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The journal Of Atheist News And Thought

JANE ADDAMS
Jane Addams. was born September 6, 1860. Having a
medical education Interrupted by illness, she travelled in
Europe extensively for two years. While there she became interested in Toynbee Hall, a settlement house, in
the notorious Whitechapel industrial district of London.
Upon her return to the United States she determined to
establish a similar project. Purchasing the home which
Charles Hull had built in Chicago in 1856 she, and some
persons in sympathy with her project, moved into what
was to become famous as "Hull House" on September
18,1889.
She entered the battle for juvenile courts, tenement
house regulation, an eighthour day for women, factory
inspection, workmen's compensation, women's suffrage,
and justice for both immigrants and Blacks.
In 1910 she became the first president of the National Conference of Social Work. In 1919 she became President of the Women's International League for Peace and
Freedom. She opposed the entry of the U.S Into World
War I and in 1931 won the Nobel pnze for her efforts for
world peace.
We are all indebted to Jane Addams, an open Atheist,
(who died on May 21, 1935 and we salute her in the
month of her birth, the month of the opening of Hull
House.

H. G. WELLS
H. G. Wells was born on September 21,1866 and died
on August 13, 1946. We know from his association with
our own Baron Avro Manhattan that he was an Atheist.
No reference book cites him as the author of the infamous Crux Ansata, An Indictment of The Roman
Catholic Church written in 1943. Yet when asked concerned with this church what his feelings were, in interview he stated:
"1 think that it stands for everything most hostile to
the mental emancipation and stimulation of mankind. It
is the completest, most highly organized system of prejudices and antagonisms in existence. Everywhere in the
world there are ignorance and prejudice, bu the greatest
complex of these, with the most extensive prestige and
the most intimate entanglement with traditional institutions, is the Roman Catholic Church. It presents many
laces toward the world, but everywhere it is systematic
in its fig,ht against freedom"
Copies of Crux Ansata were confiscated by Customs
Officials when first it was tried to irnport Tt into the
United States. The manuscript finally was sent in as a
private letter to obtain an edition for our country.
We honor H. G. Wells, in this month of his birth.

FRUCTIDOR

(September) 11981; Vol. 23, No.9


ON THE COVER

NEWS
Bagels and Foulwell
Second

National

- International

Annual

'.' .. , .....

Picnic
FEATURED

The Visible Atheist

.....

Intrigue

COLUMNISTS

- James E. Brodhead

All for The Take - Ignatz Sahula-Dycke


Life in A Theocracy

14

- Fred Woodworth

There He Goes - Mr. Candidate

16

- Gerald Tholen

17

Benefit of Clergy - D. L. Kent


REGULAR
Editorial
Atheist

- Atheists
Masters:

American

19
FEATURES

as Outcasts

The Faith of A Rationalist

Atheist

- Bertrand

Russell

Radio Series - The Eighth Commandment

Poems

13

21

'

Following the biblical admonition


of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth, our artist has here reversed the
traditional maze and straight path concept so that the dark and fruitless
path is that of religion and the good and
rewarding path is that of Atheism.
However, that light touch does not
tell it all, and that dark path should be
described by another female Atheist,
an Anarchist naturally, since most of
the best Atheists are individualist
Anarchists.
Emma Goldman then succinctly describes that horrible road:
"Religion! How it dominates man's
mind, how it humiliates and degrades
his soul. God is everything, man is
nothing, says religion, and out ofthat
nothing god has created a kingdom so
despotic, so tyrannical, so cruel, so terribly exacting that naught but gloom
and tears and blood have ruled the
world since gods began.
For not until you think and judge
for yourself, will you get rid ofthe dominion of darkness, the greatest obstacle to all progress."

24

,::

Editor-in-Chief
Madalyn

Murray

O'Hair

Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray

Artist
Felix Santana

Poetry
Angeline Bennett
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair
Gerald Tholen

Production

Staff

David Kent
Richard Richardson
Ralph Shirley
Richard Smith
Gerald Tholen
Gloria Tholen

Non-resident Staff
James E. Brodhead
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Fred Woodworth

Austin, Texas

The American
Atheist magazine is
published
monthly
by the American
Atheist Center, 2210 Hancock Drive,
Austin, TX 78756, a non-profit,
nonpolitical, educational organization.
Mailing address:
P. O. Box 2117, .
Austin, TX 78768.
~ 198.1 by
Society of Separationists,
Inc.
Subscription
rates: $25/ one year;
$40jtwo years.
Manuscripts
s u b rn it t ed. must be
typed, double-spaced, accompanied by a
stamped, self-addressed
envelope. The
editors assume no responsibility
for
unsolicited manuscripts.
The American Atheist magazine
is indexed in
MONTHLY PERIODICAL
INDEX

$UPPORT
AMERICAN ATHEI$M

ISSN: 0032-4310

(ructidor

IV

(September)

11981

Page I

EDITORIAL

JON GARTH MURRA Y

Atheists as Outcasts
Last month I commented on the case of Marsa v. Wernik,
which has been decided by the Supreme Court of the State of
New Jersey. That case involved the opening of borough
council meetings with prayer or an "invocation". Since the
time of the Marsa decision, The American Atheist Center
has filed two new important Establishment
cases in two
different states in quick succession. These were filed in
Arkansas and Mississippi on the 14th and 15th of July
respectively.
In order to understand their importance and why they
were filed we need to look at a little history. Five states of the
Union have sections in their constitutions that speak to the
rights of Atheists. These states are North Carolina, South
Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. In each state a
"belief in God" is required as a prerequisite to holding public
office. Back in 1979 the constitution of North Carolina was
challenged in a suit filed by the Charlotte Chapter of
American Atheists. That suit never came to trial, because
the governor and attorney general of North Carolina both
admitted to the unconstitutionality
of the belief requirement. As a result a "consent decree" was signed by all
involved to declare the requirement of belief in god to be
unconstitutional,
and this decree was then issued by a
Federal District Court.
A similar case filed in Texas has not been met with similar
cooperation
from that state's authorities.
It has been
opposed since 1977, and now rests in the Fifth Federal
Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana. The
State of Texas has spent tens of thousands of dollars of
taxpayer funds fighting this case, and shows no sign of
giving up yet. The Appeals Court itself has had a rather odd
reaction to the case, however, doing something that it has
very rarely done in its history. When the Texas case first
reached the appellate level, oral arguments were heard and
the court upheld the Texas constitution by a vote of two to
one (with a three judge panel). Thedecision was sent back
down to the Federal District Court in Austin, Texas,
remained on the desk of the Federal District judge for about
one week, and was recalled by the three judges of the Fifth
Circuit Appeals Court. Since the "recall" both sides have
been puzzled as to what the Fifth Circuit had up its sleeve.
No word came from the court for several months.
While the recall of the Texas case was pending further
action, The American Atheist Center filed the two actions in
Arkansas and Mississippi. Article 19, Section I of the
Arkansas Constitution
says, "No person who denies the
being of God shall hold any office in the civil departments of
this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any
Court." Article 14, Section 265 of the Mississippi Constitution says, "No person who denies the existence of a Supreme
Being shall hold any office in this state." Both of these
provisions can be seen to be clearly, on their face, abrogations of the rights of Atheists in those two states. Yet, prelim-

inary indications are that both states are willing to fight for
these provisions. no matter what the cost or how long the
struggle.
To give you an idea of how the people of these two states
regard these laws: In Mississippi a former attorney general,
while in office, remarked that he thought the provision in his
state's constitution was valid and that it would serve to see
that only "good" men occupied public office. He felt and said
that anyone who could look at the flowers and not see the
wonder of god's handiwork was insane, and that the state
had a legitimate right to keep insane persons out of public
office. When American Atheists went to Jackson, Mississippi, to file the action on behalf of an Atheist and member
in that state, the organization was unable to find an attorney
in the Jackson area - or the state, for that matter - with
the courage to represent them. One attorney came to the
motel room of Dr. O'Hair and myself and said that he would
be ruined if he associated himself with the word" Atheist"
publicly in the state. He said that he must think of his family
and children, and that he would never be able to practice his
vocation of law again if he associated with "Atheism". To
this date no attorney in the state of Mississippi has come
forward to handle the case. As a result, the individual
Atheist involved had to file "pro se", tackling the case on his
own until such time as counsel could be found. The local
Atheist involved is in his 80s. The entire legal community of
the state of Mississippi is afraid to challenge a law that is
blatantly unconstitutional.
and are willing to be led by an
octogenarian.
In Arkansas,
official reaction seems to lJ~ that the
provision in the state's constitution has not been enforced in
recent years and therefore does not merit consideration for a
change. From their view, discriminatory
law is permissible
as long as it is in form only and not in application. Form is,
however, very important. If the state can deny a section of its
population
full rights on paper, it has set the tone for
discrimination on all other levels of daily life, both business
and personal, against that section by the general population.
States such as Arkansas know that they dare not enforce
such discriminatory
provisions in their constitutions, since
the act of enforcement would give standing to a member of
the class discriminated against, to allow the courts to strike
it. A state creates a law, allows it to become vestigial, and
then claims that its vestigial character makes changing it
unnecessary and gives grounds for resisting that change.
Only those laws which are meritorious in their own right
and enforced or are enforceable should be on the books. If a
law is ceremonial only and is not enforced, what is the
purpose of its continued maintenance as a law? It is like an
official at a sporting event insisting on keeping a rule in the
rule book that is never enforced on the field of play and is
considered to have no bearing on the outcome thereof. Yet,
over and over again government entities argue for the retencontinued on page 24

Page 2

Fructidor

(September)

11981

American

Atheist

'\

..front llagt l\tbitw


ine art man a~ btll ...
BAGEL AND FOULSMELL

Should an Atheist wonder who and what controls our foreign policy, it is not
necessary to look afar. The concept is that judeo/christianity
is the bulwark
against Atheistic/Communism.
Hence it is urgently important to keep the jewish
religion ensconced in Jerusalem, since this was the heritage source of christianity. Therefore,
it axiomatically
follows that we must send $3 billion a year to '
Israel to keep a footing for judeo/christianity
in Israel else the heretical muslims
and the gotterdammerung Communist/Atheists
may move into that area.
It is no suprise therefore when the fanatical religious zealot who rules Israel
to the detriment
of the non-believers who inhabit that nation suddenly decided
to bomb the ancient whore (Babylon) on the Pentecost.
Using the outworn
holocaust theme Israeli planes destroyed
Iraq's Tammuz Nuclear Center, which
now is admitted by all to have posed no threat to Israel.
The White House received notice of the attack three hours after the raid,
since Israel desired to save the shipment of the F-16s so that it could continue its
fight for lebensraum and for Drang noch Westen.
But, the real power was recognized when Prime Minister Bagel telephoned
Jerry Foulsmell three days later to explain the rationale behind his terrorist
raid, knowing that fundamentalist
christians know and accept terrorism.
The
call was to express Bagel's deep appreciation
for the friendship of bible-believing christians
in the United States. He wanted
Foulsmell to explain to the
christian public (to hell with the Atheists, agnostics, humanists and sundry) the
reasons for the bombing.
Foulsmell felt that the United States should be congratulating
Israel instead of condemning
it and assu;ed him of the support of
"bible-believing
christians."
Later Foulsmell strongly condemned
the National
Council of Churches which had criticized Bagel after the unprovoked
Israeli attack.
The exchange was not done.
Menachem Bagel felt the need of sending an international
telegram to Foulsmell for the support he had given terrorism. The telegram read:
"Dear Friend, Your statement was broadcast on Israeli radio and made a great
impression on all the people of the country.
I am deeply grateful for your help
emanating from real friendship for Israel. God bless you for your incessant efforts in the service of a just cause. Rabbi Schindler told me about your meeting
and I was happy to see real reconciliation
between you. Your common stand in
love and courage will be of great importance
in the future. Yours sincerely,
Menachem Begin."
The jewish attack against their semite brothers,
""Operation Babylon," was
scheduled
three times. The Iraqi name for its atomic plant, Tammuz 17, is
incidentally the date of the beginning of a traditional fast, since Tammuz 17th is
"the lunar date beginning of an old testament
fast common to the traditions of
the muslim semites as well as the jewish semites.
In this case, one religious fanatic, Bagel, reached out to another, Foulsmell.
And it is patently obvious that if the reasonable persons in the United States and
in the world continue to maintain their silence in the .face of such gross idiocy,
it does not bode well for humankind.

