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October, 1984

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

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Art. I, Sec. 4: No religious test shall ever be required as a


qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor
shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of
his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the
existence of a supreme being.

O'HAIR
vs.

HILL

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

Vol. 26, No. 10

October, 1984

American Atheist
A Journal

of Atheist

News and Thought

REGULAR FEATURES
Editorial: Political
Ask A.A.
News

&

Deceit

Comments:

Jon

2
5
6
9
25
26
31
32
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39
40
40

Murray

U.S. "Administrative

position"

on global

population

Dial-An-Atheist
The Atheist Next Door - Irene
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Historical
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Letters to The Editor
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Friedland

\ SPECIAL FEATURES
The Showman
- T. Robert Grace
Special Report: A Little History; O'Hair v. HillReligion, Hypnosis,
and Music; An Evolutionary
Imagination:
The Dawn of Civilization
- Robert

Madalyn
Perspective
Ostrander

O'Hair
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FEATURED COLUMNISTS
Confusion
Confounded
Suckers
in Paradise
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27
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- Margaret
Bhatty
Gerald Tholen

The case of o 'Hair v. Hi/! was filed on October 20,1978 under the civilrights statutes. Basically, it asked that all further proceedings in
On the Cover
five harrassment cases be enjoined (i.e. stopped) until it was determined by the federal court if the Texas judiciary, a state constitutionally mandated
theocracy, could give an Atheist or an Atheist organization a fair trial. John Hillwas then attorney general of Texas. What was challenged, substantively,
in order to stop the harrassment cases, was Art.l, Sections 4 and 29, and Art./!, Section 1of the Billof Rights of the Constitution of the state oft exas.
(see page 10) Attorney General Hill had issued an opinion on these provisions on January 17, 1974, at the time of the last "tried for" Texas state
constitutional convention. This stated that Art. I, Sec. 29 "...requires that any new Constitution proposed by the Constitutional Convention retain the
present Billof Rights exactly as it is, without addition or deletion, and that no other provision elsewhere in the Constitution may in any way alter the effects
of any provision of the Billof Rights." Even the people at the Constitutional Convention could not change Article I.
Editor/Robin Murray-O'Hair, Editor Emeritus/Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Manag
ing Editor/Jon G. Murray. Assistant Editor/Gerald Tholen. Poetry/Angeline
Bennett, Gerald Tholen, Production Staffl John Crump, Bill Kight, Alexander
Stevens, Steve Paige Streeter, Glona Tholen, Non-Resident Staff/G. Stanley
Brown, Jeff Frankel, Merrill Holste, Margaret Bhatty, Fred Woodworth.
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October,

1984

Page 1

EDITORIAL / Jon Garth Murray

POLITICAL DECEIT

think that over the years generations of


Americans
have watched our political
system self-perpetuating
at regular intervals
without realizing that such a circular continuance is the reason for the system to exist
at all. Politicians get into office to stay in
office for as long as humanly possible, first.
They care about the persons who put them
in that office only in regard to remaining
therein. Given this situation it is predictable
that certain classes of issues will always be
approached
and dealt with in a like manner
by successive generations of office holders.
Specifically, they are the "social" and "moral" issues. The social issues concern basically health, education, welfare and taxation.
The moral issues comprise specific sociocultural outlooks as to what constitutes
acceptable
intimate social behavior. The
main areas of concern
among the moral
issues over the years has been control of
human sexuality, perpetuation of the nuclear family concept,
and monitoring
child
rearing, i.e. general acculturation.
The founders ot our nation knew that in
the areas of social and moral concerns that
politicians to come, as themselves, would
stick to common ground. History has borne
out their vision. A quick look at just political
advertising reveals that all candidates
always emphsize their regard for "truth, justice, and (something called) the American
Way" first and foremost, while accusing
their opponents of lacking a similar regard
all the while. No one has ever been able to
satisfactorily explain to me just exactly what
the "American Way" .is. It is one of those
kind of things that one is just supposed to
intrinsically know, I guess. That little twinkle
in the eye of each and every true American
(put your hand over your heart when you
say that) that somehow separates us from
those scruffy foreigners.
This was, partially, why America's founders established a separate judicial branch of
government, one that would be overseen by
wise (in theory) men appointed for life. With
the absence of social and moral issues as
part of their interpretive
function,
they
could judge without fear of stepping on toes

Page 2

and being concerned


with the re-election
consequences
thereof. In 1943, in the Supreme Court case of West Virginia v.
Barnett, which concerned
the refusal of
Jehovah's Witnesses to pledge to the flag,
the court described its providence over the
moral and social issues thusly:
"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights
was to withdraw certain subjects from
the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of
majorities and officials, and to establish them as leqal principles to hp
applied by the courts ... If there is any
fixed star in our consntutional constellation, it is that no official, high or
petty, can prescribe what shall be
orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or
force citizens to confess by word or
act their faith therein." 319 u.s. 624.
As an Atheist I have watched, over the
years, the courts tackle some of the moral
and social issues concerned with the practice of religion in this nation. They have done
so primarily with deference
to two First
Amendment
concepts, "free exercise" and
"establishment
of religion." If an overview is
taken the establishment side of the question
has been applied more frequently than the
free exercise consideration,
until recently.
Our newly configured
Supreme
Court,
molded by the last four executive administrations, is now emphasizing the free exercise consideration
to the exclusion of the
establishment
precedent of years gone by.
In essence what this has the high court
doing is agreeing with the legislative branch
on moral and social issues of the religious
kind. In doing so it is abrogating its long held
prerogative in these areas in defeat of our
tri-partite system.
No one can counter
the intrusion of
religion, in a massive way, into the heretofore secular arenas of education, taxation
and, to a greater than ever extent, human
sexuality, on the given argumentative premise of "free exercise." The best arguments
against such intrusion have always been
anti-establishment
ones. This is particularly
October,

1984

so in the political arena. With the courts now


"passing the buck" on religion to the legislature and at the same time acting as do the
politicians when it does exercise its jurisdiction in a specific fact situation, we have a
situation in which the concerns of the high
court in West Virginia v. Barnett are fading
into the past.
Examples abound of political ground shifting in this election year as in every election
year gone before. Witness candidate Mondale, who just after the Democratic convention, came out to say that he was a "Humanist" only to remark while addressing a crowd
in a high school auditorium in Alabama just
weeks later, "I am a Christian" when referring to a question on abortion. When the
question of religion is put, the cameras are
there, and an election is at hand only one
answer will suffice and Mondale, as all the
others, knew what it was.
Despite platform rhetoric to the contrary
the Democrats,
using them as an example,
have voted with their Republican counterparts for three and one- half years of Republican executive
administration
on almost
every social or moral issue and in addition.
particularly, to that area of-concern which is
known as "national defense." Only on election eve do they sing a different tune. The
Democratically controlled House went nght
along with the Republican dominated Senate on the issue of "equal access" of religious groups to public school facilities. An
issue such as "equal access" is simply one of
the genre of issues in which the prescribed
"American Way" approach is mandatory.
The same kind of voter placating is about
to be laid in the collective lap of the U. S.
Supreme
Court on the issue of school
prayer. I have no reason to believe that the
Court will reverse its present trend and
honor any previous adherence to the Establishment Clause. The current Court will
reverse the Warren Court and uphold religious ceremonies
in public schools under
the new doctrine of "free exercise." It is only
a matter of time. This has been made
particularly evident with the submission of
an amicus curiae brief by the Department

The American

Atheist

of Justice at the behest of President Reagan,


during July of this year, in the case of
Ishmael Jaffree, an agnostic from Alabama,
on the issue of his children's participation in
silent prayer in public schools. This is the
first time that the Department of Justice has
chosen to intervene in such litigation. The
case in question concerns "Whether a state
statute that authorizes public school teachers to commence the school day by having
their classes observe a moment of silence,
during which students may engage in silent
meditation or voluntary prayer, violates the
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?"
The position of the Justice Department is
simple. It opts for the case to be decided on
the basis of "government accommodations
of the voluntary exercise of religion." It
insists that" ... the opportunity it (the state
statue) provides for religious exercise is
purely voluntary, is neutral among religions
and between religion and non-religion, and
occasions no interference by the State in
church affairs." The Department of Justice
also relies upon recent high court decisions
in which the Court " ... has rejected the
absolutist approach to the Establishment
Clause that would require elimination of all
religious elements from our public life,"
referring to what the Court said recently
about nativity scenes on public property.
Some 23 other states, in addition to
Alabama, have similar statutes with respect
to religious exercises in public school classrooms. On April 29th of 1981, a state statute
became effective in Alabama which provided that: "At the commencement of the first
class of every day in all grades in all public
schools, the teacher in charge of the room in
which each class is held may announce that
a period of silence not to exceed one minute
in duration shall be observed for meditation
or voluntary prayer, and during any such
period no other activities shall be engaged
in." Some 14 months after the moment of
silence statute became effective and after
the initiation of Jaffree's lawsuit, on July 8th,
1982, a second statutory provision was
enacted that provided: "From henceforth,
any teacher or professor in any public
education institution within the state of
Alabama, recognizing that the Lord God is
one, at the beginning of any homeroom or
any class, may pray, may lead willing students in prayer, or may lead the willing
students in the following prayer to God:
Almighty God, You alone are our God. We
acknowledge You as the Creator and Suo
preme Judge of the world. May Your justice,
Your truth, and Your peace abound this day
in the hearts of our countrymen, in the
counsels of our government, in the sanctity
of our homes and in the classrooms of our
schools in the name of our Lord. Amen."
The most important point here is a point
that was demonstrated years earlier in Massachusetts with statutes in that state. A
moment of silence or meditation quickly
Austin, Texas

gives way to full scale prayer. In this case it


only took 14 months to go from just "public
schools" to "any public educational institution," from "the teacher" to "any teacher or
professor," from "the first class of each day"
to "at the beginning of any homeroom or
any class," from "a period of silence" to
"may pray.. may lead willing students in
prayer," and from general "silence" to a
specifically prescribed prayer. Should the
Court uphold the Alabama statute of July
8th, 1982, freedom of or from religion in the
public schools willbe something of the past.
Similar statutes willsweep the country with
only enough delay to type up the paper work
to get them passed in state after state.
Should the Court uphold the statute of April
29th, it will only delay the inevitable a little
longer.
Why are we now at this position some
twenty years plus after the Supreme Court
declared religious ceremonies in public
schools unconstitutional? It is due to the fact
that four key arguments on the religion in
schools issue have gained acceptance over
the last twenty years. They follow.
1.) "Whether the moment of silence is
used for prayer or for contemplative activity
is purely a matter of voluntary choice."
(quoting from the Dept. of Justice amicus
curiae brief) This argument is fallacious on
its face. A "moment of silence" is not in
general use in society in any context other
than a religious observance. Children are
not reared in a vacuum. As products of the
acculturation process when one says "a
moment of silence" it brings to mind religion, church, a family funeral, and the like.
The children know that during a "moment of
silence" one is expected to pray.
2.) "Numerous holdings of this Court
make it clear that the Religion Clauses do
not invalidate governmental acts whose
(sic) purpose and effect is to facilitate opportunities for voluntary religious practice."
Given the compulsory nature of school
attendance and the prescribed prayer dietated by the second version of the Alabama
statute the true "purpose and effect" of the
statute in question is to promote not only
religion in general but the Judeo-Christian
religion in particular and to hold it forth as an
example of expected conformity to the
young. Such statutes as that of Alabama
places the government seal of approval on
religion over non- religion as a necessary
prerequisite for good citizenship.
3.) " ... silence provisions ... have been
thought unnecessary (since students are
free to engage in silent prayer during other
school activities); they have been thought
susceptible to unconstitutional adrninistration; they have been thought coercive in
requiring students who do not wish to pray
to remain silent. These are not, in our view,
objections of a constitutional dimension ... "
In fact, all three of these objections are the
very essence of freedoms that the Constitution was originally conceived to protect. The
October, 1984

founding fathers thought of religion as unnecessary to the equation of government or


they would have specifically included it in
the Constitution. The founders knew that
the state could not administer religion justly
and therefore specifically prohibited the
establishment of any religion by the state.
Having noted that the nation had been
peopled by those who had come from a
background of religious coercion abroad,
the framers of the Constitution sought to
make religion a private affair with no state
requirements which was the entire reason
for the inclusion of a "free exercise" clause.
4:) "The purpose of the Establishment
Clause is not to work an artificial secularization upon our public lifeand institutions, but
to ensure that the force of government is not
brought to bear to induce or restrain voluntary religious exercise (or nonexercise). The
moment of silence, we submit, is fully consistent with that purpose." The Establishment Clause was intended to insure against
government restraint of private voluntary
religious exercise. Restraint of public religious exercise in an arena in which the circle
of freedom of anyone individual jnay be
overstepped by the religious exercise of
another is wholly proper and within the
providence of good government. Religion is
a private affair for the heart and the hearth.
Public institutions and settings are to remain
for the mutual benefit all the people, not just
the religious ones.
The foregoing arguments, proposed by
the Justice Department, have been allowed
to gain widespread public acceptance and
support over the last twenty years principally because those persons who know
better have remained by and large silent,
afraid to breach the established social order
and speak out. The great silence of parents,
teachers, school administrators and politicians has acted as a catalyst to turn a mere
moment of silence into government sponsorship of religion as a means of inculcating the
value of due subjection to outer direction
upon an individual into succeeding generations. We, as Atheists, have been losing the
fight to restrict government sponsorship of
religion for twenty year and more now. The
last fight is now lost. We must, therefore,
turn to an emphasis of the sickness and
mental illness of religion.
We can no longer worry about trying to
prohibit the delivery of religion to children
and adults alike outside of a private context.
We must now worry about how to convince
them that religion is bad for their mental and
emotional well-being. The situation is analogous to drinking. Prohibition on a legislative
level was tried and it failed. Now, the
emphasis has been to convince people that
drinking is bad for their health. In a like
manner no prohibition on the distribution of
cigarettes willever be possible, regardless of
the documented health hazards of smoking.
It is up to the non-smokers to convince the
smokers to stop for their own health's sake.
Page 3

We have lost the prohibition battle and w.e


must now try convincing individuals to give
up religion for the sake of their mental
health. That will be a very difficult task
indeed.
If those who knew better had spoken up
about smoking years ago it would have been
possible perhaps to put an end to the
cigarette industry. They remained silent.
Likewise those who came to the conclusion
that religion was deleterious to one's mental
health remained silent and now they have an
epidemic on their hands. We must finally

come out and say, in the political arena, that


a candidate's religion has nothing whatsoever to do with his/her competency or lack
thereof with respect to a particular public
office. Yet we just go on and on with the
prayer breakfasts at the White House and
various capitols and the invocations and
days of prayer at alllevel of government, as if
any of that really made a difference. Who
will speak up now to insure that future
generations willnot be faced with similar fait
accomplis? The Atheist, I hope. This Atheist will, for certain. ~

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


A second generation Atheist, Mr. Murray
has been the Director of the
American Atheist Center for 8 years
and is also the Managing Editor
of the American Atheist.
He advocates aggressive Atheism.

I'LL BAPT IZE AND \(OU OR\( !

Page 4

October, 1984

The American Atheist

ASKA.A.
Dear A A,
I recently ran into an "Ethical Culturist"
and he sounded to me like he is an Atheist.
What is an Ethical Culturist?
K. Graves
Los Angeles, Califoornia
Dear K.,
In May, 1876 Felix Adler, educator and
reformer (1851-1933) held a meeting in
Standard Hall New York City and inaugurated an organization he called the "Society of Ethical Culture of New York." In his
, initial address to several hundred persons assembled there he appealed for a
new flag of peace and conciliation to be
unfurled over the bloody battlegrounds
where religions had fought in the past.
He wanted a higher and sterner code of
ethics since there was then he felt. a
decline of discredited forms of religious
belief. Those to whom he appealed and
who came, first. to his organization were
politely called "the unchurched. "
Quickly, the Society established a free
kindergarten for the children of the poor,
the first of its kind in New York. This
developed into a workingman's school. It
also inaugurated a system of trained
nurses for the poor. Adler's vigorous
expose of the evils of the tenement
houses led to the creation of the Tenement House Commission of 1884. Adler
was one of the few who advocated small
parks in congested districts, public playgrounds, public baths, greater justice in
the relations between worker and capitalist.
Meetings, which were completely secular, came to be held on Sunday mornings.
There was an introduction of secular
music. An invited speaker held forth
usually on a secular subject. A tea and
crumpet break occurred and then the
meetings would resume for a "Questions
and Answers" period. Frequently there
was a totally secular "Sunday school" for
the kiddies during the time of assemblage
of the adults.
Early on other such societies were
formed in other cities and finally internationally. The American societies were
loosely federated into a union but maintained an individuality of their own and
developed different forms of activity. The
diverse societies frequently became the
home for Atheists and agnostics, particularly those who had been born into a
family which had practiced the Jewish
religion. As late as the 1960's Madalyn
Murray
'Hair was often asked to lecture
, at their meetings, particularly
in the
northeastern part of the United States.
The person trained to handle the Sunday
meetings was called "a Leader" and the

Austin, Texas

thrust of many of the Societies was


completely atheistic.
TheAmerican Atheist membership application contains a query which is, basically, "As an A theist how do you identify
yourself for public purposes?" One of ten
choices is that of "Ethical Culturist. " The
question is put since the organization
knows that most Atheists do not "go
public. " When queried directly as to their
presumed religion they frequently use
"cover" euphemisms. One of the most
readily used is "Protestant. " meaning to
the Atheist. "I protest." and meaning to
the persons who hear the answer that
the A theist is in the large group of Judeo/
Christians which is frequently designated as Protestants, in apposition to
both Roman Catholics and Jews. Atheists, over the years, have become adept at
"double-talk. "
Some while back. this application form
fell into the hands of the American Ethical Union which is currently the survivor
'ins'titution of the Ethical Culture Societies which A dler began. A mericanAtheists have wanted to advise, widely, of
what has happened in this former closetAtheist organization. It has, of course,
been taken over by those of religious
mind. We reproduce the letter received
on November 28th 1981.

"American Atheists, Gentlemen:


"I have recently received some printed
material with reference to your organizetion. Included therein is a membership application which lists 10 different boxes which may
be checked. The only box which represents
an existing organization is that termed "Ethical Culturist."
"Ethical Culture is an organized religion.
Our Leaders are authorized to officiate at
weddings in virtually every state of the
Union. We have approximately thirty Ethical Culture Societies and Fellowships scattered throughout the United States. We
hold Sunday morning meetings, we have
Sunday Schools and our Leaders perform
pastoral services.
"Our religion is not theistic nor is it
agnostic or atheistic. Members are free to
form their own beliefs with reference to
deity. In our view this is a matter for their
personal concern.
"I feel that it is not proper for you to list
'Ethical Culturist' in your membership application. No other religion or organization
is listed and by listing ours there is a strong
implication that you are characterizing our
organization as atheistic which it is not.
"Some of our members may belong to
your organization - this is a matter of their
own free choice. We have no objection to
their joining but they would be joining in
their individual capacities not as members of
our religious organization.
October, 1984

"I must therefore strongly urge you to


delete "Ethical Culturist" from your membership application.
Very truly yours,
Rose R. Elbert, President"
We must confess that we have not
changed the query we pose on our application blank. It is not - in any way - a
method of associating the American Ethical Union with our organization or with
Atheism.
A very careful reading of this letter
indicates that the situation is as it has
always been with some creeping religiosity and intrusion of religious people
into this institution also. The American
Ethical Union is listed, for tax exemption
purposes, as a "religious" organization
by the I.R.S. in its Cumulative List of
Organizations. We do not desire to rock
that boat. So we advise you all that the
American Ethical Union by fiat of its
president. is a "religion."
Editor

Dear AA:
I have a small corporation that may
contribute by Visa or Mastercard a monthly
tax-deductible donation to American Atheists. The corporation can write the donation
"off the top" of gross income. Would you
accept the corporation's monthly donation
pledge to the Society of Separationists, Inc.?
If so, how could this be arranged?
Arlen G. Steinke
Florida
Dear Arlen:
At the end of each year donations are
totalled and a receipt is sent to each
contributor. This is on a form which can
be attached to any income tax return as
verification of a gift.
One of the greatest sources of wealth
of the churches if from corporate contributions, since any contributions to tax exempt organizations may be taken off the
top (from the gross) receipts of the corpoietion before it begins to calculate taxes.
This is such a "break" that most corporations give generously in order to fortify
their positions in our culture. We will
provide appropriate forms and urge participation of Atheist corporation owners.
We thank you for pointing this out again.
Editor
In "Letters to TheEditor" 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

PageS

NEWS & COMMENTS / October, 1984


'NUFF SAID
(What follows is the full text of the
"draft statement" of recommended U.S.
government policy in regard to "growth
in global population, " which was issued
by the National Security Council on May
30, 1984. It was prepared specifically for
the International Conference on Population, in Mexico City, August 6 - 13,
sponsored by the United Nations.)

