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(Vol. 23, No. 10) October,

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought








VENDEMIAIRE (October) 11,981; Vol. 23, No.




American Bar Association Bows to Bigots

Statement to The Media Upon Filing of Mississippi Suit

Egad! Atheist Ads!

Go! California!


A Brief History of Religious Mottoes on United

States Currency and Coins - Madalyn O'Hair
France 1981: New Trends - Jean-Yves Riviere


On What Is Atheists' Morality Based? - Vladislav Sherdakov


Hell Is Not for Children - Richard M. Smith


Prayerbook Gamble - Ignatz Sahula-Dycke


The Blame and Shame of It - David L Kent

I Don't Wanna Talk About It - Gerald Tholen


Letters to The Editor

Editorial: Israel-

Jon G_ Murray

Atheist Masters: What Would You Substitute for The bible

As a Moral Guide? - Robert G_ Ingersoll.


American Atheist Radio Series:

The Ninth Commandment - Madalyn O'Hair "


Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Angeline Bennett
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair
Gerald Tholen
Production Staff
David Kent
Richard Richardson
Richard Smith
Gerald Tholen
Gloria Tholen
Ralph Shirley
Non-resident Staff
James E. Brodhead
G. Stanley Brown
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 78768-2117.Copyright 11,981
(1981) by Society of Separationists, Inc.
Subscription rates: $25/one year;
$40/two years.
Manuscripts submitted must be typed,
double-spaced, accompanied by a stamped,
self-addressedenvelope.The editors assume
no responsibilityforunsolicitedmanuscripts.

The cover of this issue of The

American Atheist magazine is an indication of the sweeping changes inside.
The clutter and claptrap are gone.
Instead there is a bold statement made
with a simple pictograph.
Inside, the doodads and whirligigs
have disappeared. With all deference to
our late artist, an Argentinian revolutionary, the South American way is not
our way.
,:-We agree that a revolution is needed.
That revolution which is coming now is
one solidly between the ears - not out
on the streets with machetes or terror.
What The American Atheist represents is of such a magnitude of change
in thinking, in lifestyle, that it needs no
grandiose picturization. The ideas are
the revolution.
So let's get on with it.

The American Atheist magazine

is indexed in

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Page 1

Letters to The Editor

HiOne or two ideas - though we
find the magazine exciting and absorbing, perhaps production should be
cut back to a quarterly appearance.
Printing costs are constantly escalating, and this would be one way to cut
AI & Mildred Fischer

Dear AI & Mildred,

The religious community knows
that it must reinforce its constituency on a continuing basis to keep
their interest and participation at the
desired level. Most churches reinforce at least four times a month,
sometimes as high as twelve times.
Atheists too need reinforcement of
their ideas, and once a month is not
too often at all. In fact, we strive to
have our Newsletter, for members of
American Atheists, and this Journal
arrive at different times of the
month, so that each Atheist is
reinforced twice monthly.
Dear Dr. O'Hair:
I became an official member of
American Atheists in September
1980 and it was one of the most
gratifying acts of my life. I'm sure we
are all aware of the alienation and
. hostility we are subject to as Atheists, and I felt that the only way to get
along in polite society was to keep
my Atheism in the closet. How
wrong I was! I am shocked at the
number of people who will' come out'
if someone makes the first move.
Janet Moser

Dear Janet,
One of the most compelling reosons for the establishment of an
Atheist organization in the first place
was to provide Atheists with a
meeting ground and a basis for
communication. You will be surprised now that you are 'out of the
closet' how many other Atheists will
come to you. Freedom of the mind is
a great feeling, isn't it?

Page 2

Primates in asinine Bible Belt,

Do you recall what happened to
little animal who screamed Wolf!
Like the 20th century
Doctors, you try to scare hell out of
reasoning animals. At age 661 shouldn't
give a hoot how ignorant, unread,
and superstitious
95% of the other
animals are. This is probably the last
you'll ever hear from this Old Reasoning, Rational-thinking, Wellread, Nonsuperstitious, Non-greedy Animal.
Due to the fact ~) of primates are
as greedy as the sparrows who eat at
my feeder, I can't really afford this!
The greedy animals are getting to
me! We'll be eating each other again
in less than one hundred years.
The animals of the Moral Majority
are trying to put us in the Dark Ages
again, and an animal called Reagan is
sleeping with 'em. God I'm glad I'm
as old as I am.
H. W. Coen

Dear sir,
I must take offense at your letter,
not for being referred to as "primates, N because basically that is
correct. The -insult comes from the
fact that you accuse LIS of crying
Nwolr and because you insinuate
that we are greedy.
I suppose that you could compare
us with the sparrows who eat at
your feeder. A truly reasonable man
might feel well compensated by the
fact that those sparrows dropped by
and made the day a little more
pleasurable. I wonder if the sparrows feel greedy?
As for myself - I am doing what I
feel is necessary for me to do:
change the world a little for the
better. I regret that you seem to feel
that we are imposing on your generosity or that we may unnecessarily
be trying to frighten you.
In any event we do thank you for
your past support, and I hope that
you have found at least some comfort in the fact that there are Atheists
who are devoted to trying to make
your world a little less primitive and
Gerald Tholen

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

We are not Ncrying woW as much as

we are trying to reach equal ground
in terms of persuasive power with
the religious community. We cannot
stand toe to toe and defeat them
philosophically if they outgun us
monetarily and technically 1000 to 1.
We must have vote blocs, and
senators, and law firms, and computers of our own to "spread the
word. N In a capitalist nation only
capitalist cause organizations can
survive. Your "rational-thinkinq"
should have shown you the need for
your support so that our mail solicitation would not have been necessary.
Dear Madalyn O'Hair, et al!
The writer can no more afford this
check than you can afford to be
without it.
Please don't ever let this organization fail!
The writer is 89 yrs old. I haven't
worked in twenty-two years. I quit
christianity in 1911. Turned Atheist
then. The Age of Reason - Thomas
Paine - made me start thinking.
I live in a small downtown hotel.
Five people here don't speak to me
because I'm an Atheist. They are
roman catholics. (purgatory') What a
stupid belief') Where was their jew
god, when their pope got shot?
Good luck. My best wishes!
As Jon Murray says, "I hope to see
religion wiped off the face of this
earth in my lifetime."
David H. Williams

Thanks.Daoid. We know that each

Atheist helps how and when he/she
can. and that is all we ask. You can
count on the staff here in Austin to
keep it going. We hope that your
Chapter outreach program can
reach the point soon that you can
bnng Atheist friends to that hotel of
yours and turn the table on those
cat holics for once. We are stretching
as for as we L'an for now, and every
donation like yours helps us stretch
a little further. Hang in there.

American Atheist


Jon G. Murray

This issue of The American Atheist is different graphically from

those that have gone before. We hope that you all like the new
design and find the new type face we have selected easier to read.
The design change is not the only change in the journal, however.
Starting with this issue we plan to change editorial policy as well.
Our new policy willbe to "tell it like it is." There are many aspects
of our culture that we see every day and do not question,
Let us look at the following example. Your ancestors carne to
occurrences that we have become accustomed to see or hear.
Starting with this issue we plan to explore and expose some of
the United States on the first boat of settlers. One of your great
grandfathers started a farm, fresh off that boat. Every succeeding
generation of your family was born and reared on that acreage.
As indicated by the cover art, we have chosen a very sensitive
and volatile issue to begin this new editorial policy. The Middle
Then, one day an army of religious zealots came in, militarily, and
East is probably the most tenuously balanced area in the world
took your land. They took the house in which all of your
forefathers had been born for the last 400 years. The village clown
today. A disturbance in that balance could lead to global implications almost overnight. Much of the information from this area is . the road, where you had sold your crops for generations, they
wipe off the map completely. It does not exist any more. At that
so twisted that no one really knows what is happening at any given
time. Some things are clear, however, in an overweening way. The
point would you fight for your land? Of course you would. Would
basic one of these is that the problems faced by all concerned in
those of your family who survived or were taken prisoners be
the Middle East stem from religion.
bitter and hostile to the new landlord? Of course they would. Now
Each participant in the balance holds particular religious tenets
multiply that loss by a factor of twenty to make it more like the
with ferocity. Those tenets overshadow their judgment of the
8,000 years that your family had claim to the land. And, remember
problems in the area. Unless one recognizes the theological basis
that the only claim the intruders would stress would be their
religious right to the land.
for the postition of all concerned in the Middle East, one has
missed the boat in terms of understanding what keeps the area in
You will then know exactly how the Palestinians feel about
such turmoil.
Israel. Have you ever heard that view expressed openly in the
The primary religion that has caused the most problem in the
United States? No, because the dominant judeo/christian comMiddle East is, of course, as in most troubled areas, the minority
munity here willnot permit it. Yet, that is how the Palestinians see
one. Any time that a minority religion, in terms of numbers only,
it. Should not that view be given equal time at any and every set of
seeks to dominate a geographical area in which it is outnumbered
negotiations held by the parties involved to bring an end to the
by many fold, there is conflict. If the greater numbers or
hostilities in the Middle East? Reason dictates so, I think.
majoritarian religion dominates the minority is usually either
As an Atheist,l am not impressed by biblical admonitions. That
ignored or persecuted, as the case may be, without the conflict
the jews are supposed to be the "chosen people" of god has no
spreading to global proportions.
bearing on the fact that they are causing my country to be involved
What we have in the Middle East, with the theocratic jewish
in the support of the theocratic state of Israel. The nation in the
state of Israel, is a small group of religious zealots (small in terms of
world which pioneered the concept of separation of state and
the number of non-jew semites in surrounding areas) who are
church cannot now turn' to support of a theocracy - any
determined to physically, militarily, economically, culturally and
theocracy, anywhere. Ido not advocate support of the PLO by the
religiously dominate. This domination of a geographical area in
United States, either. We need to stay clear and assume a neutral
position with respect to the religious claims involved. We do not.
which the jew is a recent import is based upon the clairnof the jews
that the old testament stories of the bible give them the status of
The myths that were compiled to form modern iudeo/chris"god's chosen people" - being "chosen" by that god to rule the
tianity had their origins in the area we now call the Middle East. On
area in question. They back this biblical imperative with the money
the basis of those tales and myths the United States willsupport a
and modern weapons of one of the two greatest military powers in
theocracy to the point of nuclear war. For if the spawning ground
the world today - the United States.
of the tales that we now call christianity is violated, its adherents
Those of the jewish religion in the United States pressure so that
fear that it will fail. We find ourselves involved in a new twentieth
billions of dollars of tax support is given each year to Israel whether
century crusade, a crusade to regain the "holy land" through the
mercenary services of the theocracy of Israel.
the United States can afford it or not, in terms of domestic
considerations. Many non-jews in the United States back this
Someone must expose this idiocy. No one in the religious
support because their own religion owes its origin to the jewish
community can. So, it is up to the Atheists.
writings of antiquity. What we have is some 3 million alleged
Now, some of you have written this journal in the past referring
Ashkenazic type semites, not all of the jewish faith (and that is all,
to yourselves as jewish Atheists. A spate of letters has been
by their own count) in this country who extort 6 billion dollars
received at the Atheist Center objecting to any comments in this
worth of military and other aid for Israel annually from our 215
journal regarding Israel or judaism, by persons designating
million non-jewish population.
themselves as jewish Atheists. There is no such thing as a
Not alone could these funds be used for domestic programs for
jewish Atheist. The term "jewish" refers to a religious stance, not
all Americans, but the exempted taxes and the interest involved
an ethnic group. Semite is the proper term for the ethnic group.
could lower the tax burden for all our citizens.
There are many non-semites who are religiously jewish also.
On top of the monetary loss, these same 3 million (alleged) jews
(Sammy Davis and Elizabeth Taylor to name two!) All "jewish"
pressure the broadcast industry so that it gives continued support
customs are based on religious ritual. The true jew has no secular
to their position. When have you ever seen a program, on any
holiday, or custom or food habit. All of these are dictated by holy
network, giving either the muslim or PLO prospective of the
rote. Everything that an individual hails as making him "jewish" is
based on religious ritual.
Middle East situation? Never. It is not permitted. It is not permitted
for the same reason that you have never seen an accurate
Iwill,as an Atheist, publicly denounce U-S_aid to Israel and ask
presentation of the political concept of communism on the media,
for the inclusion of the PLO in any and all talks relevant to
or an accurate presentation of Atheism. What you do see is a
situations in the Middle East held by any party. I do not ask all
continued degradation of Germany (and persons of German
Atheists to share this view, but I do feel that it is the only view
descent.) Often this is very subtle but there, just the same. Indeed,
consistent with upholding the secular nature of our country who is not sick of the repeated propaganda pieces of Masada,
what is left of it. I cannot stand idly by and watch my country plan a
Exodus, Fiddler on The Roof, and old testament stories (always
holocaust as self-fulfillingprophecy of a myth. That is simply too
starring the non-jew Charlton Heston)? One more "holocaust"
bizarre. My intelligence and desire for self-preservation willnot let
documentary willset us all screaming and clawing the walls.
me remain silent any longer.


