs counter not only to our
Available from:
physical addictions but also to our instinctive need to do something
Rational-Emotive Therapy
about a given situation. Hungry? Go find food. Invaded? Fight or run.
45 E. 65th. St.
Cold? Wrap up in a bear skin. Confused? Invent a religion. Go do
New York, New York 10021
something about it, whatever it is. That's the way our species evolved,
so not doing is disconcerting, even frightening. This is where the
meetings can help and where going to therapy is so valuable. Right or
wrong, at least it's doing something.
And it's also where Criterion Number Seven takes on surpassing
importance in the list of "Ten Criteria for Vigorous Emotional Health"
published in Recovery, a monthly publication of American Atheist
Addiction Recovery Groups (AAARG,) Volume I, No.1 (July, 1983).
(Reproduced at the end of this article - ed.) In the original list
published by Dr. Ellis, number seven (7) read "COMMITMENT." We
hope he'll forgive us, but our group changed it to "INVOLVEMENT,"
because it can and does change.
Our substances certainly went along with other activities at times,
especially in the early stages of addiction, but for much of the time
doing the substance was the main activity, the only activity - the
involvement. Not doing it anymore leaves a huge time and interest
gap, and boredom is another deadly enemy of the addict. Criterion
Number Seven reads, "INVOLVEMENT. To be vitally absorbed in
something outside of one's self, whether it is embodied in people,
Austin, Texas

Reprinted with permission from Recovery, Vol. 1, No.3, September



Mr. Talley, the owner of Bill Talley Productions Co.,
has his Communications degree
from the University of Denver.
He has been a professional writer
in advartising , public relations and marketing for 24 years.
He specializes in the psychology of Atheism and
is expert in the evolution/"scientific"
creationism debate.
Bill is also President and Founder of
the American Atheist Alcohol Recovery Group (AAARG).
Appalled by the Christianity effused throughout both
Alcoholics Anonymous and the Palmer Drug Abuse programs,
Bill's new program
substitutes the use of reason for the use of alcohol
- and comes up with a better program

September, 1984

Page 23

Brett Jason Sinclair


hear the whistle blow.

The blessed are on the make once more; calling for a holy war
against liberty - a jihad. Smug and righteous. the Constitution In one
hand, their Bible in the other, they're again marching backwards into
the Dark Ages. Banners lifted heavenwards, machine guns tucked
under their cassocks, hosannas on their lips, and a glassy-eyed look
about them, they're goose-stepping down Main Street shouting in
high-pitched whining little voices: "I want to be heard." And hear them
we shall.
Prayer again. Not private. Not chosen. Not calm. Not contemplative. A hallelujah chorus, jesuitically turning bullets into ballots;
behold, a new "sermon on the mount." This sweet land of liberty is on
her knees going down for the final count; her death knell tolling to the
bells of St. Mary's. Those crying "freedom and liberty now and
forever" will drown in a tide of Christian beatitude.
"Wait," you say. "They tried before. Webeat 'em then, and we can
do it again." Don't you know? YOU LOST. You just beat them from
their barricades back into their pews. They went away licking their
wounds to eat high on the hog of theology and Constitutional reform
- planning their next assault on our citadel. They planned well. No
more compromises. Silent prayer, thou canst be heard: neither by

Page 24

September, 1984

man, nor by god. They're right. It is not a matter of politics: the means.
It is a matter of ethics: the ends.
Before the sixties, prayer was in fullswing; never questioned, never
even thought about. Why think about the taken-for-granted? Then
the axe fell. The faithful were stunned, sent reeling; out of the public
schools and into their churches. They never knew what hit 'em. Their
first reaction was to remove their children from atheistic "contamination" and enroll them in private schools. "We accept defeat,"
they said. "We'll pick up our marbles and play in our own backyard."
For the last twenty years this has been the case. Only a few eager-forthe-vote politicians tried half-hearted ways of getting around the basic
decision, the decision that prayer is not a part of education - public
education, that is.
But now it's different. It's not a matter of Johnny's having to endure
Jane's sotto voce A.M. Sermonette. This time prayer is good, with a
capital G. And he who is silent: be damned. Notice, no one is against
prayer as such. Most even say it's a good thing - even in the schools.
Good, that is, provided you keep it to yourself. Opponents don't
object to prayer as a. political question. They just don't like the
answers they're hearing from those proponents of loud-and-legal
prayer. But proponents do understand the ethics of the situation and a moral cop-out when they hear one. Now they willuse the silent
assent of the too-silent majority and blackmail us all with a Constitutional change that gets them back into the schoolyard. They willhave
prayer; they will have it heard; and anyone who says "nay" will be
socially excommunicated. After all, "we really agree that there is a
God, and that He is good, and that He is just, and that He simply
wants a little adoration now and then." Taking a cue from their defeat
of the Equal Rights Amendment, they're now clamoring for the blood
of the Infidel. This time we just might lose, becoming the spoils they
divide amongst themselves.
We have only one weapon: the weapon of ideas, the weapon of
reason. We must cut the Gordian knot entangling politics and
religion, demanding the answer to a single question: Can someone
claim rights while denying those self-same rights to others?
Can someone who wants to pray demand that you pay for it? Can
someone who wants to speak up demand that you be his audience?
Can a mob of someones who want to lift theireyes demand that your
neck be raised as well? Can someone who wants to satiate his god
demand that you join in, ifonly in silent consent? Must someone else's
"good" be made the standard for you to live up to?
Hear the whistle blow? ~
Bret Jason Sinclair is an inventor (with patents
on laser scanning devices, mechanical drive trains,
and dental instruments);
an author
(currently working on a book dealing with
the psychology of 'being sold'
whether real estate or a bill of goods);
and an enterprenuer (with two current business projects).
A short piece by his wife, Barbara Sinclair,
appeared in
the Potpourri section of the May, 1984, issue of the
American Atheist.
The American Atheist

T. Robert Grace



odern science is the marvel of inquiry, a magnificent aspect of

human intelligence. Scientific endeavor as we know it is the
descendant of the natural philosophy that flourished in classical
Greek times.' It is based on the ancient system of thought known as
Materialism, which basically holds that there exists a natural world
and nothing more. Science operates according to a philosophy based
on that of Materialism, and it is the means by which rational minds
perceive what we know as reality. (What Iam trying to say here is that
the natural world is reality. The "supernatural," on the other hand, is
not reality, but an aspect of human imagination.)
I willtry to convey the philosophy of science by describing three
basic assumptions about reality and the natural world. I will also
describe how these assumptions relate to some common ideas today,
ideas concerning the "fringes of reality."
The first assumption states simply: That which is not observable is
not assumed to exist. This means that any aspect of the world of
which we can truly know must in some way be observable, whether
directly or indirectly. The second assumption is that of causalism:
there exists measurable causes for observable events. A third
assumption is that a negative case cannot be proven.
One of the most important things to which these assumptions of
reality applies is the universe as a whole. A very important concept in
cosmology today is the "observable universe." For example, an
astronomer may speak of so many galaxies in the "observable
universe" or of peering to the limits of the "observable universe." This
is very important, as it defines the whole of reality.
According to modern estimates concerning the temperature of
background radiation, the universe originated somewhere on the
order of fifteen billion years ago.2 Now, when we look at an object
such as a star, in any direction in space, the fastest speed at which any
information can reach us from that object is the speed of light: 186,282
miles/second. Ifwe are observing a star that is, say, 40,000 light-years
away, and it should explode at precisely this instant, we would not
know about it for another 40,000 years. For objects increasingly
distant from the Earth, it would take increasingly more time for the
lightto reach us.
Eventually there is a point at which an object is so distant that the
time required for its light to reach us is equal to the age of the
universe. For objects any more distant, the universe has not been in
existence long enough for its light to reach us. Also, according to the
Hubble constant, the more distant an object is from the Earth, the
faster it is receding from us. There is a point, then, at which an object
is so distant from us that it would be receding at the speed of light.
According to relativity, it is impossible for an object with mass to
reach the speed of light. It doesn't matter anyway; as I stated just
before, there is no way we can detect such objects.
This point, this distance from us in all directions, is known as the
"event horizon." Thus, we speak of the "observable universe,"
everything which lies within fifteen billion years from us. As Albert
Einstein said, "The universe is finite, yet unbounded." There is no
lWhat I find most interesting about the natural philosophers of
ancient Greece is that they were mostly Atheists. Pretty sound
fellows, wouldn't you think? It's too bad that all of this was stunted for
over 1500 years by some unmentionable product of human stupidity.
2The background radiation is essentially the radiant energy remaining
from the Big Bang. The age of the universe is estimated to be between
15 and 20 billion years. I chose 15 only to make my point.
Austin, Texas

distinct "edge," but the universe, as we can ever possibly know it, is a
finite quantity.
A common question is asked: "What lies outside of the universe?"
In terms of reality, there is no "outside of the universe;" it is an
essentially nonsensical question. Anything could lie beyond the
"event horizon"; the universe could extend indefinitely, or the great
imperial squid could be out there, but there is no way we can detect it,
so It is not assumed to exist.
A recent fallacy is the idea that plants have intelligence. As a result,
many people talk to plants, thinking that the plants are consciously
aware. It may be that even rocks have intelligence, perhaps human
intelligence. All forms of inanimate matter could have some form of
consciousness for that matter, but even if they did, the fact remains
that there is no way we can detect or measure such intelligence.
Now I think it is important to mention god concepts. One can easily
find someone to claim that a god exists. I would, of course, ask this
person to prove that. And, as I'm sure you've guessed, the person
would demand that I prove that the god doesn't exist. This, in a sense,
is a self-incriminating statement.
Many people have the problem of interpreting unprovability as
proof. This is especially evident in the creationist farce. (That point
alone should be enough to convince anyone in doubt that creationism
is not a science.) I can no more disprove the existence of the Christian
god than I can the existence of any other god. So if one follows the
religionists' reasoning, if my inability to disprove the existence of the
Christian god proves that it exists, then it also stands as proof that
Zeus, Athena, Rha, Osiris, Quetzalcoatl, Thor, and so on exist just as
well. That is self-incriminating because in Christianity, as in most
other religions, I suspect, it is stated unequivocably that the god or
gods of the particular religion are the only ones that really exist.
God concepts then, being completely immeasurable, are nothing
more than a vacuum or darkness - nonexistences: the absence of
matter, the absence of light (and the absence of intelligence).
God concepts were originally formed out of ignorance. What
makes the sun shine? - god. What causes earthquakes? - god.3
Hence, Isaac Asimov has referred to god as a one-syllable sound
meaning "I don't know." God ideas are a completely immeasurable
cause for observable events, and that's where science comes in. As a
result, divine creation, that age-old untested hypothesis concerning
the origin of life, began to be shaken by the scientific community.
With the idea of life in mind, I think it is important to mention the
idea of extraterrestrial life, the subject of increasing concern in
science today. I recently attended a lecture about extraterrestrial life
where a professor was describing the circumstantial evidence that
hints at the possibility of life other than that on Earth. At the
conclusion I heard a person in the audience grunt: "There's a
difference of opinion here! I really think we're alone."
I can understand that, certainly. The discovery of civilized (and I
use the term loosely) lifeforms other than our own would shake world
religions by the neck. Ah, but the fool, if only he really knew what he
was saying. His assertion is as valid as one in religion, but he no more
plans to have his idea tested than any religionist does. To prove the
negative case, that is, that' extraterrestrial life does not exist, would
3The Greco-Roman mythology had a little variety, at least. These
questions would be answered by Helios, Apollo, and monsters
imprisoned in the Earth. It is for this reason that I always found the
christian god idea to be a rather generic form of mythology, and not
nearly as interesting.

