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$2.50

AMERICAN ATHEIST

(Vol. 24, No.2) February, 1982

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

lLupercalta
..

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IV

. ..

AMERICAN ATHEISTS
is a non-profit, non-political, educational organization, dedicated to the complete and absolute separation of state and church.
We accept the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the "First Amendment" to the Constitution of the United States was
meant to create a "wall of separation" between state and church.
American Atheists are organized to stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning religious beliefs,
creeds, dogmas, tenets, rituals and practices;
to collect and disseminate information, data and literature on all religions and promote a more thorough understanding
of them, their origins and histories;
to encourage the development and public acceptance of a human ethical system, stressing the mutual sympathy,
understanding
and interdependence
of all people and the corresponding
responsibility of each individual in relation to
society;
to develop and propagate a culture in which man is the central figure who alone must be the source of strength, progress
and ideals for the well-being and happiness of humanity;
to promote the study of the arts and sciences and of all problems affecting the maintenance,
perpetuation
and
enrichment of human (and other) life;
to engage in such social, educational, legal and cultural activity as will be useful and beneficial to members of American
Atheists and to society as a whole.
A h .
b d f d
~
t eism may e e me
as the mental attitude which
unreservedly
accepts
the
supremacy
of reason and
CS@][]i)
aims at establishing a lifestyle and ethical outlook
verifiable by experience and
the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority and
creeds.
Materialism declares that
the cosmos
is devoid of
immanent
conscious
purpose; that it is governed by
its own inherent, immutable
and impersonal
laws; that
there is no supernatural
interference
in human life;
that man - finding his
resources within himself can and must create his own
destiny. Materialism restores
to man his dignity and his
intellectual integrity. It teaches
that we must prize our life
.on earth and strive always to
improve it. It holds that man
SPREAD
is capable
of creating
a
AMERICAN
social system based on reason
ATHEISTS
. and justice. Materialism's
PUBLICATIONS
"faith" is in man and man's
ability to transform the world
culture by his own efforts.
This is a commitment which
is in every essence life asserting. It considers the struggle
for progress
as a moral
obligation and impossible
without noble ideas that
inspire man to bold creative
works. Materialism
holds
that humankind's
potential
for good and for an outreach
to more fulfilling cultural
development is, for all practical purposes, unlimited.

WUu@]~ YOU

@] ~

ACTIVE

Uu@D[p

ATHEISM

and join:

AMERICAN ATHEISTS, PO Box 2117, Austin, TX 78768-2117

ARTICLES

ON THE COVER

Rev. Bill McLean et al. v.


The Arkansas Board of Education
On Avoiding That Last Visit - Tony Pasquarello

1
16

AMERICAN

a~

_~.

ATHEIST
.....,e . 11'-'-" ,..,

FEATURED COLUMNS
Confused Priorities - Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
What the Religious Want - Fred Woodworth
Religionists Rap Rock - Jeff Frankel
Focu on Evil - Gerald Tholen
Atheism in the Popular Arts - Richard Smith

11
12
14
18
18

REGULAR FEATURES
Editorial: Evolution/Creation
in Arkansas - Jon G. Murray
United States Supreme Court Vis-a-vis
State/ church Separation - Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray

Poetry
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair
Angleline Bennett

Production Staff
Beverly Walker
Samuel Miller
Richard Richarson
Richard Smith
Gerald Tholen
Gloria Tholen

J.uptrcalia
23

The American Atheist magazine is


published monthly
by American
Atheists, located at 2210 Hancock
Drive, Austin, Texas, 78756, a nonprofit, non-political educational organization. Mailing address P.O. Box
2117, Austin, Texas 78768. Copyright, 1981 by Society of Separationists, Inc. Membership and subscription: $40.00/year; $25/subscription only.
Manuscripts submitted must be typed,
double-spaced
and accompanied by
a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
The editors assume no responsibility
for unsolicited manuscripts.

Non-Resident Staff
G. Stanley Brown
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke
Fred Woodworth
The American Atheist magazine
is indexed in
MONTHLY PERIODICAL INDEX
ISSN: 0332-4310

rl

In the "beginning", there was the Lupercalia. It was an ancient pagan festival held in
Rome on or about what is now February 14
and under the superintendence of a grou'p of
priests called the Luperci. Many strange
things went on during this particular event
and it would appear that the term "orgy"
would be a more appropriate title for the
related goings on.
Apparently the merriment- was not intended to honor any particular mythical god
but rather was a superstitious attempt to
aphrodisiacally assist lovers, cure sterility,
and otherwise further amorous activities somewhat like a super "swap psrtv". Everything seemed to be in acceptable order as far
as Romans were concerned until the year
494. It was then that Pope Gelasius I decided that the local populace was enjoying
itself a bit too much so he decided to replace
it with, of all things, the "Feast of the
Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary".
How typical of a catholic pope, and how
typical of the judaeo-christian religions in
general. Plagiarization of symbols, slogans,
popular customs and events has long been a
hallmark of those who are incapable of
originating impressive ideas of their own.
The name "Saint Valentine's Day" is a
misnomer. The modern day celebration of a
"lovers' day" seems to have been derived
directly from either the Feast of the Lupercalia or from the ancient mating seasons of
birds - not in honor of any particular religious martyr. Happy Lupercalia. lovers!

Editorial
Jon G. Murray

Evolution/ Creation in Arkansas


The issue in the evolution/ creation debates which are now
in the legislative bodies throughout the several states is NOT
an evolution/ creation debate at all. The root issue is never
mentioned in the cases, in the proposed legislation, in the
evidence tendered, in the reporting of the cases, or in any
analyses given anywhere. Even approaching the root issue is
anathema to all.
The religious community understands the need to have a
rythymic reinforcement
of ideas with the youth. This is
effectively done with the adults, every sunday in churches.
The religious know, however, that the child must be seized
. and the parent cannot be left with the job of indoctrination.
The church knows how to do this best and also does not, in
actuality, trust the parent with its important concern of
capturing the next generation. Therefore, since 1963 when
the Murrayr O'Hair's dealt a blow to the rhythmic reinforcement of religion in the public schools by the outlawing
of religious ceremonies (bible reading and prayer recitation)
there, the religious have been attempting
to reintrude
religion into the institutions where the children are, by
compulsion and under truancy laws, in attendance on a
regular basis. Since the schools are representatives
of
government, religion accepted and taught in ti-e public
institutions is doubly reinforced through governmental approval. Whereas the prayer/ bible reading was overtly
religious, now the religious feel that it is necessary. 0 be
more covert, i. e. transcendental
meditation, moment of
silence, releasing of children during school hours to attend
religious classes. The entire excercise is get to the children
before they are mature enough to realize that they are being
indoctrinated
with religious insanity. A third grader will
accept that the earth was created at 9:00 A.M. on October
23rd, in the year 4004 B. c.; a third year college student will
not.
The creation/ evolution conflict is illustrative. The effort
is to coerce the acceptance of an evangelical religious
fundamentalist
literalist interpretation
of the bible, where
the children are held by the state and forced to listen to the
instruction, through the instrument of teachers representing
the state but using texts prepared under the influence of
religious nuts. It would not matter, really, what was taught
- creationism, transubstantiation,
life after death, efficacy
of prayer, virgin birth, Old Testament, or New Testament,'
just as long as it is reinforcement of religion. In this instance
the religious feel that their best chance is to try with
creationism, masquerading their theology as science, utilizing some questions on which the scientific community itself
has insufficent data to answer. The religious pretend that
since all the answers are not in, through the scientific
method, that the real answer is god, not more research and
experimentation.
The case in Arkansas gives an illustration of the methodology of religious coercion and concern. When reading the
case, "virgin birth" could be substituted
for the idea
"creationism" and the case would still be instructive.

The religious are hell-bent in six other directions to


capture the child. They are intent now on (I) destroying the
public schools through criticism of curricula, of teachers, of
administration,
of philosophy of public education (example: assault on "secular humanism") and of tax costs for
support of public schools and (2) while attempting
to
destroy public schools they are erecting their own school
system rapidly, demanding that the schools may be racist or
exclusionary on the basis of religion, not alone tax free and
free of government standards, regula tions, or accreditation.
Meanwhile, every effort is expended to (3) control the
curricula of public schools (examples: the intrusion of such
courses as creationism, return of prayers, religious instruction), (4) to censor text books, intrude religious books and
materials into public school libraries,
(5) control the
teachers in presentation of material and in general (6) to give
recognition to religion and god, even in the most vague
terms. The main line religious groups do not really fight this
effort by the fundamentalists
because any bolstering of the
god. idea in general is good for every church. God is
reinforced and god is the master of all the religious
denomi na tions.
The fact that creationism lost in Arkansas is irrelevant to
the over-all fight. Twenty minutes after the decision came in
the Mississippi legislature met and passed an identical law to
that case. Now, those who oppose such religious intrusion
must begin all over again, this time in Mississippi. It is a war
of attrition, with the slender resources of time, enery and
money of the sane spent to fight the successful forays against
children by the insane. If after a hundred year-battle, the
religious give up on creationism, they will choose another
base - the shroud of Turin, perhaps - and attempt to have
that included both in history and science books, as absolute
authentication
of the so-called resurrection.
Because of this, it was felt to be urgent that American
Atheists have the complete text of the Arkansas creation/
volution case. If one reads one's local newspaper, one will
never find out what happened in Arkansas. The national
wire services contained only sketches, none of the real
problem. Therefore,
the complete text of the decision
follows.

~Yf.s.
&r.~~4t.(

WISTIRN DIVISION
REV, BItt MctEAN,

NO, LR C 81 322

THE ARKANSAS

to the Court's

judgment h

and ag.ainot

DEFENDANTS

BOARD or tPUCATION, ET At.


Jl1DGHENT

Pursuant
date,

ClERK

PLAINTIFFS

ET At.

VS.

Of.Tlller~.

J/ltl 05 199

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


EASTERN DISTRICT or ARKANSAS

granted.

",;

_-

FILED
......

CAarntr.

hereby

MemorandumOpin1on 'f11ed th~s

entered

the defendants,

1n favor

The .reHef

of the plal.nUfh

prayed

tor 18

..

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
WESTERN DIVISION
REV. BILL McLEAN, ET AL.
VS.
NO. LR C 81 322
THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF EDUCATION, ET AL.

PLAINTIFFS
DEFENDANTS

JUDGMENT
Pursuant to the Court's Memorandum Opinion filed this
date. judgment is hereby entered in favor of the plaintiffs
and against the defendants. The relief prayed for is granted.
Dated this January 5. 1982.

INJUNCTION
Pursuant to the Court's Memorandum Opinion filed this
date. the defendants and each of them and all their servants
and employees are hereby permanently
enjoined (Edit:
"stopped") from implementing in any manner Act 590 of the
Acts of Arkansas of 1981.
It is so ordered this Ja nuary 5. 1982.

MEMORANDUM

OPINION

Introduction
On March 19, 1981. the Governor of Arkansas signed into
law Act 590 of 1981. entitled the "Balanced Treatment for
Creation-Science
and Evolution-Science
Act." The Act is
codified as Ark. Stat. Ann. 80-1663, et seq .. (1981 Supp.).
Its essential mandate is stated in its first sentence: "Public
schools within this State shall give balanced treatment to
creation-science
and to evolution-science."
On May 27.
1981. this suit was filed I challenging the constitutional
validity of Act 590 on three distinct grounds.
First it is contended that Act 590 constitutes an establishment of religion prohibited by the First Amendment to the
Constitution. which is made applicable to the states by the
Fourteenth Amendment. Second. the plaintiffs argue the
Act violates a right to academic freedom which they say is
guaranteed to students and teachers by the Free Speech
Clause of the First Amendment. Third. plaintiffs allege the
Act is impermissibly vague and thereby violates the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The individual plaintiffs include the resident Arkansas
Bishops of the United Methodist. Episcopal. Roman Catholic and African Methodist Episcopal Churches, the principal
official of the Presbyterian Churches in Arkansas. other
United Methodist, Southern Baptist and Presbyterian clergy.
as well as several persons who sue as parents and next
friends of minor children attending Arkansas public schools.
One plaintiff is a high school biology teacher. All are also
Arkansas taxpayers. Among the organizational
plaintiffs
are the American Jewish Congress. the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations.
the American Jewish Committee.
the Arkansas Education Association. the National AssociaI The complaint
is based on 42 USe. 19li3. which provides a
remedy against any person who. acting under color of state law.
deprives another of any right. privilege or immunity guaranteed by
the United States Constitution or federal law.
This Court's j urisdsiction arises under 2X USe. 1331. 1343( 3)
and 1343(4). The power to issue declaratory judgments is expressed
in 28 u.s.c. 2201 and 2202.

Austin, Texas

tion of Biology Teachers and the National Coalition for


Public Education and Religious Liberty, all of which sue on
behalf of members living in Arkansas."
The defendants include the Arkansas Board of Education
and its members, the Director of the Department
of
Education. and the State Textbooks
and Instructional
Materials Selecting Committee.'
The Pulaski County
Special School District and its Directors and Superintendant were voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs at the pretrial conference held October I, 1981.
The trial commenced December 7, 1981, and continued
through December 17. 1981. This Memorandum
Opinion
constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of
law. Further orders and judgment will be in conformity with
this opinion.

I.
There is no controversy over the legal standards under
which the Establishment Clause portion of this case must be
judged. The Supreme Court has on a number of occasions
expounded
on the meaning of the clause. and the pronouncements are clear. Often the issue has arisen in the
context of public education, as it has here. In Everson v.
Board of Education. 330 U.S. I, 15-16 (1947). Justice Black
stated:
"The 'establishment
of religion' clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor-the Federal
Government
can set up a church. Neither can pass laws
which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion
over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to KO
10 or 10 remain awayfrom
church against his will or force
him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. /"-0 person
can be punished for entertaining
or professing religious
beliefs or disbeliefs,
for church-attendance
or nonattendance. No tax, large Of small. can he levied 10 support
any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be
called, or whateverform
the v may adopt to teach or practice
religion. Neither a state nor the Federal government
can,
openlv or secretlv, participate in the affairs of anv religious
organization
Of groups
and vice versa. In the words of
. Jefferson. the clause ... was intended
10 erect 'a wall of
separation between church and State."

The Esta blishment Cia use th us enshrines two central


values: voluntarism and pluralism. And it is in the area of
the public schools that these values must be guarded most
vigilantly.
2 The facts necessary
to establish the plaintiffs' standing to sue are
contained in the joint stipulation of facts. which is hereby adopted
and incorporated
herein by reference.
There is no doubt that the case is ripe for adjudication.

, The State of Arkansas was dismissed as a defendant because of


its immunity from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.
Hans \'.
Lousiana, 134 U.S. 1(1890).

February,

1982

Page 1

"Designed to serve as perhaps the most powerful agency for


promoting
cohesion among a heterogeneous
democratic
people, the public school must keep scrupulously free from
entanglement in the strife of sects. The preservation of the
community from divisive conflicts, of Government from
irreconcilable pressures by religious groups, of religionfrom
censorship and coercion however subtly exercised, requires
strict confinement
of the State to instruction other than
religious, leaving to the individual's
church and home,
indoctrination in the faith of his choice."

[McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 216-217


(1948), (Opinion of Frankfurter,
J., joined by Jackson,
Burton and Rutledge, J.J.].
The specific formulation of the establishment prohibition
has been refined over the years, but its meaning has not
varied from the principles articulated by Justice Black in
Everson. In Abbington School District v. Schempp, 374
U.S. 203,222 (1963), Justice Clark stated that "to withstand
the strictures of the Establishment Clause there must be a
secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither
advances nor inhibits religion." The Court found it quite
clear that the First Amendment does not permit a state to
require the daily reading of the bible in public schools, for
'[sjurely the place of the Bible as an instrument of religion
can be gainsaid." Id. at 224. Similarly, in Engel v. Vitale, 370
U.S. 421 (1962), the Court held that the First Amendment
prohibited the New York Board of Regents from requiring
the daily recitation of a certain prayer in the schools. With
characteristic succinctness, Justice Black wrote, "Under [the
First] Amendment's prohibition against governmental establishment of religion, as reinforced by the provisions of the
Fourteenth Amendment, government in this country, be it
state or federal, is without power to prescribe by law any
particular form of prayer which is to be used as an official
prayer in carrying on any program of governmentally
sponsored religious activity." Id. at 430. Black also identified the objective at which the Establishment Clause was
aimed: "Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the
belief that a union of government and religion tends to
destroy government and to degrade religion." Id. at 431.
Most recently, the Supreme Court has held that the clause
prohibits a state from requiring the posting of the Ten
Commandments
in public school classrooms for the same
reasons that officially imposed daily Bible reading is prohibited. Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980). The opinion
in Stone relies on the most recent formulation
of the
Establishment Clause test, that of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403
U.S. 602,612-613 (1971):
"First, the slat ute must have a secular legislative purpose;
second, its principal or primary effect must be one that
neither advances nor inhibits religion ... .finally, the statute
must notfoster 'an excessive government entanglement with
religion.'"

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. at 40.