For many years, the United States has


supported and helped to finance, programs
of family planning, particularly in the less
developed countries. This Administration
has continued that support but has placed it
within a policy context different from that of
the past. It is sufficently evident that the
current exponential growth in global population cannot continue indefinitely. There
is no question of the ultimate need to
achieve a condition of population equilibrium. The differences that do exist concern
the choice of strategies and methods for the
achievement of that goal. The experience of
the last two decades not only makes possible but requires a sharper focus for our
population policy. It requires a more refined
approach to problems which appear today
in quite a different light than they did twenty
years ago.
First and most important, in any particular society today, population growth is, of
itself, a neutral phenomenon. It is not necessarily good or ill. It becomes an asset or a
problem only in conjunction with other tactors, such as economic policy, social contrasts, need for manpower, and so forth.
The relationship between population growth
and economic development is not a negative
one. More people do not mean less growth;
that is absurd on its face. Indeed, both in the
American experience and in the economic
history of most advanced nations, population growth has been an essential element in
economic progress.
Before the advent of government population programs, several factors had combined to create an unprecedented surge in
population over most of the world. Although
population levels in many industrialized nations had reached or were approaching
equilibrium in the period before the second
World War, the baby boom that followed in
its wake resulted in a dramatic, but temporary, population "tilt" toward youth. The
disproportionate number infants, children,
teenagers, and eventually young adults did
strain the social infrastructure of schools,
health factors, law enforcement and so
forth. It also sustained strong economic
growth and was probably critical in boosting
the American standard of living to new
heights, despite occasionally counterproductive government policies.
Page 6

Among the less developed nations, a


coincidental population increase was caused by entirely different factors, directly
related to the humanitarian efforts of the
United States and other western countries.
A tremendous expansion of health services
- from simple inoculations to sophisticated
surgery - saved millions of lives every year.
Emergency relief,facilitated by modern transport, helped millions to survive flood, tarnine, and drought. The sharing of technology,
the teaching of agriculture and engineering,
the spread of western ideas in the treatment
of women and children all helped to drastically reduce the mortality rates, especially
infant mortality, and to lengthen the life
span.
The result. to no one's surprise. was more
people, everywhere. This was not a failure
but a success. It demonstrated not poor
planning or bad policy but human progress
in a new era of international assistance,
technological advance, and human cornpassion. The population boom was a challenge;
it need not to have been a crisis. Seen in its
broader context, it required a measured,
modulated response. It provoked an overreaction by some, largely because it coincided with two negative factors which, together, hindered families and nations in
adapting to their changing circumstances
The first of these factors was govemmental control of economies, a pathology
which spread throughout the developing
world with sufficient virulence to keep much
of it from developing further. As economic
decision-making was concentrated in the
hands of planners and public officials, the
ability of average men and women to work
towards a better future was impaired, and
sometimes crippled. Agriculture was devastated by government price fixing that wiped
out rewards for labor. Job creation in infant
industries was hampered by confiscatory
taxes. Personal industry and thrift were
penalized, while dependency upon the state
was encouraged. Political considerations
make it difficult for the economy to adjust to
changes in supply and demand or to disruptions in world trade and finance. Under such
circumstances, population growth changed
from an asset in the development of economic potential to a peril.
The worst consequence of economic statism was that it disrupted the natural mechanism for slowing population growth in
problem areas. The world's more affluent
nations have reached a population equilibrium without compulsion and, in most
cases, even before it was government policy
to achieve it. The controlling factor in these
cases has been the adjustment, by individual
families, of reproductive behavior to economic opportunity and aspiration. Econornic freedom has led to economically rational
October, 1984

behavior. As opportunities and the standard


of living rise, the birth rate falls.
The historic pattern would already be well
under way in many nations where population growth is today a problem, if shortsighted policies had not disrupted economic
incentives, rewards, and advancement. In
this regard, localized cries of population
growth are evidence of too much government control and planning, rather than too
little.
The second factor that turned the population boom into a crisis was confined to the
western world. It was an outbreak of an
anti-intellectualism, which attacked science,
technology, and the very concept of material progress. Joined to commendable and
long overdue concern for the environment,
it was more a reflection of anxiety about the
unsettled times and the uncertain future and
disregard of human experience and scientific sophistication. It was not unlike other
waves of cultural anxiety that have, over the
centuries, swept through western civilization during times of social stress and
scientific exploration.
The combination of these two factors counterproductive
economic policies in
poor and struggling nations and a pseudoscientific pessimism among the more advanced - provoked the demographic overreaction of the late 1960's and 1970's.
Doomsday scenarios took the place of realistic forecasts, and too many governments
pursued population control measures that
have little impact on population growth,
rather than sound economic policies that
create the rise in livingstandards historically
associated with decline in fertility rates. It .
was the easy way out, and it did not work. It
focused on a symptom and neglected the
underlying ailments. For the last three
years, this Administration has sought to
reverse the approach. We recognize that, in
some cases, immediate population pressures may take advisable short-term effects
to meliorate them. But this cannot be a
substitute for the economic reforms that put
a society on the road toward growth and, as
an aftereffect, toward slower population
increase as well.
Nor can population control substitute for
the rapid and responsible development of
natural resources. In responding to certain
Members of Congress concerning the previous Administration's Global 2000 report,
this Administration in 1981 repudiated its
call "for more governmental supervision
and control. Historically, that has tended to
restrict the availability of resources and to
hamper the development of technology,
rather than to assist it. Recognizing the
seriousness of environment and economic
problems, and their relationship to social
and political pressures, especially in the

The American Atheist

NEWS AND COMMENT / October, 1984


developing nations, the Administration
places a priority upon technological advance and economic expansion, which hold
out the hope of prosperity and stability of a
rapidly changing world. That hope can be
realized, of course, only to the extent that
government's response to problems, whether economic or ecological, respects and
enhances individual freedom, which makes
true progress possible .and worthwhile."
Those principles underlie this country's
approach to the United Nations Conference
on Population to be held in Mexico City in
August. In accord with those principles, we
reject compulsion or coercion in family
planning programs, whether it is exercised
against families within a society or against
nations within the family of man. The United
Nations Declaration of the Rights of the
Child (1959) calls for legal protection for
children before birth as well as after birth;
and the United States accordingly does not
consider abortion an acceptable element of
. family planning programs and will not contribute to those of which it is a part. Nor will
it any longer contribute directly or indirectly
to family planning programs funded by governments or private organizations that advocate abortion as an instrument of population
control. Efforts to lower population growth
in cases in which it is deemed advisable to do
so must, moreover, respect the religious
beliefs and culture of each society. Population control is not a panacea. It willnot solve
problems of massive unemployment. Jobs
are not lost because there are too many
people in a given area. Jobs are created by

the conjunction of human wants and investment capital. Population growth fuels the
former, sound economic policies and properly directed international assistance can
provide the latter. Indeed, population density may make the latter more feasible by
concentrating the need for both human
services and technology. But as long as
oppressive economic policies penalize those
who work, save, and invest, joblessness will
persist.
Population control cannot solve problems of unauthorized migration across national boundries. People do not leave their
homes, and often their families, to seek
more space. They do so in search of opportunity and freedom. Reducing their numbers gives them neither. Population control
cannot avert natural disasters, including
famines provoked by cyclical drought. Fortunately, world food supplies have been
adequate to relieve those circumstances in
recent years. Problems of transportation
remain; but there are far deeper problems
as well, in those governmental policies which
restrict the rewards of agricultural pursuits,
encourage the abandonment of farmland,
and concentrate people in urban areas.
It is time to concentrate upon those root
problems which frequently exacerbate population pressures. By focusing upon real
remedies for underdeveloped economies,
the United Nations Conference on Population can reduce demographic issues to their
proper place. It is an important place, but
not the controlling one. It requires our
continuing attention within the broader con-

\\ MA~! IT6 GEinN6Austin, Texas

COLDSF=tTHAtV A '"

text of economic growth and of the economic freedom that is its prerequisite. Most of
all, questions of population growth require
the approach outlined, by President Reagan
in 1981, in remarks before the World Affairs
Council of Philadelphia: "Trust the people,
trust their intelligence and trust their faith,
because putting people first is the secret of
economic success everywhere in the world."
That is the agenda of the United States for
the United Nations Conference on Population this year, just as it remains the continuing goal of our famiy planning assistance to
other nations.
It is necessary to emphasize that this
original draft still approved by the White
House, was the only one available at
press time. Later, of course, the substance of the official pronouncement at
Mexico City, remained almost identical to
this.

FREE EXERCISE OF WHAT!


In Colorado Springs this week, a federal
judge threw out a million-dollar lawsuit filed
by a cuckolded husband against a Roman
Catholic priest who had an affair with the
plaintiff's wife during the course of marital
counseling. The judge ruled that litigation
could not constitutionally be pursued because it violated the priest's "free exercise of
religion."

/I

October, 1984

Page 7

T. Robert

Grace

THE SHOWMAN
O

ne night a certain talk show was aired,


claiming it would deal with the topic
"creationism vs. evolutionism in public
schools." Education never entered the picture, however. The entire show featured
one guest, a leading creationist, advocating
his views. Since he basically had a monologue on the show, he was free to advance his
claims unhindered. Considering also that
the average person probably knows little
about the mechanisms and supportive evidence concerning evolution. he seemed all
the more convincing. Actually, however, he
knew even less. Fortunately, one does not
need to know much about the details of
evolution to see through his plan. That put
me to thinking, you see, about this character. Therefore, in relation to a chapter from
The Roving Mind by Isaac Asimov, I present the following concerning this scientific creationist and his views. I shall refer to
him as "the creationist", simply, as he is
typical of his view.
First of all, the creationist is a showman,
using elaborate tactics and methods to
advance his views. This starts with him and
the host going through his long list' of
credentials. "Very intimidating," they say.
That is tactic number one. The host actually
says, "WeB,these credentials are very intimidating." Next he says straightforwardly that
he is in fact a scientist, a very good one, and
that all of his claims are based on scientific
method and hard scientific evidence.
Throughout he mentions that he has all
kinds of evidence, evidence here, evidence
there, time and time again, but he never
describes his evidence. He will,however, be
more specific in mentioning lack of evidence
where it benefits his cause.
Most astonishing, though, to me at any
rate, is the curious way in which he regards
the scientific community. This is very humorous in a way. To put it simply, he regards
scientists as big, overbearing, "meanies"
who are very unkind to the poor little
creationists. He says that he and the other
creationists are a distinct minority, but a
growing one. So he conveys the image that
he is a great hero attacking the scientific
establishment good and hard, where it hurts,
and thus helping the poor little mistreated
creationists. He is very brave, he says, and
he willchallenge anyone to debate. Debate,
debate, debate. At about this point he and
the talk show host band together. Together
they will destroy the scientific establishment. They mention that various scientists,
Page 8

particularly from the University of Illinois,


were invited to come, but they flatly refused.
"Ha, ha," he says. "No scientists showed up.
I guess they're just afraid of me." I wonder
about scientists being invited to that show, I
really do. He then brags a great deal about
his superb debating ability. He complains
about a particular scientist he has debated
in the past. "Oh, he talks too fast for me, just
too fast. It's not fair, I just can't argue with
hitm. "
He starts to explain a little, again in a very
vague but lofty manner. He cites untruths,
takes quotes out of context and shows a
total ignorance of scientific concepts. His
biggest argument is the second law of thermodynamics, I which he just doesn't understand (or refuses to understand.) This is
really quite a joke, as this law is fairly simple
and comprehensible.
He also says that a big flaw in the theory of
evolution is that transitional forms are lacking. "There are," he says, "no transitional
forms from invertebrate to vertebrate, from
fish to amphibian, reptile to bird, or ape to
October, 1984

man". He apparently doesn't know about


Amphioxus, Eusthenopteran, Archeopteryx,
Australopithecus or Pithecanthropus.! Actually, I rather think he does, but considers
them nuisances. When confronted with
these, he regards them as invariably of one
class and not a transitional form. "Arc heopteryx, you see, was a bird, and not a
reptile, but definitely a bird." He says the
missing link is still missing. He does not
mention, however, that if it weren't for the
fact that the feathers became fossilized
archeopteryx would have been considered
a reptile. I don't know how much more inbetween you can get than that.
He dwells on the gaps in the scientific
theory. He says that the fossil record is
incomplete, regards this as a permanent
condition, and uses the idea of fossils to
refute the idea of evolution. Here he acknowledges that fossils exist, including, I
would assume, the fossils of dinosaurs,
trilobites, placoderms, etc. I wonder how he
would explain these, or why they're no
longer here."
The American Atheist

When confronted with astronomical evidence, he evades the issue with the god
idea. Once he was presented with the fact
that if a galaxy is two million light-years
away, it would take two million years for the
light to reach us, which it does. This shows
that the universe must be more than 10,000
years old. He replied, "God created the
universe with light from distant objects already in transit, for men here on Earth to
use."! Here he slips up. Let me explain.
All through his talks he tries to establish
his image as a scientist, as do all creationists.
Creationism is a relatively new and sneaky
method of promoting biblical scriptures, as
opposed to its allies, the Moral Majority,
which opts for a more direct appproach.
Creationists claim their views are a result of
careful scientific analysis. They assume a
"creator" based on "scientific premises."
They are, of course, motivated by religious
causes, but they try not to reveal that. They
claim to be motivated by scientific reasons
and not religious ones. So when he says
"god" created the universe, his true religious motives shine through. He slipped. By
passing his views as valid scientific reasoning ("Good science." He calls it.), he can
inject these views into the eductional system, Side by side with the theory of evolution, which he calls the "dogma." If his
religious motives were evident, he would be
more obviously in violation of the First
Amendment.
.
A very curious thing came to my attention. He claims that he is a top-notch
research scientist, coming to his conclusions as a result of intensive research and

complicated tests in order to determine how


the universe was created. His conclusions,
as it happens, match precisely with biblical
scripture. So I wonder how he explains that
desert nomads over 2000 years ago "knew"
the same thing, without conducting any of
his tests or knowing any of his "science."
And again, he is very vague about his
"evidence." "We have evidence that ... and
we have evidence that ... " but no descriptions. He also continues to mask himself as a
'scientist' and goes on and on about the
scientific credulity of his Institute for Creation Research. I suppose I'd have to see it to
believe it.
Then the show draws to a close and the
host gloats: "I wish you the best of luck in
promoting creationism all over the world!"
Ugh! Boy are we in trouble. With a crew like
that it's no wonder that no scientist showed
up, ifindeed they were asked. Scientists are
tending to adopt the view that since one
cannot reasonably deal with the creationists, who resort to showman tactics, then
why bother with them? Is it really worth it?
The validity of scientific theory should be
determined by evidence, hard evidence, and
not one's debating ability. Perhaps that is
why the "creationist" is so eager to debate,
because he really has nothing to show but
his own fancy mental footwork. ~
FOOTNOTES
1. The second law of thermodynamics is
that no isolated process is possible in which
heat is absorbed from a resevoir at a single
temperature and converted completely into

mechanical work.
2. Amphioxus is a primitive fish-like creature
that lacks a vertebral column. Eusthenopteran was a lobe-finned fish that lived
around 400 million years ago. Archeopteryx
was a feathered creature that had many
reptilian features not seen in modern birds:
teeth, claws on the wings, and unfused
bones in the tail. Australopithecus and Pithecanthropus were human-like animals that
used stone tools.
3. Such people may well claim that these
animals perished during the Biblical flood,
but if that were so then people would have
lived with them prior to that time, and of
course, no one is recorded to have seen
these creatures alive. On other grounds,
one would wonder why these creatures
would have been left behind.
4. Anything on the order of two million lightyears distant, the distance of the nearest
spiral galaxy (Andromeda) is too faint to be
seen without the aid of a telescope and
hence would be of no use to early man.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Nineteen year old Todd Grace is
currently working toward a doctorate
in Astronomy at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As an Atheist Activist, he is the
secretary of the new Central Illinois
Chapter of American Atheists.

DIAL-AN-ATHEIST
The telephone listings below are the various message services where you may listen to short comments on
state/church separation issues and/or viewpoints originated by the Atheist community.

Tucson, Arizona _
Orange County, California
S. Francisco, California
Denver, Colorado
Tampa Bay, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Central Illinois
Des Moines, Iowa
lexington, Kentucky
Boston, Massachusetts
Detroit, Michigan
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN :
Northern New Jersey
Austin, Texas

(602) 623-3861
(714)
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974-7110
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772-8822
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884-7360
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Austin, Texas Dial-THE-Atheist (512) 458-5731


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October, 1984

(713)
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664-7678
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277-4663
Page 9

SPECIAL REPORT / MadaiynO'Hair

A LITTLE HISTORY: O'HAIR v.HILL


A

ctually, looking back upon it now, the


difficulties began with the sign, and by
implication the purchase of the building
upon which the sign sat.
The Murray-O'Hairs had been in Texas
since October, 1965, from which time forward for several years Madalyn O'Hair was
fighting extradition back to Maryland on
thirty two "assault" counts against her. The
common joke was that the Baltimore Colts
simply wanted her to play on their team and
this was the "tough" way to obtain her. The
charges stemmed from a police break-andentry into the Murray home in Baltimore,
when the Balitmore police fractured the
skull of her 70-year old mother, pounded her
son, William J. Murray, into a quivering
pulp, and delivered a first rate beating to,
then, Madalyn Murray.
It was, apparently, unfair to try to cover
one's vital organs as police beat away and
the defensive gestures (even when her face
was being ground into the lawn with a
policeman's boot on her neck) were considered to be Madalyn Murray's "assault"
against the sixteen policemen in eight police
cars surrounding the Murray horne. Sixteen
assault charges were filed against her on
behalf of the sixteen as police officers and
another sixteen were filed against her on
behalf of the officers as ordinary citizens:
thirty two counts in all. The officers had
come to the Murray home because it was
reported that young (18 year old) Bill Murray was there with his new, also young (17
year old) wife, Susan. Her parents, orthodox Jews, objected to her marriage to a
"goy" (non-Jewish person.) There were no
charges against the Murrays, no warrants,
no court orders, only enthusiastic police
urged on by neighbors, who gathered in a
crowd. Much much later, Susan was to
report that she and Bill "wanted a little
action" and that they were the persons who
had "anonymously" called the police to
announce defiantly to her parents that she
had married Bill and was in the Murray
horne.
The morning after the beatings, after all
three victims had spent the night half in the
hospital and half in jail, the Murrays simply
fled from Baltimore to the only known
"Atheist" state in our union, Buddhist Hawaii. An Associated Press reporter in the
home on the day of the assault was afraid to
write up the story, but it was she who
suggested that Buddhism was Atheistic and
that in Hawaii the family would be safe from
Page 10

primarily Roman Catholic Christian physical brutality.


Madalyn Murray spent her first three
weeks in Hawaii in the Veterans Administration Hospital (she had served as a commissioned officer in the Signal Corps in World
War II) only to have the indignity of her,
instead of the police, being charged with
assault. What followed was unbelievable. if
major felony crimes are committed, there
are extradition processes to return a criminal to the state in which he committed the
crime. But, these crimes need to be substantive: murder, bank robbery, forgery, rape.
At no time in the history of the United
States has any person ever been extradieted from one state to another on the
misdemeanor charge of" assault. "In law,

"assault" is a gesture; "battery" is the actual


blow that is felt. But, the state of Maryland,
making new history, spent several years and
scores of thousands of dollars to attempt to
extradite "the Atheist" Madalyn Murray,
back to Baltimore on these spurious
charges. (How could you assault sixteen
police at one time?) The Attorney General
of Maryland distinguished himself by appearing on television there to say that he would
ask for the "supreme penalty" for "the
Atheist," which, just incidentally under the
English common law of that state, was the
electric chair.
It should be pointed out, now, for the sake
of history that no organization nor anyone
of importance, nor anyone from the "establishment" came to her aid. She was, instead,
heavily criticized and attacked by the
A.c.L.U., the American Humanist Association and every diverse "liberal" organizatin
in the United States. When she arrived in
Texas, fleeing for her very life, she owned a
pair of loafers - on her feet, underpanties,
one slip and a dress - on her body. and Jon
Murray, her then eleven year old son, also
had only, simply and literally, the clothes on
his back.
A University of Texas student offered
that she could sleep on the couch in her little
apartment and that was "home" to begin,
but at night only. During the day when the
student was in school, Madalyn Murray and
Jon could any wander the streets waiting to
be let in again in the late evening.
Later, a female real-estate agent saw her
on the streets of the University area and
stopped her to ask if she had a place other
than just to sleep at night. The agent knew of
a three-room duplex, fully furnished down
October, 1984

to worn bed clothing, tinny silverware, chipped dishes and battered cookpots, all renting for $70 a month. A deal was struck that
Madalyn O'Hair should move in, the real
estate company was not told of the move,
and she was scheduled to pay rent when she
could.
Meanwhile Playboy magazine was running an interview article on her in its October, 1965, edition and every store had huge
stacks of hundreds of Playboy magazines at
the check-out counters. Years later a Playboy executive told her that the issue, the
single most popular one, had sold more
copies and made more money than any
other. Madalyn Murray, however, was not
paid for the interview, but the right-wing
journalist who had conducted it, Richard
Tregaskis, author of Vietnam Diary, received a wad. In the interview article she had
to disguise an appeal for funds to continue
her legal cases. The magazine refused to run
an open, honest, direct monetary appeal,
and editorially wrote it couched in words
that would cause any reader to presume it to
be a sexual advertisement. The money
collected was diverted by a "trusted" person
who later had to be sued in a Federal District
Court to recoup it in part.
Within several weeks, Richard O'Hair
came up from Mexico, and he and Madalyn
Murray were married. Their first weeks
were spent in the Bastrop, Texas, summer
cottage of an attorney who hid the pair out
of the reach of the Maryland vigilantes,
pending her extradition proceedings.
Yes, an organized, and Maryland state
endorsed, vigilante task force had been sent
to Texas to "return her by extralegal means
if necessary." And, in good old Bible-belt
Texas, the situation was critical. One legislative hopeful built his entire campaign around
the slogan of "Send O'Hair back to Maryland." Restaurant owners asked her to leave
the premises; banks would not deal with her
or the organization; she was denied needed
office space because no one would rent to
an Atheist; the Credit Bureau identified her
as an Atheist criminal so that all applications
for "time payment purchases" were denied;
grocery stores asked her not to shop; and
attacks on her home were constant. Quickly into and out of jail four times on the
extradition charges, she simply stood still
and fought - first for survival, but always
for the right to be an open and avowed
Atheist. Her reduced family (husband, one
son and herself) was isolated, brutalized,
The American Atheist

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


attacked psychologically, physically, legally,
monetarily and still she just held on. She had
by then been stripped of everything home, furniture, automobiles, job, income,
family, reputation, and, since in the last
analysis she could not even get a job washing dishes, she was stripped of her education for it did her no good at all. I
After a year of litigation the fight against
the extradition was won, on a fluke, not on
its merits. And, in all of that time, the only
well known person in the entire world who
gave her a kind word was Bertrand Russell.
On December 4, 1965 he issued a press
release, which he later signed and sent to
her. It now hangs on a wallof her officein the
American Atheist Center:
"The arbitrary arrest ofMrs. Madalyn Murray is outrageous. Her views
as an Atheist are shared by the intellectual community of all countries,
and her persecution cannot be tolerated.
.
I urgently request the immediate
release of this brave, and entirely
admirable woman.
- signed, Bertrand Russell"
No other help came, but envy did. A
continuing phenomenon associated with all
"Atheist" groups in all nations is that diverse
people and other groups -have looked with
greed upon these organizations, their bank
accounts, reputations and mailing lists.
Everywhere, in every age, when a charismatic and competent Atheist leader is under
attack from the religious community or from
government these people from the ranks of
the Atheist movement come out, literally, to
"get them while they're down." American
Atheists is no exception. Over and over
there have been efforts to "seize the corporation," (two of which were briefly successful in hostile courts, but later reversed
in bitter hard-fought legal proceedings.)
Over and over again valuable real estate,
office furnishings, equipment and mailings
lists have been stolen by "friends and compatriots." And, when Madalyn Murray arrived in Austin, Texas, everything had been
stolen from her. She had 1M for a "Chief"
red-covered crude school note pad, 5~ for a
pencil, her determination and her memory.
With that she tried to start anew with any
persons she could remember.
Richard O'Hair had left his horses in Valle
de Bravo, Jalisco, Mexico; the family had no
transportation. He did, however, have a
V.A. disability pension and social secuirty
benefits from his total and permanent (ser'For the full story of the situation in Baltimore
during the U. S. Supreme Court case to remove
Bible reading and reverential prayer saying from
the public schools, read An Atheist Epic: Bill
Murray, the Bible and the Baltimore Board of
Education.

Austin, Texas

vice connected) injuries (U. S. Marine


Corps, First Division, World War II.) The
change of address from Mexico to Texas
took four months, but at last the checks
came, giving some measure of monetary
stability. The small family had moved from
the dark duplex and lived in a totally unfurnished home for months, sleeping on the
floor, setting table on a small kitchen workcounter. Looking back on it now, it is
amazing how shabbily they were treated
and how totally unconcerned the Atheists in
the United States were. They believed every
lie printed, every attack made. And, since
that time, the Freedom of Information Act
has brought disclosure that Madalyn Murray O'Hair was one of the objects of the
F.B.I. "Cointel" operation. (This was the
F.B.I. game-plan of writing and distributing
lies about any effective leader of a group in
opposition to "the establishment.")
Friends were counted on one hand, and
Charles E. Stevens of California was one of
them. (The American Atheist Library and
Archives, Inc. bears his name.)
It was years later that Madalyn O'Hair
was able to purchase back a part of her
original mailing list to try to join the old
organization with the new one. Every socalled Atheist and freethought group in the
United States now functions, still, on parts,
or the whole, of her original and subsequent
mailing lists. An eighteen room three story
office building in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, completely furnished with printing and
direct mail equipment, was lost. A 160-acre
tract of land in Kansas (on which oil was
recently found) was lost. Her home in
Maryland was lost, including all furniture
(oriental rugs, Steinway piano, a large personallibrary, crystal, china, and silver etc.).
Her automobiles were suddenly in the possession of others. The furniture and family
heirlooms were stolen by greedy friends,
"cause" persons, and relatives. Organization bank accounts were turned over, by
banks, to anyone who demanded them.
Lawyers for the organization suddenly became its most bitter foes, and always the
money they squabbled over, and won, was
that of the organization founded by Madalyn
Murray O'Hair. Her legal efforts to protect
her own or the organizations' real and
personal property were, for the most part,
simply ignored by the courts involved.
But American Atheists slowly moved up
in the world again, this time functioning
anew on a small drop-leaf pine kitchen table.
Every time food was served, the organization disappeared, to return again when the
dirty dishes were removed from the table.
Then came a black painted $69 metal desk
from Sears Roebuck. That was put in one of
the empty bedrooms, and later a rented
stand up mechanical typewriter moved in.
Demanding some display of human dignity,
October, 1984

Madalyn O'Hair bought curtains from Kresge's 5~ and 1O~ store, altered and hung
them. Looking back on that era, it was a
miracle-a-day to try to keep several court
cases going, fight the extradition, and try to
avoid entanglement with the traitors, malfactors, and thieves, who had stolen so
much and done so little. The major court
cases being undertaken were then (1) an
effort to tax the profits of church businesses, fought in Maryland; (2) an effort to
force churches to pay taxes on their real
estate, fought in New York; and (3) an effort
to stop religious services in space, fought in
Texas.
Soon the office moved out of the small
bedrom into the little vacant living/dining
area. Then the car-port was enclosed to
serve as a larger office. Finally a two bedroom house around the corner was purchased, converted into an office and American Atheism began to thrive again. In Texas
one can do in a house what one wishes to do
if there are no outside signs. The small
Atheist Center was as anonymous as any
house on the street, but immediately the
O'Hairs were charged with a "zoning violation," and a hearing was scheduled for 11:00
P.M. in a municipal court, which had never
been known to meet at that hour. Madalyn
O'Hair appeared in the courtroom in black
skirt, black jacket and reversed collar black
priestly bib. She proclaimed that the building housed "Poor Richard's American Atheist Church" and demanded the same exclusion from all zoning regulations enjoyed by
the churches in Austin. The case was won
but new tactics began. In the 19. years
existence. of American Atheists in Austin,
Texas, either the organization, the American Atheist Library and Archives, Madalyn
O'Hair, Richard O'Hair or Jon Murray, was
audited by the I.R.S. in 15 of those 19 years.
The Sales Tax Commission and the Unemployment Compensation Commission also
both audited the organization. Fire inspections were monthly concerns and merchants continued to refuse to sell merchandize, to contract for services (such as printing), or to give any credit. Every article of
equipment and furnishings had to be purchased cash-up-front and always the price
was a special exorbitant one for American
Atheists.
And, anyone who looked at the MurrayO'Hairs could tell that their ill-cut, ill-fitting
clothing was straight out of Sears Roebuck.
Anyone who came into their home could see
that the "seven piece living room suite,"
finally managed for $119, was throw-away
junk. They had years to go to the settlement
of the estate of Richard O'Hair's father
which finally brought some monetary relief.
To round out the family and make it four,
Robin arrived when she was 16 months old,
another one with only the clothing she wore.
Page 11

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


The daughter of Billand Susan Murray, she
had been abandoned by both. She slept on
some folded towels on the floor next to
Madalyn O'Hair's bed for months. The only
clothing she acquired were sewn by hand
from cotton percale by Madalyn O'Hair.
And, while Richard watched the home
base, Madalyn O'Hair was on college and
university campuses, or on television and
radio constantly somewhere in the country
carrying on the fight. No one knew how
many times, during commercial breaks, she
went into the toilets to throw-up from the
anxieties laid on her by the vicious attacks of
hosts and callers alike. One can only admit
to that a score or two of years later.
First American Atheists survived, then it
endured, then it grew. Every gain was
painful, demanding, unbelievably hard and
slow, against every conceivable kind of
assault. Finally a small, very old, office
building was located and the operation, ever
expanding, moved there. There was much
debate as to whether an identifying sign
could be put on the building. It was eventually decided that one entry door should be
silvered (to reflect out the hot Texas sun)
and that on the door "American Atheist
Center" should be painted in black letters
about three inches high. It took months to
find a painter who would do it, but when

Page 12

accomplished pride stood in that sign.


