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This Issue:








A Journal Of
Atheist News
And Thought

Vol. 19, No. 12

December 1977

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

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

Vol. 19, No. 12


First Lady of Atheism Arrested. . . . . . . . . . . .
Gaylor KO's Xmas Pageant
Atheist Marsa Continues Objection to Prayer
Second Generation Atheist Begins Protest . . .
A Year of Solid Accomplishment.
TM Called Religion; Loses Funds .....
What I Want For Christmas. . . . . . . . .
The Unholy Trinity
Must We Have Angels in the Capitol Dome?



.. 9

... 15

Speaking for Women: Anne Gaylor


Shibles' Corner: Warren Shibles

Thomas Jefferson

. . . . . .


Vs. Religious Oppression


Madalyn Murray O'Hair/Managing Editor: Jon G. Murrfly/Editor:
,Edmund Bojarski/Assistant
Editor: Barbara Grimes Circulation:.Joh
n Mays/Production: Barbara Herold, Ralph Shirley/Non-residential
Staff: Anne Gaylor, Warren
Shibles, Ignatz Sahula-Dycke, G. Richard Bozarth, Voltaire E. Heywood.
The American Atheist magazine is published
by American
2210 Hancock Drive, Austin, Texas, 78756, a non-profit, non-political, tax-exempt,
educational organization. Mailing Address: P. O. Box 2117, Austin, TX, 78768;
copyright @ 1977 by Society of. Separationists, Inc.; Subscription rates: $15.00 per
year; $25.00 for two years. Manuscripts submitted must be typed, double-spaced
and accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The editors assume no
responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts.


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

City, State, & Zip
The American Atheist



of Galileo
eight years prior to his ordeal before
the Inquisition
by Octavio

. .4

A Solsticial Gift
POEMS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. . . . . . . . . . . .
The Solstice Season



physicist and
was born
14, 1564,
in Pisa. As
he received
in Greek,
and music.
W hen
he declared
him self in
of the Copernican
he was denounced
as a heretic
his enem ies.
In the
con troversies
he declared
a literal
the scripture
with regard
to physical phenom
ena leads to absurdities.
the aid of the telescope he constructed
him self, he
to study
in search
of scientific
Even when he was warned
the lim its of m athem atics and physics,
he continued
the sky with his telescope.
W hen
he com pleted
his, famous
on the
System s
in which
the first speaker defends
the Copernican
the second
the Ptolemaic
the third
the dialogue
a stir in the
comm unity
the tribunal
of the I n q u isitio n ,
In June
he was
condem ned to renou nce his work in
the presence
of a great assembly,
hand on the gospel.
After having
thus denied
the world
the use of
had so powerfully
of the world's
was "merciful"
and c'o mmuted
his dungeon
ent, and later he was allowed
to return
to Arcetri,
His last
of mathematics
He died
in Arcetri
8, 1642,
Isaac. Newton
was born.
is an individual
monument to the cruel suppression
truth by the forces of entrenched
Page 1

What I Want For

by Robtrt G. Instrsoll
If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next
Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow the people to govern themselves.
I would have all the nobility drop their titles and give their
lands back to the people. I would have the pope throwaway his
tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not acting
for God-is not infallible-but
is just an ordinary Italian. I would
have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and clergymen
admit that they know nothing about theology, nothing about hell
or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the human race, nothing
about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would have them tell all
their 'flocks' to think for themselves, to be manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to increase the sum of
human happiness.
I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers in
schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree
they would teach only what they know, that they would not palm
off guessesas demonstrated truths.
I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen-to
men who long to make their country great and free=to men who
care more for public good than private gain-men who long to be
of use.
I would like to see all editors of papers and magazines agree to
print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all slander and
misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of the people
I would like to seedrunkenness and prohibition both abolished.
I would like to see corporal punishment done away with in
every home, every school, in every asylum, reformatory, and prison. Cruelty hardens and degrades, kindness reforms and ennobles.
I would like to see the millionaires unite and form a trust for
the public good.
I would like to see a fair division of profits between capital and
labor, so that the toiler could save enough to mingle a little June
with the December of his life.
I would like to see an international court established in which
to settle disputes between nations, so that armies could be disbanded and the great navies allowed to rust and rot in perfect
I would like to see the whole world free-free from injusticefree from superstition.
This will do for next Christmas. The following Christmas, I may
want more. (1897)

Page 2

The American Atheist





Witchdoctors would agree that a lock of your grandmother's. hair

or the little finger of a departed uncle would be strong medicine to get
you out of the hut and back into the war party. Even primitive cultures knew that attachments to certain objects or words could be a
powerful motivational tool to evoke a positive attitude toward recovery
or social action. Our culture has taught us to ignore these superstitions, but we have not yet grown out of the deeply ingrained respect we
have for the symbols associated with them. The title of "doctor" for
instance is still respected in every human community. Coats of arms
are still collected and treasured. Millions follow the daily horoscope
related to their birth. dates. All "powerful medicine," as the witchdoctor would say; but none the less surviving in a 20th century costume.
Organized religion too has found the continuation of symbolism
useful. Witness the wine and the wafer, the cross, the prayer cloth. All
useless in terms of 20th century technology but highly impressive in the
world of the mind and of the emotions. The one great force of the
human personality that must always be dealt with, stepping in to cloud
even the most thinkiing man'sview. Nothing impresses a man so well as
that which hits his heart at the same time it hits his mind.
The symbol-emotion link is an immovable opponent to the warrior
armed with the sword of reason. A shield of paper plus one's faith can
often be more valuable than one of iron. With faith removed, iron
stands better in the fray.
Our struggle, that of reason's army, is to remove the faith that the
shield may reveal its true weight to our opponent. Seize the symbol and
the battle is almost won.
During this holiday season the battle for control of the symbols of
our culture comes to the limelight. The Christian community delights in
flaunting the birth of its mythological Jesus. Their greatest ally in this
thrust is the symbol. The Christmas tree, for example. The great conifer, symbol of nature's rejuvenation, was long revered and used as
strong medicine for evidence that Spring will return to relieve the
hardships of Winter. The wonder of primitive minds at the only tree in
the forest that defied Winter with its display of green, nature's own
symbol of its cycles, now being used as a symbol of a mythological
birth. What better way to enlist the pagan minds than the use of their
own symbol to be applied to a new director, god, in place of natural
The star, a thing of wonder, conjuring up notions of infinity, life
on Mars, games of gods, astrology, perverted as the majestic conifer to
the symbol of another power. Once the evidence of energy bursting
light years away now the light leading nomads to the birthplace of a
myth. How clever are the clergy to usurp nature's power for their own.
Mere light, perhaps a remnant of a now dead source, the everlasting
symbol of a fraud.
Earth, all that we know, on its relentless circular journey, a
journey that dictates to all, without thought. Winter, Spring, Summer,
Fall replayed over and over again. We struggle to adjust to its forces
that display breath-taking beauty and destructive force. Winter, the
hardest of these, majestic yet respected for its might, seems longer than
the rest. Men yearn for its close and the buds of Spring to appear. The
uncomfortable aspects of the season, the expectation of relief, especially in primitive times often bordered on dismay. The days grew short
and the weather progressively worse, but would the sun come back

The American Atheist







again? Gone for longer and longer periods of time, would it return?
Could it be trusted? To the modern mind a child would not waste his
time with so foolish a notion. But to those of little means to protect
themselves from winter's bite and those who must rely on the seed for
bread, the threat was real. In such a way evolved a great abiding respect
for the power of that "great lamp in the sky." The return of the sun
king became an event of great joy. Game returned to the hunter, crops
to the fields, heat to care for the sickness of body, color and light for
the sickness of the spirit.
The sun was symbol of life itself, the greatest symbol of all. The
sun, motionless, waiting for the earth to move closer to its energy, was
not the bringer of Spring. But to those of little science who knew
nothing of the earth's movement, the sun moved for them. It moved
their lives and its return was the subject of much concern. But it soon
became the symbol of another sun, of a different spelling (son"), also
attributed with the giving of life. Energy from a man to rival that of our
star? How clever again of the clergy. The symbol, indeed the source of
all energy, now emanating from their mythological savior; come to
redeem the earth as the increased energy of proximity to the star had
done year after year. A birth date for this chosen one on the same day
as the earth rounds the bend heading for a closer part of the ellipse it
treads around its star. The ultimate deceit. The seizure of a reality as
great as life itself to back up the greatest lie on the annals of human
How could anyone object? How could they doubt? "He" is born
and the sun returns. An association so staggering to modern intelligence
that it would be adequate grounds for commitment. Like walking under
a ladder or breaking a mirror or the whole concept of luck itself. Yet,
swallowed hook, line and sinker by the gullible en masse. The symbol
of it here, in the 20th century, in church after church after church, still
the evidence of the greatest lie. Enhanced by the commercial spirit.
Give Uncle Joe a new hat to celebrate his rebirth and the rebirth of the
world. Never think, however, 0 how horrible it is to doubt, that without the savior the cycle would renew itself again unaided by human
Reality stands helplessly by as symbols conjure thoughts that
block the minds of men once again. Symbolism is a powerful tool for
the religious community and must be fought in the only manner that
it can be fought, by seizing the symbols back once again. We must grasp
hold of the trees, the star, the earth and hold them for what they are
and what they mean, not what they may seem to be.
Do not let the opportunity pass to place the art of symbolicillogic on the pedestal to be recarved by the hand of logic. The smell of
a fresh baked pie is never so rich as its taste. Taste reality and use the
symbols to lure others to its grasp as the odor of the pie might lure a
small boy to the kitchen.
Happy Winter Solstice season from all of us on the staff of THE
AMERICAN ATHEIST. We have but the seasons of the earth to enjoy
as they provide many faces for our lives here on planet earth. Let us not
waste life's precious time in pursuit of any greater support than the
earth beneath our feet.

~-- ~ Vvt



Page 3

"l.1[~ _N_EW_S ----",JJliflllllllllll.(fIt,ltlll

FirstLady of AthtismArrtsttd

Stoff Photos by Kif'rooking

Atheism's First Lady, Dr. Madalyn Murray Q'Hair,

right center, surrounded
by Austin, Texas plain

clothes police as she was arrested and charged with

disrupting a public meeting in Austin city council.

For a decade the American Atheist Center has been

concerned with building a solid base, an organization
of dedicated and principled Atheist supporters, which
could see it through any fight that it undertook in behalf of the civil liberties of American Atheists.
As a physical symbol of that base, its unity, its
power, its determination,
the persons most active in
promulgating a philosophy of American Atheism, the

family, undertook
to also provide
Atheism with a home which would be of the quality
and stature in the United States that the Vatican has
come to represent to the world of Catholicism.
We have been partially successful. We have been
able to obtain the first base for Atheism that has ever
been established anywhere in the western world.
From that established facility emanates the American

"The news. which fills one half of .the ~ag~zine is chosen to demonstrate,
month after month, the dead reactionary
hand of religion. It dictates
go~.~. habl~, s~xual conduct, family s~ze,. It censures ~mema, th~a.ter, television, even education.
It dictates life values and lifestyle. Religion is
po I ICS an , a ways, the m~st authoritarian and reactionary politics, We editorialize our news to emphasize this thesis. Unlike any other rnaga~Ine or newspaper In the Umted States, we are honest enough to admit it.
Page 4

The American


Atheist Radio Series heard on F.M. and A.M. radio in

21 states, The American Atheist Magazine which is
distributed, now, throughout the world, and the
forthcoming American Atheist Television Series. It is
now currently training and encouraging American
Atheist leaders in states and cities to outreach to
radio, television and the hard media [newspapers,
magazines, etc.] to educate throughout the United
States in respect to the rights of American Atheists. It
houses the American Atheist Library and Archives,
the American Atheist Historical Society, through
which we find our "roots." It is to this Center that
American [and world] Atheists come for inspiration,
direction and education. Indeed it was from this
Center that the idea of an international organization
of Atheists was born. UWA, United World Atheists,
came into being here, and it was from this Center that
the First World Atheist Meet, WAM, was structured.
The Center also proposed national American Atheist
Conventions, and the eighth successful one is
scheduled for San Francisco, California, April 7-10,
in 1978.
Functioning out of the Center is the largest, most
well organized, most active, most dedicated Atheist
organization in the world, The Society of Separationists, Inc., a non-profit, non-political, educational,
tax exempt organization which does business under
the name" American Atheists".


Earlier in the fall of this year, the First Lady of

American Atheism, the head of the Murray-O'Hair
family, was challenged to a debate by an Evangelical.
These debates began on August 5th, 1977 and continued to November. Accompanying her on the debates was Jon Garth Murray, the heir apparent to her
position in the American Atheist movement.
Until 1977, Dr. O'Hair had never spoken to grassroots America. She had heard from them - in hundreds of thousands of letters which she accumulates
in what she calls her "Nut Letter File." But, by and
The American Atheist

large, all of her appearances had been for television,

radio, colleges, universities and groups of persons
with a high level of education such as MENSA,
ACLU, NOW, etc. Of course, she had encountered the
"masses" on "call-in" programs on both television and
radio. But, all of this is just a little different than having an audience of anywhere from 500 to 5,000 persons that one is attempting to address.
From August 5th to late October, Jon Murray and
Dr. O'Hair traveled over 35,000 miles by air and
drove over 18,000 miles by automobile and in a
motor home, purchased specifically for the debates. She debated with the evangelical before a minimum of 80,000 to 85,000 persons, on 34 occasions.
The debates were scattered in county seats, small
towns, towns with populations of about % to %
million persons, with an occasional large town included, such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Atlanta,
Georgia, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Everywhere that they appeared Atheists sought
out Jon and Dr. O'Hair. But, these were not ordinary
Atheists, these were the owners of large industries,
of television stations, of radio stations, small manufacturers, business and professional men. Everywhere
the story was the same: the local factory owners were
badgered by the ministry into giving to the churches.
Newspapers, television stations, radio stations lived
in fear of a boycott by the religious community.
They feared to lose advertisers. Business men feared
to lose customers. The religious communities hold
these people in the grip of terror.
Politicians are
afraid to say what they think. Community leaders
dare not cross the religious leaders. Educators shrink
from an encounter with them because they are so
vindictive, hate ridden, cruel. The Christian community will turn on anyone and make life a living hell for
them if they dare to say what they really think about
religion - was the message we got from everyone.
They saw what religion owns. Everyone was very
delighted to take them to see the shopping centers
built on church land, the vast colleges, the religious
headquarters, the businesses that religion owned in
each city. Over and over again it was demonstrated to
them that in the small towns the only place anyone
had to attend for any social activity was the church.
There were often no other facilities in the smaller
Therefore, when the debates were concluded, an
enormous, long "agonizing reappraisal" was taken of
the activities of the American Atheist Center.
For in the city in which the American Atheist
Center is headquartered, these conditions also exist.
The Murray-O'Hairs could only cry out "Mea Culpa"
in that these issues had not been fought out in
Austin, Texas, either.
In ordering the priorities of the American Atheist

Center not enough emphasis had been placed on

cleaning up the City of Austin and the State of Texas
as an example to inspire all of you to clean up your
city and your state of the abuseof American Atheists
and the violations of the principle of state/church
separation laid down asa guide line for our nation by
the founding fathers.
We, the leaders, had made an option to first build
our organization and our image.These had been valid
goals, especially during the terrible era of the 1960's
when the suppression of many civil Iibertarian rights
was a feature of federal, state, county and city
governments in the United States.