It is under this three part test that the evidence in this case
must be judged. Failure on any of these grounds is fatal to
the enactment.
II.

decline in traditional values.


The various manifestations of Fundamentalism
have had
a number of common characteristics.' but a central premise
has always been a literal interpretation
of the Bible and a
belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Following World
War I, there was again a perceived decline in traditional
morality, and Fundamentalism
focused on evolution as
responsible for the decline. One aspect of their efforts,
particularly in the South, was the promotion of statutes
prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools. In
Arkansas, this resulted in the adoption of Initiated Act I of
1929.5
Between the 1920's and early 1960's, anti-evolutionary
sentiment had a subtle but pervasive influence on the
teaching of biology in public schools. Generally, textbooks
avoided the topic of evolution and did not mention the name
of Darwin. Following the launch of the Sputnik satellite by
the Soviet Union in 1957, the National Science Foundation
funded several programs designed to modernize the teaching
of science in the nation's schools. The Biological Science
Curriculum Study (BSCS), a nonprofit organization,
was
among those receiving grants for curriculum study and
revision. Working with scientists and teachers, BSCS developed a series of biology texts which, although emphasizing different aspects of biology, incorporated the theory
of evolution as a major theme. The success of the BSCS
effort is shown by the fact that fifty percent of American
school children currently use BSCS books directly and the
curriculum is incorporated indirectly in virtually all biology
texts. (Testimony of Mayer; Nelkin, Px 1)6
In the early 1960's, there was again a resurgence of
concern among Fundamentalists
about the loss of traditional values and a fear of growing secularism in society. The
Fundamentalist
movement became more active and has
steadily grown in numbers and political influence. There is
an emphasis among current Fundamentalists
on the literal
interpretation
of the Bible and the Book of Genesis as the
sole source of knowledge about origins.
,,"The term "scientific creationism" first gained currency
around 1965 following publication of The Genesis Flood in
1961 by Whitcomb and Morris. There is undoubtedly some
connection between the appearance of the BSCS texts emphasizing evolutionary thought and efforts by Fundamentalists to attack the theory. (Mayer)
In the 1960's and early 1970's, several Fundamentalist
The authorities differ as to generalizations
which may be made
about Fundamentalism.
For example, Dr. Geisler testified to the
widely held view that there are five beliefs characteristic
of all
Fundamentalists
movements. in addition, of course, to the inerrancy of Scripture: (I) belief in the virgin birth of Christ, (2) belief
in the deity of Christ, (3) belief in the substitutional
atonement of
Christ, (4) belief in the second coming of Christ, and (5) belief in the
physical resurrection of all departed souls. Dr. Marsden, however,
testified that this generalization,
which has been common in
religious scholarship, is now thought to be historical error. There is
no doubt, however, that all Fundamentalists
take the Scriptures as
inerrant and probably most take them as literally true.

Initiated Act I of 1929, Ark. Stat. Ann. 80-1627 et seq., which


prohibited
the teaching of evolution in Arkansas schools, is
discussed infra at text accompanying
note 26.
5

The religious movement known as Fundamentalism


began in nineteenth century America as part of evangelical
Protestantism's
response to social changes, new religious
thought and Darwinism. Fundamentalists
viewed these developments as attacks on the Bible and as responsible for a
Page 2

Subsequent references to the testimony will be made by the last


name of the witness only. Reference to documentary
exhibits will
be by the name of the author and the exhibit number.

February, 1982

American Atheist

organizations
were formed to promote the idea that the
Book of Genesis was supported by scientific data. The terms
"creation science" and "scientific creationism" have been
adopted by these Fundamentalists
as descriptive of their
study of creation and the origins of man. Perhaps the
leading creationist organization is the Institute for Creation
Research (lCR), which is affiliated with the Christian
Heritage College and is supported by the Scott Memorial
Baptist Church in San Diego, California. The ICR, through
the Creation-Life
Publishing Company,
is the leading
publisher of creation science material. Other creation
science organizations include the Creation Science Research
Center (CSRC) of San Diego and the Bible Science
Association of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1963, the Creation Research Society (CRS) was formed from a schism in
the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA). It is an organization of literal Fundamentalists'
who have the equivalent
of a master's degree in some recognized area of science. A
pupose of the organization is "to reach all people with the
vital message of scientific and historic truth a bout crea tion."
Nelkin, The Science Textbook Controversies and the Politics of Equal Time, 66. Similarly, the CSRC was formed in
1970 from a split in the CRS. Its aim has been "to reach the
63 million children of the United States with the scientifc
teaching of Biblical creationism." Id. at 69.
Among creationist writers who are recognized as authorities in the field by other creationists are Henry M. Morris,
Duane Gish, G.E. Parker, Harold S. Slusher, Richard 8.
Bliss, John W. Moore, Martin E. Clark, W.L. Wysong,
Robert E. Kofahl and Kelly L. Segraves. Morris is Director
of ICR, Gish is Associate Director and Segraves is associated with CSRC.
Creationists view evolution as a source of society's ills,
and the writings of Morris and Clark are typical expressions
of that view.
"Evolution is thus nOT onl v anti- Biblical and anti-Christian,
hut it is utterl v unscientific and impossible as well. But it has
served effectivelv as the pseudo-scientific
busis of atheism,
agnosticism, socialism, fascism, and numerous other false
and dangerous philosophies over the past cent urv."
Applicants for membership in the CRS must subscribe to the
following statement of belief: "( I) The Bible is the written Word of
God. and because we believe it to be inspired thruout (sic), a II of its
assertions are historically and scientifically true in all of the
original autographs. To the student of nature, this means that the
account of origins in Genesis is a factual presentation
of simple
historical truths. (2) All basic types of living things, including man,
were made by direct creative acts of God during Creation Week as
described in Genesis. Whatever biological changes have occurred
since Creation ha ve accomplished only changes within the original
created kinds. 0) The great Flood described in Genesis. commonly
referred to as the Noachian
Deluge, was an historical event,
worldwide in its extent and effect. (4) Finally. we are an organization of Christian men of science, who accept Jesus Christ as our
Lord and Savior. The account of the special creation of Adam and
Eve as one man and one woman, and their subsequent Fall into sin,
is the basis for our belief in the necessity of a Savior for all
mankind. Therefore. salvation can come only thru (sic) accepting
Jesus Christ as our Savior." (Px 115)
7

, Because of the voluminous nature of the documentary exhibits.


the parties were directed by pre-trial order to submit their
proposed exhibits for the Court's convenience prior to trial. The
numbers assigned to the pre-trial submissions do not correspond
with those assigned to the same documents at trial and, in some
instances. the pre-trial submissions are more complete.

Morris and Clark, The Bible Has The Answer, (Px 31 and
Pretrial Px 1\9)."
Creationists have adopted the view of Fundamentalists
generally that there are only two positions with respect to
the origins of the earth and life: belief in the inerrancy of the
Genesis story of crea tion and of a worldwide flood as fact, or
belief in what they call evolution.
Henry Morris has stated, "It is impossible to devise a
legitimate means of harmonizing the Bible with evolution."
Morris, "Evolution and the Bible," IC R Impact Series
Number 5 (undated, unpaged), quoted in Mayer, Px 8, at 3.
This dualistic a pproach to the subject of origins permeates
the creationist literature.
The creationist organizations consider the introduction of
creation science into the public schools part of their
ministry. The ICR has published at least two pamphlets?
containing suggested methods for convincing school boards,
administrators
and teachers that creationism
should be
taught in public schools. The ICR has urged its proponents
to encourage school officials to voluntarily add creationism
to the curriculum.'?
Citizens for Fairness in Education is an organization
based in Anderson,
South Carolina,
formed by Paul
Ellwanger, a respiratory therapist who is trained in neither
law nor science. Mr. Ellwanger is of the opinion that
evolution is the forerunner of many social ills, including
Nazism, racism and abortion. (Ellwanger Depo. at 32-34).
About 1977, Ellwanger collected several proposed legislative acts with the idea of preparing a model state act
requiring the teaching of creationism as science in opposition to evolution. One of the proposals he collected was
prepared by Wendell Bird, who is now a staff attorney for
lCR.11 From these various proposals, Ellwanger prepared a
"model act" which calls for "balanced treatment" of "scientific creationism"
and "evolution" in public schools. He
circulated the proposed act to various people and organi-~
zations around the country.
Mr. Ellwanger's views on the nature of creation science
are entitled to some weight since he personally drafted the
model act which became Act 590. His evidentiary deposition
with exhibits and unnumbered attachments
(produced in
response to a subpoena duces tecum (Edit: "for a particular
person") speaks to both the intent of the Act and the
scientific merits of crea tion science. M r. Ellwanger does not
" Px 130. Morris. lntroducing
Scientific Creationism
Into the
Public Schools (1975). and Bird, "Resolution for Balanced Presentation of Evolution and Scientific Creationism,"
ICR Impact
Series No, 71. App. 14 to Plaintiffs' Pretrial Brief.
The creationists
often show candor in their proselytization.
Henry Morris has stated. "Even if a favorable statute or court
decision is obtained, it will probably be declared unconstitutional,
especially if the legislation or injunction refers to the Bible account
of creation." In the same vein he notes. "The only effective way to
get creationism taught properly is to have it taught by teachers who
arc both willing and able to do it. Since most teachers now are
neither willing nor able, they must first be both persuaded and
instructed themselves."
Px 130 M orris, Introducing
Scientific
Creationism 11110 The Public Schools (1975) (Unpaged).
10

II
Mr. Bird sought to participate in this litigation by representing a
number of individ uals who wanted to intervene as defendants. The
application for intervention was denied by this Court. MeLean v.
Arkansas,
F.Supp.
,(E.D. Ark. 198 I), aff'd , per curiam,
Slip Op. No, HI-2023 (8th Cir. Oct. 16, 1981).

February,

Austin, Texas

PI

1982

Page 3

believe creation science is a science. In a letter to Pastor


Robert E. Hays he states, "While neither evolution nor
creation can qualify as a scientific theory, and since it is
virtually impossible at this point to educate the whole world
that evolution is not a true scientific theory, we have freely
used these terms - the evolution theory and the theory of
scientific creationism - in the bill's text." (Unnumbered
attachment to Ellwanger Depo., at 2.) He further states in a
letter to Mr. Tom Bethell, "As we examine evolution
(remember, we're not making any scientific claims for creation, but we are challenging evolution's claim to be scientific) ... rr
(Unnumbered attachment to Ellwanger Depo. at I.)
Ellwanger's
correspondence
on the subject shows an
awareness that Act 590 is a religious crusade, coupled with a
desire to conceal this fact. In a letter to State Senator Bill
Keith of Louisiana, he says, "I view this whole battle as one
between god and anti-god forces, though I know there are.a
large number of evolutionists
who believe in god." And
further, "... it behoves Satan to do all he can to thwart our
efforts and confuse the issue at every turn." Yet Ellwanger
suggests to Senator Keith, "If you have a clear choice
between having grassroots leaders of this statewide bill
promotion effort to be ministerial or non-ministerial,
be
sure to opt for the non-ministerial.
It does the bill effort no
good to have ministers out there in the public forum and the
adversay will surely pick at this point ... Ministerial persons
can accomplish a tremendous amount of work from behind
the scenes, encouraging their congregations
to take the
organizational and P.R. initiatives. And they can lead their
churches in storming Heaven with prayers for help against
so tenacious an adversary." (Unnumbered
attachment to
Ellwanger Depo. at I.)
Ellwanger shows a remarkable degree of political candor,
ifnot finesse, in a letter to State Senator Joseph Carlucci of
Florida:
"2. It would be very wise, if not actually essential, that all of
us who are engaged in this legislative effort be careful not to
present our position and our work in a religious framework.
For example, in written communications
that might somehow be shared with those other persons whom we may be
trying to convince, it would be well to exclude our own
personal testimony and! or witnessfor Christ, but rather, if
we are so moved, to give that testimony on a separate
attached note." (Unnumbered
attachment
to Ellwanger
Depo. at I.)

The same tenor is reflected in a letter by Ellwanger to


Mary Ann Miller, a member of FLAG (Family, Life,
America under God) who lobbied the Arkansas Legislature
in favor of Act 590:
"... we'd like to suggest that you andyour co-workers be very
cautious about mixing creation-science
with creationreligion .. Please urge your co-workers not to allow themselves to get sucked into the 'religion' trap ofmixing the two
together, for such mixing does incalculable harm 10 the
legislative thrust. It could even bring public opinion to bear
adversely upon the higher courts that will eventually have to
passjudgment
on the constitutionality
of this new law." (Ex.
I to Miller Depo.)

Perhaps the most interesting, however, is Mr. Ellwanger's


testimony in his deposition as to his strategy for having the
model act implemented:
Q.
You're trying to play on other people's religious
motives.

Page 4

A.

I'm trying to play on their emotions, love, hate


their likes, dislikes, because I don't know any
other way to involve, to get humans 10 become
involved in human endeavors. I see emotions as
being a healthy and legitimate means of gelling
people's feelings into action, and ... I believe
that the predominance of population in America
that represents the greatest potentialfor
taking
some kind of action in this area is a Christian
community.
I see the Jewish community asfar
less potential in taking action .. , but I've seen a
lot of interest among Christians and If eel, why
not exploit that 10 get the bill going if that 's
what it takes. (Ellwanger Oepo. at 146-147.)

Mr. Ellwanger's ultimate purpose is revealed in the


closing of his letter to Mr. Tom Bethall: "Perhaps all this is
old hat to you, Tom, and if so, I'd appreciate your telling me
so and perhaps where you heard it before - the idea of
killing evolution instead of playing these debating games
that we've been playing for nigh over a decade already."
(Unnumbered attachment to Ellwanger Depo. at 3.)
It was out of this milieu that Act 590 emerged. The
Reverend W. A. Blount, a Biblical literalist who is pastor of
a church in the Little Rock area and was, in February, 1981,
chairman of the Greater Little Rock Evangelical Fellowship, was among those who received a copy of the model act
from Ellwanger.'?
At Reverend Blount's request. the Evangelical Fellowship
unanimously adopted a resolution to seek introduction of
Ellwanger's act in the Arkansas Legislature. A committee
composed of two ministers. Curtis Thomas and W.A.
Young, was appointed to implement the resolution. Thomas
obtained from Ellwanger a revised copy of the model act
which he transmitted to Carl Hunt, a business associate of
Senator James L. Hoisted, with the request that Hunt
prevail upon Hoisted to introduce the act.
Hoisted, a self-described "born again" Christian Fundamentalist, introd uced the act in the Arka nsas Senate. He did
not consult the State Department of Education. scientists.
science educators or the Arkansas Attorney General. 11 The
Act was not referred to any Senate committee for hearing
and was passed after only a few minutes' discussion on the
Senate floor. In the House of Representatives,
the bill was
referred to the Education Committee which conducted a
perfunctory fifteen minute hearing. No scientist testified at
the hearing, nor was any representative
from the State
Department of Education called to testify.
Ellwanger's model act was enacted into law in Arkansas
as Act 590 without amendment or modification other than
minor typographical
changes. The legislative "findings of
fact" in Ellwanger's act and Act 590 are identical, although
no meaninful fact-finding process was employed by the
General Assembly.
Ellwanger's efforts in preparation of the model act and
campaign for its adoption in the states were motivated by his
12 The model act had been revised to insert "creation
science" in
lieu of creationism because Ellwanger had the impression people
thought creationism was too religious a term. (Ellwanger Oepo. at

79.)
1.1 The
original model act had been introduced
in the South
Carolina Legislature. but had died without action after the South
Carolina Attorney General had opined that the act was unconstitutional.

February, 1982

American Atheist

opposition to the theory of evolution and his desire to see the


Biblical version of creation taught in the public schools.
There is no evidence that the pastors, Blount, Thomas,
Young, or The Greater Little Rock Evangelical Fellowship
were motivated by anything other than their religious
conviction when proposing its adoption or during their
lobbying efforts in its behalf. Senator Hoisted's sponsorship
and lobbying efforts in behalf of the Act were motivated
solely by his religious beliefs and desire to see the Biblical
version of creation taught in the public schools.!'
The State of Arkansas, like a number of states whose
citizens have relatively homogeneous religious beliefs, has a
long history of official opposition to evolution which is
motivated by adherence to Fundamentalist
beliefs in the
inerrancy of the Book of Genesis. This history is documented in Justice Fortas' opinion in Epperson v. Arkansas,
393 U.S. 97 fl968), which struck down Initiated Act I of
1929, Ark. Stat. Ann. 80-1627-1628,
prohibiting
the
teaching of the theory of evolution. To this same tradition
may be attributed Initiated Act I of 1930, Ark. Stat. Ann.
80-1606 (Repl. 1980), requiring the reverent daily reading
of a portion of the English Bible" in every public school
classroom in the State.'>
It is true, as defendants argue, that courts should look to
legislative statements of a statute's purpose in Establishment
Clause casees and accord such pronouncements
great
deference. See, e.g., Committee for Public Education &
Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756,773 (1973) and
McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 445 (1961). Defen. dants also correctly state the principle that remarks by the
sponsor or author of a bill are not considered controlling in
analyzing legislative intent. See, e.g., United States v.
Emmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973) and Chrysler Corp. v. Brown,
441 U.S. 281 (1979).
Courts are not bound, however, by legislative statement
of purpose or legislative disclaimers. Stone v. Graham, 449
U.S. 39 (1980); Abbington School Dist. v. Schempp, 374
U.S. 203 (1963). In determining the legislative purpose of a
statute, courts may consider evidence of the historical
context of the Act, Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97
(1968), the specific sequence of events leading up to passage
of the Act, departures from normal procedural sequences,
substantive departures from the normal, Vii/age of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Corp., 429 U.S. 252
(1977), and contemporaneous
statements of the legislative
sponsor. Fed. Energy Admin. v. Algonquin SNG, Inc., 426
U.S. 548, 564 (1976).
The unusual circumstances surrounding the passage of
Act 590. as well as the substantive
law of the First
14 Specifically.
Senator Hoisted testified that he holds to a literal
interpretation
of the Bible; that the bill was compatible with his
religious beliefs; that the bill does favor the position of literalists;
that his religious convictions were a factor in his sponsorship of the
bill; and that he stated publicly to the Arkansas Gazette (although
not on the 'floor of the Senate) contemporaneously
with the
legislative debate that the bill does presuppose the existence of a
divine creator. There is no doubt that Senator Hoisted knew he was
sponsoring the teaching of a religious doctrine. His view was that
the bill did not violate the First Amendment because. as he saw it. it
did not favor one denomination
over another.