Jon Murray, meanwhile, worked his way
through the University of Texas as a night
manager of Arby's, a fast food service in
Austin. As often as not he had to come
home for lunch since he had not one penny
to spend on campus. Weekends he was
expected to work in the Atheist Center and he did. It was a slim existence for all.
The hours of work put into American
Atheists to make it work were staggering.
Opening the office by 8:00 A.M. Madalyn
O'Hair would doggedly stay there until
midnight every night, Saturdays, Sundays
and holidays. The only time she stopped
was to "take to the road" for the grueling
sessions of television, radio, or college and
university appearances. The primary memory of those days is that, "No one would
help." An Atheist would "drop in to chat"
now and then and Madalyn O'Hair would sit
there. work piled high on her desk. patiently
answering questions all of which the person
could have discovered through personal
research. The visitor would then leave her,
even more behind in her work. Everyone
took. Only a very few gave. Often a $1.00
contribution would include a five page letter
with directions on how to spend it. While
electric bills and mortgages waited, Atheists
would send $2.00 in postage stamps to

October, 1984

assure that the donation was" controlled" as


to use. American Atheists was financed
during the first ten years in Austin, Texas,
(1965 -1975) almost wholely by money
brought in through the efforts of Madalyn
O'Hair. Membership was negligible and not
particularly supportive.
A phrase comes to mind, for Madalyn
O'Hair "begged, borrowed or stole" to keep
it going, to force it to grow and to spread its
outreach. She "dumped everything, including the kitchen sink." into the effort. And. in
May, 1975, at age 20, Jon Murray graduated
from the University of Texas and began to
work full time in The American Atheist
Center, side by side with his mother.
In July, 1977, by dint of prodigious hard
labor, by squeezing money management
that no one would ever believe - so why
explain - American Atheists finally moved
into its present building. In the "good address" north section of the city, beside the
only remaining full screen, (then) familytype theater, it put down its roots. The
building was substantial, impressive and
cost a helluva lot of money ($250,000 at that
time - now valued at $695,000.) And, at this
juncture it was felt that finally a sign could go
up; a sign that said "American Atheist
Center," a sign that was fifty feet long and
three feet high, painted in red/white/and

The American Atheist

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


blue. American Atheists were so proud of its
success in rising above the battles which
had been waged against it, that the cover of
the July, 1977, issue ofthe A merican Atheist magazine featured a picture of the build:
ing. Of course, the organization was not
prepared for the immediate consequences.
The insurance on the building was cancelled; within four months five harrassments
suits were filed demanding sums of up to
$1Y2million for satisfaction; the mailing list
was stolen again; vicious media coverage
started anew; automobiles and the company truck were damaged; a row of beautiful
mature palm trees were salted down and
killed. Forays were made against the building and the O'Hair home again. The I.R.S.
examiners arrived anew, windows were shot
out and death threats were back once again.
Politicians and the churches in Austin
were startled to see an outward, visible,
affluent sign of success for American Atheism and were determined to "bring the
American Atheist Center down." And,
they did not mind saying it openly, loudly
and often. They did not want what they
considered to be a pustule of venom in their
city. With the consist ant court cases in
which it had been involved, and with Madalyn O'Hair's appearances and speeches all
out of town, American Atheism was known
in the legal community of the nation but not
in its home town. Now, the sign and the
building on which it sat, in Austin, Texas,
was too much of a defiant flag. It had to be
furled.
But, something more sinister was happening. Seeing this plant, envious members who
longed to be" a television star like Madalyn"
came to visit. Earnestly entreating for mailing lists, materials and books, instructions
and organizing material for their states, they
planned to start chapters and did, using
American Atheists' reputation and Madalyn
O'Hair's name. Envisaging that they, too,
could have what they saw as a "big organization," they promptly coverted the mailing
lists to their own use and issued derogatory
and infamous press statements concerned
with American Atheists and Madalyn
O'Hair. In some cases they made off with
Chapter libraries and Chapter bank accounts. Religious editors of newspapers
throughout the nation called Madalyn
O'Hair to read to her the press releases, the
venomous" confidential" letters sent to them
by these "would-be's." Television hosts related tales of their encounters with them.
These were times of dismay. There are
always "take-over" aspirants in every organization. Atheism is not the only "cause"
which has been beset by them. These
persons can do little or nothing original on
their own, but seeing a thriving cause enterprise, well settled by its originator, they
desire to move in once the base is had, when
Austin, Texas

primary difficulties have been conquered,


when recognition and acceptance nears and
when the organization has become well
financed.
At any time, in the past twenty years, had
the American Atheist Center been permitted to function without deliberate harrassing outside interference and inside treachery the organization would be a score of
times more powerful, better financed, more
extended and more efficient in its operation
than it is now.
One harrassment suit was totally incredible. In this, a lawyer sued for $1Y2million
because Madalyn O'Hair had caused him
trepidation in his belief system of the transcendent imminence of Jesus Christ. Preliminary legal costs just to answer this man so
that he would not receive a default judgment
ran over $8,500. In the middle of another
harrassment suit, one of of two in which the
opposition attorney was a former "liberal"
mayor of Austin, a former national officer of
the American Humanist Association attempted to provide derogatory written comments to be inserted into the courf record
- comments which were twenty years or
more old. It was so bad that the hostile judge
in one case agreed that all "remarks to the
jury" could be predicted on the case being
"a harrassment suit."
The obvious, outside, prosperity of the
organization, as depicted by the new building with its new sign, was "too much" for its
religious foes and "too tempting" for the
rival would-be leaders of no-religion who
coveted its building, its reputation and its
presumed income. In February, 1978, a
small hard-core, conspiracy band planned
to "take over" American Atheists and put it
into the hands of those persons "who could
work with religion" instead of against it.
The coup was planned in New Jersey but fell
flat on its face as the New Jersey Chapter,
headed by Paul Marsa, first advised and
then worked with the National office to
abort it.
It was at this point, in the middle of the
harrassment suits, that the American Atheists said, 'Theil with this noise." and filed a
legal challenge not alone against the judiciary but against the entire state of Texas in
the Federal District Court in Austin, Texas.
Claiming that it was absolutely impossible to
obtain a fair and impartial trial in any of the
cases which it faced, American Atheists
asked that the Federal District Court declare the entire government of the state of
Texas to be a theocracy and, therefore,
legally incapacitated to be an instrument
against any Atheist, but particularly Madalyn O'Hair and American Atheists.
They pointed out that while Constitution
of the United States, in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, prohibits any
"establishment of religion," the Constitution
October, 1984

of the State of Texas, in its Bill of Rights


excluded every Atheist and agnostic from
any "office or public trust" in the state. This
exclusion set the state up as a theocracy for
the benefit only of those persons who "acknowledged the existence of a Supreme
Being." Under those circumstances, American Atheists said, any court hearing involving Atheists would be more like an Inquisition than an exercise in justice. American
Atheists and Madalyn O'Hair both demanded that the federal court issue an
injunction to bring to an immediate halt all of
the five harrassment cases against them.
Meanwhile, in each of them, they had filed
motions to abate (stop) the cases until the
Federal District Court could hand down a
decision on the composition of the Texas
state courts, filled as they were with godbelievers only.
It was the equivalent of facing pea-shooters (the harrassment suits) with an MX
missile. American Atheists were loaded for
bear. The provision which set Texas up as a
theocracy had been in the Texas state
Constitution for a number of years, 97 to be
exact, having been put into the constitution
in 1880. American Atheists had not sought
to challenge it before 1977 because it was
not high on the priority list of state/church
separation problems. But, it was certain that
in courts constituted in such a theocracy,
with harrassment cases deliberately brought
in those courts, the American Atheist Center could be put out of operation for all
times. It was faced with five such suits. The
atmosphere in the city and state had to be
challenged and in a powerful way. But in the
last analysis the single most compelling
reason for filing the federal law suit was so
that American Atheists could ask for an
injunction against (i.e. an immediate halt to)
the five harrassment suits. The MurrayO'Hairs had decided there was NOT going
to be another Baltimore. There was NOT
going to be another complete wipe out of
Atheism. There was NOT going to be another financial debacle for the MurrayO'Hairs. There was NOT going to be another new start from scratch. There were
going to be NO more police beatings and
that they would NEVER run for their lives
again. They were going to stop and fight
both external and internal battles. They
chose to draw the internal line of battle in
New Jersey and the external line of battle
with a totally hostile Christian permeated
Texas judicial system. Had there not been
the five harrassment cases, American Atheists would not have challenged the Texas
Constitutional provision for years to come.
Their initial judgment that they could not
obtain impartial "justice" was correct for
one hostile judge, one hostile jury, and the
hostile press brought an $80,000 judgment
against them in one case alone. There was a
Page 13

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


$40,000 judgment in a second and a $10,000
judgment in a third. In a fourth case Madalyn
O'Hair landed in jail for refusing to pray at an
Austin City Council meeting. American Atheists, in the appellate process (of the state
cases), hired one of the most prestigious,
and the most costly, law firms in the city.
The cases were critical and needed expert
defense so it was purchased at a high cost
and then American Atheists and the MurrayO'Hairs simply stood and slugged it out.
They fought in the state local and appellate
courts at the same time as they fought in the
federal district and appellate courts. In the
federal courts they could not afford expensive or prestigious law firms and Madalyn
O'Hair did much of the legal work there,
alone. It had not been anticipated that the
harrassment litigation would drag on into
appeals and stale-mates, taking from late
1977 to January, 1980. The federal courts
should have acted to stop the litigation and
in 1984 the federal appellate court, finally,
ruled just that.
Richard O'Hair never saw the outcome of
it all. He died of cancer, in early 1978, in the
V.A. hospital in Temple, Texas, and was
buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in
Washington, D.C.
An environment of hatred permeated the
city. All available funding had been thrown
into the new building, and Jon Murray now
had to hold the fort while Madalyn O'Hair
was on the road trying to scare up operating
money. An example is necessary to educate
concerned with the complete denial of an
impartial trial, of equal protection under the
law and of due process. In one case, a jury
panel of sixty persons was drawn, all of
whom "acknowledged the existence of a
Supreme Being." Each person on the panel
was required to disclose his specific denominational religion. From them nine persons,
who "had an aversion to Atheists" in general
imd to Madalyn O'Hair in particular, were
seated on the jury, over every objection
which could be mustered. In addition three
jurors, who "felt that the testimony of Atheists would be less believable than the testimony of persons who 'believed in God,"
were also seated, again over objections. The
twelve persons on the jury consisted of 3
Baptists, 2 Protestants, 3 Roman Catholics,
3 Church of Christ Evangelicals, and 1
Lutheran. Please think back on any jury trial
which you have ever read about and try to
remember if each person had to declare his
religion.
In an eight day, highly publicized trial, 152
"running objections" were permitted, 352
motions or objections were denied, and
there were 51 bench conferences from
which the court reporter was barred. When
the jury sent a question from its deliberation
room to the judge, he declined to answer it.
When the hostile jury found against AmariPage 14

courtroom and confine her in the judge's


can Atheists the court refused to accept the
assurance of approximately $1 millionworth
chambers because she did not desire to
of real property as bond and required,
"acknowledge the existence of a Supreme
Being" during the jury empaneling and selecinstead, $50,000 in cash. At that juncture,
tion process. After that process was totally
an urgent, direct appeal to the all members
completed, after she had been deprived of
of American Atheists was made and the
her right of participation, she was returned
money was raised within a week as nearly
to the courtroom, told that jury selection
every member responded. Atheism was
was over and she was summarily dismissed.
finally coming into its own, under extreme
Several days later, this same judge opened
fire, but with an awakened and aroused
membership.
the first harrassment case against the organization. Seeing him on the bench, Madalyn
In all Texas courts, the judge, the jurors,
O'Hair immediately asked him to recuse
the bailiffs, the judges' secretaries, the
himself from bias and filed a motion in
clerks, the court reporters, the cleaning
abatement (i.e. stop the case) stating that
women in the court room, all had to "acthe organization was challenging the entire
knowledge the existence of a Supreme
Being." Atheists and agnostics, as a class
Texas judicial system in the federal court
and that the state courtshould wait for the
were the objects of invidious discrimination
federal judgment. The judge refused to
based on religious exclusionary language in
recuse himself and denied the motion for
the state constitution. With this kind of
abatement.
situation, the state of Texas translated the
The case of OHair v. Hill was filed on
private harrassment suits into state actions
October 20, 1978 under the civil rights
imminently threatening the very existence
of an Atheist group in the state. It was
statutes. Basically, it asked that all further
proceedings in five harrassment cases be
patently an absurdity on its face to expect
an impartial and unbiased hearing. And, of enjoined (i.e. stopped) until it was determined by the federal court if the Texas
course, none were had. In one case a judge
had banged his gavel down immediately
judiciary, a state constititionally mandated
after he entered the room, had declined to
theocracy, could give an Atheist or an
Atheist organization a fair trial. John Hill
hear any evidence, refused to permit any
was then attorney general of Texas.
testimony at all by Atheists, gave an instant
What was challenged, substantively, in
decision against Madalyn O'Hair and the
organization and then had precipitiously
order to stop the harrassrqent cases, was
jumped up from the bench and hurriedly
Article I, Sections 4 and29, and A rticle II,
rushed out of the court room. Madalyn
Section 1 of the Billof Rights ofthe ConstituO'Hair first called after him to come back
tion of the state of Texas. These were:
and then tried to follow him in his pell-mell
Art. I, Sec. 4: RELIGIOUS TESTS,
exit. The attorney was fired on the spot, in
No religious test shall ever be rethe court room, and again the prestigious
quired as a qualification to any office,
and expensive law firm was sought out to
or public trust, in this State; nor shall
repair the damage as it could.
anyone be excluded from holding
Meanwhile the federal case went on. It
office on account of his religious sentiwas not just "a cause" case; it was a fight for
ments, provided he acknowledge the.
survival. It was a demonstration of deterexistence of a Supreme Being.
mination against the implacable, biased,
Art. I, Sec. 29: PROVISIONS OF
state of Texas' legal system and notice to all
BILL OF RIGHTS EXCEPTED
persons everywhere, friend and foe alike
FROM POWERS OF GOVERNinternal and external. It was a statement to
MENT: TO FOREVER REMAIN
the world that Atheism was here 'for good. It
INVIOLATE.
To guard against transgressions of
was a defiant stand to show that from 1977
the high powers herein delegated, we
forward, not alone the state of Texas but the
declare that everything in this "Bill of
United States would need to deal with
Atheists as a reality. And, they knew it was
Rights" is excepted out of the general
"winner take all." If the American Atheist
powers of government, and shall forCenter went down, they knew it would be
ever remain inviolate, and all laws
contrary thereto, ..., shall be void.
the end of Atheism in the United States,
The" general powers of government were
including the end of those groups which
dwelt in its shadow and off the stolen
described in:
crumbs from American Atheists. If they
Article II, THE POWERS OF
GOVERNMENT
won, Atheism would be a part of American
culture for as long as the nation would exist.
Section
1. DIVISION
OF
Madalyn O'Hair was issued jury sumPOWERS:
THREE SEPARATE DEPARTmons #374 on September 5,1978. When she
MENTS: EXERCISE OF POWER
went to answer the jury call she was singled
PROPERLY ATTACHED TO
out, by name, by the sitting judge who
OTHER DEPARTMENTS
ordered the bailiff to escort her out of the
October, 1984

The American Atheist

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


The powers of the Government of the
State of Texas shall be divided into
three distinct departments, each of
which shall be confided to a separate
body of. magistracy, to wit: Those
which are Legislative to one; those
which are Executive to another; and
those which are Judicial to another;
and no person, or collection of per,
sons, being on one of these departments, shall exercise anypower properly attached to either of the others.

judge wanted no part of the Atheist challenge to the Texas constitution.


The State of Texas filed a Motion to
Dismiss the case and the federal district
.judge granted that motion three months
later, on December 27th, 1978. Substantively his decision stated that:
(1) all county officials were immune from
any liability in their activity while functioning
under the Texas constitution;
(2) the action "was not properly brought;"
(3) the federal court had no jurisdiction
over state defendants and judges;
(4) that the federal court had to abstain
Attorney General Hillhad issued an opinuntil a Texas court ruled on the issue.
ion on these provisions, on January 17,
In the entire seven years of litigation
1974, at the time of the last "tried for" Texas
which followed, neither the state of Texas,
state constitutional convention. This stated
the appellate court, nor American Atheists
that Art. 1, Sec. 29 " ... requires that any
were able to figure out what was meant by
new Constitution proposed by the Constino. 2. However, a glance at the decision
tutional Convention retain the present Bill shows that the issue before the court was
of Rights exactly as it is, without addition or
not touched and the federal district judge
deletion, and that no other provision elsewas not ready to approach any substantive
where in the Constitution may in any way
issue, but wanted to rid himself of the case
alter the effects of any provision of the Billof
on procedural issues.
Rights ... , This section, in excepting everyAmerican Atheists appealed on January
thing in the Bill of Rights out of the general
24, 1979. It had, meanwhile, attempted to
powers of government and stating such
remove the "criminal" case of Madalyn
rights included therein are to remain invioO'Hair to federal courts on the same issue
late, places these rights beyond the power of
- that the state courts of Texas constituted
the state government to usurp: it reserves
a closed theocracy and that a fair trial, due'
these rights to the people.
process, or an impartial hearing was impos"As such, the basic underlying theory of
sible for an Atheist. The petition for removal
the Billof Rights is set out, to the effect that
had been filed on November 29, 1978. The
certain rights are inalienable, that man is not
state of Texas immediately asked the court
capable of divesting himself or his posterity
to remand (return) that case to the courts of
of them even by consent.
.the state. The hostile federal judge, of
"Article I of the Texas Constitituion enucourse, ordered the remand on the basis
merates these inalienable rights and Secthat only Blacks may ask for removal in
tion 29 demonstrates that they are not
criminal cases under the Civil Rights Act.
delegated by the people to their governThe" criminal" case had been brought when
ment, and, furthermore, any infringement
Madalyn O'Hair refused to participate in
by the government thereof is void."
prayers in the Austin City Council on NoEven the people at the Constitutional
vember3, 1977. On appeal American AtheConvention could not change Article I. It
ists moved to consolidate the two cases it
would appear then that the State of Texas,
had filed in the federal district court: (1)
and its three branches of government includagainst the entire Texas judiciary and (2) to
ing the judiciary could not correct the
specifically remove the criminal case for a
situation and that an appeal to a Federal
trial in a federal court for the same reason.
Court was necessary. In addition, the ConAt first the cases were consolidated by
stitution of the United States, Article VI
the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in New
states:
Orleans, Louisiana. Then suddenly, with no
notice, no chance for argument, on Novem"This Constitution, and the laws of
ber 9, 1979 - one full year later - the
the United States which shall be made
Circuit Court of Appeals changed its mind
in pursuance thereof ... shall be the
and affirmed the lower court decision to
supreme law of the land; and the
remand the "criminal" case to the Texas
judges in every state shall be bound
state courts. American Atheists asked the
thereby, anything in the constitution
United States Supreme Court to review the
or law of any state notwithstanding."
And, " ... , but no religious test shall
case on January 7, 1980. Remember that the
ever be required as a qualification to
issue before that court was: can Madalyn
any office or public trust under the
Murray O'Hair, an Atheist, ask for a crimiUnited States."
'
nal case to be removed to the federal courts
under the CivilRights Act, under the circumThe hostile Texas judges, of course, restances above when it had, by then, already
fused to abate the cases before them and
been demonstrated that it was impossible
the hostile Austin, Texas, federal district
Austin, Texas

October, 1984

for her to obtain a fair hearing in a state


court. Or can a federal court and a federal
circuit court deny this right because it is not
"stated in terms of racial equality?" The
United States Supreme Court refused to
review the lower court decision, thus letting
it stand as the law of the land, on February
25, 1980. The order to remancl this case
back to aT exas criminal court was entered
on March 13, 1980.
But during the squabble over whether or
not the criminal case could be joined it was
discovered that the Fifth Circuit Court of
Appeals opened with prayer, specifically,
"Oyez, Oyez, God save our nation and this
honorable court. Amen." It was decided
then and there to fight the court prayer
especially oral argument was scheduled for
July,1980. In all cases Madalyn O'Hair was
representing herself pro se (i.e. as her own
attorney). A number of legal avenues were
chosen, tested, and found not to be efficacious. Finally, the court itself was approached for a request to discontinue the prayer.
Presiding Judge, Charles Clark, responded
with the statement:
"Unless ordered to do otherwise the
court will be opened with prayer on
July 16, 1980 precisely as it has always
been.
"Ms. O'Hair may remove herself
from the courtroom during the opening announcement."
The insult would not have been issued to
any other minority group or, it is thought, to
a man with the legal credentials of Madalyn
O'Hair. An application for a temporary
injunction was filed on July lIth with U. S.
Supreme Court Ju~tice Lewis Powell. A
request for a permanent injunction was filed
with the entire Supreme Court at the same
time. The request for temporary injunction
was denied immediately, and the request for
a permanent injunction was denied on August 22,1980. At the time of the hearing, on
July 16th, 1980 every Atheist (most of the
National officers and a large part of the New
Orleans, Louisiana, Chapter of American
Atheists, all in the court room) walked out
on the prayer. And, outside an Atheist
picket line orderly circled the court.
The harrassment cases had not been
abatted. In one, where $25,000 actual damages and $25,000 exemplary damages had
been demanded, the all Christian jury
awarded $20,000 actual damages and $60,000
exemplary damages for a total of $80,000 (in
November, 1978) despite the fact that
-;exas rules permit only the damages alleged. The jury had almost tripled the exemplary damages even when under the constraint of the rules not to do so. The hostile
judge was thus forced to reduce the exemplary damage award to the original $25,000
asked. American Atheists, of course, immediately appealed the decision.
Page 15

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


In the meantime, it was discovered that
not alone Texas but the states of North
Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Pennsvylvania had
similar laws excluding Atheists and agnostics from any office or public trust in those
cases. The Tennessee law was even more
bizarre because it required a belief in a
future state of rewards and punishments.
The Arkansas law went so far as to deny
Atheists the right to testify as witnesses in a
court of law. In North Carolina, Patricia
Voswinkel, the Chapter Director of American Atheists there immediately brought suit
to remove the offensive phrase from that
state's constitution. (Art. VI, Sec. 8 disqualified "any person who shall deny the being of
Almighty God"). The Governor and Attorney General both agreed it was unconstitutional, and signed a "Consent Decree" to
that effect, which was approved and signed
by the federal district court on April4, 1979,
Society of Seperetionists,
winkel v. Hunt.