September, 1984

Page 25

require a systematic search of every last corner of the universe; every

planet, moon, and so on. (I'll bet he didn't realize that.)
Scientists, then, try to prove the positive case, which is, amongst
other things, possible. Ifthey can detect a communication of just one
lifeform, they have their case. Another point here is that it's not what
one thinks (their opinion, I mean) but what there's evidence for.
But now let's get back to cosmology. Today, by way of particle
physics and the like, scientists are gaining a clearer understanding of
what transpired during the first few hours after the Big Bang, the
explosive origin of the universe. Much is now understood about what
probably happened up to about 1/1043seconds after the Big Bang. As
more is understood about high-energy particle physics, we will
steadily work our understanding nearer to the beginning. Then the
question pops up: "What happened before the Big Bang?"
The Big Bang involved the origin of matter and energy, which
comprise what we know as reality. Prior to the origin of reality, and
the natural world, there was no reality (as far as we can detect) and
hence we once again have a nonsensical question.'
A popular theory is that of the "oscillating universe." According to
this idea, the Big Bang was the explosion of the previously imploded
matter and energy of a prior universe. Because the space- time and
hence the material which comprised this hypothetical universe would
have collapsed into an infinitessimal point, there can be no trace of
this prior universe. Our universe, it is hypothesized, may, billions of
years from now, collapse due to its own overall gravity, imploding,
only to explode again as a new universe. And so on. That may very
well be, but at this point, certainly, there is no way of detecting it.
In this line of thought, we can engage in wonderful flights of fantasy.
For example, it has been proposed that every electron, quark, and
other elementary particle of our universe contains within it another
universe, perhaps like our own, and that the whole of our universe is
but an imperceptibly small particle of a much larger universe, and so
on, extending indefinitely in both directions. But that is not observable nor detectable by us, and so cannot be assumed to exist,
only imagined.
In 1955, Einstein described his lifelong quest:
"Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists
independently of us human beings and which stands before us
like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our
inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world
beckoned like a liberation .... The road to this paradise was not
so comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious
paradise; but it has proved itself as trustworthy, and I have
never regretted having chosen it."
And so it is for the philosophy of science, our guide for exploring
that world which "beckons like a liberation." ~
Extraterrestrial Civilizations, by Isaac Asimov
The Universe, by Isaac Asimov
Broca's Brain, by Carl Sagan


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Nineteen year old Todd Grace is currently working
toward a doctorate in Astronomy at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign. As an
Atheist Activist, he is the secretary of the new Central Illinois
Chapter of American Atheits.
He writes that "[W]hen Artistotle fled Athens fearing
trial on impiety, he stated that he would 'not allow Athens
to sin twice against philosophy.' ...
My goal is very similar. I will not allow Christianity
to sin twice against science."


Page 26

September, 1984


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4Robert Jastrow didn't seem to think so in his book, God and the
Astronomers. About all I can say about it was that I was profoundly
shocked when I first read it.

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Exp. Data


The American Atheist

Lowell Newby


A theism: a word signifying emptiness, or so I once thought; ".... :

t"l without Christ . . . strangers from the covenant of promise,
having no hope, and without god in the world." Ephesians 2:12 But
such is not the case. The preachers were wrong. The Bible was
wrong.My Christian friends were wrong. An atheistic life is neither a
shallowexistence devoted to the unfulfillingpursuit of material things,
nor is the life of an orphan who secretly longs for the parent he will
never know. Rather, the life of an Atheist is a normal life. He looks
and, for the most part, behaves like anyone else. The primary
difference is that he is not crippled by a belief in witches, heavenly
ghosts, homeless demons, holy mudholes, talking jackasses, or any of
the other anti-science fiction found in unholy writ. And unlike the
theist, he lives without the necessity of juggling the concerns of this
life along with the commands of an imaginary god; a god whose
expectations are incomptaible with either justice or good sense. Far
from being unhappy because of his Atheism, the Atheist has, if
anything, the ability to live a life of unparalleled joy.

"ManyAtheists ... are shocked to observe that

the bitterest opponents to their rights . . .
justify their opposition on the grounds that
they are seeking to preserve 'the American
way.' As comical as this sounds, it is no laughingmatter to an Atheist who lives in a conservative area miles from a support group."
This is not to imply that all Atheists are joyful, because, as I stated,
Atheists are "normal" people. As such they are subject to grief and
disappointment like everyone else, but their unhappiness is neither
caused nor worsened by the fact that they are Atheists. The only
exception to this would be those instances in which an Atheist falls
victim to persecution by religious people. He then finds himself in the
unhappy position of having to either start keeping his thoughts to
himself or else risk continuing harassment. Whether to lose personal
integrity or your neighbors'goodwill - choose your poison. Many
Atheists in this position are shocked to observe that the bitterest
opponents to their rights to free speech, a free press, and freedom
from religion justify their opposition on the grounds that they are
Austin, Texas

seeking to preserve "the American way." As comical as this sounds, it

is no laughing matter to an Atheist who lives in a conservative area
miles from a support group. It is not surprising that Atheists in this
situation sometimes compare their feelings to those of someone who
has been mistakenly placed in an asylum.
Under the circumstances, one might ask ifthe atheistic lifeis worth
it. Even though, if unhindered, his lifestyle has the potential for
happiness, when one considers the alienation, if not outright persecution, that the Atheist sometimes experiences, perhaps he would
be better off as a "true believer." That way he could "live in peace with
god and man." And what a comfort it would be to go to bed each night
and either thank god for having given you a good day or else thank
him for the time when he willmake up for your bad day by giving you a
mansion in heaven. As enticing as this possibility might seem during
times of oppression. the question is really not a valid one because it
presupposes that the Atheist has the power to choose between belief
and non belief. In fact, he can no more willhimself to believe in a god
than he can will himself to believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter
But suppose he could. Suppose that through hypnosis or through
some brainwashing drug he could wake up in the morning in "the
camp of the saved." Would he? Like the disillusioned priest in one of
Tolstoy's stories, the Atheists to whom I have talked unhesitatingly
say that they prefer what is at times an inconvenient truth over a
socially acceptable lie. Perhaps it was this attribute that led them to
become Atheists in the first place.
But aside from a love of truth for its own sake, the mature Atheist is
unflinching in his unbelief because he accepts the fact that life is,
always has been, and always will be, to some extent, unfair. He
realizes that whether a person is black, female, elderly, handicapped,
or even redneck, he is the victim of some form of discrimination. Even
the lower animals are not exempt. The lives of innocent mice are
unfairly destroyed by snakes that are themselves murdered by birds
of prey. It is a hard world, and the only way in which most people are
removed from savagery is in the field of technology. In areas such as
justice, compassion, and the ability to think independently, the
human intellect of which our race is so proud is, like its religion, a
comforting myth. In his desire to better mankind, the mature Atheist
can only observe with dismay the sorry material with which he has to
work, and then go on to do the best he can. But go on he willbecause,
being mature, he has no intention of running from the problem and
thereby supporting the enemies of what he knows to be the truth.

Lowell Newby is a freelance writer whose article, "The Day
After," appeared in the February issue of American Atheist.
About himself he writes, "I am especially proud of being from
Mississippi, because it is the home of such outstanding Atheist
activists as John Marthaler and Paul Tirmenstein."
"Being introspective by nature, my interest in Atheism centers
around the innermost effects that it has upon the individual,
particularly one who lives in a theistic environment such as we
now have in the United States. I would suspect that, rather
than being an isolated fact about themselves that Atheists
happen to have in common, their Atheism is a clue to many
other positive similarities that have yet to be identified.
Public knowledge of these similarities would do much
to elevate our position in our society."

September, 1984

Page 27


A twenty-three year old graduate of the Art Institute of Houston. Steve Paige Streeter is a graphic artist andfreelance cartoonist. whose work
recently graced the April 1984 issue of the American Atheist. He writes that, "One of my five-year goals is to have a comic strip syndicated." But
for now, he joined the staff of the American Atheist Center in August, 1984.

What is Atheism?
Atheism is a basic position ... a way of life in which logic and reason
dictate and where scientific explanations stand as they are proven to
be until evidence is put forth. Atheism accepts evolution and always
questions ... pursuing an answer by using reason and the scientific
method. Atheism is, also, a form of materialism; however, I feel ... a
more "up to date" version ... much more refined and polished.
Atheism is the ultimate label for the individual thinking man/woman.
An Atheist knows that every man/woman can be and, indeed, should
be responsible for his/her actions completely.

Outside of my active involvement in the Houston Chapter of

American Atheists, I have several good friends who encourage me to
read various Atheist books from philosophy to science fiction.

Why are you an Atheist?