15 This statute
is, of course, clearly unconstitutional
under the
Supreme Court's decision in Abbington School Dist. v. Schempp,
374 U.S. 203 (1963).

Amendment, warrant an inquiry into the stated legislative


purposes. The author of the Act had publicly proclaimed the
sectarian purpose of the proposal. The Arkansas residents
who sought legislative sponsorship of the bill did so for a
purely sectarian purpose. These circumstances alone may
not be pa rticularly persuasive, but when considered with the
publicly announced motives of the legislative sponsor made
contemporaneously
with the legislative process; the lack of
any legislative investigation, debate or consultation
with
any educators or scientists; the unprecedented
intrusion in
school curriculum.!" and official history of the State of
Arkansas on the subject, it is obvious that the statement of
purposes has little, if any, support in fact. The State failed to
produce any evidence which would warrant an inference or
conclusion that at any point in the process anyone considered the legitimate educational value of the Act. It was
simply and purely an effort to introduce the Biblical version
of creation into the public school curricula. The only
inference which can be drawn from these circumstances is
that the Act was passed with the specific purpose by the
General Asembly of advancing religion. The Act therefore
fails the first prong of the three-pronged test, that of secular
legislative purpose, as articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman,
supra, and Stone v. Graham, supra.
III.
If the defendants are correct and the Court is limited to an
examination
of the language of the Act, the evidence is
overwhelming that both the purpose and effect of Act 590 is
the advancement of religion in the public schools .
Section 4 of the Act provides:
Definitions. As used in this Act:
(a) "Creation-science"
means the scientific evidences for
creation and inferences from those scientific evidences.
Creation-science includes the scientific evidences and related
inferences that indicate: (I) Sudden creation of the universe.
energy. and life from nothing; (2) The insufficiency of
mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; (3) Changes
only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants
and animals; (4) Separate ancestry for man and apes; (5)
Explanation
of the earth's geology by catastrophism,
including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and (6) A
relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.
(b) "Evolution-science"
means the scientific evidences for
evolution and inferences from those scientific evidences.
Evolution-science
includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: (I) Emergence by naturalistic
processes of the universe from disordered
matter and
emergence of life from nonlife; (2) The sufficiency of
mutation and natural selection in bringing about develop. ment of present living kinds from simple earlier kinds; (3)
Emergence by mutation and natural selection of present
living kinds from simple earlier kinds; (4) Emergence of man
from a common ancestor with apes; (5) Explanation of the
earth's geology and the evolutionary sequence by uniforrniI~ The joint stipulation
offacts establishes that the following areas
are the only information
specifically required by statute to be
taught in all Arkansas schools: (I) the effects of alcohol and
narcotics on the human body, (2) the conservation
of national
resources. (3) Bird Week, (4) Fire Prevention,
and (5) Flag
etiquette. Additionally certain specific courses, such as American
history and Arkansas history, must be completed by each student
before graduation from high school.

February, 1982

Austin, Texas

II

PageS

tarianism; and (6) An inception several billion years ago of


the earth and somewhat later of life.
(c) "Public schools" mean public secondary
schools.

and elementary

The evidence establishes that the definition of "creation


science" contained in 4(a) has as its unmentioned reference
the first II chapters of the Book of Genesis. Among the
many creation epics in human history, the account of
sudden creation from nothing, or creatio ex nihilo, and
subsequent destruction of the world by flood is unique to
Genesis. The concepts of 4(a) are the literal Fundamentalists' view of Genesis. Section 4(a) is unquestionably
a
statement of religion, with the exception of 4(a)(2) which is a
negative thrust aimed at what the creationists understand to
be the theory of evol ution. 17
.
Both the concepts and wording of Section 4(a) convey an
inescapable religiosity. Section 4(a)( I) describes "sudden
creation of the universe, energy and life from nothing."
Every theologian who testified, including defense witnesses,
expressed the opinion that the statement referred to a
supernatural creation which was performed by god.
Defendants argue that: (I) the fact that 4(a) conveys ideas
similar to the literal interpretation of Genesis does not make
it conclusively a statement of religion; (2) that reference to a
creation from nothing is not necessarily a religious concept
since the Act only suggests a creator who has power,
intelligence and a sense of design and not necessarily the
attributes of love, compassion and justice.r" and (3) that
simply teaching about the concept of a creator is not a
religious exercise unless the student is required to make a
commitment to the concept of a creator.
The evidence fully answers these arguments. The ideas of
4(a)( I) are not merely similar to the literal interpretation of
Genesis; they are identical and parallel to no other story of
creation.'?
17 Paul Ellwanger
stated in his deposition that he did not know
why Section 4(a)(2) (insufficiency of mutation and natural selection) was included as evidence supporting creation science. He
indicated that he was not a scientist, "but these are the postulates
that have been laid down by creation scientists." Ellwanger Depo.
at 136.
18 Although
defendants must make some effort to cast the concept
of creation in non-religious
terms, this effort surely causes
discomfort to some of the Act's more theologically sophisticated
supporters. The concept of a creator god distinct from the god of
love and mercy is closely similar to the Marcion and Gnostic
heresies, among the deadliest to threaten the early Christian
church. These heresies had much to do with development and
adoption of the Apostle's Creed as the official creedal statement of
the Roman Catholic Church in the West. (Gilkey.)
19 The
parallels between Section 4(a) and Genesis are quite
specific: (I) "sudden creation from nothing" is taken from Genesis.
I: 1-10 (Vawter, Gilkey); (2) destruction of the world by a flood of
divine origin is a notion peculiar to Judeo-Christian
tradition and
is based on Chapters 7 and 8 of Genesis (Vawter): (3) the terms
"kinds" has no fixed scientific meaning, but appears repeatedly in
Genesis (all scientific witnesses); (4) "relatively recent inception"
means an age of the earth from 6,000 to 10,000 years and is based
on the genealogy of the Old Testament using the rather astronomical ages assigned to the patriarchs (Gilkey and several of
defendants' scientific witnesses); (5) Separate ancestry of man and
ape focuses on the portion of the theory of evolution which
Fundamentalists
find most offensive, Epperson v. Arkansas. 393
U.S. 97 (1968).

Page 6

The argument that creation from nothing in 4(a)( I) does


not involve a supernatural
deity has no evidentiary
or
rational support. To the contrary, "creation out of nothing"
is a concept unique to Western religions. In traditional
Western religious thought, the conception of a creator of the
world is a conception of god. Indeed, creation of the world
"out of nothing" is the ultimate religious statement because
god is the only actor. As Dr. Langdon Gilkey noted, the Act
refers to one who has the power to bring all the universe into
existence from nothing. The only "one" who has this power
is god.20
The leading creationist writers. Morris and Gish, acknowledge that the idea of creation described in 4(a)( I) is the
concept of creation by god and make no pretense to the
contrary." The idea of sudden creation from nothing. or
creatio ex nihilo, is an inherently religious concept. (Va wter,
Gilkey, Geisler, Ayala, Blount, Hicks.)
The argument advanced by defendants'
witness, Dr.
Norman Geisler, that teaching the existence of god is not
religious unless the teaching seeks a commitment,
is contrary to common understanding and contradicts settled case
law. Slone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980); Abbington
School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963).
The facts that creation science is inspired by the Book of
Genesis and that Section 4(a) is consistent with a literal
interpretation of Genesis leave no doubt that a major effect
of the Act is the advancement of particular religious beliefs.
The legal impact of this conclusion will be discussed further
at the conclusion of the Court's evaluation of the scientific
merit of creation science.
IV.(A)
The approach to teaching "creation science" and "evolution science" found in Act 590 is identical to the two-model
approach espoused by the Institute for Creation Research
and is taken almost verbatim from ICR writings. It is an
extension of Fundamentalists'
view that one must either
accept the literal interpretation
of Genesis or else believe in
the godless system of evolution.
The two model approach of the creationists is simply a
contrived dualism= which has no scientific factual basis or
legitimate educational purpose. It assumes only two explanations for the origins of life and existence of man. plants and

animals: It was either the work of a creator or it was not.


Application of these two models, according to creationists,
and the defendants,
which fails to support
scientific evidence in
fore, creation science

"[C[oncepts concerning ... a supreme being of some sort are


manifestly religious ... These concepts do not shed that religiosity
merely because they are presented as philosophy or as a science ... "
Malnak v. Yogi. 440 F.Supp. 1284. 1322 (D.N.J. 1977); aff'd per
curiam, 592 F.2d 197 (3d Cir. 1979).
.

2U

21 See. e.g., Px 76. Morris. et al, Scientific


Creationism. 203 (1980)
("If creation really is a fact. this means there is a Creator, and the
universe is His creation.") Numerous other examples of such
admission can be found in the many exhibits which represent
creationist literature, but no useful purpose would be served here
by a potentially endless listing.

February, 1982

IV

dictates that all scientific evidence


the theory of evolution is necessarily
support of creationism and is. there"evidence" in support of Section 4(a).

American Atheist

IV. (B)

IV. (C)

The emphasis
on ortgms as an aspect of the theory of
evolution
is peculiar to creationist
literature.
Although
the
subject of origins of life is within the province of biology. the
scientific community
does not consider origins of life a part
of evol utiona ry theory. The theory of evol ution assumes the
existence of life and is directed to an explanation
of how life
evolved.
Evolution
does not pre-suppose
the absence of a
creator or god and the plain inference conveyed by Section 4
'.
"
IS erroneous.>
As a statement
of the theory of evolution.
Section 4(b) is
simply a hodgepodge
of limited assertions.
many of which
are factually inaccurate.
For example.
although
4(b)(2) asserts.
as a tenet of
evolutionary
theory. "the sufficiency of mutation a nd natural
selection
in-bringing
about the existence
of present living
kinds from simple earlier kinds." Drs. Ayala and Gould both
stated that biologists
know that these two processes do not
account for all significant
evolutionary
change. They testified to such phenomena
as recombination.
the founder
effect, genetic drift and thc theory of punctuated
equilibrium. which arc believed to play important
evolutionary
roles. Section 4(b) omits any reference to thesc. Moreover.
4( b) uti lives t he. term "k i nds" which a II scient ists sa id is not a
word of science a nd has no fi xed mea ni ng. Add it iona lly, the
Act presents both cv elution and creation science as "package
deals." Thus. evidence critical of <orne aspect of what the
creationists
define as evolution
is taken as support
for a
theory which includes
a worldwide
1I00d and a. relatively
\'oung ca rth.>'

.. ..

Morris. t hr Director of ICR and o nc who,JirsLad\ocated


t hc
two model approach. insists that a true Christian cannot compromise with the t hcorv of evolution and t ha t t hc {icncsi, vcrxion
of creation and t he t heo rvote v olutio n arc mut ua llv cxclusivc
1'.\ .
.1I. Morris. Studies in the Bible & Science, 101-10:1.' M ()ITo\ cr. t he
two model approach
me re lv 'casts in educationalist
language the
dualism which'uppcar
in all cl'cation'ISt Iitcraturc
creation '(i.t:'
god ja nd evolution arc presented as tw o altcrn.uivc
and mutuallv
excl usivc t hco rics. See.c.g .. I'.\ 75 MOITIS. Sciontiiic Crcationim
(/974) (public school edition): P 59. Fox. Fossils: Hard Facts
tromt he l.arth. Pa rt ic ula rlv iIIlist ra t ive is 1':\ 61 . Boa I'd rna n. ('I at.
worlds Withinu End (1')71); a CSRC publicauon:
"One group of
scic nt ist s. knowna s creationists.
believe that god. i.n a miraculous
manner. created a llmaucr and cncrg\'
"Scientists who insist that the universe just grc\\. by accident.
from a mass of hot g~se~ without the direction or help 01 a Creator
arc known as C\ olutio nists."
,; l)1e idl'a't'hat ncli'ef in a creator and acceptance of the scientific
thJory (il cvolut ion arc l1lutu,;II\"cxc!uSI\C
isa lalsl' premise and'
otlcnsivc tu rhc religious views 01 many (Hicks) Dr. l rancisco
Ayala. a geneticist ofconsiderable
re no w n and a t or mcr Catholic
priest who has the equivalent
01 a Ph.D. in theology.
pomtcd out
that many working scicnust-, w ho suhscribcd
to the theory of
evolution arc devoutly religious.
:4 This IS so despite

the tacr that some of the defense witncssc do


not subscribe to theyoung earth or Ilo od hypot hcscs. 'Dr. Geisler
stated his belie! that t hc earth is several hillion years old. Dr.
Wick rarnasinghe
stated that no rational scientist would believe the
earth is less than one million years old or that all-the world's
geology could he c x plaincdby
a worldwide flood.
Austin,

In addition
to the fallacious
pedagogy
of the two model
approach.
Section 4(a) lacks legitimate
educational
value
because "creation science" as defined in that section is simply
not science.
Several
witnesses
suggested
definitions
of
science. A descriptive
definition
was said to be that science is
what is "accepted
by the scientific community"
and is "what
scientists do." The obvious implication
of this description
is
that, in a free society,
knowledge
does not require
the
imprimatur
of legislation
in order to become science.
More precisely the essential characteristics
of science are:
(I)
It is guided by natural law:
(2)
It has to be explanatory
by reference
to natural
law:
(3)
It is testable against the empirical
world;
(4)
Its conclusions
are tentative.
i.e., are not necessarily the final word: and
(5)
It is falsifia ble. (R use and other science witnesses).
Creation
science as described
in Section 4(a) fails to meet
these essential
characteristics.
First the section
revolves
around
4(a)( I) which asserts
a sudden
creation
"from
nothing."
Such a concept is not science because it depends
upon a supernatural
intervention
which is not guided by
natural
law. It is not explanatory
by reference
to natural
law. is not testable and is not falsifiable."
If the unifying
idea of supernatural
creation
by god is
removed from Section 4. the remaining
parts of the section
explain nothing and are meaningless
assertions.
. Section 4(a)(2). relating to the "insufficiency
of mutation
and natural selection in bringingabout
development
of all
living kinds from a single organism".
is an incomplete
negative generalization
directed at the theory of evolution.
Section 4(a)(3) which describes "changes only within fixed
limits of originally
created kinds of plants and animals" fails
to conform
to the essential
characteristics
of science for ~
several reasons.
First. there is no scientific
definition
of
"kinds" and none of the witnesses was able t6'point
to any
scientific authority
which recognized
the term or knew how
many "kinds" existed. One defense witness suggested
there
may be 100 to 10.000 different
"kinds".
Another
believes
there were "about
10.000, give or take a few thousand."
Second.
the assertion
appears
to be an effort to establish
outer limits of changes within species. There is no scientific
explanation
for these limits which is guided by natural law
and the limitations,
whatever they are, cannot be explained
bv natural law.
The statement
in 4(a)(4) of "separate
ancestry of man and
apes" is a bald assertion.
It explains nothing and refers to no
scientific fact or thcory.>

"We do not know how God created, what processes He used. for
God used processes which are not /lOll' opera ting anvwhere in the
natural universe,') his is why we refer to div ine creation as Special
Creation. We cannot discover by scientific investigation
anvthing
about the creative processes used by God." Px 78. Gish. Evolution?
The Fossils Sar No.'. 41 Ud ed. 1979) (emphasis in original).

.'<

,/0 The evolutiona


ry notion that man and some modern apes have a
common ancestor somewhere
in the distant past has consistently
been distorted
by anti-evolutionists
to say that 'man descended
from modern monkeys.
As such. this idea has long been most
offensive to Fundamentalists.
See.Epperson
v, Arkansas.:193 U.S.

')7 (I%li).