TILL

*
.

DEATH DO US PART

In July pursuant to Section 10(a)(2)


of the Federal Advisory Committees
Act,
the eleventh meeting of the President's
Commission
for the Study
of Ethical
Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and
Behavioral
Research was held in in Virginia.
The action was in part focused on a
draft report on the "definition"
of death
including
the recommendation
of uniform statutes for all of the states of the
union.
At the session discussion of the Commission to be reviewed were "decisions to
forego life-sustaining therapy."
All of this indicates that the religious
community
will flood the Commission
with its concepts while those persons of
the Atheist community
who are unable to
attend these public meetings because of
the constraints of time and money are unheard.
,"-

It is urgently
important,
therefore,
for you to see that your input is available
to the Comission and we suggest that you
write the Atheist viewpoint to the Commission's office:
Commission for The Study of
Ethical Problems in Medicine and
Biomedical and Behavioral Research
Suite 555
2000 K Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C. 20006

\
The news is chosen to demonstrate;
month after month, the dead reactionary
hand of religion.!"t dictates your habits, sexual
conduct, family size. It censures cinema, theater, television, even education.
It dictates life values and lifestyles. Religion is politics and, always, the most authoritarian
and reactionary
politics. We editorialize
our news to emphasize this thesis. Unlike any
other magazine or newspaper in the United States, we say so.

Austin, Texas

Fructidor (September) 11981

Page 3

.focus on ~tbrtsts

Second
Petersburg,

anb we won't take It annncret


National
Indiana

Annual
Summer

Picnic

Solstice

11981

The Summer Solstice Picnic is held each year, about June 21st, which is usually the Summer Solstice, at the American Atheist
imagined, created and achieved by lloyd Thoren, American Atheist extaordinaire.
We salute you lloyd for your vision
and your dedication to the life supporting concepts of Atheism. We all thank you - and some of us love you - Mr. T.
Inside the museum lloyd, and Pam who is the Curator of the Museum, have focused attention on two slogans - one theistic,
one Atheistic. The former Quia Credo Absurdum Est translates to "What is absurd is that which is believed;" the latter Damnant
Quod Non "Intelligent affirms "They condemn that which they do not understand."
Outside the Museum the single sign which
has brought out more closet Atheists than any other' effort staunchly proclaims: "If you cannot speak your mind, you are a.
slave. "

! Museum

Robin Eileen MurrayO'Hair


had
just finished graduating
from high
school the week before the national
Summer Solstice affair.
When the final scores came in
she ranked
in the highest group
of national finalists for the National
Merit Scholarship
Awards.
Note
that big smile!
With her, holding our youngest
Atheist Life Member - Jenifer Thoren, is Gloria Tholen.
The day was beautiful.
The attendance
was more than expected
and the traditional
"good time"
was had by all.

Ralph Shirley, our in-house legal


consultant,
printer, columnist and a
member of the Board of Directors
made it to the picnic this year and the Board of Directors
semiannual
meeting
will from henceforth be held at the time of the
summer solstice at the American Atheist Museum.
Henry
Schmuck,
the famous
"Uncle
Henry"
of the Michigan
chapter,
who has held many elective offices there and who is also a
member of the Board of Directors
was in attendance.
Henry
is on
every picket line, everywhere
within driving distance of Detroit.
My! how nicely they both say
"Jeez" for the camera!

Page 4

Fructidor

(September)

119R1

American

Atheist

Always at these affairs, if the MurrayO'Hairs attend, a few inspirational words


are expected.
Always the Murray-O'Hairsare happy
to do thei r duty.
, On the porch from left to right one
can see Jon Murray (in a dark shirt), then
in the foreground, Pam Thoren, the Director of the American Atheist Museum,
Gerald Tholen, our Chapter Coordinator,
Madalyn Murray O'Hair, with her mouth
open, and lloyd Thoren, who had just
himself finished giving an amusing, warm-,
Iy appealing and informative welcome to
all. And on the porch steps, an old stalwart, Lillian Ramsden of Chicago.

The atmosphere at the American Atheist Museum, which is


situated in the farm belt of southern Indiana, is one of down
home farm or country folk.
There is the big porch, with a swing hanging on chains, and
it is here that most of the intellectual exchanges take place.
It is here that the beerdrinking goes on and here where the
first friendships are started.
.

The Museum is not air-conditioned and all of the American


Atheist staff members who come up from Austin, Texas, for
the event are used to being spoiled rotten with air conditioning - since the whole state of Texas is air conditioned. Therefore, most of the national office staff stay on the porch or in
the shade of the trees outdoors, cold beer in hand.
There is a little of the kid in everyone, and Gerald Thoten
demonstrates this on the see-saw swing.
.-

Austin, Texas

Fructidor

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11981

Page 5

With Atheists coming and going


it is difficult to obtain an "official"
picture, but each yftar we trv.,
By the time we reduced the picture to get it into the magazine we
could not recognize anyone but
that littlest Atheist, Jenifer, again!;

Earl Meyers, Chapter Director


for Eastern Missouri with Lynette Longston
of St. Louis and
Shirley Nelson, member of the
Board of ,Directors, stop to chat.

Uncle
Henry
grilled
endless
stacks of sausages - and the good
odors hung over the entire enclave.

Page 6

Fructidor

(September)

~I

119RI

American

Atheist

..

Everyone is always glad to be at


an Atheist gathering. Only smiles
come in! Here, Theo Kayes wears a
big one.

The rear view was apparently so


lovely to the cameraman that he
made certain we got it!

Atheist Tvshirts abounded. Here


Bob Mangus, Detroit Chapter Direc-
tor, sports his red, white and blue
"No prayer' in Government" shirt.

The Summer Solstice is that time of the yea:i when the


number of daylight hours and the number of night hours are
equal. It is one of the four great moments of nature, shared
every year by all persons on earth - transcending any idea of
nation, sex, race or age. It is a moment when all humankind is
one. These four moments, set by the movement of the earth
around the sun and by the inclination of the earth have always
been marked and celebrated in every age of human existence
from time before memory.
The religious communities In each nation, in each time era,
have always claimed these days as related to events in the life
of their gods. What should be the celebration of the Summer
and Winter Solstices, acts of nature, have become the feast of a
saint and the birthdate of Christ. What should be merely
celebrated as the "Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes has become
also a saint's fete and the christian easter. We need to seize
these, the days of celebration of natural phenomena, and restore them to humankind and to their natural meaning
and that is the "why" of our Summer Solstice Picnic.

Austin, Texas

Fructidor

(September)

11981

Page 7

THE FAITH OF
A RATIONALIST
When I try to discover what are the original sources of
my opinions, both practical and theoretical, I find that
most of them spring ultimately from admiration for two
qualities'kindly feeling and veracity. To begin with
kindly feeling: most of the social and political evils of the
world arise through absence of sympathy and presence
of hatred, envy, or fear. Hostile feelings of this sort are
common between nations; at many times they have
existed between different classes or different creeds
within one nation; in many professions envy is an
obstacle to the recognition of Negroes, contempt for all
who are not white, have brought and are bringing
suffering to would-be oppressors as well as to those
whom they have sought to oppress. Every kind of hostile
action or feelinq provokes a reaction by. which it is
increased and so generates a progeny of violence-and
injustice which has a terrible vitality. This can only be
met by cultivating in ourselves and attempting to
generate in the young feelings of friendliness rather
than hostility, of well-wishing ratherthan malevolence,
and of cooperation rather than competition.
If I am asked "Why do you believe this?" I should not
appeal to any supernatural authority, but only to the
general wish for happiness. A world full of hate is a
world full of sorrow. Each party, where there is mutual
hatred, hopes that the other party will suffer, but this is
seldom the case. And even the most successful oppressors are filled with tear - slave-owners, for example, have been obsessed with dread of a servile insurrection. ,From the point of view of worldly wisdom,
hostile feeling and limitation of sympathy are folly. Their
fruits are war, death, oppression, and torture, not only
for their original victims but in the long run, also for
their perpetrators or their descendants. Whereas if we
could all learn to love our neighbors the world would
quickly become a paradise for us all.
Veracity, which I regard as second only to kindly
feeling, consists broadly in believing according to evidence and not because a belief is comfortable or a
source of pleasure. In the absence of veracity, kindly
feeling will often be defeated by self-deception. It used
to be common for the rich to maintain either that it is.
pleasant to be poor or that poverty is the result of

Page 8

Fructidor

(September)

IV

shiftlessness. Some healthy people argue that all illness is self-indulgence. I have heard fox-hunters argue
that the fox likes being hunted. It is easy for those who
have exceptional power to persuade themselves that
the system by which they profit gives more happiness to
the under-dog than he would enjoy under a more just
system. And even where no obvious bias is involved, it is
only by means of veracity that we can acquire the
scientific knowledge required tobr inq out our common
purposes. Consider how many cherished prejudices had
to be abandoned in the development of modern medicine and hygiene. To take a different kind of illustration:
how many wars would have been prevented if the side
which was ultimately defeated had formed a just
estimate of its prospects instead of one based on conceit
and wish-fulfillment!
Veracity, or love of truth, ISdefined by John Locke as
"not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant." This
definition is admirable in regard to all those matters as
to which proof may reasonably be demanded. But since
proofs need premises, it is impossible to prove anything
unless some things are accepted without proof. We
must therefore ask ourselves. What sort of thing IS It
reasonable to believe without proof? I should reply: The
facts of sense-experience and the principles of mathematics and logic - including the inductive logic employed in science. These are things which we can hardly
bring ourselves to doubt and as to which there is a large
measure of agreement among mankind. But in matters
as to which men disagree, or as to which our own
convictions are wavering, we should look for proofs, or,
if proofs cannot be found, we should be content to
confess ignorance.

11981

American

Atheist

There are some who hold that veracity should have


limitations. Some beliefs, they say, are both comforting
and morally beneficial, although it cannot be said that
there are valid scientific grounds for supposing them to
be true; these beliefs', they say, should not be critically
examined. I cannot myself admit such doctrine. I cannot
believe that mankind can be the better for shrinking
from the examination of this or that question. No sound
morality can need t9 be based upon evasion, and a
happiness derived from beliefs not justified on any'
ground except their pleasantness is not a kind of
happiness that can be unreservedly admired.
These considerations apply especially to religious
beliefs. Most of us have been brought up to believe that
the universe owes its existence to an all-wise and allpowerful Creator, whose purposes are beneficent even'
in which to us may seem evil. I do not think it is right to
refuse to apply to this belief the kind of tests that we
should apply to one that touches our emotions less
intimately and profoundly. Is there any evidence of the
existence of such a Bainq? Undoubtedly belief in Him is
comforting and sometimes has some good moral effects
on character and behavior. But this is no evidence that
the belief is true. For my part, I think the belief lost

"

into a means of mass destruction. I can imagine a


sardonic demon producing us for his amusement, but I
cannot attribute to a Being who is wise, beneficent, and
omnipotent the terrible weight of cruelty, suffering, and
ironic degradation of what is best that has marred the
history of man in increasing measure as he has become
more master of his fate.
There is a different and vaguer conception of cosmic
Purpose as not omnipotent but slowly working its way
throuqh a recalcitrant material. This is a more plausible
conception than that of a god who, though omnipotent
and loving, has deliberately produced beings so subject
to suffering and cruelty as the majority of mankind. I do
not pretend to know that there is no such Purpose; my
knowledge of the universe is too limited. But I do say,
and I say with confidence, that the knowledge of other
human beings is also limited, and that no one can
adduce any good evidence that cosmic processes have
any purpose whatever. Our inadequate evidence, so far
as it goes, tends in the opposite direction. It seems to
show that energy is being more and more evenly
distributed, while everything to which it is possible to
attribute value depends upon uneven distribution. In the
end, therefore, we should expect a dull uniformity, in

no supernatural reasons are needed to make men kind


and to prove that only through kindness can the human race
achieve happiness."