Austin, Texas

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Page 3

Front Page Review

We are mad as hell ...
With the finest clipping service possible, that is, American Atheists in every
state scrutinizing the news to clip and advise the American Atheist Center
what is going on where, no one, apparently, saw the U.P.I. story of August
13th. The little reported event occurred in New Orleans, on August 12th. It is
of such singular importance, as we watch our freedoms sink in the bog of
fundamentalism. that we repeat it verbatim in qreat part.
"American Bar Association delegates, rejecting arguments
they were
endorsing anti-semitism, narrowly agreed to accredit the fundamentalist
i Oral Roberts University's law school.
: "Avoiding what would have been a major court battle over religious
discrimination, delegates to the AB.A national convention voted 147-127 to
grant 'provisional accreditation' to the Tulsa, Oklahoma, law school.
'The AB.A had twice declined to certify the school because it requires its
students to sign an honor code recognizing jesus christ as their savior and
'whole man: and vowing to adopt a fundamentalist christian philosophy in
their daily lives.
"The action to amend the AB.A's legal education standard came after a
heated, hour-long debate before its policy making House of Delegates.
'The most emotional plea against Oral Roberts came from former U.s.
Solicitor General Erwin Griswold, who charged, 'under this standard, any
university could put upa sign: "no jews need apply".' "
However, no one spoke for the Atheist or the agnostic, who certainly
would not have a prayer in such a university.
"Dean Norman Redlich of New York University La~ School said while he
could not personally sign the Oral Roberts code, 'We are not approving
religious discrimination, we are recognizing the deeply felt beliefs of others.'
'The AB.A was forced to act on the controversy because of a federal
court ruling on July 17th that found the organization had violated Oral
Roberts' constitutional
rights by refusing to accredit its law school on
grounds of religious bias." Again, this has been so quiet that American
Atheists, the watchdog for separation of state and church in the United
States, did not even know that such a suit was in progress'
One delegate "charged the AB.A with giving Oral Roberts 'the right to
discriminate on religious grounds. As I see this, we are becoming a part and
process of legitimizing discrimination.'
But Missouri Attorney General
Ashcroft argued, 'This is a question of the free exercise of rcliqion.' The focus
of the dispute was an AB.A rule that declared law schools 'shall maintain
quality of opportunity in legal education without discrimination or segregation on grounds of race, color, religion, national origin or sex.'
"AB.A accreditation is critical to any university because 43 states will not
allow graduates to take bar exams without a degree from an AB.A approved
law school.
"Former AB.A President Whitney ... urged the delegates to 'take a deep
gulp and agree to some things we might not like'."
With the AB.A yielding to religious fanatics and bigots who would force
students to take a vow of commitment such as this, one can____________
see other such -L

vows in the offing, with other schools of

law, or of medicine, demanding that
their students be and forever remain
roman catholic, or mormon, jew or
methodist and coercing this standard
as a legal one, through the highly biased
religious courts of our land.
It was Madison who said, "Because, it
is proper to take alarm at the first
on our liberties. We hold
this prudent jealousy to be the first duty
of citizens and one of (the) noblest
of the late Revolution ..
The freemen of America did not wait till
usurped power had strengthened
by exercise, and entangled the question
in precedents.
They sawall the consequences
in the principle, and they
avoided the consequences
by denying
the principle. We revere this lesson too
much soon to forget it."
The AB.A has denied the principle
of freedom from religious obligation (for
what has jesus christ to do ;;"'ith the
secular legal system of the United
States!). We will all suffer the consequences
now, since the AB.A's
action can be used as a precedent.
As a nation, we have not revered the
lesson. Those who do not know history
are condemned
to repeat it, and the
repetition will be upon us as more and
more of the rational yield more and
more often to the irrational. Rather
than permit Oral Roberts' law school to
extract such a pledge, the state of
Oklahoma should have shut it down.
Rather than submit to the insult the
AB.A should have appealed the federal
court decision - after all, it is an
exclusively of attorneys
and there is sufficient talent in it that
there was no necessity to yield.

The news is chosen to demonstrate, month after month, the dead reactionary hand of religion. It 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.

Page 4

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

Focus on Atheists
... and we won't take it anymore!
Statement to the Media
Filing of Mississippi Suit

Egad! Atheist Ads!

In mid-August American Atheists filed suits in both

Arkansas and Mississippi challenging state constitutions
which exclude Atheists from holding office or public trust.
In Mississippi, Paul Tirmenstein turned out to be one of
our bravest Atheists. He met your national officers and our
attorney in Jackson and it was he who hassled with the
federal court for hours to put the suit on the docket.
After a hard day of searching for one attorney with any
guts (to be the attorney of record) in the whole state of
Mississippi, Paul retired to his motel room and wrote out
the following statement which he read at the news
conference the next day - where he also took on the entire
press of that state.
I am bringing this suit on behalf of every citizen of this
state who has the kind of patriotism that calls for obeying
and supporting the Constitution of the United States.
Section 265 specifically bars Atheists from holding office
in Mississippi. This mandates belief in a mythical supernatural god, which an Atheist refuses. This religiously
motivated attempt to bar men of the mental capacity and
calibre of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin
Franklin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Luther
i Burbank, Atheists all, from holding office, is unequivocally
I unconstitutional,
and should be so declared by the court. A
mere declaration of its unconstitutionality
is insufficient to
this insult to and discrimination
against those
recognize a
fraud and refuse to believe in fairy tales and Santa Claus.
When a former attorney general in an interview with the
' Clarion Ledger said that section 265 is not discriminating he
was lying through his teeth, giving us a prime example of the
kind of doubletalk which devious religionists use to befuddle
those who lack the intelligence which enables them to
separate truth from falsehood. His statement that 265 was
intended to contribute to getting good men and women by
preventing Atheists from holding office was the assumption
of the right to declare that Atheists are not good people. No
one has that right. This is the obnoxious kind of tyranny
which christianity has spawned throughout the ages and
which the First Amendment was intended to eliminate from
all levels of government.
. I would suggest that anyone who entertains
opinions of Atheists and has the temerity to express them
should turn his finger around 1800 and then point. It will then
be in the direction of a bigoted un-American whose idiotic
statements carry the full imprint of fundamentalist lunacy.
This suit is being brought in a legal attempt to correct an
abusive and discriminatory
law of which Mississippi
christians should be deeply ashamed.
Paul Tirmenstein

Austin, Texas

Recently, American Atheist Public Relations Director,

Keith Berka, had the idea of providing every member with a
page 0/ small block ads which could be used for display
advertising in newspapers, magazines, college papers,
trade journals, etc., across the nation. The ads, being
each about 2" square, would cost very little and with
members in every state of the union putting one ad in each
month the effect would be one of American Atheists
coming on like gang busters all over the nation.
It was left to the discretion of each member where (s)he
wanted to place the ads, how often, or which of the' 15 ads
which were furnished (s)he wanted to have placed. This is a
report on "What happened?"
"I was shocked to see an ad in The Tennessean advertising
literature against God. I could hardly believe what I was
seeing." It was our ad, and you did it, and what a story it is
becoming. We are delighted with the response
to the
camera ready ads which many of you have placed in your
local newspapers. As we knew beforehand, it wasn't going
to be a bed of roses, and no-one described the situation
better than one of our members in Illinois: "Thanks for
sending the sheet of camera ready ads - I thought it was a
great idea. Our area is served by three newspapers,
so I
took the ad to the paper that has the largest circulation, the
QUAD CITY TIMES. It serves the Davenport, Iowa, and
Rock Island-Moline-East
Moline, Illinois, territory. It took
four trips to the newspaper, but I finally got it in. Here's how
it went:
Trip #1: The desk clerk in the ad department looks over the
ad and takes the necessary information to schedule the ad.
He then says that he will have to get approval from his boss
because it is a mail order ad. He returns with the information from his boss that the ad will have to be verified before
they can run it because of possible problems with mail order
ads. So I ask to speak with the ad manager. He arrives and I
tell him that there will be no problem in verifying the ad and
that our local library right around the corner carries your
magazine on a regular basis. After a little more hemming
and hawing, he comes out and says that he is refusing to
print the ad. He also refused to give a reason for not printing
the ad. berause of possihle legal action. After accusinq him
of bowing to his fear of local churches, I asked to speak
WIth someone else. He said the publisher wasnt In at the
moment, but I could see him later, so I scheduled an
appointment for that afternoon.
Trip #2: I show the ad to the publisher and tell him of his ad
manager's refusal to print it, along with a little spiel about
how such a little ad couldn't hurt their paper, and how it
would only be fair since they print nearly two full pages of

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981


- Page 5

ads from local churches each week. He agreed to print the

ad if it were first approved
by the Iowa Consumer
Protection Department, and he gave the phone number and
name of whom to contact. It seems that there is a recently
passed law in Iowa about mail order ads, and the attorney
general has requested that all newspapers
contact their
office when mail order ads are received. So I called the office
in Des Moines, read them the ad, and they said there would
be no problem and that they would contact tht> newspaper
and tell them it IS OK to print the ad. since it IS only for
Trip #3: The peons at the front desk had not gotten word
that the ad had been approved, and since the ad manager
was not in at that time. they would have nothing to do with
the ad. They also said that when I came back to p;~1,. for the
ad, a certified check or cash would be required.
Trip #4: After first calling the ad manager to make sure his
people knew that they were to accept the ad, I trekked back
over to the newspaper office, paid for the ad. and scheduled
it for July 30. Success at last! I wasn't real thrilled about
being placed at the bottom of the obituaries, but hopefully
the ad was seen by a few interested people. So if you've
gotten some requests
for information
lately from the
eastern Iowa and western Illinois area, this may be the
source - at least I hope so.
Again, I thought the ad sheet was a great idea. I hope to
hear in a future newsletter that many others took advantage
of it as I did."
Others have had little or no difficulty In placing the ads
An Evansville, Indiana, member's
ad was run directly
underneath a huge display ad ballyhooing a catholic TV
special. Harold Church, Director of the Tennessee Chapter, set off a major media explosion by placing a block of the
ads in The (Nashville ) Tennessean. The editor commented,
"While the editorial philosophy of The Tennessean In no
way supports the Atheist view of religion or of god, this
paper does believe firmly in the First Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech
and expression." Three days later, a columnist for the paper
"I refer to the Sunday editorial warning
readers away from an ad that might be considered offensive
to some. For me, the warning apparently worked I looked
through the paper half a dozen times and couldn't find the
damned thing .... Finally, a seeing- eye friend pointed out
the ad to me on page 24 of the Showcase section. Why did
we apologize for running the almost invisible ad') I can on II,.'
speculate, and while speculating. I pontificate thusly:

Atheists did not man the racks at the Inquisition.

Atheists did not burn witches at Salem.
It is not Atheist terrorists who are starving themselves to
death in Ireland.
It is not Atheists who are killing British soldiers <1I1d
blowing up innocent men ,111dchildren.
It is not Atheists who are zapping Iraqi nuclear redrtors
and bombing civilian targets that happen to be melded II1to
military targets in Lebanon.
It is not Atheists who are selling arms to both sides in the
There are no Atheists on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
.Dr. Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb, is not an

Page 6

Richard Milhous Nixon is not an Atheist.

Until Madalyn Murray O'Hair was conceived
virgin, there were no Atheist preachers.

by a non-

Atheism used to be a small quiet voice. Clarence Darrow

lent it eloquence. Ms. O'Hair is organized .... If Atheists
also become organized, god save us."
In the same issue, a letter from a member supporting the
ads appeared; two days later she wrote Harold Church, '1
received some shocking calls from 'good chnstians
sure you can guess what they called me. But I also received
calls from people who agreed WIth me (and you). ... So you
see, you caused quite a stir."
We have had reactions
to the ads from California,
Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Already we have sent out a second sheet of ads, and will
continue to send out new ads on a regular basis. Thanks to
you. the idea is working, the Center is receiving support,
and Atheism ISreceiving rccoqnition and strength through
0111 the country as never before.

It's about time!
The United States Supreme Court, cowed by fear of
organized religion, has issued opinion after opinion in
conflict with the intent of the First Amendment mandatewhat Thomas Jefferson
called "a wall of separation"
between state and church. Describing prayer as a gavel,
seeing "benevolent" neutrality, swallowing the "child benefit" thf'Drv thf' Stlpremf' Court has rf'citlcen thai stone wall
to a vacillating, often broken, thin line as it yielded more
and more to church political power.
Some state court, somewhere,
neo tu :-:lIdV~ LUUI d~~
enough to say that the Supreme Court deals from coward
ice. not principle, and California did that on August 27th.
That state's Supreme Court in a unanimous decision (seven
judges) held that it is unconstitutional
for the state of
California to "loan" textbooks to parochial schools.
The program, which cost the state $3.6 million dollars
annually, "loaned" texts to private schools. 9OQ" of which
were religious. Of the ex)'\. which were religious, 73'\. were
roman catholic. The funding put a serious drain on public
school budgets. Called asubterfuge, which ISwhat Indeed
it was, the California Teachers Association.
which chal.Ienged the program. pointed out that such a "loan" was a
sidestep to enable the state to subsidize religious schools.
The state officials whined as answer that it met U.S.
Supreme Court approved standards which permitted such
.nd as long as the primal'.' t1enf'ficianes were school children
and their parents, not the private schools. The dodge
should be apparent to a IOyearold
Reviewing three cases where the U.S Supreme Court
had surrendered
to religion, the California Court said
simply that the buck stopped there. This is aid to religion,
pure and simple, and as aid It u.cs stopped. Congratulations, California! If that message can only "trickle up" to the
U. S. Supreme Court, there is hope yet.

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

A Brief History of Religious Mottoes

United States Currency and Coins
Madalyn O'Hair
At the time of the founding of our nation, the situation in
Europe was that the theocratic state of medieval times had
completely disappeared.
But, no nation had adopted the
idea of mutual independence
of religion and political
government. Expressions of the need for the same had been
voiced by dissident groups and by some of the intellectual
leaders of the 18th century Enlightenment. The prevailing
situation was that one faith was favored as the official
religion, but other faiths were permitted to
exist with varying degrees of freedom. At one extreme was
Holland where wide freedom was allowed all sects and
which gave asylum to the persecuted of all European
countries. At the other extreme was Spain, where the
Inquisition was still a reality in 1787 and where the spirit of
medieval intolerance still prevaiied.
Religious wars had plagued Europe during the 16th and
17th centuries and were still remembered as recent history.
In People ex reI. Everson vs. Board of Education, 330 U.S.
1, 1947 the United States Supreme Court noted:
"The centuries immediately before and contemporaneous with the colonization of America had been filled
with turmoil, civil strife, and persecution, generated in
large part by established sects determined to maintain
their absolute political and religious supremacy. With
the power of government supporting them, at various
times and places, Catholics had persecuted Protestants, Protestants had persecuted Catholics, Protestant sects had persecuted
other Protestant
Catholics of one shade of belief had persecuted
Catholics of another shade of belief, and all of these
had from time to time persecuted Jews. In efforts to
force loyalty to whatever religious group happened to
be on top and in league with the government of a
particular time and place, men and women had been
fined, cast in jail, cruelly tortured, and killed. Among
the offenses for which these punishments had been
inflicted were such things as speaking disrespectfully
of the view of ministers of government-established
churches, non-attendance
at those churches, expressions of non-belief in their doctrines, and failure to pay
taxes and tithes to support them."
It was to this background that the Constitution of the
United States spoke. At the Constitutional
prayers at opening sessions were deliberately circumvented.
The Constitution which emerged from that deliberation had
not one word concerned with god. The omission was not
It did not remain unnoticed. A number of
ministers and congregations immediately contacted the new
government to petition that some reference to god be put
into the document. In ratification
of the Constitution,
theists in state after state raised their issue of concern: the
lack of a reference to god. However, omission of an invocation

to god and the proscription of religious tests for office in the

proposed Constitution
were acceptable to the American
electorate when the voters were called on to pass the
Constitution in ratifying conventions.
The matter was completed in 1789, the Constitution being
ratified and declared to be in effect the first Wednesday in
March of that year. Washington was elected to the presidency and began to serve as of April 30, 1789. At that time,
4% of the populace of the United States was church involved
and every major statesman was a deist, including the first six
presidents of the United States.
The first directions as to mottoes on currency were given
in Statute II, Chapt. III, January
18, 1837 , "An Act
to the act entitled 'An Act establishing a
mint, and regulating the coins of the United States.' (a)
Sec. 2, Sixth:
"The engraver shall prepare and engrave, with the
legal devices and inscriptions, all the dies used' in the
coinage of the mint and its branches."
- and in Sec. 13:
"And be itfurther enacted, That upon the coins struck
at the mint there shall be the following devices and
legends; upon one side of each of said coins there shall
be an impression emblematic
of liberty, with an
inscription of the word LI BERTY, and the year of the
coinage; and upon the reverse of each of the gold and,
silver coins, there shall be the figure or representation
of an eagle, with the inscription United States of
America, and a designation of the value of the coin;
but on the reverse of the dime and half dime, cent and
half cent, the figure of the eagle shall be omitted."
The coinage was totally secular; as clean from a mention
of god as was the Constitution.
However, the theistic community grew. At the time of the
passage of this law, churches could claim 12% of the
population, and by the time of pre-Civil War days, church
membership had risen to J 6% of the population by 1850 and
to 23% by 1860.
Hoping to overcome the omission of the mention of god
in the Constitution, on February 3, 1863 eleven .Protestant
(including United Presbyterians
and the
Methodist Episcopalian General Conference) organized the
National Reform Association,
which had as one of its
principal purposes to amend the Constitution of the United
States to "declare the nation's allegiance to Jesus Christ," to
"indicate that this is a Christian nation" and to "undeniably"
put the "legal basis" of the land on "Christian
institutions and usages." The Association formally petitioned Congress to amend the preamble of the Constitution
so as to read:
"We, the people of the United States, humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Austin, Texas