February, 1982

Texas

IV

Page 7

Section 4(a)(5) refers to "explanation


of the earth's
geology by catastrophism,
including the occurrence of a
worldwide flood." This assertion completely fails as science.
The Act is referring to the Noachian flood described in the
Book of Genesis.?? The creationist writers concede that any
kind of Genesis Flood depends upon supernatural
intervention. A worldwide flood as an explanation of the world's
geology is not the prod uct of nat ural la w. nor ca nits
occurrence be explained by natural law.
Section 4(a)(6) equally fails to meet the standards of
science. "Relatively recent inception" has no scientific
meaning. It can only be given meaning by reference to
creationist writings which place the age at between 6.000 and
20,000 years because of the genealogy of the Old Testament.
See, e.g. Px 78, Gish (6,000 to 10,000); Px 87, Segraves
(6,000 to 20.000). Such a reasoning process is not the
product of natural law: not explainable by natural law: nor
is it tentative.
Creation science, as defined in Section 4(a). not only fails
to follow the canons defining scientific theory, it also fails to
fit the more general descriptions of "what scientists think"
and "what scientists do." The scientific community consists
of individuals and groups, nationally and internationally,
who work independently in such varied fields as biology,
paleontology, geology, and astronomy. Their work is published and subject to review and testing by their peers. The
journals for publication are both numerous and varied.
There is. however, not one recognized scientific journal
which has published an article espousing the creation
science theory described in Section 4(a). Some of the State's
witnesses suggested that the scientific community
was
"close-minded"
on the subject of creationism
and that
explained the lack of acceptance of the creation science
arguments. Yet no witness produced a scientific article for
which publication had been refused. Perhaps some members
of the scientific community are resistant to new ideas. It is.
however, inconceivable that such a loose knit group of
independent thinkers in all the varied fields of science could.
or would, so effectively censor new scientific thought.
The creationists have difficulty maintaining among their
ranks consistency in the claim that creationism is science.
The author of Act 590, Ellwanger, said that neither evolution nor creationism
was science. He thinks both are
religion. Duane Gish recently responded to an article in
Discover critical of creationism by stating:
"Stephen Jay Gould states that creationists claim creation
is a scientific theory. This is a false accusation. Creationists

have repeatedly stated that neither creation nor evolution


is a scientific theory (and each is equally religious)." Gish,
letter to editor of Discover, July, 1981, App. 30 to Plaintiffs'.
Pretrial Brief.

The methodology employed by creationists


factor which is indicative that their work is not
scientific theory must be tentative and always
revision or abandonment
in light of facts that

is another
science. A
subject to
are mcon-

Not only was this point acknowledged


by virtually all the
defense witnesses, it is patent in the creationist literature. See. e.g.,
Px 89, Kofahl & Segraves. The Creation Explanation, 40: "The
Flood of Noah brought about vast changes in the earth's surface,
including vulcanism. mountain building. and the deposition of the
major part of sedimentary strata. This principle is called 'Biblical
catastrophism."

27

Page 8

February,

IV

sistent with, or falsify. the theory. A theory that is by its own


terms dogmatic, absolutist and never subject to revision is
not a scientific theory.
The creationists'
methods do not take data. weigh it
against the opposing scientific data, and thereafter reach the
conclusions stated in Section 4(a). Instead. they take the
literal wording of the Book of Genesis and attempt to find
scientific support for it. The method is best explained in the
langa uge of M orris in his book (Px 31) Studies in The Bible
and Science a t page I 14:
" ... it is ... quite impossible 10 determine anvthing about
Creation through a study of" present processes. because
present processes are not creative in character. Ifman wishes
10 know anvthing about Creation (the time ol Creation, the
duration of Creation, the order of" Creation, the methods of
Creation, or anything else) his sole source of" true informotion is that of divine revelation. God lI'as there when it
happened.
We were not there ... There/lire, we are complete!v limited 10 what god has seen fit to tell us, and this
information is in his written word. This is our textbook on
the science of creation!"

The Creation Research Society employs the same unscientific approach to the issue of creationism. Its applicants
for membership must subscribe to the belief that the Book of
Genesis is "historically and scientifically true in all of the
original a utogra phs.Y" The Court would never criticize or
discredit any person's testimony based on his or her religious
beliefs. While anybody is free to approach a scientific
inquiry in any fashion they choose, they cannot properly
descri be the methodology used as scientific, if they start wit h
a conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the
evidence developed during the course of the investigation.
IV.(D)
In efforts to establish "evidence" in support of creation
science. the defendants relied upon the same false premise as
the two model approach contained in Section 4. i.e .. all
evidence which criticized evolutionary theory vias proof in
support of creation science. For example. the defendants
established that the mathematical probability of a chance
chemical combination
resulting in life from non-life is so
remote that such an occurrence is almost beyond imagination. Those mathematical facts. the defendants argue. are
scientific evidences that life was the product of a creator.
While the statistical figures may be impressive evidence
against the theory of chance chemical combinations as an
explanation of origins. it requires a leap offaith to interpret
those figures so as to support a complex doctrine which
includes a sudden creation from nothing, a worldwide flood.
separate ancestry of man and apes. and a young earth.
The defendants argument would be more persuasive if. in
fact. there were only two theories or ideas about the origins
of life and the world. That there are anum ber of theories was
acknowledged
by the State's witnesses. Dr. Wickramasinghe and Dr. Geisler. Dr. Wickramasinghe
testified at
length in support ora theory that life on earth was "seeded"
bv comets which delivered genetic material and perhaps
organisms to the earth's surface from interstellar dust far
outside the solar system. The "seeding" theory futher hypothesizes that the earth remains under the continuing influence of genetic material from space which continues to
eX See n. 7 supra, for the full text of the CRS creed.

1982

American

Atheist

affect life. While Wickramasinghe 's theory-? about the


origins of life on earth has not received general acceptance
within the scientific community,
he has, at least, used
scientific methodology to produce a theory of origins which
meets the essential characteristics of science.
The Court is at a loss to understand why Dr. Wickramasinghe was called in behalf of defendants. Perhaps it was
because he was generally critical of the theory of evolution
and the scientific community. a tactic consistent with the
strategy of the defense. Unfortunately for the defense. he
demonstrated that the simplistic approach of the two model
analysis of the origins of life is false. Furthermore,
he
corroborated the plaintiffs' witnesses by concluding that "no
rational scientist" would believe the earth's geology could be
explained by reference to a worldwide flood or that the earth
was less than one million years old.
The proof in support of creation science consisted almost
entirely of efforts to discredit the theory of evolution
through a rehash of data and theories which have- been
before the scientific community for decades. The arguments
asserted by creationists are not based upon new scientific
evidence or laboratory data which has been ignored by the
scientific community.
Robert Gentry's discovery of radioactive polonium haloes
in granite and coalified woods is, perhaps, the most recent
scientific work which the creationists use as argument for a
"relatively recent inception" of the earth and a "worldwide
flood." The existence of polonium haloes in granite and
coalified wood is thought to be inconsistent with radiometric dating methods based upon constant radioactive
decay rates. Mr. Gentry's findings were published almost ten
years ago and have been the subject of some discussion in the
scientific community. The discoveries have not. however.
led to the formulation of any scientific hypothesis or theory
which would explain a relatively recent inception of the
earth or a worldwide flood. Gentry's discovery has been
treated as a minor mystery which will eventually be explained. It may deserve further investigation,
but the
National Science Foundation has not deemed it to be of
sufficient import to support further funding.
The testimony of Marianne Wilson was persuasive evidence that creation science is not a science. Ms. Wilson is in
charge of the science curriculum for Pulaski County Special
School District. the largest school district in the State of
Arkansas. Prior to the passage of Act 590. Larry Fisher. a
science teacher in the District. using materials from the ICR,
convinced the School Board that it should voluntarily adopt
creation science as part of its science curriculum. The
District Superintendent
assigned Ms. Wilson the jobof
producing a creation science curriculum guide. Ms. Wilson's
testimony about thc project was particularly convincing
because she obviously approached the assignment with an
open mind and no preconceived notions about the subject.
She had not heard of creal ion science until about a year ago
and she did not know its meaning before she began her research.
Ms. Wilson work ed With a committee of science teachers
appointed from the District. They reviewed practically all of
the creationists literature. Ms. Wilson and the committee
members reached the unanimous conclusion that creationism is not science: it is religion. They so reported to the
,. The theory is detailed in Wickramasinghe 's book with Sir Fred
Hoyle. Evolutionfrom Space ( 19H I). which is Dx 79.

Board. The Board ignored the recommendation and insisted


that a curriculum guide be prepared.
In researching the subject, Ms. Wilson sought the assistance of Mr. Fisher who initiated the Board action and
asked professors in the science departments
of the U niversity of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University
of
Central Ar kansas-? for reference material and assistance,
and attended a workship conducted at Central Baptist
College by Dr. Richard Bliss of the ICR staff. Act 590
became law during the course of her work so she used
Section 4(a) as a format for her curriculum guide.
Ms. Wilson found all available creationists'
materials
unacceptable because they were permeated with religious
references and reliance upon religious beliefs.
It is easy to understand
why Ms. Wilson and other
educators
find the creationists'
textbook
material and
teaching guides unaccceptable. The materials misstate the
theory of evolution in the same fashion as Section 4(b) of the
Act. with emphasis on the alternative mutually exclusive
nature of creationism and evolution. Students are constantly encouraged to compare and make a choice between
the two models, and the material is not presented in an
accurate manner.
A typical example is Origins (Px 76) by Richard B. Bliss,
Director of Curriculum
Development
of the ICR. The
presentation begins with a chart describing "preconceived
ideas about origins" which suggest that some people believe
that evolution is atheistic. Concepts of evolution, such as
"adaptive radiation," are erroneously presented. At page II,
figure 1.6. of the text, a chart purports to illustrate this "very
important" part of the evolution model. The chart conveys
the idea that such diverse mammals as a whale, bear, bat and
monkey all evolved from a shrew through the process of
adaptive radiation. Such a suggestion is, of course, a totally
erroneous and misleading application of the theory. Even
more objectionable. especially when viewed in light of the ,
emphasis on asking the student to elect one of the models, is
the chart presentation at page 17. figure 1..6. That chart
purports to illustrate the evolutionists'
belief that man
evolved from bacteria to fish to reptile to mammals, and,
thereafter. into man. The illustration indicates, however,
that the mammal from which man evolved was a rat.
Biology, A Search For Order in Complexity"
is a high
school biology text typical of creationists' materials. The
following quotations are illustrative:
"Flowers and roots do not have a mind to have purpose of
their own; therefore. this planning must have been donefor
them b v the Creator." - at page 12.
"The exquisite beauty of co lor and shape in flowers exceeds
. the skill of poet. artist, ami king. Jesus said (from Matthew's
gospel). 'Consider the lilies of thefield, how they grow; they
foil not. neither do thev spin ... '" Px at page 363.

The "public school edition" texts written by creationists


simply omit Biblical references but the content and message
Ms. Wilson stated that some professors she spoke with sympathized with her plight and tried to help her find scientific materials
to support Section 4(a). Others simply asked her to leave.

.In

I!
Px 129. published by Zonderman
Publishing House (1974).
states that it was "prepared by the Textbook Committee of the
Creation Research Society." It has a disclaimer pasted inside the
front cover stating that it is not suitable for use in public schools.

February, 1982

Austin, Texas

IV

Page 9

remain the same. For example,


No/,32 contains the following:

Evolution - The Fossils Say

Creation. By creation we mean the bringing into being by a


supernatural
Creator of the basic kinds of plants and
animals by the process of sudden, or fiat, creation.
We do not know how the Creator created, what processes
He used, for He used processes which are not now operating
anywhere in the natural universe. This is why we refer to
creation as Special Creation. We cannot discover by scientific investigation anything about the creative processes used
by the Creator." - page 40.

Gish's book also portrays the large majority of evolutionists as "materialistic atheists or agnostics."
Scientific Creationism (Public School Edition) by Morris,
is another text reviewed by Ms. Wilson's committee and
rejected as unacceptable. The following quotes illustrate the
purpose and theme of the text:
Forward
"Parents and YOUlh leaders today, and even many scientists
and educators, have become concerned about the prevalence'
and influence of evolutionary philosophy in modern curriculum. Not only is this system inimical to orthodox Christianity and Judaism, but also, as many are convinced, to a
healthy society and true science as well."
"The rationalist of course finds the concept of special
creation insufferably naive, even 'incredible'. Such a judgment, however, is warranted only if one categorically
dismisses the existence of an omnipotent god." - at page 17.

Without using creationist literature,


Ms. Wilson was
unable to locate one genuinely scientific article or work
which supported Section 4(a). In order to comply with the
mandate of the Board she used such materials as an article
from Readers Digest about "atomic clocks" which inferentially suggested that the earth was less than 4\12billion years
old. She was unable to locate any substantive teaching
material for some parts of Section 4 such as the worldwide
flood. The curriculum guide which she prepared cannot be
taught and has no educational
value as science. The
defendants did not produce any text or writing in response
to this evidence which they claimed was usable in the public
school classroorn.P
The conclusion that creation science has no scientific
merit or educational value as science has legal significance in
light of the Court's previous conclusion that creation science
has, as one major effect, the advancement of religion. The
second part of the three-pronged
test for establishment
reaches only those statutes having as their primary effect the
advancement of religion. Secondary effects which advance
religion are not constitutionally fatal. Since creation science
is not science, the conclusion is inescapable that the only real
effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion. The Act
therefore fails both the first and second portions of the test.
in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).

32

Px 77, by Duane Gish.

The passage of Act 590 apparently


caught a number of its
supporters off guard as much as it did the school district. The Act's
author, Paul Ellwanger, stated in a letter to "Dick," (apparently
Dr. Richard Bliss at ICR): "And finally, if you know of any
textbooks at any level and for any subject that you think are
acceptable that would be of enormous to these bewildered folks
who may be caught, as Arkansas now has been, by the sudden need
to implement a whole new ball game with which they are quite
unfamiliar." (sic) (Unnumbered attachment to Ellwanger depo.)
33

Page 10

IV. (E)
Act 590 mandates "balanced treatment"
for creation
science and evolution science. The Act prohibits instruction
in any religious doctrine or reference to religious writings.
The Act is self-contradictory
and compliance is impossible
unless the public schools elect to forego significant portions
of subjects such as biology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, physics and chemistry. Presently, the concepts of
evolutionary theory as described in 4(b) permeate the public
school textbooks. There is no way teachers can teach the
Genesis account of creation in a secular manner.
The State Department of Education, through its textbook
selection committee, school boards and school administrators will be required to constantly monitor materials to
avoid using religious references. The school boards, administrators and teachers face an impossible task. How is
the teacher to respond to questions about a creation
suddenly and out of nothing? How will a teacher explain the
occurrence of a worldwide flood? How will a teacher explain
the concept of a relatively recent age of the earth? The
answer is obvious because the only source of this information is ultimately contained in the Book of Genesis.
References to the pervasive nature of religious concepts in
creation science texts amply demonstrate
why State entanglement
with religion is inevitable under Act 590.
Involvement
of the State in screening texts for impermissible religious references will require State officials' to
make delicate religious judgments.
The need to monitor
classroom discussion in order to uphold the Act's prohibition against religious instruction will necessarily involve
administrators
in questions concerning
religion. These
continuing involvements of state officials in questions and
issues of religion create an excessive and prohibited entanglement with religion. Brandon v. Board of Education,
487 F. Supp 1219, 1230 (N.D.N.Y.), aff'd., 635 F.2d 971
(2nd Cir. 1980).