whatever rationality It once possessed when it was


discovered that the earth was not the center of the
universe. So long as it was thought that the sun and the
planets and the stars revolved about the earth. it was
natural to suppose that the universe had a purpose
'connected with the earth, and, since man was what
man most admired on the earth, this purpose was
supposed to be embodied in man. But astronomy and
geology have chanqed all trus. The earth is a minor
planet of a minor star which is one of many millions of
stars in a galaxy which is one of many millions of
galaxies. Even within the. life of our own planet man is
only a brief interlude. Non-human life existed -for :
countless ages before man evolved. Man, even if he
does not commit scientific suicide will perish ultimately
through failure of water or air or warmth. It is difficult to
believe that Omnipotence needed so vast a setting for so
small and transitory a result.
Apart from the minuteness and brevity of the human
species, I cannot feel that it is a worthy climax to such an
enormous prelude. There is a rather repulsive smugness and self-complacency in the argumentthat man is
so splendid as to be evidence of infinite wisdom and
infinite power in his Creator. Those who use this kind of
reasoning always try to make us forget the Neros and'
Attilas and Hitlers and the millions of mean poltroons to
whom such men owed their power. And even what is
best in us is apt to lead to disaster. Religions that teach'
brotherly love have been used as an excuse for persecution, and our profoundest scientific insight is made

Austin, Texas

Fructidor

which the universe would continue forever and ever


without the occurrence of anything in the slightest
degree interesting. I do not say that this will happen; I
say only that. on the basis of our present knowledge, it is
the most plausible conjecture.
._
Immortality, if we could believe in it, would enable us
to shake off this gloom about the physical world. We
should say that although our souls, during their sojourn
here on earth, are in bondage to matter and physical
laws, they pass at death into an eternal world beyond
the empire of decay which science seems to reveal in
the sensible world. But it is impossible to believe this
unless we think a human being consists of two parts
~ soul and body - which are separable and can
continue independently of each other. Unfortunately all
the evidence is against this. The mind grows like the
body; like the body it inherits charactersitics from both
parents;' it is affected by disease of the body and by
drugs; it is intimately connected with the brain. There is
.no scientific reason to suppose that after death the mind
or soul acquires an independence of the brain which it
never had in life. I do not pretend that this argument is
conclusive, but it is all that we have to go on except the
. siender evidence supplied by physical research.
Many people fear that, without the theoretical beliefs
that I find myself compelled to reject, the ethical beliefs
which I accept could not survive. They point to the
growth of cruel systems opposed to Christianity. But
these systems, which grew up in a Christian atmos-phere, could never have grown up if either kindly feeling

(September)

11981

Page 9

or veracity had been practiced; they are evil myths,


inspired by hate and without scientific support. Men
tend to have the beliefs that suit their passions. Cruel
men believe in a cruel god and use their belief to excuse
cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly god, and they
would be kindly in any case. The reasons for the ethic
that. in common with many whose beliefs are more
orthodox, I wish to see prevail are derived from the
course of events in this world. We have seen a great
system of cruel falsehood, the Nazi system, lead a
nation to disaster at immense cost to its opponents. It is
not by such system that happiness is to be achieved;
even without the help of revelation it is not difficult to
see that human welfare requires a less ferocious ethic.
More and more people are becoming unable to accept
traditional beliefs. If they think that, apart from these
beliefs, there is no reason for kindly behavior the results
may be needlessly unfortunate. That is why it is important to show no supernatural reasons are needed to
make men kind and to prove that only through kindness
can the human race achieve happiness.
CAN MEN BE RATIONAL?
I am in the habit ofthinking of myself as a Rationalist;
and a Rationalist, I suppose, must be one who wishes
men to be rational. But in these days rationality has
received many hard knocks, so that it is difficult to know
what one means by it, or whether, if that were known it
is something which human beings can achieve. The
question of the definition of rationality has two sides,
theoretical and practical: what is a rational opinion? and
what is rational conduct? Pragmatism emphasizes the
irrationality of opinion, and psycho-analysis emphasizes the irrationality of conduct. Both have led many
people to the view that there is no such thing as an-ideal
rationality to which opinion and conduct might with
advantage conform. It would seem to follow that if you
and I hold different opinions, it is useless to appeal to
argument, or to seek the arbitrament of an impartial
outsider; there is nothing for us to do but to fight it out,
by the methods of rhetoric, advertisement, or warfare,
according to the degree of our financial and military
strength. I believe such an outlook to be very dangerous,
and in the long run, fatal to civilization. I shall, therefore,
endeavour to show that the ideal of rationality remains
unaffected by the ideas that have been thought fatal to
it, and that it retains all the importance it was formerly
believed to have as guide to thought and life.
To beqin with rationality in opinion: I should define it
merely as the habit of taking account of afl relevant,
evidence in arriving at a belief. Where certainty is
unattainable, a rational man will give most weight to the
most probable opinion, while retaining others, which
have an appreciable probability, in his mind as hypotheses which subsequent evidence may show to be

preferable. This, of course, assumes that it is possible in


many cases to ascertain facts and probabilities by an
objective method - i.e.. a method which will lead any
two careful people to the same result. This is often
questioned. It is said by many that the only function of
intellect is to faci litate the satisfaction of the individual's
desires and needs. The Plebs Text-Books Committee, in
their Outlines of Psychology (p. 68), say: "The intellect is
above all things an instrument of partiality. Its function
is to secure that those actions which are beneficial to
the individual or (he species shall be performed, and
that those actions which are less beneficial shall be
inhibited." (Italics in the originaL)
But the same authors, in the same book (p. 123), state,
again in italics: "The Faith of the Marxian differs
profoundly from religious faith: the latter is based only
on desire and tradition; the former is qrounded on the
scientific analysis of objective reality." This seems
inconsistent with what they say about the intellect.
unless, indeed, they mean to suggest that it is not
intellect which has led them to adopt the Marxian faith.
In any case, since they admit that "scientific analysis of
objective reality" is possible, they must admit that it is
possible to have opinions which are rational in an
objective sense.
More erudite authors who advocate an irrationalist
point of view, such as the praqmatist philosophers, are
not to be caught out so easily. They maintain that there
is no such thing as objective fact to which our opinions
must conform if they are to be true. For them opinions
are merely weapons in the struggle for existence, and
those which help a man to survive are to be called
"true." This view was prevalent in Japan in the sixth
century A.D., when Buddhism first reached that country. The Government, being in doubt as to the truth of
the new religion, ordered one of the courtiers to adopt it
experimentally; if he prospered more than t~e others,
the religion was to be adopted universally. this is the
method (with modifications to suit modern times) which
the pragmatists advocate in regard to all religious
controversies; and yet I have not heard of any who have
announced their conversion to the Jewish faith, although it seems to lead to prosperity more rapidly than
any other.
In spite of the pragmatist's defi nition of "truth,"
however, he has always, in ordinary life, a quite
different standard for the less refined questions which
arise in practical affairs. A pragmatist on a jury in a
murder case will weigh the evidence exactly as any
other man will, whereas if he adopted his professed
criterion he ought to consider whom among the population it would be most profitable to hang. That man would
be, by definition, guilty of murder, since belief in his guilt
would be more useful, and therefore more "true," than
belief in the guilt' of anyone else. I am afraid such

rationality . . . I should define . . .


as the habit of taking account of all relevant evidence in
arriving at a belief."
If.

Page IO

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(September)

IY

11981

American

Atheist

I
;,.

practical pragmatism does sometimes occur.; I have


heard of "frame-ups" in America and Russia which
answered to this description. But in such cases all
possible efforts after concealment are made, and if they
fail there is a scandal. This effort after concealment
shows that even policemen believe in objective truth in
the case of a criminal trial. It is this kind of objective
truth - a very mundane and pedestrian affair - that is
sought in science. It is this kind also that is sought in
religion so 10nQas people hope to find it. It is only when
people have given up the hope of proving that religion is
true in a straightforward sense that they set to work to
prove that it is "true" in some newfangled sense. It may
be laid down broadly that irrationalism, i.e. disbelief in
objective fact arises almost always from the desire t}
assert something for which there is no evidence, or to
deny something for which there is very good evidence.
But the belief in objective fact always persists as
regards particular practical questions, such as investments or engaging servants. And iffact can be made the
test of truth of our beliefs anywhere, it should bethe test
everywhere, leading to agnosticism wherever it cannot
be applied.
.

''It is only when people have


given up proving religion true in
a straightforward sense that
they set to work to prove it
'true' in some newfangled
sense."
-,
The above considerations are, of course, very inadequate to their theme. The question of the objectivity
of fact has been rendered difficult by the obfuscations
of philosophers, with which I have attempted to deal
elsewhere in a more thoroughgoing fashion. For the
present I shall assume that there are facts, that some
facts can be known, and that in regard to certain others
a degree of probability can be ascertained in relation to
- facts which can be known. Our beliefs are however,
often contrary to fact; even when we only hold that
something is probable on the evidence, it may be that
we ,ought to hold it to be improbable on the same
evidence. The theoretical part of rationality, then, will
consist in basing our beliefs as regards matters of fact
upon evidence rather th~J,l upon wishes, prejudices, or
traditions. According to the subject-matter, a rational
man will be the same as one who is judicial or one who
is scientific.
There are some who think that psycho-analysis has
shown the impossibility of being rational in our beliefs,
by pointing out the strange and almost lunatic origin of
many people's cherished convictions. I have a very high
respect for psycho-analysis, and I believe thatitcan be
enormously useful. But the popular mind has somewhat

Austin, Texas

"Thequestion of the
objectivity of fact has been
rendered difficult by the
obfuscations of philosophers. "
.Iost sight of the purpose which has mainly inspired
Freud and his followers. Their method is primarily one.of .
therapeutics, a way of curing hysteria and various kinds
of insanity. During the war psycho-analysis proved to be
far the most potent treatment for war-neuroses. Ri,
vers's Instinct and the Unconscious, which is largel")'
based upon experience of "shell-shock" patients, gives
a beautiful analysis of the morbid effects of fear when it ."
cannot be straightforwardly indulged. These effects, of
course, are largely non-intellectual; they include various kinds of paralysis, and all sorts of apparently
physical ailments. With these, for the moment, weare
not concerned; it is intellectual derangements that form
our theme. It is found that many of the delusions of
lunatics result from instinctive obstructions, and can be
cured by purely mental means - i.e. by making the
patient bring to mind facts of which he had repressed
the memory. This kind of treatment, and the outlook
which inspires it, pre-suppose an ideal of sanity, from
which the patient has departed, and to which heis to be
brought back by making him conscious of all the
relevant facts, including those which he most wishes to
forget. This is the exact opposite of those Who only know
that psychoanalysis has shown the prevalence of irrational beliefs, and who forget or ignore that -its
purpose is to diminish this prevalence by a definite
method of medical treatment. A closely similar method
can cure the irrationalities of those wfio are not recognized lunatics, provided they will submit to treatment by a practitioner free from their delusions. Presidents, Cabinet Ministers, and Eminent Persons, how-
ever, seldom fulfill this condition, and therefore r.emain
uncured.
So far, we have been considering only the theoretical
side of rationality. The practical side, to which we must
now turn our attention, is more difficult. Differences of
opinion on practical questions spring from two sources:
first, differences between the desires of the disputants; .
secondly differences in their estimates of the means of -.
realizing their desires. Differences of the second kind
'are really theoretical, and only derivatively practical. For
example, some authorities hold that our first line of
defence should consist of battleships, others that it
should consist of aeroplanes. Here there is no difterenceas regards the end proposed, namely, national
defence, but only as to the means. The arqurnent can
therefore be conducted in a purely scientific manner,
since the disagreement which causes the dispute is
only as to facts, present or future, certain or probable. To
all such cases the kind of rationality which I called
theoretical applies,. in spite of the fact that a practical