Page 7

power in civil government. the Lord Jesus Christ as the

Ruler among the nations. His revealed will as the supreme
law of the land. in order to constitute a Christian
government, and in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the
commmon defense, promote the general welfare, and secure

the inalienable rights and the blessings of life. liberty. and

the pursuit of happiness to ourselves. our posterity. and all
thepeople, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America."
The Christian Amendment never succeeded in obtaining
either the approval of Congress or of any of the states, but
continued its efforts into the 20th century, when up to the
late 1950s its registered lobbying agents were still contacting
the United States Congress.
The National Reform Association attracted many eminent men into its ranks, both before and after its formal
structuring in 1863. These were men such as Supreme Court
Justice William Strong, Prof. J. H. McIlvaine of Princeton,
former governors J. W. Geary and James Pollock of
Pennsylvania, J. M. Harvey of Kansas, J. W. Stewart of
Vermont and the Commissioner of Public Schools of Rhode
Island, to name the most notable.
James Pollock, who became the director of the mint,
figures largely in the placing of the motto "In God We Trust"
on U. S. coins. He was born in Milton, Pennsylvania on
September II, 1810, graduated from Princeton and began
law practice in Pennsylvania in 1833. He served in Congress
from 1844 to 1848. He was presidingjudge of the 8thjudicial
district from 1851 to 1855 and governor of Pennsylvania
from 1855 to 1858. President Lincoln picked him as the
mint's 10th director in 1861, and he remained in that job
until he resigned in 1867.
The addition of the motto "In God We Trust" on coins of
the United States, becomes then more than an innocent
What the religious fanatics who advocated
the Christian Amendment could not do overtly, through the
will of the electors, was accomplished covertly, through the
determination of one of their members, James Pollock: i.e.,
the recognition of the nation's dependence upon the will of
the christian god was broadcast on our coins if not in our
The person who first [allegedly] addressed the federal
government for the inclusion of a religious motto on the
coins was Rev. Mark Richards Watkinson. In the folklore of
theistic America, he was the pastor at First Particular
Baptist Church in Ridleyville, Pennsylvania in 1861 when he
proposed the same. The facts, however, are different.
In early'years Mark Watkinson prepared himself for the
ministry at the University of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, later
named Bucknell University, and then at the Columbian
College, now George Washington University, in Washington, D. C. He was still a young man, not yet ordained - in
1851 - when he first served at the First Particular Baptist
Church in Ridleyville. (This church has been modernized
and enlarged, and is Prospect Hill Baptist Church, 7th &
Lincoln avenues, Prospect Park, Pennsylvania.) The Rev.
Watkinson left the church in 1853 to take up service as the
pastor of the Schuylkill Baptist Church in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, where he remained until 1861. He left the ministry in that year and died 16'years later, on September 26,


1877 fit the age of 52.

According to a Committee on Coinage, Weights and
Measures Report to accompany H. R. 17296, titled "To
Restore The Motto 'In God We Trust' to The Coins of The
United States," reported out on February 27, 1908, a
"History of the Motto 'In God We Trust' "is given.
"From the records of the Department [of the Treasury] it appears that the first suggestion
of the
recognition of the Deity on the coins of the United
States was contained in a letter addressed to the
Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. S. P. Chase, by the
Rev. M. R. Watkinson, minister of the gospel, Ridleyville, Pa., under date of November 13, 1861, which was
as follows:
"Ridleyville, Pa., November 13, 1861
"Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report
to Congress respecting the affairs of the national
"One fact touching our currency has hitherto been
seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the
Almighty God in some form in our coins.
"You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic
were now shattered beyond reconstruction?
not the antiquaries
of succeeding centuries rightly
reason from our past that we were a heathen nation?
What I propose is that instead of the Goddess of
Liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring
inscribed with the words 'perpetual union'; within this
ring the all-seeing eye crowned with a halo; beneath
this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars
equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of
the bars the words 'God, liberty, law.'
"This would make a beautiful coin, to which no
possible citizen could object. This would relieve us
from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us
openly under the divine protection we have personally
claimed. From my heart I have felt our national shame
in disowning God as not the least of ouf present
national disasters.
"To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.
"M. R. Watkinson,
"Minister of the Gospel
"Hon. S. P. Chase,
"Secretary of the Treasury."
The letter showed a great concern for and knowledge
ahout "that which is Caesar's" - [Matt. 22:21).
Salmon P. Chase had been' an antislavery senator, then
governor of Ohio before he was appointed Secretary of the
Treasury during Lincoln's presidency. He had been born
. January 13, 1808 and reared in Keene, New Hampshire,
where his father kept a tavern. But when his father died, the
nine year old Salmon was sent to live with his uncle
Philander Chase, the Episcopal bishop of Ohio. There he
came under such relizious influence that he would write in
his diary at age 22. April 10. 1830. On this day I united with

the church. By conviction I am a christian. My reason isfully

convinced and my understanding perfectly satisfied. My
heart also I think cordially and gratefully assents to the plan
of salvation through free grace in christ Jesus. May he. who
endowed me with intellect. enlighten my understanding.
May he. who has given me affections. draw them supremely

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

to himself. " He, later, even gave up the woman he loved

because she lacked religious convictions.
This extant diary well demonstrates, throughout, hi~ daily
fanatical religious commitment. Salmon Chase had three
wives and four children who predeceased him. He was later
named Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
and served there from 1864 to 1873.
However, the damage that he did as Secretary of the
Treasury was effectuated within one week of the receipt of
Watkinson's letter, for he immediately wrote to the Director
of the Mint, James Pollock, as follows:
"Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the
strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The
trust of our people in God should be declared on our
national coins.
"You will cause a device to be prepared without
unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the
fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.
"Yours truly,
"S. P Chase"
What could not be done through thewill of the people was
done through the scheming of several men.
However, neither man could effectuate the change. The Act
of 18 January 1837 had dictated inscriptions and mottoes.
Enabling legislation was needed to make a change. Toward
that end, James Pollock immediately began to work on a
motto. First the five words "Our Trust Is In God" were tried,
but they took too much space. To attain brevity, at one point
it was fairly well settled by Pollock and his staff that the four
words "Our Trust In God" would be used. It was preferred
over Watkinson's
"God, Liberty, Law." Other mottoes
considered and discarded were "Our God and Our Country"
and "God And Our Country.",
Before the year was out, bronze patterns for a half dollar
and a $10 gold piece were minted using "God Our Trust,"
which was preferred by Pollock, although over the next few
years a number of trial pieces were minted to show the
various mottoes under consideration.
And, in December,
1863, designs were submitted to the Secretary of the
The Secretary of the Treasury in a reply letter addressed
to the Director of the Mint, under date of December 9, 1863,
"I approve of your mottoes, only suggesting that on
that with the Washington obverse the motto should
begin with the word, 'Our,' so as to read, 'Our God
And Our Country.' And on that with the shield it
should be changed so as to read: 'In God We Trust. ,,,
The coin motto had been given birth. Congress was
approached and "An Act in Amendment of an Act entitled,
'An Act Relating to Foreign Coins and the Coinage of Cents
at the Mint of the United States,' approved
twenty-one, eighteen hundred and fifty-seven," was passed
by Congress on April 22, 1864. That act read as follows:
Be it enacted bv the Senate and House ofRepresentatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled.
That, from and after the passage of this act, the
standard weight of the cent coined at the mint of the
United States shall be forty-eight grains, or one tenth

of one ounce troy; and said cent shall be composed of

ninety-five per centum of tin and zinc, in such
as shall be determined
by the
director of the mint; and there shall be from time to time
struck and coined at the mint a two-cent piece of the
same composition, the standard weight of which shall
be ninety-six grains, or one fifth of one ounce troy,
with no greater deviation than four grains to each
piece of said cent and two-cent coins: and the shape,
mottoes, and devices of said coins shall be fixed by the
director of the mint, with the approval of the Secretary
of the Treasury: and the laws now in force relatingto
the coinage of cents and providing for the purchase of
material and prescribing the appropriate duties of the
officers of the mint and the Secretary of the Treasury
be. and the same are hereby, extended to the coinage
provided for."
Mint Director Pollock had carte blanche and could, at his
discretion, christianize our coins.
The first public issue coin to
employ the new motto was the
bronze two-cent piece. By June
30, 1865, Pollock was able to
report that 26,780,000 of the
two-cent pieces had been minted, all at Philadelphia,
Finally the actual motto was
considered in" An Act to authorize the Coinage of Three-Cent
pieces, and for other Purposes,"
passed by Congress on March 3,
1865, Section Five of that Act
And be itfurther enacted,
That, in addition to the
devices and legends upon
the gold, silver, and other
coines [sic] of the United
States, it shall be lawful
for the director of the
mint, with the approval
The 2cent bronze piece
was issued
of the Secretary of the
from 1864 to 1873.
to cause the
motto 'In God We Trust'
to be placed upon such coins hereafter to be issued as
shall admi t of such legend thereon."
By 1865, church affiliation had dropped to 15% of the'
population, the events of the Civil War having had a chilling
effect on religion. There was little use for the two-cent piece
on which the motto was first used, and after the Civil War it
lost its popularity. Authority to redeem and melt the two- .
cent pieces was given the mint by a congressional act of 1871.
N one were minted after 1873.
While authority to place "In God We Trust" on all coins
had been given by the Act of 1865, it was some time before it
was effectuated. In 1866 the motto was placed on $5, $10 and
$20 gold pieces, silver quarters, halves and dollars, and on
the shield nickel, new in that year. It was dropped fro the
nickels - from the 1883 Liberty Head - until sculptor
Felix Schlag placed it on the Jefferson nickel of 1938.

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Austin, Texas


Page 9

The first dime with the motto was the Winged Liberty
[Mercury - the Roman god who served as herald and
messenger of the other gods] of 1916. It was not assigned to
the twenty-cent pieces, trade dollars or $1, $2.50 and $3 gold
The next person to influence coinage design was Theodore Roosevelt. He had long been interested in art and
sculpture, and was quite excited when he encountered. on
August 3rd, 1903, an equestrian statue of General Sherman
at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Central Park. New York.
The sculptor was Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
immediately commissioned Saint-Gaudens
to prepare his
medal. The quality of the medal was so
excellent that he decided to change the nation's coinage
designs, which he considered to be of poor artistic quality.
He questioned Secretary of the Treasury Leslie M. Shaw,
who told him that there was no legal impediment to his
requesting new coin designs from Saint-Gaudens.
pointed out that the director of the mint, with the approval
of the Secretary of the Treasury, had discretionary power,
that coin design was not mandated by Congress. Roosevelt
immediately wrote the artist [November 6. 1905] and
commissioned new designs.
reworked various designs for over Ig
months, and Roosevelt was closely interested in the conceptualizations. Saint-Gaudcnv'xon.
in writinc his father's biouraphy, notes, "Finally he attacked the difficult problem of
the inscriptions by placing upon the previously milled edge
of the coin, in one case. the forty-six stars and, in the others,
the thirteen stars with the' E Pluribus Unum. 'The motto 'In
God We Trust: as an inartistic intrusion not required by
law. he wholly discarded and thereby drew down upon
himself the lightning of public comment. It is interesting to
discover in regard to this that Secretary Salmon P. Chase
received quite as severe a censure for placing the words upon
this coin as was aroused by their removal." The Reminis-

cences ofAugustus
Saint-Gaudens, edited by Homer SaintGaudens.
Roosevelt's efforts to change the coins were met with stiff
resistance from mint officials who resented his intrusion into
their interest sphere. Roosevelt, however, was quite concerned to have attractive coins and saw that the work on
them was pushed [which included the necessity of purchasing a new 'Janvier machine]. The first coins were put into
circulation about 18th November, 1907.
At this point the public had become aware that the motto
"In God We Trust" had been dropped from the new $10 and
$20 gold pieces. The matter became a religious and political
issue. However, the church publications of the day tended
to support Roosevelt. For example, a
major Presbyterian
The Westminster, commented in part:
'The motto is a relic from the days when pious phrases
were inscribed on regalia. public documents, weapons
of war. and coins. They have been omitted, one by one,
not perhaps because real trust in 90d has waned, but
because of an increasing sense of their incongruity and
a keener sense of their true meaning.' .
Roosevelt's reasoning for the omission has been ascribed to
certain letters he purportedly wrote. One such is reproduced
in The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt. edited by Elting E.
Morison, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, 1952. This letter is written to Rev. Roland C. Dryer
of l\ unda , New York, one of the persons protesting through
organizations and individually, concerned with the omission of the motto from the coinage. This letter was dated
11th November.
1907. However, another letter written
allegedly to William Boldly was "discovered" in an auction
of the Bowers and Ruddy Galleries' American Auction
Avsoc iar io n under number I24Q "f tilt' Ke nvinuton
Collcction. and was sold in 1975. The Harvard issue book had been
printed 23 years prior. The letters are identicalc- as follows:


no entanglement
"in god we trust" adde d


1790 1800














































Page 10


Vendemiaire (October) 11,981


'American Atheist

"Dear Sir: When the question of the new coinage came

up we lookt [sic] into the law and found there was no
warrant therein for putting "'N GOD WE TR UST" on
the coins. As the custom, altho [sic] without legal
warrant, had grown up, however. , might have felt at
liberty to keep the inscription had' approved of its
being on the coinage. But as I did not appr ovc of it. I
did not direct that it should again be put on. Of course
the matter of the law is absolutely in the hands of
Congress, and any direction of Congress in the matter
will be immediately obeyed. At present, as I have said,
there is no warrant in law for the inscription.
"My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm
conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use
it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but
does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which
comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and
solemn sentence such as the one in question should be
treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which
necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit. Any
use which tends to cheapen it. and, above all, any use
which tends to secure its being treated in a spirit of
levity, is from every standpoint
profoundly to be
regretted. It is a motto which it is indeed well to have
inscribed on our great national monuments, in our
temples of justice, in our legislative halls, and in
buildings such as those at West Point and Annapolis
-- in short wherever it will tend to arouse and inspire a
lofty emotion in those who look thereon. But it seems
to me eminently unwise to cheapen such.a motto.by
use on coins, just as it would cheapen it by use on
postage stamps. or in advertisements.
As regards its
use on the coinage we have actual experience by which
to go. In all my life I have never heard allY human
being speak reverently of this motto on the coins or
show any sign of its having appealed to any high
emotion in him. But I have literally hundreds of times

Two years after the 2-cent piece made its debut. another
denomination. the S-cent piece. ~ms introduced. The two
obverse designs were quite similar (below).

heard it used as an occasion of, and incitement to. the

sneering ridicule which it is above all things undesirable that so beautiful and exalted a phrase should
excite. For example, thruout [sic] the long contest,
extending over several decades, on the -free coinage
question. the existence of this motto on the coins was a
constant source of jest and ridicule; and this was
unavoidable. Everyone must remember the innumerable cartoons and articles based on phrases like 'In
God we trust for the other eight cents'; 'In God we trust
for the short weight';'ln God we trust for the thirtyseven cents we do not pay'; and so forth and so forth.
Surely I am well within bounds when' say that a use of
the phrase which invites constant levity of this type is
most undesirable.
If Congress alters the law and
directs me to replace on the coins the sentence in
question the direction will be immediately put into
effect; but I very earnestly trust that the religious
sentiment of the country, the spirit of reverence in the
country, will prevent any such action being taken.