Now, it was felt: we must turn to these problems

directly and with speed. It was decided that we
should assume the posture of "aggressiveAtheism."
If we waited 1,000 years the Christian community
would never give us the enjoyment of freedom from
religion which is a right we have by law. Qnly by
openly asserting our right to this precious freedom
could we obtain it.
It was therefore agreed that we would begin to
demand that freedom from religion which is our constitutional right and that such demands would be
made in an orderly, legal, fashion, beginning immediately.
Across our nation, too many legislative bodies
open their public functions with prayer. Inspired by
the continuing good fight of Paul Marsawith his city
council in Metuchen, New Jersey, it was decided that
one of the first tests would be with the city council
of Austin, Texas.
An unusual situation prevails there. The local
ministerial association, each week picks out a minister and sends that person to the city council to
open it with prayer. Neither the mayor, nor anyone
on the city council, knows who will be praying at
any given meeting of the council. In the many years
of prayers only severalrabbis have been askedto pray
on one or two occasions and information given to us
by a former city councilman is that the Rabbis gave
"Christian" prayers to Jesus Christ! That seems so
extraordinarv that even we do not believe it.
However, on November 4th, 1977, Dr. Madalyn
Murray Q'Hair, with Jon Garth Murray, attended the
city council meeting to make known the objections
that American Atheists have to a co-mixture of religion and government. The law had been researched
and we knew there was a possibility of arrest. It was
decided that if this should occur, Dr. Q'Hair would
take the arrest so that Jon Murray, younger and more
physically fit, could take the legal steps needed to

What transpired at the city council was accurately

reported in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper:
"The incident began as the morning city council
session was getting under way. As usual, the Mayor
turned the meeting over to a local preacher, this time
... [a Lutheran] ... for the invocation.
"As the crowd stood for the prayer, Q'Hair, from
her second-row seat, told the mayor she could not
allow it.
" 'I cannot be quiet while you continue to mock
the law. I'm sorry, it's necessaryfor me to interrupt,
Mayor,' Q'Hair, said.
"During a calmly spoken, 10-minute exchangebetween the two women, O'Hair said it was 'illegal and
unconstitutional' for the prayer to be said at a public
" 'I have every intention of proceeding with the invocation this morning,' the mayor said.
" 'I will continue to talk during the prayer,' Q'Hair
[calmly] retorted.
"As the exchange continued, the large crowd,
which included two awe-struck third grade classes
from a public elementary school, remained standing
and waited for the prayer.
"An occasional 'amen' was heard from the crowd
in responseto the mayor's comments.
"Finally, the mayor told Q'Hair she would be escorted from the chamber, then asked the Deputy
City Managerto do so."
The chief of police of Austin, who was in attendance, motioned to two plain clothes officers who
moved forward and advised Dr. O'Hair that she was
being arrested for 'disrupting a public meeting,' which
activity was a 'misdemeanor' at law.
After Dr. Q'Hair left the council chambers, the
newspaper reported that the minister's prayer was for
her salvation.





Texas Penal Code Annotated, Par. 42.05 provides that: "A person commits an offense if, with
intent to prevent or disrupt a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering, he obstructs or interferes with
the meeting, procession, or gathering by physical action or verbal utterance.
In the confrontation with the mayor, the judge and
the police chief, Dr. Q'Hair was very careful to lay
down her complaints that: (A) prayer at a public
meeting is not an inherent and legal part of that
meeting, but the intrusion of a religious ceremony
into the meeting in both an illegal and an unconstitutional manner; (B) the state of Texas, in its Constitution, specifically in its "Bill of Rights," prescribes
that no one may be employed by the state of Texas
The American Atheist

Page 6


or be elected to public office in that state unless

to stop the activity contemplated. Therefore, it was
necessary to go through the arrest procedure, the de[s] he has a "belief in a Supreme Being" and that; (C)
fiance procedure, the entire gamut of events -- calling
therefore, the entire State of Texas' legal and political
in attorneys after the "crime" had been committed.
apparatus would be a theocracy and in derogation of
In this way, also, the legal foundation is laid for the
the First Amendment to the Constitution of the
kind of legal theoretics one desires to follow.]
United States.
Since this was true and since Dr. O'Hair, as an
attorney, was dedicated to defend and protect the
Constitution against all foes, foreign and domestic,
it followed that she could not comply with the procedures required by the police chief and his department.
Therefore, upon entry into the police station, she
refused to be fingerprinted, mugged, questioned, or
searched. She also refused to comply with the bail
setting and bail bond release procedure.
Then, snug in a nice clean jail cell, she - exhausted
- simply curled up in the bed for a prolonged snooze.
Meanwhile, Jon Garth Murray was confronted with
the need to obtain counsel, bail, handle an erupting
Staff Phota by Zach Ryoll
telephone switchboard, cope with every conceivable
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, right, with attorneys David
news media and obtain the release of Dr. O'Hair.
The newspaper account, again, was accurate: Horton and Judith Abbott after O'Hairs release
"After an interview with the Municipal Court Judge,
who agreed to release O'Hair on personal recognizance bond, O'Hair refused to cooperate with or give
any information to her jailers.
"The judge made O'Hair's completion of the jailThe following day [November 5th] the State Disbooking process a condition of her bond, and O'Hair
trict Judge held a habeas corpus hearing in the 126th
chose to remain in jail rather than to cooperate.
District Court. Again, the Austin American-Statesman
"The judge said O'Hair told her that all Texas of- accurately reported the proceed ings:
ficials, from police officers to judges to the gover"O'Hair contended that, because the Texas Constinor, hold office illegally because the Texas Constitutution requires office holders to believe in a superior
tion requires officeholders to believe in a god.
being, the state is a "theocracy" and its laws are inva" 'Nobody in the state of Texas holds office
legally.' the Judge said O'Hair had told her in her
"For her to comply with procedures of enforcers
of that law, she said, would be 'morally, ethically and
"After that interview, O'Hair attorneys, Judith Ab- legally wrong' by her beliefs, which 'permeate my exbott and David Horton, hired by O'Hair's son, Jon istence.'
Murray, arranged a meeting with a State District
"I n denying O'Hair's motion, the Judge said he was
Judge to negotiate O'Hair's release through a writ of restricting himself to the 'very narrO\~' issueof bookhabeas corpus, despite her refusal to cooperate with ing procedures as applied to O'Hair. He recalled her
jail officials. The Judge agreed late at night to allow testimony that she had no objection to fingerprinting
O'Hatr to go free on a surety bond pending a hearing or photographs in themselves, and had undergone
on the writ of habeas corpus."
such procedures for employment and security clearDr. O'Hair spent a total of twelve [12] hours in ances.
"It may be that you will prevail on the issue of
city jail during this time. When she was finally released Jon Murray was exhausted from the strain, the ne- illegal arrest," he told O'Hair."
gotiations and the anxiety attendant to his efforts in
Following his determination that Dr. O'Hair must
gaining that release. Dr. O'Hair was feeling fine from
be mugged, fingerprinted and routinely bonded, the
her rest in the prison cell - and a midnight supper judge ordered her to return to the jail to follow
revived the spirits of all.
those proceedures before 5:00 P.M. that day.
[I t is necessary to remember that it is not possible
The police were waiting for her with legal instructo pre-arrange such activities with attorneys since tions on how to have the police records expunged,
they are bound, by legal ethics, to try to prevent the the fingerprint and mug shot files destroyed and 'breaking of a law' - even to the extent of attempting
smiling - told her that they felt they might as well
The American Atheist

Page 7

give her the information right there since they knew

she was going to fight to do it anyway.
The procedure now is that there will bea "docket"
call for this case, at which time there will be an assignment to a specific court. The pre-trial will be held
anywhere from three to five weeks after that time
and a jury trial will then be set for sometime within
the next three to six months [by about June, 1978] .
In order to prove the point of the state that a misdemeanor act has been committed, the state must
show that:
[1] a person was involved;
[2] that the person had an intent;
[3] to obstruct or interfere with;
[4] a lawful meeting;
[5] with a physical activity or verbal utterance.
The new O'Hair lawyers are replvinq.that:
[1] the laws are illegal since the state of Texas is
constituted as a theocracy, precluding as it does, by
fiat, all persons of a class [Atheists]
from participating
in any part of the government of
the state,
[2] that the city council meeting was not a legal one;
[3] even if it is construed to have been a legal meeting the interruption was of a religious ceremony - a
prayer .- which is not a legal part of the city council
agenda in its meetings.


Dr. O'Hair knows the consequences ot her act, as

must any reasonably prudent person. The Texas Penal
Code, Sect. 12.43 provides that if one is found guiltY
of a misdemeanor (Class B) the punishment assessed
may be not less than 30 days or more than 180 days
in jail and that the fine may not exceed $1,000 and
that both penalties may be assessed.



The American Atheist Center - all of its staff - is

shocked and dismayed at the news reports which
were put on the national wires concerned with this
story. T he local newspaper, The Austin-American
Statesman, which is not noted for its journalism, at
least had the major elements of the story correct. But
in order to sensationalize the story, the wire services
falsely reported that Dr. O'Hair had "screamed" at
the mayor, the arresting plains clothes men and the
chief of police. The total impression from the stories
was one of an insane woman charging into a quiet
governmental meeting and breaking it up with argumentation, abuse and loud language.
There is probably no way we can remedy this picture which is so often repeated. We ask you simply
to remember that the "sensational" story sells news-

papers and American Atheists are "fair game" in the



The most calculated affront to an Atheist is to

be placed in a position where [s] he must be included,
to all intents and purposes, in the exercise of prayer.
Conversation or communication
with an imaginary
or an invented god is a qross insult to human intelligence.
Dr. O'Hair, the members of the Murray-O'Hair
family and the staff of the American Atheist Center
have worked many years to privately persuade the
political and legal community in Austin, Texas, and
elsewhere that these prayerful exercises must be
abandoned in our world, in this century. We have also waited patiently for others to take a lead. We have,
indeed, encouraged others to do so.
But, after ten years of waiting, it is concluded here
at the American Atheist Center that no one is going
to take the initiative but those of us committed to do
so by our connections with the Center.
The stakes are too high, apparently, for any of you
to involve yourselves in this manner.
But, you can not really expect us to bear the entire
financial burden also. Dr. O'Hair has effectively and
bravely set this legal activity into motion. We expect
each person -YOU - reading this magazine to at
least put [her] hlsshoulder to the wheel to the extent
of a minimum $10.00 contribution to the legal fund
and whatever beyond that you can afford.
not just for the Murray-O'Hairs.
If you can not challenge your city council, your
state legislature, your county commissioners,
should - at least - support financially those of us
who can and do.
We will anticipate your check made out to the
Legal Fund." The address to wh ich it can be sent is
P.O. Box 2117, Austin, Texas, 78768.

The American Atheist

Page 8

funds were spent on it. "It's more than just the financing of it," board attorney Gerald Kops replied. "It
Every Decembersince 1923 there hasbeen a Nativ- is also the amount of teacher time spent on it and the
ity Pageantat the Wisconsinstate capitol. Since 1928, recruiting of choirs" The questioner said he felt so
the pageant hasbeensponsored,produced and direct- strongly about the continuation of the event that he
ed by the music department of the Madison public will donate the $500 he is paid asa board member to
schools. Last year the pageant cost taxpayers $1,300 help some other group assume sponsorship of the
and many, many hours of teacher-pupil time. To the event.
accompaniment of Christmas music, sung by choirs,
Board member Kwame Salter argued that the
the nativity story is presented in a seriesof tableaux, board should heed the opinion because "there are
utilizing 40 actors, including the Virgin Mary! Angels people who elect us who aren't Christian. The issueis
appear in the capitol dome as a highlight of the cere- a legal one, not where I stand or where I worship."
A lady board member said there is interest among a
Last year several people contacted the then-new group of WestSide clergymen in sponsoring the event
Freedom From Religion Foundation to ask it to ob- and suggested she meet with them to explore the
ject to this expenditure of tax money for a religious possibility, but the board took no action on the sugpurpose and to the use of the machinery of the pub- gestion.
lic schools to put on a religious program. The callers
With a little bit of luck, American Atheist Anne
were Atheists, Agnostics, Jews and Baptists. So, Anne Gaylor's distracting action has confused the issueto
Gaylor, the Foundation's president, her daughter the point where the forces of the opposition will not
Annie Laurie and David Carson took on the School be able to regroup in time to organize non public
Board one cold night last December, and asked it to school sponsorship for the pageant and it will not be
stop subsidizing and sponsoring the program. The presented for the first time in more than half a cenBoard referred the issue to the city attorney for a tury.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation reports
legal opinion. That opinion, receivedjust this month,
is that the sponsorshipand support of the pageantby that .school board members have still, at this writing,
taken no formal action. They seem to be saying that
the Madison public schools is unconstitutional.
An article in the October 18th issueof the Wis- they recognize the problem of spending taxpayers'
money on a religious program, but the use of the
consin State Journal reported that the traditional
Christmas pageant held each year since 1923 during state capitol does not bother any of them. The
December in the state capitol building won't be school board president is saying that the nativity
sponsored by the Madison, Wisconsin public schools pageant is not religious. The policy committee did
this year as it has been in the past. The Board of vote to explore alternative sponsorship, which as a
Education 'Policies on Procedures' Committee re- public body they should not be doing since it is not
centlyvoted to seek alternate sponsorship after the the government's' business to promote religion.
Board of Education attorney opined that school
The nativity pageant is not secular; it is not 'Jingle
sponsorship of the event is unconstitutional. The Bells' around a decorated tree. It is a Christian docopinion was sought after Ms. Anne Gaylor, president trine complete with the Virgin Mary and it belongs
of the Wisconsin Freedom From Reilglon Founda- in a private setting under voluntary, private sponsortion, appeared before the board last December and ship.
contended that school sponsorshipof the event was a [S/nce the writing of this column there have been
violation of the separation of state and church doc- new developments. See Anne Gaylor's "Speaking for
trine. A board member pointed out that "It's clear Women," on page 18, received as'we went to press.]
from the legal opinion the public schools can't sponsor the pageantasthey have in the past."
The boardis attorney stated that last year 42
school music teachers plus four choir directors had
worked 116 liours on the project. One 200 member
choir was made up equally from three high schools
and another 60 member choir was provided by a
fourth high school. Forty actors appeared on the
on the second floor of the state capitol rotunda to
dramatize the nativity story, he noted. The school
district spent about $1,300 to support the program
last year, so one board member askedwhether school
involvement would still be unconstitutional if no