I am an Atheist because I am an honest, thinking human being, who
sees no sense in holding a "system of beliefs" or falling like a dolt for
this supernatural mumbo-jumbo! I am an Atheist rather than an
Objectivist or a Unitarian (I have been subjected to both and only find
Objectivism to have any merits) for the mere fact that I am completely
without any kind of theism, and that is the bravest statement one can
make in society today.
How did you become an Atheist?
It's sort of funny now looking back on my first signs of "atheistic
behavior," but it was by no means funny then. In my fifth grade class I
can remember being beat up for saying, "I don't believe in God." For
some reason this question, "Do you believe in God?" pops up heavily
in elementary school, and, of course, I was the outcast. But I only said
"No," and that was grounds for daily abuse after school on the
playground. I can specifically remember this and do not today hold it
as a grudge. Whom would it be against? And what could I do about it
now? No, it is only a reminder of the consequences facing an
individual if he/she rejects the "big guy" or "it" in the sky ... and I was
only a kid. Ah, but I never really was exposed to any religion from this
point on, but little did I know that my father was and is a closet
Atheist. It was after I completed two years at college (Art School) that
I received The Bible Unmasked, and An Atheist Manifesto, both by
Joseph Lewis, as gifts from my father. After reading the latter I felt like
I could have written the same words. It made sense. I knew I was an
Atheist at age 20. I heard some definitions on Howard Kreisner's
American Atheist Hour on Radio Station KPFT, Houston, and just
nodded in agreement. I joined National (American Atheists - ed.)
and Local (Houston Chapter - ed.) a few years after. For awhile I
investigated and toyed with agnostic ideas ... But always being a
"none of the above" type, I snapped and decided to "face front" and
stand up proud as an Atheist.
What have reactions to your Atheism been? From family,
friends, co-workers?
At first my outspokenness on atheistic topics and views were not
taken seriously. A good friend I had at a past job would tell me, "Shhh,
be quiet." And the general line, "There's two things which are not
good to talk about ... religion and politics." Well, it just so happens
that those are subjects I enjoy talking about and investigating! At
work when it is discovered I am indeed an Atheist - I am either
ignored ... given lines like, "Atheism is a religion too!" or they just
don't believe it.
As far as my family goes - my father is a closet Atheist and my
mother prefers not to talk about it. It is kind of tense with my mother's
boyfriend. He is threatened by my involvement in American Atheists,
and sees it as some sort of "Radical Punk Phase" in my case. Talk
about nonsense!
Page 28

September, 1984

What do you consider to be specifically Atheist values and

I hold firm that each individual can reason and attain his own set of
values and ethics through philosophy, free of supernatural strings.
This, as in my case, is a mesh of many individual ideas and
explanations. Whatever works for one, within the boundries of
reason and logic, is how one picks up one's own set of values and
ethics. I rate my work ethic very highly. I mean ... once one realizes
that this life is it and rituals waste time, your life becomes a 24hour
job. I also value my qoals in my trade very highly. Personally I think
Ayn Rand's analysis of ethics and values suit me best ... although I
have my disagreements with some of her philosophy.
Has your weltanschuung caused you any personal or professional problems?
My weltanschuung has, I think, been a positive force in my life- for
it has given me a solid base for my general well-being. However, I do
notice a problem in strengthening my self-esteem. The price the
individual pays for not "selling out" is high. How anyone can
compromise on his/her integrity is beyond me. I guess they just
redefine the word to justify this. How sad!
Do you feel that the general situation for Atheists has grown
better or worse in recent years?
I think the situation for Atheists over the past twenty years has
waffled back and forth - and is now in a downswing. With Ronnie and
his like slipping after-school religious drivel in our public school
system and evolution being put on the level of creationism by many
kooks, we're seeing the dark ages revisited. However, the Atheist
position does seem to be noticed, especially in newspapers, more so
today. The ignorance of fundamentalists is still there. I have received
several "I love you! God loves you!" type nonsense reaction letters
overall, I see Atheism firmly rooted in America. Yet ... it must be the
future,. or we face a continuing projection of the Dark Ages.
Do you feel that Atheism affects your day to day life, your
performance on the job or in personal relations?
I don't think being an Atheist makes me any different except in my
thought process and way of rejecting aspects of ignorant pre-historic
thought and "beliefs." I do think Atheism demands hard work and
I think my active Atheism does cause abnormal reactions among
some co-workers. For example, when I had a letter printed in the
Houston Post signed, "Member, American Atheists," I received many
cryptic looks and nods ... not a word spoken. But in the end, I am
trying to do something positive by writing while no one else with
whom I work could give a flip about any kind of action! Action for
Atheism is action for the future, the world that ought to be.
How do you deal with traditionally religious activities or
ceremonies, like marriages or wakes?
I have not had to face either a marriage or a burial in my adult life. I
see cremation and a small burial plot to be a good thing. Wakes,
caskets, $500 stones (and up) are sick. And, a waste of a living
person's money and time.
cont'd. on p. 39
The American Atheist


dawn's joy says
I will make this my greatest day,
dawn's pride says
celebrate the pinnacle you are,
dawn's health says
it's your responsibility,
dawn's learning says
show meticulous regard for sources,
dawn's justice says
give as received,
dawn's respect says
everyone's deserving
dawn's wit says
provoke a smile, share a laugh
dawn's desire says
I am something to be overcome,
dawn's consciousness says
sow here ... reap now,
dawn's wisdom says
see the snail,
dawn's enjoyables say
find me only through experimentation,
and dawn's love says still,
make of me what you will.

Up from the depths have I come,

the deepest darkest blackest midnight
have I come my brothers and sisters,
both inner and outer midnights have I seen.
Up from Serengeti's savageness,
up from Ice Age ignorance
where I chased bears from caves
torches aloft
eyes bludging
paints dripping animals
for who knows why.
Up from slave-merchant-soldier-priest-ruler
the king of virtues, ruled absolutely,
along with hocus-pocus-dominocus
the gods control everything
sacrificial slaughter,
human and otherwise.


Up from midnight's deepest abyss,

from rat-infested, disease- ridden
open- sewage urban's slum
have I come,
where my mind was habitually force-fed
superstitious, know- your- place
never question
the gods will it
believe only this fantasmagoria
and live forever.

Come greet this dawn my brothers and sisters,

greet this dawn and say your YES.

E. J. K.


Up from yesterday's midnight

have I staggered
witnessing our past nocturnal spectacle:
ear-lopping, eye-gouging
rack-breaking, neck-stretching
gas-chamber mass- murders.

When the yellow apples fall

With soft thumps to the ground,
And the corn schucks rattle
In the brisk, early morning wind,
When pumpkins lie like orange balloons
Among the dead leaves in the garden,
And the green tomatoes hang in
Sad little clusters on blackened vines,
When the dry grass breaks underfoot
With crisp rattiings,
And dead leaves are kicked high by
Racing, shouting school children
When frost lies white on the
Roof tops in the morning,
And slow mist seeps into the valleys
Eerie, mysterious and still,
When wild geese honk overhead
In the silent hours of the night,
And afternoon shadows stretch low
With the four o'clock sun,
When light windows welcome you
To warmth and food and you run
To get out of the chill - it's autumn.

Up from fantasy dominated,

myth-spewing, tall-tale-telling,
credo est absurdums
have I trudged
to see at last, at so very long last
new rays of a new day's dawn.
In my mind's east
it grows light ... slowly
visible stars still twinkle in the west
but on its way
this new day
receives from me a YES,
a YES to the dawn
and the new values it spawns.
Dawn's honesty says
I know only here and now,
dawn's integrity says
give up? Never.
Austin, Texas

Beth M. Applegate
September, 1984

Page 29


nJanuary of this year top government officials, political leaders of
all hues, chief ministers of the states, and representatives from
industry met in conclave in New Delhi for a meeting of the
National Integration Council. Most Indians are unaware that such a
body even exists, though this was the second time it met after
November. 1980.
At the first marathon meeting which lasted nine hours, these very
important people indulged in a great deal of pontification about how
vital it has now become that we think of ourselves first as Indians and
only after that as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsi, Sikh, Jain,
Buddhist and whatever else.
Or again, first as Indians and only then as Brahmin, Kshatrya,
Vaishya, Shudra, Harijan or a few thousand other castes and
Or again, first as Indians and then as Punjabi, Tamilian, Bengali,
Assamese, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Bihari and so on to a further few
hundred regional ethnic groups and subnationalities,
Or yet again, as Indians With our nrst loyalty to the national
language of Hindi and only after that to our individual languages of
Puniabi, Tamil, Bengali, Assamese, Gujarati, Marathi and so on to
countless other languages, dialects and subdialects,
This enumeration of communities, castes, regional groups and
regional languages is to give you some idea of how mind-boggling our
predicament is. I doubt if you will find many genuine Indians
throughout the length and breadth of this country. We are in a
well-defined minority.
The second meeting of the National Integration Council, therefore,
was to impress on people the need for a vigorous intellectual and
moral campaign against communalism, casteism, regionalism and
linguistic fanaticism. The delegates also discussed the role of the
press and radio in promoting national integration.
A list of do's and don'ts was drawn up which makes amusing
reading to Atheists who aren't infected by naivete:

a. Speak kindly and appreciatively of the common points of
the various religions and the features which unite all Indians.
b. Mix with people of different persuasion and visit their
religious places if there is no objection, and, if not objected to,
on social and other occasions, too.
c. Articulate the contribution of poets, authors and playwrights of other religions and languages to the unity of India.
d. Condemn writings that are scurrilous and likely to wound
the religious feelings of others. Strengthen the hands of local
government functionaries in their efforts to promote the
communal harmony.
a. Do not criticise or belittle or ridicule the tenets and
observances of other religions.
b. Do not use loudspeakers and amplifiers in public places,
especially in places of worship, in such a way as to cause
nuisance to others and in particular not to hurt the religious
feelings of other communities.

communal hatred and prejudice. Recalling my own experience as a

primary school teacher, I feel somewhat skeptical about this exercise.
I have heard 5-year olds candidly expressing hatred and contempt of
other religions and castes with an adult perception they could only
have acquired at their mother's knees. The roots of communal
prejudice are pernicious and go deep into our historical past.
It is doubtful whether any of the weighty topics debated at the
top-level meeting of the National Integration Council will ever filter
down to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker in our teeming
bazaars. They have no illusions about the system in which they fight
for survival, and know where their loyalties lie in any communal
The truth is that very few of the participants who sat together at this
conclave have clean hands themselves. Beginning with Mrs. Gandhi,
every politician exploits religious sentiment, caste loyalties, regional
interests and linguistic fanaticism if it brings in their votes. Every
political party has, at some time or other, forged electoral alliances
with religious-based groups, with leftists and rightists, and campaigned by appealing to bigotry, prejudice and hatred. They have
done this from the time we gained our freedom in 1947. Nowthe birds
are coming home to roost.
Until recently Mrs. Ghandi was seen as the savior of the minorities,
particularly Muslims and Christians. But a certain disenchantment
has now set in. She has turned pious. She claimed she was an Atheist
when interviewed by a foreign journalist. Now she explains away her
piety by saying it is a political thing! This kind of cynicism is what has
set people at each other's throats today.
Mrs. Ghandi now makes frequent visits to Hindu shrines, places of
pilgrimage, the ashrams of godmen, and venerates godmen, including
Jesus Christ superstar, the Satya Sai Baba. According to a news
report in 1980, when she moved back into her official residence as
prime minister, she had the place purified by rituals carried out by
Brahmin priests summoned from Benares (Varanasi). We are told
she frequently consults astrologers before launching an important
undertaking. Militant Hindu sentiment is less antagonistic to her now,
and in certain regions the dividing line between fascist Hindu
organizations and her partymen is very thin indeed.