Sincerely yours
Theodore Roosevelt ..
The pressures of the religious community, which ignored
any concept of state;' church separation,
were felt in
Congress, and in 1908 that body considered a bill to make
the use of the motto "In God We Trust" a requirement of
law. A report was issued by the Committee on Coinage,
Weights and Measures. to accompany H. R. 17296. and the
thrust of this report was that the "measure simply reflects the
reverent and religious conviction which underlies American
citizenship. "The report also characterized the United States
as a "Christian nation" and evidenced that the intent of the
motto was religious. The report follows:
"Your subcommittee deems it unnecessary to recount
in detail the history of the legislation which required
the stamping of this significant motto on certain
denominations of gold and silver coinage of the United
States, except to say that by the act ofJanuary,
mottoes and devices for our coins were prescribed. and
that in April, 1864, in March, 1865. and in February.
1873, laws were enacted by Congress
substantially that the words "In God We Trust" might
be inscribed upon such coins of the United States as
would admit of such inscription. and that in pursuance
of such authority the Hon. Salmon P. Chase. the then
of the Treasury
of the United States,
directed that the inscription "In God We Trust" be
stamped on gold and silver coins of certain denominations.
petitions have been referred to your
from various sources throughout
United States asking Congress to restore this motto on
the coinage as has. been done since the passage of the
acts above referred to, and until the omission of the
same from certain gold coins of the United States
known as 'The St. Gaudens. 'These petitions all ask for

The "godless ..20-dollar gold piece was issued in 1907 and

1908. The public clamor 0.( theists caused the,placement of
the motto on the reverse side of some 1908 and all
subsequent issues (illustration at left).
Austin, Texas

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Page 11

the restoration of the inscription as it existed before

about the idea of Christianity:
the issuance of the gold coins referred to. Your
[In a letter written in 1862 to Judge J. A. Wakefield, a
has, therefore, confined itself to a lifelong and intimate friend] "My earlier views of the
compliance with these recommendations.
unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the
"Your subcommittee is unanimous in the belief that as human origin of the Scriptures have become clearer and
a Christian nation we should restore this motto to the stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for
coinage of the United States upon which it was thinking I shall ever change them."
formerly inscribed 'as an outward and visible form of
Mary Todd Lincoln: "M r. Lincoln had no hope and no
the inward and spiritual grace,' which should possess
faith in the usual acceptance of those words."
and inspire American citizenship, and as an evidence
William Herndon. law partner of Abraham Lincoln: "Let
to all the nations of the world that the best and only
me say that Mr. Lincoln was an Infidel. He did write a little
reliance for the perpetuation
of the republican
work on infidelity in 1835-6. and never recanted. He was an
institution is upon a Christian patriotism,
out-and-out Infidel. and about that there is no mistake."
recognizing the universal fatherhood of God, appeals
From What Great Men Think of Religion, Ira D. Cardiff,
to the universal brotherhood of man as the source of Christopher Publishing House. Boston. 1945.
the authority-and power of all just government .... "
As indicated [supra]. the first dime with the motto
The report was, of course, more a political polemic than a appeared in 1916 and it was not assigned to the quarters,
statement of fact. As we have seen. the motto "In God We . trade dollars, the $2.50 or the $3.00 gold pieces.
Trust'vhad not been specifically approved by Congress until
Later. the Cold War was to come to the United States and
after the Civil War. Our monetary pieces had. from the with it the hysteria of McCarthyism.
In this climate the
beginning of the nation, been free from such a motto and. in religious community again moved to capture the symbols of
fact, only some coins had been so imprinted, but not all.
the nation. In hysterical language -" ... one of the greatest
As it became obvious that the House of Representatives
differences between the free world and the Communists. a
was going to vote in favor of the bill, Roosevelt talked to belief in God." [Report from the Committee on the JudiSenator Thomas Carter (R-Mt.) in respect to the report
ciary. May 10,1954] - it was urged that the Pledge of
from the Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures.
Allegiance to the Flag be altered to recognize god. PL 623
'The Congressman. says the House Committee wants
(77th Cong .. 56 Stat.) effectuated that end.
to pass a bill restoring the motto to the coin. Itell him
On June 7,.1955, H. R. 619 "Providing for the inscripit is not necessary; it is rot; but the Congressmensay
tion of Tn God We Trust' on all United States Currency and
th~re is misapprehension as to the religious purport of Coins" was introduced in the House. The author of the bill
it,- i\ is easy to stir upa sensation and misconstrue the made his intent clear [Congressional Record, June 7, 1955,
motive ~ and that the Committee is pp.7795-96):
agitated as to the effect of a veto. I repeat.It is rot, pure
." ...
Nothing can be more certain than' that our
rot; but I am .telling the Congressman
if Congress
country was founded in a spiritual atmosphere and
wants topassa
bill re-establishing the motto, .I shall
with a firm trust in God. While the sentiment oft rust in
not veto it-You mayas well know it in the Senate
God is universal and timeless, these particular f'our
also.". '
, .
words 'In God We Trust' are indigenous .!O our
The bill was passed in the House on March 8, 1908 and in
country .... At the base of ourfreedom is our 'faith in
the Senate onMay 13, 1908, becoming Public Law No. 120:
God and the desire of Americans to live by His will and
"An Act Providing for the restoration of the motto, 'In
by His guidance. As long as this country trusts in God,
God We Trust' on certain. denominations
of the gold
it will prevail. To serve as a constant reminder of this
and silver coins of the United States..
truth. itis highly desirable that out currency and coins
"Beit enacted by the Senateand
House of Represenshould bear these inspiring words.'In
God We
, tatives of the United States of America in Congress
Trust.' "
assembled, That the motto 'In God We Trust,' hereRepresentative Grois sarcastically interjected:
tofore inscribed on certain denominations of the gold
~, . '. . I wonder- if American currency: -wiih ..the
and silver coins of the United States of America. shall
inscription 'In God We Trust' will be .acceprablein
hereafter be inscribed upon all such gold and silver
Communist Poland if'! payment for the cafined hams
coins of said denominations as heretofore.
. that an! pouring into this country In 'competition with
"Sec. 2. That this Act shall take effect thirty days after
.American farmers and packers."
' ..
its approval by the President."
The, Report from the Committee
on' Banking and
Theodore Roosevelt signed it, as approved~ 0,0 18th May,
Currency which was submitted with this bill reported:
1908. The Congress had reacted in a de minimis fashion, and
"One reason that this situation has not been remedied
it was uncl~ar at this point if other coins than those which
heretofore-has-been the prohibitive cost involved in the
had borne the motto, .~hould have it. However. when the
necessary redesigning of the dies used inpririting
Lincoln penny came out in 1909 it bore the motto. The
currency" However; the Bureau of Engraving and
occasion was the celebration of the IOOthanniversary of the
Printing is now planning technological.improvement
birth of Abraham Lincoln. The designer of the coin was
in its printing equipment
which will require, the
Victor D. Brenner, and this was the first time .~hat a l-cent
preparation of new dies. Therefore, the inscription 'In
piece had borne the motto.
God We Trust' can be incorporated
in the new dies
It is interesting to note what Abraham Lincoln thought
with very little additional cost."

Page 12

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

The footnote, obviously - on its face - dealt with

occasions. The Ninth Circuit court
Baines Johnson (D-Tx.)
recognized this but held that the motto was in the category
introduced Calendar No. 642, H. R. 619. and Senator
of being that which was.rpatriotic or ceremonial, ... with no
Johnson emphasized that" ... for almost a century. there
theological or rit ualistic impact, ... " and consequently
no inscription
on our
threw Mr. Aronow's case out of court on October 6, 1970.
reflecting the spiritual basis of our way of life."
Had he employed an attorney, the debacle could well have
The Senate passed the bill.
been avoided. Now, a bad law was on the books in a federal
One of the persons most instrumental in campaigning for
this slogan had been Matthew R. Rothert. chairman of the
board (and treasurer) of the Camden Furniture ManuArn c rira n At hc ivt s felt that this high lv irrational
facturing Company. Mr. Rothert, in an interview in his court view must and could be overcome and, therefore,
home on November 11.1953. stated that the idea for placing
challenged the phrase' 'In god we trust" in a suit which was
the motto on paper money had come to him while he was filed in October. 1977, joined individually by hundreds of
church. The enthusiastic
response from the Atheists. The suit was followed vigorously for two and a half
religious community had encouraged him to present his idea years, with defeats every inch of the way. The United States
to Secretary of the Treasury George M. Humphrey. to District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin
President Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of Commerce
Division, relied on the Aronow case, quoting it exactly. The
Sinclair Weeks. Commenting on the credit given to him for hostile ('nited <;;I:lle' Court of Appeals. Fifth Circuit. at
his part in the successful move to have the motto placed on New Orleans. Louisiana, agreed on February 5th, 1979, and
the paper money, he emphasized:
affirmed the opinion of the Austin court.
"Please give any credit to the Lord. who gave me the
A request for a review by the United States Supreme
idea and enabled it to be accomplished."
Court was filed in April. 1979, and denied, without
The Cold War. however, was not over. nor were the comment. later in the vear
residuals of McCarthyism. On March 22, 1956. H. R. Res.
At that time. it was felt that an appeal should be made to
396 was introduced to establish "In God We Trust" as a the United Nations under the aegis of the Human Rights
national motto.
Shockinglv. however. it was discovered that
the IInited Stall" is one of the very few nations in the world
The motto has twice been challenged in federal courts.
On the first occasion, in 1969, one Stefan Ray Aronow, of which is not a signatory to the world agreement for the
San Francisco, California, without an attorney, filed a case necessity of H uma n Rights Only citizens from nations
of the phrase Although the court's language is which are signatories can make any kind of appeal to the
inconclusive, there are indications that Aronow was religious
Human Rights Commission
in Switzerland.
and Irlt t h.u t hr phrase ,III t he mo ncv was dcrnea ning I" f!"d
while an Atheist teacher from Finland, forced to take his
class to church and forced to pray in that church, could
The United States District Court for the Northern
District of California dismissed his complaint, and he appeal to the Human Rights Commission, Atheists in the
United States forced to handle money containing slogans ~
appealed. again without an attorney, to the United States
for god cannot.
Court of Appeals. Ninth Circuit in that state.
Atheists and agnostics as a class are being told by the
On October 6. 1970, that appellate court issued a decision
government of the United States that they have no rights in
that was very curious, absolutely disregarding the tripartite
this matter. Another case simply needs to be refiled in a
test which has been set up by the United States Supreme
more liberal federal circuit, and the debates concerned with
Court to measure constitutionality
of a federal law. The
appellate court went instead to the dicta of a footnote in a where to file have been many. There are nine' federal circuits
and traditionally that of California has been most liberal.
prior case.
but the Aronow case is sitting in that circuit as an
uv Engct \'. Vila le, 370 ['.s. 421 [1962] the U.S. Supreme
The law, on its face, is unconstitutional.
Caul i had held that government could not compose prayers
American Atheists know this: the courts know it; the United
which citizens, particularly students, were required to use.
States Senate and House. of Representatives
know it; the
On page 435. a footnote (1121) appears in the majority
legal community including law schools know it; and the
opinion delivered by Justice Black. That footnote, in its
media know it. But, fear is abroad in our land.
entirety. was cited by the Ninth Circuit. without noting that
The United States. the nation which first wrote state/ church
it was indeed a footnote and not the per curiam decision.
separation into its federal constitution.
is today the only
~I There is of course nothing
in the decision reached here that nation in the world which corrupts its currency and coinage
is inconsistent with the fact that school children and others
with religious slogans. The tragedy and mockery are
are officially encouraged to express love for our country by
ippa rcnt
reciting historical
such as the DeclaraThe history of the placing of this motto on our coins and
tion of Independence which contain references to the deitv
currency evidences the religious origin of it and demonor by singing officially espoused anthems whch include th'e strates t hat the entire exercise is an establishment of religion.
composer's professions of faith in a supreme being, or with
the/act that there are many manifestations in our public life
of belief in god. Such patriotic or ceremonial occasions bear
no true resemblance to the unquestioned religiuus exercise
that the Slate of New York has sponsored in this instance."
The House passed the bill.