The American Atheist


Page 9

Atheist Marsa Continues

Objection to Prayer
Paul Marsa, the New Jersey director of American
Atheists, has been able to make such a continuing issue out of government prayer that he has, in two
months, established himself as a media personality, a
champion of Atheist rights, a fearless fighter, a
unique individualist, a man of bravery and a citizen
full of indignation and concern. Appearing on television, radio, in public, giving extensive news interviews
he has brought the issues of (1) state/church separation and (2) the civil rights of Atheists to the attention of several million persons in the New York,
Pennsylvania and New Jersey area in the short space
of just two months.
It all began on October 17, 1977, when Paul
Marsa stood up at the Metuchen (N.J.) Borough
Council meeting and complained of intrusion of religion into government when the council opened its
meeting with prayer. [See Vol. 19, Issue 10, Oct.,
1977, American Atheist Magazine, p. 5] .


Within two weeks of that first try, on October 17

he was back in the council meeting again, but this
time with allies. The executive director of the N.J.
ACLU, ad_dressing the council in support of Marsa
pointed out that prayers raised critical First Amendment problems and he urged the council to discontinue the use of prayer to open the public meetings.
The Borough had its attorney present and he
in defense of the prayer (and his job)
said that no court test has ever been had of prayer
used in governmental agencies such as a borough
countil meeting. When he added that there was no
act of coercion in having the public join in prayer,
Marsa countered,
"No one is denying anyone's
right to pray. You can pray silently while you're
shuffling paper; while you're taking a drink of water;
while you're sitting there; but it has no place in the
public meeting."
Marsa also pointed out that he had been subjected
to harrassment and obscene phone calls after making
his original complaint.
At this point, Stephen Nagler, executive director
of the New Jersey ACLU opined that it was critical
that when "a resident of Metuchen (Marsa) who addressed the council on a difficult
and controversial
subject" he became "the subject of a campaign of
hate, threats and vilification."
He noted that the subject was "religion and government" and that the episode was a textbook lesson in why there is a provision requiring the separation of state and church in
the constitution.
Page 10

The second incident at the council led to media

coverage and Paul Marsa began to be able to have
printed his calculated statements in regard to religion and Atheism: for instance on the front page of
The Courier News, Oct. 20, 1977.
"Raised in a Jewish home in Newark, he maintains that people have the right to pray and believe as
they want, but Marsa views it all as a 'psychotic idea.'
"You might as well believe in goblins or fairies in
the woods,' he says. 'Fortunately
I have that monkey
off my back. People spend so much of their lives
praying to a deity that will do nothing for them, instead of doing something for themselves or for their
fellow man. I'd rather see a hospital built than a
"Marsa owns a service station and car wash and is
an active member of American Atheists. He monitors
a Dial-An-American Atheist hotline in his home to inform the public about what he feels are the abuses of
organized religion.
"The local chapter of American Atheists used to
meet in his 'horne, but now, he says a larger meeting
place is needed to accommodate the group's increased
"Among American Atheists' more active backers
is actress Butterfly
McQueen who played Scarlet
O'Hara's young maid in 'Gone with the Wind: Today
she lives in Harlem and appears at various Atheistrelated activites. She was in the audience at the council meeting.






"At that meeting, which was attended by opponents and proponents of the prayers, the protest centered on the notion that prayer was fine but not as an
official public act by elected representatives.
"Your violation is not in praying,' Marsa told the
council. 'Your violation is in doing it in the name of
the council of Metuchen. You do not represent anyone but your own piety.'
"Opponents of the invocation sat while a councilman asked [Jesus] for a blessing upon the assemblage, the council and the people of Metuchen. The
group also remained seated during the pledge of allegiance.
Marsa later explained that he remained seated because the pledge included the phrase 'one nation
under God:
"Also in attendance was the minister of the East
Brunswick Unitarian Church who depicted the invoThe American Atheist

cation asa 'corporate act.' He told the council that he

had delivered invocations at council meetings but
would not do it again, The prayer, he maintained, is
recited with little meaning."

abuse' once his complaints made at public council

meetings becamewidely known.

This newspaper, in surveying local clergy, found

a rabbi who noted that the "presence of reiigion had
long been an officially accepted part of American
life;" a Roman Catholic priest who felt the councilmen had been sincerely "called upon to pray," which
prayers "to acknowledge the supreme being publicly"
are a time-honored precedent; and a Methodist minister who says the prayers are "positive, constructive.
... and healthy."
Marsa, blue eyes snapping, said that although his
stand might engender local enmity now, times had
improved because 'If we were back 100 years, I
would have burned at the stake'."
The New York Daily News, meanwhile, on October 20th gave Marsa a long write-up on its pagefour,
titled "Says Council Shouldn't Have A Prayer." Beginning with Marsa'spicture

" 'I did get some encouraging calls from as far

away as Canada,' he noted, 'but most were atrocious - I got threats to blow up my business. I had
harassingphone calls throughout the night. My house
was an armed camp for the first two nights. There
was an unbelievable reaction.' "
The newspaper contacted the executive director
of the N.J. ACLU, Steven Nagler, who said that a
lynch mob atmosphere has evolved, "and it threatens
the very basis on which this democratic society
"If citizens are to be subjected to physical threats
and intimidation when they raise their voices in protest, the result will be silence and subjugation," he
Marsa, a little afraid but determined took an appearance on WCAU television in Philadelphia, Pa., undaunted by the fact he had no experience in the
same. He did a superb job on the "Sunday Edition"
and then picked up a three hour skirmish on the
Bruce Williams Show on SCTC, New Brunswick, N.J.
With two other Atheists in tow he took on the mayor
and a representative of the Roman Catholic church,
learning as he went and doing a masterful job.
By October 26th the Daily Journal was commenting in an editorial that the council had had to
"devote too much time at recent sessions to defending their commitment" and should also be able
to charge "harrassment." The editorial wryly concluded:
"Anyway, the borough officials say they have no
intention of giving up the practice of opening meetings with appeals for spiritual guidance in performing
their public duties. Meanwhile, the tax payers will be
praying that their council's prayers are answered before they are ruled unconstitutional."
The Asbury Park Press had picked up the story by
October 28th, and the News Tribune of Woodbridge
interviewed Marsa at length for its November 2nd
"A now familar face at borough council meetings,
Paul Marsa, believes the world would be a far better
place to live in if there were no religions."
"Marsa, 43, state Director of American Atheists,
a group whose main concern is separation of state and
church, has voiced strong opposition against the
council's practice of opening their meetings with an
"A U.S. Marirre Corps veteran of the Korean conflict, Marsa views himself 'as a taxpaying citizen of
the borough and the nation. I'm a loyal American
who believesin the U.S, Constitution.'
"He added, 'I don't care if someone wants to be
reiigious, just don't make me pay for it.'
"Marsa charged the United States 'is not a nation



a matter

of principle."

the article quoted Marsa as follows:

"Paul Marsa, 43, who says he is an Atheist, said,
'It's a matter of principle. I am sick and tired of being
coerced by religion and being forced by religion to
pay for religion.'
" 'I objected becausethe invocation violates the
First Amendment of the Constitution, which puts up
a wall of separation between church and state. This is
a government body using a building supported by tax
dollars to enhancereligion.'
"Marsa, who has lived in Metuchen for eight
years, said he has been the victim of 'tremendous
The American Atheist





Page 11

under God, it's a nation under law.'

"He charged that most of the church property in
the country is owned by the Vatican which is 'a foreign government.'

" 'We are all born Atheist and one does not get
religious until it is pounded into one. When I die, I'm
dead - and this is the only world so I'm making it
what I can. It's here and it's now.'
"He explained that in his opinion an agnostic is
an Atheist with no guts. They hide behind names like
humanists and free thinkers because they are afraid of
the religious community and its power.'
"Marsa, a local businessman, in regard to' the
council invocation issue stated 'someone has to say
someth ing.'
" 'It takes a few strong individuals to educate
the general public and nudge the 28% of the population who are Atheist to say something.'
"Regarding the council members, he stated,
'Our arguments were clear but they are too prejudiced or frightened to admit it.'

Director of atheists
" 'A foreign government owns more land than
any other entity outside of the U.S. government itself. People don't realize it (the Vatican) is a foreign
government, ' Marsa said.
"He said that in the borough there is in excess of
$9 million in tax exempt property owned by religion
and over one third of that total is owned by the Vatican.
" 'This means all people here are paying $500 a
year in hidden taxes to support these entities,' he
"According to Marsa, in the United States there
are 77 million persons who don't belong to any
church while 112.3 million who do belong to a
church don't attend services there."
'About 34% of the population go to church (irregularly) but 100% of the citizens must assume
100% of the burden for them to attend,' he said.
"He defined an Atheist as 'a person free from
Page 12



Marsa said the government is being influenced,

taken over, if it hasn't already been, by religion.
" 'The Roman Catholic church is working from
within and they will bury us all without firing a shot.
They work by threats and their power and wealth are
astronomical and yet they are always pleading poverty,' he said.
"He said what's happening here could put the
borough on the map like the famous Scopes' Monkey Trial put the small town of Dayton, Tenn., on
the map."
Marsa, getting his stride, was back again at the
council meeting on Nov. 7th with yet another statement to it. The councilmen, adamant and backed by
their council attorney voted to continue with the invocation. This time he was featured in The Home
News newspaper on Nov. 8th.
'Personally I feel drained,' he said. 'What's that
saying - One of the hardest things to open is a closed
"He revealed that during his protest he had been
threatened not by phone calls and letters only but
even by visits at his gas station by persons opposing
his position.
"The message of a recently received postcard
said: 'You are a sick, sick person. How can you deny
the beliefs of millions to your pitiful few?' It continued, 'You can be assured I will never use your gas
station ... it may blow up ... you will be punished
in some way for sure.'

"At one point he brought the harassment to the

attention of the mayor, who met with him and followed up on his complaints.
" 'As far as I know, no other threats were received since then," the mayor reported. 'As much as I
don't agree with his presentation, I do not disagree
with his rights."
Meanwhile Marsa was being discouraged by an attorney from the American Jewish Congress who adThe American Atheist

vised him that fighting borough hall on the prayer issuewould drain him dry.
It was at this point that the American Atheist
Center decided to back PauI. With a federal suit contemplated over Dr. O'Hair's arrest, Marsa was contacted and asked to file a companion suit in New Jersey. The News Tribune on November 10th reported
on that:
" 'I went out of my way to be pleasant but I was
ignored,' he said."
After consulting with the national office of
American Atheists in Texas, Marsastated, "My intention is to sue on the federal level but there's still a lot
of groundwork that hasto be laid.
" 'I'm going to investigate the feasibility of suing
the council as a whole or as individuals. But even if
th is does happen, it will be a long drawn out th ing to
move it through the courts,' he said.
"He charged the council 'has no conception of
what I'm doing and what it's about.'
"He added that after he read his last statement to
the council, their attitude was 'Okay, we heard you,
next issue.'
"Marsa said, however, he still intends to educate
this community as to the principle of separation of
state and church."
The staff at the American Atheist Center salutes
Paul Marsa. The only way to learn to swim is to jump
in the water. Paul has done that. Although totally
inexperienced, he has quickly been given experience,
and learned from it in such a way that he is a seassoned fighter after only two months in the fray. We
stand by him and with him.

The American Atheist


Ave Atque Vale, Frater!

We say "Hail and farewell, brother!" in the classic
Roman (pre-Christian!) way to the late Sam Faubus,
for many years a member of our organization who
wrote under the nom-de-plume of Jimmie Higgins. In
memoriam we share one of his last literary efforts
published in the Southwest Times Record of Fort
Smith, Ark. We believe Mark Twain would have been
proud of it.
Man, the Only Animal. ..
Man is a queer animal. Like the beasts of the
fields, the fowls of the air and the fishes of the sea,he
came into this world without his consent and is going
out the sameway.
At birth he is one of the most helpless creatures
in all existence. He can neither walk, talk, swim nor
crawl, and has but two legs while most other animals
have four. Unlike other animals, he has no covering
for his body to protect it against the bite or sting of
poisonous insects, tooth or claw of ferocious beasts,
savea little hair which appearsabout his body only in
With all his limitations he yet has one advantage
over other animals-the power to reason. But history
shows that he often discards that for superstition. Of
all the animals on earth, man hasshown himself to be
the most cruel and brutal. He is the only animal that
will create instruments of death for his own destruction.
Man is the only animal on all the earth that has
ever been known to burn its young as a sacrifice to
appeasethe wrath of some imaginary deity. He is the
only one that will build homes, towns and cities at
such a cost in sacrifice and suffering, and turn around
and destroy them in war.
Man is the only animal that will gather his fellows
together in creeds, clans and nations, line them up in
companies, regiments, armies and get glory out of
their slaughter. Just because some king or politician
told him to.
Man is the only creature in existence that is not
satisfied with the punishment he can inflict on his fellows while here, but had to invent a hell of fire and
brimstone in which to burn them after they are dead.
Where he came from, or when, or how, or where
he is going after death he does not know. But he
hopes to live again in easeand idleness where he can
worship his gods and enjoy himself, watching his fellow creatures wriggle and writhe in eternal flames
down in hell.