As part of the Council's countrywide effort to promote the concept

of Indianness, all school taxes have been scrutinised and sanitised of
material which might contaminate the minds of the young with
Page 30

September, 1984

"... Jawaharlal Nehru ... once wrote, 'The

spectacle of what is called religion in India and
elsewhere has filled mewith horror, and I have
frequently condemned it and wished to make a
clean sweep of it.' "
Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was an Atheist and once wrote "The
spectacle of what is called religion in India and elsewhere has filledme
with horror, and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a
clean sweep of it. Almost always it seems to stand for blind belief and
reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition and exploitation and the
preservation of vested interest."
He was also aware that "the real struggle today in India is not
between Hindu and Muslim culture, but between these two and the
conquering scientific culture of modern civilization."
With obscurantism now joined with power politics, those of us who
The American Atheist

remember the first years of freedom see a steady erosion of secular

values, and a steady regression in terms of true tolerance. Today
India is more petrified and divided by fossilized beliefs, split in every
direction by caste, insulated by subsects, blinded by obsolete beliefs,
and paralysed by a fatalism which sees hope only in the next world.
As the dominating religion of the majority, Hinduism pervades
every aspect of government. No major project is launched without a
minister performing a special puja guided by a Hindu priest. In every
public office Hindu icons and prints of deities, godmen, saints and
babes are hung on walls. Some government departments do not start
work until a puja is performed with all employees in attendance.
Coconuts are broken even against the hulls of ships or newly
acquired jumbo jets for the domestic airline to the chanting of obscure
Vedic mantras two thousand years old. It is hardly surprising that the
reaction to all this has been a kind of communal backlash, with other
religious groups drawing together more tightly within themselves for
fear that they willlose their socioreligious identity by a slow process of
On the other hand, protest is tantamount to downright bad
manners. One is expected to participate without murmur in all such
Hindu functions, no matter what one's religious commitment. The
notion that religion must be absolutely excluded from the temporal
and confined within the limits of the private conscience is something
which few Indians seem able to comprehend. Religiosity is blatantly
rampant wherever one turns. When the present Sikh president of
India was sworn into office, he made it a point to visit a temple,
church, mosque and gurdwara to prove how secular he is. It missed
most people's imaginations that had he been truly secular, as head of
a secular state he wouldn't have visited any place of worship at all.
Historically religion has always confounded any effort at peaceful
co-existence. Gandhi's mass movement for freedom from British
colonialismwas actually a religious revival. He couldn't have stirred
the masses had he gone to them in the suit and bowler hat he wore
whilestudying law in England and again while practising in South
Africa.The loin-cloth of the holy man and the Hindu appellation of
"Mahatma" carried him far. Not surprisingly Muslims began to feel
insecure, convinced there would be no place for them in Gandhi's free
India. For him politics was the handmaid of religion. And the
otherwise liberal-minded Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, in turn made
religionthe handmaid of politics.
The do's and don'ts of the National Integration Council harp on
Gandhi's own belief that all religions preach love and brotherhood -if
only their adherents would exercise restraint and practise their


precepts faithfully. But religion itself is a totalitarian ideology. Each

group claims a patent on truth and regards the rest as aberrations of
its own truth. Religion also unites people into isolated groups who are
brought up to believe that they must not compromise their faith by
theological dilution of any sort.
In our secular state of India today we have democratic electorates
operating on communal lines. Caste and community playa significant
role in deciding on party candidates in any constituency. Adult
franchise is used to perpetuate and strengthen caste distinctions.
Block voting has transformed most of our constituencies into vast
communal complexes where die-hard attitudes decide the political
color of each region.
Religion is careful to destroy the critical faculties of the faithful by
claiming supernatural sanction from an unverifiable source called
god. Obsolete social concepts derived from myths and obscure
scriptural texts make it impossible to solve problems of modern living.
Neither the National Integration Council nor any other can offer us a
solution to the problem of brotherly love when each community
insists on operating from within an authoritarian system of values.
"Secularism" in our country is now understood to mean a refusal to
bring any kind of critical scrutiny to bear on the beliefs of others, even
if they are exploitative, destructive of human happiness, and superstitious. Tolerance means being indifferent, and criticism is regarded
as hostility. Indeed, so prickly have people become that court
injunctions are often brought out by religious groups against filmmakers on the accusation that the theme of a film, a song, or even a
passing reference in the dialogue hurts their religious feelings.
One of the more empty slogans we take pride in is "Unity in
Diversity." But diversity is steadily swamping out the unity. There
doesn't seem to be much hope of stemming the rot until and unless
people are educated into abandoning their parochialism. They must
stop confusing culture with religion and instead work together
towards developing a new Indian identity based on reason, compassion and humanism. ~
In 1978 your editors, assisted by Joseph Edamaruku,
editor of an Indian Atheist publication, combed India
seeking writers who would consistently offer an interpretation
of Indian religious events. Margaret Bhatty, in Nagpur,
a well-know feminist journalist agreed that she
would attempt to do so in the future. She joined the staff
of the American Atheist in Janurary, 1983.




Austin, Texas



September, 1984

Page 31


100 Years Ago ...

30 Years Ago ...

The Truth Seeker of September 27th,

1884, contained the following report:
"The New York Christian at Work observes that, with all that may be said of an
encouraging and hopeful nature respecting
the progress of Christianity, 'The Christian
sky is not altogether clear and roseatemany a cloud hangs over the horizon, while
in the rural districts the God of our lathers
continues to be worshipped with devout
sincerity, and by ever increasing numbers,
In our great cities Agnosticism and indifferentism are, it must be frankly confessed,
two evils so widely prevalent and so hateful
in their results as to awaken the saddest, not
to say most alarming, reflections.' The editor states that inquiry in one manufactory
where forty-five men were employed, showed that there was but one of them a professing Christian, and in another where there
were over one hundred workmen, but four
ever entered the sanctuary, except, perhaps, to attend a funeral or a wedding. One
thing he observed with surprise in his investigations, that 'the more intelligent of the
workingmen' were the most ready to deny
the doctrines of Christianity and advocate
Agnostic and skeptical views."

The city of Luxemburg, capital of the

Independent Grand-Ducy of Luxemburg,
hosted the thirty-first World Congress of
the World Union of Freethinkers, from
September first to sixth in 1954. This Congress was dedicated to the memory of
Servetus, a Spanish theologian and physician, who was burned alive by Calvin for his
anti-trinitarian views in the year 1553. Archibald Robertson in his article, "World Union
of Freethinkers" in the December, 1954
issue of the Progressive World noted that
the theme of the Congress was "the changes
in the doctrine and the practices of the
Churches in the face of evolving society
Delegates were welcomed to the area by
the mayors of Luxemburg. Dudelange. and
Vianden. Mr. Fohrmann, mayor of Dudelange, and M. VICtor Abens, mayor ot
Vianden, both openly expressed themselves as freethinkers, according to the
report of F. A. Ridley which appeared in the
October 29th, 1954 issue of The Freethinker
an English publication.
C. Bradlaugh Bonner In his October 1st,
1954 article, "Luxemburg," which appeared
in The Freethinker, mentioned that speakers had come from England, Germany,
France, Luxemburg, Holland, and Ireland.

80 Years Ago ...

George E. MacDonald, in his Fifty Years
of Freethought, makes the following report
of the International Freethought Congress
of 1904.
"The 1904 Congress held in Rome, September20-22drewa largeand distinguishedattendance. America sent Dr. Moncure D. Conway [a liberal minister and the biographer of
Thomas Paine] as a delegate. Ernst Haeckel
[biologist] represented Germany; Cesare
Lombroso [criminologist,] Italy; Marcelin
Berthelot [chemist,] France; Dr. Henry
Maudsley [physician psychologist,] England; Hector Denis, Belgium; Bjornstjerne
Bjornson [poet, novelist and playwright,]
Norway; Novikov, Russia; Nicolas Salmeron Y Alfono [first President of the
Spanish Republic,] Spain. All were appointed honorary vice-presidents. More thanfive
thousand delegates attended. (emphasis added.) The pope pronounced the Congress
'satanic' and shut up the Vatican while it was
in session ...
"George William Foote, president of the
National Secular Society of Great Britain,
and editor of The Freethinker, returned to
London to report that the gathering was a
magnificent affair; yet it was not a Congress;
it was a Demonstration."
Page 32

25 Years Ago ...

This report, written by Hugh Robert Orr,
comes from the editorial section of the
September, 1959, issue of the Progressive
"Now at last comes a perfect solution to
the problem of the teaching of religion in the
public schools. A group of brilliant minds
down in Florida have come up with an idea
as astounding as it is novel. They have
recommended to the State Department of
Education that religion be taught in the
schools not as a separate subject, but in
connection with other curricular subjects.
"Upon thinking it over, it occurs to us that
the Bible itself could provide an abudance of
illustrative materials for impressing students
with spiritual values in whatever they may
be studying. In mathematics there's the
three-in-one mystery of the Holy Trinity -a
fine discipline in the theory of numbers. For
physics, there's the account of Jesus walking on the water ... "

September, 1984

20 Years Ago ...

An article titled "Semi-Annual Analysis of
Church-State Problems" by Dr. Louie D.
Newton appeared in the Fall, 1964, issue of
the Humanist World Digest. Excerpts follow.
"Serious deficiencies in regard to churchstate issues appear in both party platforms,
and in the statements and perforance of the
candidates for the presidency. Senator Goldwater's insistence that any federal aid to
education programs must provide subsidies
for church schools does violence to the First
Amendment. ...
..... Senator Humphrey's espousal of a
United States Ambassador to the Vatican
would be religiously divisive and we hope
willbe resisted by the Democrats. [Mondale
is a protege of Humphrey. - ed.]
" ... There are both discouraging and
encouraging aspects of the church-state
situation in the United States as we survey it
at this point in 1964. Discouraging is the
energetic onslaught against the money-line
separation of church and state and in the
Congress as well. Encouraging is the fact
that most of these controversies have found
the American people rallying strongly to
their tradition of church-state separation
and giving every evidence that they intend
to preseve it. '"
" ... It appears that the nation is heading to
its moment of truth in regard to the churchstate issue. As the pressure for government
subsidy for church programs mounts, there
must be counter pressure of equal vigor if
our heritage is to be preserved. The next
decade should decide whether our churches
shall continue as voluntary enterprises, or
whether they will move toward some other
kind of establishment, or quasi-establishment, with the government providing some
measure of financial support and exercising
commensurate forms of control over them."
[The author did not mention that in 1964
Rep. John Ashbrooke (R-Ohio) attached
"The Ashbrook Amendment" to the Civil
Rights Bill then in Congress. This amendment would have provided that any person
discovered to be an Atheist could be discharged from any public employment for
that reason alone, without right of appeal or
compensation. The amendment actually
passed the House of Representatives and
was stopped in the Senate by Senator

The American Atheist



Program #118; originally

broadcast October 12, 1970

When the first installment of a regularly scheduled, 15-minute, weekly American Atheist radio series on
KTBC radio (a station in Austin, Texas owned by then-president Lyndon Baines Johnson) hit the airwaves
on June 3, 1968, the nation was shocked. The programs had to be submitted weeks in advance and were
heavily censored. The series was concluded on October 18, 1975 when no further funding was available.

hen I became involved in the issue of removing

and prayer recitation from the public schools, I met an elderly
man by the name of Charles Smith. He was tiny, with a round face,

very white hair, looking much like a Kewpee doll. He was then 77
years old. In 1925 he had formed an organization in New York known
as the AAAA, that is the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism. He had come to visit me in Baltimore, Maryland, to
see if he could help somehow on our legal case.
Smith had been born in Arkansas. He had attended the Epworth
University of Oklahoma as a young adult because he desired to
become a Methodist minister. He was also employed as a law clerk for
the State Code Commission in Oklahoma and was admitted to
practice law in that state in 1910. In the state library, as he worked
toward his law degree, he accidentally came across a book, Jefferson's Bible.