V.
These conclusions are dispositive of the case and there is
no need to reach legal conclusions
with respect to the
remaining issues. The plaintiffs raised two other issues
questioning the constitutionality
of the Act and, insofar as
the factual findings relevant to these issues are not convered
in the preceding discussion, the Court will address these
issues. Additionally, the defendants raised two other issues
which warrant discussion.
V. (A)

First, plaintiff teachers argue the Act is unconstitutionally


vague to the extent that they cannot comply with its
mandate of "balanced" treatment without jeopardizing their
employment. The argument centers around the lack of a
precise definition in the Act for the word "balanced." Several
witnesses expressed opinions that the word has such meanings as equal time, equal weight, or equal legitimacy.
Although the Act could ha ve been more explicit, "balanced"
is a word subject to ordinary understanding.
The proof is
not convincing that a teacher using a reasonably acceptable
understanding of the word and making a good faith effort to

February, 1982

(Continued

on page 29)

American Atheist

On Our Way
Ignatz Sahula-Dycke

CONFUSED PRIORITIES

j
~'

Most of us live a life of our own choosing, but only very


rarely give due consideration
to the liberty making this
possible. Were we to realize that we're able to live this way
and enjoy it because our Constitution guarantees it, we'd be
considerably wiser and a lot happier. We would come to
appreciate more fully our Constitutional Americanism as a
privilege-pot
something to be taken lightly or for grantedand would loyally guard and defend it from the tamperings
of religiose quackery and renegade officialdom.
The troubles we encounter during the course of our daily
pursuits are in good part due to the fawning respect we pay
to numerous extraneous symbols with which we've through
habit been made familiar. To some of these symbols we
ascribe meanings far above their true value; to a few of them
a magnitude so awesome as to worship them. And yet, after
impartially scrutinizing them, none of them loom more
importantly than the others. The worshipful regard in which
we hold so many of them diminishes the importance of the
few that really deserve our consideration,
protection, and
gratitude. Especially the symbols which many of us erroneously hold in worshipful awe are upon examination seen
as imaginary, their repute as mere hearsay, the goals they
aim at as wishful wisps, and our submission to them as a
profligate waste of nervous energy.
Why is it that so many of us devote time and effort to the
business of worshiping symbols whose meaningsexist
only
in our imagination, but pay scarcely any attention to factual
realities that affect everything we do from the time we're'
born until we die? Hence we must suppose that some folk
obtain a measure of consolation
from it, making their
worship of fatuous imagery at least temporarily worth the
candle. It's their way of avoiding the reality which constantly
reminds us that life is short and transient, and urges us to
disbelieve that we're born only to die, the while we vainly
seek for a way to circumvent it.
Nature-here
meaning everything and anything cosmic
both known and unknown-has
made us presciently aware
of the brevity of our lives just as it has all creatures. When
facing death don't most of us instinctively ask: Why so
soon? Practically everyone of us thinks he'd enjoy living on
and on-a desire which prompted artful witch-doctors and
priests to contrive the specious enormity named religion,
crooning a yarn about salvation and paradise for which fool
humans would madly give up their self-respect and freedom
of thought.
Many people; once finding this "foreverness" entrancing
beyond all disbelief, take up belief in it of an intensity so
great it borders on psychosis of ineradicable proportions
urging and inducing them to actively militate against and
hate anyone who scoffs at it. Today, in the Western world's
god-zany eighties, this hatches all kinds of difficulties for the
rationalist. Due to this imbroglio he must find or somehow
-devise a way of getting along with the crush of people who,

believing this kind of gush, will.believe anything else that's as


bizarre.
This brand of religious psychosis came into bloom during
the last presidential election, but has in recent months been
visited upon us paired with the problems of energy costs
and other matters all of which disturbs the religious fanatics
who tell us that god alone would put everything to rights,
irrespective of governmental
efforts-if
we'd only pray.
together and sincerely implore heaven for it. That fools still
exist who expect divine omnipotence
to extricate them
from their follies has become amply evident in the deliberations of the religiously bigoted contingent of our legislators in both House and Senate, some of whom have been
attempting to solve purely political problems but from a
distinctly religious basis. A case of confused priorities.
In both assemblies this wry situation hasn't served us
altogether badly, having shown us which of these savants
best epitomize the pompously reactionary
political religionist. Legislators of this stamp should resign and make for
the pulpit, and replace there the preachers now thirsting to
enter the arena of politics. We consequently
know in
advance, if they stay put, what tack they'll take on questions
of state, right or wrong. They've shown themselves past all
reasoning, evasive in debate, repeatedly protesting that
their way alone leads to the correct solution of our nation's
problems. But they're really a problem that eclipses the
problem itself. They shirk inquiry, prefer to blindly believe;
and never stop seeking vindication for ..the confusion
furthered by their folly. Emerson told
that it's the
mischief of their vices, but not their vices, from which men
want to be saved. The bigot consoles himself by denominating his stubborn vice as determination.
Nowadays,
however, whether we are skeptics, freethinkers, theists, iconoclasts, Atheists, or what not, we're
all in the same boat-helpless
victims of a new type of
existence forcing us, like it or not, to get along with others.
This is a necessity which the world's increasing population
during this century has enormously complicated. Consider
that almost everywhere, where sixty or seventy years ago
existed but one person, there in the same volume of space
now exist three; and that the kind of education capable of
bridling and gentling this mass of humanity hasn't kept pace
with the increase. People are consequently
no longer as
polite to one another as before, and made highly strung by
the rate of speed at which our scientific technology enables
us to move. I regret that Walter Hagen's admonition to quit
hurrying andworrying, etc., is incompatible with the spirit of
today, with the possible exception of its closing phrase: So
don't forget to smell the flowers.
The world seems to me to be almost too nice a place for
the humanity that, fretting and largely on the prod, animates
its habitable surface. The reasonableness
of Atheism might
well save humankind from self-destruction-but
the num-

February, 1982

Austin, Texas

~/

us

Page 11

ber of Atheists this would require is far too small. The bigots
won't help because, cocooned in their bigotry, they're
protected from any thinking of the kind enjoyed by Atheistsand, secondly, no bigot worthy of the least speck of bigotry
would think seriously of working alongside an Atheist.
People, regardless of their social standing, if religiously
bigoted, aren't apt to be interested in knowing what any
essayist meant in saying that life is an alloy of power and
form. They don't want to know anything beyond what they
blindly believe; they distrust any new scientifically gleaned
knowledge because, in speculating about it, they'd be
running the risk of capitulating to biblically undocumented
ideas. It is their kind of outlook that nowadays impedes the
rational solution of the problems we face-making majority
consensus an untrustworthy judge or sponsor of any
projected political move. For instance: just because the

electorate has been temporarily jerry-panicked into a highly


pitched revivalistic frenzy, is no reason to legislate religiously flavored measures over which the public would
concurrently enthuse. There always comes tomorrowand with it the reckoning.
Had the Founding Fathers of our country reasoned that
religious tenetry and christianistic assistance should buttress the Constitution and Billof Rights of the new republic
they were launching, we would see in those documents
unmistakable signs of it. On the contrary, those masterpieces of planned statesmanship instruct us to keep religion
out of any and all governmental decision-making. Were all
of the authorities in Washington to serve justly, honestly,
and to the full extent of their ability the citizens of these
United States of America, we who elected them could sleep
a lot more soundly these nights than we do.

The Match
Fred Woodworth

WHAT THE RELIGIOUS WANT


Every movement of a political, social, or philosophical
kind paints its opponents particularly black. As a result,
Atheists, when portraying the religious, are sometimes
accused of overstating the case and exaggerating the evil
effects of religion. What, after all, is the harm in a belief in
"god," some people question; isn't the attitude of, the
believer a response to his personal conscience, and
shouldn't a person be regarded as free to believe in
whatever he wishes?
This all sounds very fine, of course, and when stated that
way the Atheist really has no choice but to admit that if
someone does want to BELIEVE in religious dogma, it is
certainly up to that person. Unfortunately for the oversimplifiers, the actions of the religious have more to them
than mere belief. What the religious want is far, far more
than just to believe in their dogmas and "holy" books. In a
similar way one might just as well ask: Don't people have the
right to be infected with smallpox if they choose? The
metaphor is not far-fetched; a disease model of religion
makes perfect sense, and the answer-which is a qualified
yes-to the question of whether or not someone "has the
right" to be infected with a disease ifs/he for some reason so
desires, is the actual response of Atheists to the similar
inquiry regarding religion.
Suppose for a moment that individuals seriously wanted
to experience smallpox. As long as the decision was freely
made by them, as long as they kept to themselves and made
no attempt to inflict the disease on those who didn't want
it-including their children-the choice would be their own,
the same as a suicide's. If,on the other hand, they wished to
inaugurate a program of smallpox in the schools or other
people's homes, or force tax support for institutions that
tried to manufacture more adherents to this "belief,"
polluting society so that no one could be safe from the
Page 12

effects of disease, then it would have to be concluded that


they did not in fact have the right to do this.
The reason religion behaves like a disease is that it
similarly disrupts the lives of persons wishing to be uninvolved with it. Religion propagates itself not by "belief" in
the sense that reasonable discussion leads to belief of some
kind, but by insinuating into the minds of the very young,
who usually have neither the experience nor the critical
judgment-i.e., the resistance-to
throw it off. ~nce religion's patterns come to dominate the thought process, the
person affected begins to think and behave, more so than
otherwise, in the two following ways: first, he is more
authoritarian-that
is, he acts as if his notions should
govern the conduct of others, a conclusion that consistently
follows once the original premise is accepted. In other
words, when the religious person thinks or hears of some
idea, he feels it came ultimately from "god" ifhe approves of
it, and "god" is by definition superior in every way, meaning
that the idea too must be godlike. Thus the religious
believer's own thoughts or the thoughts of those who
influence him carry with them the automatic demand that
ALL should believe likewise and obey certain commands.
Secondly, the person whose mental process is thus
affected behaves more irrationally than otherwise. The life
of every religionist is filled with contradictory attitudes and
attempts to reconcile impossibilities. The believer in the
bible, for example, must hold up as dogma various statements about the antiquity and origin of this planet and
human life on it, while simultaneously undergoing regular
bombardment by facts proving how impossible these myths
really are. (Or else he has to take these parts as "allegories,"
while holding fast to certain other portions' strict literal:
ness.) A man who is perhaps a communications engineer or
electronics specialist, has to explain to himself ifhe can how

February, 1982

American Atheist

it is that his prayers which he addresses to "god" could


possibly be transmitted in the absence of any of the
apparatus he knows is necessary to actually carry his voice
even a single quarter of a mile. The astronaut who is a
believer must accept the declared existence of afirmamenta firm sphere with planets and stars attached to it, asserted
by the bible-even though he is well aware that there is no
such thing.
Since, moreover, the major belief about reality held by
such people is that an agency that does not actually exist
AT ALL is in fact of paramount importance, the magnitude
of error is so vast that no conclusion the person draws is
ever completely untainted.
Based on these brief considerations of the religious mind
and on actual tendencies seen exemplified in the world by
religious believers, we can predict not only the general
shape but many specific features of society and civilization if
these were to be modeled as desired oy the religious.
First, the very idea of criticism would disappear. The
presenting of arguments against something for the purpose
of making people believe something else, would be completely unnecessary, since only approved activity of any
kind would exist. The catholics' old Index of Prohibited
Books, for instance, was only a remedying measure made
necessary by the existence of books that needed to be
prohibited. What that church would have preferred was for
there not to have been any such books. Society on religious
lines would plainly go far beyond the inquisition.
The only literature would be religious literature; drama
would consist only of reenactments of religious scenes.
Painting and other visual arts would portray religious figures
or motifs.
Government would of course be exercised by churches,
and law would demand compliance with religious mandates.
These would no doubt range from the dietary laws of-the old
testament to the commandments regarding prohibited act ivities on certain days of the week, with the body of statute
law and policing necessary for enforcement. Prayer would
be frequent, public, and compulsory. Everything in the
world would be property of the church, with specific
possessions or "buying" power awarded as a privilege to
society's members by the religious organization. Every
transaction would be approved by the church, every public
gathering authorized (or not).
In such a world a dissenter would have no power
whatsoever and would be crushed instantly whenever his
actions or words came to the attention of the religious
committee overseeing the particular area. Personal associations would be under strict regulation, and individuals might
have to justify an intention to exchange letters 'or co I)'
versation with those outside an immediate group. Sexual'
relations would occur for reproduction only, and infermants, confessions, and advanced technology would undoubtedly be employed to contr'ol this volatile areaof human
behavior. There would be neither birth control nor abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity or masturbation, and
especially no pornography or even suggestive scenes in
films, music or books.
Technology, already created by people. againstg~eat
religious-authoritarian resistance, would be used unstintingly and unashamedly (just. as it is now) by the very
churches who originally
opposed it. (But whether really
.,

Austin, Texas

advanced apparatus could be kept in repair or whether the


numerous illogicalities of religious thought would lead to a
slow breakdown and gradual reversion to pre-Electronic
Age standards, is hard to guess. It does seem certain that
with the death of the scientific method, forward progress
and development at least would most likely halt.)
There would in other words be a static and practically
dead civilization, without advancement or novelty, with
every question already answered and every conjecture
forestalled by the commanded uniformity of the beehive,
the methods of independent critical thought supplanted by
prefabricated ideas, and personal freedom sacrificed to
order and authority.
This is an extreme and horrifying but POSSIBLE future of
mankind. Whenever a religious spokesman publicly de,
mands a law against something that he claims "god" does
not like, whenever scientific knowledge comes under attack
by the befuddled who want to substitute the' teaching of
religious myths to the young in schools, whenever true
believers turn their humorless and intolerant stare on
"pornography," it is the tip of the religious authoritarian
iceberg protruding from a tremendous depth of hostility to
free will and to any activity condemned anywhere in the
lunatic accounts of the "bible."
Such a life of humanity as religionists want is obviously
impossible, and would result in collapse of itself and
civilization altogether. Their "right" to "believe" -that is, to
internalize their mania-is one that we can respect 'only
within the limited context of similar rights that suicides have
to destroy themselves. Just as the tendency of the murder,
ous to kill other people can be curtailed by arming their
victims, the infecting of the young with these diseases of the
mind has to be forestalled by providing children with, first of
all, a learning environment completely free of superstitious
propaganda, and secondly, with the tools of reason as early
as possible in life-language, logic, and the ability to read ,
and think.
The achievement and maintenance of strict separation of
state and church, including the absolute prohibition of
religious teaching in public schools, and the withdrawal of
public funds from support of public institutions, should be
among the highest social priorities of every Atheist.

r-----------------------IF YOU ARE GAY AND ATHEIST


PLEASE CONTACT:
Gay Atheists League of America
P.O. Box 14142

San Francisco, CA 94114


. Membership: $ls.00/year
($lO.00/year for students and senior citizens)
Send to the same address for subscriptions to the GALA
Review. Subscriptions $10.00/year; $11.SO/year in Canada
and PUAS; elsewhere $i2.s0/year.

"

February, 1982

Page 13

The Angry Young Atheist


Jeff Frankel

RELIGIONISTS RAP ROCK


Radical fundamentalists often step forward to warn the
masses of some newly found threat to the fragile christian
mind. The latest idiocy along these lines Js being perpetrated by two young ministers who are touring the North
American continent, leaving a path of fire, fear and destruction behind them.
Jim and Steve Peters, youth pastors at the zion christian
life center in St. Paul, Minnesota, have been on the road
presenting a seminar entitled, "What the Devil's Wrong
with Rock Music?" Using a combination of album cover
slides, quotes from rock music periodicals, and the bible,
they "prove" rock to be an evil and disruptive influence.
When the seminar is complete-and the collection plate is
full-those present are asked to bring forth their rock
recordings along with any pornographic material, or items
related to astrology or the occult, for a "rock burning
demonstration." All the articles are then burned in an open'
bonfire (except for the records, which are only smashed
due to the toxic gases released by burning vinyl). The
burnings are supported by the bible, as so many irrational
acts can be. In fact, it's the irrational Acts 19:18-20 which
they cite as the precedent for the pyre.
The Peters brothers are hardly original in their campaign.
Anti-rock crusades by narrow-minded christian zealots go
back as far as the music itself. To the minister in search of a
scapegoat, .rock 'n' roll has come in quite handy.
As rock came forth in the mid-1950s, so did the persecution. Rev. Jimmy Snow, still a strong critic of the music,
labeled it as evil, citing the beat (which, ironically, was
derived in part from black gospel music). Rev. John Carroll
of Boston said, "Rock and roll inflames and excites youth
like jungle tom-toms readying warriors for battle." Elvis
Presley was dubbed "morally insane" by many religionists
and called an instrument of the devil. Record burnings
became commonplace.
In 1956 the North Alabama White Citizens Council,
backed by several southern churches, denounced rock
music as part of a plot by the NAACP to corrupt white
southern youth (rock of that era was either created or
influenced by blacks). This group.went so far as to send five
of its members to attack-Net "King') Cole (by no means a
rock artist) on stage as 'he performed. '.,
Much of the early damnation of rock was simply racial
prejudice in god's name. Christian rock critics remained,
silent, however, when their born-again friend Pat Boone
made his fortune from rock music. He did this by singing
"creamy white" versions of songs written by black artists
who received no royalties from Boone's recordings. (Some
disc jockeys, including Alan freed, who coined the-phrase ?
"rock 'n' roll," refused to play Boone'srecords because of
this.) Since this wasdone in the 'time-honored christian
tradition of the white man reaping the profits of t~~, black
Page 14

man's labor, nothing was said.


In 1966, the furor surrounded the Beatles, whom Billy
Graham had earlier denounced as "a passing fad." When
the late John Lennon said that christianity would vanish, the
Beatles were more popular than jesus, and that it was the
twisting of it by jesus' "thick and ordinary" followers that
ruined it for him, the fires burned again, claiming much
Beatles memorabilia. Even those paragons of christian
virtue the Ku Klux Klan got in on the act, burning Beatles
records on crosses, and picketing a concert the group gave
in Memphis, Tennessee.
Rev. Charles Boykin of Tallahassee, Florida, led his
church youth group in the burning of over $2000 worth of
discs in 1975. Boykin condemned rock for its "appeal to the
flesh." He claimed he'd seen statistics which showed that
984 out of 1000 girls who became pregnant out of wedlock
committed fornication while listening to rock music. When
quizzed by a reporter on the source of these "statistics,"
Boykin claimed he could not remember.
Why, you might ask, have these fanatics singled out rock
from among the many musical styles we have? The answer
is obvious. Other musical forms are socially benign compared to rock. From the beginning, rock has stepped on the
toes of freedom's foes, raising questions certain groups,
christians for one, have not wanted to deal with. (Contrary
to a popular stereotype, all rock is not simply noise with
banal lyrics. ) From the protest and social comment songs of
the 1960s to the "No Nukes" and "Rock Against Racism"
concerts of the 1980s, rock has been the catalyst in the
rising increase of social awareness among youth.
Many rock artists have been quite critical of religion in
song lyrics and public statements. Lennon was by far the
most outspoken, with his famous 1966 statement, and the
lyrics of many of the songs on his "Plastic Ono Band" and
"Imagine" albums, The British band Jethro Tull attacked
christianity and "the bloody church of England" on their
"Aqualung" album, which included satirical scriptures on
the cover such as "Man created god in his own image."
Musician Leon Russell once stated that he felt that
"organized christianity has done more harm than any other
single force I can think of in the world." The song
"Cathedral" by Crosby, Stills and Nash features the lyrics,
"T 00 many people have lied in the name of christ for anyone
to heed the call/So many people have died in the name of
christ that I can't believe it all:" Public Image Ltd strongly
attacked the entire concept in their song "Religion."
. Rock music is one of the first things to be attacked or
censored by those who wish to dominate the minds of
others. Note the ban put on "Top40" rock by the Ayatollah
Khomeiniin iran, and the crackdown on "noxious" rock
music by the communist regime in Vietnam. The anti-rock
christians are simply following the same path as others who

February, 1982

I"

American Atheist

hold totalitarian beliefs.