Page 13

Sttond Gtntration Athtist

.~8tgins Pretests
Becky Brown
Austin American Statesman
Jon Murray took his mother's campaign for separation of church and state to the Austin school board
on Nov. 14, in the form of a low-keyed protest
against prayers at football games, PTA meetings and
in private group meetings of teachers.
Trustees agreed to "take under advisement" Murray's objections but did not respond directly. Ironically, Rev. Marvin Griffin, a Baptist minister who is
the board vice-president, was chairing the meeting in
the absence of President Gustavo L. Garcia.
Murray's remarks to the board lasted only a few
minutes but he said later he had intended to interrupt
if trustees opened their meeting with a prayer.
Prayers, however, are not a customary part of the
board meetings.
A former student at McCallum high school, Murray is now associated with his mother Madalyn Murray O'Hair in the Society of Separatists, an Atheist
organization she founded.
He told trustees that he had been "dismayed" by
the inclusion of prayers at the start of football games.
And teams are requ ired to participate in prayers after the games," Murray said.
"That policy is unconstitutional with regard to
the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."
Murray, who was celebrating his 23rd birthday,
said he wants to "bring up on (a future) agenda a
number of other violations of separation of church
and state."
He mentioned specifically prayers at PTA meetings, prayer meetings he said some teachers hold
before and after school and "brotherhood weeks," a
school activity he said involves speeches by representatives of the Christian and Jewish communities.
Dr. Jack L. Davidson, superintendent of Austin
schools, said later he believes the schools are generally
kept separate from church activities.
"We're very, very close to compliance (with the
U.S. Supreme Court decision reinforcing the separation doctrine). We maybe have some things we need
to take a look at," he said.
Davidson and Griffin both said the board will
study the issues raised by Murray and that the item
will be brought up at a future board meeting.
Murray said after his presentation that teachers
have complained privately to the American Atheist
organization about what they said were violations of
the church and state separation in Austin schools.

Page 14


Staff Photo by Larry Murphy

Jon Murray states his views on prayer

The American Atheist

AYtar of Solid Attomplishmtnt

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (726
Miami Pass, Madison WI 53711 (608) 238-3338)
has observed its first anniversary. In a little more than
one year, on behalf of separation of state and church,
it has: (1) Stopped prayers in the Janesville (WI) public schools; (2) Stopped prayers in the publicly financed Independent Living program in the state capital after a complaint from a senior citizen whose food
grew cold while the prayers spun on; (3) Stopped
prayers at University of Wisconsin commencements, a
122-year-old abuse which was ended by Annie Laurie,
daughter of the organization's prexy, Anne Gaylor,
who lined up Student Association support and the
support of senior class officers and presented th is
case; (4) Stopped the use by the Madison (WI) postoffice of a rei igious group's cancellation on outgoing
mail; and (5) Won a favorable legal opinion from the
Madison City Attorney and Madison Public Schools
Attorney that the sponsorship by the Madison Public Schools of a religious program (a Nativity Pageant)
is unconstitutional.
Final resolution of this problem is
pending; the pageant is a 50-year-old tradition, and
the religionists are having fits!
In other less conclusive actions, it has: (1) Protested in formal appearances before their respective
groups the prayers that open City Council and County Board meetings. They lost the City Council by a
couple of votes and the County Board by a vote of
21-15, but will return when the time is ripe; (2)
Urged the two priests in Congress to wear civvies
when conducting government business; (3) Publicly
criticized the University of Wisconsin for collecting
religious preference information from its students and
supplying this information
to local churches; for
accepting gifts with religious strings attached; and for
hiring a chaplain at the publicly-financed
of Wisconsin hospital; (4) Protested by wire and press
release President Carter's use of the bible at his
inaugural and the religious service at the Lincoln
Memorial; (5) Inspired the "Here's Life" group of
1,000 fundamentalist and Catholic crazies to pray for
them in December, 1976 when their campaign was
going on in Madison; (6) Set up literature tables on
campus, and participated in University of Wisconsin
workshops on state-church separation issues; (7)
Appeared on many local TV and radio news programs, some guest editorial spots and talk shows.
Written many letters to the editor, and issued many
press releases, most of them used locally, several
statewide, and a couple of them nationally.
I n completing these actions, the foundation has
spent only $621.17, about one-fourth of it for legal
fees, the remainder
for postage, xeroxing
printing, including handouts and the printing of three
newsletters. Among the planned new projects are,
specifically, a challenge of the paid prayers in the
Wisconsin legislature and the hiring of a chaplain at
University Hospital.
The American Atheist

John Sontarck, who was the first and only vicepresident of the Freedom From Religion Foundation,
died in August, 1977 in Milwaukee and there are no
words to say how much his supportive presence is
missed. An intelligent, gentle, charming person, John
was a firm, firm friend of freedom from religion.
Born in Europe, he grew up in the United States,
but his family's foreign background probably contributed to his acute awareness of the importance of
state-church separation. His death, at age 70, was
from cancer; his body was given at his request to the
Univeristy of Wisconsin Medical School. Going to
Milwaukee seems bleak these days without

T M Called Religion:
Loses Funds

~:r; :.
The Chicago Tribune for Saturday, October 29th,
1977, carried a heartening item for those who object
to having public funds decimated by being used for
wooly headed projects of the type so much abhorred
by Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin.
Public funds for Transcendental Meditation projects are likely to be cut off after a court ruling that
TM is a religion - not simply a scientific technique,
as its proponents have contended. Until the rulinq
late in October by a Federal District Judge in New
Jersey, TM enthusiasts had secured nearly $270,000
in federal, state, city and county funds for TM
programs in connection
with drug, alcohol and
mental health projects.
According to the ruling, which is expected to set
a nationwide precedent, TM projects in four New Jersey high schools which use funds from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare must
Federal Judge H. Curtis Meanor said the projects
were religious in nature and must be halted because
they violate the constitutional
principle of church/
state separation. The ruling came after a coalition of
parents, clergy and civil rights groups filed suit last
year to stop the New Jersey TM courses.

Dan O'Dav, a comic disc jockey, recently wrote
of a problem which was new to us, even th6ugh we'd
lived 15 years in Washington, D. C.' "My wife belongs
to a really weird religion, the Orthodox Bureaucrats.
They believe that when you die your soul goes to
Washington, D. C., where it gets lost in all the paperwork."
Page 15


Maria Harlowe

Christmas is not new, unique, or exclusive with

Christianity. Christmas has been changed and modified with the passingof time. It antedates Christianity
by thousands of years. Over sixty legends exist of
saviors miraculously born. In ancient India and
Egypt, in remote China, long agesbefore Christian ity,
the Winter Solstice was marked by a religious festival
and gift-giving. The American historian John Fisk
wrote that "the Hindu sacred writings contain all the
myths and fables found in the Christian Bible" and
the first Jesuit missionaries to China were appalled by
the fact that the "heathen Chinese" had a redeemer
born in the winter of 3467 B.C. The ancient
Persians celebrated the birthday of their god, Mithras,
at this time; the Greeks honored the birth of Hercules, the sun, at this time of year, and in Rome the
Saturnalia thus honored the god Sol, the sun. Long
before Columbus came to America, the Mayansand
Mexicans, as also the natives of Nicaragua, Peru, and
Guatemala, had a divinely conceived, uniquely born
god. The Druids of Great Britain and Ireland burned
the Yule log in fires to honor the birthday of their
In ancient Greece midwinter rituals at Delphi,
connected with Dionysius, represented a cradled
infant. In Rome, the Saturnalia terminated December
24th with gift-giving. Jews continue to celebrate
Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, at about this time of
Thus Christianity perpetuates old rites and customs. There was no early consensus of opinion as to
the time of Jesus' birth. Christmas was not among the
earliest Christian festivals. It was not until the 4th
Century that Pope Julius officially designated December 25th as the day of Christmas. The Bible gives only
two accounts of the birth of Jesus, written some 60
to 70 years after the event. Matthew gives the time of
Herod's rule; Luke gives the time of Cyrenius as
governor of Syria. This makes a difference of ten
Christians worship a sun god. Jesus' monogram
IHS, is the astronomical and alchemical sign of the
Zodiacal sign, Aries. Tertullian and Jerome claimed
that the early Christians faced the East to pray (as
the modern Mason now "travels to the East in search
of Light"). Jesus was an actor on a cosmic stage, as
Christian itv gave significance to ancient pagan rites
connected with the rising sun. A child is born, the sun
rises, a halo of light surrounds the child's crib.
Through a graduai trend, the birth of Jesus was




Tht Unhol~


Voltaire E. Heywood
So many holidays have become too commercial in
our century. With the coming of the Festival of the
Winter Solstice, it is with deep concern that I urge all
neo-pagans to re-discover the true spirit of the season.
I call for a renaissanceof the pagan rites, which have
so long been contaminated by Christianity.
On December 21, at 6:24 Eastern Standard Time,
the winter solstice will be upon us. (If you prefer Universal Time, the actual arrival is 23:24 according to
Greenwich Mean Time.) On that day the earth is at a
heliocentric longitude of ninety degrees, and the sun
is at a geocentric longitude of two hundred seventy
degrees. (Fom the earth the sun appears to be in
Sagitarius, while from the sun the earth would appear
to be in Gemini.) Now that I have your attention, I
must add that the earth is tilted twenty-three and
one-half degrees away from the sun. As a result, the
sun rises and sets its furtherest south. Besides,everyone knows that December 21 is the shortest period of
daylight in our hemisphere.
Now that I have put you in the holiday mood,
you still have plenty of time to prepare for the festivities. If you are an orthodox neo-pagan, as you well
should be, you are already aware of the necessary
paraphernalia for a merry solstice, but assuming some
readers are unfamiliar with neo-pagansim, I will enumerate the traditional items for a perfect holiday.
First of all, you have to make lots of fires. Orthodox followers will burn only logs from the sacred
oak. Reformed members will prefer bonfires of old
love letters, used "I Found It," bumperstickers and
discarded issuesof Guideposts. (Conservatives will use
the same procedure as the reformed adherents, but
will tell their mothers that they burned the oak log.)
In addition to the fire, you will need the following solsticial equipment: (1) enough "stock" for
a no-holds-barred seven day celebration; (2) an oak
grove, or at least a clump of oak leaves and a pile of
logs; (3) a golden sickle for mistletoe gathering; and
(4) an abundant supply of mistletoe as well. The most

Con't on pg. 29

The American Atheist

Page 16



Madalyn Murray O'Hair

~Iy Trinity

.._ ~~r.
-::~._3 :: ~. ~~.


Lay that ornament down, gal! Whatinthell do you

think you are doing?
Whose birthday?
How can you celebrate the birthday of someone
who never existed?
What do I mean? What do YOU mean by getting
bamboozled, conned, deceived?
Bamboozled? It's a word out of the Great American Depression.

. .,::::-


religious adherents will also have on hand at least one

virgin capable of giving birth to the new sun.
In a like manner, you, as a celebrant, must constantly be re-schooled in the latest interpretations
the catechism of neo-paganism. For example, if you
have been singing, "Have yourself a merry Winter
Solstice ...
," please make the following correction
in your songbook. The Winter Solstice is more accurately
called the "December
since the
is beginning
December 21. (Most reactionary orthodox
cornmunicants still retain the term "winter"
in all chants
and songs. They maintain unanimously,
"If it was
good enough for my ancestors, it's good enough for
me!" Reformed members, on the other hand, have
universally adopted the new term while conservatives
tend to say winter, but only when their mothers are
Returning to the particulars of the Festival of the
Winter Solstice, I find it incredible, along with all
castes of neo-pagans, that fire symbolized the solstice
celebrations throughout
the ancient world. The old
Aryans, for example, kindled solsticial flames with
the intention of supplying the sun with new radiant
energy (Does that constitute
the energy crisis in
reverse?) According to Sir James George Frazer in his
classic The Golden Bough, these ancients recruited
the sun from the fire which dwelled in the sacred oak
tree. (I hope no one tells Anita Bryant that the ancient Aryans were recruiting.)
according to Frazer, in the Julian
calendar, December 25 was designated as the Winter
Solstice and was regarded as the "Nativity
of the
Sun" because the sun was to be reborn as the days
would soon begin to lengthen. As such, the winter
solstice was considered a turning
point since the
power within the sun would again increase.
Again according to Frazer, a scholarly writer who
did not like to indent, this nativity
had a strange
ritual in Syria and Egypt as the following
Con't on pg. 28

The American Atheist

What depression? That's not the question. "What

Jesus?" is the question. The He-Zeus of the Greeks?
Not even the name has been changed. One would
think that these idiot Christians would at least have
What's the bauble for? Dress up a tree! You think
vou can improve on the beauty of a conifer by
hanging gaudy junk on it? My gawd stop it! What are
you doing? What's that? Pine-odor spray because the
tree is dead! Of course, it's dead. Didn't you think
chopping it down would kill it? It's a sacrifice isn't
it? Something
has to be slaughtered-for
Why are you wrapping up a shirt? A present? It's
but a damn ordinary
everyday garment.
That's an insult, not a gift.
Can you stop that wailing
music? Christmas
hymns? They're
old thumpers:
cornpositions adapted to religious groanfng.
Hey! Hold it! Stop everything! Don't you know
the real meaning of this time of year and how to celebrate it? Jesus Christ's birth? (Groan). There never
was such a person. You mean Jesus Christ: Super
Born of a virgin r Everyone was: Zeus, Buddha,
Khrishna, Plato, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Hercules,
Solomon, Zoroaster, Augustus Caesar. Surely you are
a product of our times-you
can't accept this crap.
The Holy what? Oh, come on! Some of them
were impregnated by a white elephant. Do you believe that, too. Whathell, this isn't the dark ages.
Where did you say you were from?
Jesus Christ! Every time I hear that name connected with this season I want to yell, "Stop it.
Thief! Stop it!"
Let me tell YOU the real meaning of this time of
year. Someone has stolen something from me and
you and the rest of the world. They have stolen a
wild and beautiful
that has
existed for over a million years. A holiday that transCon't on pg. 29