Fructidor (September) 11981

Page 11-

issue is involved.
indulging the desire which he happens to feel most
There is however, in many cases which appear to
strongly at the moment, he will thwart other desires
come under this head a complication which is very
which in the long run are more important to him. If men
important in pr actrce. A man who desrr es to act In a
were rational, they would take a more correct view of
certain way will persuade himself that by so acting he
their own interest than they do at present; and if all men
will achieve some end which he considers good, even
acted from enlightened self-interest the world would be
a paradise in comparison with what it is. I do not
when. if he had no such desire. he would see no reason
for such a belief. And he will judge quite differently as to
maintain that there is nothing better than self-interest
matters of fact and as to probabilities from the way in
as a motive to action; but I do maintain that self-interest.
which a man with contrary desires will judge. Gamblike altruism. is better when it is enlightened than when
lers, as everyone knows. are full of irrational beliefs as
it is unenlightened. In an ordered community it ISvery
to systems which must lead them to win in the long run.
rarely to a man's interest to do anything which is very
People who take an interest in politics persuade themharmful to others. The less rational a man is, the oftener
selves that the leaders of their party would never be
he will fail to perceive how what injures others also
guilty of the knavish tricks practised by opposing poliinjures him, because hatred or envy will blind him.
ticians. Men who like administration think that it is good
Therefore, although I do not pretend that enlightened
for the populace to be treated like a herd of sheep. men
self-interest is the highest morality, I do mantain that. if
who like tobacco say that it soothes the nerves, and men
it became common, it would make the world an imwho like alcohol say that it stimulates wit. The bias
measurably better place than it is.
produced by such causes falsifies men's judgments as
Rationality in practice may be defined as the habit of
to facts in a way which is very hard to avoid. Even a
remembering all our relevant desires, and not only the
learned scientific article about the effects of alcohol on
one which happens at the moment to be strongest. Like
the nervous system will generally betray by internal
rationality in opinion, it is a matter of degree. Complete
rationality is no doubt an unattainable ideal, but so long
evidence whether the author is or not a teetotaller; in
either case he has a tendency to see the facts in the way
as we continue to classify some men as luoatics it IS
that would justify his own practice. In politics and
clear that we think some men more rational Ulan others.
I believe that all solid progress In the world consists of
religion such considerations become very important.
an increase in rationality, both practical and theoretical.
Most men think that in framing their political opinions
To preach an altruistic morality appears to me somethey are actuated by desire for the public good; but nine
what useless, because it will appeal ony to those who
times out of ten a man's politics can be predicted from
already have altruistic desires. But to preach rationality
the way in which he makes his living. This has led some
people to maintain, and many more to believe practiis somewhat different. since rationality helps us to
realize our own desires on the whole, whatever they
cally. that in such matters it is impossible to be obmay be. A man is rational in proportion as his intellijective. and that no method is possible except a tuq=ofgence informs and controls his desires. I believe that the
war between classes with opposite bias
It is just in such cases, however. that psychocontrol of our acts by our intelligence is ultimately what
analysis is particularly useful, since it enables men to
is of most importance, and what alone will mi'l'kesocial
life remain possible as science increases the means at
become aware of a bias wrucn has rutherto been
our disposal for injuring each other. Education. the
unconscious. It gives a technique for seeing ourselves
press, politics, religion - in a word, all the great forces
as others see us. and a reason for supposing that this
in the world - are at present on the side of irrationality;
view of ourselves is less unjust than we are inclined to
they are in the hands of men who flatter King Demos in
think. Combined with a training in the scientific outlook.
order to lead him astray. The remedy does not lie in
this method could. if it were widely taught. enable
anything heroically cataclysmic, but in the efforts of
people to be infinitely more rational than they are at
individuals towards a more sane and balanced view of
present as regards all their beliefs about matters of fact.
our relations to our neighbours and to the world. It is to
and about the probable effect of any proposed action.
intelligence, increasingly widespread, that we must
And if men did not disagree about such matters, the
look for the solution of the ills from which our worlrl is
disagreements which might survive would almost cer. suffering.
. ~
tainty be found capable of amicable adjustment.
There remains. however, a residuum which cannot be
treated by purely intellectual methods. The desires of
From the American Atheist Bookstore ...
one man do not by any means harmonize completely
AN A THEIST'S BERTRAND RUSSELL
with those of another. Two competitors on the Stock
Exchange might be in complete agreement as to what
(Edited by Jon G_Murray)
would be the effect of this or that action, but this would
Six essays for "beginners", 50 pp. __... $3.29
not produce practical harmony. since each wishes to
-AM I AN ATHEIST OR AN AGNOSTIC?
grow rich at the expense of the other. Yet even here
rationality is capable of preventing most of the harm
Bertrand Russell
that might otherwise occur. We call a man irrational
32 pp
_ _ _._ __
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when he acts in a passion, when he cuts off his nose to
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spite his face. He is irrational because he forgets that, by

--------------------

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Page 12

Fructidor

(September)

11981

American

Atheist

\
J

~
,

THE ATHEIST AT THE SUPPER TABLE

James E.Brodhead

THE VISIBLE ATHEIST


The scene would have warmed Jerry FoolweWs heart - a
vignette of all-white family suburbia right out of.the Fatuous
Fifties. Open house had Just ended at the nearby Junior high
school, and from the shopping center ice cream store, light
and laughter streamed out into the warm spring night. A
giggle of -teen-agers huddled in the rear. Near the front, a
pleasant blonde woman ordered cones for her two. boys,
talking over her shoulder to a neat couple seated against the
wall. The man and his wife were in their 30s, but the pursy,
pouchy look about the corners of her mouth, and his rim less
spectacles and sleeked-back short hair suggested premature
middle age, a pair of American Gothic apprentices.
Everyone was chatting and chuckling quietly a's Dad came
through the door with his two sons, the seventh-grader and
the ninth-grader. Dad hardly merited a second glance, being
impeccably togged out in Suburbia Informal - a polo shirt,
jeans and running shoes, the whole ensemble topped by one
of those visored nylon caps with a cloth emblem on the front.
Friendly nods and smiles all around, as Dad drifted closer to
the counter and ordered cones for his boys. The blonde
woman smiled, made room for him at the cash register, and
exchanged some commonplace pleasantry with him about
children and icecream. Her glance strayed up to the emblem
on Dad's cap. Her eyes grew round, she turned "in panicky
embarrassment to the seated couple. Their eyes flicked over
Dad's cap, and suddenly the three of them - American
Gothics and blonde - burst into nearly hysterical chatter.
"They're doing much better in public school," cried the
blonde woman, ostentatiously turning her back on Dad and
moving closer to the neat couple. "But I miss the spiritual
guidance of their old school---"
"Yes, but they get that in Sunday school," shrilled the oldyoung wife, "and we->"
"Thank god for Sunday school," chattered the young-old
husband, "because we---"

This last phrase was the only one normally inflected. The
talk was not conversation but a cloud of sound much as a squid
squirts ink, keeping the enemy at bay, and it had the
hilariously artificial quality of novice actors in a bad highschool play, overemphasizing every word that seemed significant in the script - "SPIRitual", "BIBLE", "CHRIStian".
Amused, Dad and the boys retreated to the cooler parking lot
and lounged against their car, just outside the door. As the last
of the cones were being nibbled, Will, the 15-year-old,
gestured at the group inside. The adults had qathered their
children around them, passing paper napkins, speaking agitatedLy, glancing over their shoulders through the plate-glass
storefront. Will giggled.

"I think they're afraid to come out," he said.


Finally they emerged, walking quickly past Dad and the
boys, eyes locked straight ahead except for one laggard of nine
or ten years, who stared at Dad in awe until yanked by the arm
and pulled into the car.
Such is the power of a navy-blue cloth patch, three inches in
diameter, with the American Atheist symbol handsomely
embroidered in gold thread and encircled by white letters
spelling out "FREEDOM FROM RELIGION/AMERICAN ATHEISTS." The scene in the ice cream store vyas extreme of
course: well-adjusted people react more rationally. "I didn't
even know there was an organization for atheists," said my
favorite aunt, "let alone that they had a magazine and
publications. "
More satisfying were two encounters within three weeks, in
supermarket check-out lines. Two different clerks in two
different stores, about 2-1/2 miles apart, questioned me in
almost the same words: "Excuse me, but that's interesting.
What's American Atheists?" And when I explained that it was
a nationwide organization founded by Dr. Madalyn Murray
O'Hair. and sketched our aims, both young people expressed
an interest in joining, and asked for the address in Austin.

"-:-so wonderful with the ki---"


When the new Publication List arrived in the mail, I was
delighted to be able to buy a lapel pin to wear with suits and
jackets, and a pendant to wear with turtlenecks, to show my
commitment (such as it is) to atheism. It was somewhat
deflating, after a few days of sporting these insignia, to
discover that nobody asked about them or knew what they
meant.

"---our class won the Bible->-"


"---portant that they have reliq->-"
"---said it's our Christian duty to->-"
"---can teach right thinking and rnoral->-"

While I puzzled over the problem, an Insiders Newsletter


arrived, and my eye was drawn to one paragraph in particular
by Dr. O'Hair, about the importance of name recognition:

"<-and our class won the Biblel"


"You said that."

Austin, Texas

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The more times thst the word "Jesus", or "Morality", or


"Moral Msjority" csn be plsced in front of the public via all
medi. the quicker they will begin to believe in that "morality"
of Jilsusand
the Msjorityl We must play the same word
recognition game with the word "Atheist". That takes money.
Absolutely. I send all I can spare, but that isn't enough.
There is another thing I can do, I realized, and that's to place
the name of American Atheists in front of the public by myself.
A trip to a sporting-goods. store brought back two light-blue
adjustable caps (one for me, one for Will); and an hour with My
Best Friend's sewing basket and some dark-blue thread to
mat~h the patch produced exactly what we needed. The caps
arouse responses that the lapel pin and pendant never could

(yet). A very few are hostile or embarrassed, fewer still are


pleased and eager for more information, and everyone else
seems extremely interested in discovering that there is a
viable, vital organization of American Atheists.
The Publication list offers the patch free with each membership application accompanied by a donation. It's worth a lot
more than that. If you're already a member, why not order a
handful at a dollar apiece, for your family and friends? The
light, inexpensive sport cap is probably the best way to display
the patch, since you can wear it with any informal clothes,
summer or winter. Adolescents, always eager epeter les
bourgeois (or more colloquially, to shake up the straights), are
often admiring and eager to spread the message. ~