<in June 29, 1955, Lyndon

Austin. Texas

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Page 13

Atheist Masters


You ask me what I would" substitute for the bible as a
moral guide."
I know that many people regard the bible as the only
moral guide and believe that in that book only can be found
the true and perfect standard of morality.
There are many good precepts, many wise sayings and
many good regulations and laws in the bible, and these are
mingled with bad precepts, with foolish sayings, with absurd
rules and cruel laws.
But we must remember that the bible is a collection of
many books written centuries apart, and that it in part
represents the growth and tells in part the history of a
people. We must also remember that the writers treat of
many subjects. Many of these writers have nothing to say
about right or wrong, about vice or virtue.
The book of genesis has nothing about morality. Thera is
not a line in it calculated to shed light on the path of conduct.
No one can call that book a moral guide. It is made up of
myth and miracle, of tradition and legend.
In exodus we have an account of the manner in which
jehovah delivered the jews from Egyptian bondage.
We now know that the jews were never enslaved by the
Egyptians; that the entire story is a fiction. We know this,
because there is not found in hebrew a word of Egyptian
origin, and there is not found in the language of the
Egyptians a word of hebrew origin. This being so, we know
that the hebrews and Egyptians could not have lived
together for hundreds of years.
Certainly exodus was not written to teach morality. In
that book gou cannot find one word against human slavery.
As a matter of fact, jehovah was a believer in that institution.
The killing of cattle with disease and hail, the murder of
the first-born, so that in every house was death, because the
king refused to let the hebrews go, certainly was not moral;
it was fiendish. The writer of that book regarded all the
people of Egypt, their children, their flocks and herds, as the
property of Pharaoh, and these people and these cattle
were killed, not because they had done anything wrong, but
simply for the purpose of punishing the king. Is it possible to
get any morality out of this history?
Allthe laws found in exodus, including the ten commandments, so far as they are really good and sensible, were at
that time in force among the peoples of the world.

. Page 14

Robert G. Ingersoll
Written for The Boston Investigator

Murder is, and always was, a crime, and always willbe, as

long as a majority of people object to being murdered.
Industry always has been and always willbe the enemy of
The nature of man is such that he admires the teller of
truth and despises the liar. Among all tribes, among all
people, truth-telling has been considered a virtue and false
swearing or false speaking a vice.
The love of parents for children is natural, and this love is
found among all the animals that live. So the love of children
for parents is natural, and was not and cannot be created by
law. Love does not spring from a sense of duty, nor does it
bow in obedience to commands.
So men and women are not virtuous because of anything
in books or creeds.
All the ten commandments that are good were old, were
the result of experience. The commandments that were
original with jehovah were foolish.
The worship of "any other god" could not have been
worse than the worship of jehovah, and nothing could have
been more absurd than the sacredness of the sabbath.
If commandments had been given against slavery. and
polygamy, against wars of invasion and extermination,
against religious persecution in all its forms, so that the
.world 'could be free, so that the brain might be developed
and the heart civilized, then we might, with propriety, call
such commandments a moral guide.
Before we can truthfully say that the ten commandments
constitute a moral guide, we must add and subtract. We
must throwaway some, and write others in their places.
The commandments that have a known application here,
in this world, and treat of human obligations are good, the
others have no basis in fact, or experience.
Many of the regulations found in exodus, leviticus,
numbers and deuteronomy, are good. Many are absurd and

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

The entire ceremonial of worship is insane.

Most of the punishment for violations of laws is unphilosophic and brutal ....
The fact is that the pentateuch
upholds nearly all crimes, and to call it a moral guide is as
absurd as to say that it is merciful or true.
Nothing of a moral nature can be found in Joshua or
judges. These books are filledwith crimes, with massacres
and murders. They are about the same as the real history of
the Apache Indians.
The story of Ruth is not particularly moral.
In first and second Samuel there is not one word
calculated to develop the brain or conscience.
Jehovah murdered seventy thousand jews because
David took a census of the people. David, according to the
account, was the guilty one, but only the innocent were
In first and second kings can be found nothing of ethical
value. All the kings who refused to obey the priests were
denounced, and all the crowned wretches who assisted the
priests, were declared to be the favorites of jehovah. In
these books there cannot be found one word in favor of
There are some good psalms, and there are some that are
infamous. Most of these psalms are selfish. Many of them
are passionate appeals for revenge.
The story of Job shocks the heart of every good man. In
this book there is some poetry, some pathos, and some
philosophy, but the story of this drama called Job, is
heartless to the last degree. The children of Job are
murdered to settle a little wager between god and the devil.
Afterward, Job having remained firm, other children are
given in the place of the murdered ones. Nothing, however,
is done for the children who were murdered.
The book of Esther is utterly absurd, and the only
redeeming feature in the book is that the name of jehovah is
not mentioned.
I like the song of Solomon because it tells of human love,
and that is something I can understand. That book in my
judgment, is worth all the ones that go before it, and is a far
better moral guide.
There are some wise and merciful proverbs. Some are
selfish and some are flat and commonplace.
I like the book of ecclesiastes because there you find
some sense, some poetry, and some philosophy. Take away the interpolations and it is a good book.
Of course there is nothing in Nehemiah or Ezra to make
men better, nothing in Jeremiah or lamentations calculated
to lessen vice, and only a few passages in Isaiah that can be
used In a good cause.
. In Ezekiel and Daniel we find only ravings of the insane.
In some of the minor prophets there is now and then a
good verse, now and then an elevated thought.
You can, by selecting passages from different books,
make a very good creed, and by selecting passages from
different books, you can make a very bad creed.
The trouble is that the spirit of the old testament, its
disposition, its temperament, is bad, selfish and cruel. The
most fiendish things are commanded, commended and
The stories that are told of Joseph, of Elisha, of Daniel
and Gideon, and of many others, are hideous; hellish.

Austin, Texas

Jehovah was not a moral god. He had all the vices, and he
lacked all the virtues. He generally carried out his threats,
but he never faithfully kept a promise.
At the same time, we must remember that the old
testament is a natural production, that it was written by
savages who were slowly crawling toward the light. We
must give them credit for the noble things they said, and we
must be charitable enough to excuse their faults and even
their crimes.
I know that many christians regard the old testament as
the foundation and the new as the superstructure, and while
many admit that there are faults and mistakes in the old
testament, they insist that the new is the flower and perfect
I admit that there are many good things in the new
testament, and if we take from that book the dogmas of
eternal pain, of infinite revenge, of the atonement, of human
sacrifice, of the necessity of shedding blood; if we throw
away the doctrine of non-resistance, of loving enemies, the
idea that prosperity is the result of wickedness, that poverty
is a preparation for paradise, ifwe throw all these away and
take the good, sensible passages, applicable to conduct,
then we can make a fairly good moral guide - narrow, but
Of course, many important things would be left out. You
would have nothing about human rights, nothing in favor of
the family, nothing for education, nothing for investigation,
for thought and reason, but still you would have a fairly good
moral guide.
On the other hand, ifyou would take the foolish passages,
the extreme ones, you could make a creed that would
satisfy an insane asylum.
If you take the cruel passages, the verses that inculcate
eternal hatred, verses that writhe and hiss like serpents, you
can make a creed that would shock the heart of a hyena.
It may be that no book contains better passages than the ~
new testament, but certainly no book contains worse.
Below the blossom of love you find the thorriof hatred; on
the lips that kiss, you find the poison of the cobra.
The bible is not a moral guide.
Any man who follows faithfully all its teachings is an
enemy of society and willprobably end his days in a prison
or an asylum.
What is morality?
In this world we need certain things. We have many
wants. We are exposed to many dangers. We need food,
fuel, raiment and shelter, and besides these wants, there is
what may be called the hunger of the mind.
We are conditioned beings, and our happiness depends
upon conditions. There are certain things that diminish,
certain things that increase, well-being. There are certain
things that destroy and there are others that preserve.
Happiness, including its highest forms, is after all the only
good, and everything, the result of which is to produce or
secure happiness, is good, that is to say, moral. Everything
that destroys or diminishes well-being is bad, that is to say,
immoral. In other words, all that is good is moral, and all that
is bad is immoral.
What then is, or can be called, a moral guide? The
shortest possible answer is one word: Intelligence.
We want the experience of mankind, the true history of

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Page IS

the race. We want the history of intellectual development,

of the growth of the ethical, of the idea of justice, of
conscience, of charity, of self-denial. We want to know the
paths and roads that have been traveled by the human
These facts in general, these histories in outline, the
results reached, the conclusions
formed, the principles
evolved, taken together, would form the best conceivable
moral guide.
We cannot depend on what are called "inspired books,"
or the religions of the world. These religions are based on
the supernatural,
and according to them we are under
obligation to worship and obey some supernatural being, or
beings. All these religions are inconsistent with intellectual
liberty. They are the enemies of thought, of investigation, of
mental honesty.They destroy the manliness of man. They
promise eternal rewards for belief, for credulity, for what
they call faith.
This is not only absurd, but it is immoral.
These religions teach the slave virtues. They make

inanimate things holy, and falsehoods sacred. They create

artificial crimes. To eat meat on Friday, to enjoy yourself on
Sunday, to eat on fast-days. to be happy in lent, to dispute a
priest, to ask for evidence, to deny a creed, to express your
sincere thought, all these acts are sins, crimes against some
god. To give your honest opinion about jehovah, Mohammed or christ, is far worse than to maliciously slander your
neighbor. To question or doubt miracles, is far worse than
to deny known facts. Only the obedient, the credulous, the
cringers, the kneelers, the meek, the unquestioning,
true believers, are regarded as moral, as virtuous. It is not
enough to be honest, generous and useful; not enough to be
governed by evidence, by facts. In addition to this, you must
believe. These things are the foes of morality. They subvert
all natural conceptions of virtue.
And all "inspired books," teaching that only those who
obey the commands of the supernatural are, or can be, truly
and that
faith will be
rewarded with eternal joy, are grossly immoral.
Again, I say: Intelligence is the only moral guide.

United World Atheists

Jean- Yves Riviere
Jean- Yves Riviere is President of the recently created
pour laDeclericalisation
des Institutions
Republicaines (ADIR), and is a member of the Union des
Athees, in charge of international relations.


It should be interesting
to strike a balance of the
respective positions of religion and Atheism in France, at
the time when a new era seems to have started in this
country with the advent of the Socialist Party to power.
Before President Mitterand's election, things were plain.
Churchgoers were in charge in all Departments of State, or
nearly so. Could we reasonably expect a sudden and radical
change? I would say: no.
The Socialist Party has evolved. Indeed, the Socialism of
today has little in common with how it could be viewed a
century ago, through Jaures and Zola. Such a concept is
thoroughly outdated now.
The recent presidential as well as legislative polls showed
that a new electoral force has developed in the course of the
last decade - a force including catholic democrats together
with marxists - and crystallized around the personality of
Francois Mitterand. This accounts for the defeat of the
Communist Party, which has lost about half of its supporters to the advantage of the Socialist Party. It also
accounts for the ambiguous attitude of the new government
in regard to religious affairs.
Even though most of the French Ministers of State

Page 16

carefully avoid displaying any religious faith, or unfaith, they

will undoubtedly be submitted to hard pressures on the part
of the church. Moreover, it is worth noticing that the
catholic priests have long since been sneaking in the leftwing organizations - syndicates and political parties - even
at the cost of conspicuous - maybe more conspicuous than
real dissensions with the roman catholic hierarchy. The
result of these intrigues is that the church has perhaps
gained in political power more than it has lost in spiritual
influence and respectability.
Many socialist voters who elected Francois Mitterand to
the Presidency of the French Republic cannot help but feel
uneasy when they hear him name the pope "his sanctity" or
address him as "very holy father," as he did in a recent
telegram deploring Wojtyla's absence from the Eucharistic
Congress in Lourdes this summer. It seems that calling the
pope "the pope" would be enough for a socialist President
whom one could expect to behave as a secular chief of
state, and by no means as a religious leader's devotee.
Such details may sound trifling, but there are many other
signs which suggest that about the most significant
matters, public financial aid to confessional
schools for instance, things are not going to be settled easily.

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

As far as I know, there has been no official Gallup poll
about religion published in France since 1972. At that time,
a rough estimate was that out of ten people, nine had
received the catholic baptism; seven asserted that they
believed in god; fewer than four reported themselves
convinced of jesus christ's divinity; two would go to church
every sunday. Thus, one is allowed to conclude, according
to these figures, that 30% of the population, all ages mixed,
actually were non- believers,
only 20% were
practicing believers. Up to now, there is no evidence of any
significant change in favor of the church.
One of the major concerns of the roman catholic church
in France, as well as in all industrialized countries is the
steady decrease in ecclesiastical
callings. We have no
figures available since 1975, when the number of secular
priests was estimated to be 32,000 (1970: 36,000; 1965:
41,000) for a global population amounting to about fifty
million. But one can see no reason why this number would
be higher than 28,000 now. Otherwise it would mean a
sudden reverse of the trend, and it is perfectly obvious that
the catholic church would have made a fuss about it.
Such a disaffection for priesthood largely accounts for all

the show-business displayed by the church, especially since

Wojtyla's accession to the papacy. It looks as though the
catholic hierarchy had been given instructions not to balk at
any tomfooleries whatsoever, in order to revive the popular
awe and gullibility.,
Pope Jean-Paul II himself did set the fashion when, on his
arrival in some foreign country, he would fall on all fours
with his nose stuck to the ground, like a dog sniffing at a
piece of dung. A peak is likely to have been reached on good
friday, when he washed the feet of twelve beggars in the
Basilica St Peter-of-Rome
- as, according to the holy
scriptures, christ did to the apostles during the last supper.
The archbishop of Paris, "monseigneur"
Lustiger made a
point of not lagging behind. On the same day, he washed the
feet of twelve priests assembled in the choir of Notre-Dame
de Paris. Still better, he publicly climbed the stairs of the
"Butte Montmartre," wearing a wooden cross (weight about
forty pounds) on his shoulder, while the priests and the
crowd were chanting the usual dirges.
Nobody can say if the popular faith has been increasing
since those holy performances.
But it isdefinitely admitted
among the pious that they have stupendously delighted the
lord, Up There.


As a result of the decline of religious faith and practices,

one can notice a simultaneous' growth of Atheism, especially amid the youth. Religions deny man the right of being
rational and rationally behaving. So Atheism is the logical'
response to the religious claims.
Indeed, Atheism has little to offer as a substitute for what
religions provide.. This is its weakness. Religious-minded
people need faith: They need gods and goddesses to believe.
in, to help them live. They need an "after, life insurance" and
they are willing, anc1' ready to pay the price, for it, and
Atheism just offers them reality.
But the youth do not care about either insurance or faith.
Now, there is another fact that has to .be taken into
account: Children's religious education is no longer what it
used to be one century or only fifty years ago. Formerly,
deeply religious-minded parents would condition the child
at an early stage to the acceptance
of the .belief in an
invisible being (lB), that was steadily watching its deeds and
could even read its thoughts. Such a concept was atthe
same time associated with the first taboos (the excremental
and sexual ones, in particular). Thus, god - or whatever
this omnipotent
IB may be called -" would become a
familiar to the child. Later, as, the child was growing, the
of the' IB prevented any
negative reaction to further teachings about religion.