Page 17


Must We Have Angels in the Capitol Dome?
Since 1923 there has been an annual Capitol
Christmas Pageant in Madison, Wisconsin. Reportedly, 'the idea for the program was conceived in 1922 in
Honolulu, Hawaii by a young music teacher, Paul
Saunders,a University of Wisconsin graduate, who
was ,then teaching at a military academy in Honolulu. He went to the lolani Palace to watch a Christmas pageant there, and Madison newspapers later reported that he was thrilled by this religious ceremony and its effect on the audience.
of people stood
in the Palace
grounds," he said. "There were Shintoists, Buddhists,
Christians - watching the unfolding story of Christ's
nativity ....
Naturally, there were varying degrees of
belief. but all were in complete enthralled silence!"
When Saunders returned to Wisconsin to teach
music in the Madison public school system, he asked
school and state officials to sponsor a similar program on the capitol grounds. The first program in
December of 1923 was pronounced a success, but bad
weather closed in shortly after the program ended, so
it was decided to move the pageant into the Capitol
the next year. Since 1924 it has been held in the
Capitol rotunda, and since 1928 it has been under the
sole sponsorship of the music department of the Madison public schools.
The pageant is quite elaborate. While the main
choir of 200 students from the city's public high
schools, backed up by an echo choir of 60 pupils,
sing a variety of Christmas carols, 40 actors dramatize
the nativity story in a series of tableaux. The dramatization consists of costumed students appearing behind a thin, guaze curtain, illustrating Biblical scenes.
One blue-gowned, wh ite-winged angel appears during
the carol, "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and seven
young women appear as angels in the Capitol dome.
Three splendidly attired young men strut about during the singing of "We Three Kings of Orient Are."
Over 40 music teachers plus four choir directors
work on the program, which in 1976 cost the taxpayers over $1,300 and consumed many hours of
teacher-pupil time in preparation and rehearsals. The
pageant is dutifully promoted by local media, and the
student who portrays the "Virgin Mary" regularly has
.her picture in the papers to encourage the religious to
Over the years there had been informal objections
to the pageant from the Jewish community and from
a few Christians concerned with state-church separation, as well as muted protests from the freethinking

Page 18

Following the pageant in December of
1976, the first formal objection was made publicly
when three members of the Freedom From Religion
appeared before the School Board to
protest the use of public monies to present a religious
program. We pointed out that we saw three legal violations:
[1] sponsoring of a religious program,
[2] subsidization of this program,
[3] staging the program in a public building. In
addition we pointed out an intellectual violation: the
promotion of the belief that a woman could conceive
without benefit of sexual intercourse.
The School Board blinked a little, and then decided to toss the hot potato to its legal counsel. The
matter was referred to the city attorny and school
board attorney for their legal opinion.
It took ten months, but the legal opinion was well
worth waiting for. To the formal question, "Does the
Madison Metropolitan
School District sponsorship
and support of the Capitol Nativity Pageant in its
traditional format violate the constitutional
prescription of government action respecting an establishment of rei igion?", the answer was "Yes"!
I n a fascinating eight-page opinion, the lawyers
cited the United States Constitution,
the Wisconsin
and many state and federal cases. One
particu larly meaty paragraph follows:
"Certain Christian Holy Days have become American holidays with significance beyond their religious
origin. The observance of Christmas best illustrates
this problem. Despite its religious origin, Christmas is
an official,
national holiday, 5 U.S.C Sec. 6103,
(1970). Christmas has come to' be a truly national
celebration receiving major attention in the media, in
the commercial world, and in many aspects of community life throughout
the country. While school
boards cannot easily ignore the wishes of the majority and the importance of tradition in the community, the Constitution
requires that the rights of the
be respected. A thorough
reading of the many opinions in the Supreme Court
cases dealing with religion in the schools reveals a
concern for minority group students and parents who
are confronted with sectarian activities in wh ich they
consciences. See Murray, pages 252-53, Zorach, page
314, McCollum, pages 227-28, 232. The fact that the
observance of Christmas is "rooted in religious belief"
does not, however, determine that government in-

The American Atheist

volvement in its observanceis unconstitutional. Following the reasoning of McGowan, if the present purpose and effect of a Christmas observance as determined by its content is secular, government involvement is not prohibited by the First Amendment. We
suggestthe key, therefore, to classifying the Nativity
Pageantobservanceof Christmas as religious or secular is the content of the celebration program. See
Allen v. Morton 71-1909 [D. C. Cir September 26,
1973J and also Curran v. Lee, 484 Fd 2d 1348 [2nd
Cir 1973J. I have concluded, based upon a review of
the nature of the School Board's involvement in the
Nativity Pageantand the content of the program, that
continued sponsoring and support of the Pageantin
its traditional format is an unconstitutional advancement of religion. Teachers and administrators participate in preparation of the school program. School
funds are spent on costumes and the preparation of
religious symbols. Simply, government is directly
involved in the production of the program. The
content of the program is clearly religious. Religious
symbols and symbolism are an intricate part of the
program. The tableaux presented expressesreverence
to God and Jesusand other reiigious leaders, and in
that senseis obviously religious in character."
A victory, but the battle is only partly won. AIthough the School Board voted to drop sponsorship
and payment for the program, their first action was a
formal vote, as a board, to pursue private funding for
the program. Obviously, if it is not the constitutional
businessof a public school board to put on a religious
program, it is also unconstitutional for it to arrange
or the continuation of the program under other

sponsorship. Getting through the heads of so-called

public servants that religion is not the government's
businessis really work!
After much consultation and many offers by
churches to take over the continued presentation of
the pageant in the capitol, the School Board accepted
the offer of the Madison Civic Music Associaion, since
it figured, correctly, that it might be difficult for a religious group to get a permit to present a religious
program in the Capitol. Churches, wishing to present
an ecumenical Good Friday service in the capitol, had
been turned down several years ago. However, the
Madison Civic Music Association has no religious pedigree, private financing and a harmless sounding
name. The plans are to continue the pageant exactly
as in other years. It will not be just a musical program; the Bible tableaux will still be there. And the
angelswill appear in the Capitol dome.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has won
an important battle while spendinq nary a dime. The
schools havedropped their sponsorship and financing.
But the religious program in a government building is
still going on.
Angels again will appear in the Wisconsin Capitol
dome. But, at least, as a local reporter pointed out,
they are off the public payroll.
Friends of freedom from religion who would like
to make their views known on this issuemay write to
Governor Martin Schreiber, Wisconsin State Capitol,
Madison, WI 53701 and remind him that a state capitol building is a most inappropriate place for Jesus
Christ, the Virgin Mary and a band of angels.