Now we have the Peterses, who actually believe that rock
is the tool of satan. "We feel that rock music is being used by
the enemy to deceive thousands of christian young people,"
says Steve. Constant references to rock musicians as
"them" and "the enemy" are reminiscent of the psychotic
paranoia expounded by Joe McCarthy.
The brothers tend to go off the deep end, making a lot of
claims for which they have no proof. Without playing any
recordings to back up their accusations, they charge
various artists with using subliminal messages mixed into
their music to promote promiscuity, drug use, witchcraft,
the occult, devil worship, and homosexuality. In fact, Jim
and Steve seemingly enjoy accusing people of being homosexual. They call Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger an
"acknowledged homosexual" because he had stated that
his first sexual encounter was of that variety (Mick's
heterosexual exploits, from his 1960s romance with
Marianne Faithful to his stormy marriage to his now ex -wife
Bianca, are well documented). They call the group Queen a
"homosexual band," even though a recent article in Rolling
Stone states that most of the band members are married
with families.
Much of the "evidence" presented is based on assumption, stereotyping, and guilt by association. When confronted with this, the Peters pair simply rationalize their way
around it. It's their contention that, according to scripture,
guilt by association is a viable premise, and stereotyping and
categorizing people in this instance isn't wrong. Jim is also
guilty of pulling a "Boykin," being unable to recall the source
of some information he had offered. "I see no real purpose,"
he told the questioning reporter. "The real point is to
change lives."
It's interesting that so many of the" evils" these boys point
out in rock may also be found in religion. When it comes to
homosexuality, how can anyone forget the antics of Billy
James Hargis and Jim Jones? The story of a young couple
copulating in the back row during a concert brings to mind
the" camp meeting babies" of the 19th century, which were
the by-products of the emotion wringing sermons of
evangelists. The pious duo have vigorously condemned the
November 1979 tragedy in Cincinnati where eleven people
were trampled to death at a concert by The Who. They say
it's typical of occurrences at rock concerts. In May 1980,
nine people were trampled to death at an outdoor mass for
the pope in Zaire. That must be typical of occurrences at
religious gatherings.
Insensitivity is synonymous with the Peters ministry.
When questioned on Lennon's death, Jim said, "I felt bad he
was shot because I knew, dying that way, he would become
more of a god for young people. I haven't met many bornagain christians who were sorrowed by his death." They've
denounced singer James Taylor for having spent time in a
psychiatric hospital due to suicidal tendencies. This conjures up images of the dark ages when those mentally ill
were killed as demons by "good" christians ... like the
Peters brothers.
Intolerance is another Peters trait. Note Steve's tirade
about a van he'd seen with an "If it feels good, do it" bumper
sticker on it: ."You know what I'd like to do, if it was legal,
I'd. like to take this 16-pound sledge (hammer) we just
bought here, and beat that thing and dent it up and wreck
the tires, smashup the windshield, and leave it a total
Austin, Texas

wreck, and leave a note saying, 'It felt good so I did it.' "This
leads me to speculate as to how far they'd go to spread their
beliefs "if it was legal."
Perhaps this is an example: When Jim refers to the
"Aqualung" album as blasphemy, he says, "... and the bible
talks about what we're to do with those who blaspheme."
Leviticus 24:16 and I kings 21:10-13call for death by stoning.
Would they do this also "if it was legal"?
The brothers are motivated by their mother Josephine,
who Steve says is "behind all our good works." Her
statements to a Washington Post reporter who visited the
Peters home reflect the domination and brainwashing
typical of fundamentalist parents:
.
..I remember the day Danny (another brother) brought
home a Beach Boys record. I sensed it wasn't christian. The
Beach Boys just had a different message than we were used
to in this house. Until we were christians we were of the
world, but then we realized that satan was all around us, so
we eliminated some things from this home, television for
one .
. Sometimes mothers complain to me about the burnings. They think they're too severe. Some people say it
reminds them of the burnings in nazi Germany. I shouldn't
say this, but when we were in high school we thought Mr.
Hitler had some pretty good ideas. He was especially good
in the sciences. But look what happens without god. IfHitler
had accepted jesus christ as his personal savior, he wouldn't
have done anything wrong. (How, then, do we account for
a man like Jim Jones?)
The burnings, which have claimed over $1,000,000 worth
of records and tapes thus far, always attract a lot of
attention. The pyromaniac Peterses make sure they get
attention by calling the local news media prior to each
burning. They are using the seminars to reach out to the
"wide open door there on national TV" and to pave the way
for possible future seminars on television and the movies,
and abortion (I dread seeing what they will be burning at
those seminars).
,:,.
The seminars are also good vehicles for selling merchandise, such as "documentation" books, compilations of
newspaper articles on their ministry, and seminar tapes.
(During the seminars, Steve often says, "If the lord has
spoken to you to get a set of cassette tapes of this seminar,
go ahead and do it.") They claim they're spreading the
"truth" about rock for god. You'd think they would want
their information used by everyone for mutual benefit. Yet,
their materials are copyrighted, and reproduction of the
tapes is prohibited. Why, if profit is not the motive?
The seminars draw some rather psychotic types who
seem to get high from the destruction, thirsting to destroy
more. At a burning in Peoria, Illinois, those around the
bonfire expressed a desire to further fuel the raging inferno.
"Throw the soap operas in there, too. Get rid of that stuff,"
said one participant, while another suggested, "Throw the
newspapers in, too." All of this leaves some observers in
shock. One young man who witnessed a seminar and the
subsequent burning in Decatur, Illinois, said, "Those
ministers said rock music breeds a lot of violence. I saw a lot
of violence in the way those kids broke those records and
burned those covers."
In the long run, the Peters "crusade" may be a good thing.
Rock music is an important thing to many young people,
including many christians. A significant number of those

February, 1982

Pag~15

have been very critical of the seminars. Perhaps this will


lead them to critically examine the archaic doctrines and
scriptures which influence such ridiculous actions. If the

ranks of young atheists increasein the near future, we may


have Jim and Steve Peters to thank.

ON AVOIDING THAT LAST VISIT


Tony Pasquarello
She was bright, yes. But there had been other bright
ones - those who had absorbed, with an enviable
casualness, the intricacies of symbolic logic, the twists
of Platonic dialectic, the meanderings of the Ontological
Argument, the rightful paradoxes of the Free-Will Problem. She had notrnerelv brains, but a warmth and feel
for humanity, land a sense of humor honed to a fine
edge. Simply put, she understood what I was saying;
here was one of those rare' human beings who make
speaking seem to be synonymous with communication.
Most notable of all, she possessed a profound sense of
the existential absurdity (without the preposterous
existentialist metaphysics) of this whole sorry farce
called life, in which we find ourselves unwitting, unwilling, and quite amateurish players. She was, and is,
my friend. She was, and is, an Atheist. Not a joi ner, not a
marcher - but a good Atheist nonetheless, who rejects
lock, stock and barrel, the christian mythology, its
perverse and demented god, and the hilarious inanities
of the contemporary religious scene, How often we
would swap stories and ensuing .hvsterical laughter
over the in-class gaffes of those" nice, christian students"
- she from a student, and I from a professorial perspective. We had both noted and both deplored a virtually
universal characteristic of the christian mentality - an
almost total lack of a sense of humor, a stem solemnity
coupled with a sickly-sweet sanctimoniousness. And
little wonder, since those christian students imagine
themselves to be participants in some deadly serious,
monumental struggle between divinities and demons,
angels and beasts, christs and antichrists. Such fatuous
nonsense afforded us countless hours of mirth; who
says religion has no value?
She married, quite recently, another bright, sensitive,
young Atheist. They insisted upon certain modifications
in the ceremony - the "hip" music (folk-songs and
guitar), the vows of their own composing, and the truly
"now" touch - the female minister! But, all else was the
same: the church, the numerous prayers, the appeals to
god to bless the union. Two hundred people left the
church content, secure in the belief that they had
witnessed another good christian marriage - a little
peculiar perhaps, but still a good christian marriage:
Some two years before, her younger brother, in his
late teens, had been tragically ki lied in an auto accident.
She had told me of him - an. easy-going, intellectually
curious lad whosaw little sense in christian balderdash,
But the funeral serviceihcludedreadings
of the traditional biblical passages on traversing certain shadowy
valleys, and the talk of souls and hope of an after-life
- the whole gamut of religious delusion. A nice christian
funeral!
One of her' professors, a master Shakespearean
scholar; brilliant theatrical director; compelling orator
Page 16

and charismatic teacher, was also an Atheist, and a


dear colleague of mine. He frequently told me of his
admiration for my "courage" in openly espousing
Atheism and reassured me that of course, he too was an
Atheist, but somewhat apprehensive about the wisdom
of coming out of the closet in a small, closed-minded,
mid-western town, dominated by hordes of fanatical
fundamentalists ministers and the ever-popular roman
catholic church (maintaining the big high school with
the super basketball team). And, as the years passed, he
began to see, with painful clarity, that the dulling
stupefying effect of religion on his students was really
the root problem. He began to see the utter futility of
attempting to transmit the humanistic insights of great
literature - revelations concerning the minds and bodies
of human beings, their loves, foibles, passions and
powers - to a befuddled class staring back blankly at
him, while, all the while, they were wondering what
mortal sins they had committed that day, where they
would wear their permit number 666, or whether the
"rapture" would take place before the end of the
academic year, The years wore on, and he grew weary
of casting Shakespearean pearls before fundamentalist
swine. Disillusioned, discouraged, defeated, he turned
to alcohol, and, as it will do, alcohol turned on him, and
he is dead now, Older relatives claimed the body, and he
was given a proper christian burial. A minister spoke of
how he had held my comrade's hand at the end, and
claimed that this confirmed Atheist had accepted jesus
christ as his personal saviour. Soon after, a substantial
trust fund was established at our campus, to provide a
yearly cash award to the student contributing most
significantly to the school's theatre program - a commendable, thoroughly humanistic gesture. But how will
additional young minds be freed from the stifling bog of
religion in order to become possible candidates for that
theatre award? The cause of Atheism receives not one
penny in direct support from the life of this memorable
teacher.
And that is my tale of three Atheists. Summary: one
christian wedding and two christian funerals. Score:
christianity, 3: Atheism, 0.'
It has been well said that most Americans will visit a
church at least three times in their lives - birth,
marriage, and death, There just isn't much that anyone
can do about that first visit, but one would suppose that
Atheists could somehow manage to avoid the second
and third. Yet, incredible as it may seem, the probability
is thatthey will not! No one need own the imagination of
an Asimov 'to,draw the moral from my brief narrative:
.teligion is culturally so firmly entrenched, possesses so
monolithic an inertial momentum, commands so daz.zling an array of. financial resources and so .vast an
arsenal of persuasive 'sophistry .that unless an Atheist,

February, 1982

American Atheist

agnostic, humanist or whatever takes specific preventive measures, he will almost certainly have a "good,
christian burial," and probably "a nice christian wedding."
Mind-boggling? Improbable? Not at all. Indeed, it is
quite easy to conceive a scenario in which Madalyn
Murray O'Hair herself is given a "good, christian
burial!" A disaffected but financially powerful son, a suit
for custody of the "remains," a sympathetic, upstanding, "good christian judge," and - 10and behold - there
lies the corpse of America's premier Atheist, and there
stands the clergyman swaying and praying over her,
barely able to conceal his gloating satisfaction. If we
listen carefully, we can almost hear the quite plausiblesounding eulogy, concocted of shameless fallacies and
convoluted Jogic. " ....And so, dear brethern, I tell you
that she was more religious than many, for - was not
Atheism a religion to her? Did she not, in her messianic
zeal and tireless fervor, only exemplify the zeal and
fervor of our lord, jesus christ? Will he not forgive her
errors, while accepting the purity of her sincerity and
integrity as payment in full for admission to Paradise?
Let us pray...."
Thus is Madalyn O'Hair beatified! Given the terminal
insanity of religion, its utter disregard for the canons of
reasoning, and its shark-like ability to digest anything
and everything, who dares cry "Impossible!" were
Rome in a hundred or so years, to declare O'Hair a saint
of the catholic church!
Although a wide and bewildering variety of flimsy
considerations is often employed to justify this state of
affairs, perhaps the most important is the maxim that
"the funeral is not for the deceased, but for the
survivors." (Just as it is claimed that the nuptial ceremony is not really for the bridal couple, but for friends
and relatives). Psychologists and sociologists and - of
course - funeral directors stress the importance of these
"ceremonies," their critical role in e.g., "grief therapy,"
and the churches, having capitalized on this attitude for
years, echo these sentiments by pointing to the need to
"sanctify" and "bless" the central events of a human
life. Besides, a religious funeral is so easy, so convenient, so proper. Those helpful clergymen with all
their specialized training in counseling and consoling,
comforting and conducting souls to their destinations.
Why not have a religious funeral? And surely they are
correct in saying that the funeral is not for (meaning "for
the benefit of") the deceased. So, it must be for the
survivors; their wishes as to the tone and content of the
service are to be respected as paramount.
Actually, there is only one type of case where this
argument has the slightest plausibility - the deceased
Atheist has older, very close and very conventional
relatives who would be deeply shocked and perhaps
seriously harmed by the revelation of the deceased's
Atheism. However in the normal course of events, a
person is survived by contemporaries, a peer group of
relatives and friends who would be, in all likelihood,
well aware of that person's position on religion.
But the ultimate and conclusive refutation of this
reasoning is merely to point out that it would justify
making of the funeral service a mockery of truth and a
travesty of everything the life of the deceased stood for
Austin, Texas

- all in the name of the comfort and pacification of the


survivors. Indeed, just as it might justify - given very
peculiar circumstances - a religious funeral for M.M.
O'Hair, the other side ofthe coin is every bit as absurd.
Suppose, e.g., that some of Jerry Falwell's closest
relatives were to see the light and "decouvert" to
Atheism. Then, if the funeral is "for the survivors," the
Reverand Falwell should be given an atheistic funeral
service!
In truth, the real question is not who, but what is the
funeral service for? Surely, it is an occasion to assess
and to memorialize the posit of this one human life.
What were those unique personality characteristics
which etched out an individual identity and gave it
vitality,'and definition? What was the beloved music?
Art? Literature? What were the sports or hobbies? What
was the favorite food or drink? Did the deceased delight
in ice-cold draft beer, spicy meatballs, and chocolate
cheesecake? Then let that be proclaimed! This is the
time and place. And - of greatest significance - what
were the ideas and ideals that this being stood for? To
what did he devote his time and energy and finances?
What aspirations? What dreams? What sort of world did
this human being wish to inhabit, and to bequeath to the
future?
This is truly a eulogy, one which delineates the
meaning of one human life and, in so doing, confronts
those in attendance with a legacy which they can either
embrace or reject, in part or whole. In each case, they
will know that someone lived and stood for something,
and left them with a challenge - and thereby, in a small
way, enriched their lives. Contrast such a service with
the ordinary religious farce; hollow ludicrous, impersonal. The dreary recitation of standardized biblical
gibberish - the "Valley" passage and the "Sparrow"
passage, the "Cleaning Lady" passage (I go to prepare a
place for you) and the "Realtor" passage (In fi"lyFather's
house are many mansions). All this intoned by a bored
clergyman who, in most cases, never even knew the
deceased, nor knew of those things which mattered in
that person's life. Is this proper memorialization? Is this
a fitting close to human existence?
But, here we must bear in mind one of the striking
lessons of Logical Positivism - gibberish can be beautiful, touching, moving, uniquely expressive. While,
strictly speaking, nonsense is literally nonsense, it may
deeply affect us, emotively.
Whatever the logical
failings of religion - and they are legion - one must
admire its psychological adroitness in grasping this
point. After all, if it lacked both logical and emotional
appeal, how account for its enormous success? Religion
has managed to identify itself with much that human
beings find good, important and valuable, and thereby
implied that to approve the latter is to accept the former.
In the mind 'of the typical person - even the nonchurchgoer - religion connotes morality, peace, brotherhood; hospitals, colleges, charities, food programs;
camaraderie and fellowship; celebration and ceremony
and sanctification. The supreme task for the Atheisthumanist is to break that connection, to sever the
supposed bond between religion and all those other
desirable values, and to keep insisting that where
religion does right it does right for the wrong reasons.