But nowadays" as parents ar~ notso deeply involv~d

religious matters, the IB is no longer evoked at, an early ,
stage of childhood. $0 the necessary associatioris.havenoj
been impressed into the child's uncorisciousund
after~ '
wards, when the teachings about religion will take place, it is,
already too late. The child's mind has become morecritical
and it simply rejects the absurd IB concept. .The conditioning will not work. This could explain to some extent why less
religious-minded parents will always bring forth a,stiillesser
religious-minded generation.
An article recently issued in the French daily newspaper
Le Monde states that teaching children aged seven to 12
catechism has become a tricky job. "I don't know if I'm going
to believe in jesus, I haven't decided yet," one kid said when'
interviewed. Anda lassie: "Me, I want to see this jesus first.
How can one believe in someone we can't see?" "It is no use
telling them about miracles," the female catechism teacher
mournfully admits, "or else they at once identify jesus with
Superman or Goldorak."
of to-day," in Le
Monde. Messidor 5. 1981)
As for teenagers, I would say that no more than 30% of
them believe in god. If you ask some 'of the remaining 70%,
they are likely to answer you that they don't give a damn.
And you will be lucky if they don't just roar with laughter at
,your funny question.

Austin, Texas

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

Page 17


By Professor Vladislav Sherdakov, D.Se.
Institute of Philosophy, USSR Academy of Sciences
My attention has been attracted by some of the
utterances made by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who
claims that it is impossible to trust Soviet leaders because
they do not believe in god. This mistrust can just as well be
extended to the majority of the Soviet people and all nonbelievers in general, including those in the United States.
Since my professional interests cover ethics, religion and
Atheism, I have found it possible to convey some of my
thoughts about the Atheists' moral principles.
What has given rise to the opinion that morality stems
from religion and that Atheism consequently leads to
amorality and nihilism? Is this opinion confirmed bythe
facts of life? Not at all. As facts show, criminals and amoral
people are to be found among both believers and nonbelievers. All the many attempts to prove that crime runs
higher among Atheists have come to nothing. In the
countries with a high percentage of religious people
amorality and crime are hardly lower, and sometimes
higher, than in countries where Atheism is widespread.
Someone might say that those who commit crimes are
not believers in the full sense of the word. They only say
they believe in god, but in fact have no faith. It is hardly
possible to agree with this view. The strongest faith can go
side by side with evil desires, intentions and their realization. Quite penetrating observations on this subject can be
found in The House of Death and other works of
Dostoyevsky, who can hardly be suspected of partiality for
Atheism. Many simply think that ifsomeone has strong faith
he is not capable of doing wrong. Man is a much more
complicated phenomenon. His heart is a constant tangle of
contradictory desires. The person who has committed a
crime can immediately turn to god, repent what he has done
and beg forgiveness. To believe and to live up to one's belief
are quite different things. There are many believers, but
there have always been few believers who live up to the
principles of their faith. The christian religion and church
have always had vast opportunities for putting into practice
their ideals: they have had the patronage of the authorities,
as well as ideological monopoly. But they have never been
able to reach their goals anywhere.
I think that by accusing Atheists of immorality, President
Reagan based his arguments not so much on facts or logic
as on political considerations. Politicians, ideologists and
the clergy in some countries zealously support the view that
Atheism undermines belief in the sanctity of moral precepts
and substitutes utilitarian considerationsformoral motives.
Of course, morality has been closely linked with religion
for a long period of history; religion sanctions moral rules
and values. But this does not at all mean that morality arises
from religion, that it does not have its own sources and
functions other than those of religion and that it cannot
exist without religion. Is it possible that only believers can be
kind and honest? Of course not.
It seems to me that any believer in any country could find

Page 18

Atheists around him who would never be accused of

immorality. Ifwe take a closer look at the people around us
and the motives of their conduct, we see that both believers
and non-believers are guided by the same motives. People
become moral or immoral not because of religion or
Atheism but for quite different reasons.
The majority of people in the Soviet Union are nonbelievers. Still, the late dean of the Canterbury Cathedral
Hewlett Johnson, who visited our country more than once,
spoke about the Soviet people's moral purity. Sound morals
do not call for religious support. The moral principles of a
nation are high if it is inspired with a great idea, with a goal
capable of leading it forward, and ifall are concerned with a
cause they find important. A lofty idea makes moral
principles much stronger. For the Soviet people such a
great idea is a society of social equality which has no
exploitation and oppression.
What is morality? It is sometimes interpreted as a system
of rules, bans and commands which man should obey
because this is what the lord, people and public opinion
want him to do. This interpretation of morality is limited.
Morality is something more than a system of precepts. It is
the very mode of man's existence, the mode that enables
him to be aware of his function, meaning and goal of life.
Charles Darwin, who developed the fundamentals of the
scientific concept on the origin of man, believed that man's
ability to have moral qualities made him basically different
from animals. Indeed, man is man not only because he is
capable of reasoning but also, and no less so, because he
has morality. There is a Russian expression that translates
literally as "He's lost his human appearance'z it is said in
reference to someone who has erred morally but not
necessarily intellectually.
The principal requirement of morality is not to be
obedient but to remain human in any situation. This means
that man must respect his own dignity and the dignity of
Who can be regarded as morally superior: the one who is
honest because it is required by god or the one who does
not believe in god but is honest by nature? In this
connection an incident comes to mind. Once when I was
staying in a Soviet village, an old woman entered the
building housing the management of the collective farm.
Slip nc;kpowhpre the chairman was and explained that she
wanted to get his permission to take fiftyeggs at the poultry
farm. Someone remarked jokingly: You're a poultry maid
yourself. so you can take the eggs, no one will know. The
woman replied: I'm too old for that kind of thing. It'llsoon be
time for me to die and I don't want to answer for it to god in
the next world.
I wondered at the time: If the old woman were not afraid
of god, would she have stolen the eggs? Was her honesty
worth much ifit was sustained by fear? Later on I saw that I
had been mistaken. The matter was not in god, of course.

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

That woman was not a thief by nature. Her words about god
were merely an outward form in which, by force of habit,
she expressed her moral convictions and feelings. It is our
conscience that prompts us to do good, and conscience is a
quality intrinsic in both believers and non-believers.
If a person obeys the demands made on him by some
authority, be it god, society or a social institution, he
displays discipline and obedience. But morality supposes a
free choice, freedom of action. A moral deed is not one done
at somebody's order but one done according to the dictates
of reason and conscience.
True, conscience Can sometimes be in the wrong. Many
crimes against humanity were perpetrated
with clear
conscience. The history of religions provides numerous
examples of this. People killed, plundered and tortured
others while being confident that they were acting in a way
that pleased the lord. Much depends on how conscience

has been formed and what it is filled with. However, we

Atheists do not think that conscience should be replaced by
rationalizing, by considerations
of practical suitability or
even concern for public interest. Conscience accumulates
the centuries-long experience of human cooperation. It also
carries a meaning which is not quite clear at this or that
period, but which often proves to be correct later on. This is
why our moral sentiments
sometimes prevent us from
making decisions that seem appropriate from the point of
view of the public good or the desire to reduce human
suffering. Among such situations is the need to decide the
fate of defective
babies or hopelessly
ill persons,
determine on the expediency of birth control, etc.
Atheists do not at all suggest that people should always
be guided by utilitarian considerations
and discard moral
feelings and conscience. On the contrary, for them morality
is the best criterion of man's spiritual value.


Toward More Intelligence

Richard M. Smith


On Messidor (July) 10th of this year, a very graphic
display of what christianity is about was widely publicized in
newspapers across the land. Probably everybody in the
U.S. saw the picture of an eight-year-old boy being.given
electric. shock therapy to "see god." The public expression
of outrage was quick and definite. Within a day the minister
responsible for this particular method of teaching god was
deluged with phone calls, so the abominable practice was
l say postponed because the minister in
question would certainly revive the electrical shock treatment if he thought no one was looking or if a sizable fraction
of the population approved.
On the one hand 'I thought it was a healthy sign that
enough people were not so apathetic as they have been in
this country about the horror of religion. Just three years
ago Jim .Iones was literally able to get away with murder
because nobody, including the press, politicians (as if they
would care), civil liberties and human rights' advocates,
cared or noticed until it was too late. Some politicians and
media people even merrily joined in his game.
Now it appears that the press, seeing the fascist threat
that the 'Moral' Majority poses to the Bill of Rights, is
starting to wake up. Why, some papers are even editorializing in favor of taxation of churches,
at least those
involved in overt political activity. Yes, I think it is a healthy
sign that more than just a few people are starting to care and
see the face of christianity for what it is.
, On the other hand I don't think most people fully
appreciate the fact that the Michigan minister's use of
twentieth century technology is not significantly different
from or less severe than the psychological torture chris-

Austin, Texas

tianity has always used since it began. We must bear in

mind that the modern 'liberal' preacher's
emphasis on
sweet things like 'love' is only a recent phenomenon
developed as a defense mechanism against the all-too-true
and poignant
by previous
antichristians like Voltaire and Ingersoll. Before their time all
preachers (except for the exceptional closet Atheist, Jean
Meslier) freely used the whip along with the sweets to herd
their sheep.
The whip, the psychological torture, of which I am writing
is, of course, the false doctrine of eternal damnation in a
fiery hell for every unrepentant
sinner. Can anyone deny
that this false doctrine is significantly different or less severe
for the believer than the electrical prod? If he does, he hasn't
watched the people crying at a Billy Graham sermon or at
any fundamentalist church. He hasn't watched the children
clinging to their parents for safety from terrible words from
the pulpit. Remember that fear is also an intense electrical
in the brain. The preaching of fear of hell is
electrical shock therapy of its own kind, and it has even
been used, for millennia before there was ever any mention
of thp word 'christ.'
Lest many of you have not heard or have forgotten about
hell, allow me to quote one verse that many christians are
fond of teaching their children. Picture Billy Graham or
Jerry Falwell expostulating upon these words during the
tense moments they create for their gullible audiences: "and
jesus said, 'If thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for
thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go
into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.
I think
I'd rather suffer an electric shock than have my hand cut off,

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981



Page 19

and yet that is not half as bad as what hell is supposed to be.
Christians have in the past unanimously' concurred in
developing exquisite scenes of torture in hell. Unfortu-.
nately, I don't have the time or money to keep track of
present-day preachers, but we do have these scenes drawn
by their forebears.
Here is how John Calvin, founder of the presbyterian
. church and burner of Servetus, described sinners in hell:
"Forever harassed with a dreadful tempest, they shall feel
themselves torn asunder by an angry god and transfixed
and penetrated by mortal stings, terrified by the thunderbolts of god and broken by the weight of his hand, so that to
sink into any gulf would be more tolerable than to stand for a
moment in these terrors. Even infants bring their damnation
with them."
I don't think that I would be very far wrong in guessing
that the notorious Michigan minister uses words like these
from Jonathan Edwards when he isn't using electricity:
'Their eyes, their tongues, their hands, their feet, their loins,
and their vitals shall forever be full of a glowing, melting fire,
fierce enough to melt the very rocks and elements; and also,
they shall eternally be full of the most quick and lively sense
to feel the torment ... not for one minute, nor for one day,
nor for one year, nor for one age, nor for a hundred ages,
nor for ten thousand or a million ages, one after another, but
for ever and ever without any ending at all, and never, never
be delivered."
We don't have to go far into the past, though, to find
written words to scare the * * * * out of children. A booklet
written in 1950 by Paul Schulte, archbishop of Indianapolis,
was especially designed for children and contained these
words: "As they peered into this dreadful place, the terrified
youngsters saw huge numbers of devils and damned souls.
The devils resembled hideous black animals, each fillilJgthe
air with desperate shrieks. The damned souls were in their
human bodies and seemed to be brown in color, tumbling
about constantly in the flames and screaming with terror.
All were on fire within and without their bodies, and neither
devils nor damned souls seemed able to control their
movements. They were tossing about in the flames like fiery
coals in a furnace. There was never an instant's peace or
freedom from pain."
It's like taking a child to a horror movie and telling him or
her over and over again that it's for real.
This particular form of shock therapy doesn't just last for
a second, either, because the preacher can spend as long as
he wants drilling it ever so relentlessly into the susceptible
gullible. person's brain. Then, when the victims are out of
church, they can still readminister the shock to themselves
simply by remembering the words of the preacher. It's very
insidious how it works.
I know these things to be true because I experienced
them myself when I was younger with no one wise enough to
tell me the truth. I know that I am not alone, either. There
are millions of people in this country who, no matter how
sophisticated they may now be, believed in and experienced
intense fear of hell as a young child. There are still further
millions who still do as adults. Some of them, horribly
enough, are running the country.
This shock therapy is still practiced every week by
thousands of preachers and should stop. Although some of

Page 20

them preach less explicit scenarios of hell, they all carry the
same basic message - an eternity of pain. Does anyone
protest? Do the newspapers
report it with their other
religious news? No. "Conservative" papers, of course, have
always agreed with its practice, so naturally they don't
report it in a realistic or outspoken fashion. For example,
the local Austin" conservative" paper put the picture of the
agonized eight-year-old on a back page. "Liberal" newspapers have treated fire and brimstone preachers
as a
"colorful" (to use the adjective of the local "liberal" Austin
paper) part of American culture.
What a shame! Children all across the country are given
the shock treatment of fear of hell and the press either
ignores it or calls it "colorful." You and I may laugh at these
but many of those children and even their
parents cannot, because they believe it. They not only
believe it, but they regard us as evil for laughing -.They are in
a menta1.trap from which they must be freed for our sake as
well as theirs. The teaching of the fear of hell as a serious
doctrine is something which should be exposedas

stitious and against which every child should be given the

immunity of a realistic education.
The protest against the electrical shock therapy for the
eight-year-old in Michigan should only be the beginning of a
long and mighty protest against the teaching of hell. Unlike
the words of a current popular song - hell is not for
children. The protest should begin before christians make it
too late to protest. For starters, try photocopying
article, getting signatures for the statement
below and
sending these to your local newspaper and TV editors.
We, the undersigned,
think your (paper or station)
should do more to expose the serious teaching of fear of hell
to children for what it is - a form of child abuse. We think
you should do documentaries
or' features explaining the
superstitious origins of the fable of hell, noting the effect it
has on children, and noting which children are most
susceptible to being exposed to it in a most uncharitable
manner. As Thomas Jefferson said,"A god, if there be one,
must approve of the homage of reason more than that of
blindfolded fear."