16 you enjoyed and agneed w~~h Colonel Roben~ G.
~ngen~oll'~ Chn~~~ma~ l~~~ on page ~wo 06 ~h~~
~~~ue, y~u'll be ~une ~o ~nea~une 60n a l~6e~~me
h~~ "Chn~~~ma~ Senmon", a ~06~ bound ~h~n~y page
bookle~ now ava~lable 60n only $2.00 6nom Amen~ean A~he~~~~, P.O. Box 2117, Au~~~n, Texa~ 78768.
The 6amou~ "Chn~~~ma~ Senmon" ~~ eompn~~ed 06 ~he
on~g~nal "Senmon" publ~~hed ~n ~he New Yonk Even~ng Telegnam 60n Veeemben 19~h, 1891 plu~ ~he eontnoven~y i~ eau~ed un~~l Febnuany 5~h, 1892 w~~h
~he Revenend Vn. 1.M. Buekley, ed~~on 06 ~he Chn~~~~an Advoea~e, ~he neeogn~zed ongan 06 ~he Me~hodi~t ehuneh in Amen~ea. The ~upply 06 ~he~e bookle~~ ~~ l~m~~ed, ~o ~6 you ane ~n~ene~~ed ~n ~nexpen~~ve but ~nneplaeeable 1977 on even 1978 Sol~~~ee g~6~~ 60n 6n~end~ ~n~ell~gen~ enough ~o unden~~and 1ngen~oll, now ~~ ~he ~~me ~o ~~oek up!




American Atheist

Page 19~


'W'arren shibles

A Solstitial Gift

[For those of our readers who have either the

time or the energy (or evenpossibly both) to indulge
in the ennervating exercise of arguing about religion
(and they are legion, thank Thorl} with the avid religionist, we here offer a Solsticial gift almost as numerously faceted as that of the notorious "Twelve
Days of Christmas." This Winter Solstice present is
by courtesy of Dr. Warren Shibles, head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. It consists of 35 rebuttals to the
standard arguments used by the churchridden in
this type of philosophical jousting and will saveuntold amounts of time and trouble for readers who
commit at least their gist to memory. These 35 rebuttals will {10 doubt bring to readers' minds a great
many other similar arguments and possible rebuttals
to them. We would be more than pleasedto seesome
of them appear in our "Letters to the Editor," so
please jot them down as they occur to you. Merry

Number One: "But you can't prove God doesn't
No. And I can't prove invisible elves
are not in your head. Because we cannot prove god
doesn't exist, doesn't mean he does exist. It is an argument from ignorance to say, "Because you cannot
prove God doesn't exist, He therefore exists."
"You cannot prove there is not an invisible man
in your head." Well, no I can't. Then are there gods
and men in heads? Are the men green? The green
man. There is every argument that disproves god's
Number Two: "Well you don't understand. It
is possible that God exists." But do you know that it
is a real possibility? Compare: "We will now make
water-balls. We will go to the stream and make some.
Pat them round. You catch one first." Some things
are not possible it would seem. It would be good
enough for us to take it that they are not possible. It
would be drier for us to believe that.
To know something is possible requires some evidence or knowledge. We do not know that it is possible that god exists.
Number Three: "God exists" or "God is He
who is." My shoes exist. We clomp about. Invisible
ghosts exist. They - about. God exists. He (It? She)
- about. Language got lost here. What does "exist"
mean in "God exists." We can say it, of course. So
also "Nothing exists." This is getting to be fun. A
holiday with words.
"Exist" is often used as an open-context term
like "1 exist at all." But that won't do. "Exist" only
; ',' means "I was born," or "I have regained conscious"Page20

ness," not "I exist at all but in no specific sense."

"There is a book in this room. Therefore this
book exists." That is circular or false. It is circular
if it means "There is a book in this room therefore
there is a book in this room." If it means"There is
a book in this room therefore there is a book in the
other room," it is false. To say a book exists doesn't
tell us where or how, etc., the book exists. "Exist" is
a vague and obscure abstraction as used in "God
How did we get mislead about "exist?" We first
say, "The chair is brown." Then we say, "The chair
is." Now that sounds profound - or is it just another
misuse of language? "The chair is" is an incomplete
sentence. A minister says "1 don't know about this
world but I know that I am." Well, then we must ask
him to finish: "Yes, go on now. You are what?" If
he replies, "I just am. I just exist in itself," then he
has passedthe test. He is indeed a minister.
In religion the language is funny. Or, for a source
of misuses of language look to religion. e.g. Being
(exist word) is one, truth, good.
Number Four: "You cannot give rational arguments for God. Your accessmust be through faith or
A) But isn't that blind prejudice? Compare: "I
just believe that whites are superior to blacks," that
men are superior to women, etc.
B) We say we know when evidence can be given.
When we guess or don't know we say we "believe."
By saying "bel ieve" instead of "know" we avoid
having to give proof or evidence.
C) If all one knows about god is determined by
belief with no rational description or evidence then
he can't even know what it is he believes in.
D) If the only evidence is belief or faith then all
things believed in are equally acceptable e.g. "1 believe in the devil." "I believe we are controlled by one
large mind," "I believe 'there is an invisible teapot in
our heads," etc. - Belief in invisible elephants. Belief in abstract words. Belief in peanut butter.
E) Belief in god is superstition. It is anti-rational
here. Belief in god is harmful becauseit promotes belief in other superstitions as well rather then pursuit
of reason and honest, open inquiry and knowledge
of cause and effect.
Number Five: "Your rational arguments are
boring." Agreed. They are boring arid irrelevant. You
don't want a belief which can be refuted. So make it
so that all proof and reason and knowledge is irrelevant. It is a dogmatic quest for certainty. One
achieves certainty by denying thought itself-by deThe American Atheist

nying oneself in his most human aspect. Becauseof

A) It assumesthat someone, a who, created the
this greed for security one finds rational arguments world. Why not matter?
B) It assumesthat "world" is known but it is a
Number Six: "I was confused and suicidal and re- vague open ended notion. To clarify and simplify we
ligion saved me and organized my life." Yes, religion could substitute "earth" for "world." It's fun to
does that. But the Boy Scouts and Freud does that trick another but even more fun to trick oneself. This
too-if you believe in them. One may be saved by then is a many-question falacy like "Have you stopNazism-if he believesin it.
ped beating your wife" askedof a bachelor.
Number Seven: "If you believe, then you will be
Number Fifteen: Way to keep the faith: "I don't
saved." The sameformula applies in hypnosis. If you want to talk about it." "Talk about religion? Very
believe you are Napoleon, well then you are. Many poor taste. Anti-social."
people believe they are god. The question is which - Number Sixteen: "But I've always been told
one is it? Couldn't be him, he eats bland British there is a God." Familiarity is no argument and argufood. Is it Elmer?
ment from tradition is an informal logical fallacy.
Number Eight: "I was lonely, poor, tired and That there has always been war, killing and prostitucouldn't do anything right. Then God came to me." tion does not make them intelligent activities. Some
Belief in god is a defense-mechanismwhich defends people have always been told that killing is wonderonly at the expenseof one's intelligence and humani- ful.
ty. One's imagery and perceptions work over him
Number Seventeen: "History shows there is a
through depression, fears, etc. and suddenly a magi- God." In history there are many gods. But if religion
cal solution to all one's problems: god or hallucinate involves miracle to look for proof of a miracle it is
an oasis or desert. God is a glassof water in the mid- contradictory. By definition there is no proof of a
die of a desert. One lonely woman hallucinated a miracle.
boy-friend. It is also a defense-mechanismof denying
Number Eighteen: "But aren't you filled with
reality: "Never did like reality much - 'cept for wonder at the beauty of the sky, and sun, those moblanc mange."
ments of human warmth, etc.?" Yes. It is wondrous.
Number Nine: Way to persuadepeople to believe The sky isa wondrous sky. But it is that not somein god: play on their weaknessesand promise thern :thing else, not god. Do not turn a silk purse into
everything whether it makes senseor not e.g. eternal something else. It is the sky's beauty. Give that back
afterlife, organ music and lollipops.
to the sky. Give human warmth back to humans. It
Number Ten: "God is a vengeful and jealous is their own to give and share.
God." That's nice.
Number Nineteen: "Have you ever held a leaf up
Number Eleven: "Well, look. The very fact that to the sun and seen its amazingly intricate pattern?
you talk of God shows that you must be talking How could that have come about if it were not for
about something so there is a God." Then let's talk of God?" I don't know, but I have seen it. It is beautifairies.
ful. I could almost worship a leaf - if there were any
Number Twelve: "You still can't prove God does point in it. Yet, there is an order we see but it does
not exist." This one keeps coming up. First tell me not advance humanity or inquiry to assumewithout
what god is, is like, or meansand then we'll seeif god evidence that god, the devil or anyone else made it.
exists in some senseor other. But approach it this The leaf came from the tree. It is an amazing thing.
way. I can't say god doesn't exist because I don't
Number Twenty: "Most people believe in God."
know what I am talking about. I can't say god does Argument from majority opinion is a fallacy. One
exist for the same reason. Either way I can't say does not find truth by asking for a vote. Intelligent
much of anything. But I can say I haven't got hold of arguments are needed. There is no substitute for
an intelligent or meaningful question. So the solution honest, open and intelligent discussion - not candle
to some puzzles or answers to some questions is to burning, not repeating magical religious words, not
dissolve the question. Throw it away. "It's a God singing, not angeror friendliness or dogma.
question." (Throw)
Number Twenty-One: "I believe becauseof God
Number Thirteen: "You seem like one of those and the Bible," This is simple argument from authorismart people who thinks he knows everything. You ty. It is another informal logical fallacy. It is like
cannot know everything. You cannot know what an other blind appeals to authority or blind obedience.
all-knowing God knows. Man's knowledge is limited." The religious person givesup his intelligence aswell as
But you know god, that god knows all, that man's his responsibility in this appeal to magical authority.
knowledge is limited, presupposeman knows a great The barnyard metaphor of the herd, the "following
deal. To know god certainly shows that man knows sheep" is applicable.
more than he knows.
Number Twenty-Two: "But nearly everyone in
Number Fourteen: "Who created the world? my country is religious in some way or other." CerAnswer - God." You gavethe correct answer. It is a tainly true of Ireland - and elsewhere. Ninety per
. way of teaching small children to believe in god. But cent more or less of those in Spain and Italy are
. it is a loaded and trick Question.
Con't on pg. 27

The American Atheist

Page 21



no fat handshaking stranger

in a red flannel suit
and a fake white heard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
in a Volkswagon sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
with German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Sacks Fifth A venue
for everybody's imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down

from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars
Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down

from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carollers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
through a winter wonderland
into a jinglebel/ heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down from His bare Tree

this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck creches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down

from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary's womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody's anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest
of Second Comings
- Lawrence Ferlinghe~

Christ climbed down

from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where


Summer passed and Autumn's waning
Now our stores are taken in
And the sky is gray and hazing
Nature's children soon must den

As we part now from abundance

That the growing seasonslend
And prepare for Winter's wonders
And her cold and cruel wind

In our memory now the blossoms

That were born to early Spring
And the rich and fertile farmlands
And the bounty that they bring

Soon the rain and snow will tumble

From the dark and Sunless sky
And the blossoms that we marveled
Falling softly there ~ will die

The American Atheis

Page 22



But with Autumn's solemn ebbing

And the gloom that Winter fares
Comes the majesty of Solstice
In the cool December airs
With the new Sun now attending
To its early annual chores
As it dries the wetted farmlands
And replenishes their stores

And Earth's creatures soon to waken

As the days begin to gain
And a new and yawning Springtime
Seems to end the Winter's pain
In our memory now we carry
As we count the needs of man
Is the passing of the Solstice
And the day new life began
-Gerald Tholen



Well, I passed a toy shop the other day,

In the window was a Christmas display,
Missiles, tanks, rockets, guns,
The kids are really gonna have some fun,
Have their own wars - kill each otherMerry Christmas!
I went up close and I read the ad,
"Kidsl, "it said, "war's the current fad,
Relive the great ones of history,
Prepare yourself for World War Three.
Get yourself a machine gun - only a dollar ninetyeight, Italian make.
Special for Christmas!"
I saw a man walk into a store nearby,
That had Christmas posters hung real high,
Sorry, we can't serve you, the clerks did say,
But Merry Christmas, anyway!
Weain't got nothin' against you, really,
Except your skin is black.
I saw a man preaching on the street corner's endPeaceon Earth - Good Will Toward Men,

But nobody listened, they just shoved him aside,

He wasjust an old man, ignorant and blind.
They couldn't be blamed much, thoughThey had shopping to do,
It's Christmas, you know.
Well, I saw a bum lying by the sidewalk's edge,
He couldda been alive, he couldda been dead,
But either way, he wasplain outta luck.
Not one person stopped to pick him up,
They were all too busy Showing good will toward men, I guess,
After all, it's Christmas.
A guy down South went home that night,
Kissed his children, hugged his wife,
"1'11see ya later," he says, "You kids be good,
I gotta go now, where's my hood?
The boys and I are gonna have a Christmas party Anybody seen my rifle?
Merry Christmas! - ya'all." x .,.
-Paul Wolfe

I .,



. .


Both God and myself, as you doubtless all know,

Were chronic old bachelors, long time ago.
Indeed, if I do not most sadly forget,
Weare both of us chronic old bachelors yet.
I know that I am, and I cannot recall,
Such fact as God's having been married at all;
And yet, I suppose, 'tis unknown to no one,
That Jesus was this same old bachelor's son;
That Mary, bethrothed tho she was to another,

The American Atheist

Became of this bachelor's child the fond mother.
And now if God was indeed Jesus's pa,
And never was married to Jesus's ma,
I'm sure I cannot for the life of me see
How such a relation could possibly be,
And not be adult'rous, as much as 'tis when
Wivesare now made mothers by bachelor men.
Hence God is convicted, you plainly do see,
Of adult'ry, which is not e'en charged against me.
-John R. Kelso

Page 23

Dear Editor:
First of all, thank you very
much for such an informative
magazine. I thoroughly
reading each copy and look forward to next month's issue. One
article of particular interest to
me was a letter to the editor
from Juanita M. Sanchez (Aug.,
'77). Reading of her brave refusal to remove her hat or bow her
head as the others engaged in
prayer has prompted me to write
the appropriate U.S. Navy authority and demand official recognition as an American Atheist. No member of the Armed
Forces that I know of has been
given this recognition
For me, there is no room for
compromise on this matter. People have advised me that I may
run into a lot of 'unnecessary'
static for th is action. If there is
any static, it will be no fault of
mine. I merely ask for recognition and recognition I will have.
I started a campaign to educate people on the need for
separation of church and state
as a high schooler. At that time,
while supporting the Society of
Separationists, I started my own
Atheists league. It was a small
time operation, but we did reach
many of the Jesus Freaks to let
them know the Atheist's position. You can't imagine, or perhaps you can, how many people
were praying for my 'soul.' It
was frightening. They are suffering from an accepted form of
mass psychosis. I told them that
all we ask is that the church pay
its fair share of the taxes and
that we keep it separated from
the state in countless other ways.
On top of that, I told them that
they ought to keep their delusions to themselves and usually
referred them to Matthew 6:6.
I want to thank rnv'friends from
SOS for all the very useful inforPage 24

mati on that I received at that

Now I find myself in the U.S.
Navy amidst an enormous population of mindless Christians. Get
this! Some have asked, that since
I don't believe in 'god,' why
don't I steal, go AWOl, or do
things like that. Can you believe
it? Well, reading The American
Atheist has spurred me into action again. I shall no longer accept being a 'passive' Atheist. I'm
not asking for my rights; I have
assumed them. I have written the
Officer in Charge of the department that is supposedly responsible for handling such grievances . I suspect that I shall be
writing many more such letters
to various other persons. Be that
as it may. I have not yet begun
to fight, and I shall keep you informed.
Michael D. Hagen
Bremerton, WA

federal money being spent on the

naval chaplaincy program, which
I consider to be a mockery to an
institution dedicated to scientific
I mention
th is
merely to emphasize my point.
Listing myself as 'Other' will
not do either, as it implies I have
Judeo-Christian nature. I respectfully request being officially
recognized as an American Atheist,
with that title or 'Not Applicable' being placed on all appropriate lines of all legal forms of
It really should be quite easy
to remedy this problem. It shall
remain a problem for all of us
until it is remedied. If you are
unable to act on this matter,
please refer this letter to someone who has that authority.
I would sincerely appreciate a
reply. Thank you.
Michael D. Hagen

The following is the letter sent

to the Officer in Charge:

Dear Michael:
Bravo and bravissimo for your
courage! There must be thousands like you in the U.S. Navy
and perhaps notices of your fight
in U.S. Navy publications
bring them together. Who knows,
you may be able to accomplish
single handed what the great power of the unions could not doorganize within the military. Best
of luck, and we'll be looking
forward to future reports.

I was instructed by our Personnel Office to address th is

grievance to you. Getting right to
the point, on entrance into the
Navy I identified myself among
those listing their religion as 'No
Preference.' I have since learned
that this category is too vague to
adequately describe my position.
I am an American Atheist and a