ON OUR WAY

Ignatz Sahula- Dycke

ALL FOR THE TAKE


It'shigh time in this period of our
national existence that we noted the
freshly bubbling ferment of public
opinion that shapes, if nothing else,
our day to day outlook and conduct.
Too, despite appearances, it's reassuring to see that the public consensus is having little effect upon our
determination to stand ideologically
united in the current crisis. Let's hope
it means that the country isn't gping
to let itself be' dictated to, by the
evangelistic "saviors" of whom there
are three or four times as many trying
to divide us as were attempting it
twenty years ago. Every generation
produces its quota of such selfelected crusaders for "morality" who
tell Us how in a vision GA WD
appeared before them and bade them
go out and spread the great good
news of christ's suffering and dying
ori the cross for our "salvation."" Just
do as I say" each of them tells us.
There's nothing about any religion; faith, or belief so harmful that
an equal measure of good old Atheism wouldn't straighten out. Atheism
is 80 all-fired sane and sensible it can
in no time to speak of transmute a
cringing and sniveling worshiper into
a mentally respectable specimen of
humanity, into a personage whomno
Page 14

amount of fantasying about angels,


ghosts, gods or demons will do any
harm. The Atheist's outlook is clear
and free of fear; Atheists are sane.
They know that belief of claims such
as that Moses had a talking acquaintance with jehovah, or Mohammed
with allah, or that prostration before
a construct hung with a facsimile of a
tortured human cadaver is going to
save you from harm and admit you to
heaven is nothing but pure pathogenic daffiness nuttier than a fruitcake. Don't kid yourself into thinking that minds which run that way
are normal just because most people's minds do. They've beeri
switched onto that track by the
millions of clerics, dervishes, prophets and other "holy men" who propagate It -lor the money In It that here
in our United States runs into countless millions of dollars, and provides
those who direct it with a life of ease
and power equaling that of any
tycoon who ever lived.
Of course taking advantage of the
public's gullibility this way is morally
reprehensible, even criminal; but
because it's condoned, and ISN'T
ILLEGAL, is universally practiced
as a business that here in our USA
now ranks in terms of receipts someFructidor (September) 11981

where among the top ten. In this


milieu, escaping public notice is that
the American people's current addiction to religion's traditional dogmatism deprives our public treasuries of
tax monies in TWO ways. First, the
people who support religion fiscally
are authorized to deduct their contributions from their gross income;
and, second, also untaxed is this
enormous sum received each year by
the sundry churches. So much for
this tremendous waste of fiscal muscle which religionary addiction actually represents.
Though most all of us know that
"theology" is nothing but an impressive word for the lying with which
religionary nabobs have been bamboozling humanity since times immemorial, the age of electronics has
beyond any doubt complicated what,
before the onset of radio and television, was a commonplace activity
within mankind. The really alarming
facet in this new situation is that
'electronics has enabled anyone at all,
who has the wherewithal to buy time
on radio and television, to hawk his
wares in anyone of the ways devised
for fleecing the gullible populace. No
matter how ridiculous the message,
the claims,or the subject being thus
American Atheist

disseminated, it is permitted and to a


large extent protected by a laissez
faire interpretation of Article I of our
Bill of Rights.
As a consequence,
evangelists,
preachers, and self-proclaimed prophets of various kinds - especially
those with followings amassed. I;>y
appeals to the least informed and
most reactionary
stratum
of the
existing social order - have attained
a measure of power so great that they
with impunity are instructing many
members of our Congress how each
is to vote. Jefferson said long ago
that "No nation is permitted to live in
ignorance
with impunity."
More
than a truth-fraught statement, these
words constitute
a warning we'd
better take to heart before it is too
late for us to control the electonic
preachers, of whom nearly all were
driven into an obsession with riches
by the avarice, the greed, and envies
born of the penury that's common in
the backwoods and crossroads settlements whence most of them came
after they heard of the never-empty
trough.
Our good shepherds!
Although
this is what they imagine themselves
to be we must face the unpleasant
fact that they're really the children of
our own spawning. We brought them
into our world, into life in it, because
we to this day want nannies like them
around to tell us not to be afraid of
dying and that we - if we'll only be
good girls and boys and believe all
they tell us about Jesus - will live
forever in heaven. Can anyone blame
them for hanging on? How many of
us have quit listening to the words
we've put in their mouth? And all for
our own selfish mollification
and
insulation against our childishly foolish fear of extinction - a fear that
lurks in every organism.
Within the limits circumscribed by .
his own experience,
the human
creature can employ his imagination
for disclosing
cogent answers to
divers cryptic questions about his
racial past. But only to the extent
enscoped
by the empirics of his
native curiosity is he qualified to
speculate
how he himself would
respond were he, in similar straits, to
have played the same part as his
ancestors.
When we face historic
puzzles that must be analyzed before

understood,
no twelve-year
old
would be of much help; not even after
being informed about every circumstance prevailing
during a given
period in the past. For instance, he
couldn't even give us more than an
inkling about the behavior of his
parents - why they at such and such
a time comported themselves as they
did.
The child is unequal to the task
because in his own short life he hasn't
dealt with circumstantial
pressures
such as his progenitors had to face
and overcome. The child is too young
to have found out that experience is
indispensable for an understanding
of life's whimsies. He can't know that
the raw cruelty of existence makes
anything tortured to death a dangerous subject of contemplation.
When
we consider that christian children
are told as early as at four and five
about the sufferings of Jesus, we can
understand why not even a child of
twelve (or an adult of like I.Q.)
realizes the beastly consequences to
his life of having been taught that a
cross hung with a replica
of a
tortured human cadaver is a sacred
object and a fit adjunct of worship.
So, what can we expect of people so
reared? Doesn't their training account for much that now perplexes
the globe?
Much like the ingenuous tot, the
run-of-the-mill preacher - more or
less insulated from worries such as
beset the average human - is experientially unqualified to advise people
how they should live. His stock in
trade is a patois of biblistic blabbings
and homilies. When a crisis threatens
his flock he props this platitudinous
outflow with the promise that the
faithful need have no fear because all
sufferi.ng (as said the pope during his
recent meanderings in Micronesia) is
a part of god's ineffable plan. Encouraging bloke.iisn"t he? Evangelism has
in recent days made a few temporary
gains. and disproportionately
profited by it for two reasons. First,
because religious belief requires minimum effort and promises to bring
back "the good old days" now forever
gone; and Second, because religion's
preachers assure their constituents
that their staunch trust - in their
"father god" together with regular
tithing - is all it takes to secure them

Fructidor (September) 11981

Austin, Texas

IV

heaven's protection while alive and,


come death, their resurrection and
existence in paradise. Pure flummery
on both counts.
Here let's not forget that the pendulum as ever swings to and fro. The
topmost minds of all nations and
races of our globe have for many
centuries been advising us that no
better antidote exists for religious
flummery
than antitheism.
Were
anything to rank abit higher, it could
be only outright Atheism of our
American kind, supporting the civil
rights of all the citizens of these
United States of America. ~

"NO NATION IS PERMITTED


TO LIVE IN IGNORANCE

WITH IMPUNITY." T.JEFFERSON

Page 15

Fred Woodworth

liFE IN A THEOCRACY
To the wilds of Arizona and Utah came the religious zealots of
the late nineteenth century. Bands of Mormons, trundling their
possessions in covered wagons to the westernpart
of what is now
the United States, settled in the high mountain country away from
the prying eyes of the world, and formed clannish towns of large
families with deep-lying traits of pa riarchyand
suspicion of
outsiders. In isolation for decades, some of these communities
retained virtually complete religious purity through the nineteen
sixties, resisting contamination
by secular civilization's
books,
schools, or ideas. Here the will of the LDS Church ruled, through
the moral policeman, the censor, the propagandist,
and even the
night-raider, with the ranks of the faithful constantly swelled in
giant polygamous families where the word of the father was stern
Law.
.
Books and articles about the e Mormons usually stress their
self-reliance, their preparedness for emergency with stores offood,
and their retreat from religious intolerance in the rest of the
Christian world. But little is said of their own violent intolerance to
others or the authoritarian
nature of their church which, even in its
expressed concern with preparedness by its people, appears more
'preoccupied with insuring that it as an institution continues to
exist, than 'with acting out of humanitarianism,
Since the most often heard statement about the Mormons has to
do with their alleged rejection of religious intolerance, a glance at
this people-must linger first on its own treatment "of those who do
not belong to the LDS religion. And we should examine the
QUALITY of life.in the Mormon theocracy top, because without
freedom .c-individual
self-determination
- for all their stores of
food and busy activity they are no better than acolony of ants. As a
typical LDS community, let's visit the small town of Morrnonville,
in the mountains above Arizona's Mogollon Rim.just north of the
Fort" Apache Indian reservation.
Mormonville
in 1957 had a population
of about 850, nearly
every single one of whom was a member of the LDS Church. Every
teacher at the local school was a Mormon, .as were" all town
officials, policemen, bank officers, postal workers and even the
doctor. If-you wanted to buy a magazine, you bought it from the
Mormon who owned the newsstand, and if you needed gas for your
car, you made a trip to a Mormon-owned
service station. Now this
may not appear at first too surprising, but what makes such
unanimity somewhat odd in this instance is the fact that Mormonville lay squarely on a major transcontinental
highway, U.S. 60,
which in fact formed the main street of the town. Surrounded by
attractive Torest land, transfixed by a busy road that carried people
from every part of the country, Mormonville nonetheless kept its
sectarian character, and even by 1964, when the population had
grown to above 2,000, there were still only two or three nonMormon families in town.
One way the latter-day saints (this is what they call themselves)
discouraged outsiders was by stopping other religions from coming
in. When baptists attempted to build a hall on property they had
obtained just outside of town, in the late '50s, the construction site
was repeatedly visited by thieves and vandals, and some of the
original proponents of the church ended up leaving the region.
While the baptists did manage to complete their project eventually, .
it took them several years, and even when finished, the church had
to collect its congregation from farms and outposts scattered far
throughout the countryside.
.

Page 16

Fructidor

(September)

II

Incoming busmess establishments


found it hard to get bank
loans if they weren't Mormons, unless credit was extended long
enough to set up a business, after which it could be maneuvered
into the hands of an authentic Mormon. The local radio station,
started by an outsider with cash borrowed from the town bank, was
made the subject of a campaign to bankrupt it soon after it went on
the air, so that members of the church could repossess it and turn it
completely to Mormon interests. Although the station survived
after the owner illegally boosted his power output in order to be
able to reach non-Mormon
communities some miles away. vicious
sabotage and violence were leveled against the installation by the
Mormon populace after the station began running preaching
shows featuring methodist,
baptist, and holy roller ministers.
Telephone and power lines to the station were cut in the night with
an axe after a methodist preacher challenged Mormons to an
on-the-air debate about doctrines. Technicians were shot at while
on the job, and announcers were made objects of terror campaigns.
One young non-Mormon
who lived in the town was followed to
work most mornings by a policeman who drummed up traffic
tickets against him as the two-car caravan moved through the
empty streets. Moving violations resulted not only in fines but in
higher insurance rates, all of which tended to discourage the n011Mormon resident. (One ticket cited him for traveling at 26 miles
per hour in a 25 m.p.h. zone.)
Meanwhile, in the public schools, Mormon teachers who were
relatives of the Mormon principal showed Mormon films on his
tory of the LDS Church in the classroom, dismissed students early
when their "stake" or church ward was conducting some activity,
and gave lectures on topics peculiar to Mormons' beliefs, such as
diatribes against Coca-Cola.
Coke was firmly claimed to have
properties of removing shellac from old furniture, "so think what it
must do to your stomach." A beefsteak submerged in a bucket of
Coke for a week, one teacher declared, would rot away into pieces.
One pupil inquired what effect a bucket of WATER would have on
a similar steak over a week's time, whereupon the teacher visited
the lad's parents to urge that he be prohibited from reading so
much.
School activities like graduations were usually held not in public
school buildings, but actually in the Mormon church itself, over
the protest of an occasional non-'saint'. In 1964 one high-school
student circulated a petition to gather signatures of those opposed
to holding grad uation ceremonies in the church, but he managed to
collect only three names, one being later erased by its owner, a
Japanese exchange student from Tokyo who had qualms after
pondering the fact that a Mormon family had sponsored his stay in
the U:S. following a Mormon missionary's marriage in Japan to
his sister. Foreseeing possible ramifications
to his signature's
appearance on such a document, he asked to have it obliterated,
although, as he explained at the time, "I'm not a Mormon, I'm a
Buddhist, but I go to church because the family I stay with expects
me to." Frightened by even this minuscule show of resistance and
disagreement, school officials - remember. this was a PUBLIC
schoolheld a special assembly for Mormon students only, which
the few non-Mormons
were barred from attending, and decided to
proceed anyway with plans to hold graduation in the main hall of
the local church.
continued on page 23