Inc. & Vos-

In every "cause" case in the history of the


court systems of the United States, the
government has every weapon on its side. It
is spending taxpayer money. It has unlimited use of staff lawyers, paralegals, law
clerks, stenographers, typists, researchers,
libraries of legal briefs not available at ordinary law libraries, opinions of experts, free
printing of briefs, free use of telephone, air
transportation, hotel and accommodations
paid by the state. The "cause" organization
is usually being hampered, harrassed, or
specially handled by the government author-

ities at every level. They do not have money


for legal experts. Costs crush them and
time, to them, is of the essence, since every
delay in the vindication of their rights is
another injury. Therefore, in this tactical
warfare the government obfuscates, delays,
piles up costs, avoids the issues, decides the
cases on procedural rather than on substantive grounds, sends the cases back to
"start" (do not pass "Go." do not collect
$200) and forces the cases to proceed up the
appellate ladder as often as lour to five
times, only to be returned to "start" again
with such piecemeal rulings that the issue
cannot really be fought as desired and the
"cause" always needs to take a lesser piece
of the pie when it wins.
And in the interim, both Jon Murray and
Madalyn O'Hair hit the road, so to speak,
individually or together, to speak to law
schools, colleges and universities, and to
appear on radio, television or before any
other groups anywhere to point out the
inequitable constitutional provisions of all
seven states. If the religious and the politicians wanted a fight, they had one. The
American Atheist Forum, a once-a-week,
half-hour, television program was begun on
Austin cable in June, 1980. The organization
finally had a voice through which it could
speak its mind. having total control of the
contents of the presentation. The Forum
was hard-hittmg, provocative and finally
came to be well accepted. It was to become
a staple for American Atheists' eductional
outreach nationwide.
In January, 1981, the Texas Court of

..~ sm of Rights: ....


~1"t;.1.Sec. 4 .No religious test shall ever be required

tEXA.SCoNSTITUllON

aqualiftcation
to any office, or public trust. in this
state; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office
on account of his religious sentiments, provided he
acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

Appeals finally handed down a decision on


the $65,000 judgment harrassment case.
The decision was reversed on the threshold
issue that the judge should have recused
himself for bias. The Atheists had won. It
was one down and four to go.
Meanwhile in the OHair v. Hill case, the
oral arguments were had on July 16, 1980
but the decision was not handed down until
April2, 1981, nine months later. During all of
this period, the situation - of course - was
almost overwhelming for the American Atheist Center. It had (temporarily) lost several cases, been put to attorneys' fees in
excess of $70,000, and with the hostility of
the state of Texas evident to the religious
and political community, physical attacks
on the Murray-O'Hairs, the Center, and the
property of both had increased. Hours, days
and weeks of precious time and tens of
thousands of dollars were diverted to defensive tactics. The positive aspects and the
positive programs of American Atheists
(which would cost a tolerable amount of
money to impliment) were either delayed,
thwarted, or laid to one side while the
expensive and eroding battle for survival
continued. Even in this constricted mode,
they tried to continue their ordinary programs - the magazine, personal appearances, the new television forum. And, when
21 shots peppered the large foyer entrance
window, a six foot steel link fence, capped
with three strands of barbed wire, was
erected to encircle the battered American
Atheist Center.
The decision handed down by the New

State, nor be competent to testify as a witness

in any

Court,

as

TENNESSEE CONSTITUTION
Art. IX. Par. 2. No person who denies the being of
God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall
hold any office in the civil department of the State.

NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION

Art. VI. Sec. 8. The following persons shall be


diSquaiified for office:
,
First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty
(lOO.
MISSISSfPPI CONSTITUTION

. Art. 14, Sec. 265. No person who dentes the


existence of 8 Supreme Being shall hold any office in
this state.

ARKANSAS

CONSTITUTION

Art. 19. Sec. 1.No person who denies thel)eing of 8


(;iO(ishaU hold any office tn th~ civil department of this

Page 16

October, 1984

SOUTH CAROUNACONSTITUTION
Art. tv. Sec. 2 No person shall be eligible to the office
of governor who denies the existence of the Supreme
Being (also Lt. Governor].

PENNSYLVANIA

CONSTITUTION

Art.!. Sec. 4. No person who acknow.edgesthe

being
of a God anda future stateof rewards and punishments
shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disquafified to hold any omce or place of trust or profit
under this Commonwealth.

The American Atheist

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on
April 2, 1980, never got to the issue of the
Texas judicial system being a theocracy at
all. In a two to one decision, the majority
made 13 points which applied to both plaintiffs, Madalyn O'Hair and the American
Atheist Center:
(1) Both lacked "standing" to raise a claim
since there was no cognizable injury to
them.
(2) An injury "in fact" is a prerequisite to a
suit and the appellate court did not see any.
(3) Whether Art. I, Sec. 4 denied the
plaintiffs a republican form of government in
Texas was a nonjusticiable political question.
(4) In regard to Madalyn O'Hair being
physically removed from the court to which
she had reported for jury service, she did
have "standing" to challenge the expulsion,
but the appellate court was "compelled to
abstain from resolution of the issue."
(5) The appellate court abstained from
interpreting A rt. I, Sec. 4 until Texas courts
should decide if it required exclusion of
Atheists from jury service, also.
(6) Federal courts must avoid decisions
based on tentative interpretation of a law.
(7) Both plaintiffs had adquate remedies
of law in the Texas courts and would not
suffer irreparable damage if the federal
court abstained.
(8) No definitive state interpretation of
Art. I, Sec. 4 was available to guide the
appellate court.
(9) The American Atheist Center had no
standing to protect its members.
(10) Equitable considerations compelled
abstention by the appellate court. It would
be inappropriate to grant relief by finding
Art. I, Sec. 4 unconstititonal.
(11) Neither plaintiff had standing to challenge the payment of salaries to members of
the religious dominated courts.
(12) There was really "no allegation of
injuries" to show that Atheists had been
excluded from the election process.
(13) There were no monetary damages.
The decision was so blatantly a hostile one
that even the Chief Justice of the Fifth
Circuit could not go along with it and wrote
an individual dissent. This was the same
judge who, the year before, had told Madalyn O'Hair to get out of the courtroom ifshe
did not like the prayer.
"A judge is an officer of the state in
every sense of the term. Not even the
broadest sweep of those jury decisions could convince me that aT exas
court could say that the Texas Constitution's explicit exclusion of Atheists
from holding 'office' does not cover
judges. Therefore, I see no possiblity
that Art. I, Sec. 4 could be interpreted so as to moot or substantially
change this constitutional question
Austin, Texas

for O'Hair's case today. The majority


asserts courts of Texas have not held
that Art. I, Sec. 29 really preserves
'inviolate' the command ofArt. I, Sec.
4. Based on this assertion they see a
remedy at law in the courts of Texas
which warrants dismissal of O'Hair's
claim in this court. With deference, I
cannot follow this reasoning. O'Hair
asserts the courts of Texas are staffed
with judicial officers who are chosen
unconstitutionally. To say that she
has an adequate legal remedy to redress this claim by going to the very
system she seeks to have condemned
seems illogical to me. Consequently, I
would hold abstention as to Art. I,
Sees. 4 and 29 is inappropriate and
that O'Hair has no adequate remedy
at law in the courts of Texas.
"This brings me face-to-face with
the issue of whether O'Hair presents
a valid constitutional challenge to the
trials described ... because they are
before a judge or judges selected from
a group which excludes Atheists. My
position that she can does not say
that she is entitled to have an Atheist
try her cases. Clearly she is not. I
maintain no more than that due process and equal protection mandate
her entitlement to have officials who
exercise this intimate control over her
affairs and effects chosen from a
group which has no ordained religious
bias. The same constitutional right
that guarantees a Black the right not
to be tried by a judge who had to be
chosen from an all-white group is
operative here.
"The same reasoning applies to
(her claim) in which O'Hair seeks
injunctive relief against her criminal
prosecution on the same ground that her judge was chosen from a
group which excludes Atheists."
American Atheists and Madalyn O'Hair
had, of course, shown injury, harm, damage
and monetary loss. The court preferred to
remain blind to the facts. The Texas constitutional provisions crippled the rights of all
Atheists, had a chilling effect on functions of
Atheists and agnostics in Texas, who were
under unmistakable pressure to either forego their Atheism or not to be openly identified as Atheists. It encouraged the hostility
of the community which knew that government would protect persons who made
incursions against the Atheists, harmed the
reputation of Atheists and atheist organizations, stigmatized individuals, publicly denigrated them, put them in a proscribed
category where they were denied both the
rights and the privileges of others, lowered
their status as citizens. It created an atmosphere of hatred, rejection and animosity
October, 1984

which was encouraged by the state.


In June, 1981, Gerald Tholen, a native of
Galveston, Texas, and the gulf marshes,
joined the American Atheist Center as an
executive staff member. A private businessman, he decided that the embattled Center
and Atheism in the United States were more
important than the business which he was
conducting. This enabled Jon Murray or
Madalyn O'Hair to leave the Atheist Center
more readily for those all important appearances. Alternately, Jon and Gerald were
able to make wide swinging trips to organize
Chapters and inform Atheists in many
states as to the nature of the conflict.
In a continuing assault against all of the
state with these provisions in their constitutions, Paul Tirmenstein, Director of the
Northern Mississippi Chapter of American
Atheists filed suit in the federal district court
in Jackson, Mississippi on July 15, 1981, to
challenge Art. 14, Sec. 265 of the Mississippi Constitution which states, "No person
who denies the existence of a Supreme
Being shall hold any office in this state."
And, Paul Tirmenstein, Jon Murray and
Madalyn O'Hair were all in the motel room
the night that the A.c.L.U. attorney sat,
terrorized completely, at the thought of the
contemplated suit.
The issues of "jurors," with the April, 1980
decision, had become a stumbling block.
There was no need for this and it is still felt
that the state of Texas and the federal
courts made an issue where there was none.
Almost all of the alleged confusion was
based on the case of Craig v. State, 480
S. W.2d 680 (1972}.But the error in it had
been most specifically and explicitly pointed
out by Madalyn O'Hair in O'Heir v. Hill from
the beginning. Van Thomas Craig had been
arrested for armed robbery of a liquor store
in 1967. He immediately made it known that
he was an Atheist and refused to come into
compliance with any requests for testimony,
"so help me god." Since he was both poor
and without formal education, he was held
in prison until his trial. However, the first
trial was declared to be a mistrial in April,
1967. He was still kept in jail until the second
trial in August, 1968, well over a year later.
He had a number of arguments with the trial
judge over his Atheism and apparently was
seen as not being contrite for his crime.
After the trial he was returned to the Dallas
county jail and was retained there for three
more years until the hostile judge handed
down his decision on April 19. 1972. He
asked for a rehearing, on the issue that
Atheists had been systematically been excluded from the jury. He was not permited
to testify in court in regard to the Atheism
issue and had prepared his own briefs for
the appellate review. He received a confirmed 25 year sentence. The Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals in 1972, totally ignorant
Page 17

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


of the provisions of Art. I, Sec. 4, stated
baldly in its decision that there simply was
no constitutional provision in the Texas
Constitution which excluded Atheists from
the jury. They were dead wrong; it had been
there since 1880. The Fifth Circuit, reviewing Madeley v. Kern, 488 F.2d. 865,
(1974), which relied completely on the
Craig decision, accepted the statement of
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and
never checked the Texas Constitution itself. Now, the Fifth Circuit was again absolutely refusing to look at the obvious error in
Craig to see that a mistake had been made.
The federal appellate court preferred to let
an Atheist felon wallow in prison. Craig, as
of this writing, now age 43 years, is still in the
Texas penitentiary. Although, back in 1967,
he had been a school drop-out he has now
finished Lee College and in May, 1983,
received his degree in applied science, electronics. Meanwhile he has developed progressive Charcot Maria Syndrome which is a
deterioration of nerves from his brain to his
spinal cord. He has spent 13 years in a state
penitentiary as punishment for being an
Atheist and having the Court of Criminal
Appeals of Texas make a fundamental error
in his case. His additional 5 year retention in
a city jail was probably sufficient punishment for his original crime, which was being
charged only as an accessory in the attempted hold up.
However, the chief justice of the circuit
was in dissent and the Fifth Circuit thought
better of its decision and recalled it. It asked
for new briefs and set a date for a new oral
argument before the entire court en banc.
This time, again, the American Atheists
tried to stop the prayer in the Fifth Circuit.
filing a new motion, now appealing to the
U.S. Supreme Court to order the appelate
federal court to discontinue prayer. On
September 4,1981 when the oral argument
was held before the 21 judges, American
Atheists this time refused to leave the court.
Madalyn O'Hair, at the counsel bench, also
refused to rise for either the entry of the
judges or for the prayer. Jon Murray, Robin
Murray-O'Hair, and other Atheists in the
spectator seats did the same. At that point,
each and every Atheist refusing to rise
expected to go to jail for contempt of court
for their conduct. But, the court backed
down, sending word through one of the
judges that they would accept the demonstration of dissent, the Atheist display of
defiance. Madalyn O'Hair then presented
her own argument to all 21 justices.
Back in Houston, Texas, several months
later, another related decision came down.
There two persons, who had filed applications for teaching positions in the Klein
Independent School District, had filed an
"invasion of privacy" suit in a federal district
court since the Texas state applications for
Page 18

employment asked the question, "Do you


believe in the existence of a Supreme Being?" A preliminary order was issued on
December 30, 1981 in Roe v. Klein I.S.D.
that the constitutional right of privacy of the
two prospective teachers had been violated.
The Court advised it would consider the
challenged statutory and constitutional provisions which had brought this question to
the employment form to see if the State's
interest would be sufficiently compelling to
justify the disclosure of the belief of the two
teachers. However, after having gone that
far, the federal district judge was afraid to go
further and dallied for months before he
issued a final opinion.
Meanwhile, a case had been started in
Arkansas in the federal district court, but
there the Atheists (one of whom was then a
member of American Atheists) refused to
take counsel from the American Atheist
Center and decided to "do their own thing"
on the case. An adverse decision was rendered on December 23, 1981, thus seriously
jeoparding both the Mississippi and the
Texas cases. The constitutional provision
challenged in Arkansas was Art. 19, Sec. 1
which held that "No person who denies the
being of a God shall hold any office in the
civildepartment of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court."
The district court there simply stated that
the Atheists involved lacked standing and
dismissed the action. They appealed.
A case carefully orchestrated by Harold
Church, the Director of the Tennessee
Chapter of American Atheists, went well
and on March 22, 1982 the attorney general
and the governor of Tennessee both agreed
that the state constitutional provision (Art.
IX, Par. 2 "No person who denies the being
of God, or a future state of rewards and
punishments, shall hold any office in the civil
department of the State.") was unconstitutional. They signed a "Consent Decree" to
that effect, which was approved and signed
by the federal district court on March 22,
1982 Church v. Alexander
In the Rose v. Klein /.S.D. suit, on April
30, 1982, the federal district judge in Houston concluded his four month period of
timidity and held that "In conformity with
that (December 30,1981) holding, the Court
hereby enters its Final Judgment." The
Attorney General of the State of Texas was
enjoined permanently from asking anyone
on employment forms, "Do you believe in
the existence of a Supreme Being?" In the
context of such queries, where the right of
privacy was an issue, the phrase in Art. I,
Sec. 4 "provided he acknowledge the existence of a supreme Being" was declared to
be "unconstitutional, and violative of rights
secured by the Constitution of the United
States of America ..." What constitutional
rights were at issue were not adequately
October, 1984

spelled out in the decision.


The 18 to 5 OHair v. Hill decision of the
Fifth Circuit came down on May 12, 1982,
this time eight months after the oral argument, and ignored the decision in Roe v.
Klein I.S.D .. Twenty three legal points were
made and (summarizing them) the court
held that the standing issue hinges on whether the American Atheists and Madalyn
O'Hair had a "personal stake in the outcome of the controversy." Also, "the distinct and palpable injury shown must be
fairly traced to the challenged conduct." In
the case, the judges said, as they saw it,
Madalyn O'Hair claimed that first Art. I,
Sec. 4 interfered with her fundamental right
to vote, second, it prevented her from
receiving a fair trail in pending civil and
criminal proceedings in state courts, and
third that she was excluded from jury service. The court found that she had standing
to sue on all three issues, having such a
personal stake, a palpable injury, and tracing that injury to Art. I, Sec. 4. In addition,
the organization, American Atheists, had
the right to sue on behalf of its members, the
test being from Hunt v. Washington State
Apple Advertising Commission, 432 u.s.
333 (1977). An organization has standing
to sue on behalf of its members when:
"(a) its members would otherwise have
standing to sue in their own right;
(b) the interests it seeks to protect are
germane to the organization's purpose; and
(c) neither the claim asserted nor the
relief requested requires the participation of
individual members in the lawsuit."
Although the state contended that even if
American Atheists and Madalyn O'Hair had
standing to bring the suit, the court should
abstain from reaching the merits, the appellate court found that "abstention from the
exercise of federal jurisdiction is the exception, not the rule." Since Art. I, Sec. 4
presented a straightforward issue of federal
constitutional law, that the federal district
court should have ruled on it. This is exactly
why the suit had been filed in the first place;
American Atheists and Madalyn O'Hair had
been completely right ab initio. The court
saw thatArt. I, Sec. 4 did deny the Plaintiffs
the right to vote. It did deny them their right
to a fair trial. But, on the matter of jurors, the
court again bogged down in Craig. They
simply could not admit an error that had
kept a man in jail ~r over a decade.
However, it did decide that the constitutional issues (because of Craig) in regard to
the jurors and thus the criminal case had to
be tried by aT exas court, while the constitutional isses in the four civil harrassment
cases had to be addressed by the federal
district court. But, after seven years in state
courts, American Atheists had won them
all; now it was too late. The entire case was
then remanded back (returned to) the federThe American Atheist

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


al district court to bring itself in compliance
not American Atheists, most of the work for
both was actually done by Madalyn O'Hair.
with the appellate court findings. American
Atheists and Madalyn O'Hair had won a
Considering the handicaps which attenustriking victory. The dissenting opinions,
at~d the case it is an Atheist "miracle" that
however, were full of rancor.
American Atheists were able to "hang in"
The state of Texas still wanted to fight the
during the entire process. As an example,
Atheists and immediately filed a motion to
once the Fifth Circuit had denied the state of
Texas' motion to Stay the Mandate, the
Stay the Mandate (the final order of the
state was required to pay all costs of printing
superior court to the inferior one). For some
briefs, filing, etc. to Madalyn O'Hair and
time it looked as if the state would appeal to
the U. S. Supreme Court for a review of the
American Atheists. A bill was put in to the
case. The request for the stay of the mancourt for $731.80 (to be authorized) which is
quite modest for four briefs on an appellate
date was denied on June 14, 1982, a month
level. The circuit court trimmed the bill
later. The case was actually returned to the
federal district court later and on August 2,
down to $575.00 and when it was still unpaid
1982 it was reassigned to James R. Nowlin, a
five months after it was approved by the
new, young, Reagan appointment.
court, Madalyn O'Hair found it necesary to
Nowlin simply sat on the case.
threaten to attach the bank account of the
Meanwhile, the Horev. White, Arkansas
state in order to obtain the money. She had
it within a week thereafter.
case had been appealed to the Eight Circuit
Court of Appeals, in St. Louis, Missouri, and
But Nowlin sat on the case. By the end of
.1982, he still sat on it. Finally he issued a
there on October 28, 1982 it was irrevocably
lost.
docket call for January 5, 1983. In attendance at that docket call Madalyn O'Hair
The court said simply, "Both appellants
allege that, as Atheists, they have suffered
was stunned to find that he also prayed in
adverse psychological consequences as a court. When she objected to it, his insulting
result of the continued presence of this
remarks to her were, "We do it sometimes
and sometimes we don't, Ms. O'Hair. It
section in the Arkansas Constitution. The
depends on how I feel that morning. Also,
Supreme Court, however, recently held
that this type of general psychological im- sometimes, how many people are in the
pact does not constitute the requisite injury courtroom." She responded by adding to
in fact. Accordingly, the order of the district
the case motions to terminate opening
court dismissing appellants' action for lack
prayer, to have the judge recuse himself for
of standing is affirmed."
bias, to challenge the make-up of the federal
Nowlin, meanwhile, simply sat on O'Hsir
court under US.D.C. 62 State 907 (June
25, 1948) incorporated in28 US.C.A. 453
v. Hill.
A new and more tightly drawn bill of which requires that each justice or judge
complaint was now submitted to him. AI must take an oath of office that forces him
most seven years had passed since the case
to call upon the help of god to fulfillhis public
was originally filed, and specific monetary
duties and Public Law 89-554, (Sept. 6,
damages from the harrassment cases could
1966) 80 Stat. 424 incorporated in 28
be clearly shown, also - it was felt -the
US. C.A. 3331 which requires allpersons in
unfairness of the trials could be shown. In civil service (such as those employed in the
addition, every statutory provision requiring
federal courts) and in uniformed services to
proof of the acceptance of the "existence of do the same. She pointed out that there are
a Supreme Being" was sought out and alternate forms of obligation which would
included. All "swearings in," even in wit- embrace the required solemnity other than
nesses. were listed with specificity.
those using "so help me God."
Unfortunately in the seven years a numThe state of Texas later, in the spring of
ber of attorneys (eight of them) had worked
1983, agreed that Art. I, Sec. 4 was unconon the case. As always, severely hampered
stitutional and consented, in principle, to
for adequate funding, under attack from start negotiations to sign a consent decree.
every conceivable quarter, it had not been
However. the state never got to it.
And, Judge Nowlin sat on the case.
possible for Amnerican Atheists to have the
best of legal quality representation. The
Meanwhile, finding Van Craig in the Texprice for good to excellent legal representaas penitentiary a visit was made to him and
tion was simply beyond the budget of the
he signed a Motion to Intervene in the case,
organization. Most of the attorneys which it which was filed on June 9,1983. That simply
could get (with just several notable excepstated that the Texas Criminal Court of
tions) were quite marginal in ability, involved Appeals had made an error in its decision in
with personal problems, had psychological
1972, that Art. I, Sec. 4 really, actually, was
or emotional quirks, and as often as not in the Constitution of the state of Texas and
wound up with a notice to the Atheist
that he had been in prison since 1972
Center of "moved and left no address."
because of the court's error. Nowlin also sat
Supposedly merely representing herself and on that motion, only to dismiss it, finally, on
Austin, Texas