member of American Atheists,
Inc. 'No Preference' does not indicate this and places me into a
large category of various indecisive Christians, apathetic individuals, and Agnostics.
The fact is, I do have a preference. I am working for the
complete and total separation of
church and state. This, by the
includes abolishing
chaplaincy program in the navy,
among other things. As a taxpayer, I object to any amount of

Dear Editor:
I was intrigued by your idea
of 'taking back' Christmas, and
have been trying to think of a
catchy name for the new/old
Since, as you mentioned, we are celebrating the
swing back toward spring at the
winter solstice which is the shorCon't on pg. 27
The American Atheist

Tht Amtritan Athtist Radio Strits

In 1968, the first year of broadcasting of the American Atheist Radio Series, we sent out, all over
the United States, copies of what we called "The'
Solstice Season" program. Weprinted it in our literature and distributed it in a small broadside.
When the American Atheist Magazine was issued
later [we could not afford to publish it in 1968J,
we reprinted the article as the featured radio program
script in December. Since then, for a number of
years it has been repeated yearly in the magazine.
We are happy to do so again this year. We hope
that our new subscribers will come to love it as much
as have our old subscribersand the listeners who have
requested a repeat of it in our American Atheist
Radio Series.
Program 30
KTBC Radio

December 23, 1968

Austin, Texas

Hello there,
This is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheist,
back to talk with you again.
Someone stole something from me. I don't like it.
What was stolen from me - and from you - was the
most beautiful holiday in the world. Robert G. Ingersoll [an American Atheist hero of earlier days]
was angry about this theft too. Let me read to you
what he had to say about it. He wrote a very famous
"Christmas Sermon." It was printed in the Evening
Telegram newspaper, New York City, New York, on
December 19,1891. The ministers of the day attacked the newspaper and demanded a boycott of it. The
Telegram accepted the challenge and set off an issue
across the country. The paper printed the Rev. Dr. J.
M. Buckley's attack, and Robert Ingersoll's answer. It
developed into a real donnybrook.
Let's hear what Ingersoll had to say.
"The good part of Christmas is not always Christian, it is generally Pagan;that is to say, human and
"Christianity did not come with tidings of great
joy, but with a messageof eternal grief. It came with
the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant
war on earth and perdition hereafter.
"It taught. some good things, the beauty of love
and kindness in man. But asa torch-bearer, asa bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite
consequencesto the acts of finite beings,crushing the
soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to
bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and
made god the keeper of an eternal penitentiary,
destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men.
Not satisfied with that, it has deprived god of the
The American Atheist

"And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the Pagan world the old festival called
"Long before Christ wasborn the sun-god triumphed over the Powers of Darkness.About the time that
we call Christmas the days began perceptibly to
lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshippers
of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the
hosts of night. Such a festival wasnatural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of
the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the Pagansthe best it has.
"I believe in Christmas and in every day that has
been set apart for joy. We in America have too much
work and not enough play. We are too much like the
"1 think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he
thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasing object to god than a praying Englishman. Wetake
our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good free
days, the more the better.
"Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget, a
good day to throwaway prejudices and hatreds, a
good day to fill your heart and your house, and the
hearts and housesof others with sunshine."
Would you believe that such a warm Christmas sermon could cause religious people to start a vicious attack on a newspaper for publishing it? Ingersoll used
the word "borrow". He said that Christians borrowed
the pagan holiday. I use a stronger word. They stole
it. They stole the most beautiful holiday of man - and
for what?
They claim that this is the birthday of Jesus Christ.
Let's look at their scholars, and their history, and see
if this is a fact. You most probably all know A. T.
Robertson, a late professor of New Testament Greekat the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, Kentucky. He had written a standard textbook on the so-called Broadus Harmony of The Gospels and it is used in every school of religion across
the land. In this book is summarized all the findings
of religious scholarship in relationship to Jesus
Christ and, among other things, the date of his birth.
After a lengthy exploration of when Jesus Christ
may have been born, Dr. Robertson sets the date at hold on now - the summer or early fall of the year
B.C. 6 or B.C. 5. Did you hear that? He set the date
in the summer or the fall. Recently the idea of the
first week of January has gained some following. But
no one who is a religious scholar anymore accepts or
believes December 25th.
One must calculate from the possible death of
Herod, or the appearance of the so-called star in the
East, which could have been a comet recorded by the
Chinese or a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and
Page 25

Saturn. But the Greenwich Observatery says that the

appearing as a single star was very unlikely. Or one can judge the "time of universal
peace", that is the "time of no. war" about which the
heavenly host sang. But there was never any steppage of war in that time.
One can guess from the so-called ministry of John
the Baptist, or the age of Jesus upon h is entry into.
the ministry, or the building of the Temple of Herod,
or the clesing of the temple of Janus, or the so-called
census of Augustus Caesar. All of these lead the peer
theelegicans in ever-increasing directions away from
the idea of Christmas and the year "zerotor "one" of
our present calendar.
Actually the idea of December 25th is untenable.
All the ancients in Christian history had various days
fer Christ's birth. Clement of Alexander, who. was
closer to. that alleged event in time, said it was May
20th. April 20th and January 6th have always appeared as possible dates. Why did the Christians want
the twenty fifth of December? Why that particular
date? Why did they deliberately steal this very irnportant date from the pagans?
There are four points in our calendar which we use
and which we call "Solstice" er "Equinox"
two. of each. The latter is easy: we say that the equinox is when the sun crosses the equator of the earth
and day and night are everywhere of equal length.
The sun does net actually cress the equator, we all
knew that. But with the earth's natural tip en its
natural axis as it whirls around the sun, this seems to.
be so. Then, either one er ether part of our old ball
of earth gets the most sun. But en these two. occasions, the days are equal in length everywhere and
this occurs about March 21st and September 23rd by
our current calendar.
The Solstice is semething different. We don't go.
around the sun in a circle; we tour around it - en
our earth - in an ellipse, which is a flattened circle,
er oval, When we are in the points furtherest away
from the sun, we have another phenomenon, Twice
a year, when the sun is at its greatest distance from
the celestial equator, about June 21st when the sun
reaches its northernmost
point en the celestial
sphere, or about December 22nd when it reaches its
point, we call these moments the
solstice. The solstice in December is the time when
the days of the year, in our hemisphere, are the shortest.
Primitive man and pagan man were net idiots, yeu
knew. They saw this. Apparently at the first, they
feared that the days would get shorter and shorter
and shorter and finally - what if there were enly
night! What a frightening thing, when the sun was so.
necessary fer life, from common observation,
when the day came fer the sun to. overcome the
darkness, and fer the sun to. cause the days to. be
lenger - even if just a minute lenger - it meant that
there was net geing to. be eternal night. The sun had
wen a fight again. Darkness had had to. recede and
Page 26

slewly the days would get lenger and lenger until

spring and summer, with feed growing again and the
life cycle being renewed again, would be everywhere
en the earth.
And so. every primitive culture had a festival or a
feast en this day. It was celebrated in China, in India,
in South America, in Mexico, in Africa, in every
single place where man could watch days and nights
and seasons, There were presents given en th is great
day, exchanged as a symbel, fer the sun had brought
the most precious gift of all to. man: the warmth
needed fer life and a recycle of the seasons again.
The ancient men noticed ether things tee. Certain
trees stayed green all year round, a premise of the
abundance of spring and summer to. come again after
winter, a reassurance that all the greens would return
in their seasons, The light of the sun and the twinkling light of stars became important in symbolism as
well as in fact. The mysterieus parasite, mistletoe,
ever green, intrigued primitive man. It all needed to.
be celebrated, to. be noted with awe. If one could net
give life as the sun did - one could give else, such as
a sharing of feed er the precious few personal items
they had. But, above all it was a time of revelry. Life
had been renewed. It was the most joyous of all
human occasions, There was universal singing and
dancing and laughing and well being. It was wild and
wonderful and human and warm. It was the best of
all festivals. It was the gayest of all feasts. It was the
warmest and best of all collective human activities.
The Christians were no. feels. If they permitted the
pagan holidays to. continue to. exit, it could challenge
the basis of the mournful Christianreligien,
with its
great emphasis en death. First came edicts eutlawing
the pagan holiday. But nething so. wildly wenderful
and natural as this could ever be outlawed. And, then
the solution came: incorporate it into. the Christian
religien. Oh, it took some time. It took many years to.
effect the change. It took much propaganda. It took
many reprisals and sanctions against these who. continued with the" old festival. But, eventually
Christian religien wen the day. There were changes
in calendars tee. When the Gregerian calendar was
changed to. the present day calendar, Solstice - er
Christmas - shifted a few days also, so. that December 25th, by our calendar, came efficially
to. be
designated as a Christian day.
It took a thousand years, and mere, to. rob the
people of the earth of this grand heliday and to. replace it with a personalized myth story of a "new
ged born", aged of a horrible, punitive, new religien
called Christianity.
But, it is even easier new, with mass media. There
are many of yeu in the listening audience old eneugh
to. remember Armistice Day. That was the day that
Werld War I ended and it was celebrated fer thirty
years or mere until a second world war broke out. After we veterans came heme from that second war we
found that there was no. mere Armistice Day. Instead,
there was a Veterans' Day. All the people in the
The American Atheist

listening audience tonight who are twenty-five years

old or younger, never even heard of Armistice Day.
They only know Veterans' Day, for that is all that
they were ever taught.
That's how it is with Christmas. That is how it
was with the Solstice. Finally, no one ever heard of
the Solstice and its festivities - and everyone came to
believe that the Christains were celebrating the birthday of Christ and that was all that this holiday had
ever been.
But Bible scholars know better and Atheists know
better and we celebrate that old and wonderful and
joyous season. We even sell Solstice cards for this
season of Solstice and the New Year [which, really
are both one day]. Let me read to you what we print
traditionally on our Solstice cards.
Joyful and cheerful, with mistletoe and signs of the
season the greetings are to wish one and all the glad
tidings of a wonderful Winter Solstice season. The legend inside the card says:
December 25th by the Julian calendar, was the
winter solstice. This day, originally regarded by the

pagans as the day of the nativity of the sun, the

shortest day of the year - when the light began its
conquering battle against darkness - was celebrated
universally in all ages of man. Taken over by the
Christians as the birthday
of their mythological
Christ, this ancient holiday, set by motions of the
celestial bodies, survives as a day of rejoicing that
good will and love will have a perpetual rebirth in
the minds of men - even as the sun has a symbolic
rebirth yearly."
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a
public service by the Society of Separationists, lnc.,
a non-profit,
tax-exempt, educational
organization dedicated to the complete and absolute
separation of state and church. This series of American Atheist Radio Programs is continued through
listener generosity.
For more information
write to P. O. Box 2117,
Austin, Texas. That zip is 78768.
I will be with you next week, same day of the
week, same time, same station. Until then, I do
thank you for listening and "goodbye"
for now.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Solsticial Gift r con't 1.


Catholic. Une takes on one's culture almost without.

question. He takes on the religion and prevalent ideas
and believ~s the~ till the end o! his days. If he had Mary and Joseph went over the hill,
..&.\ ~
been born I~ Afrlc~ he would believe tre~s have sou~s.
Seems that Mary forgot her pill;
One writer said that now and aqain some ~IS- Mary said "Joseph I'm P G "
torian or philosopher tries to learn all of the beliefs
Gabri~1 said "Mary j~st bteme it
of all o~ th.e cultu~es and then to present the truest,~r .On Christmas Day JC ~as born i~ ~ ~~n;:~,
best thinking av~lIable. T~e ~rlter then a.dded, It
For many years he was only a stranger,
would b~ .better If such hlst~~lans and philosophers Then he took to the road and started to preach,
kept their Ideas to themselves.
But people didn't dig what he tried to teach'
[To be continued next Issue] T/.,
k H"

f ney too
tm to Pilate, and he did. say,
Letters to The Editor [con't].

"J.C, with your life you'll pay!"

test day of the year, how about Shortday (or Sday in
They put a nail in His foot, a hole in His side,
place of Xmas)? Shortday would be celebrated on the
Hung Him on a cross to get crucified.
25th even though the shortest day is the 21 st or 22nd He died for you, died for me,
since we are celebrating the occurrence of the shor-
Coolest Cat you ever did see!
test day rather than its precise astronomical date . Judas committed suicide?
Since the return of spring is important to everyone,
Betrayin' a beatnik, he couldn't abide.
this would be a holiday that could be celebrated by When old Easter rolled around,
all peoples and all countries.

There lay Jesus, rottin' in the ground:

There are two other minor points which might be. On that third day He did arise,
changed. The first is the colors. Since the red repreThough He'd give His disciples a little surprise,
sents the blood of Jesus, perhaps it would be better But He could only stay for a minute or two,
to use green and golden orange ...
green for the.
Said there were things upstairs he had to do.
spring to come and golden orange for the sun whose. When He took off, He said He'd return,
return we celebrate.
Looked for a minute like He never would learn,
The other minor point is the giving of gifts. Why But, baby, don't you forget,
not buy some for ourselves as well to celebrate our.
It's two-thousand years later, and He ain't back
making it through another winter and another year? yet!
Maybe by adding our own names to our gift lists we
can introduce a little common sense into the holiday
madness, or at least get a little personal satisfaction.
The ongm of "Rockin' Jesus" is unknown. It's
out of it.
supposed to be a folk-song. The chorus is:
Thanks for coming up with a great new idea..
Hockin' Jesus, oo-yeh-oo,
Merry Shortday and Happy New Year!
Hockin' Jesus, oo-yeh-oh,
David Rhodell.
A-humpin' and e-bumpin'
Austin, Tx e
and a-jumpin' up and down that cross!


The Advent of Winter Solstice [con't).

from p. 358 of The Golden Bough relates:

The celebrants
into certain
shrines, from which at midnight they issued with
a loud cry, "The Virgin has brought forth; The
light is waxing!"
The Egyptians even represented the new-born sun by the image of an infant which on his birthday, the winter solstice,
they brought forth and exhibited to his worshippers.
Probably the best ancient celebration of the winter solstice phenomenon was incorporated into the
Roman festival of Saturnalia. This week-long revelry,
officially sanctioned by the Emperor Aurelius in 274
A,D. as the birthday of the unconquered sun, accelerated as the days began to show an increase in daylight, however slight. For seven days and seven nights,
the Romans would have a real party. (Even today
some of their activities have survived intact at many
office parties.) Throughout the Roman Empire, occupied countries engaged in similar festivals. I suppose these orgies were an early expression of brotherly love. (Try to find a Latin scholar even in the
twentieth century who does not know "emo, amas,
amat," etc.)
Moving on, although mistletoe is not uniquely
associated with winter solstice celebrations in the
ancient world, it was considered universally sacred because it grew on the sacred oak, whose logs were
burned for solsticial fires. Anything that grew on such
a tree was considered to be holy, but no parasite is
credited with more magical ability than the mistletoe
plant, wh ich was regarded as indestructible by either
fire or water.
I suggest strongly that you acquire some mistletoe
if you choose to tone down your winter solstice observation with something less than an orgy. (If that is
the case, please do not invite me.) Anyway, you
must collect your own mistletoe if you are an orthodox neo-pagan. (Reformed groups often use plastic
leaves made in Taiwan, while conservative followers
generally buy "supervised" boxed chocolate miniatures in the shape of mistletoe leaves or berries.)
When you are ready to collect your specimens, gather your friends at the nearest oak grove. Be certain
to remind them to wear their white robes! (If you
have difficulty
in assembling the faithful,
them that drinks are on the house afterward.) Assuming you are the priest, collect your mistletoe by.
cutting it with a golden sickle. (See Sears Cata-

As far as we know the ancients did not kiss under

the mistletoe. (Those celebrating Saturnalia which encompassed the winter solstice, most likely engaged in
some preliminary
osculation, but I could find no
source that placed the participants under any mistletoe. Still, to most ancients the mistletoe plant was a
cure-all, especially for childhood ailments. Some ancients claimed that it extinquished fire, while the
Druids used it as fertility drug for their cattle. According to Pliny, the early Italians believed that a