As you willrecall, Thomas Jefferson was so critical of the person

Jesus that he attempted to rewrite the New Testament to retain some
integrityin the character of its central figure. Smith, on finding this
bookand reading it had, in his own words, "a first great jolt." He was
in attendance at the Univesity of Oklahoma and concerned himself
with the continuing fight about evolution. He moved from there to
Harvard, but could not continue his formal education at that
university because of the cost involved.
The war intervened, he enlisted and was sent across the Pacific to
Siberia and eventually to Vladivostok where he was stationed for 18
months. Upon his return to America he worked as a court reporter, a
court stenographer and as a writer. Then he founded the American
Association for the Advancement of Atheism. One of its first acts was
to file a suit to see that chaplains were no longer used in the Army,
Navy and Houses of Congress. He lost the suit.
In 1928 the state of his birth, Arkansas, introduced a billin the state
legislature that would prohibit the teaching of man's evolution in any
tax-supported school from grade to university level. Smith went to
Arkansas, and it is that story that Iwant to tell you. He arrived there in
October, rented the first floor of a store building at 710 Main Street in
Little Rock, and advertised in the daily press that these were now
Atheistic Headquarters where anyone could get evolution tracts, of
which he had about 25,000 to give away. He also had other
antireligious literature titled "Godless Evolution" and "The Bible in
the Balance" and "The Ape Ancestry of Man." Inside his window he
put a large sign which read "Evolution Is True. The Bible Is A Lie. God
Is A Ghost."
For days things ran smoothly. One little boy stuck his head in the
window and yelled "I believe in god." One woman called out to him "I
am going to tell my mayor." Smith did not distribute any of the
literature on the street. He made no formal speeches. He did not sell
any of his literature. He simply dispensed these tracts and literature to
those who came into the building to get it. He opened the headquarters on a Friday and stayed open all day Saturday and Sunday.
It was not so quiet at the office of the Chief of Police. (You won't
believe it, but his name was Rotenberry.) He was besieged with calls
to close up this little storefront headquarters, which was described as
"an outrage to Little Rock." Citizens came into the office of the chief
Austin, Texas

to say that if the store were not closed, it would be wrecked. Finally
Rotenberry, with Sergeants Prewitt and Sellers, went to make a
formal arrest of Smith. The verbal charge was that Smith was "riding
roughshod over the authorities" and in an exchange it developed that
there could be no charges, for he was doing nothing, and so he was
advised that he needed a permit. He was selling nothing - he knew
the ordinances - but he was arrested anyway. He was released on
his own recognizance as bail and promised to appear before Judge
Harb in municipal court the next morning at 8:30 a.m. When Smith
got into court the next morning, the judge read aloud a city ordinance
which forbade the use of the name of the deity except in "veneration
and worship." He then asked all present to be sworn in. Smith stated
that he was an Atheist and would need to affirm and not to swear, at
which point the court records indicate that Judge Harb stated,
."You're an Atheist? You don't believe in God?" Smith stated, "Yes,
sir;" and the judge said, "Then you can't be sworn and cannot testify
in my court."

"... Judge Harb stated, 'You're an Atheist? You

don't believe in God?' Smith said, 'Yes, sir,' and
the judge said, 'Then you can't be sworn and
cannot testify in my court.' "
Meantime, Rotenberry testified that he had been told by anonymous citizens that if the place were not closed it would be raided.
The judge proceeded to discuss how large a fine to impose.
A John Shackleford, a little gray-haired Irish lawyer, was in the
court for other reasons but became so excited to hear this exchange
that he interjected himself into the situation. His defense of Smith was
so vigorous that the judge dismissed the charges. But, now, hold your
breath! The judge then, on his own motion, charged Smith then and
there with violation of another city ordinance. Let me read that
ordinance to you. It is Section 479 of the ordinances of the City of
Little Rock and is titled "Obscene Books and Publications - Sale and
Distribution of."
"All persons, corporations and companies, their agents,
representatives or employees, are hereby prohibited from
selling, or offering for sale, or giving away, or offering to give
away, or circulating, or distributing, or attempting to circulate
or distribute, within the corporate limits of the said city as now
or hereafter established, any obscene, slanderous or scurrilous
books, newspapers, magazines or periodicals, which shall be
calculated to injure the morals of the inhabitants of said city or provoke a breach of the peace thereof."
Again Shackleford protested hotly, and the judge announced,
"Well, I'm going to stop that business up there and every day he
attempts to keep it open willbe a separate offense." He fined Smith
$25 and costs, fixed bond at $100, and ordered him taken back to the
"hole" which was his designation of the jail. Shackleford immediately
approached some professional bondsmen in Smith's behalf. Two said
that sentiment against Smith was too strong, and they would not

September, 1984

Page 33

furnish bail, and the third stated that he did not dare because of
political reasons. A fourth bondsman agreed to go bond.
Smith never got a chance to say anything in that court room but
one "Yes, sir." It is important to look at Arkansas law. Article 4177 of
the Arkansas Statutes provides: "Every person who shall declare that
he has conscientious scruples against taking an oath or swearing in
any form shall be permitted to make his solemn declaration or
affirmation in the following form: 'I do solemnly and truly declare and
affirm.' "
Smith had little or no choice. Ifhe paid his fine, and tried to open up
the storefront again, another fine would be imposed, and another and
another. If he paid his fine and left town, he would be defeated. He
chose as a protest to nullifyhis bond at his own request, and work out
the fine at the rate of $1.00 a day. He knew that the press would be
inquiring after him during those twenty-five days and that he could
keep alive the evolutionary issue and the issue of freedom of speech
for that time also. He remained in jail and went on a hunger strike.
In the meantime he sent telegrams to the mayors of the principal
cities of Arkansas to this effect:
"Do Atheists enjoy in your city equal rights with other
citizens, and would you protect them in the propagation of their
convictions? I desire to open headquarters for the distribution
of evolution tracts and antireligious literature, to help defeat the
antievolution referendum bill. Advise collect," signed Charles
Smith, address City Jail, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Charlie Smith spent twenty-six days in jail, working off his fine. He
had plenty of time to read the replies which came in. twill read some of
them to you now.
From Fayetteville where the state university is located: "No Atheist
willbe permitted to open headquarters in this city for distribution of
antireligious literature, and any attempt to do so will result in a jail
sentence." Signed Allan M. Wilson, mayor. It should be noted that no
professor of that university had the courage to come forward to assist

"From Fayetteville (Arkansas) ... : 'No Atheist will be permitted to open headquarters in
this city for distribution of antireligious literature and any attempt to do so will result in a jail
sentence.' ... - the mayor. It should be noted
that no professor of (Fayetteville's) university
had the courage to come forward to assist
From Helena: "Neither you nor any other Atheist willbe permitted
to distribute antireligious literature nor to open headquarters in
Helena, and I warn you to stay away." D.T. Hargrave, mayor.
From Hot Springs: "Our city has been commendably free from
Atheism. It is my intention to see that it remains so. In the event you
should, as a private citizen and visitor, desire to come here and take a
course of our world famous mineral baths, which might boil that
unholy doctrine out of you, every courtesy consistent with Southern
hospitality will be shown to you. but you will not be permitted to
promulgate a doctrine that is most repulsive and violates every
tradition of Christianity.''' Leo P. McLaughlin, mayor.
From Pine Bluff:"The Constitution of the United States is based on
the existence of a Supreme Being. Atheists and their literature are not
desired in this city. Yours would be objectionable and forbidden." W.
L. Toney, mayor
From Jonesboro: "Will do my best to extend full protection of law
to every man regardless of belief. But Jonesboro does not want any
Atheists. In view of attitude of local population toward your cause I do
not believe it would be advisable to open headquarters. Am personally opposed to you and your methods." Eli Collins, mayor.
Iwonder what happened in Arkansas in 1928 to the idea of freedom
of speech, as protected by our Constitution.
Page 34

September, 1984

A newspaper reporter went to see Judge Harb. Here is a bit of the

recorded exchange:
"Smith opened up a place here," Judge Harb expostulated.
"and so incensed the people here, he was just about to cause a
riot. He was doing an act calculated to disturb the people of the
"Don't you believe," the reporter asked, "in free speech?
Don't you think that a man has a right to state his opinions?"
Judge Harb put his foot on the seat, leaned his elbow on his
knee, and emphasized what he was about to say with his
forefinger. "A man is entitled to free speech - subject to the
condition that he is not permitted to create a riot. I got a right
not to be insulted. When a man talks about my God - when he
denies the existence of my God - and calls the Bible a lie - he
has insulted me."
"But it isn't free speech," the reporter persisted, "if you only
permit a man to state opinions to which you agree. Surely a
man doesn't insult you simply by disagreeing with you?"
A flash came into the judge's dark eyes: "If a man insults my
mother. I'm going to sock him one. And, if a man insults my
God, it's the same thing."
That is the story of Charles Smith and Arkansas; and it is also the
story of why most American Atheists won't speak out. The religious
community in America would be astonished if it would take time out
to listen to our complaint just once. Like Judge Harb, we too can say:
"I have a right not to be insulted." It insults an Atheist that he cannot
freely discuss his viewpoint with others. It insults an Atheist that the
religious person will not recognize his right to speak. It insults an
Atheist to have money taken from them by the taxing process and
given to religionists. It insults an Atheist to have their children
indoctrinated in religious beliefs without their consent. It insults an
Atheist to have their country's government deeply involved in
religious politics. It insults an Atheist to see political figures play on the
fears and hatred of one religious group or another. ~


Scientific education is under extreme attack
in the U.S. today. You must read this booklet
published by the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF
SCIENCES in order to be informed.