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

On Our Way

Ignatz Sahula-Dycke

To me, the first of the seven
wonders of the modern world is the
larger portion of the globe's people
who believe there exists something
or other that's greater than Nature.
Within this group are the diehard
theists who proclaim that without its
heritage our Western
civilization would never have attained
its cultural eminence. They are folk
who at the same time paid only
minimal attention
to the sundry
civilizations which, before passing
into oblivion, posted the warning
that human imaginativeness and not
any religion is the foundation
which any advanced culture should
count for its continuance.
Most of
the people who ignore this anciently
observed fact are the gritty kind who
in the mass - when facing a crisis respond muscularly, usually easing
their closed mind with a battle cry,
the sports page, or, in a pinch, a
sixpack mulled with a biblical quotation. Politically right of center, they
insist that stern measures
produced desired results twenty or
forty years ago, will ~ if reinstituted
- work and function
precisely as before.
At election time such folk vote for
the candidate who best articulates
he will keep them well fed, out of
harm's way, and entertained. But in
any emergency that calls for rational
impartiality, sobriety, and analytical
reflection, their attendant perversity
makes them almost useless in the
planning required for its solution.
They consequently become the pawns
or tools of those who pull the strings;
of those who are aware that the
stakes in the contest under way are
the peace of mind and welfare of
millions of human beings together
with the guardianship of entire continents on which they live.
It seems almost a waste of effort,
but it's presently imperative to face

Austin, Texas

the music and realize that this

of ours has turned
guidance in its politico-economic
straits to elected authorities who when they ran for office - pledged
with all sincerity
attack our troubles with measures
which in times past not only failed to
correct similar difficulties in Europe
and Asia, but actually wrecked the
governmental systems which those
corrective measures were supposed
to protect. Most of those measures
involved and mandated
return of the citizens of the countries
in question, to the religious status
which they had chosen to reject
some years before.
Our American voters in the election of 1980 either didn't know this
or, if they did, skipped it as though of
no importance - and voted accordingly. The proposed measures won
the election for the administration
now in office, but what the outcome
will turn out to be - of employing
measures that in the past wiped out
the governments
applying them remains to be seen. The mandate
which the present administration
claims to have won in its landslide
victory could end up catastrophic.
The administration
now in the
saddle promised to favor the desires
of the religious political enclave far
more than did the defeated one. A~d
those who departed from the Potomac
epitomized almost to the point of
utter anti-Americanism
a status and
policy that no previous occupants
and staff of the White House had .
ever cared or dared to spiritedly
publicize. They personified and expressed what our federal administration should NEVER be. During those
four hectic years we heard the Oval
Office tell us that god is what we of
the nation should first of all give our
allegiance to - and heard its occupant tell us that he'd rather be a

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

missionary than our President. The

four years before 1981 therefore
an interval that in our
country's annals sets many of us to
blushing when we remember it.
To make the current period even
touchier, some of the members of
our Congress appear to be far more
anxious to turn the country over to
the religious revivalists than return
its reins to the nation's citizenry. All
we need to note is the way the
being manipulated for religious benefit. The cassette of legislative proposals goes into Committee humming
"The Bolero," and comes out singing
"Onward christian Soldiers." Some
people consider this admirable, or
political reportage wouldn't be giving
it favorable coverage, although all
such jockeying is strongly redolent of
a churchly get-together.v
Anyhow, nowadays
those who
"work for jesus" get rapt attention
from the press, TV, and radio. One
time it'll be for diverting our kids'
from their studies
gods tuff; or for restricting the activities of a couple lying in bed; or
prescribing how women are to comport .themselves before, during, and
after pregnancy; or working furtively
at undermining the prerogatives
our Supreme
Court; or planning
regulations for gay citizens; and in
other ways tampering
with and
intruding in the private lives of the
citizenry. Attempts at changes such
as these are not only reprehensible
but unconstitutional
because rooted
in religious dogmas and superstition
destructive to democracy - without
which no liberty, no freedom, no selfgovernment, no USA. The situation
is as anachronistic as it is hysterical.
It's a congressional bluenose orgy of

Page 21

updated Bryanism, Volsteadism and

religious McCarthyism that's taking
us lickety-split right back to the days
of Torquemada's Inquisitorial days
- and turning Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison over in
their graves.
Now, although most if not all of
this exemplifies the freedom we
Americans enjoy, neither numerically
nor ideologically have we Americans
ever been wholly and devoutly
christian. Anyone who describes us,
and the West, as christian is making
a mountain out of a molehill by
ignoring the fact that almost a fourth
of us are freethinkers, and that
Westernism is an ideology, and
christianism a religion; and forgetting
that although logically all christians
within our civilization are Westerners, allWesterners are not christians.
In other words the dogmatic conduct
of our christian majority prevents
numerous lesser groups of people
from enjoying the kind of life they're
. working for.

Page 22

The radio has just interrupted this,

saying that the pope has been hit by
three bullets fired by an Anatolian
terrorist. Really shocking, coming so
soon after the attempted murder of
our own President. Made me reflect
how baffling are the ways of the
West's favorite deity. Supposedly
omniscient, the god must have
known precisely what each gunman
in the crowds around the principals
had in mind to do. Yet, not an
eyelash did the god bat to stop it.
Next, the omnipotent one - creator
of heaven and earth - somehow
overlooked that in the papal instance
the terrorist was aiming to kill the
god's own vicar, no less. This breach
of etiquette on the part of god isn't
likely to have shaken up Wojtyla
overmuch, who probably already
well knew from numerous past
. catastrophes: earthquakes, floods,
wars, pestilences, etc., if for nothing
more, how sloppily the god of the
covenant attends to his contracts.
Well, here we are, .sure of nothing

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

but death and taxes, bothered only

by the question what living is all
about. The answer to that perennial
question is easily obtained. Let's say
that an imaginary Father O'Rourke
has it. He kept on memorizing the
words of it until it can now be heard
falling from his lips as softly and
convincingly as disappears the dew
on the grass on the first rays of the
sun on a summer morn. When a
babe the padre was baptized and
named Timothy. He studied for the
priesthood because his workworn
mother, just before dying during the
delivery of her ninth O'Rourke,'
called Timmy to her bedside and
made him promise to become a
priest when he grew up. Nine at the
time, Tim thus grew up cursed. He's
44 now, and the odds are a thousand
to one that he will live thus cursed
until like the smoke that curls from
the chimney of the rectory he calls
home, he fades away into the infinity
the men of science call Cosmos,
finallyfree, but trlrl late to benefit him
or anyone els-

American Atheist

Here and Now

David L. Kent


1692 began as a wonderful year for religion In America:
the Maryland Assembly officially established the Church of
England in that royal colony. Then, r ever singIonqestablished
policy, the Massachusetts
Assembly gave
clergymen authorization
to perform marriages in that
colony. And Increase Mather, sixth president of Harvard,
received in that year (from himself) the first divinity degree
conferred in the American colonies.
Then suddenly the floor dropped out. Some mischievous
children in Salem, Massachusetts,
called upon to explain
their odd behavior, claimed that three old women had
bewitched them. These children of course knew their bible.
and that bible declared: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to
live." The accusation was a deadly one, and the old women a
helpless target. Women were tried, convicted, and condemned to death on the testimony of these children, and the
religious hysteria ignited by this claim spread quickly to
other townships.
multiplied as men and
women attempted
in this way to turn from themselves
suspicion of witchcraft and the grisly death that immediately
followed conviction. One of the first victims was Giles Cory
of Salem, who pleaded not guilty. The result? "In pressing,
his Tongue being prest out of his Mouth, the Sheriff with his
Cane forced it in again, when he was dying. He was the first
in New-England, that was ever prest to Death." Other
convictions quickly followed, until by January 1693, one
other man and eighteen women had been hanged, and two
other victims had died in prison. Two of the victims were the
sisters Mary Esty and Rebecca Nurse, daughters of William
and Johanna Blessing, who had brought their family from
Yarmouth, England, fifty years earlier.
A warrant had been issued for the arrest of Rebecca
Nurse on 23d March 1692. She was then 71 years of age and
a great-grandmother.
According to one of her biographers,
"the Testimonials of her behavior, both in the course of her
Life. and at her Death. and her extraordinary
care in
educating her Children, and setting them good Examples.
etc.. under the hands of so many. are so numerous. that for
brevity they are here omitted." Two of them, one signed by
38 of her neighbors, are found in Historical Collections of
the Topsfield Historical Society, XIII:578, showing the
touching evidence of the neighbors who first bore her the
news of her accusation. So highly respected was she that
the jury found her Not Guilty, whereupon
her minister.
Nicholas Noyes, and others clamored for a change of
verdict. Jury foreman Fisk then asked why she had been

Austin, Texas

c;lIrnr;c;pn \\'''W'l ;)nnthpr a(,(,lIspd named her as a witch, but

she made no reply. The Jury then reversed its verdict ~nd
declared hpr GI!i1t\j 01' ip;)rninq this c;hf' rnado this
declaration: "I being informed, that the Jury brought me in
Guilty, upon my saying that Goodwife Hobbs and her
were of our Company;
but [ intended
than as they were Prisoners
with us, and
therefore did then, and yet do judge them not legal Evidence
against their fellow Prisoners. And [being something hard of
hearing, and full of grief, none informing me how the Court
took up my words. and therefore had not opportunity to
declare what [ intended, when [ said they were of our
REBECKA NURSE." Immediately
on her
Noyes had her excommunicated
from his
church; and after the Governor granted her a reprieve,
Noyes agitated until the reprieve was recalled. Rebecca
Nurse was carted to the summit of Gallows Hill in Salem
and hanged on 19th July 1692.
At the time of her conviction, Mary Esty was 58 years of
age and the mother of s~ven children. It was due largely to'
her thoughtful and pointed petition made to "the Honourable Judge and Bench ... and the Reverend Ministers" just
before her death that the collective "conscience" of these
religious maniacs was finally struck. She said, "I petition to
your Honours not for my own Life, for [know [must die, and
my appointed time is set; but ... if it be possible, that no
more Innocent Blood be shed, which undoubtedly cannot
be avoided in the way and course you go in. [ question not,
but your Honours do to the utmost of your powers, in the
discovery and detecting of Witchcraft and Witches, and
would not be guilty of Innocent Blood for the World; but by
my own Innocency [ know you are in the wrong way .... "
Yet, as he watched her and seven others die on 22d
September, her minister (Noyes) "turning him to the Bodies
said, what a sad thing it is to see Eight Firebrands of Hell
hanging there."
Finally the secular authority in the person of Governor
Sir William Phipps had to intervene. Although he ordered
the trials halted in October 1692, the church managed to
capture credit for ending this religious craze. Any encyclopedia will tell you that Increase
Cases of
Conscience Concerning Eui/Spirits, published in 1693 after
the executions,
is "credited with ending executions
witchcraft." His son. the infamous Cotton Mather, was a
rabid persecutor of "witches," and junior pastor to his father
in Boston's Second Church in 1692. Immediately on the

Vendemiaire (October) 11.981

Page 23

Cotton Mather in a rather
deranged move, wrote and published Wonders of the
Invisible World, a defense of witchcraft. (He also believed at
the time that the sun revolved around the earth, a belief
shared by Samuel Sewall, the judge who had condemned
the "witches" to death. Sewall later rose to jurisprudential
heights in Massachusetts,

and Mather wrote Essays to Do

The memory of Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty, combined
with the Governor's intervention and the belated change in
religious policy, produced an intense and rigidly controlled
psychological upheaval in the wake of these killings. The
suggestion of Mary Esty that these jurors were shedding
blood was a suggestion
that could not be
spiritually tolerated by these bible-believers, who could
easily inure themselves to human suffering and death if cast
in the proper religious framework by their professional
divines. The implications of guilt of that sort, rather than any
at all for the families of the victims, were
unanswerable to their belief. But they tried.
First came Samuel Sewall, who on the official Day of
Repentance in 1697 stood in his pew in South Church, while
his confession was read from the pulpit: "Samuel Sewall,
sensible of the reiterated strokes of god upon himself and
family; and being sensible, that as to the Guilt contracted
upon the opening of the late Commission of Oyer and
Terminer at Salem (to which the order for this Day relates)
he is, upon many accounts, more concerned than any that
he knows of, Desires to take the Blame and shame of it
Asking pardon of men, And especially desiring prayers that
god, who has an unlimited authority, would pardon that sin
and all other his sins; personal and Relative .... " And then
came the interesting statement
of the jurors who Jiad
condemned the "witches" to die:
We whose names are underwritten, being in the year
1692 called to serve as jurors in court at Salem, on trial of
many who were by some suspected guilty of doing acts of
witchcraft upon the bodies of sundry persons - we
confess that we ourselves were not capable to understand, nor able to withstand, the mysterious delusions of
the powers of darkness and Prince of the air, but were, .
for want of knowledge in ourselves and better inforrnation from others, prevailed with to take up with such
evidence against the accused as, on further consideration and better information, we justly fear was insufficient
for the touching the lives of any (deut. XVII,6), whereby
we tear we have been instrumental, with others, though
ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon ourselves and
this people of the lord the guilt of innocent blood, which
sin the lord saith in scripture he would not pardon (2
kings XXIV,4) - that is, we suppose, in regard of his
-ternporal judgments[.J We do therefore hereby signify to
all in general, and to the surviving sufferers in special, our
deep sense of, and sorrow for, our errors in acting on
such evidence to the condemning of any person; and do
hereby declare, that we justly fear we were sadly deluded
and mistaken - for which we are much disquieted and
distressed in our minds, and do therefore humbly beg
forgiveness, first, of god, for christ's sake, for this our
error, and pray that god would not impute the guilt of it to
ourselves nor others; and we also prav that we may be

Page 24

considered candidly and aright by the living sufferers, as

being then under the power of a strong and general
delusion, utterly unacquainted with, and not experienced in, matters of that nature.
We do heartily ask forgiveness of you all, whom we have
justly offended; and do declare, according to our present
minds, we would none of us do such things again, on
such grounds, for the whole world - praying you to
accept of this in way of satisfaction for our offence, and
that you would bless the inheritance of the lord, that he
may be entreated for the land.
Thomas Fisk, Foreman.
Thomas Pearly, Sr.
William Fisk.
John Peabody.
John Bacheler.
Thomas Perkins.
Thomas Fisk, Jr.
Samuel Sayer.
John Dane.
Andrew Eliot.
Joseph Evelith.
Henry Herrick, Sr.
Have you ever read such self-centered sniveling as that? To
reduce it to simple language: Blame the devil, not us; we
were ignorant; it wasn't just us; god, save us from the bible;
but we had evidence, after all; we "humbly beg" god, if christ
means anything, get us out of this; it was just a mistake, an
error; we were incompetents;
keep a good opinion, will
you?; forget what we did, and boy we'll never do it again, and
by the way, sorry we killed your families; and, for god's sake,
don't put a hex on the crops.
The confusion and embarrassment
is understandable;
they had been let down by their politico-religious divines,
who were busy saving their own hides, in the face of the
secular authority. But the ultimate condemnation
- that
they placed control of their consciences
in the hands of
"god" or their "spiritual
advisors" - is the very same
that Atheists place at the door of every
adherent to any religion on earth. Mikhail Bakunin said it
best: "He who desires to worship god must harbor no
childish illusions about the matter, but must bravely
renounce his liberty and humanity. The idea of god implies
the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most
decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in
the enslavement
of mankind,
both in theory and in
practice." The Salem experience
is one of the most
we have of the truth of that
declaration. And hot on the heels of that experience, the
religious establishment
was at it yet again. Immediately
following the official Day of Repentance, the Massachusetts
Assembly passed a severe enactment against blasphemers
and Atheists, specifying that any person who denied the
divine nature of the bible could be imprisoned six months,
confined to the pillory, whipped, have his tongue bored
through with a hot iron, or be forced to sit on the gallows
with a rope round his neck. God was back in the saddle
C W. Upham, Salem Witchcraft, two volumes (1867)
G. L. Burr, Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 16481706 (1914)
C S. Tapley, Rebecca Nurse, Saint but Witch Victim (1930)
J. D. Phillips, Salem in the Seventeenth
Century (1933)
P Boyer and S Nissenbaum, Salem Village Witchcraft (1972)