October, 1984

November 22,1983.
By the end of 1983, Nowlin still simply sat
on the case.
And on December 30, 1983 Madalyn
O'Hair was again called for jury duty. This
time, in defiance of the law which required
her to serve as a juror, she refused to give
information as to her "religion," her "occupation," the size of her family, her spouse's
name, occupation or his employer. Each
question was answered with the phrase,
"This is none of your business." She refused
to answer the summons and wrote the judge
a defiant, registered, letter that Texas practiced deceit, that the juror system was
unconstitutional, and that if he, the judge,
wanted to participate in the system he could
do so, but in good conscience she could not.
She was neither fined nor imprisoned, as the
law provides, for her refusals to (1) answer
the summons or (2) participate in the jury
selection system.
From time to time the state of Texas
continued to make noises as ifit would sign a
consent decree. Several, in fact, were drawn
up but always the negotiations stalled.
Very early in 1984, John Marthaler, Director of the Southern Mississippi Chapter of
American Atheists joined Paul T erminstein
in his case against the Mississippi constitution.
On February 27, 1984, eighteen months
after the case had been remanded to Nowlin
by the Fifth Circuit, he issued an order to
refund the $250 cash appeal bond which had
been paid by the American Atheists on
January 24, 1979. Of course, they received
no interest on the amount which had been
held for over five years.
It was not until March, 1984 - nineteen
months after the case was assigned to him
- that Judge Nowlin finally granted American Atheists' and Madalyn OHair's December 31, 1982 motion to supplement the pleadings. At the same time he set a date for the
trial, in July, 1984. The trial date was discovered by accident when a news media
person called the court, routinely, to check
on the case. The news media person then
called the American Atheist Center. Since
the clerk of the court did not notify either
American Atheists or Madalyn O'Hair that a
trial date had been set, this eminent activity
was unknown to them. This was immediately followed by Judge Nowlin, relying on the
most recent reactionary and anti-state/
church separation judgments of the U.S.
Supreme Court, issuing a ruling that undercut the entire case. This order, issued on
March 15th stated:
"Plaintiffs have asked for the Court
to enter several declaratory judgments concerning phrases contained
in the Texas State Billof Rights as well
as in Texas Statutes. The Court is of
Page 19

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair


the opinion that two recent U. s.
Supreme Court cases command us to
deny Plaintiff's request.
Marsh v.
Chambers, 51 U.S.L. W. 5163, (July
5, 1983)' and Lynch v. Donnelly, 52
U.S.L.w. 4317, (March 5, 1984)2
dictate recognition by the courts of
long standing, historical interweaving
of government
and religion. Chief
Justice Burger eloquently wrote '[iJn
light of the unambiguous and unbroken
history of more than 200 years, there
can be no doubt that the practice of
opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our
society.' Art. I, Sec. 4 of the Texas Bill
of ~ights is nearly 104 years old and
has become part of the 'fabric of our
society.' The last clause of Art. I, Sec.
4 states 'providing he acknowledges
the existence of a Supreme Being.' In
Zorach v. Clauson. 343 U.S. 306,
(1952) Justice Douglas wrote '[ w Je
are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.'''
The use of the phrase "so help me
God" in Texas Statutes he went on.
"is not, in these circumstances,
an
establishment
of religion or a step
toward establishment,
it is simply a
tolerable acknowledgement
of belief
widely held among the people of this
country. Furthermore,
Plaintiffs will
have to prove, at trial, that Art. I, Sec.
4 actually led to the exclusion of
Atheists from judicial service O'Heir
v. White, 675 F.2d. 680 (1982).3
The court believes this to be in accord
with the mandate of Lynch supra,
'Rather than mechanically invalidating all governmental conduct on statutes that confer benefits or give special recognition to religion in general
or to one faith - as an absolutist
approach would dictate - the Court
has scrutinized challenged legislation
... to determine whether, in reality, it
establishes a religion or religious faith,

Chembers v. Marsh is the U. S. Supreme Court


decision which held that not alone may a state
legislative body open each session with Christian
prayer, but that the taxpayers must pay the salary
and all of the costs of the chaplain (including an
office for him in the capitol building, the printing of
his prayers in a book, etc.)

is the 1984 U. S. Supreme


Court decision which held that not alone may a
city erect a Christian nativity scene during the
"Christmas season" but the taxpayers must pay
all costs for the purchase, erection, display,
dissembling and storage.
2Lynch v. Donnelly

30 'Hair v. White is simply the 1982 decision of the


Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case at issue.

Page 20

or tends to do so .... In each case, the


inquiry calls for line drawing; no fixed,
per se rule can be framed .... In the
line drawing process we have often
found it useful to inquire whether the
challenged law or conduct has a secular purpose, whether its principal or
primary effect is to advance or inhibit
religion, and whether it creates an
excessive
entanglement
of government and religion.' Lynch supra."
It was curious that Nowlin had used
Lynch for he had missed the import and new
criterion for judgment which stands out like
a sore thumb in that case. For it was in
Lynch that the U. S. Supreme Court declared: "Nor does the Constitution
require
complete separation of church and state; it
affirmatively
mandates
accommodation,
October,

1984

not merely tolerance, of all religions, and


forbids hostility toward any."
Seeing the handwriting on the wall, American Atheists immediately attempted to put
pressure upon the state of Texas to bring
the case to a conclusion, as indicated in the
Insiders Newsletter of August, 1984. All
members of American Atheists were asked
to write to Gov. Mark White with a protest
against Art. I, Sec. 4.
A conference
was finally agreed upon
between American Atheists and the state of
Texas and the current attorney
for the
organization,
Madalyn O'Hair and the special assistant to the attorney general of the
state met at the American Atheist Center on
July 26th. A consent decree was agreed
upon. This stated,
"Plaintiffs, (Madalyn Murray O'Hair
The American

Atheist

SPECIAL REPORT / Madalyn O'Hair

and American Atheists) have brought


this action challenging the constitutionality of Art. I, Sec. 4 of the Texas
Constitution which provides as follows:
'No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office
or public trust in this State; nor shall
anyone be excluded from holding
office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge
the existence of a Supreme Being.'
"The parties hereby agree that the
last phrase, ' ... provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme
Being.' is void and of no further effect
in that it is in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States ConstituAustin, Texas

tion."

Judge Nowlin signed the "Agreed Judgment" on July 27,1984 and the case ended.
As indicated, American Atheists and Madalyn O'Hair had fought and won every state
court harrassment case except the criminal
charge against Madalyn O'Hair for her refusal to participate in prayers in Austin City
Council in 1977. That case, incidentally, has
brought her into court on 33 occasions
during the seven years that it has been in
litigation. And, yes, Texas does have a
"Speedy Trial" law which requires a hearing
on the merits of the case within six months
of a person being charged.
Perhaps the adversity was good for Ameri.can Atheists for during those years it expanded to 47 chapters in 28 states, formulated, developed and then distributed its
October, 1984

30-minute, once-a-week, color television program, "American Atheist Forum" to cable


outlets in 31 major U. S. cities, made its
monthly journal, theA merican A theist into
a quality magazine and increased it to 40pages, established an American Atheist Center Sustaining Trust Fund which has begun
to give it the financial stability it needed,
turned to the production of Atheist paperback books, sustained a yearly American
Atheist National Convention of high quality,
and fortified the international outreach of
Atheism through its United World Atheists
group. Jon Murray, under fire from the
moment he stepped into the organization,
proved to be an efficient, dedicated, innovative general manager. Gerald Tholen, with
his "down home" business and uncommon
"common sense" has been a stabilizing and
dependable
in-fighter. Robin MurrayO'Hair, another graduate of the University
of Texas, joined the Center as editor of the
monthly journal. It has been under her
guidance that it has sharpened its focus,
redesigned its format and improved its quality. And, Madalyn O'Hair, the grand old
dame of Atheism, has simply become more
radical and more determined through it all.
And you can believe that it was a bitter,
vicious, ugly battle.
The "American Atheist Center" sign
never came off the building. It is now a
banner of respect, integrity and courage.
When Austin sees it now, the attitude is
"Those Atheists sure fight for their principles." We like it that way. The city of
Austin, the state of Texas, and the United
States of America are all aware now that
American Atheists willstand and fight. They
understand that the new invisible flag under
which the center flies is the same as the old
1776 Gadsden banner that once warned
Great Britain not to tangle with the American colonies. That flag with 13 stripes and a
rattlesnake with 13 rattlers on it was used as
our Continental Colours in 1775 by General
George Washington, at the head of his
troops in Virginia. The British dubbed it "the
Rebellious Stripes" and it stated simply but
boldly, "Don't tread on me." ~
And so, ''justice'' is served in freedom loving
America! After years of costly litigation, and with
contemptuous disregard for the individual rights
of people, the "great state" of Texas finally
recognizes that Atheists can also be bona fide
citizens therein. The pitifully inept excuse of the
state hierarchy was; we never actually inforced
the (unconstitutional) provision. Why then did
state judges and political bosses fight so viciously
and for so long a time? Why were thousands of
taxpayer dollars squandered in the "legal" defense of such a "trivial and unused" group of nine
wrongly placed words? For these questions there
can only be one answer; the ever present biases
in the minds of people who are hopelessly inflicted with a psychosis they call religion.

Page 21

Frank R. Zindler

RELIGION, HYPNOSIS, AND MUSIC:


AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE
arwin's Theory of Evolution by Means
of Natural Selection is extraordinarily
powerful in its ability to explain details of the
world around us: Why do giraffes have

long necks? Why is the kiwi flightless?


Why do humans have an appendix, five
fingers, erector muscles at the base of
each hair, and rudimentary muscles with
which to wiggle the ears? Why are certain butterflies brightly colored, and why
do birds sing?

Answers to these and to thousands of'


other equally puzzling questions have, from
1859 onward, formed a part of the enduring
. legacy left by the great British naturalist
who, by plowing under the "Garden of
Eden," completed the work begun by Copernicus when he pulled down the "heavenly
firmament."
Although the scientific answers to these
and similar questions had been familiar to
me since high school days, there were other
questions which appeared to me to be
unanswerable in Darwinian terms, questions which required many years and much
thought before I could reconcile them with
Darwin's theory.
Take religion, for instance. If religion is all
a pack of lies - a muddle of myths - why
would natural selection allow religion to
survive? How could natural selection allow a
behavior that has nothing at all to do with
the real world to develop in the first place?
Could Survival of the Falsest be a corollary
derivable from Survival of the Fittest?
And then there is the puzzle of hypnosis.
Why are many people and some animals
hypnotizable? Where is the fitness in being
susceptible to hypnotic suggestion and manipulation? After having experimented with
hypnosis for many years, and after having
performed a great variety of experiments
with both humans and animals, I was shocked to discover that hypnotizability is not
simply a "weakness" in the sense that a
person is lacking in physical or mental
strength. Many of the most brilliant and
physically fit persons I have known have
proven to be highly hypnotizable, whereas
certain psychotics and mentally retarded
individuals have been, for all practical purposes, unhypnotizable.
Without regard to race, sex, or IQ, three
out of every five people one meets on the
street are hypnotizable. Why would such
seeming vulnerability slip through the
screen of natural selection and take up
Page 22

residence in the nervous system of the most


powerful animal the planet has known?
My third evolutionary puzzle was music.
Why should man have invented music?
While music and musical ability are not in
any obvious way harmful (and, therefore,
not characters likely to be eliminated by
natural selection), neither are these traits
obviously useful in the sense that they
increase human fitness for survival. Consequently, there would appear to be no
good reason for them to have evolved.
Human music is not the equivalent of bird
song. It does not function as a means of
marking territory, and it is of little more than
marginal value in attracting mates. No matter to what height of esthetic triumph
Beethoven may transport us with his Ninth
Symphony, it is not easy to see any obvious
way in which fugues and four-part choruses
can have helped us climb the great phylogenetic tree to reach our present perch.
After pondering these three questions for
many years, I gradually came to the realization that they were closely interrelated.
All three shared a common explanation. All
could be explained in terms of what biologists call group fitness.
Unlike individual fitness - that bundle
of qualities which affects the survivability of
individual plants or animals - group fitness affects the survivability of small or
medium-sized groups of closely related individuals. Such groups often are little more
than greatly extended families, and they
tend to be genetically quite homogenous.
Whether we like it or not, there was a long
time ago when religion was actually a "good"
thing. That is to say, religion increased
group fitness. Let me try to explain.
In the course of human evolution, the
accumulation of genetic mutations proved
to be too slow a process for the shaping of
the adaptive behaviors needed to cope WIth
environmental changes. That is to say,
instinct - behavior largely determined by
heredity - was not good enough to give
primitive humanoids
the behavioral
repertoires needed in their increasingly complex and confusing world. By means too
complicated to discuss here, our ancestors
all but abandoned the instinct- driven behavior of their brutish brethren and created,
as its substitute, culture.
By means of culture, very complex patterns of behavior can be created. They can
be created to deal with infinitely varied
October, 1984

environmental challenges, and they can be


created quickly. Although we may often
bemoan the seeming snail-pace at which our
own culture abandons what we now consider maladaptive behaviors, there is no
doubt that cultural change is many orders of
magnitude faster than genetic change.
Back to religion. How does religion fit into
all this talk about tribes and culture? Quite
simply. Religion in small groups may be
very effective in increasing group cohesion.
It may help to mark the boundaries between
in-group and out-group, the line between us
and them. As Jerry Falwell and the Ayatollah Khomeini have shown, religion deftly
applied can convert individually weak little
insects into a mighty hoard of army ants. It
can fuse individual organisms into a sort of
Nietzchean superorganism.
At the tribal stage of human social evolution, religion helped to create group behaviors which enhanced the survival potential of the in-group at the expense of
out-groups. Consider the dietary taboos of
the so-called Old Testament.
We read in Deut. 14:21, "Ye shall not eat
of anything that dieth of itself: thou shalt give
it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that
he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an
alien." Since an animal dying by itself is likely
to be diseased, WE shouldn't eat it. Give it
- better yet, sell it - to one ofTHEM. With
luck, there may soon be one less of THEM,
and our group will have gained a numerical
advantage of one more unit!
This truly "old time religion" developed at
the end of the last Ice Age, when the tribe
was the largest human grouping maintaining
any degree of coherence. The religion of the
Old Testament is a cultural fossil held over
from the Pleistocene Epoch, and it reflects
an atmosphere of intense intergroup competition. Petrified like the bones in a paleontologist's cabinet, the greatest ideas of the
Ice Age still can be found on display between
Genesis and Malachl1
Humans are gregarious creatures. They
and their ancestors for a very long time have
been herd animals. Like all herd animals,
they must be sensitive to the moves and
signals of their fellow flock-members. Just
as a buffalo defensive stampede would be
useless ifonly one animal stampeded, so too
our hominid ancestors had to be able to act
in concert against threats from predators
and other enemies. To do this, they had to
be able to perceive and internalize the
The American Atheist

desires and motivations of their fellows in


the pack. Not yet in possession of language
to effect such communication, our ancestors had to be suggestible. In our ancestors, as is generally the case with herd
animals today, the emotions and intentions
of the leaders of the herd were communicated to the rest of the flock by "body
language," and by the power of nonverbal
suggestion.
Suggestion, whether verbal or not, is, of
course, the foundation of hypnosis.
Hypnotism has been the tool of shamans
and medicine men from the very beginning.
The ability to be hypnotized, i.e. suggestibility,was part of our heritage as gregarious
animals. All the priests had to do was
harness it and, therewith, harness the entire
tribe at once. Once hypnotized, the entire
tribe could be sent out to do battle as though
it were a super-organizsm, as ifthe individuals were but individual cells in a great body
- sharing a common gene pool and governed by a single head.
And battle they did - and still do. "And
the Lord said unto him, 'Surely I willbe with
thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as
one man.' " [Judges 6:16]. "Kill a commie
for christ!" "Impeach Earl Warren!" "Stop
that wicked woman who has expelled our
god from the classrooms!"
If my readers think the term "hypnosis"
can be applied to religion only in the metaphorical sense, they should hasten to the
nearest tabernacular, faith-healing, full-gospel-asembly, fire-baptized, holy-rolling revival meeting. They will see hypnosis in
action, replete with people falling on the
ground, jerking and twitching and babbling.
They will be able to observe how the contagion spreads from the leaders to the
followers. They will observe the anesthetic
power of hypnosis, as real cripples - not
just the shills - throw down their crutches

Although we are accustomed to think of


and prance around to the tune of crunching
prayer as a type of cosmic begging, it is likely
bone-joints.
that this type of prayer was. a late evoMake no mistake about it. The hypnosis
lutionary development. The original purused by preachers is real hypnosis. The
pose of prayer, I believe, was to induce
priests were the first to control it, and to this
trance and, thereby, to effect hallucinatory
day they and their politician brethren are the
communication with the "spirit world."
most skilled practitioners of the art.
Many faith-healing practitioners of hyp'J-io~ do they do it? There are many
nosis induce trance-like receptiveness in
different ways of inducing a hypnotic state of
their prey by physically stunning them. They
consciousness, and generally the fakirs use
"lay on hands." Starting with their hands on
many methods simultaneously. For neuro- .
the crown of the victim's head, they utter
chemical reasons which are still not entirely
their hypnotic suggestions (i.e., "prayers")
clear, fasting is a useful means of precondiwhile gradually moving their hands down
tioning the nervous system to make it more
the side of the person's head. Finally, when
malleable and suggestible. Although lowertheir hands are on the person's neck and
ing of blood sugar probably has much to do
ears, they willsuddenly put pressure on the
with it, it is likely that hormone-like subnerve-rich cavity behind the ear and on the
stances known as endogenous opioids are
carotid sinus farther down the neck. This
also involved. As the name implies, these
stuns and disorients the victim, and he or
chemicals are internally produced opiateshe becomes very imprintable. The verbal
like substances which resemble morphine in
suggestions of the healer become implanted
their action.
within as little as two or three seconds. .
Although Karl Marx was speaking metaOf course, this does not always work. If
phorically when he wrote that "Religion is
the person being "healed" has a weak
the opiate of the masses," his words may
cardiovascular system, or if the "healer"
prove to be literally true as well. There is
presses on the carotid sinus too long, carconsiderable evidence that hypnosis and
diac arrest may result and god cheats the
"transcendental" meditation can increase
evangelist out of the poor bloke's money. At
the production of certain of these opoids by
least one notorious faith healer of our day
the brain. The hallucinations so often accomhas given up the practice because of this
panying religious experiences may very well
embarrassing and expensive side-effect. The
be a result of opioid intoxication and verbal
reader must realize, this method of inducsuggestions implanted by the" guru" guiding
ing hypnosis is extremely dangerous, and
the religious "trip."
Another method of inducing hypnosis is
no competent practitioner will employ it.
Only religionists still flirt with it.
long repeated prayer. When people pray
for "a sign," they repeat over and over what
But there is a much safer way than nerveit is they want to see or hear. Sooner or
pinching to reduce the faithful to sublater, if their nervous systems are even
mission: music. Carefully selected hymns
slightly normal, they should be able to
can be incredibly powerful tools with which
generate vivid experiences fulfilling their
wishes. Only wealthy men who say god . to induce trance. Perhaps the most infamous of these hymns is the one called Just
speaks to them are frauds. Poor men who
as I am. By the time BillyGraham and his ilk
say this are simply self-deluded.

"HERE'S ONE WE CALL 'THE


PERSUADER'.

~I'S

II

Austin, Texas

October, 1984

Page 23

have brought the crowd to the point of


singing this war-horse, the resistance of the
audience has already been worn down considerably. And by the time that everyone
locks arms and starts singing "I come
I
come," only a few can resist the call to rush
forth and shoot up on Jesus.
The evolutionary roots of music can be
seen very clearly in such phenomena as
American Indian war dances and religious
chants. Music did not begin with harmony
and stringed instruments. It began with
rhythm, with monotonously repeated, rhythmic words and sounds. Drumming surely
represents the beginning of instrumental
music, and to this day the most primitive
forms of music emphasize drurns. So too,
singing grew out of chanting - the rhythmic
repetition of magic words and phrases.
How does music relate to evolutionary
fitness?
Consider the Indian war dance. The drum
ing, chanting, and dancing produce a sensory environment suitable for the induction
of hypnotic trance. Once all the warriors are
hypnotized, they can act in concert (no pun
intended) to rush forth and wipe out the
genetic competition. They will not know
fear; they willnot hesitate; and they willgive
without hesitation their last full measure to
the enterprise. Perhaps the most important
part of all this is that all will follow orders
reflexively, and there will be a minimum of
disorder. The competitive advantages of
such behavior are obvious.
Thus, music evolved as a means of inducing hypnotic trance. Hypnotic susceptibility, although older than the human species itself, was elaborated by natural selection as a means of increasing intragroup
cohesion and as a means of producing
highly ordered, efficient competitive behavior at the intergroup leveL As cultural
transmission of learned behavior replaced
genetic transmission of instinctive behavior,
religion emerged as the system deciding the
ends for which hypnosis would be applied,
The actual mythical content of the individual
religions probably did not make much difference: Zeus and Jahweh and Baal are all
imaginary, and there is no obvious reason to
recommend one over another. However,
the structure of the cultural organizations
behind the various deities was of great
importance, It is obvious that the wizards
who pulled the strings in the temple of
Jahweh had a much more effective way of
running the land of Oz than did those who
hid behind the curtains in the temples of
Zeus and Baal!
Approaching the end of our story, we see
that religion, hypnosis, and music are intimately and unexpectedly interrelated in
their evolutionary origins. The three originated together, and all three were critically
important factors in making us the creatures we are today. All three are "natural"
phenomena, and can be reconciled with the
theory of evolution as we understand it
Page 24

today.
We must remember, however, that things
are not automatically to be adjudged good
or desirable simply because they are "natural." To do so is to fallinto the "natural law"
fallacy so dear to the Catholic Church. To
say that something is "natural" implies nothing more than "that's the way things are at
the moment" It does not say we have to
keep things that way. In many cases we are
free to decide to travel "unnatural," newly
created paths.
Religion is like the human appendix: although it was functional in our distant
ancestors, it is of no use today. Just as the
appendix today is a focus of physical disease, so too religion today is a focus of social
disease. Although religion was a force accelerating human evolution during the Ice
Ages, it is now an atavism of negative value.
Religion still promotes tribal divisions,
even though we must recognize that all
"tribes" must henceforth work together for
a common cause or all shall surely perish
together. No single tribe willsurvive unless
all tribes survive. The divisions created by
religions must be eliminated.
The disappearance of religion will be as
great a tragedy as the disappearance of
smallpox. We will all survive its passing
without difficulty and without tears.
But what of music and hypnosis? Are they
also atavisms? Are they now tainted because of their former religious associations?
I think not
Music clearly has emerged from its religious cradle and has transported us all to a
realm of human emotion and esthetic fulfillment more "heavenly" than any heaven
imagined by the creators of that celestial
hunk of real estate!
Music has been set free of its fetters. It
may now soar with the human intellect into
any esthetic empyrean that intellect may
choose to create. The finale of Beethoven's
Ninth Symphony can help us to feel more
intensely the universal brotherhood of mankind as we hurtle along on the cosmic
journey of this spaceship we call earth.
And what of hypnosis? Is it only a tool of
unethical control? Must it be foresworn
because Hitler and Jim Jones used it?
Unlike the case concerning music, the
answer to this question is not quite as easy
to formulate. We cannot deny that even
today hypnotic suggestion can be used for
evil purposes. But to be forewarned is to be
fore-armed. We must always keep in mind
that as suggestible creatures we are potentially vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous persons. But we should not

tions are contagious, we can walk into the


funeral of a total stranger and quickly feel
the same sense of grief and loss as the
mourners. We can also see a strange child
take its first steps in a public park and feel
the same excitement and exhilaration as do
its parents.
Because we are suggestible, we can feel
sympathy. Because we can feel the same
pains as our fellow beings, we will not be
uncaring of their plight. We will avoid causing pain in others because our suggestible
natures make possible the reflection of that
pain back upon us. We are happiest when
making others happy, and we do not need
mythic systems to make us do good and
eschew evil: our nervous systems are hardwired by evolution to help us do that.
Because our individual happiness is so
sensitive to the emotional milieu in which we
find ourselves, enlightened self-interest is all
we need. With that we shall create an ethical
system more true to our natures. We shall
strive to cast off the irrelevant totems and
taboos of our religious past, that we may
emerge into a satisfying new world of ethical
fulfillment.
Let us not pray .. ~
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frank Zindler was formerly
Chairman of the Division of
Science, Nursing and Technology
at Fulton-Montgomery College, a branch
of the State University of New York.
Frank recently retired from teaching
to join a private industry group.
His degrees are in geology and biology,
his research in brain physiology.
He is adept in a dozen languages.

forget that many of the features that most


deeply define our humanity derive from
the same neuronal circuitry that makes
us suggestible.