11981

. American

Atheist

NATURE'S WAY

'1

Electing candidates
in the U.S. has become, as the
expression goes, a real 'fun thing.' Certainly everyone will
agree that our political conventions, complete with hats,
horns and confetti, are some of the most gala extravaganzas
on Earth. Considering that these wild displays follow closely
on the heels of months of campaign theatrics, how can
anyone be~other than caught up in the carnival-like atmosphere of it all.
It therefore seems quite understandable that we generally
wind up selecting ex-movie actors or 'golden-throated'
orators rather than sober studious business persons. After
all - wouldn't it be a shame to waste all the 'B-movie' stage
presence offered up by the multitudes of office seeking
professional
smile makers?
Yes, I'm afraid
the
Jeffersonian image is dead! Serious politicking has gone the
way of all passing things.
Along with the phasing out of the electoral processes
several otherchanges might be noted. Candidates nowadays
are much more capable of delivering long-winded speeches
than were their earlier counterparts. It used to be that when
a senatorial hopeful had something to say, he'd come right
out with it. How unimaginative! Hell, I've heard Nixon talk
for hours and still not tip his hand as to what he really
intended. Perhaps it has become the anxious anticipation of
trying to grasp some idea of what candidates are talking
about that really stirs the voters' blood today. Or maybe
we're just intrigued in a childlike manner by the promise of
endless social 'goodies' during the days prior ry election.
And of course, a good old down and dirty mudslinging fest
has great appeal in more recent times. It's not at all like the
bygone days when a public slur or personal insult was likely
to initiate a duel of honor. No sir - we're too 'civilized' for
that now! Catcalling is the modern name of the game.
So, after the wild fever-pitched pace of the campaigning,
it seems only fitting that we should top it off with a weeklong convention party. The only problem with this new
'high-timing'
way of political life is that every party is
followed by its own 'morning after.' Six months after
election time, when the bleary-eyed voters begin to recover,
they always find that they've 'hung another one on.' Our
social hangovers are always the same: unemployment,
inflation,
dishonesty
in office, etc. Yet the promiseintoxicated mind of the gullible voter stands ever ready for
the next party: And so the ongoing saga of uninformed
voters stays with us. We are too easily fooled by the
'minstrels' who have infested our political system.
A case in point was called to my attention by my own dear
sister, Beverly Sims. Beverly is a very conscientious and
intelligent person, and I am indebted to her for sending me
two letter copies recently. Her evaluation of our misguided
political practices is masterful, and I would like to share with
you her appraisal of a particular 'political action committee.'

Austin, Texas

The first letter I shall call the 'apple pie patriotic pitch letter.
It goes as follows:
ALAMO POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE
Post Office Drawer 26547
Austin, Texas 78755
June 5, 1981
Dear Republican Official:
Senator Roger Staubach!
As an official of the Republican Party, you know
that Roger may be the only candidate who can win the
Senate race in Texas in 1982. He is known and
respected by Texans of both parties as a man devoted
to the preservation of the family, the restoration of
moral principles and the rebuilding of America's
military defenses.
Roger Staubach does not think that his name
recognition is a qualification for political office and
neither do I. I do think his character and his principles
mark him as a man who is qualified for public trust.
We are fortunate to have a man of his calibre who is
widely known and can be elected.
Upon his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy,
Roger could have resigned his commission and started
playing immediately for the Dallas Cowboys. At high
personal cost he chose to honor his committment [sic]
to his country and served his full four years including a
year in war-torn Vietnam.
Roger knew his duty and he accepted it without
complaint or reluctance.
Some people feel that Roger will not seek the
Republican nomination for the Senate from Texas, I
know though that if you and I demonstrate the true
strength of the respect and admiration Texans have for
Roger as a man of principle and conviction, he will
again accept his call to duty. Roger Staubach in the
United States Senate! We can make it happen!
The Staubach campaign will be the most interesting
and closely watched race in the nation in 1982. Our
candidate will hold high the flag of limited government, economic sanity, strong national defense and
the conservative principles you and I share.
Roger Staubach will run if you and I do what is
required of us. All that is necessary is to give our fellow
Texans a chance to voice their support. Texans know
Roger Staubach as a leader, as a man and as a
concerned citizen. Now is the time for Alamo PAC's
Draft Staubach Committee to show Roger how strong
his support is and the deep committment [sic] Texans

Fructidor (September) 11981

1,1

Page 17

have for the principles he represents.


For Roger Staubach to take his seat in the United
States Senate you must make you [sic] voice heard
now. We would be honored for vou to join the growing
. number of distinguished Texans as a member of the
Draft Staubach Steering Committee. You have the
knowledge and expertise we need now to call Roger to
duty.
.
It l~ vital that you complete the Invitation Acceptance I have enclosed and rush it to me here in Austin.
Let us not let this rare opportunity pass us by. I hope to
hear from you by return mail.
Sincerely,
James Meadows, Political Director
JM/kgl
P.S. the work we do now, in advance of the 1982
campaign, will give us an opportunity to help elect
other conservatives to the House and Senate even "if
Roger does not run. We can't lose:
Did you note the way the word 'conservative'
was
innocently snuggled in with 'the flag,' 'economic sanity,'
'national defense,' etc. Aren't they clever? A more appropriate political definition for our ongoing brand of ultraconservatism is FASCISM.
Now we come to the good part of this little story; my
sister's reply to the above malarkey.
Mr. James Meadows
Alamo Political Action Committee
P. O. Drawer 26547
Austin, Texas 78755
Dear Mr. Meadows,
Received your letter of June 5, regarding the
proposed candidacy of Roger Staubach for the United
States Senate. How interesting.
Sorry I cannot help you. I am currently Chairperson
of the. Draft Dandy Don Meredith for the United
States Senate Steering
Committee.
We of the
DDDMFTUSSS
Committee believe Dandy Don is a
far better qualified candidate. Granted, both were
highly esteemed Dallas Cowboy quarterbacks,
and
both are great guys. We, however, like Dandy Dons
"Lipton Tea Lover" commercials a lot better than
Roger's "Rolaids" commercials. Dandy Don is obviously more intellectual.
He knows relief is not
spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S!!
Also, Dandy Don is certainlya much better, more experienced actor, and we
all -know acting talent is a paramount
quality for
seeking election to higher office these days!
If the Draft Dandy Don Committee proves unsuccessful, I am also Co-Chairperson
of the We Want
Willie Nelson for the United States Congress Steering
Committee. Not only can Willie act, he can sing! He
also has the "good ole boy" vote hands down! What a
candidate! Enthusiasm is high in the WWWNFTUSCS
Committee!
Again, sorry I cannot help you with the Draft
Staubach Steering Committee, but I'm sure you can
see the problem.
Sincerely,
Beverly Sims
P.S. Hooray for Show Biz!!!
Page 18

Fructidor

(September)

I harbor no animosity toward Roger Staubach. Indeed, I


think that Roger is one of the finest athletes of all time.
However, when I vote for a senatorial candidate it will be
because I know that he is knowledgeable in the business of
spending MY tax dollars wisely - not because of his/ her
physical prowess. It will be beca use he! she conscientiously
studies our foreign involvement
and desires to keep
America's nose clean with regard to other nations and
peoples. It will NOT be because he/ she was perhaps
outstanding in other non-related fields.
It would be comforting indeed if, for one time in my life, I
could feel that we were not playing at politics ~ but that we
were actually being serious about what is going on in
America. I'm convinced that we will only achieve that end
when we can have, as an alternate choice, a good American
Atheist candidate who will have the guts to tell the likes of
Jerry Falwell to go In his own mythological hell! Fascism is
not my bag ....
~

COINS
Three coins in the fountain Which one will the fountain bless?
Empty words of the mystic fool
Bound by his idleness
Better the sparkling fountain's flow
Would quench the thirsty fool
Who throws the price of a poor man's bread
On the floor of this lavish pool
Tempting coins in the shallows lie
Making soulful eyes to stare Dare an ingrate reach for that precious gold
To pay for his daily fare?
Oh greed is a strange and thoughtless thing
So we'll punish the wretched thief
Who'd steal the fee for a rich man's prayer
To spare his tragic grief

You
Sometimes it seems so very hard
Remembering numerous little things now passed,
And years just hasten by - like winter's shortest day
whose fading light, I'm sure - will come too fast
And while some lesser things I can't recall,
Could I forget an everlasting rose
That mirrors beauty every day - for me
Until these happy eyes of mine shall close
So in this short yet very pleasant life
This single thing of beauty stands apart
You - have etched my memory most of all
And carved your name upon my heart
Gerald Tholen
11981

American

Atheist

HERE AND NOW

D. L. Kent

BENEFIT OF CLERGY
One 01 the basic tJetlL'lenCle~ 01 an) rehgrun I~ that It
claims special status for its adherents.
When this claim to be
"chosen."
"called."
or "born-again"
becomes politicized.
it
doesn't take a Jeffersonian
Democrat
to realize that such
intolerant
absurdities
as zionism are on their way. At best.
this Holier Than
I h o u aspect of religion
introduces
yet
another divisive element into society: at worst. it provides or
leads to a hypocritical
facade behind which a continuing
assault can he made on the democratic
provisions 'of the
Constitution.
The extent
of the mischief
and hypocrisy
brought
into society bv religion can be well illustrated
by a
brief historical
survey of the doctrine of Benefit of Clergy.
This doctrine
was an amelioration
of the rigor of the
criminal law introduced
and for some centuries practiced
in
England.
and which became part of the law of the English
colonies.
Benefit of Clergy was a by-prod uct of the conflict between
the church and the secular authorities
during the Middle
Ages. The popes sought to withdraw
the clergy altogether
from secula r control. They claimed to rule by divine right. to
which all kings must submit.
They rested this claim to
immunity
from the secular authority
on the words of the
scripture:
./VOIiI'
tangere meos Christos. touch not my
anointed.
do no harm to my prophets.
words which had no
particular
reference to the priesthood.
On the Continent
the
states freel) complied
with the pretensions
of the popes.
either a~ a pious act or in dread of the future pains to result
from excommunication.
In England
the claims met with
some rcsista ncc. In cases of high treason
.. treason to the
king or his immediate
family
they were always resisted.
From time to time certain other crimes were excepted from
Benefit of Clergy. One of the first of these was horsestealing. by statute of Edward VI.
Before the Norman
Conquest
and for several centuries
thereafter.
the clergy took an active part in the legislative
and judicial branches
of the government.
By far the largest
part of the educated
class belonged
to that profession.
Bishops attended
courts of law and instructed
the judges as
to the limits of the canonical
and secular jurisdictions.
There
was always a controversy
about this and when HenryIl l
sought to bring churchmen
into the secular courts for trial
and punishment.
Boniface (successor to Thomas a Becket as
archbishop
ofCanterbur
y) ordered churchmen
to ignore the
kings summons and pronounced
excommunication
against
all persons
Violating
t hr canonical
law while enforcing
secular process. Thus the king\ effort to recover jurisdiction
over clerics failed.
In the Merchant and Friar. Sir Francis Palgrave gives this
picture of a trial. A thief had been apprehended
in Chepc in
the very act of cutting the purse of a vicar-general
and was
condemned
to be hanged. Louder and louder came the cries
of the culprit as the sergeants dragged him away. Heclung to

Fructidor

Austin. Texas

rJ

the pillar div id mg the portal and shucked 111 a voice 01


agony: "I derna nd of Holy Church the benefit of my clergy."
The thief was replaced at the bar and the vicar asked leave to
try the claim in the absence
of the bishop.
Producing
his
breviary
he held it open before the eyes of the kneeling
prisoner
and inclined
his ear. The bloodless
lips of the
prisoner
quavered:
"Legit
ut clericus."
he reads like a
churchman.
said the vicar. and the culprit was turned over to
him for purgation.
This was not a difficult matter, for before the ordinary
in
the church court he was required
to plead not guilty, even
though he had pleaded guilty in the secular court, and to
produce compurgators.
originally
12 men but at times only
four or five, who stated that they believed
the prisoner's
oath. No witnesses were heard against the prisoner,
and the
jury of churchmen
usually brought in a ,verdict of acquittal.
The prisoner was thus purged of the charge and set free.
At the outset only churchmen
were so treated.
But as
learning
spread there were laymen who could read. The
same course was pursued with them. for the church reasoned
that though the lay cleric had not taken orders, he might do
so in the future and so become useful to the church. It was
thus no longer necessary to appear with tonsure and clerical
garb to secure the Benefit of Clergy.
The literate
thus
escaped the severe penalties of the law. Until comparatively
recent times. some two hundred crimes were punishable
by
death in England - among which was the theft of property
of value exceeding
12 pence - and it is said that during the
reign of Henry VIII convicts were hanged at the rate of2000
a year.
Of course women had no Benefit of Clergy, for they were
not and could not become priests. Heretics were excluded,
as were Tur ks.jews, and dumb persons. The blind could not
read, b~t if they could speak Latin "congruously"
they were
admitted
to the Benefit.
This convenient
means of escaping
the gallows
led of
course to a buses. The text-commonly
selected as a test of the
capacity
to read, the so-called
neck-verse,
to save the
prisoner's
neck from the ga llows. was the first verve of the
51 st psalm beginning
Miserere mei deus, lord have pity on
me. The prisoner
might he coached
in this while awaiting
trial and though unable to read, repeat it by rote. With the
connivance
of the jailer he might be taught to read before the
t rial. A case of t hi~ kind is recorded
as ea r ly as 1383. And
finally the ordinary
might falsely report to the judge that the
prisoner could read. A case of this kind is found in 1666.
Neck-verse
of course got into literature.
In the History of

King Lear:
Madam.
I hope your grace will stand
Between me and my neck-verse
if I be
Called in question
for opening the King's
The British Apollo (1710) has this:

(September)

11981

letter.