2 - 9 COPIES




Order TODAY from:

21 01 Constitution Ave.,
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The American Atheist

NA TURE'S WA Y/Gerald Tholen





t first glance, the title of this article may appear to be an

incoherent group of words bearing no significant relationship.
Perhaps as you read (if,indeed you decide to read it) you may be able
to understand the connections I see in them.
As any person becomes increasingly familiar with Atheism as a
lifestyle, certain realizations regarding proper value standards become apparent. Assessments of one's own character and the
characters of others, along with one's newly found appreciation of the
collective accomplishments of humankind, are brought into focus.
I, of course, cannot speak with absolute authority on your personal
findings, or the findings of others, simply because it would be
presumptious of me to do so. Therefore, this article must necessarily
be regarded as a party-of-the-first part interpretation of atheistic
evolution. Because atheistic evolution involves the interaction of
people (as opposed to gods), therein lies part of the significance of this
article's title.
PartI Contributions
Has it every occurred to you that words like nation, culture, race,
specie, tribe, etc., - even religion - have something in common?
They are all simply conglomerations of differently oriented living
organisms. Obviously I will only include the human species in this
Every human being has contributed, even if in a very small way, to
the pleasure of human existence. No matter how badly an individual
may neglect his (her) adult enhancement of society, the fact remains
that as new born infants, or perhaps continuing through adolescence,
each young person usually delights the lifeof their parents, grandparents or their family members. It seems to be a natural trait inherent in
the" animal kingdom" that the young are held in unsurpassed regard.
It would therefore be relatively safe to state that each of us, in youth,
has at least started lifein a somewhat beneficial manner by affording a
certain amount of pleasure to our direct ancestral antecedents.
Unfortunately, this is a high point which some never equal again!
However, most people ordinarily progress from that point and
continue, through their work, companionship with others or any
number of other general efforts, toward a relative betterment of
It occurs to me that the world is not an easy place in which to live.
Relatively few people are able to live out their lives without considerable effort. Yet, for most of us, lifeis generally easier now than it was in
times past because people, in general, have desired for life to be
increasingly more pleasurable. I find myself wondering then how
society manages to tolerate war and unnecessary suffering as a
continuing aspect of existence. Of course, I know the answer because society, as a whole, is yet too naive to realize the causes of
perpetual world anguish. Within most people there exists an element
of individual greed that can easily be magnified into national greed as
one tribe jousts with others. No one seems to mind the dead bodies
that are strewn along the way. Society has erroneously regarded
them as "necessities" of cultural progress.
I have just, in the past several days, watched the "glorious" events
of D-Day recounted on national T.V. The "heroic" slaughter of
Germans, coupled with the parallel losses of the Western Allies,failed
even to mention the millions of Russian lives lost in that same effort.
Why? Because our "values" have now changed and we simply erase
the contributions of those whom we needed during harder times. We
live in a competitive world and, as Isaid earlier, greed for uncontested
Austin, Texas


national existence is a "precious" thing! Does this then imply that the
Russians did not contribute to world society? I suppose that would
depend on one's point of view. German Nationalists of the 1940's
would probably vote "no." If you were a Western Ally you would
probably still vote "no" simply because, as everyone knows, the
U.S.S.R. has lost favor and is now viewed as a evil atheistic
communist nation. How childish the human mind really is! Yet, it is
not the human mind that is childish but rather it is the human mind
that, by and large, does not contribute to the curtailing of powers
issued to those who are responsible for the degenerate national
leadership of world communities.
Someone once said, "Wouldn't it be funny if they (whoever they
might be) had a war and no one came." What a contribution to society
that would be! Ifevery potential soldier simply told the leaders to go to
heck - what would war be like? How many times has that question
arisen throughout history?
This brings us to another segment of "contributions" - the
contributions of the mentally ill. The particular variety of mentally ill
persons to which I am referring is not the variety you might expect to
see cutting paper dolls in some psychiatric ward. I mean the ones you
meet on the street or see in any ordinary community setting - the
ones who willdo the military's bidding without hesitation. Those who
will, with robot efficency, take a high-powered rifle, slink on to a
battlefield and shoot the heart and lungs out of someone they don't
even know. But then, that is now a rather antiquated method of
soldiering. High technology today enables one to push a button and
destroy hundreds of thousands of folks we can't even see!
The problem seems to lie in the fact that people don't make
contributions in the manner they, themselves, would like. The
contributions most people make are required contributions necessitated by circumstances. You provide what is demanded of you by
"authority" under penalty of punishment or due to economic
pressure. Because of inadequate basic education nations of people
(1) under threat of "damnation," to the whims of insane religious
(2) under threat of prosecution, to the whims of equally insane
political leaders,
(3) under social intimidation, to the whims of parents and associates.
Whatever became of the contributions that you, as a person, would
like to make to the world - and in your own chosen style? Do you, for
instance, wish that you could make certain contributions to society in
areas in which you feel you may not be sufficiently qualified? Don't
you have a few private likes and dislikes that you, for personal
reasons, willnot divulge let alone have scrutinized and/or critized by
others? Many people, through necessity, engage in occupations
dictated by circumstance but would rather be involved in other
activities. Some qualified farmer might have preferred to be an artist
- some "decorated war hero" might rather have been a great poet!
Consider the things that you have done in your lifetime - jobs,
avocations, etc. Are they really the things that you might have done if
the world had been different and ifyour personal choices had actually
been open to you?
I can only wonder about these things like everyone else. Here I am,
writing for an Atheist magazine. Ifthe world had been a sane, rational
place, there might never have been a need for such a journal! Yet,
what I am trying to do is as much dictated by circumstance as
anything that you may now be doing, and probably for the same

September, 1984

Page 3S

reasons you may be doing them. The need for an Atheist magazine
and its contributors is as clear as is the need for better world-wide
education. I can only hope that what I write may, in some small way,
help to improve some of the wrongs or at least encourage others to
try to make similar improvements in ways that are open to them.
I recently asked Dr. O'Hair a question that I knew was virtually
unanswerable: "Were it not for the historical insanities incurred
under centuries of intellectual suffocation at the hands of religion,
what other course might she have followed?" It is quite apparent that
she might have become one of the nation's finest legal counselors. But
then, she might also have preferred to be the above mentioned
painter or poet. At any rate, the choice was not really hers. In certain
instances, in cases that are all too rare, human conscience obligates
the actions of the few. Other people might call it sacrifice. But it is not
"sacrifice" that causes commendable action - it is simply dedicated
desire that builds within some people thereby resulting in unique
contributions to society and thus, ultimately, to themselves.
Societal contributions are the essence of pleasurable existence!
People simply feel good when they realize that they have done
something constructive and that their efforts are appreccated - even
if that appreciation is late in coming.
Part II Idols
But what ifcertain people feel "insecure" or "inferior?" What ifthey
think that they could never contribute in a meaningful way? Take a
good look at the essence of religion; how could a "mere mortal" do
anything that would, in any way, compare to the accomplishments of
a "god?" We (the insignificant ones) must there(ore cherish and
worship the "gods!" We must build statues in honor of their
magnificence! Rather degrading isn't it? But personal degradation
does not stop there. "We" also build idolizing statues of emperors and
kings, of actors and educators, of atheletes and heroes. And so we
even come to worship mortals - those mortals to whom we imagine
ourselves to be comparatively inferior. With all of the worshipping
that has gone on in history one would think that, surely, there have
been enough "gods," mortal and "immortal," to have straightened
the world out by now. Something must have gone wrong along the
way. It did! People have wasted their time worshipping instead of
doing. Is it because, basically, people are lazy and worshipping is
easier than strife? Or, is it that most people have been so devastated
by their imagined inferiority that they are no longer capable of being
productive? Are we then to be graded by whether or not someone
fashions a cement likeness of us? If that is the only criterion for
greatness why doesn't some enterprising person make a business of
building plaster replicas of everyone? For a few hundred dollars you
could have your own personal "idol" made in your likeness - for
posterity. You could even have a laudable inscription molded into the
pedestal! Then the world would have an infinite number of idol type
pigeon-roosts. However, the world would also still have the same
problems, the same insanities, as if no statues had ever been built.
Idolization is simply an excuse for apathetic do-nothing-ness.
The real problem is that when anyone in history did anything,
regardless of how little their actions truly improved conditions, and
even if the entire episode stemmed from mythology, someone built a
statue of them - and worshipping ensued. I can't help noticing that
even Atheist Thomas Edison (who has numerous statues dedicated
to his remembrance) was motivated by commercial considerations. I
am caused to wonder; would he have worked as diligently to bring us
the many pleasurable and essential electronic inventions ifhe had not
attracted, through his genius, the corporate support of Wall street
investors and the ultimate personal wealth it afforded him? It's
entirely possible that he would have and I make no effort to belittle his
achievements. But what ifsomeone had already, previously, invented
all those wonderful things? What ifEdison were to have been born 75
years later than he was? Would he still have achived his memorable
greatness? It would seem that circumstance rules everything. Being
the "right" person in the "right" place at the "right" time is a deciding
factor. It determines whether someone might someday build a statue
in your honor. Of course, if you're too busy worshipping statues of
other folks, real or imaginary, time may simply pass you by. So much
for idolization.
Page 36

Part III Images.

A Now here is where anyone can participate rather effortlessly.