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981

American Atheist

Nature's Way
Gerald Tholen


This seems to be the persistent
general attitude of the 'great' American Public. Instead of masses of
people screaming from their rooftops about current political, social
and economic degeneracy, only the
negative rantings of the' old reliable'
fascist-minded bigots can be heard
wheezing tKeir repetitious bilge. Or,
one might hear a few complaints
about why 'someone' doesn't do
something. Meanwhile everybody
else runs around with a blank look
exciaiming,'What can I do about it?'
Occasionally I receive a letter or
two that reflects the cause of this
dilemma. I've even written a number
of articles concerning the reason for
our seeming inability to combat the
apathy that is slowly allowing the
strangulation of our freedoms. By
and large, people don't 'educate'
themselves - they don't observe
situations, study progressively, and
formulate opinions regarding their
own well-being. Naturally they 'don't
want to talk about things' they
neither know nor understand! Face
it: We can't live in today's world
equipped only with the information
programmed into us by our mothers/fathers and yesterday's society. How
do I know? Simple! It didn't work for
It's time that EVERYONE started
to speak his piece openly ifWE are to
change the course of OUR existence.
Atheists have allowed themselves to
be programmed into an opposite
attitude of non-identity. What has it
gained for them other than a seemingly lonesome and unimportant
lifestyle? All that is left for those so
unfortunately engaged is a search for
someone, ANYONE, of a like mind.
On the other hand, there have
been opposites
to the 'closetdwellers'; those who HAVE shouted
from their rooftops! Quite naturally
they receive both criticism and applause. Criticism always comes from
a bigoted society that finds disagreeable antagonism in its midst: those

Austin, Texas

who defy 'tradition,' 'moral values:

and 'partisan justice:
When Iwrite abusively concerning
the disgusting 'love affair' between
Prince Ronnie and Cinderella Begin,
I am immediately set upon as an
'antisemite: The only reply that Ican
make, in all conscience, is that such
critics can 'stick it in their ear: I am
truly concerned that we should not
let ourselves be dragged into another
Korea/Vietnam situation, and I am
going to say so - zionism be
damned! Once again, I am NOT
'antisemitic,' nor am I 'anti' ANY
segment of the human community including our own young men who
will be required to die when the
Middle East finally explodes. I have
as much regard for those who cast
their little 'antisemitic' remarks as I
had for those who persistently labeled
ALL Atheists as communists. They
simply disgust me!
The people who really concern me
are the ones who comment errantly
about science. As you may have
gathered by some of my previous
writing, science has been a main
interest for my entire life.So much so
that I am deeply concerned when I
correspond with 'legitimate' scientists
and find that their so-called 'legitimate scientific education' has left
them in rather confused states of
mind. I still hear them make references to an alleged' attracting force'
when discussing gravity and electricity. I won't go into detailed explanations of 'attracting forces' now,
because that is clearly not the purpose of this column. I will only say
that such arguments contradict the
very laws of physical science. From
my past efforts I have received one
or two letters of criticism from
persons who say to leave scientific
explanations to the 'legitimate scientific community,' and that science
has 'nothing to do with Atheism:
How pitifully naive! Science is the
very foundation of Atheism. Without
scientific information we would still
Vendemiaire (October) 11,981


be foundering in the ignorance of

primitive fear and idiotic Victorian
philosophy. What has been gained,
in an overall sense, by the great
writings of Ingersoll, Bradlaugh, and
the like? Did they subdue the insanities of religion? Not hardly! Has your
own personal situation been noticeably improved by past philosophical
argument? I surely haven't noticed
any significant change in religiosity
compared to a hundred years ago.
But, when 'man' conquers 'space,' a
little religiosity dies during that conquest. When man conquers his own
environment, he needs a few less
'blessings' and 'gods:
To any who might wish to cut their
own path through life, I'll say again,
you must do it with your' own
ingenuity and resourcefulness. You
cannot use someone else's timeworn
methods and ideas. Think about it ..
.. Better than that - talk about it (to

Nature's Way
I've shared my sunrise'with a friend
I've bathed in cooling rain
And kissed the dewdrops from a rose
Then watched them form again
There seems no end to lovely things
That fill my every day
And I stand constantly in awe
Of nature's wondrous way
So I shall try to pass along
What's obvious to me
And plead with you to look around
It's there for all to see
And should Ihelp some thoughtless guy
To peer beyond his nose
Perhaps then he shall learn - as I
To kiss the dewy rose
So as another sunrise smiles
On yet another day
Remember all these special things
Are simply nature's way

Page 25

Classified Advertising
L.A. No.1
Correspondence wanted with caucasian females. Must be 100% Atheist,
5'5" or taller, 130 Ibs or less. Youngish white American male, 53 years
old; 6'1" tall, 175 Ibs; non-smoker;
very light drinker. Am a construction
camp worker by trade, presently
living in Southern New Hampshire.

Address your reply t6 L.A. No.1. Place

your sealed envelope in a letter to the
American Atheist Center. P.O. Box 2117.
Austin. Texas 787682117. We will see that all
replies are forwarded to the advertiser. No
identities are ever revealed; we protect you
[rom any harassment which might come from
your home address appearing in our columns.
To place your own L.A. ad costs $1.00 per
word multiplied by how many months you
desire it to run.

Amateur radio operators who are interested in starting a

nationwide American Atheist Amateur Radio Network
should contact Jeff Levine, WA2AQC, 30 Sherman Street,
Passaic, N.J. 07055. They should have 20-15-10 meter



Angeline Bennett

And Everyone Is Happy

Mental Case

I am boss
I reign supreme
I give the orders'
From my vantage point
Coiled neatly around your littlefinger.

do I fit in life's scheme

is my part in the script
is my note in the theme
in life's scene do I fit?

is my level of concept
is my role in the play
is my station on stage
are the words I must say?

With Apologies to E. B. Browning

Where is my mental position

Where am I destined to sit
Where, on a scale of one to ten,
Where in the hell do I fit?

Page 26

How do I love thee?

Let me tell thee how:
More or less, now and then,
And in between each row.

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981


American Atheist

The American Atheist Radio Series

Madalyn O'Hair



Hello there, this is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American
Atheist, back to talk with you again. I have been presenting
to you the analysis of the ten commandments
made by
Joseph Lewis, a prolific American Atheist writer of recent
times. We are now to the ninth commandment.
This is to be
found in exodus 20:16 and in deuteronomy
5:20. It says
merely, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
This commandment
shows that the commandments
the so-called 'decalogue' are precepts which are to be used
as rules of conduct, based on superstitious
taboos, for a
small tribe of jews who formulated them and is in the same
category as other provincial regulations of tribal ethics.
False testimony is unethical no matter against whom it is
given. If it is considered to be ethically right at certain times,
or under certain circumstances,
or with certain persons
alone, then the whole fabric and structure of our moral ideal
collapses. Truth is truth and it is not for the benefit of one's
neighbor, or to the detriment of one's enemy. Truth for
truth's sake is the highest ethical concept and the very
quintessence of justice. The honorable person will speak
truthfully even though it prove to his own detriment. It is
essential to the principle of equality before the law that
justice be applied equally to my enemy and to me. If we
permit any exception for the sake of expediency or for some
prejudicial reason, we may some day suffer because of that
Universal justice v:,ill never be achieved until all the
peoples of the earth are governed by the same universal
laws and enjoy the same universal privileges. It should not
matter then under what flag a person lives, or where geographically -- he lives, so long as liberty is enjoyed and
justice administered impartially to all.
This commandment
does not say, "thou shalt not bear
false witness." If that were all it said, then it would possess
some virtue. But the makers of this commandment
not concerned with a general application of telling the truth
under all circumstances. The three additional words of 'the
commandment were added for a very definite reason. For
the a'ge and for the purpose for which they were intended,
the commandment
would be incomplete without them.
Therefore, in keeping with the primitive moral standard of
tribal culture, this commandment
properly reads: 'Thou
shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." These
three words, 'against thy neighbor' completely change its
meaning and preclude its application as an ethical precept
for modern society. Without them, this commandment
could very easily have universal application, but with them it

Austin, Texas

falls back into the narrow provincial category of the early

Israelitish tribal code.
At the time this commandment
was written, anyone who
was not a "neighbor" was an enemy. This was the law of
tribal life. The word "neighbor" as used in this commandment unmistakably meant a fellow tribesman, a compatriot.
It was not intended to and did not describe a fellow human
being in a universal sense. Several examples will suffice.
chapter 14, verse 21: "Ye shall not eat of
any thing that dieth of itself; thou shalt give it unto the
stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou
mayest sell it unto an alien, for thou art a holy people unto
the lord thy god."
This is pretty clear. If the cow died - from an illness - it
was all right to give or sell the meat to the stranger in the
city, but not to a fellow jew and one could not eat the tainted
meat oneself.
Let's look at another law, in deuteronomy,
chapter 15,
verses 1-3: "At the end of every seven years thou shalt make
a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every
creditor that lendeth aught unto his neighbor shall release it;
he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother;
because it is called the lord's release. Of a foreigner thou
mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy, .
brother thine hand shall release." Here again, a debt, after
seven years, can be written off if the neiqhbor ls a fellow jew.
If he is a stranger to the tribe of Israel, there is no write-off,
even if he lives next door.
But let's take a look at verses 19 and 20 of chapter 23:
"Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of
money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon
usury. But unto a stranger thou may est lend upon usury;
but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury; that
the lord thy god may bless thee in all that thou settest thine
hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it."
In deuteronomy,
chapter 22, verses 1-4, the same tribal
code accounts for the rule which prevailed among the jews
that if an article which had been lost by one member was
found by another, it was incumbent upon the latter to see
that it was restored to his 'brother,' but that if the property
belonged to a stranger, no attempt need be made to return
As is well known, the bible not only sanctions slavery, but
in its clannish application, no jew shall be enslaved by a
brother jew. In leviticus, chapter 25, verses 44-46, the word
of the lord is quite explicit that the bondmen and bondmaids
"shall be of the heathen that are round about you ... but
over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule."

Vendemiaire (October) 11.981

Page 27

The conclusion is inevitable that 'neighborand 'brother'

as used in these biblical quotations only meant a fellow jew
from the tribes of Israel.
While the injunction of "Thou shalt not bear false witness
against thy neighbor," is negative in defense of tribal
solidarity, it is positive in its application to tribal enemies.
Among primitive tribes, such as were the children of Israel
when this was written, a 'stranger' did not merit the same
rights and consideration as a 'neighbor' and was looked
upon as an enemy of the tribe. Generally in the lower stages
of social life,the interests of the 'foreigner' or' stranger' were
not regarded at all. Even today, innumerable examples
could be cited toshow that it is a natural tendency to regard
compatriots and coreligionists from a different moral standpoint than persons who are not connected by such ties. The
latter are considered to have a lower standard of morality
and an inferior sense of right and wrong.
The entire concept of patriotism is based on the vestigial
emotional concepts of tribalism. Iam a woman in my sixties,
with a number of college degrees, two children and a
granddaughter. I am absolutely no different from a German
woman with the same kind of background and family - nor
different from an Iranian woman - a Brazilian - an
Australian - an Indian. I have more in common with them
than I have with many of my own nationals. Yet it is the
vestigial tribal ties which bind me most - and this is the
nuclear age. Our roots have still not been freed from the
myths of the past.
But there was another very significant reason why the
stranger was not accorded the same consideration as a
neighbor in primitive societies: he was a believer and
worshipper of strange and enemy gods. This is revealed in
the one admonition to sell the meat of the sick animal to the
stranger and to not eat it himself for "thou art the holy
people unto the lord thy god." And with usury, a fellow jew
could not be charged "that the lord may bless thee in all that
thou settest thine hand to do." No stranger could partake of
those things holy to the jews. The passover was prohibited
by biblical edict to the stranger. This, in exodus, chapter 12,
verse 43: "And the lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is
the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat
thereof." In conformity with this, no 'stranger' could observe the sabbath, because "the sabbath is a sign between
god and Israel alone." Nor could the stranger touch things
holy to the hebrew, or offer sacrifices to the hebrew god.
This is explicit in leviticus, chapter 22, verse 25: "Neither
from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your god of
any of these; because their corruption is in them, and
blemishes be in them; they shall not be accepted for you."
This is repeated in exodus, chapter 29, verse 33: "And they
shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made,
to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not
eat thereof, because they are holy."
Nor could a stranger offer incense to the jewish deity.
This is in numbers, chapter 16, verse 40: "To be a memorial
unto the children of Israel that no stranger, which is not of
the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the
lord; that he'be not as Korah, and as his company: as the
lord said to him by the hand of Moses."
Page 28

Even if the stranger married into the tribe, he could not

participate. In leviticus, chapter 22, the member of the tribe
who married a stranger was prohibited. "But if the priest's
daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat
of an offering of the holy things. But if the priest's daughter
be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned
to her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her
father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof."
Indeed a stranger in the city could not even approach the
holy tabernacle. I quote numbers, chapter 1, verse 51: "And
when the tabernacle setteth forward, the levites shall take it
down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the levites
shall set it up; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put
to death."
It appears to the Atheist that ifone touch of nature makes
the whole world kin, that universal application of truth and
justice should be uniting all mankind. Truth acting on all in
the same way. The commandment here under consideration divides mankind according to racial, religious and clan
groupings. Ifthis commandment is obeyed, a catholic has to
favor a catholic in a controversy where catholic interests
are at stake; a jew must favor a jew; a mohammedan must
favor a mohammedan.
Allof this only proves that there is more likelihood of the
truth being spoken ifa man is taken on his honor than on his
If there is a choice between sectarian and universal
brotherhood, we have no choice but to take the universal
Well, this, again, is Joseph Lewis, recent American
Atheist author - with his thoughts on the ninth commandment. I will be back next week to examine the tenth
and last commandment.

Vendemiaire (October) 11,981


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redress of grievances.e AMENDMENT

I e Congress shall make






























Whenever we read the obscene stories,


the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous




executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness

with which more than half the bible is filled,


it would be more consistent that we call it






the word of a demon than the word of god.


It is a history of wickedness that has served



to corrupt and brutalize mankind.









. - Thomas Paine