Page 19

If the clerk had been taken


F or stealing of bacon,
For burglary, murder or rape,
If lie could but rehearse
(Well-prompt) his neck-verse,
He never could fail to escape.
One of the most distinguished Englishmen known to have
been accorded Benefit of Clergy was "rare" Ben Jonson. In
October 1598 he was arraigned in the Old Bailey on a charge
of manslaughter in having run his rapier through the body of
his antagonist in a duel. He pleaded guilty, asked for the
book, read like a cleric, was branded and discharged.
Capital crimes committed by literate persons thus ceased
to be punished, except by forfeiture of goods to the king on
conviction, and a convicted felon having once escaped by
pleading his clergy was little deterred from committing
another crime. Accordingly it was enacted in 1487 that laics
should have the Benefit of Clergy but once and that, if not
peers, they should on conviction in the secular court be
burned in the hand, or for a short period during the reign of
William ilIon the left cheek near the nose. Usually the
brand was a capital letter M or T. The latter was the famous
Tyburn T, standing for theft in its various forms, and the M
stood for manslaughter. In New England A was used for the
new crime of adultery, and H for horse-stealing. The branding served to put the prosecution on notice in a subsequent
case that the accused had once had the Benefit of Clergy and
so had exhausted the privilege. By statute of Elizabeth the
ecclesiastical
purgation
was abolished
and the judge
authorized to detain a convict in prison for not over a year.
By statute of George I the judge had discretion instead of
branding the convict, to direct that he be transported to the
colonies for seven years.
In England the Benefit of Clergy doctrine was finally
abolished in the case of commoners in 1829 and in the-case of
peers in 1841. In America it was abolished in the federal
courts in capital cases by Act of Congress in 1790, but as late
as 1830 it was held in a federal court that clergy was a good
plea after conviction of bigamy, and that branding might be
dispensed with in the discretion of the court. The last of the
minor infamous punishments,
whipping, branding, the
stocks, the pillory, cutting off ears, slitting noses, boring
tongues, the iron collar, etc., were abolished in Massachusetts by 1813.
The direction the Benefit was taking in the colonies when
the adoption of the Constitution effectively destroyed it in
America is clearly seen in the following two examples.
Among the court records of New Hampshire is a criminal
information
charging one Benjamin Roberts with manslaughter in having struck his wife May 19, 1759, on the head
with a stone weighing 18 ounces and so inflicting a wound
from which she died four days later. The only further record
in the case is the bill of costs of the Crown against the
defendant including an item of 22 shillings and 6 pence for
branding iron. This indicates that he was found guilty of the
charge, but that instead of being executed or imprisoned was
branded, probably on the brawn of the left thumb, and then
set free.
In 1765 a man taken up in New Jersey had about his neck
an iron collar with two prongs in it. He said "the reason of
the collar being about his neck was that he was caught in bed

Page 20

Fructidor

with a married woman in New England and was judged by


two Justices to wear the same or else be branded on the
forehead."
In the Boston Massacre of 1770, the culmination
of a
series of skirmishes between soldiers and the populace,
British soldiers shot to death five unarmed Bostonians. The
implicated soldiers were arrested and tried by jury. Despite
great pu blic outcry, six of the sold iers and their captain were
found not guilty. The other two. Montgomery and Killroy,
were found guilty of manslaughter. whereupon they pleaded
Benefit of Clergy, were branded in the hand in open court
and discharged. When justice had degenerated to such a
point that soldiers could claim Benefit of Clergy, it was
indeed time for Revolution ~

DIAL AN ATHEIST
CHAPTERS

OF AMERICAN

Phoenix, Arizona
:
Tucson, Arizona
Los Angeles, California
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Denver, Colorado
Atlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Marshalltown, Iowa
Lexington, Kentucky
"
Boston, Massachusetts
Detroit, Michigan
St. Louis, Missouri
Metuchen, New Jersey
Albuquerque, New Mexico
New York, New York
Schenectady, New York
Charlotte, North Carolina
Akron, Ohio
Portland, Oregon
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Providence, Rhode Island
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Alexandria, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(September)

11981

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(602) 899-7411
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American

Atheist

IV

THE AMERICAN ATHEIST RADI$SERIES


THE EIGHTH
COMMANDMENT
L~---II_"'- .1.

Hello there, this is Madalyn Murray O'Hair. American


Atheist. back to talk with you again. I am now up to the
eighth commandment..which Mr. Joseph Lewis, prolific
American Atheist author, examines in his tome-like
sociological work on the ten commandments.
This commandment is found in Exodus 20:15 and
Deuteronomy 5.19. It says, simply, "Thou shalt not
steal." Again, it has no punishment or reward attached
to its keeping, as is true of the last five of the ten
commandments.
Joseph Lewis first asks, "Thou shalt not steal what?" Is it only property that one must not steal, and, if
so, what kind of property? Are there not things more
valuable than property that can be stolen and are those
things included inthis commandment?
Shakespeare said, nicely, in Merchant of Venice (Act
3, Sc. 3).
"Who steals my purse steals trash;
But he thatfilches from me my good name
Robs me o{ that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.".
Stealing, like morality, very often depends on time
and place. What is considered honesty in one community may be condemned as thievery in another.
Certain acts considered honest in the past are today
classified as flagrantly dishonest. What at one time was
considered dishonest. may at another time, have both
moral and legal sanction. Honesty depends on place and
circumstances, and the more inflexible the rule governing honest conduct. the more difficult is its observance.
Extremely significantto this study is the fact that. of the
ten crimes which biblical Jewish law punished by
stoning, nine have ceased to be offenses in modern
society
Is the stealing prohibited by this commandment
condemned from the ethical, moral, or legal standpoint?
What is the standard by which we are to judge? On
whose authority is the standard to be accepted?
From the moment of our birth we begin to 'take' things
which are not ours. Does the instinct of self-preservation count as a theft? Does the fruit of the trees belong
to the trees or to us who pi uck them and eat them? Is this
theft? Should we milk vast herds of cows and in effect
steal thp. milk whir.h is interided for their calves? When
the Old Testament Jews made cheese from the milk of
the goats were they stealing the life necessity of the kids
of the goat?
Alexander the Great said he would not "steal a
victory" in war. Yet today the business man is happy to

Austin. Texas

Fructidor

'steal a march' on his competitor for financial advantage. What about the theft of ideas?
Some acts are ethically and morally wrong but legally
right. There are many acts condemned by law which
possess inherent moral and ethical value.
At one time legal permission and license was granted
to commit robbery on the high seas. Did that change the
immoral nature of the act? Pocket-picking is a recognized and highly unionized profession in Egypt. When
King Farouk was married, the King of Thieves issued a
proclamation in the newspapers stating that, as a
friendly gesture to the other king, he would call off all his
thieves during the nuptial celebrations. In consequence,
not a pocket was picked.
How are we to judge those acts which at one time
were legal and at another time illegal?
Under the legal banner and sanction of "caveat
emptor" (let the buyer beware) trades people misbranded and labeled falsely. False weights, false pretenses of all kinds were considered ordinary instruments of commerce. Just listen to television advertising
today!
Often the religious community says that the conscience of a person must be the guide. But few thieves
have a "stricken conscience." Even if it wer~ true that a
stricken conscience would afflict those who steal from
others, how would that recompense the victim? A
stricken conscience would merely be punishment for
the culprit. but the victim would continue to suffer the
loss of his possessions.
Mr. Lewis comes up with a remedy which I have now
seen proposed by every Atheist who has ever broached
the subject. That is that the thief must be made to satisfy
and recompense for the [oss. In addition more adequate
standards must be abroad in the land. Bernard Shaw
said, "We must make the world honest before we can
honestly say to our children that 'honesty is the best
policy."
Again, quoting Robert Ingersoll, the great American
Atheist of the last century, Mr. Lewis points out that he
had the following to say on this issue:
"As long as dishonorable success outranks
honest effort, as long as society bows and cringes
before big thieves, there will be little ones enough
to fill the jails."
In the Atheist viewpoint, honesty for honesty's sake is
the highest ethical conduct. We care little. whether this
has to do with "thou shalt not steal" or with any
business or personal transaction. If a person's word is

(September)

11981

Page 21

~/

as good as a bond, that is all we need to rely on to have a


decent society.
When the commandment was formulated, the meaning of stealing was definite and concrete. Then it was
understood to mean tangible, physical property, such as
food, cattle and the few material things that man in early
society had acquired - things that could be marked,
numbered and identified. The possession of a house, a
cow, was invaluable to the owner. To be deprived of
them meant. as a rule, either starvation or death. Tha't
reason made the theft of thse essential articles of
sustenance punishable by death. Theft was classified as
a capital offense, as serious as murder. In English law,
within the last hundred years, there was a long. list of
crimes involving petty thievery that were punishable by
hanging. It is estimated that during the reign of Henry
VIII more than 70,000 thieves were hanged.
As possessions became more plentiful and the struggle for existence less severe, the penalty for stealing
was naturally lessened. Nowthe Lawdoes not regard all
stealing in the same light, and it provides different
degrees of punishment for different kinds of theft. In
early society, and even up to the present century,
stealing a horse was regarded as one of the gravest
offenses, while obtaining property underfalse pretence
was until recently classified merely as a fraud.
We are living in an altogether different society from
that of the tribal Hebrews. The manner by which
business is transacted today was utterly inconceivable
to the minds of those who formulated this commandment.
Lying and cheating are so essentially a part of stealing
that failure to include them in this commandment is
almost conclusive evidence that this precept was intended solely for some provincial phase of Jewish tribal
life. Honesty, like any other phase of morality, is a
development of evolutionary ethics, and the higher the
cultural state, the more scrupulous the individual conduct.
Although the Bible is a veritable encyclopedia of
stories of theft and murder, one instance will be
sufficient to indicate that this commandment was not
intended as a moral precept of honesty. Moses tells the
children of Israel to steal everything they can steal from
the Egyptians as the time comes for them to leave Egypt.
This is found in Exodus, Chapter 3, verses 21-22.
"And I will give this people favor in the sight of
the Egyptians; and it shall come to pass that
when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
"But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor,
and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of
silver and jewels of gold, and raiment; and ye shall
put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters;
and ye shall spoil the Egyptians."
Why was such an event recorded with such shameless
pride in the Bible? The answer is simply that at the time
despoiling others was considered an achievement of
tribal cunning. Today such acts are condemned as
downright deception and thievery. This is proof of the
. tribal concept of morality exhibited by the early Jews ..lt

Page 22

Fructidor

(September)