woman could conceive if she held a branch of mistletoe. (Absolutely no comment on that one!)
Likewise, many ancient civilizations proclaimed
that mistletoe would open all locks, conduct electricity,
but, most significantly,
it prevented harm
from sorcery and witchcraft.
In recent times in
Austria, it was placed on thresholds to prevent nightmares, while in the north of England, it was fed to
the first cow that delivered after New Year's Day to
prevent the spoilage of the butter and milk of the
herd due to witchcraft.
I would definitely include a little mistletoe in my
Winter Solstice Festival if I were you. Think how handy it will be to have around if your fire gets out of
hand, if you lose your car keys, if you plan on electrocuting someone, or if your mother-in-law pops in
Along with the mistletoe, start accumulating your
kindling, your solar virgins, your golden sickle, your
seven day provisions, and your white robed friends.
As a word of warning, please do not wait until
Winter Solstice Eve to pick out your oak grove. (Remember how hard it was to find a place last year?)
When it comes time to ignite that solsticial fire
on December 21, 1977, will you be ready to make
this holiday worthy of neo-paganism? As you light
the sacred oak 109 at 6:24 EST, or at the appropriate
time in your area, will you be prepared to rededicate
yourself to the true spirit of the occasion? Remember orthodox neo-pagans must use friction to draw
the fire from the log, while reformed neo-pagans will
use electric heaters and reflectors aimed toward the
windows, but they will keep an oak log and a can of
charcoal lighter on hand just in case their mothers
drop in.



log.) Have a sober friend below ready to catch the.


treasure in a pure white cloth. The most orthodox

neo-pagans use only fine linen woven from the flax.
that grows near Stonehenge, while the reformed believers use Pampers. Conservative members generally
pay a local, non-pagan, to collect their samples.
Page 28

* **


April 7, 8, 9 - 1978 in San Francisco, California

Write: John Mays, Coordinator
P. O. Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768
The American Atheist

Transubstantiation of The Sun [con't].

brought into harmony with one of the greatest cele- claiming that Jesus, their god, had set the order ot the
universe by his birth, to accomplish this salvation.
brations of the ancient world, as Jesus was gradually
identified with the sun. The Holy Bible, the Helias
Bib/ia, is the Sun Book. Jesus was born in the celestial rotation when the Vernal Equinox was in Pisces, Christmas Survival Kit for Atheists [con'tj.
the sign of the Fishes, (an ancient symbol of the sun), cended all national boundaries, all idea of race, all
thus he became a "fisher of Men."
ideas of sex, a holiday that belonged to the entire
All solar deities have a common history. They are earth, for all those hundreds of thousands of yearsall born of a virgin, about December 25th, the time of that belonged to mankind. And, they have made it
the celebration of a heinous religion that does not
the Winter Solstice, when the Zodiacal sign of Virgo,
the Virgin, is rising in the eastern horizon. The Greek bring tidings of great joy but a message of eternal
translators of the Old Testament inadvertently trans- grief. It comes with the threat of everlasting torture
on its lips, this religion. It gives infinite consequences
lated the Hebrew word meaning "marriageable young
the acts of finite beings.
woman" into "virgin." The profound regard of the
It has a desperate bleeding Christ nailed onto a
Jews for the married state would make the idea of a
dying an agonizing death, as its symbol. It
"virgin birth"
impossible. The new-born is almost
joyous festive occasion into a crass comdevoured by the cold darkness of winter, but conmercialized
rip-off and reaffirmation
of allegiance to
quers at the Spring Equinox, when the sign of the
more money
Ram, Aries, the Lamb of God, rises. Thousands of
years before Christianity the pagans sang, "AII hail,
Happy? There are more suicides during your
Lamb of God." A lamb appeared on the Christian
week than at any other time of the
cross until the year 680 A.D. when the Council of
quiet. You need a lesson in astronConstantinople
adopted a human figure as the reliomy
gious symbolism; even this figure was the form of
Yes. I said astronomy. This has to do with our
Prometheus and the face of Apollonious. Only later
earth. These are celebrations of natural events. They
the figure of Jesus was used.
have nothing to do with your gods, or any older gods.
Creeds originate in the experiences of the human
race. Primitive man came to associate closely the sun, This is the Solstice. S-O-L-S-T-I-C-E. It has been celeseasons and seeds. The miracle of generation was brated for at least a million years. Yes, a million, by
our barbarian ancestors, by Cro-Magnon man and the
found in the apparently lifeless seed. Man came to
of them.
understand the proper seasons for planting and har- Neanderthals, Australopithecus-all
How did they know about Jesus Christ? (Groan).
vesting, and elaborate pagan festivals grew out of th is
That's the point, kiddo. There was no Jesus Christ.

Long ages ago in the valley of the Euphrates, man All there ever was-was this celebration.
What celebration? I'm telling you. I'm giving you
discovered that three long nights preceded the Winter
this lesson in astronomy.
Solstice, when Light began to return to the world.
What does astronomy have to do with Christmas?'
They built sacred fires and rejoiced.
The earth goes
The sun became the source of life as it awakened
the earth and raised the dead seed and vegetation to around the sun in an ellipse-an oval. When the earth
life. Thus all solar gods became raisers of the dead. gets on the outmost tip of that oval, on the long
sides, that point is called the Solstice, when the earth
After remaining stationary for three days and nights
is at its greatest distance from the sun-on each side
from December 22 to 25, the light triumphs over the
of the oval. It reaches those points on about June
powers of darkness as it begins to ascend northward
in the heavens-it "rises from the dead," "ascends to 21st and about December 22nd. On June 21st, in the
northern hemisphere of the earth, that is the longest
Heaven," to redeem the earth and its people from the
cold and gloom of winter. The Druids used the em- day of the year. On December 22nd, in the northern
hemisphere of the earth, that is the shortest day of
blem of mistletoe, as it was nourished only by light
and air (a soul attached to a body). The pine, fir and the year.
Primitive man noticed this a million years ago.
evergreen trees were long used in Norse countries to
symbolize the idea of immortality
because they re- The days kept getting shorter and shorter and shorter
main green throughout the winter.
and shorter-until
the time of the Solstice was
So the ceremonials of the Winter Solstice came to
reached. On that occasion, the day became just a littake precedence over all other sacred rites, as man tle longer. It meant that the last point of shrinking
grappled with his fear of death and hope for immordays had been reached, that the long dark nights
tality. Christianity
further built upon the idea by would now get shorter and that slowly the days


The American Atheist

Page 29

would get longer and longer, until spring came again

and summer, with food growing, and warmth and the
end of winter.
Every primitive culture had a festival or feast on
this day. It was celebrated in China, in India, in South
America, in Mexico, in Africa, in every single place
where man could watch days and nights. It was the
most joyous of all festive occasions. It was wild and
wonderful and human and warm. It was the best of
festivals. It was the gayest of all feasts. It was the
warmest of all human activities. It meant the entire
recycling of seasons. It meant the gift of life ... not
a gawd-damned shirt wrapped in a paper sheet.
Everywhere, mankind was outside, outdoors and
they saw the stars move back into their positions for
the spring and summer to come. They saw the stars
through the trees ... not jazzed up electric bulbs on
a hacked down juniper.
They danced ...
to keep warm, joyous in the
knowledge that the shortest day had come and gone
and they were back on the cycle to renewed life.
They saw that the mistletoe stayed green all year, a
promise of the abundance of spring and summer to
come again soon. They called their festivities everything: Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Natalis invicti solis. It
was the birthday of the sun. And, it was celebrated in
all ages of man, in every part of the globe. Even as
the sun had this symbolic rebirth, yearly, so there was
rejoicing that good will and love would have a perpetual rebirth in the minds of men.
And, then came those doleful, dark and dastardly Christians, converting the heathen and the pagan with the sword, the auto de fe. But, they could
not blotch out this time of festivity, ingrained in the
D.N.A. of mankind. The Christians were no fools. If
they permitted the pagan holiday to continue to exist
it could challenge the very basis of the Christian religion. First came edicts outlawing the pagan holiday.
But nothing so wonderful as this could be outlawed
or repressed. And then some good Christian found
the solution. Adopt the holiday! Incorporate it into
the Christian religion. Oh, it took some time. It took
hundreds of years to effectuate it. It took much propaganda and many penalties and reprisals against those
who continued with the old festivals. Many witches
were killed.
And it took years to decide what to do with the
holiday. Before the fifth century there was no general
consensus (of Christian opinion) as to when the
mythical Christ was born. That day was set at January 6th, March 25th, April 19th, May 20th, Nov.
3rd. The first mention of December 25th as the
of th is "son" day (instead of "sun"
day) was in a Latin chronograph of 354 A.D. published by Mommsen. Chrysostom,
in a sermon

preached at Antioch in 386, says that a feast for

Christ was held on December 25th. It was the first
celebrated by the patriarch of Constantinople about
the year 440. Epiphany and Christmas were not made
judicial non dies (by the church) until the year
The Christians were forced to steal this day. They
had no choice. They could not suppress it. Eventually
they won the day. There was a change from the Gregorian calendar to the present day Julian calendar
and with that change we lost the Solstice and December 25th became officially
recognized as a
Christian day.
Holidays are stolen, changed, all of the time: take
Armistice Day. When we came back from the Second
World War we found out that there was no more
Armistice Day; it was now Veterans' Day. Most of
you in the present generation don't even know there
was such a thing as Armistice Day. That's just three
generations. The Christians have had 1400 years to
steal this occasion. You are hoodwinked,
bamboozled, conned, deceived.
I told you. It's a word from the old Great American Depression. Bamboozled. Yes, look it up in the
gawd-damned dictionary.
I'm talking about Christmas, not bamboozling.
Bible scholars know better. The theologians
know better. Atheists know better than to celebrate this fraud.
What do we do? Well, first we celebrate the
Oh mygawd, what is it? Didn't you listen at
all? )t is an ancient holiday, a natural holiday, set by
the motions of the celestial bodies, the motion of our
earth around the sun. The Solstice this year occurs at
exactly 23:24 G.M.T., Greenwich Mean Time (6:24
p.m. Eastern Standard Time, U.S.A.) on December 21 st.
What happens then? That's when the earth
reaches the outermost part of the oval ellipse course
which it takes around the sun. It just lasts a second.
That's the beginning of the New Year, the new orbit,
the lengthening of the days.
What do we do? We celebrate! At just that moment, we do something symbolic: we light a candle
sitting smack in the middle of a snowball. It's a
promise of the renewal of the year, the cycle around
the sun ... and we all get mushy and sentimental and
kiss everybody and hug everybody and sing "Auld
Lang Syne." And, the very oldest one in the celebration gives the very youngest one his heart's desire.
A wonderful present: an owl made of seeds, a 75
foot long string of popcorn, squeezed fresh pineapple
juice, a wood carving-a violin!, something out of nature, out of the season, something frivolous and wonCon't on pg. 32

Page 30

The American Atheist

Thomas Jttttrson Us.

Rtligious Opprtssion
Every Atheist concerned with the historical, intel- Statute of Religious Freedom, a young boy was
lectual and philosophical
background of his creed burned to death in the streets of Paris for carrying a
should be acquainted with Frank Swancara's impor- book by Voltaire
in his pocket. Only against the
tant contribution to the literature of reason. The au- historical
of witch-hunting,
thor spent three score and ten years studying the ef- and terror can the revolutionary
nature of Jefferfects of religion on judicial decisions and is the first
son's bill be recoqnized and understood.
Thomas Jefferson
Vs. Religious Oppression
to call attention directly to and publ ish Jefferson's
in vivid,
Preamble to the Statute of Virginia for Religious documents
Freedom as worded when first introduced by the red detail. This book sets forth the laws and judicial
headed American
Many words and decisions of preceding centuries that resulted in punphrases of secular significance were expunged in ishment of heretics, blasphemers, and dissident rei igionists by torture and death-whipping
of. the naJefferson's absence by divided votes of the Virginia
ked body, boring through the tonque with a red hot
Since pre-medieval times, an earlier reviewer, iron, hanging from the gallows, .burning by mobs,
John H. Latta,has written, liberal thinkers have real- lipping the tongue from the head with pincers.
The author has combed through obscure diaries,
ized the close association between political theory
letters, and journals to compile the candid religious
and organized religion. Jefferson thought that "in
every country and in every age, the priest has been opinions of some of America's greatest statesmen.
hostile to Liberty; he is always in allegiance with the Included here are the unorthodox
ignored by Fourth of July orators and religious zealdespot, abetting his abuses in return for protection
for his own." This did not, however, persuade the ots-of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John
American patriot to fear those same priests since he Adams.
Traced in this volume are the contrasting history
wrote: "You judge truly that I am not afraid of
priests. They have tried upon me all their various of religious persecution by states lacking Jefferson's
Statute for Religious Freedom. The author cites case
batteries, of pious whining, hypocritical
lying and slandering, without being able to give me after case showing how even into the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries agnostics and atheists were disone moment of pain."
History recognizes Thomas Jefferson's outstandqualified as witnesses, denied public office, deprived
ing leadership and influence in the events leading to of custody of their children, refused college degrees,
the foundation of our present secular form of govern- robbed of the right to bequeath their property.
ment and, in particular, his influence in securing
Cited here are the fascinating cases of Thomas
widespread recognition for the secular principles of Paine, Robert
Ingersoll, the Reverend Benjamin
human freedom embodied in the Bill of Rights. Keach (for being a Baptist), James Nayler (for being
Very few of the rank and file today have any real a Quaker), and many other nonconformists
of the
comprehension of the brutal character of the per- age.
secutions and judicial murders perpetrated by our
The monument to the man many believe to have
own colonial governments and the so-called Christian
bears the
nations. It was this close proximity
to these brutal
displays of religious fanaticism which served to conINDEPENDENCE,
OF VI Rvince Jefferson and other influential leaders of our
AND FAConstitutional
Convention that a complete separa- THER
tion of the government from all forms of organized
Through Frank Swancara's illuminating analysis
religion was essential if ever the expressed hopes for
of the Statute of Virginia for Religous Freedom, the
the liberties, of all persons were to be secured and
historian, the jurist, the thinking American in general,
and the American Atheist in particular may discover a
Frank Swancara has provided today's readers new dimension
of Thomas Jefferson's greatness.
with a brief but excellent record of important hisSwancara's book is both timely and important as
torical incidents involving legalized religous perse- a convenient and inexpensive index and documented
cutions and murders shortly preceding and flowing
reference to important details of the long and bitter
into the age of Voltaire and out of which the politichurch/state struggle which thus far has won for all of
cal philosophies of the American and French Revo- us whatever freedom from religion we now enjoy. It
lutions developed.
serves also as a foundation for further struggle to eliIn 1766, just 20 years before passage of the
minate the many religious restrictions on our freeThe American Atheist

Page 31

doms which still remain, and it is particularly impor-

tant at this time in view of the resistance of many.
misguided persons who seek in their ignoranceof his-
tory to maintain the status quo in such illegalities as
invocations in our municipal, state and national
governing bodies. The sixteen pagesof bibliography.
and notes expand the potential value of this Jefferson.
study far beyond its limited pagesfor those who wish.
to pursue its subject matter further and furnishes a
veritable "reader's guide" for that purpose. Every
Atheist should become familiar with this vade mecum.
basedon the original among American Atheists, Tho-


My Father Christmas passed away

When I was barely seven.
At twenty-one, alack-a-day,
I lost my hope of heaven.
Yet not in either lies the curse:
The hell of it's because
I don't know which loss hurt the worse My God or Santa Claus.
-Robert Service

Yes! I want

Christmas Survival Kit for Atheists [con't).

derful-a gift of the heart, a renewal of faith in nature

and in mankind, a squeeze,a hug, a kiss, understanding, appreciation. Children know. They understand.
We all do.
We eat things of the season and decorate our
homes with the same.We sing songs that life is wonderful, fulfilling, satisfying. We celebrate that we live.
We understand that we can do, feel, think, plan, rejoice.
And we stay out of "Christmas Sales" and dark
churches with dirgelike music. We shun collection
plates. We revel in mankind and in being part of nature. We take a day off. We eat and drink. We talk to
our neighbors and hug our friends. And, we are happy
to know that we aren't caught up in the Christian
trap of sin and guilt and stolen holidays.
Turn off the television. Come on, I have a log on
the fire. Call the dogs in here. Spike the cranberry
juice. Throw that damn dead tree out the door. Let's
watch the stars tonight. Gee-it's good to be alive.
Listen. Listen. You can feel the earth move. It's
Solstice. It's Solstice!

copies of Thomas Jefferson vs. Religious Oppression, at $8.95 per copy (plus 55 cents

postageand handling. Pleasefind enclosed $9.50 for each copy.

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Page 32

The American Atheist



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