Haven't we all, usually in our youth, imagined ourselves to be
somewhat like our favorite heroes? As a child you might have secretly
seen yourself as the famous cowboy on a white horse or perhaps a
protege of Madame Marie Curie or Albert Einstein? If you are
musically inclined you might even have been another Elvis Presley or
Willie Nelson. Heroes are picked in innumerable ways. But seriously,
would anyone truly want to be the clone of another?
In many ways images and idols overlap - one simply an extension
of the other. But what about the you within yourself? Every person
must ultimately play their own game. In the final analysis, an imitation
is just that: an imitation.
A consideration that everyone should make is, "What about me?
What do I have to offer to myself and/or to others?" If this had been
the compelling motive for every person In history there might never
have been any imaginary gods! If all people had productively spent
their lives with studied interest in improving their own "image," to suit
themselves, and in ways fitting their own capabilities, there might have
been far fewer (ifany) statues ofthe so-called greatidols and images of
the past.
I think that too many people confuse contributing with acquiring
sustenance. As I said earlier, living in this world isn't easy, and too
many folks get caught up in the task. When they do it seems easier to
go along with SOCialinsanities. That's why millions of closet Atheists
constantly tell their more adamant colleagues: "Don't rock the boat;
don't ire the religious community; after all, they mean well." Like hell
they do! They only intend to dominate because of their own lack of
individuality and their own imaginary need for idolatry. It's a sickness
that has all but stifled the natural functions of the human brain.
In vague and disassociated terms people speak of "the problem of
society." Yet people are society! What they are saying, in effect, is: the
problem is the problem! Its solution must begin with the acquisition of
sufficient knowledge, accurate self-analysis and a high level of selfesteem. If people continue to allow themselves to be coerced by
outside influence, whether human or imaginary mythological concepts, they can never attain that happy state we call individuality. If
everyone retains an immature "Walter Mitty" adoration of greater
"beings," the presumed need for those greater beings willpersist and
the ensuing misappropriations of trust and confidence by those we
"adore" will continue.
In a competitive environment we seem to think in terms of
"winners" and "losers." Yet, the fact remains, if you cannot paint
quite as artistically as Gainsborough, that that does not mean your
contribution to art is worthless. A person is only a "loser" if (s)hejeels
(s)he is a loser. Individual effort is the only key to solving society's
problems, simply because you are society. By lacking affirmitiveness
and not being legitimately assertive you are, in fact, leaving space for
"gods." One's first consideration must be to one's self, otherwise you
may lack the ability to contribute to the rest of society. If you are an
Atheist be "the best damn Atheist" that you can. It's your life!And, if
you can take pride in yourself, on your terms, contributing in ways
that you can, who needs idols or images?
As an Atheist you already know that your physical existence was
not preceded by some imagined mysterious pre-existing "spritual"
state, waiting to be born so that you could fulfillsome predetermined
"purpose." You came into being through natural organic reproductive process the same as anyone of the millions of blades of grass in
your yard. Your plan (purpose) is yours to determine. You may wish
to simply set back and idolize and adore other persons or things. Or,
you may decide to contribute to the world around you in a way that
actually does give you a real, even if temporary, "purpose." ~

September, 1984


The "common sense" man of Atheism, Mr. Tholen is the
product of the Gulf Coast marshes of Texas. When he's not
slaving over the American Atheist as its Assistant Editor, he's
writing poetry of which the Atheist movement can be proud.

The American Atheist


ATHEISM VERSUS SELF-DECEPTION. "The human race has suffered for centuries and is still suffering from the mental disorder known
as religion, and Atheism is the only physician that willbe able to effect a permanent cure." (Joseph Lewis)
It is ironic that the most insidious, pernicious and malignant disease is man-made: religion. Religion exists because people want (not need) to
be deceived. Even religionists have absolute certitude that ifthey jump from the top of the Empire State Building they willplunge to the ground.
No proof is needed. Gravity is an indisputable scientific fact. Yet these same religionists who cannot prove the existence of god still insist all
must believe because of "faith." "Religious faith" is simply another term for self-deception.
It is my conclusion that no rational person truly believes in god, but chooses this path perceiving the only other choice as fear. Accepting the
truth that we (as human beings) are alone in the universe is a terrifying, intolerable fact with which many cannot cope. Therefore, man created
god to disprove his cosmic singularity and to expiate his tortured sense of morality.
Atheists need no scapegoats and consequently are truly free. They exult in the knowledge they answer only to themselves and their fellow
man. Atheists take fullresponsibility for their actions and possess a clear joyous view of lifethat is denied the religionist. "Thus that which is the
most awful of evils, death, is nothing to us, since when we exist there is no death, and when there is death we do not exist." (Epicurus, Greek
philosopher, 332-270 b.c.) The con-men exhort their flocks to renounce this existence for an illusory "future life" paradise. The Atheist knows
the present (now) is the best (and all) there is.
We are all born Atheists. Atheism is in conformity with the natural order of things. The younger the mind contaminated with religion, the
greater the difficulty of becoming a "born-again" Atheist in later years. That is the reason the religionists fanatically do battle for the minds of
Religion has severely retarded man's intellectual and emotional evolutionary progress for nearly two thousand years and, as with any
disease, it must be conquered. The task is formidable but not insurmountable. We must seize every opportunity to proudly proclaim our
Atheism and the total mental freedom, security, confidence and dignity it brings. Unless man destroys himself, Atheism will
triumph. Kenneth J. Schmidt

A SHORT REPORT. "Come in control. This is Deep Space Probe A27 calling control." "Go ahead A27." "We've come upon a blue-green
planet known as Earth and wish to report." "Go ahead A27." "Information is almost too scant for analysis but here goes.":
"About 50,000 years ago human types were abundant, and social structures began to appear. Around 12,000 years ago civilization was
confirmed, and a social phenomenon called mythology-religion began to appear. The development of science and medicine was quite normal
except for some setbacks known as the Dark Ages.
"The shining jewel of this planet was a country called America, which boasted a democratic form of republic, including a constitution and a
three-part checks and balances government. In the late 20th century a fascist group known as the 'ultra right influenced national policy by
utilizing the gullibilityand desire to be subservient of the fundamentalist Christian elements. The fascist group waved the Christian Bible and
used buzz words like 'family,' 'peace,' liberty,' 'freedom,' etc. The fundamentalists, in their futile attempt to understand the origins of morality,
listened to the fascists and fully exercised their gullibility.
"Eventually the President succumbed to the pressures of a dedicated, vocal minority and abdicated just after dissolving Congress. A
committee, known as the 'Committee of Truth,' consisting of three theologians and one political advisor, agreed to run the country. Since the
Committee of Truth was in direct communication with the deity. all questions of state were quickly answered and all voting rights, no longer
being necessary, were suspended. It was decided that the Christian Bible was the only source of guidance and that morality was needed;
therefore, the Constitution was abandoned. Because disease was thought to be caused by sin, medical schools were replaced with perpetual
prayer centers. All technical schools were closed. The Lord will provide.' the committee decided.
"Eventually patriotism was equated with christianity, and later, after a purge, patriotism was possessed by only protestants; Jews, catholics,
etc. being given the chance to repent or leave the country with what they could carry. Special divisions of the military, called "love units,"
, handled the miscreants, sending them to special reeducation centers to learn to accept the gift of 'God's Pure Love.'
"Iran continued to call America the 'Great Satan.' America eventually came to call the rest of the world the 'Great Satan.' After some debate
the committee gave the order to push the button. 'What about the innocents?' someone asked. 'Don't worry about the innocents, the Lord will
know his own,' was the reply.
"Control, Probe A27 suggests another exploratory probe be sent into this sector in approximately four million years. A27 out." Herman
Austin, Texas

September, 1984

Page 37


Dear American Atheists,

First off, I would like to say how pleased I
am with your magazine's concept. The
tactful intelligent suggestions for ways of
counteracting religious fervor by the mindless mass are always welcome. I have always
felt that outright attack is only a provoker
and a postive aspect such as a certain way of
thinking enhancing visably someone's survival is a true way to inspire a conversion to a
different way of thinking.
The religionist offers mythical rewards
and punishments.
The realist offers present time and everything that has created by the individual as a
reward or punishment.
Whether or not a person believes in
everlasting spark (example: soul) isn't the
problem. Getting them to believe they are
here now is part of the main problem. But I
feel the biggest part of the whole problem is
to get them to believe there is a here and
now, which is the biggest crime that the
whole religious scheme has created.
Please include more creative ways to
nullify religion in your articles. Anger and
hate only control by fear. Sense of humour,
intelligence and successful survival create
inspiration for the lifestyle that created
these abilities.
Second, one of the few celebrities who is
outspoken, via media, is Frank Zappa. I
recently saw, to my pleasant surprise, him
perform two songs blatantly, but with clever
humour, against religion. If he's not an
Atheist I'll be surprised.
Please continue with the constructive,
positive, more intellectual ways to undermine the age old enemy of every living
organism, and I'm sure we will be winning
over future generations by our examples.
. Aryan Blackson
Dear Aryan,
Sorry to give you the bad news. Dr.
o 'Hair sat and talked with Frank Zappafor
several hours late last year (1983) and he
definitely is NOT an Atheist. He says so
Page 38

Dear Editor,
I am a lifelong Atheist. and as such have
always had extremely minimal interest in the
Bible. I have never bothered to read It, even
when inscribing "Compliments of the author" in Gideons found in hotel rooms (as
my father instructed me.) However, a few
days ago Ihad to transcribe parts of Exodus,
Genesis and Matthew, in the course of my
work and so was forced to read same.
I thought that you would like to know that
I was struck with uncontrollable laughter so badly, in fact, that Iwas glad that Ihave an
office to myself (my boss is a bead fumbler.)
It appeared so grotesque to me that I am
really hard put to understand how anyone
could have any other reaction. Is that what
the world has been taking seriously forever?
Of course, I was spared the gruesome, cruel
and disgusting parts, but believe me, as far
as Genesis, in particular, is concerned it is
hysterically funny. I wonder how many
others share this reaction.
Lynne Bloom
New York

Dear Editor,
Your magazine is deteriorating. The July,
1984, issue was undoubtedly your worst. It
was filled with "blood & guts."
I am a total Atheist, have been for several
years, and I am fully aware of the atrocities
proliferated by religion, but throwing decency to the winds by publishing these bloody
stories is not helping to stem the tide of
Let's face it. Religion is here to stay.
Ignorance, in the form of superstition, greed,
false hopes and the desire for power, will
keep it strong for centuries to come. Revealing its faults and crimes willnot stop it.
We Atheists should cease griping about
the religious community and start thinking
along the lines of forming our own communities. schools, etc., to educate our children
and to live our lives according to our consciences. Ifreligious groups can do this, why
not we?
Let's buy some land, cultivate it, build our
schools, become self sufficient. We can do
this and still maintain law & order, pay our
taxes, etc. We have the knowhow; the
brains & the education.
Please, no more articles about Mohammedan circumcision & feeding folks to the
lions! How about some articles about our
Very truly yours
Morgan Allspach
September, 1984

Dear A. A.:
"Sexual Mutilations and Islam," by the
author with the unpronouncable name. (S.
de Montalvo-Mielche - ed.), in the July,
1984, American Atheist, ISthe most horrendous and sickening religion-inspired cruelty
I have ever read. How ghastly! And to think
that while I write this and while you read this
such butchery is actually going on somewhere. My heart bleeds for the victims and
I'm burning with anger and hatred for the
perpetrators of such criminally stupid religious customs. Imagine doing such insult and
indignity and injury to defenseless children
and women in this day and age! Such
barbarity should be exposed, denounced,
condemned, debunked, shouted down from
the housetops AND STOPPED AT ONCE.
IfI had the power to do so and get away with
it I would enjoy putting the practitioners of
this "art" against the wall and machinegunning them down without mercy to END
this terrible offense against The Body Beautiful. (And to think that while this savagery
goes on, God in His infinite mercy and
wisdon looks down, sees all, and does
nothing. Merely permitting the perpetrators
to exercise their "free will" I suppose.) I'm
convinced more than ever that I am right
when I say that religious beliefis afunction
of stupidity.
Can you supply me with 500 reprints of
this article? If "Yes," how much must I sent
to pay all costs? I want to enclose one in
each letter I mail out, and fight this damnable custom. You are welcome to reply
across the bottom of the letter and mail in
the enclosed reply envelope. HURRY!
Andy Vena
Dear Andy,
The reprints are on the way to you. The
female children and women need all the help
they. can get. Stirring up protest against
these customs is essential.