1.1

is also pertinent evidence that ethics develop by an


evolutionary process.
If the commandment "thou shalt not steal" is to have
any meaning then the Church should not steal from the
people. Mr. Lewis states without equivocation:
"No form of dishonesty equals the lucrative
spoils purloined 'in the name and for the glory of
god'. One of the most outrageous thefts committed
in the name of religion is charging the poor,
deluded and distressed for prayers. In the thousands of years it has been used, prayer has not
been responsible for saving a single soul.
"Purgatory," said Joseph McCabe, a Roman
Catholic priest who converted to Atheism, "is the
most lucrative doctrine ever 'revealed' to the
Church."
Millions of dollars have been taken for prayers for the
release of loved ones from purgatory - a mythical hell
- and for prayers for the so-called' protection of
ignorant and credulous people, and suitable punishments provided for the fraudulent taking of money for
such a person.
Thomas Paine said it succinctly: "No man ought to
make a living by religion. It is dishonest to do so. Religion
is not an act that can be performed by proxy."
A New York Congressman, who was speaking Em
behalf of a bill to legalize horse racing in the District of
Columbia, was opposed by a church delegation. Irritated
by this opposition, he turned to the ministers and said, "I
don't see how you have the nerve to oppose this bill
when you run the biggest gambling business in the
world - gambling on the hereafter."
How can we expect one knowingly engaged in a
dishonest enterprise to exhibit a fidelity to a principle
greater than that of the profession which he practices?
Is it stealing when one pays the church to see the two
skeletons of Jesus Christ - one when he was boy and
one when he was a man? What about the price paid to
touch the Veil of Veronica (a linen cloth with which
Jesus Christ wiped his face while carrying the cross and
upon which, through miraculous procedures, his image
was impressed)? There are three such veils, all authenticated as the one. What of selling the "finger of the holy
ghost, as whole and sound as ever." What of the
churches which sold the ray"sof the star which appeared
to the 'wise men' or the sweat of St. Michael as he
wrestled with the devil? Martin Luther knew of a bishop
who possessed the flames of the burning bush which
Moses beheld. The milk of the virgin was sold, as well as
her hair - enough to start a mattress factory. The teeth
of Christ were sold.. as well as his diapers. Seven
churches on the continent have his authentic umbilical
cord and 32 have his foreskin, removed at circumcision
and kept as a souvenir by Mary. Six churches had the six
heads cut off John the Baptist.
The New York Times newspaper on July 24, 1933,
reported the showing of Christ's seamless coat, "one of
the most precious relics of Catholicism" exhibited for
the first time since 1891!
.
Do any of these activities, where money is obtained by

11981

American

Atheist

the official churches to view these or to purchase them,


amount to "thou shalt not steal"?
Only by educating people to meet the exigencies of
changing conditions, and applying intelligent analysis
of intent and purpose to the problem when it arises, will
the evil of dishonesty be dispelled.
Lewis concludes:
"I am optimist enough to believe that just as
there have been scientific achievements in pre-

continued

from page 16

State-church separation was held in contempt on many other


occasions also.by the supposedly law-abiding Mormons. An LDS
seminary class was offered at the local high school, and was taken
for credit by students during normal school hours. The, only
concession that was made to legality was that the building where
seminary classes were held was off-campus, ONE FOOT from the
property line of the school.
While such circumventions
were unhesitatingly
carried out
whenever their own wishes were in conflict with the law, Mormons
nonetheless put forward a sternly right-wing attitude of strictness
and unvarying obedience on subjects that suited them. A drunken
Indian from the nearby reservation would wind up in jail as soon as
he had spent all his money, whether he was ourraging the public
peace or not: and a minor might well be arrested for possession of
tobacco. The draft board. with mostly Mormon staff, wasn't
inclined to leniency with non-Mormons,
but young men of the
church obtained repeated deferments for religious work and
missionary activities.
But in all matters that permitted latitude of treatment, none was
so biased as the stance of Mormon society toward black persons. If
a non-Mormon family somehow settled in the community, as long
as its members were whites or orientals, the outsiders could get by
with mere ostracism and probable economic failure, Blacks,
however, were kept out entirely. One black man almost got ajob at
the local radio station after applying by mail and sending an
audition tape to KQVM. but he failed to include a photo. After
being told on the telephone that he had the job, the manager
thought to ask a last question: "Ah, you are Caucausian, aren't
you')" On hearing the would-be announcer confess to negrohood,
the manager instantly canceled the hiring and told the man that
"the area wasn't ready" for him yet.
The basis for the Mormon distaste for association with black
persons arose from passages in their bible, "The Book of
Mormon", which is supposed to be the divinely inspired message
translated from hieroglyphics on golden plates by Joseph Smith.
Smith, of course. made sure that nobody else got a look at those
plates besides himself. before "an angel came and carried them
away." In Smith's "translation" one finds passages such as I Nephi
12:23: "And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in
unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people,
full of idleness and all manner of abomination."
2 Nephi 5:21
claims that" ... wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair
and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people,
the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."
Plainly these statements reveal the existence of an organized
discriminatory attitude based in so-called religious revelation. As
amplified by "thinkers" of the Mormon church in other published
works, the passages were readily taken up as justification
for
depriving certain people of fair treatment. The Mormon apostle
Bruce R. McConkie wrote in his book Mormon Doctrine:
'The negroes are not equal with other races .... rr (p. 477)
"Racial degeneration, resulting in differences in appearance
and spiritual aptitude, has arisen since the fall. We know the
circumstances under which the posterity of Cain and laterof

Austin, Texas

Fructidor

venting and curing disease which formerly plagued


the human race with misery and death, so will high
moral principles, intelligently applied to ethical
conduct, save mankind from the plague ofthievery
and make the world a community of honest men
and women."
And next week we will hear from Mr. Lewis on the
ninth commandment.

Ham, were cursed with what we call negroid racial characteristics. The Book of Mormon explains why the Lamanites
received dark skins and a degenerate status." (p. 554)
In Mormonville
these ideas were believed with self-righteous
intensity. and no black man, woman or child lived there, worked
there. or went to school there. You found no exchange student
from Ghana, and you certainly found no Mormon family whose
son had married a black man's sister. No debate of these ideas was
permitted. and even if debate had somehow occurred, no reportage
of it would have appeared in the local newspaper, which was
Mormon-owned,
or on the local radio station, which was soon
profoundly intimidated by Mormons, to the point that it often ran
five-hour Mormon "conferences" in the middle of the day, to the
exclusion of other programing.
Even fiction was scrutinized to
some degree. and in the public library a Sherlock
Holmes
anthology containing
the story, "A Study in Scarlet", which
portrays Mormons very negatively, had the offending pages torn
out.
This. then, was life in a theocracy - distant from the centers of
enlightening cosmopolitan civilization, swayed by the ignorance of
authorities, teachers and citizenry. In a theocracy the "holy book"
rules, no matter what its absurdities, and almost at every turn the
ordinary person is subjected to controls over his behavior and
attitudes. The ideals of freedom that lift human society, in some
times and places. somewhat out of the mire of bigotry. arbitrary
rule, inequality of treatment, censorship. and religious statism. are
neglected and forgotten.
Throughout the world the voice of theocracy is again beginning
to be heard. In Iran. a religious regime cuts off the hands of"
political enemies, which means almost anyone; executes schoolgirls,
,'<.
hounds and harasses women to force them back to a subservient
position. And to what purpose is society thus disrupted? A "moral
code" spelled out by a "holy book".
In Italy the catholic pope attempts to maneuver. the introduction
of laws that enforce Romanism. In Mexico, Brazil and the rest of
Latin America, catholic culture has forcefully tied itself to
imperialism through the Spanish language, and imposes through
law the arrogant
proclamations
emanating
from the Vatican.
Again a "holy book", interpreted by opinionated authoritarians,
enchains the life of human beings.
In Utah the Mormons' theocracy is practically undiminished,
and a variant wave based on yet another "holy book" washes over
the rest of the country, drowning principles of individual freedom,
inthe form of fundamentalist christians' ravings and frenzied work
to halt sexual freedom and ownership of one's own body. Although
it seems incredible that the progress of recent decades could be
wiped out, the history of mankind has after all been one of
prevailing illiberal regimes, while the freedom to think and
question authority, to doubt religious certainty and to scoff at the
absurdities of "holy books" is barely seconds old.
A peek at the future wanted by authoritarian
religionists reveals
a horrifying picture of the small-town mentality expanded to the
scale of an entire culture. Repressive politics, control of life
through economic, social and juridical sanctions, combine with
overthrow of the real purpose of education to subvert creativity
and independent
thought to the yoke of rote-learning and obedience. Patriarchy, authoritarianism,
enforced moralism, censor-

(September)

11981

Page 23

ship. constant exposure to propaganda.


paranoia, watchfulness,
suspicion - these are the true fruits of religion in the world today.
and the religious enthusiast is. thus seen, more dangerous than any
other type of political power-grabber or fanatic.
Mormonism.
like the other freedom-crushing
cults of Sun
Myung Moon. scientology. Roman catholicism, or the diverse

sects of protestant christianity. is the attitude of FAITH, or denial


of reason. combined with FORCE, or denial of liberty. There is no
more potent fulminating infection of human attitudes than this:
and after nuclear weaponry the Atheist sees religious belief and
action as the worst horror stalking the globe ~

floMlw

-=-----=-------

Angeline Bennett
J

WHEN BORN-AGAINS DIE

WOMAN

Here they lie rotting


(Like the rot they were taught)
Imagine! No heaven ...
They grovelled for naught.

Why would any god


Deliberately create
An apple-eating person
To be Adam's mate?
Why provide temptation
More than she could stand
Then coyly wait around
To slap her sinful hand?

PROGRESS

Was he getting even


For an earlier rebuff
Did some goddess laugh
To see him strut his stuff?

EDITORIAL

Primitives in ignorance
Drank the blood of animals
They revered as gods.
Today their actions are aped.

continued from page 2

JON GARTH MURRAY'

--_._-of the two individual member


',n: of vestigial laws, with the argument that they must be to take the depositions
kept because they are ceremonial and are not enforced.
litigants involved. Since the Arkansas constitution says that
no Atheist is "competent to testify as a witness in'any Court,"
\ cerc.nonv IS inextricably entangled from a definitional
standpoint with religion and operant conditioning. A cere- how can the depositions be admissible? They cannot.
Once again this drives home the point that you cannot
mony is "'lnwthing that you do because those who have gone
before have done It. not because you know why you are playa game with an opponent who can obey or not obey the
doing it or because it has any merit. Carrying out a rules of the game at will, while you must always obey them to
ceremony is most often an emotional consideration. Why be the letter. The only solution is for you to capture the rules
sworn with your hand on a bible? Why have "In God We and make them steadfast and impartial. This can only be
Trust" as a national motto') Why have "In God We Trust" on done through the power of numbers and coordination.
Organized religion has the numbers and the coordination.
the coins? Why have prayer in school' Why open a public
meeting with a prayer? No one who participates in any of American Atheists has neither.
Until we develop the coordination and gain the numbers,
these activities can tell you why he docs it. His only answer
via dragging Atheists out of the closet, our chances of doing
would be "just because!" or "why not"
In the Arkansas suit. the state's first action after filing was something about these irrational laws are slim ~

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING
NOTICE
Amateur radio operators who are interested in starting a
nationwide American Atheist Amateur Radio Network
should contact Jeff Levine, W A2AQC, 30 Sherman Street.
Passaic, NJ 07055. They should have 20-15-10 meter
capability.

Page 24'

Fructidor

------

(September)

11981

To Buy or Sell Real Estate


in the Foothills of the
Los Angeles Area
Contact an All-American Atheist
SpencerD. Blackwelder, Realtor
Blackwelder Realty
2722 Foothill Boulevard
La Crescenta, CA 91214
Telephone (213) 248-8640
American

Atheist

P.O. BOX2117 AUSTIN,'TX 78768


Send $20.00 for one year's membership and you will receive
the first newsletter, a membership card and a certificate.

IV

THEISM IS WORSE

THAN ILLOGICAL j

61ClRPT5

FROM HIS BOO/(:

(fA PLEA FOR

ATHEISM"

11