For what are sympathy and empathy, if


not elaborations of our suggestibility? Because we are suggestible, because our emoOctober, 1984

The American Atheist

THE A THEIST NEXT DOOR


Irene Friedland is a thirty-four year old student studying for her Master's degree in History. Irene first heard of Madalyn Murray
OHair when she was 14 years old and attending junior high school in Baltimore, Maryland. "Up until the time Mrs. O'Heir
'hbereted' rne. I was faking saying the words to the morning prayers," states Irene.

What is Atheism?
Atheism is a philosophy of liberation. It is
a rejection of black and white and good vs.
evil thinking. Atheism is loving and life-atfirming,
Why are you an Atheist?
I am an Atheist because being an Atheist
is having freedom of thoughts and actions
.without fear of punishment from a "god."
How did you become an Atheist?
I came from a non-religious home. I think
my mother was an Atheist, even though she
never said so. My father was a pseudo-Jew
who never practiced Judaism ..
What do you consider to be specifically
Atheist values and ethics?
The Atheist believes in people, not in
myths and fairy tales. Atheism has its foundation in human potential and cooperation.
What have reactions to your Atheism
been? From family, friends, co-workers?
My friends accept my Atheist views. A
couple of them have told me they are
Atheists also. There are more of us out here
than you think!

Has your Weltanshuung caused you any


personal or professional problems?
Quite the opposite! Because of my Atheistic views, I am open and honest with my
family and profession, and I am admired and
respected for it.
Do you feel that the general situation
for Atheists has grown better or worse
in recent years?
With this "god-fearin' " Reagan Administration, much worse. The more one professes a belief in "god," the more willingthat
person is to let us poor mortals die in their
"holy wars."
Do you feel that Atheism affects your
day to day life? Your performance on
the job or in personal relations?
, Atheism affects my lifefor the better. I am
not oppressed by violent myths and the
sputterings of the clergy.
How do you deal with traditionally religious activities or ceremonies, like marriages or wakes?
Simple. I don't attend them. And what fun
is a wake if one does not drink?

If you have children or intend to, how


did/are/will you deal with Atheism and
religion with them?
If I had children, I would teach them (in a
loving and tactful way) the greed, violence,
agony, and pain that these false religious
beliefs have created in the world. I would
show them that they will always have options and alternatives in life,and that Atheism
is realistic and positive. ~

"The Atheist Next Door" is an attempt


to supply information regarding the contemporary Atheist, his feelings, problems,
and perspectives written by the experts in
his 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
Atheists/PO
Box 2117/ Austin, TX/
78768-2117 for further information.

ISN'T THE FOREST BEAUTIFUL IN THE FALL EQNIE?


Austin, Texas

October, 1984

Page 25

POETRY

THE LORD'S PROFIT


I was hanging in an airport in Miami
Waiting for a plane to NYC
Hoping not to fly instead to Cuba
'Cause Ronnie says it's not a good country

A BAD IDEA

I was passing time by looking at the people


They were thinking, drinking, talking amiably
'Cept for one scraggly dude with a stack of books
And I noticed he was coming straight at me

At first the idea sounded good


To have a few debates
With some of us who were "Gods' best"
And silly Sally Bates

He said, "The Lord delivered me to save you


It is time for your sinning days to end
I come to you as a brother
But I'm known as a prophet to my friends."

Now, Sally was an Atheist


(One of those dingbat kinds)
We thought we'd raise a bunch of cash
(We must have lost our minds)

"I saw you here looking lost and confused


Would you like the Lord's salvation?
Comfort can be yours within these pages
That is, with a sizable donation"

The first debates at Blindfaiths' Church


(We thought he'd show that pup)
But silly Sally scored some points
(Old Blindfaith got torn up)

On and on, he frantically persisted


His sales pitch unrelenting
I said, "Spare me from your scripture screaming
I do just fine without your pleas for repenting"

"O'Lord" the Reverend Blindfaith cried


"We lost" some deacon wails
(We knew if Sally hit our Church
It sure would be our tails)

"Furthermore. you lying. scheminq shamus


'Bout this 'soul-saving' ; Whatever you might call it
They say that the Lord helps those who help themselves
But that don't mean to other people's wallets"

We canceled those debates real fast


Her speaking tour ended
We told the faithful it "was sin"
And "God" would be offended
John B. Denson

Steve Becker

RECRUITING POSTER
ENLIST NOW!
Be one of us, no one refused (except Atheists and Jews)!
Be all you can be, check us out, the few, the proud, the devout!
You'll get tough at Salvation Army boot camp,
We've made christian soldiers of many a tramp!
As an S.A. cadet you'll be at home behind an alter or a parapet!
You'll learn to march and preach, to swagger and sceech!
You'll bunk in God's mighty fortress and fight heathen progress!
You'll learn to love all creation and to shout Christ's news (to Atheists
and Jews)!
You'll learn to stand attention and shout AMEN!
You'll learn the manual of alms and to herd followers in!
You'll serve the Prince of Peace, destroying heritics and smashing sin!
You'll learn christian equality and the heavenly ranks,
To salute the chosen few, and give General God thanks!
You'll learn 'christian charity and to ignore non-christian views
(And to silence the lies of Atheists and Jews)!
You'll swear oath of poverty and learn to pass the plate I
You'll learn to pray meekly in school and to proclaim God great!
You'll learn to spit shme your shoes and to accept our views!
You'll stand tall with us at that final inspection!
You'llstand at ease when the commanding officer makes the ultimate
Selection!
ENLIST NOW! Check us out, the few, the proud, the devout!
tommy toledo
Page 26

I was hanging in an airport in Miami


Waiting on a plane to NYC
After listening to the bible-pushing lunatic
Cuba didn't sound that bad to me

October, 1984

THE GOOD LIFE


The grass and trees are lovely green
And the earth soft brown.
Air and water and sun, clouds, stars,
All there for us to see;
To hear, to smell, to live, to love,
And to walk the earth.
Shall I yearn for dreams, fantasies,
When I have life to live?
Chaim Baranoff

SHEEP MUSIC
When the flocks of Christ are singing their hymns,
They might as well take the refrains out,
For the poor lambs never make much sense,
No matter how much they bleat their brains out.
S.H. Crane
The American Atheist

REPORT FROM INDIA/Margaret Bhatty

CONFUSION CONFOUNDED
orne of the headlines in our papers
probably make strange reading to foreigners - "Sikhs demand own Personal
Law," "Christians plead for realistic divorce
law," "Muslim women demand a uniform
civilcode," "High Court strikes down Hindu
law for the restitution of conjugal rights."
According to the constitution ours is a
"secular" state, though what that really
means nobody seems so sure any more.
Nevertheless, we have a chapter of DirectivePrinciples laying down guidelines for legislation which willfurther the welfare of citizens. Article 44 directs the state "to endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform
civilcode throughout the territory of India."
But the men who framed our constitution
were of a different breed than those who
followed. For fear of a communal backlash
and the loss of a considerable chunk of
votes from minority communities, no government has done anything about this particular article.
Recently, rationalist and secular groups
launched a signature campaign urging the
government to implement Article 44. they
also hope to introduce a bill in parliament
which may not ever be passed, but which
willinitiate a public debate on the question.
The feeling among intellectuals is that outdated religious laws regarding marriage,
divorce, adoption, inheritance and illegitimacy should be replaced by more humane
ones, and secular concepts should supercede antiquated holy writ in keeping with
the times.
Their other hope is that a uniform civil
code willbring down barriers between communities, and break into the seige mentality
of those closed groups who think that the
smallest concession made to reformists will
destroy their religious identity. The outcome will be greater homogeneousness towards achieving that ideal condition which
stillcontinues to elude us even after 36 years
of independence - national integration.
As it happens we already have a uniform
criminal code left us by the British. Under
this malfactors are charged, tried, sentenced and sometimes executed without reference to any religious tradition. This is why
you never read of Indian Muslims having
their hands chopped off for theft, being
stoned for adultery or publicly lashed for
drinking - as it is happening in Pakistan"
today, where Islamic laws are observed.
Austin, Texas

LAW LIBRARY
~:

~.
I:!!:!}

~I

Jinnah, the founder of that state would have


been appalled, for he was a liberal-minded
Muslim and had spoken in favour of a uniform civil code before the country was
partitioned.
The orthodox are strongly opposed to the
concept of a uniform civilcode because they
see it as a threat to their religio-cultural identity. The Muslims particularly fear a slow
Hinduisation of their traditions which will
destroy their distinctness. On the other
hand there are other enlightened scholars
among them who quote chapter and verse
from the Koran to prove the Prophet never
intended these laws to be immutable.
Change was permissible if the purpose was
in the best interests of the faithful.
Invaders from the north brought Islam
into the Indian peninsula, and before the
British came, legal systems were based
broadly on Hindu and Muslim tenets. The
Shari's (Muslim law) was followed in criminal, civil and commercial areas by Muslims.
And under Hindu scriptural traditions commercial transactions, family relations, inheri-.
tance and property rights were ensured.
In an effort to -try and introduce some
semblance of order, the British gradually
introduced changes which were to cover all
their Indian subjects without any reference
to religion. These new laws were in the
October, 1984

Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedural


Code, the Evidence Act and the Civil Procedural Code. However, none of these
touched on personal religious laws. After
Partition in 1947, when our constitution was
being framed, the constituent assembly debated the question of a common civil code
and its enactment as a Directive Principle of
state policy. It was strongly opposed by
Muslims. They argued that what the British
couldn't do in 175 years, and what the Muslims had refrained from doing in 500 years,
should not be given to the modern Indian
state to do all at once.
To give you some idea of some of the
parsonallaws which prevail I am giving a few
random samples:
Under Muslim law divorce is of three
kinds. First, there is talaaq - in which a .
husband merely pronounces the word talaaq
(I divorce thee) three times at his will and
without the intervention of a court. He can
also obtain a written document called a
talaaqnama. Second, there is divorce by
mutual consent. Third, there is a route
through judicial prouncement by a court
according to an act of 1939.
Under Christian law, proven adultery is
the only legal ground for divorce. This is
under the antiquated Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1892. While Christians can get a
Page 27

petuated by obsolete religious traditions,


divorce through a civil suit, the Catholic
ents' heirs.
most of which are heavily slanted against
Church refuses to recognise its validity. On
Muslim law gives no right of maintenance
women and children. But the present clithe other hand, the courts do not recognise
by a father to illegitimate offspring, nor a
mate of bigotry and obscurantism in the
a church annulment. It often happens that a
share of his estate when he dies. But among
country clearly indicates that no religionist
man caught in this crossfire but keen to
Sunni Muslims such a child is entitled to be
is as yet convinced that God's holy writ
marry again converts to Islam and, taking
maintained by its mother and rights of inherneeds amending and needs it badly.
advantage of the Mulim practice of allowing
itance are recognised.
Undoubtedly a uniform civil code would
up to four wives, achieves his end. He turns
Christian and Parsi laws do not grant any
disperse the acute feelings of "differentpolygamist to evade arrest as a bigamist!
rights to an illegitimate child by his/her parness" communities suffer which give rise to
Interestingly. courts in the former territoents. But such children can inherit if specifiprejudice and suspicion of those who are
cally mentioned in a will. Then a Muslim,
ries of Goa, Doman andDiu follow a Portuoutside their own faith. This mutual ignorguese law of 1911 by which annulments
according to Koranic law, cannot bequeath
ance is always exploited by vested interests
granted by the church are registered and
more than one-third even if he desires
which instigate communal riots.
recognised as legal by civilcourts. But in the
otherwise.
A uniform civil code willaffirm the princirest of India the 1869 divorce law prevails. A
Personal laws of most communities have
ple of absolute equality before the' law,
man can petition for divorce only ifhis wife is
come between a sane and compassionate
except in those cases where courts must act
guilty of adultery. But the wife on her part
law of adoption. I wrote about this in the
on behalf of the weakest. It will break
must proffer two grounds for divorce, of
April, 1983 issue of the American Atheist,
through the religiously inspired separatism
which one must be adultery.
"Where Religion Denies Children Hapby which entire communities now block
piness."
Some time ago a seminar was held in
One last example which caused some
themselves into vote banks in elections to
Bombay under Catholic patronage to dissensation in the middle of last year was
secure maximum benifits for themselves
cuss "Ecclesiastical annulment of marriage
through political patronage. The Muslims'
when the High Court of the state of Andhra
and the Indian statute affecting the ChrisPradesh struck down a clause in the Hindu
practice of allowing up to four wives is seen
tian community." Speakers were both Prolaw for restitution of conjugal rights. The
by the Hindus as a political stratagem to
testant and Catholic, but organizers took
out-breed them. This suspicion is sharpenjudge called it "a savage and barbarous
care to see that the final authority of the
ed by the fact that Muslim mullahs discourchurch was not challenged. One monsignor
're~edy violating the right to privacy and
age contraception and urge the faithful to
took pains to clarify the distinction between
human dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of
have large families. The Hindus are bitter
annulment and dissolution, with the latter
the Constitution."
that they allowed a partition of the country
only possible by sanction from the Vatican.
What was this right? Under Section 9 of
once to accommodate a dominantly Muslim
In February of this year a group of Christhe Hindu Marriages Act it is possible for a
state like Pakistan. They are unprepared to
tians, Catholic and Protestant, submitted a
husband (or wife) to regain conjugal rights
allow any further vivisection of the country.
petition to the ministry for a law demanding
by a court decree. If the unwilling party fails
The Hindus also regard the ties of the
the repeal of the Indian Divorce Act of 1869
to comply, his/her property can be attached
Catholic church with the Vatican in matters
and the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1892.
or sold under the Civil Procedure Code.
of ecclesiastical law as tantamount to an
They want them replaced with an enlightThe case concerned a young south Indian
extra- territorial lovaltv.
ened law framed in 1962, but never passed
cinema star who has become a wealthy
by parliament, which will enable Christians
celebrity after the time she married a simple
A uniform civil code could achieve much,
to avoid the ordeal of approaching both
farmer in 1975. Nearly five years later, after
the most important being an affirmation of
ecclesiatical and civil courts.
thay had separated, he moved a court under
the principle of secularity enshrined in our
Among Parsis divorces are negotiated by
Section 9 for purposes of having a child by
constitution. ~
a special matrimonial court. Sikhs, Budher. The judge, somewhat carried away by
dhists and Jains are allsubject to Hindu law, . his own rhetoric, denounced the section as
ABOUTTHE
AUTHOR
but the Sikhs agitating for a separate state in
"the grossest form of violation of an indiIn 1978 your editors,
Punjab now want that particular article of
vidual's right to privacy, it deprived a wothe constitution changed. They also want
assisted by Joseph Edamaruku,
man of control over her choices as to when
editor of an Indian atheist publication,
their own personal law, a draft of which was
and how and by whom the various parts of
published last year. If adopted, it will set
combed India seeking writers
her body should be allowed to be sensed,
their women back into medieval times rewho would consistently offer an
and takes away her autonomy or control
garding inheritance and property rights and
interpretation of Indian religious events.
over the intimacies of personal identity.
ensure that more daughters-in-law are burnt
Margaret Bhatty, in Nagpur
Nothing can conceivably be more degrading
a well-known feminist journalist, agreed
to death.
to human dignity than to subject a person by
In broken marriages children are seen as
the long arm of the law to a positive sex act."
that she would do so in the future.
She joined the staff of
spoils of battle between warring parties. As .
An article of this length cannot possibly
the American Atheist in January, 1983.
this is a patrilineal society, paternity is more
cover all the inequities and injustices perimportant than maternity, though unmarried mothers may give their names to their
offspring and allow inheritance. Both Hindu
and Muslim law vest guardianship in the
father rather than the mother. But if she is
judged a women of proven virtue she is
--,.'
~~
granted custody of the children until they
become majors, with maintenance provided
by the father.
In cases of illegtimacy under Hindu law a
Hindu male or female is bound to maintain
his/her illegitimate child. But the right of
inheritance is denied, though the off-spring
--.---.
can claim maintenance in turn from the par-

---

Page 28

October, 1984

The American Atheist

SUCKERS IN PARADISE

hen was the last time you drove


through "El Dorado?" What! You
mean you have never motored down those
utopian streets of gold! ... Neither have I.
It puzzles me why lairy tales are so lastmg.
Also, I wonder why most of them are so
idiotic. Why should anyone, even eccentric
millionaires, want to pave streets with gold!
Conventional road bedding and paving materials have proven to be marvelously adequate to suit the needs of both modern and
ancient travel. Yet, no one ever fantasizes
about building roads with concrete.
More and more I am convinced that
fantasizing is, for.the most part, a release of
subconscious insanity. If folks are content
with being permanently afflicted with fantasizing why not afford those fantasies some
degree of substance. Why not "dream" in
areas that might eventually lead to the
fruition of reality and attainability. One of
my favorite considerations has always been:
"I can have anything I want - provided I
don't want too damn much!" I don't need
streets of gold. I don't even need streets of
brass! "Plain old" streets have more than
suited my needs.
For some reason people think that elaboration is a necessary criterion to be included in our lists of expectations. All too
often our dreamy visions of exuberance
result in disappointment. Worse yet, they
cause us to become blind to the simpler
possibilities of real accomplishment. People
have been brainwashed into a myriad of
"beliefs;" if you want to own a "nice" home
in modern day America you must chain
yourself to a $150,000.00 (plus) mortgage for
the rest of your life. Horsefeathers! That's
only what magazines like Better Homes
would lead 'you to "believe." If someone
really wants a home he need only to be
slightly imaginative, learn to swing a hammer, run a few homeowner power tools, and
roll up his shirtsleeves. People - even
people of moderate income - have always
had within their reach the ability to construct a comfortable, even if rather unimpressive, home. Why "aim at the moon"
when you can do quite well within your own
capabilities?
It is because we have been "suckered"
into tragic delusions of grandeur in what is
supposed to be a "never-never land of
Austin, Texas

plenty."
The conning of Americans has been massive and disillusioning. Accordingly, a class
system has been established consisting of
the satisfied and the disappointed. When
unexpected crunches of reality bear down
on the usually unprepared citizenry, factions of society grow further and further
apart. Americans in every era have been
driven to feel hopelessly unable to acquire
those things of which dreams are made. Yet,
they have never actually closely examined
those dreams!
, At present we are faced with political
decisions in the coming November elections. You are continually cautioned from all
quarters that "your future may well be at
stake." Again, horsefeathers! The future of
the political parties may be "at stake" but
your future has been predetermined, not by
which party is in power but, by the ever
increasing corporate control of resources.
No matter what happens politically, you will
still be struggling to exist in some approximation of your present condition. You will
still be motivated by what you preceive your
"needs" to be and your lifestyle will still be,
more or less, dictated by your own attributes, biases, and economic resourcefulness as will those of the people in your
immediate socio-economic proximity.
A problematical difference is that professional politicians are masters at dangling the
cultural carrot. They seem to have a knack
for telling people what the people need and
are usually convincing in their performances. Purported areas of "great concern" are recounted in a style that puts
melodramatic artists to shame:
school
prayer, Granada, etc. Did you even know
what a "Granada" was until we invaded it?
Did Reagan hold an "inspirational prayer
service" so as to publicly "seek god's guidance" before we squashed that insignificant
little island under the mightiest military
thumb in history?
One of the real big grabbers that seems
"to point the ears" of the breathless masses
of citizen/ suckers is talk concerning the illusive "national debt." If ever there was a
"devil" it must surely be the national debt.
This all-consuming, fire-breathing thing is
an Albatross that our anguished, suffering
public must wear - on "into eternity." So
enormous is it that we cannot hope to even
keep up the payments on the interest it
October, 1984

accrues. Tearful eyes glimmer as our political "heroes" beg our understanding and
indulgence while we, the citizens, stoke the
200 billion dollar (plus) appetite of this vile
demon. How gallant the efforts of the candidates are made to appear. Has anyone ever
asked: to whom QO we owe this sizable sum?
Who holds the mortgage on America? W.ho
has in excess of 200 billion dollars "laying
around" to lend? Has any of our politicians
ever furnished a list of our creditors so that
we might at least know who "owns" us? On
every monthly statement that I have ever
received - for merchandise or services there appeared a name and address of the
person(s) to whom I was economically indebted. Not once have I ever heard Republicans, Democrats, or anyone else ever mention where we send our monthly (yearly or
whatever) payment vouchers, let alone what
our current principle and interest balance
might be. I get the feeling that, like "god,"
the national debt is something that we're
only suppose to worship and fear .and that
we, mere citizens, are not to be cognizant of
any of the obligational particulars thereof. In
matters of national concern the payER need
not know the payEE.
It occurs to me, at the continued suggestion of the politicians I might add, that the
taxpayers are the "backbone" of America's
financial structure; that they, through their
"labors", endeavor to provide financing for
our nation and that we, the taxpayers, are
the nation! Yet, our business is being managed by people who seem reluctant to keep
us accurately advised as to the statistics in
our ongoing operational ledger. Now, I don't
know to whom we owe the national debt -it
might be certain corporate banking conglomerates - it might be wealthy individual
investors or it may be groups of rich stock
market profiteers - whatever. I don't particularly care. I only know that for once, just
for the novelty of it all, I would like to see my
country out of debt. That sounds rather
simplistic, doesn't it? Well, let's go back to
basic reality for a moment. If 230 million
people, engaged in the business of being a
nation - working diligently and patriotically
to be debt free - cannot possibly rise above
their debts, then something is drastically
wrong with our "business". Other businesses manage to pay their debts! Perhaps
we have been trying to pave too many
streets with gold.
Page 29

Why hasn't some economically enlightened citizen-turned-politician suggested that


we build a cash buffer-balance fund into our
tax revenue income for the purpose of
initiating a pay-as-you-go national finance
plan. Let's suppose that 10% of our annual
collected taxes were placed in a reserve
deposit program where it would receive
standard (maximum) interest benefits instead of always paying interest to our creditors. If we're going to play the Capitalist
Game, let's ALL play! After all, we citizens
are the nation's financial "backbone," are
we not? Why then. shouldn't the taxpayers
be i~ the position of having 200 (plus) billion
dollars to lend? Then We wouldn't have to
borrow - would we?
Of course, this idea would not please the
affluent money lenders within our establishment. They would call the entire concept
ridiculous. At the same, time they would
never dare to mention that such a plan
would eventually strip away their economic
advantage because they are not geared for
such competition. They have never known
competition of this sort. To be a lender of
money one must first have a borrower.
The truth of the matter is that no political
faction has ever attempted to so educate the
public. That is not the purpose of political
"leaders" who, themselves, are the tools of
wealthy financiers and are obligated, tooth
and nail, to do the bidding of those in control
of the nation's assets. And, all the while, a
childlike public cheers mindlessly to the
ongoing antics of a supposedly "democratic
process." Democracy, according to definitions now seemingly forgotten, should infer
individual freedom and the very essence of
freedom is: "to be exempt from external
control, interference or regulation; the power of determining one's own actions."
We have therefore become imprisoned
by our own capricious "needs." Like automated dolls we respond to the fantastic
visions created by the comptrollers of our
establishment and become increasingly
caught-up in our own web. Greed and selfgrandizement as a species have become
accepted values in our world cultures and
we seem not to realize that the "golden
streets" of our primitive thoughts have
always been inconsequential to our needs.
So have the hundreds of billions of dollars
worth of rotting, aging military junk. Yet,
surely we are aware of this inexcusable
waste that has been foisted upon us by the
political clowns we pretend to adore. Like so
many fools we relish temporary prosperity
which comes to us by way of our national
"cnidit c.ard;'- and we lose sight of the
difference in owning and owing. It appears
to me that we have collectively indentured
ourselves through our own toleration ot
mismanagement and then we wonder why
we are so indebted.
The first priority in securing the service of
any draft-animal is to break the beast to
harness. When humans are similarly strapPage 30

ped by an economic harness they will gee


and haw at the command of the economic
teamsters in whose hands we have errantly
placed the reins. It is no secret that our
National Treasury and our Internal Revenue
Service, indeed our entire partisan political
government, willfavor those special interest
factions to whom they are beholden. It is to
the unending benefit of the monied few that
we remain in debt for that indebtedness is
their only means of control. It is also no
secret that the few seem to regard the word
"liberal" as dirty. It is quite natural that they
should because liberalism implies an attempt to benefit everyone. The fact is that
"ultra-conservative" is the truely "dirty"
word that would cede to authority control of
personal liberties that were established in
the founding of the United States. The
economic pressures now bearing on the
various American social classes are being
manipulated by those who seek to retain
their positions of control whereby any idea
of organized resistance is easily divided and
dispatched. Much worse, a dreamy-eyed
public, fanned by it's personal biases, dances
to the tune whistled by fascist-minded conservatism.
Now - enter fundamental Christian
idiocy. No one will notice as the torso and
biceps swell and turn green as the incredible-hulk of the "New Right" takes over what
is left of our government. It is not so
surprising when you consider that we've
been pre-conditioned toward the SIckness
for a long time and have come to view what
used to be called mob-violence as patriotic
Americanism. When people do the same
things in Iran we call it fanaticism. In much
the same way we terrorize lesser nations
and interpret our posture as "defensive
measures." The saddening part is that in our
thoughtlessness we accept this new, phony
"Americanism" the same way that preWorld War II Germans bought Hitlerism.
An internal national hostility epidemic is
really quite simple to understand. Here's
how it works. Suppose we had rounded-up
fiftyor so pitiful, stray dogs and put them in a
pen that is too small to allow comfort. Now
suppose that we didn't feed them for several
days but, instead, poked at them antagonistically so as to increase their discomfort.
When they have become sufficiently hostile
throw a single bone into their midst and
simply watch the reaction. Note that none of
the terrifying viciousness will be directed
toward the instigator of the incident - only
from one victim to another.
The United States has, for a long time,
been showing signs of internal dissatisfaction. There is an explosive posture gripping
a goodly number of people because their
"dreams" have been disrupted. Now the
bone of fundamental religion has been tossed
into our society by the Congress and a
drooling ex-actor president is ecstatic over
the further degeneration of national unity.
While the public engages in it's feedingOctober, 1984

frenzied madness our hopes for citizen


equality, conservationism and better relationships with our world neighbors can be
kneeded into an unrecognizable mass and
handed back to us after we become too
weakened and disillusioned to care. We will
have been, like the American Indian, "christianized" out of existence. Anyone can read
the feeling in the eyes of people on the
streets of Beirut, Teheran, and Kabul. It
can't happen in America? Don't underestimate yourself! When was the last time you
slammed down your fist on the meeting
table of your local school board and demanded that your child not be brainwashed
by their "allowed" religious intrusions? Do
you still subconsciously stammer for an
"acceptable" answer when publicly asked
about your "disbelief?" Perhaps you still
harbor some wild fantasy that victims of
religious illness can be "faith healed" by
philosophical clap-trap.
On two or three occasions I have been
criticized for demeaning "philosophy." I
cannot tell you how discouraging it is for me
to realize that after several hundred years of
"rational" people sitting on their philosophical bottom-sides there are still those who
think they might be able to hold productive,
meaningful, conversations with persons like
our current nit-minded president. It is also
the idle dreamer type who will "believe"
such a man (or woman) when he promises
tax cuts while doubling our indebtedness
and declares that faith in god alone will
insure our future. This country has a very
good track record in the area of qullibility.It
is we who have developed the BillyGrahams
and the Oral Robertses of religion. It is we
who have intellectually covered our "dirt"
, while pointing accusatory fingers at everyone and everything about us. It is we who
have come to "hate" the most the only two
major nations with whom we have never
warred - China and Russia.
I suppose we do these things because we
like to pretend that our world-country is
'paradise." At any rate it's a pleasurable
pastime for those of the species of which
one is "born every minute." ~

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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 is writing poetry of which
an Atheist movement can be proud.