February, 1982

Page 17

In short, the task is de-theologizing; keep whatever is of


value, keep the emotive significance, the beauty, the
ceremony, and discard the fantasy foundation - those
theolgoical underpinnings which were never there to
begin with. (It is no exaggeration to suggest that the
opening of the first atheist hospice or university, the
first atheist commission to a major artist or composer,
the first atheist aid program to some impoverished
community - these might well be more beneficial to the
cause of Atheism than all the litigation in all the courts
of all the world.)
Comte saw this quite clearly in his advocacy of a
secular relgion celebrating the birth dates of scientists,
rather than saints. So did John Stuart Mill when he
urged that the Utilitarian morality and the feeling of
unity be " ...tauqht as religion, and the whole force of
education, of institutions, and of opinion directed (to it),
as it once was in the case of religion ...." And so does
William Hamilton in his marvelous exposition of the true
import of Lincoln's thinking in the Gettysburg Address
- "He said, you'll recall, that they had met to dedicate a
portion of the battlefield. Then he went on:
'But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we
cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground'
You might have expected him to make the pious point
here and say that we mortals cannot consecrate anything because that is god's prerogative alone. But he
didn't say that:
'The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here,
have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or
detract.'
Not just the 'right' side, but all those who fought, are

the consecrators. Suffering and dying men, he suggests, have the power to make holy or sacred what was
ordinary and profane before." (W. Hamilton, "The Death
of God," Playboy Aug. 1966)
Dedicating and consecrating, commemorating and
celebrating - all these can be done "without benefit of
clergy." Those focal events of life, particu!arly marriage
and death, would seem to be excellent places to begin
the detheologizing process. Humanistic Atheism has its
heroes and poets, its magnificent literary stylists. After
the proper sort of relevant eulogy, what could be more
fitting or more moving than a reading from some of the
powerful prose of Russell, Darrow or Ingersoll? Indeed,
great expressive art is, by its very nature, automatically
detheologized - its aesthetic merit autonomous from
any accident of religious inspiration, text or commission. Brahms's German Requiem is no more a "religious" piece than the symphonies, and the Last Supper
stands on its own merits as a study in compositional
value and balances. irrespective of the silly personages,
bizarre events, and quasi-cannibalistic overtones of that
evening's dinner.
But good intentions, appropriate literature, even the
understanding of friends and their willingness to be
cooperative - all these will avail as nought against the
onslaught of the religious behemoth. Like making a will,
funeral arrangements are easily put off until too late.
And when "too late" arrives, they - whoever "they"
might happen to be - will call for the clergy. Christianity
will then record another victory and you will have - and
you can bet your American Atheist membership card on
this - a "nice christian funeral."

Nature's Way
Gerald Tholen

FOCUS ON EVIL
A recent unsolicited telephone conversation with a
totally irrational religious woman has again brought to
mind a chronic condition of human intellect that is, in
fact, the principle base of religiosity. The woman stated
that she had called because of her disagreement with
the mechanics of the theory of evolution. However, a
few moments of conversation disclosed, as is usual,
that she knew absolutely nothing about evolution,
Darwinism, or anything else remotely connected with
the genetic processes of organic development. I had
suspected as much and the only reason that i stayed on
the line at all was to again attempt to understand why
religionists persist in calling an Atheist organizational
office in the first place.
Her demands that I explain to her how "an elephant
evolved from a monkey" were met with the obvious
answer that she was totally uneducated in the area of
evolutionary development and that she needed to at
least understand the basic implications of the science
before engaging in any such discussions: At this she
Page 18

became highly indignant - told me that persons who


"were not afraid of crosses were vampires" and slammed down the receiver, thus ending the conversation and the sounds of my laughter.
What she did not realize was that my unstated
question to her - why religionists call Atheists - was
answered quite adequately. Through our very brief
exchange, the idea of true religiosity had once again
been inadvertently disclosed by an irrational mind. In
this woman's mind I was the personification of "evil".
The entire structure of religion is based on the
concept that all natural things are the product of
supernatural "forces". The very unfortunate aspect of
this psychoneurotic mythology is that, according to
practically all religions, these forces come in two
"flavors" - 1) good and 2) evil!
As would be suspected of such simplistic reasoning,
the "good force" - morality, benevolence, and the" guys
who wear white hats", are attributable to the kindness
and love ofa particularly supported god or "creator".

February, 1982

American Atheist

Most people are aware of this and it has been written


about so often thatfor most readers, it has become quite
boring, i.e. "The good that men do is often interred in
their bones - the evil often lives on after them" (according to a scholarly writing of medieval importance).
In actuality, nothing is "interred in anyone's bones" and
nothing "lives on" after anyone! The only surviving
thoughts, sane or insane, are the memories and interpretations of the deceased's statements, activities, and
writings that have become a part of the surviving
society's history. Influence begins and ends with life
and awareness!
There is no such thing as "evil". There are only those
deeds and actions which are either constructive or
destructive. There is only sanity and insanity!
Irrationality, a compulsion to be socially destructive
and/ or the inabilitv to distinguish such characteristics,
are the human examples of "evil" which need NO
external origin. They are a part of the counterproductive
attributes of any society or culture. If there were no
"living things" there would be no "evil". At the same
time, there would be no concept of "good" either. As
Einstein put it, the universe (cosmos) would simply go
about its business of existing - with or without a god
(supernatural force).
The misrepresentation of truth that humanity fails to
acknowledge is that our own subnormal intellect is the
"creator" of all "evil". Thoughts that are occasioned by
rationality are the only suppliers of "good" results.
There are three classifications of human intellect:
rational (sane). irrational (insane) and the third, which is
perhaps more difficult to recognize, is the inability to
distinguish between the other two. Actually, item three
should be classified with the second (irrational). However, it has long been accepted that iqnorance of the
consequences for one's actions does not necessarily
implythatthe person is irrational or insane. Therein lies
the acceptable excuse for human prejudice and lack of
concern. This is how we are able to "patriotically"
participate in mass global murder and call it "war". It is
also why we can chastize Blacks, Indians, homosexuals,
or any other co-existing life forms, without undue
emotional concern. The irrational person sees himself
only as a "wearer of the white hat". In the melodramatic
mind of insanity there is an accepted "necessity" for
actions that will eliminate the existence,physically or
intellectuallv.of those persons thought to be under the
command or influence of "evil" forces. In the simple
mind of my telephone conversationalist. I am a "vampire". Such demonstrations of sick intellect are the
accepted "norm" in our society and no one ever seems
to associate the condition with society's continuing
ability to generate inhumane thoughts that contribute to
inhumane actions.
When we (Atheists) write about our concern over the
policies of our government toward other nations (including Russia and Israel), we are called "communists"
and "anti-semites". Name-calling is an old device for
fanaticism and fascist totalitarianism. If a government
wishes to approach a point of advantage in seeking to
implement its policies (that may perhaps lead to violence and hostitily), it must first wave slogans and
banners in front of the eyes of the irrational masses in
Austin, Texas

order to blind them to the consequences. This activity is


not looked upon as "insane", but rather as "national
diplomacy". The fact is that quite possibly every nation
on earth is presently engaging in the same absurd
practices - all considered "normal", "rational", and
"justifiable". The result will surely lead us, at some
time, to the eventual war that each considers inevitable.
The point that I am trying to make is that "good" and
"evil" can only exist in the conscience of living organisms. "Sane" persons are those who are able to
inherently decide whether an action is harmful to others
and to act accordingly; persons who knowingly commit
socially destructive acts can only be judged insane; and
people who imagine that "good thoughts" and "evil
thoughts" are piped into our minds by an external agent,
are simply mentally retarded.
In the minds of children there are tendencies to
"blame" others for mishaps and unfortunate circumstances brought on by himself/herself. If the child then
grows to adulthood and retains this philosophy there
most certainly is need for psychiatric help for that
person. Ironically, the only aid available to most such
persons is a clergyman - who is tragically in need of the
counseling that s/he is supposed to administer.
Knowing these things, there is little wonder that an
Atheist observer sees religiosity as a self-infecting
device of ignorance. Evaluation of people and their
actions is very simple when one understands the degree
of religiosity involved in a person's background. Jimmy
Carter's intellectual abilities were an "open book" to
people who graded his "potential" on the basis of his
religiosity. What's more frustrating is that Ronald Reagan's intellectual background is even more steeped in
religiosity than Carter's - or possibly my recent phone
conversationalist. Yet, he is the principle U.S. spokesperson in our dealings with what he believes to be "evil" ,
nations bent on our destruction. Such an attitude can
only be regarded as sick. To those persons who think
that "things will get better", I must ask - Why? Do you
think that some "external benevolent force" will cause
them to? Not hardly! We Atheists have a tremendous
task lying ahead.

February, 1982

PageJ9

Toward More Intelligence


Richard M. Smith

ATHEISM IN THE POPULAR ARTS


In viewing current political events an Atheist would
have much reason to be dismayed. Fundamentalist
christianity governs u.s. politics and legal affairs despite
overwhelming mass education, despite widespread recognition (at least in private) that christianity is ignorance, despite the fact that the majority of people
want sex education for teenagers, birth control and
greater respect for women.
The Atheist may take some comfort, however, in the
development of explicit Atheism in modern popular
culture. Although a few major performers such as Bob
Dylan have become fruitcake christians, there has been
no general shift towards artistic praise of the selfhumiliation that is known as religion. Even the case of
Dylan can be strongly interpreted as a bid for support of
zionism in the same way that Begin cynically called on
Falwell for support of his aggressive and classically
imperialist policies. One of the few causes that Dylan
ever supported directly was zionism, and he made a $6
million fund-raising drive to that end almost immediately
before his apparent conversion to christinsanity. At that
time he probably sensed where his greatest support
was coming from - christgoons interested in selffulfilling prophecies of armageddon - and then he
warmed to them and their insanity.
Some other performers have degenerated into religious believers, but it is very questionable how much
brains they had to begin with. These include Donna
Summers, Little Richard, George Harrison (who became
a hare krishna acolyte). Pat Boone, among others. Such
artists can be guaranteed a big press when they turn
into religious fruitcakes, but that does not necessarily
mean that a trend toward degeneracy has been set.
More often than not such conversions mean that one
state of mindlessness has been traded for another.
Still, there has been a definite, albeit slow, infusion of
explicit Atheism in various mass media such has not
occurred before in western european or u.s. history.
Perhaps the most well-known example was the late
John Lennon's inspiring song, Imagine, written ten
years ago. (It is the theme song for the American Atheist
cable-tv program.)
The song contains the wellenunciated lyrics: "Imagine there's no heaven, no hell
below us; nothing to kill or die for. Imagine all the people
living for today." I remember when I first heard it on the
radio. It was so beautiful to hear. It came at a time when I
was breaking away for good from the brainwashing in
which I had been reared and resisting the insidious
parental guilt trips ("Please make mom happy and go to
church"). I was so sick of the pathetic Trust and Obey;
Onward Christian Killers; Tell Me the Old, Sick Story,
and other assorted such mind-numbers that I was
greatly relieved to hear Lennon's song. I imagine that
there were millions of other people who felt the same
Page 20

way.
Imagine was followed by an even more explicitly
Atheist song by Lennon, The Dream Is Over. Its lyrics
were very plain; "I don't believe in jesus; I don't believe
in chrishna; I don't believe in Ghandi, I don't believe in
buddha, etc ...." No one could mistake where Lennon's
head was at.
Another well-known and funny jab at religion appeared in the popular Rolling Stones' song, Girl with
Far Away Eyes, wherein Mick Jagger hears a preacher
on the radio tell him that jesus will answer every prayer,
whereupon Mick runs 25 red lights in his honor praising
jesus all the way.
The Who in their song Tommy urged us to "take it
(religion). break it, better still forget it."
A rock group from england called PIL made a song
which is probably the bitterest antireligious song to
date. Before they even sing it the lead singer chants the
lyrics with an intense controlled disgust:
.
"Stained glass windows keep the cold outside,
While the hypocrites hide inside
With the lies of statues in their minds
Where the christian religion made them blind.
Where they hide and pray to the god of a bitch (spelled
backwards is dog)
Not for one race, one creed, one world
But for money, effective, absurd.
Do you pray to the holy ghost when you suck your host?
Do you read who's dead in the Irish Post?
Do you give away the cash you can't afford
On bended knees, and pray to the lord?
Fat pig priests, sanctimonious smiles.
He takes the money, you take the lies.
This is religion and jesus christ.
This is religion, cheaply priced.
This is bibles full of libel.
This is sin, an eternal hymn.
This is what they've done.
This is your religion.
The apostles were eleven,
Now there's a sot in heaven.
This is religion. There's a liar on the altar.
The sermons never falter.
This is religion - your religion.
The name of this potent song is Religion and it is from
their first L.P.
Thereareother morerecentbut lesswell-known examples.
One which come to my mind is a texas group called
Uranium Savages which regularly includes a skit which

February. 1982

American Atheist

paraodies some newsmaking religious nut like Oral


(they called him Anal) Roberts. There is also a band in
Utah which is even named The Atheists and which plays
songs with such thought-provoking titles as There Is No
God, There's Only Noise. And, of course, there is also
the excellent work of John Crump, whose record is still
available at the American Atheist Center.
More such musical examples exist, but it would
require a special research project to list them all. In
contrast imagine trying to find atheist music in the
middle ages. There was none. We've come a long way,
baby.
In popular mass literature the National Lampoon
stands out notably for its irreverent parodies of religion
along with everybody else who deserves it.
In art we could note the proliferation of antifundamentalist-cartoons in magazines and editorial pages of
many average daily newspapers. Although some of
these same papers are loathe to print cartoons against
the tyranny of the papacy and the more subtle oppression of established "respectable" denominations
like the episcopalians (who quite often run those newspapers), they're still caricaturing religion in cartoon
more than they used to even a few years ago. It's
difficult to think of any other type of explicitly Atheist art
other than cartoons, but we could note that the mere
absence of religious themes in western art for the last
several hundred years is atheistic in a very real sense.
There is no god to draw, so painters have drawn
everything possible instead.
In cinema explicit Atheism has emerged only sporadically. There was a movie made years ago by Luis Bunuel
called Simon in the Desert, and it's rarely shown today.
If you can prevail upon your local university theatre to
show it, you will be exposed to a real treat. It concerns a
pious ascetic monk living on a column out in the desert
and the absurdity of his condition. Consider yourself
privileged if you can ever see it.
Recently another english troupe, Monty Python's
Flying Circus, has made some big waves, introducing
the atheist attitude to the masses possibly more than
anyone else with their cinematic productions, Life of
Brian and now Time Bandits.
Life of Brian, you will recall, opened two years ago
with widespread publicity. Fundamentalist preachers
publicly opposed it - and justifiably so - for it paraded
before everybody the silly guillibility of the ancient
dwellers of Palestine, which even surpassed the guillibilitv of xians today. It was in this atmosphere of mass
gullibility and superstition that xianity was born, and
that lesson could not have escaped the notice of many
observers of the movie. Millions of people watched as
Brian attracted a large unwanted following without his
even trying. If he admonished them not to follow
leaders, they simply mi ndlessly parroted his advice back
to him. Once the crowds had fixed on him, he couldn't
get away from them no matter how hard he tried. They
would find preposterous miracles in any little thing
Brian did. In the end he was mistaken for some other
person and nailed to a cross. When he rebelled at his
fate, his crucified neighbors broke into a song with this
cheeri ng advice -" Always look on the bright side of life ..
You came from nothing, and then you go back to

nothing, what have you got to lose?" That song was one
of the most memorable of my life. If you haven't seen the
movie yet, don't miss the next opportunity.
. "IJd it costs twice as much!
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giant Dolphin paperback' - .. ~

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Monty Python's new movie, Time Bandits, isn't as


good as Life of Brian, but that may be because it is aimed
at an audience of young children who want Star Warslike props and plot. I noticed quite a few youngsters in
the audience at the time I viewed the movie. Nevertheless, it makes some atheist points, and it is good
precisely at those moments when those points are
made. Hopefully, since those moments occur mostly at
the end of the movie, people will remember them better.
The main point is the paradox of a supposedly good
god tolerating evil. In the movie a young child asks the
"supreme being" why he allows evil to exist. The s.b.
lamely replies after a few seconds of hesitation to
consult something in the background, "cYh, yes, it has
something to do with free will." The s.b.:s hesitation and
vagueness are an exact caricature of the way theologians have behaved over the centuries in coming up
with an apology for the question.
At another time the devil is quoted as "feeling good"
as he is performing some ridiculous "evil", and his
cohorts hope for hirn that the feeling will soon pass.
Thus, the question is raised, why would anyone want to
do evil if it isn't good?
The best part about Monty Python's treatment of the
subject of good vs. evil is that they make it obvious how
silly it is. When the s.b. catches up to the devil, he turns
him into a piece of modern art. commenting, "I think evil
turned out rather well." Monty Python's depiction of the
supreme being makes the god-idea no less silly. Appearing as an aging businessman, it is clear that he is
nothing but a father figure, the ancient anthrompomorphic god-idea brought up-to-date. Since, however,
no one can accept a businessman seriously as being
god, the god-idea is rendered silly.
If for no other reason, Time Bandits may spread the
Atheist attitude with some of its advertising. A claim to
have an actual unretouched photograph of the supreme
being - as one of its advertisements purports in a way
that resembles the National Enquirer - is pure mockery

February,

Austin, Texas

1982

Page 21

of the god-idea and mentality of people who believe it.