Dear Editor,
Recently you noted in the magazine that
the phrase "under God" was added to our
Pledge of Allegiance (to the flag) on June
14th, 1954 during the McCarthy reign of
terror. It now says "I pledge allegiance to the
United States and to the republic for which
it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all."
You will be interested to know that in
mid-duly the trivia column of L. M. Boyd,
which is syndicated to many newspapers
had the following about the Pledge of AlleThe American Atheist


"Magazine editor, Frank Bellamy of
Rome, New York, created it for The
Youth's Companion in 1892. Schoolboy Frank Bellamy of Cherryvale,
Kansas, plagiarized it to win an essay
contest in 1896. The confusion over
authorship went on for decades thereafter because their names were the
What is interesting to us Atheists is that
the Pledge of Allegiance was free from any
mention of the name of god from 1892 to
1954,which is 62 years. And, the nation got
through both World War I and World War II
without calling on the phantom spook.
We may have failed in our former efforts
to correct this, but there is always the
future. One day when the judiciary comes to
its senses, we will be able to try again.
Adam Sedesky
While in Amarillo last December, I was
stopped by a young man with a plastic
bucket. He said, "Sir I know you may think
I'ma Moonie but I'm with the Baptist church
and I'm accepting donations for our Lord
Jesus Christ." I asked, "How can I be sure
the money willreach him, or why couldn't he
just make his own?" To shorten this story he
eventually said, "Sir, do you know you are
going as straight to hell as you can go?" I
then asked "Do you believe in prayers and
have you ever had one answered?" He: "Oh,
certainly, every day." Me: "O.K. then I'llgive
you $5,000 if you can succeed in getting a
prayer answered, any kind." He: "Well what
do you want - to see a mountain moved?"
Me:"No, just a grain of sand would suit me."
People were beginning to gather so he
ended it by turning his back on me while
saying, "I don't need your money sir. I have
better things to do."
On the way home, I thought about the
grain of sand. Now when approached by the
superstitionist, I offer them $10,000 plus I
willpay the tax ifthey can get a prayer of any
kind answered. To make it easy for their god

to perform, I suggest making a little circle on

a sheet of paper, place some object inside,
even a grain of sand. "If your god can move
the grain of sand outside the circle, you get
the $10,000."
The believer is suddenly stunned. He
finds himelf in a corner with no avenue of
escape. It's fun to watch them squirm in
their desperate attempt to escape the trap
while saving face. Allthey have been preaching about prayers is now suddenly at contest
and they are caught with their pants down.
They never expected anything like this and
they won't even accept the challenge, not
for $10,000 free dollars.
Randy Hunt
Dear Sir Editor Whatever,
This letter is in response to a letter in the
July, 1984, issue of American Atheist from
LeRoy Donald, Virginia.
,I am the original acting director of that
chapter at Staunton. I am still in the "hole"
due to conflicts of interest with gawd and his
'followers. I was placed in "Special Management" on January 18, 1984 for crimes above
the act of treason (to the religionists, that is.)
I am very proud of Spider (Donald) for all he
has done, as well as of Arnold Via.
Rest assured I am an aggressive Atheist
and a realist. What is unreal is the way
prisoners are harrassed because they choose
not to be conformists in the eyes of gawd. A
realist knows that the barbaric and atrocious theists are thegawd they create. I will
continue to be in the hole for as long as it
takes to show people I will not repent, will
not kiss "gawd's" arse!!
Hang in there, Spider!
Orville "Sonny" Patterson
Brunswick Correction Center

I am happy to have learned about your
organization through a male friend, and
always read your magazine cover to cover
every month. Your articles are interesting
and informative and often shed light upon

the origins of long held prejudices, bias, and

inequities. Such information is helpful to me
as a nurse and childbirth educator, as my
job, in part, is to help people understand the
normal anatomy and physiology of their
bodies and of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and also to reduce FEAR of the labor
process through real knowledge.
What I am finding is that people are very
much affected by their childhood religious
indoctrination, plus the indoctrination acquired in our culture to place unquestioning
faith in the authority and power of medical
men. This is due to our everyday sexist
usage of language of which American Atheists is guilty as well.
Why not change the sexist language in the
statement of purpose? I am not included in
the term "man." I prefer the idea of ...
"people finding resources within themselves," the collective vs. the singular - you
get the drift.
Monica King Wollmar
Dear Monica,
We understand where you are.

Letters to the Editor must be either
questions or comments of general concern to Atheists or Atheism. Submissions should be brief and to the point.
Space limitations allow that each letter shou Id be 200 words or (preferably)
less. Please confine your letters to a
single issue only. Mail them to:
American Atheists
P.O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117
Thank you.

ATHEIST NEXT DOOR con't. from p. 28

If you intend to have children, how will you deal with Atheism
and religion with them?
I would not hand a child (I am not married now) a magnum .38, nor
would I hand a child a Bible or subject him/her to any kind of theism.
Children must be protected against brainwashing. I think the kind of
books and ideas I would hand to a child would be "Do your own thing"
type stuff - and upon reaching, say, sixth grade I would open
him/her up to some roots of freethought - Lewis - Ingersoll Paine. But that would be the extent of it. The rest is up to him/her to
choose sanity over theistic insanity, (bar any medical problems.) ~

Austin, Texas

"The Atheist Next Door" is an attempt to supply

information regarding the contemporary
Atheist, his
feelings, problems, and perspectives written by the experts
in this field: average American Atheists. Each month the
life and opinions of an Atheist is spotlighted in this column
through the answers to our questionnaire.
Anyone interested in being "The Atheist Next Door"
should write to.American Atheist/P.O. Box 2117/ Austin,
TX 78768-2117 and ask for our questionnaire.

September, 1984

Page 39


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Attorney for Health Care

For fine foods prepared by a fine Atheist

Send self-addressed, stamped, legal-size (No.

10) envelope. (2Oc stamp for one set, 37c
stamp for 2.)
The Hemlock Society

in West Tawakoni, Texas

(40 miles East of Dallas on Hwy 35)


P.O. Box 66218 Los Angeles. CA 90066







in DeQueen, Arkansas
(on Hwy 70 in Southwest Arkansas)

on- Profit Co-porano

.ns, 39/-IIFI










JHEISTS -~,-,;.-::,,,:~~

P.o. Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266

P.O. Box 8644, Austin, TX 78712
P.O. Box 248, Vlg. Sta., NYC, NY 10014
AGA's membership is restricted to Atheists and
ONLY Atheists. Membership rate set at $lO/yr.
by the Board of Dir's.



The Apex of



Available at the astonishingly

low price of only $6.00/year.
[Box 3488,Tucson,Az 85722]

The Case Against Religion:

A Psychotherapist's View
Albert Ellis, Ph.D.
"All true believers in any kind of orthodoxy ... are distinctly disturbed, since
they are obviously rigid, fanatic, and dependent individuals ... ", SPECIAL $2.00


A Press,






BACK ISSUES of "The American Atheist"

are available on a limited quantity & issue basis.
@ $1.50/copy.
For a complete list of available
issues write:
Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768

Gay Atheist League of America

For membership & newsletter
information write:

Gay Atheist League of America {!
P.O. Box 14142
San Francisco, CA 94114



Atheist Addiction
Groups Inc.



Publishers of world's only
monthly newsletter for
alcoholics & other addicts;
their families and friends
Mem/Sub: 12 issues/$25
Sample 25 cents
AAARG, 2136 S. Birch St.
Denver, CO 80222
24hr "warm line" (303) 7586686

September, 1984


15th Annual


American Atheists

April 5,6 & 7 - 1985

at the beautiful

Registration fees now
being accepted
Single $20.00 Couples $35.00

Atheists, Box 2117,

TX 78768-2117





The American Atheist

This book is a 402-page hardback which measures 6% X
9%". The authors are a Jew and a Roman Catholic. They were

both involved in religious cults, which is an indication of their

emotional instability at that time in their lives. After they
were saved from the perils of the cult, they teamed up to
write a book, titled Snapping, which purported to expose the
sudden personality change which came over those who were
captured in the cult schemes.
Following the success of that book, the authors decided to
survey the larger phenomenon of fundamentalism, as located
in the television evangelical religious industry. Still committed
to their original religious indoctrination of Roman Catholicism
and Judaism, they seek to spare the "mainline" religions as
they expose the "fundamentalists."
For the Atheist, a partial disclosure -- especially of finances
and psychological gimmickery - is still enjoyable and worth
while reading.
Bibliographical notes and a bibliography consume some 35
pages of the text and the book is also well indexed.
The biggest shocker in the book is that these two good
main-line religious authors, feel compelled to espouse that the
government should "disestablish" the electronic church, and
enforce the laws that already exist in the area of state-church
The book is shockingly good for those who have not been
privy to the inside information on the radical religious right.
It is wholely educational, although written in a light, almost
conversational manner.
On a scale of one to ten as a "must" reading for Atheists,
it rates at least an eight. We offer it to you highly recommended.

Regular Price of this book is $19.95. We offer it to you this

month at the SPECIAL CLEARANCE PRICE of $15.00.



of Holy Terror

$15.00 [Clearance

Price] including

postage & handling.


Texas State Residents please add 5% sales tax

Make checks/money

orders payable to: AMERICAN






ATHEISTS. PO Box 2117. Austin. TX 78768

[ ] VISA


Bank No.z'Letters,





"The church says the earth is flat; but I

have seen it's shadow on the moon, and I
have more confidence even in a shadow
than in the church."
- Magellan