The American Atheist

POTPOURRI
CONCEPTION. A bill now before Congress introduces a new and unique concept, that human life (and therefore, of course, citizenship)
begins not with birth, but with conception. There are a number of legal problems to be worked out before such a concept could be enforced.
For example, the deduction which is now granted to parents in the year of a child's birth would now have to be granted in the year of his
conception. Where conception took place around Jan. 1 this might be a problem involving lots of money. All the other activities allowed to
begin at a certain age - driving, drinking, voting - would now have to be reckoned from date of conception rather than birth. This might be a
particular problem in close elections. Who was really eligible to vote? In close contests the outcome might be determined by the answer to this
question.
.
In foreign affairs the issue would become even more complicated in a world in which every other nation recognizes a life to begin at birth,
when only ours would think that life begins with conception. What of a child conceived in one country, but born in another? Would the child be
the citizen of one country? Or of the other? Or both? Or neither? A president of the U. S. must constitutionally have been ~bornin the United'
States. Will this provision now have to be changed to conception in the United States? But such conception might in any case be difficult to
prove (or disprove). One could think of a thousand other problems. Who might go into a bar? Who might drive a car?
Smce claims of VIrginbirth are few, It must be assumed that conception and birth take place in the normal way. The date of such conception
is difficultto fix, even with the best willin the world, and as indicated the best willin the world does not always exist. The problem is that human
birth does not take exactly nine months after conception; it takes place after nine months, give or take a couple of weeks. And that is for a
normal birth. An abnormal birth could take place any time. Winston Churchill, for example, was a premature baby of 7 months. He was born
weighing over 8 pounds. Nobody commented, at least not publicly. But people were more polite then than they are now. Besides, we cannot all
be lords and ladies,
The thing is, date of birth is easy to establish. We are usually born in a hospital. Nurses, interns, sometimes even the obstetrician, are
present. Dates and times are meticulously recorded. Certificates are made out. All very bureaucratic and efficient. Unfortunately the same
thing does not happen at conception. Maybe there should be someone standing by.
That might be a solution. People would be obliged by law to call before they- but what if???Oh, well. The right-to-life groups could provide
personnel for such monitoring activities, but they might be hard pressed during such extraordinary phenomena as power blackouts or NFL
strikes. In any event, this would not do much toward getting the government off your backs. Mothers would have to be asked, "when did you
and your husband- ?" Oh, we'll let the anti-abortionists ask the questions. Stephen Roane

/,

~~~

$,
,,~::
,/

~,

';

IfllfK."!.l,.

PACKAGED PRAYER. Delaware Today Magazine reports that a Newark librarian is working on a computer program to catalog prayers by
date and type of request. At the push of a button, Bob Marshall willbe able to see which of his prayers have been answered, and which he'll have
to keep workinq on. Marshall plans to market his program when it's perfected. "The idea is to build people's faith," he says. "I'm computing for
the Lord." (Don't tell Bob, but when the faithful take a good, hard look at the batting averages, his program willdo about as much for the future
of religion as an S-and-M scandal at the Vatican.) Joan Easley
-

THE SUPREME TESTES. An early-day "Falwell" recalls, The harem that shook to its walls,
When he said with a nod, "What do you ask of god?"
And three Atheist eunuchs yelled, "Balls!" Eddie Maxwell
TRUTHS. For ages a deadly conflict has been waged between a few brave people of high intelligence and thought upon one side, and the vast
majority of ignorant, superstitious, religious people all over the world on the other. This is the war between science and faith. The few have
appealed to reason, honor, law, freedom, truth, and to happiness here on this small world. The majority have appealed to prejudice, fear,
slavery, miracles, superstition, lies, and misery. The few have said, "Think!"; the majority, "Believe!"
Humanity must learn to rely upon themselves. Reading Bibles, the Koran, and other "holy" books does not protect anyone from the
elements, or provide food and clothing; but working to construct homes, to cultivate and manufacture by industrious labor everything needed
for a decent way of life wi/l! To prevent famine one plow is worth millions of useless prayers.
Humanity must cease to expect any aid from "on high." Now we must know that "heaven" or some mythological "god" has no ear to hear,
and no hand to help. The present is the child of the past. We cannot undo the yesterdays, or know for certain the tomorrows, so we must make
the best of today! No so-called "divine power" can alter anything, or solve any problems, anywhere; this is the truth. We must face it.
Ifabuses are corrected, humanity must correct them. Ifslavery in any form exists, only humanity can assure freedom. Ifnew scientific truths
are discovered, it willbe only humanity to bring them out. Ifthe naked are clothed; ifthe hungry are fed; ifjustice is done; iflabor is rewarded; if
evil superstitions are driven from the mind; ifthe defenceless are protected; ifinsane and evil warfare is stopped; all must be the achievements
of humanity, who rules this little world! Walton Hoyt Craig, Sr.
Austin, Texas

October, 1984

Page 31

AMERICAN A THEIST RADIO SERIES / Madalyn Murray O'Hair

JOSEPH LEWIS - AMERICAN ATHEIST


Program #119; originally broadcast 10/19/70

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.

T exas resident recently .came to our


American Atheist Center here in Austin to deliver some Atheist magazines dating
from the year 1906 to the year 1930. Reading
them has upset me considerably.
It is quite apparent that there was a
uniform, rational, cohesive, articulate Atheist movement at that time. Yet, in ten years
of working for Atheism in the United States,
I have had only superficial knowledge of it so
completely has it been laid to rest, wiped
out, by our culture.
I don't know where all these books are
which were written and sold then by the
thousands, or even by the tens of thousands. They certainly are not in either
university or public libraries. I don't know
what has happened to the persons involved
with this movement. They are not around
that I know of them. We should have made
some significant gains by now.
I have here one of these magazines tonight, titled "The Debunker" which was put
out by Haldeman-Julius. He was able to get
writers like Clarence Darrow, Sigmund
Freud, Mahatma Ghandi, Upton Sinclair,
Theodore Dreiser, Joseph McCabe, Maynard Shipley. And, of course, he had the
money to do that.
Will you listen to one of the articles
written by Joesph Lewis?
This is titled "An Atheist Speaks Out."
"I came to accept Atheism as the result of
independent thought and self study. And
although as a child I was instructed in the
religion of my parents, I never came under
the spell of religious training long enough to
so warp my mentality as not to be able to see
any other viewpoint.
"I came to my conclusions after a full
analysis and an impartial consideration of
the various religious creeds and the different
systems of philosophy.
"In my study of the different fields of
thought, I found no philosophy that contained so many truths, and inspired one with
so much courage, as Atheism.
"Atheism equips us to face life, with its
mutitude of trials and tribulations, better
Page 32

than any other code of living that I have yet


been able to find.
"It is grounded in the very roots of life
itself.
Its foundation is based upon nature, without superfluities and false garments.
"It stands unadorned, requiring nothing
but its own nudity to give it strength, and
charm and beauty.
"No sham or shambles are attached to it.
"Atheism rises above creeds and puts
humanity upon one plane.
"There can be no 'chosen people' in
Atheistic philosophy.
"No sacrificial redemptions;
"No 'divine' revelations;
"No washing in the blood of the lamb;
"No crusades, no massacres, no holy
wars;
"No Christ, and no saviors;
"No heaven, no hell, no purgatory;
"No silly rewards and no vindictive punishments;
"No devils and no gods.
"Atheism breaks down the barriers of
nationalities and like 'one touch of nature
makes the whole world kin'.
"Systems of religion make people clannish and bigoted.
"Their chief aim and interest in life is to
gather together and pick out the faults of
others and reveal their secret hatred of
those who do not believe as they do.
"Atheism is a vigorous and a courageous
philosophy.
"It is not afraid to face the problems of life,
and it is not afraid to confess that there are
problems yet to be solved.
"It does not claim that it has solved all the
questions of the universe, but it does claim
that it has discovered the approach and
learned the method of solving them.
"It has dedicated itself to a passionate
quest for the truth.
"It believes with Ingersoll, when he said:
'Give me the storm and tempest of thought
and action rather than the dead calm of
ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden
when you will, but first let me eat the fruit of
October, 1984

the tree of knowledge.'


"There are no bended knees in Atheism;
no supplications; no prayers.
"Atheism is a self-reliant philosophy.
"It makes a man intellectually free. He is
thrilled to enthusiasm by his mental emancipation and he faces the universe without
fear of ghosts or gods.
"It teaches man that unless he devotes his
energies and applies himself whole-heartedly to the task he wishes to achieve, the
accomplishment will not be made.
"It warns him that any reliance upon
prayers or 'divine' help will prove a bitter
disappointment.
"If Atheism writes upon the blackboard of
the universe a question mark, it writes it for
the purpose of stating that there is a question yet to be answered.
"Is it not better to place a question mark
upon a problem while seeking an answer
than to put the label 'God' there and consider the matter solved?
"Does not the word 'God' only confuse
and make more difficult the solution by
assuming a conclusion that is utterly groundless? That is palpably absurd?
" 'God' said Spinoza, 'is the Asylum of
Ignorance.'. "
"No better description has ever been
uttered.
"Shelly said God was a hypothesis, and,
as such, required proof. Can any minister or
any domination of any religion supply that
proof?
"Ministers of religion ignorantly call Atheism a negative philosophy because Atheism must first destroy the moumental
ignorance and degrading superstition with
which religion, throughout the ages, has so
shamelessly stultified the brain of man."
"Man finds himself in a universe utterly
unprepared and poorly equipped to face the
facts and conditions of life.
"Primitive man's 'distorted intellect' gave
rise to a series of ideas concerning God that
makes one shudder at their hideousness.
"In order that man may think clearly and
rationally upon the facts of life, all these
The American Atheist

concepts must be destroyed.


"That is the task of Atheism.
" 'To free man from error is to give, not
take away', says Schopenhauer.
"Some of our present-day humanists,
emancipated to the degree that they no
longer accept deities like Jehovah, cry out
for a new concept of God. They want
something to put in the place of what has
been taken away.
"Do thay want also a substitute for hell?
"And what would be their answer to this
question, 'If the Devil should die would God
make another?'
"They are like children crying for the
moon.
"Will anyone be so good as to tell me for
what reason we need a new concept of
God? Haven't we got gods enough? Hasn't it
been task enough to get rid of the conglomerate that has already plagued the human
race?
"I plead that we no longer contaminate
heaven with these hideous creatures and
frightful monsters of religious hallucinations.
"Ministers also take delight in saying that
Atheism is dogmatic and destructive.
"Dogmatism is the law of nature. A fact is
the most stubborn thing in the world. Matter
insists upon occupying space all by itself and
motion willcontinue in motion regardless of
the opinions concerning it. Time does not
stop to listen to prayers.
"And, Atheism is destructive in the same
sense that Columbus was destructive, when
he corrected the erroneous conception,
induced by false theological ideas, of the
flatness of the earth, when he sailed across
the ocean and proved the rotundity of the
planet upon which we live.
"Atheism is destructive in the same sense
that Galileo was destructive when he corrected the erroneous conception, induced
by false theological ideas, concerning the
existence of only one moon, when he discovered the satellites of Jupiter.
"And so throughout the history of intellectual progress is this attitude true. Call it
negative, call it dogmatic, call it destructive,
call it what you will.
"Is a physician then destructive when he
cures a patient of a disease?
"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.
"No wonder the great Buckle was prompted to say:
'Every great reform which has been
effected has consisted, not in doing
something new, but in undoing something old'
"But what hypocrisy on the part of ministers
of religion to call Atheism a negative philosophy, when their own Ten Commandments are a series of 'Thou shalt nots.'.
"But Atheism is also an aggressive and a
Austin, Texas

militant and a constructive philosophy.


"It is interested in the HERE and NOW.
"It finds problems enough here that require immediate solution and does not flyto
others that it knows not of.
"Atheism cannot sit idly by and watch
injustice perpetrated, nor permit the exploitation of the weak by the strong.
"Its ideal is the ideal of justice - manmade justice, even though it be. If man
waited for God to feed him he would starve
to death.
"Atheism believes in education. It believes in telling the facts of life and revealing
the truths as they are discovered regardless
of whose opinions it shocks. It is ever willing
to accept the new and discard the old.
Atheism does not believe that man's mission
on earth is to love and glorify God, but it
does believe in living this life so that when
you die, the world will be better for your
having lived.
"That is the idea that now inspires more
hearts to help humanity in its upward march
than ever before in the history of the human
race.
~'If man wants help he must abandon his
appeals to God. They willprove only' echoes
of his wailing cries'.
"Atheism does not place any trust in God.
The inscription on our coins is a lie.
"We do not intend to let the clergy, to suit
their fancy or their moods, give us our
definition of Atheism.
"It may be perfectly satisfactory for the
editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica to
commission a clergyman to write upon Atheism. But, if a clergyman knew enough
about Atheism to write with authority upon
the subject he would no longer remain a
clergyman.
"In this age and generation no one need
cloak his Atheism with some garment of
so-called 'religious respectability'.
"Where there are three students of nature
there are two Atheists, is an old saying."
"When a minister today makes a public
declaration that he can no longer believe in
the Virgin Birth, the resurrection of Christ,
the inspiration of the scriptures; acknowledges that Moses was very often mistaken,
and can find no justification for the existence of a personal god, the brass band plays
and the flag wave for his 'great courage'
while as a matter of fact these things have
been so obvious to us that we look with pity
upon people who will still believe them.
"The time will not be far distant when a
minister who takes money for prayers for
the repose of the so-called soul of man, will
be charged with misrepresentation and fraud
just as others are now being apprehended
for similar schemes of deception.
"How incompatible does it seem to speak
of religion in an age of an Edison, a Marconi,
and an Einstein; an age of automatic elevators, electric refrigerators, and radio-controlled airplanes.
"The efforts of those today who are
October, 1984

compromising with religion and making apologies for its past crimes, are only prolonging
its existence and making more difficult the
task to eradicate this blot upon civilization.
"They are interfering with the removal of
the worst obstacle that has ever blocked the
intellectual progress of Man.
"A rose may smell as sweet by any other
name, and religion will be just as obnoxious
under any other title.
"There are some who claim that religion
can be humanized, but how can we humanize something that does not admit of humanization? How can we humanize ignorance,
superstition and brutality? Can we humanize the thumb-screw and rack?
"If we could humanize religion then the
dream of the alchemist willhave come true.
"If we could humanize religion then truly
base metal can be converted into gold.
"Let us replace the churches of this city
with a system of parks and we will make
New York the most beautiful and most
attractive and the most healthful city on the
face of the earth.
"Society has no right, through the instrumentality of the government, to exempt
from taxation a single intitution, while a
member of the community is without food
and shelter.
"The church may be successful in convincing a person that the more he suffers
here the less he willsuffer hereafter, but we
are concerned with putting food in his
stomach, clothes on his back, and shelter
over his head now. One may believe what he
will as long as he is well fed and protected
from the elements, but the moment he falls
below that condition he is actually deprived
of food necessary to life by the church that
does not pay taxes.
"To delude a man into believing that the
more he gives of the possessions of this life
for the imaginary benefits to be enjoyed in a
mythical one is to perpetrate upon him a
monstrous and unforgivable fraud.
"Every steeple that rises above a church
is a dagger thrust into the heart of Humanity. It has proved so in the past, and by the
past we judge the future.
"Only when a man ceases to be a child,
only when he emancipates himself completely from the fetishes of religion, and gives up
his silly and childish ideas concerning the
existence of god, will he be able to rise to
that commanding position and station in his
lifewhen he can be truly called a MAN." End
quote of Joseph Lewis.
Could you possibly imagine Readers'
Digest printing an article like that today?
Have we improved in relation to religion
since Mr. Lewis wrote this? The issue of
"The Debunker" from which I read this
article is September, 1930, Volume XII, No.
4. ~

Page 33

HISTORICAL NOTES
100 YEARS AGO ...
The October 4th, 1884 issue of the The
Truth Seeker reprinted the following report
from the Press of Philadelphia:
"... a flourishing society of Freethinkers
have held weekly meetings for the last two
or three years in Fleischman's bakery building, on Broad Street. The members of this
society, who take no interest in politics, are
nearly allEnglish,French, or German workingmen. The topics chosen for discussion are
sometimes quite startling and original. The
subject chosen for debate not long ago was,
'Has Christianity or intemprence (sic) entailed the greatest misery on the human
race?' After an animated debate it was
decided by the president that Christianity
had ... "
On another topic a Truth Seeker reader
had this to report in the October 11th, 1884
edition of that journal:
"Down here in the 'Old Dominion' is quite
a hotbed of Christianity, there being but
very few outspoken Liberals. But you can
score one more victory for Freethought.
Just one year ago I began, single-handed
and alone, a fight for our side, by opposing
the opening of our schools in this district
(Sapponey) with prayer. I wrote to our
county superintendent in regard to the
matter. His only reply was: 'If I were in your
place, I would not throw myself in the face of
public sentiment by opposing this thing.' I
referred him to our champion's 'Individuality.' Getting no satisfaction from the county
superintendent of public insrtuction, I wrote
to our state superintendent, Hon. R. R.
Farr, whose reply I give below:
'I desire to state that no public free
school teacher has any right to introduce
any religious rites into his school.'
Ilaid this letter before the school trustees of
our district. The result was that the trustees
issued an order to the teachers of all free
schools to discontinue reading the Bible and
opening the schools with prayer.
"Thus it willbe seen what one industrious
worker in our cause can do ...
Geo. W. Barner
Goodwynville, VA"

The Truth Seeker of October 25, 1884


was also keeping an eye on global politics
and reported that "New Zealand has just
held a general election, and two, of the
contests are of interest to Freethinkers. At
Wanganui, Mr. J. Ballance, the editor of the
Freethought Review, and vice-president of
the New Zealand Freethought Union, was a
candidate, and although the cry of "Atheist"
Page 34

was persistently raised against him, he had


nearly 200 votes more than the two other
candidates put together. In the other contest the member in the last parliament, M.
W. Green, famous for his championship of
Christianity, was opposed by Robert Stout,
president of the same Freethought Union.
In this struggle every effort was made by
Green and his partisans to raise the odium
theologicum but without success. The
whole of the Dunedin papers attacked Mr.
Stout with more or less acerbity, but on the
election day he polled 755 votes to his
antagonist's 555. He is now Premier and
Attorney General of New Zealand, being the
first outspoken Freethinker who has ever
occupied the position of Prime Minister in a
province of the British empire."
In another section, watching still another
part of the globe, the Truth Seeker of the
same date further reported that:
"the names of 'God,' 'Jesus,' 'Christ,'
'prayer,' 'creation,' etc., no longer cumber
the text-books of the public schools of
France, confusing the children and leading
to error in belief and teaching. In a 'Grammar for Children,' such examples as 'God is
the creator of the world,' 'Cain slew his
brother Abel,' 'Abraham was the father of
the Hebrews,' 'Adam is the father of all
nations,' have been eliminated, and sentences conveying some information substituted."

25 YEARS AGO ...


The "Live News and Comments" section
of the October, 1959 Progressive World
contained the next report, under the title of
"Ike Proclaims Day of Prayer."
"Urging all Americans to turn to God in
thanksgiving and supplication on that day,
President Eisenhower has proclaimed October 7th as a national day of prayer. In his
proclamation he recalled that 'this continent
was chosen by men and women of profound
religious conviction,' and declared that 'our
God is the God of all men.' Yes, and the
President might well have recalled that
those 'profound religious convictions' were
responsible for an era of cruel religious
persecution, for an attempt of the clergy to
set up a theocracy in this country, and
certainly for the witchcraft tortures carried
on by those who held 'profound religious
convictions.' And as for 'our God' being 'the
God of all men,' if the President knew as
much about the religious and the secular
thought and attitudes of the American people as he knows about golf, he would realize
that half of the people of the population (the
religious half) worship as many different
gods as Heinz Co. produces pickles, and
that the other half worship no god at all... "
October, 1984

20 YEARS AGO ...


From the Liberal, October, 1964 edition.
"T exas has been much in the news lately
since President Kennedy was shot and
President Johnson announced his plan to
abolish poverty in the United States. Now
another controversial matter has popped
up. There is a movement there to limit, ifnot
to completely abolish the teaching of Darwin's ideas on Evolution. R.G. Lemmons,
a Church of Christ evangelist who publishes
a weekly religious riewspaper, wants the
Texas Education agency not to issue three
books on biology which stress the evolution
of humans from lower forms of lifeand make
no mention of the special creation of Adam
and Eve, etc."

5 YEARS AGO ...


The "Chicago 47" conducted the first
picketing of a pope by Atheists in history,
during his visit to Chicago on October 7th,
1979.
Confronted with the news that Karol
Wojtyla, alias Pope John Paul II, intended to
visit the United States, the Board of Directors of American Atheists met in fullsession
on September 14-16th and resolved that the
Pope should be confronted, once in his life,
once in the history of the papacy, with a
picket-line expressing the displeasure that
Atheists, everywhere, at all times, have felt
but were too timid to broadcast.
Confronted with his violations of sites
precious to Americans (the Boston Commons, the Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin
Parkway, theD. C. Washington Mall, Chicago's Grant Park) whereon he planned full
high ceremonial religious ritual Roman Catholic masses, it was decided that he would be
met by Atheist pickets in the heartland of
the nation - Chicago, on October 7th,
1979.
It was the first time, also, that the American Atheist organization had called upon its
members to "show their faces on the
streets." On a cold, blustery day, 47 did just
that. They were mostly Chapter Directors
and officers but they were there. Those 47
are here honored. Now, American Atheists
picket lines most often number into several
hundreds. But, there had to be a beginning
... and the bravest ones were there, in
Chicago, five years ago.
A lengthy article, "Atheists Confront The
Pope" told the entire story in the American
Atheist, December, 1979.
The American Atheist

EVIDENCE DENIES THEISM / Robert Ostrander

IMAGINATION:
THE DAWN OF CIVILIZATION

:.'

~:;.:

:y:'
:.:...~.
','

lizard perches himself on a large rock,


a vantage point where he can pump his
head up and down, looking around the cave
for' a meal, a mate, or a menace.
As I look at him I see he might be a meal
for me, or at least a snack. I hope the kids
don't see him before I get a chance at him. I
reach slowly into my cache for a sharp
missile I fashioned just yesterday - made it
for throwing.
Slowly I carefully maneuver the missile
back of my head and throw. I miss the lizard
but look at the long cut it made in the far
wall. Looks like the stick we used to fight off
that sabre tooth yesterday.
I pick up my missile and scratch the wall
again; an oval shape emerges; scratching
again, another long, large oval shape takes
shape. Slash, slash, slash, slash and four
legs appear. "There's my sabre tooth" I
think.
The kids gather round to see what I am
doing, pointing and jabbering to each other
and at me, touching the picture on the wall,
and grabbing for my magic marker.
We learned to teach our young by searching our pictures, making graphic illustrations for their stories, a lasting records for all
to see.
Looking back from the twentieth century
we reconstruct one trivial episode as we
perceive it to have been. We must consider
that there was no language; the description
is ours. The only communication was a
show of force, a gesture, a facial expression,
a display of pleasure or displeasure, a certain stature or posture just as other animals
do today.
The dominant ones took command ifthey
lived long enough, and they became feared if
Austin, Texas

not respected or regarded as the ruler of the


tribe. Tribal gods, in the minds of early
tribesmen, were regarded as being endowed
with powers that extended beyond the
grave. G raves were often made into impressive reminders of the power of certain
rulers.
Evidence from the burials of ten to twelve
thousands of years ago show that such
hierarchies began appearing especially in
Eygpt. Burial sites of the king-gods were
specially constructed, stones were selected
for hearth and fire pits. Smoldering fires
were kept burning, keeping alive hallucinations in the minds of tribesmen. The all
powerful god still ruled.'
The human animal, unable to explain his
own capabilities, was easily persuaded that
his own powers lie outside himself. That
events and circumstances of one's own
experience were thought to have been visited upon one by another, greater being.
Hundreds of centuries have passed since
first we scatched and marked the walls of
our caves and began to show our brothers
and sisters and children what we were
thinking. Illustrations developed from an
individual's imagination and provoked action in the imagination of others. Imagination was the tool of the brain. Images on a
surface could now pass information to another living being. We reached beyond the
everyday struggles for our food and shelter.
A culture was emerging that could teach
successive
generations
- knowledge
which, in the past, took a lifetime to learn.
Imagination was a resource upon which
the tribes came to depend for survival and
greater abundance. With improved quality
and quantity of information more of us lived
beyond puberty, slowlysteadily advancing toOctober, 1984

ward the information oriented society of


today,
The human as creator visualizes an image
as a reality, Then with conviction, confidence and work, brings that image into
being,
Although we are not yet aware of the full
potential of the creative imagination, recent
studies offer verification that our advanced
brain has a capacity to achieve most of the
logical concepts we dare to perceive,
The studies are consistently showing how
chemical compounds such as catecholamines, dopamine, and norepinephrine act to
achieve desires and goals. For regulation
and balance in the nervous system the brain
utilizes opiate peptides such as endorphin
and en kephalin as described in "The Idiopathy of The Human Brain," in American
Atheist magazine, June, 1984. Also noted in
that article was a need for information to
combine with a new concept, or to create a
new condition within our body or our environment, we image that altered condition.
We draw upon stored bits of information
(memory) to reason and then to initiate
action toward potential desired results.
The purpose of this paper is to describe
the means and methods to use the imagination to establish the habit pattern necessary to become skillful in achieving health,
happiness, better personal relationships
and healthy pocket books, too, through
creative imagination.
There is skill in consist ant achievement
through systematic use of the combined
powers of brain and mind. As with any other
learned skill, habit patterns must be established if our experiences are to be planned
events rather than chance happenings.
Although this is a natural process we have
Page 35

developed through the evolution of our


brain, most of us do not direct this marvelous organ to do our bidding. Often we
drift in and out of situations just taking the
consequences rather than taking control.
Therefore, we may easily form negative
patterns to our own detriment without being
aware of our error.
Humankind has been plagued with erroneous beliefs since the priests of the tribes
imposed them in the distant past, long
before there was any thought of investigative science. At the beginning of this
century scientists were still arguing the
existence of the atom. Now, even the priests
must try to integrate science into their mind
control system.
So called "modern religions" plagiarize
science to attract the unwary. Christian
Science, Religious Science, Scientology,
Science of the Mind Church and Robert
Schuler's Crystal Palace are selling so called
miracle concepts extracted from the findings of science.
To mix scientific findings with the miracle
mysticism and ignorance of the past is
ludicrous and irrational. The typical pitch
implies that we have within the power to
achieve our desires and to heal ourselves,
then before the pitch-man or woman is
through, he! she willattribute the power to a
gawd.
Contrary to the "science religionists" we
are largely the creators of our environment
and of ourselves.
The power of positive thinking, known to
medical science as the placebo effect, gets
undeniable results. The studies of brain
chemistry verify that attitudes and convictions trigger the cause and effect process. What we imagine (think) is catalyst of
our future experiences.
For example, one might visualize a midwinter vacation, out of the cold, down on the
warm sand on the beach in Mexico. The
family would love it. It's been a long cold
winter. We think about it, talk it over with
the kids. We advocate it with lots of vocal
exercise. Once we have gone this far we
begin to back up our ideas with added
images of swimming, skin diving, tacos,
tropical fruit, and suntan lotion. We abandon that pending good opportunity we were
working on here at home. Now we are
virtually committed to abdicate responsibility. We extend our energy in a new
direction, granting power to the idea, we
make preparations for it all to happen.
Other people have to be persuaded that this
is a reasonable idea. So now we must look
for evidence that our imagined vacation is
anything other than a pipe dream. Nevertheless, the steady progression of thoughts;
the steady expectancy, carries us right
through to the ticket window. When we
visualized that midwinter vacation and allowed ourselves the luxury of the dream, we
employed the catalyst and soon the luxury
was manifest - barring any impossible
Page 36

impediments along the way. The discomfort


we were feeling at home began seeking relief
through the nervous system.
Nerve fiber highways carry three times
more signals into the brain to be processed
than those coming away. The nuclei (relay
stations) of these nerves transmit signals to
various centers, even when we sleep. The
complete brain is actually two brains in one.
Each side controls the opposite side of the
body, an interaction important to our consideration here.
Between the left brain and the right are
bundles of connections where information is
sorted. Conditioning is involved and a positive or negative direction starts, an acceptance or rejection of signal. Thereafter the
analyzed signal is beamed out over the
cerebral cortex to proper processing areas,
usually to both left and right brains.
Brain centers occur in pairs, signals are
received by both and processed separately
and differently. Like our binocular vision,
two images are processed from different
points of view which results in true three
dimensional images. By processing signals
thisway, the brain is more likely to achieve
decisive, correct conclusions. We arrived at
the ticket window after processing a number of these thoughts (signals) starting with
imagining what it would be like south of the
border compared with shivering in the cold.
Let's consider other examples. We can
imagine that we no longer catch colds and
work on our good health to back it up. We
can imagine greater income of dollars and
look around at all the possibilities from
which to start receiving. You will not make
those changes until you explore the possibilities. We can imagine better relationships
and with a little effort we are sure to find that
others around us are seeking also.
In all these situations the brain processes
these signals in pairs. Signals may be held in
the "think tank" for some time, considering,
processing, and rethinking before manifesting, until the right moment, or it can be
virtually an instant response. During the
processing the imagination is in action proposing all the avenues we can consciously
take in directing our future activities and
behavior to gain the goals we visualize.
Research indicates that within a healthy
body all the compounds are either present
or can be formulated, virtually on command
to make connections and carry out the
process needed for the everyday operation
of the system and to make most corrections
as needed.
To simplify this mechanical process, consider the electrical ignition system of an
automobile engine. Power is present from
the chemical action in the battery. When the
key is turned the switch is closed, current
passes to the coil where voltage is increased,
wire carries the charge to a spark plug
the function of which is to cause fire beyond
the perimeter of the ignition system.
In our brain, imagination is the key which
October, 1984

starts the sequence of activity. Analyzing


and consideration are principally carried out
in the cells of the left hemisphere. The right
side picks up the message and creates
abstracted images of many potentials for the
left to consider. Certain cells start producing chemicals which in turn contact
certain other cells and still others down the
chain. Memory (as in the computer) makes
comparisons, accepts or rejects the remembered good experiences (L's), contrasted
with the negative experiences (O's). Sorting
out a combination of signals logic occurs as
in "BASIC" computer language.
It is not necessary for us to become brain
specialists in order to be operators, just as
good drivers are not necessarily mechanics.
An excellent book is available for those of us
who become intrigued with brain studies The Brain: A Users Manuaf.2 This book is
easy to read and is generously illustrated by
The Diagram Group.
There are those physical disorders that
an individual cannot easily treat without
assistance - broken bones, deep lacerations, poisons, deadly infections and terminal diseases. However, the more common disorders can be treated.
The treatment to conquer ordinary disorders, like any other good medical practice, is prevention. Replace all that insecurity with good feelings - a knowingness that all is well. Within a short time we
can overcome; knowing that there are chemical and physical forces within ifwe are open
to accept and allow them to work.
Remember, the earth is our point of
origin. She and only she can supply all our
needs; a virtually infinite supply for us. Yes,
we even have antibodies within, whose
purpose is to reject viruses. We are part of
the earth, made of earth's elements, nurtured by her products. Supply is available
when and if we use sufficient imagination to
acquire it,
Our brain is capable of engineering better
health or poorer health throughout the body
via the entire nervious system. Common
signals from sensory preceptors (cells) anywhere in the body send messages to be
interpreted. The response may be a learned
reponse which may interpret as tiredness,
headache, backache, and unexplained pains
and discomforts of wide variety. The experience is very real. 3
Beginning with any misinterpretation the
brain receives the faulty information, which
causes it to dispatch misguided instructions.
The grave consequences that may result are
malfunction
of other organs resulting in rapid heartbeat, palpitations, fainting,
over breathing, increased or decreased contractions of muscles in stomach or intestines or various pains. Real physical disorders can result from the psychosomatic
error. The learned response could just as
well have been for our benefit. We can reject
negative influences and turn them around
with thankfulness that we have the imaginaThe American Atheist

tive power to make decisions, to accept or


reject.
A remarkable tendency to respond to
belief and suggestion has helped convince
many researchers that all of us are potential
placebo responders. "I think it's part of our
generic inheritance as human beings" says
Dr. Arthur Shapiro, Professor of Psychiatry
at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New
York. "It just takes the right cues to bring it
out." Experimentors have long known that
injections are more potent placebos than
pills, larger pills better then small ones and
very small ones better than average size
capsules because patients believe the smaller pillsprobably contain more concentrated
medication. Most placebos are inert substances like sugar or salt.!
"The power of the placebo cannot fail to
impress" writes Dr. Michael Jospe, a psychologist and author of "The Placebo Effect
In Healing." "It attests to the power people
can have ... in overcoming personal adversity."! Without neglecting the powerful
new drugs and devices that have so changed
modern medicine, the experts feel that an
increased recognition of, and heightened
respect for, the placebo could help us reach
a vital goal - teaching us to recognize and
use our hidden capacities to help and even
heal our own bodies. Evidence and experience constantly indicates the tremendous powers of the human brain and
mind. The intellect that is you, is the greatest power you willever know or need.
In our investigation of brain and mind we
should consider that mind is the function of
brain and not the physiological brain itself.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines
the mind as "the human consciousness that
originates in the brain, manifested especially
in thought, perception, feeling, memory or
imagination, processes of the brain and central nervous system that direct the mental
and physical behavior. The intellect, the id."
We tend to think and speak of mind as we
would of brain. Yet we see by the accepted
definition above, that the conglomerate body
of concepts and knowledge is the entity that
is the id: the "I am" that exists at this
moment in time. Recognizing this difference, we must now employ the means to
accomplish the ends we envision in the
imagination. We have only our brain with
which to puzzle out the reasoned input from
our conscious intellect. The strangeness is
that the human brain itself is both the means
and end of this endeavor. 6
One of the methods the individual can use
as training and treatment follows:
It has been found that to identify this
thinking process taking place in the bundles
of nerve connections between left and right
brains, unifies the whole process into one
personally useful private entity. We identify
with some given name like Clare or AI, Pan,
Jo, Gil or any other that has no strong
conflicting input into our consciousness.

Austin, Texas

Now we can give instructions to this imagined personality and expect some results.
We quietly relax and imagine a tranquil
scene. We know allcan be changed because
change is constant. Image the change you
expect. Call your personal id. Affirm in the
mind the following: "The changes within me
that influence all are taking place through
the aid of
(choice of name.) I have
assurance and confidence that directions
are being taken now and carried out. The
condition I imagined, I now expect. Every
hour, moment by moment, changes are
manifest. I feel relaxed and thankful for the
better conditions." Release this treatment
and concentration; continue with your project for the day. In another quiet moment
direct your id again and repeat the process
regularly throughout the day and especially
before retiring, before rest, or before sleep.
This quick easy process of conditioning
and reassurance can be done in a moment,
anywhere, anytime. It is pleasant and effective, though, to be quiet in a favorite
place and appreciate the beautiful lifeon this
beautiful earth and that part of it that is you
.: this is even more reassuring.
It now becomes obvious that negatively
conditioned thoughts and habits of behavior
- fear, hate and apprehension can diminish
the quality of life, even quickly end it; we
make the choices. With positive habits of
appreciation, anticipation and affirmation
we can have abundance of the good life.The
joy and satisfaction of creating a better life,
for one's self and others, defies description.
Healing is living; the process of lifeitself is
regeneration of living tissue. Cells are replaced with new ones constantly. It is said
that no cell remains in our body longer than
seven years. Some are replaced in days or
weeks. Regeneration and healing is no miracle; nature does it continually. When you
arise in the morning you can truly say "I'm a

October, 1984

new person; its a new day; all has changed;


it's a new life and a good life."
The hunter - artist - in the cave left us a
heritage of creative imagination. There is no
predicting how much we can do with it by .
day's end. The progress of tomorrow is
limited only by the extent of today's imagination.
.~ENDNOTES
1. Joynes, Julian, The Origin of Consciousness in the Bicameral Mind, Houghton
MifflinCompany, Boston, 1976.
2. The Diagram Group, The Brain: A
User's Manual, A Perigee Book, New York,
1982.
3. Encyclopedia of Science, Harper &
Row.
4. Cherry, Laurence, "The Power of the
Empty Pill," Science Digest, September
1981.
5. Jaspe, Michael, "The Placebo Effect in
Healing," Science Digest.
6. Smith. Anthony,
The Mind, The
Viking Press, New York, 1984.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Ostrander, sculptor, painter,
graphic artist, was educated in the
Colorado State College system
as well as in California.
His studies include science and the arts.
He designed sets in Hollywood movie
studies
and was the Los Angeles Director of
Technocracy, Inc.

Page 37

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR


O'Hair and Atheists my age witnessed the
same madness called McCarthyism.
Sincerely yours,
John A. Marthaler
Mississippi

Editor,
Persons who feel the need to organize
with other Atheists do not in my view
celebrate their freedom from an oppressive
belief, nor relief from oppression from believers - they, in their gut, still believe in a
god, but a bad one, based no doubt on their
experience of having a bad father.
Freedom from belief in any supernatural
frees me to be active in politics, the arts,
bed-room, what-ever, directed only by my
own values of humanism.
For the American Atheist in the year
1984, when maybe the election of a godthumping, irrationally righteous anti-Communist threatens the human race, to cover
with a $3.00 magazine a gathering of several
dozen god-haters in convention, each belaboring the other, is somewhat amiss of the
meaning of being free of superstition and
non-sence. In fact, the back cover, with a
picture of grave-stones with a floral display
of the American Atheist logo is pretty sad
commentary on the thinking process of
whoever so decorated those graves, or
sleeted a picture of grave stones for a back
cover.
After saying "No rational mind can conceive of a supernatural in a universe where
the natural is measured in units of light
years" I then suggest we talk about reality,
politics, medicine, art, sex, whatever.
Mark Nichols
California
(Editors note: Letters are printed as received, grammar, spelling, and punctuation intact - as above.)
Editor,
I would like to say to the two men having
letters in the August 1984 issue, Clifford E.
Douglas and David Uribe, "Hang in there!"
Religous madness comes in cycles with a
high peak every thirty years. In 1985 we will
be riding the peak and from then on for
fifteen years it will be downhill. We as
Atheists can make it much longer if we do
not forget that eternal vigilance is the only
way to keep from having to go through the
same madness thirty years from now.
The United States will always have con
men selling religious madness. It is a very
lucrative business and ignorant victims can
be in the millions. Thirty years ago, Dr.
Page 38

Editor,
I noticed the standard statement of the
Golden Rule in a recent letter (June). I have
been informed by a Jewish friend that this
translation is incorrect. It should be "Do
unto others as they would have you do unto
them ." If this translation were followed, it
would certainly remove a lot of the nastiness
from Christianity.
Bernard Shaw noted the fault in the
mistranslation, though he was apparently
unaware of the correct translation, when he
wrote "Do not do unto others as you would
have them do unto you. Their tastes may be
the same."
Though it was not directed against the
Golden Rule, the most incisive condemnation of the mistranslation is, to my mind,
Oscar Wilde's "Selfishness is not living as
you wish to live, it is asking others to live as
you wish to live."
Sincerely,
Jeff Wilson
California
Hi! Everybody!
I recently went to a business meeting and
in my conversation it was immediately apparent to some that I was not bound up with
religion. One man finally approached me
and said, "Do you believe in God?"
I replied, simply, "If there were one, it
would not be necessary for you to 'believe
in'him."
Terry Fry
Texas
Dear Editor,
It is inaccurate and slanted articles like
Ben Edward Akerley's in your August issue
on pp. 26-30 which turn a number of good
Atheists away from atheist organizations.
He first compares human sexuality to
animal behavior, saying that "There is no
more forceful reminder than sex that we are
indeed members of the animal kingdom." At
the very end of his article, he admits that
"Animals eat only when they are hungry,
drink only when they are thirsty, and have
sex only during the mating season." Sex in
the animal world is for reproduction. I might
add that animals are a lot healthier that
humans, except when there is a lack of food,
because of their natural life styles.
If we all decide that no war was worth
fighting, then slavery is guaranteed.
Slave societies have existed for millennia,
but a small portion of the world's population
has always preferred freedom. The Soviet
Union frowns on birth control and makes
October, 1984

abortion an uncomfortable and almost primitive experience, in order to encourage more


children. The Soviet Union is one huge
military power. There is every reason to
think that they could win World War III. All
empires have been overthrown by superior
military power.
Ackerley then compares Eros with Thanatos, that is, sex (life affirmative) with antisex (negative, death wish.) One thing
I noticed about the statistics of your atheist
organization. is the remarkably large number of Atheists who are single and/or have
no children. This practically guarantees there
will be many fewer Atheists in the next
generation, unless you plan, like Shakers
and the Essenes, to gam your membership
entirely from adult converts.
Ackerley, who is Gay, quotes William
Reich that "The reproductive urge is incidental to sexual pleasure.". I'm glad he
likes San Francisco and Los Angeles. He
can just stay there. I have no intention of
bringing my family to either city.
To get away from the worship of Thanatos, I suggest you left-liberals drop your
fanatic devotion to birth control and abortion and start having children. It willdo a lot
of good for your psyche to develop a normal
family unit. There is nothing cuter or more
adorable than a baby. If you haven't found
that out by now, I pity you. Take a cue from
Robert Ingersoll. He loved children.
Finally, instead of taking ourselves
down to the lowest common denominator,
to the level of promiscuity, which is far
below the level of animals, I suggest we
ignore sickos like Ackerley and develop
human love, (notice I said love) to its
highest. noblest. and most elevating potential. That can only be done when we
cease thinking of others as potential sexual
objects or masterbating machines, and start
developing real relationships which willlast.
Ackerley says that birth control" ... may
ultimately prove to be the single most important contribution to the survival of our civiliizanon." I suggest-that- the opposite IS true,
that birth control may ultimately prove to be
the single most important contribution to
the extinction of our civilization. Every
seven minutes a city the size of Chicago is
being born into the undeveloped world, and
these hungry hordes are going to overrun us
because we will not close our borders, and
we will not have children of our own to
uphold and fight for the heritage of many
centuries of superior achievement made
through self-control and self-sacrifice, and
should I add, superior brains, which gives
the lie to the equality myth.
Mrs. J. A. Privette
Colorado

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F. Elliott
California
Dear Editor,
I read your July article, "Sexual Mutilations and Islam" with great interest. What
could be a better example of how children
and women rank in the lowest society? The
author states that Mohammedanism is
spreading ominously (even in the United
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clitorectomies. At Chicago Lying-InHospital
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American women to such desperation.
J. Holter-Gibbs, LPN in obstetrics
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October, 1984

The American Atheist

An Atheist Epic: Bill Murray, The Bible


And The Baltimore Board Of Education
by Madalyn Murray Q'Hair
The complete unexpurgated story of how Bible and prayers
were removed from the public schools of the United States.

It has now been over twenty years since the U.S.


Supreme
Court decision which banned bible
reading and prayer recitation in the public schools of the
United States. Probably no other Supreme Court decision has generated so much controversy and religious
animosity. To this day, fundamentalist christians are still
trying to put the practice of their religion back into the
public schools, straining to blame the lack thereof for all
problems such as crime, drug abuse, declining educational achievement, disruption of the family, etc.
An Atheist Epic is the perfect book to read to get the
story of the events in the lives of the principals involved in
the litigation (Murray u. Curlett) which' led to that
decision. It is a drama which matches or surpasses any
TV miniseries, and may well be someday made into one.
Reading it and rereading it, you willnever be able to fully
recover from shock at the incessant abuses that the
religious community in Maryland inflicted upon the
Murray family, and the paltry support given to the
Murrays from the various Atheists, Atheist groups, or
Atheist sympathizers of the time who should have cared.
Ifyou haven't already read or purchased this book for
yourself and/or that someone you know who needs to
read it, now is the time to buy it. There are only a few
hundred copies left of this original edition, and for that
reason we have had to raise the price on this 311-page
paperback from $3.00 to $3.95. American Atheists does
not know when it can reprint this book when the present
stock runs out, so you are advised to get it now.

paperback

Please send me

Texas State Residents

--

BILL MURRA Y,
THE BIBLE
AND
THE BALTIMORE
BOARD
OF EDUCATION.

$3.95

copies of An Atheist Epic @ $3.95 each.

TOTAL

please add 5% sales tax

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orders payable to: AMERICAN ATHEISTS, PO Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768

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AMENDMENTI

CONGRESS

SHALL MAKE NO LA WRESPECTING

"The arbitrary arrest of Mrs. Madalyn


Murray is outrageous. Her views as an
Atheist are shared by the intellectual community of all countries, and her persecution
cannot be tolerated.
I urgently request the immediate release
of this brave, and entirely admirable woman"
Bertrand Russell
(At the time of her arrests
Texas in 1965)

and incarcerations

in San Antonio

and Austin,