I hope that Monty Python can keep it up.
I cannot point to any particular evidence ot.explicit
Atheism on live stage, but it is noteworthy that Saturday
Night Live (SNL) is one of the objects of Jerry Farback's
attacks. I think they ought to retaliate. For instance, I
could envision SNL putting on a skit with a church of the
robots for jesus. They could sing such songs as Trust
and obey - "for there's no other way to prove you're a
robot than to trust and obey ...", or "What can wash
away your brain? Nothing but the blood of jesus!". or
"Onward christian robots marching as to war", or "My
mommy was a robot. a robot for jesus; my daddy was a
robot, a robot for jesus; so I'm a Iittle robot. a robot for

jesus, a robot for jesus, a robot for jesus, a robot for


jesus." SNL could also include robots for chrishna, for
islarn.ietc. There's plenty of room for play with the idea.
What better way to let Farback know what he can do
with his "moral majority"? It would definitely give a little
spark to SNL's program, which wouldn't hurt its sagging
ratings. I dare them to do it.
Personally, I look forward to seeing and hearing more
of the Atheist influence in our culture. There are many
other possibilities of atheist expression in the popular
art forms. As long as superstitious religion survives
cowing little children into bizarre unnatural behavior
and beliefs, why should we expect such expression to
cease?

The 12th Annual National Convention


of
American Atheists

\hat

will be held on Easter weekend


April 9th, 10th, 11 th, 1982
.at the Rosslyn We:stpark Hotel
1900N. Ft.ilvlever Dr.
Arlington, VAZ2209

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REGISTERTODAY!

Page22,

February,

1982

. American

Atheist

-------~\,

THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT


VIS-A-VIS
STATE/CHURCH SEPARATION
Madalyn Q'Hair
1791. The first ten amendments had been proposed by
Just exactly what the "founding fathers" meant by the
Congress on September 25, 1789 and the process of
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,
ratification by the states took two years and three months.
in respect to the so-called religious clauses, is anyone's
The religious part of the First Amendment is divided into
guess_ The wording is without the specificity that would be
two parts which have come to be known as "the establishmost desirable. And, when there is any vagueness regarding
ment clause" and "the free exercise." We are fortunate that
anything having to do with religion this encourages the
in this country the founding was completed by political
religious forces to interpret how they may, and if they are
savants and that the freedoms which they proposed were
powerful-to force their interpretation upon the nation. This
locked into a document which clarifies for every citizen
is, in part, what has happened with the First Amendment.
The First Amendment covers a number of basic free- what they are. The position of American Atheists, however,
is that these freedoms do not rest upon the idea of a grant of
doms although the American Atheists have looked more
closely at the religious clauses than any others. The freedoms from government, or a contractual relationship of
citizen and government, in regard to the freedoms. From
wording, in its entirety, is:
the inception of the organization, American Atheists, its
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishposture has been that these are rights which flow from our
ment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
being human beings. It is not something which can be given
thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
by government or taken away by government. As the
press; or the right of the people peacably to assemble,
Murray-O'Hairs visit other counties, however, we find that
and to petition the Government for a redress of
these are rights for which the occupants of those countries
grievances. "
To use the vernacular, "that is a bag" of freedoms. We do still struggle. For instance: England still has an established
know what the intent was in respect to the First Ten church. Religious catechism is still taught in every grade of
Amendments, which are called "The Billof Rights" and this the public schools so that the populace of England is
thoroughly indoctrinated into England's official church,
was precisely put in a case having to do with religion. Justice
Robert H. Jackson delivered the opinion of the court in "The church of England", which is known in our nation as
Board of Education u. Barnette, 319 U.S. 638 (1943) and the "episcopal" church. That is to say, the episcopal church
of the United States was derived from the church of
said:
England, which once was firmly ensconced in the United
"The very purpose of a Billof Rights was to withdraw
States. Just as you have Social Security deducted from
certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political
your salary check each payday, in Germany 10% is decontroversy, to place them beyond the reach of
ducted and given to either the lutheran church or the roman
majorities and officials and to establish them as legal
catholic church according to the designation of the worker
principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to
involved. That is to say, Germany also has an established
life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press,
church which is financially sustained by coercion. These
freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundanations look to the United States as a haven where religion
mental rights may not be submitted to vote; they
and government are allegedly separated. Yet, no state in the
depend on the outcome of no elections."
This certainly was in accord with Jefferson's ideas that "A world has religious slogans on its money. This is a freak
bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against practice of the United States, alone.
government On earth, general or particular, and what no
Our actual records are meagre regarding the religious
just government should refuse or rest on inference." (In a clauses of the First Amendment. We do know that the
letter to Madison, from Paris, Jefferson's Writings, ed. Continental Congress opened with prayer and that reFord, Vol V, p. 371.)
ligious references were rife. However, the Constitutional
Many other countries throughout the world are still .Convention was absolutely free of prayer. In fact, at that
struggling to attain these freedoms which were so precisely time Benjamin Franklin had attained a ripe old age. After the
recognized in the founding of our nation. Our Constitution
Convention had been in session for a month Franklin
was written at a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, moved "that hereforth prayers imploring the assistance of
completed and presented to the public on September 17, Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in
1787. The several state legislatures ratified the first ten this Assembly every morning before we proceed to busiamendments thereto on the following dates: New Jersey
ness, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be
-November 20,1789; Maryland - December 19, 1789; North
requested to officiate in that service." The motion was
Carolina - December 22, 1789;South Carolina -January 19, received politely though not without embarrassment. The
1790; New Hampshire - January 25, 1790; Delaware - record then notes, "After several unsuccessful attempts for
January 28, 1790; New York - February 27, 1790;, Pen- silently postponing the matter by adjourning," the adjournnsylvania - March 10, 1790; Rhode Island - June 7, 1790; ment was at length carried without any vote on the motion.
Vermont - November 3, 1791 and Virginia - December 15, (Farrand, Max ed., Records of the Federal Convention of
Austin, Texas

February, 1982

Page 23

1787, p 450 New Haven, Yale University Press 1911)


A change had occurred in less than a dozen years in the
treatment of the god idea in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution. In the former there are
four references to deity, all of which are deistic and in fact
one of which states a reference to "nature and nature's
god." In the latter there is not a single reference even to this
god of nature. Even in the former instrument any reference
to christianity is deliberately avoided. This was a religious
revolution in and of itself. The idea of a state founded upon
the principle of separation of state and church, of government and religion, was unique in the history of civilization.
But, it should be remembered that witches were killed in
New England not long before our founding as a nation.
Roger Williams had been hounded from one state to
another. Anne.Hutchinson's abuse was legendary.
There was another incident at the Continental Congress.
In 1783 the papal nuncio at Paris addressed a note, to
Benjamin Franklin suggesting that since it was no longer
possible to maintain the previous status whereunder
American roman catholics were subject to the vicar apostolic at London, the holy see at Rome proposed to the
Continental Congress that a catholic bishopric be established in one of the American cities. Franklin transmitted
the note to Congress, which directed Franklin to notify the
nuncio "that the subject of his application to Doctor
Franklin, being purely spiritual, it is without the jurisdiction
and powers of Congress, who have no authority to permit
or refuse it, these powers being reserved to the several
States individually."
On Monday, August 20th, 1787 Charles Pinkney of South
Carolina submitted a number of items to the' House, in
order to have them referred to the Committee of detail.
These included: "No religious test or qualification shall ever
be annexed to any oath of office under the authority of the
U.S." The proposition rather obviously pointed to the
usually annexed phrase of "So help me god." On August
30th, when what is now Article VI was under discussion, the
following is the record: "Art. XX taken up. -'or affirmation'
was added after 'oath.' Mr. Pinkney moved to add to the art:
- 'but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the authority of the
U. States.' Mr. Roger Sherman thought it unnecessary, the
prevailing liberality being a sufficient security agst. (sic)
such tests. Mr. Gov. Morris & Genl. Pinkney approved the
motion. The motion was agreed to nem: con: and then the
whole Article; North Car. only no - & Maryland divided."
(Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of
the American States,
Washington D.C. Government
Printing Ofc. authorized by 69th Congress, 1st Session,
House Document No. 398; pp 572,647.)
This section of the Constitution now reads, as the last
paragraph of Article VI.
"The Senators and representatives before mentioned,
and the Members of the several State Legislatures,
and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the
United States and of the several States, shall be bound
by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;
but no religious Test shall ever be required as a
Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the,
United States."
After the acceptance of the Constitution and the setting
up of the United States government the first ten amendPage 24

ments were considered. The original proposal leading to the


First Amendment was introduced into the House of Representatives by James Madison, and read as follows:
"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account
of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national
religion be established, nor shall the full and equal
rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any
pretence, infringed."
A committee was appointed to consider Madison's proposals, and Madison served on this, which had Vining as
chairman. It was then rewritten to read "No religion shall be
established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience
be infringed." After some debate during which Madison
suggested that the word "national" might be inserted before
the word "religion" as "point(ing) the amendment directly to
the object it was intended to prevent," the House adopted a
substitute reading: "Congress shall make no laws touching
religion, or infringing the rights of conscience" (Annals of
Congress, pp. 729-731 (August 15,1789). On August 20, on
motion of Fisher Ames, new language of the clause was
adopted: "Congress shall make no law establishing religion,
or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the
rights of conscience." (ld. 766) In the Senate, the section
adopted read: "Congress shall make no law establishing
articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free
exercise of religion .. .' (Senate Journal of September 9,
1789) It was then in the conference committee of the two
bodies, chaired by Madison, that the present language was
written with its somewhat more indefinite "respecting"
phraseology. Madison's intent was rather clear, as was that
of Jefferson, who influenced Madison, but the intent,
insofar as there was one, of the others in Congress who
voted for the language which we now have, and those in the
States who voted to ratify is subject to speculation. It is in
that speculation that religious forces have been strong.
In the House debate, Madison told his fellow House ~
members that 'he apprehended the meaning of the words to
be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and
enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to
worship God in any Manner contrary to their conscience."
(Annals of Congress 730, August 15, 1789) That his
conception of "establishment" was quite broad is revealed
in his veto as President in 1811of a billwhich in granting land
reserved a parcel for a baptist church in Salem, Mississippi,
because the action "comprises a principle and precedent
for the appropriation of funds of the United States for the
use and support of religioussocieties, contrary to the article
of the Constitution which declares that 'Congress shall
make no law respecting a religious establishment." (The
Writings of James Madison, G. Hunt, ed. New York: 1904,
pp. 132-3)Madison's views were no doubt influenced by the
fight in the Virginia legislature in 1784-85 in which he
successfully led the opposition to a tax to support teachers
of religion in Virginia and in the course of which he drafted
his "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments." Acting on the momentum of this effort,
Whereas
Madison, secured passage of Jefferson's "Bill of Religious
Liberty." the general diffusion of Christian knowledge hath
a me of the writings of both was that it was wrong to offer
public support of any religion in particular or of natural
tendency to correct the morals of men, restrain their vices,
and eneral.
It is imperative that we see what they wrote. A bill had

February, 1982

American Atheist

been introduced in Virginia to tax the people to support


religion. Sectarians in the state introduced the measure
before the state Assembly and the object of it was to levy a
preserve the peace of society; which cannot be effected
without r the support of all christian denominations. It was a
competent defeated in the 1779 session but was offered
again in 1784. provision for learned teachers, who may be
thereby the 1784 bill in its final form as it reached the floor
enabled of the House is as follows:
A BILL ESTABLISHING A PROVISION FOR
TEACHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
Whereas the general diffusion of Christian knowledge
hath a natural tendency to correct the morals of men,
restrain their vices, and preserve the peace of society;
which cannot be effected without a competent provision for
learned teachers, who may be thereby enabled to devote
their time and attention to the duty of instructing such
citizens, as from their circumstances
and want of education, cannot otherwise attain such knowledge; and it is
judged that such provision may be made by the Legislature
without counteracting the liberal principle heretofore adopted and intended to be preserved by abolishing all distinctions of preeminence amongst the different societies or
communities of Christians;
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly. That
for the support of Christian teachers,
per centum on
the amount, or
in the pound on the sum payable for tax
on the property within this Commonwealth,
is hereby
assessed, and shall be paid by every person chargeable with
the said tax at the time the same shall become due; and the
Sheriffs of the several Counties shall have power to levy and
collect the same in the same manner and under the like
restrictions and limitations, as are or may be prescribed by
the laws for raising the Revenues of this State.
And be it enacted, That for every sum so paid, the Sheriff
or Collector shall give a receipt, expressing therein to what
society of Christians the person from whom he may receive
the same shall direct the money to be paid, keeping a
distinct account thereof in his books. The Sheriff of every
County, shall, on or before the
day of
in every
year, return to the Court, upon oath, two alphabetical lists
of the payments to him made, distinguishing in columns
opposite to the names of the persons who shall have paid
the same, the society to which the money so paid was by
them appropriated:
and one column for the names where
no appropriation shall be made. One of the lists, after being
recorded in a book to be kept for that purpose, shall be filed
by the Clerk in his office; the other shall by the Sheriff be
fixed up in the Court-house,
there to remain for the
inspection of all concerned. And the Sheriff, after deducting five per centum for the collection, shall forthwith pay to
such person or persons as shall be appointed to receive the
same by the Vestry, Elders, or Directors, however denominated of each such society, the sum so stated to be due
to that society; or in default thereof, upon the motion of
such person or persons to the next or any succeeding
Court, execution shall be awarded for the same against the
Sheriff and his security, his and their executors
or administrators; provided that ten days previous notice be
given of such motion. And upon every such execution, th~
Officer serving the same shall proceed to immediate sale of
the estate taken, and shall not accept of security for
payment at the end of three months, nor to have the goods
Austin, Texas

forthcoming at the day of the sale; for his better direction


wherein, the Clerk shall endorse upon every such execution that no security of any kind shall be taken.
And be itfurther enacted. That the money to be raised by
virtue of this Act, shall be by the Vestries, Elders, or
Directors of each religious society, appropriated
to a
provision for a Minister or Teacher of the Gospel of their
denomination,
or the providing places of divine worship,
and to none other use whatsoever;
except in the denominations of Quakers and Menonists, who may receive
what is collected from their members, and place it in their
general fund, to be disposed of in a manner which they shall
think best calculated to promote their particular mode
of worship.
And be it enacted. That all sums which at the time of
payment to the Sheriff or Collector. may not be appropriated by the person paying the same, shall be accounted for with the court in manner as by this Act is
directed; and after deducting for his collection, the Sheriff
shall pay the amount thereof (upon account certified by the
court to the Auditors of Public Accounts, and by them to
the Treasurer) into the public Treasury, to be disposed of
under the direction of the General Assembly, for the
encouragement
of seminaries of learning within the Counties whence such sums shall arise, and to no other use or
purpose whatsoever.
THIS Act shall commence, and be in force, from and after
the
day of
in the year
A Copy from the Engrossed Bill.
John Beckley, C.H.D.
(Journal of the Virginia House of Delegates December 24,
1784, pp. 102-103)
This bill especially aroused both James Madison and
Thomas Jefferson, causing the former to write his celebrated pamphlet "A Memorial and Remonstrance",
copies
which have later been put into actual U.S. Supreme Court
cases as a part of the decision. That pamphlet, in its
entirety, follows. Madison drafted it in 1784 and had it
extensively circulated. It is credited as being responsible for
the defeat of the bill to levy taxes for the support of teachers
of the christian religion.
MEMORIAL AND REMONSTRANCE
AGAINST
RELIGIOUS ASSESSMENTS
To the Honorable the General Assembly
of the Commonwealth
of Virginia.
A Memorial and Remonstrance.
We, the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth,
having taken into serious consideration
a Bill printed by
order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled "A
Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian
Religion," and conceiving that the same, if finally armed with
the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power,
are bound as faithful members of a free State, to remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are
determined. We remonstrate against the said Bill,
l. Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable
truth, "that Religion or the duty which we owe to our
Creator and the Manner of discharging it, can be directed
only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence."!
The Religion then of every man must be left to the
conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of

February, 1982

Page 25

every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in


retaining an "equal title to the free exercise of Religion
its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable; because the
according to the dictates of conscience."3 Whilst we assert
opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemfor ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to
plated by their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of
observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin,
other men: It is unalienable also; because what is here a
we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds
right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the
have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced
us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offence against God,
duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage,
not against man: To God, therefore, not to men, must an
and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This
duty is precedent
both in order of time and degree of
account of it be rendered. As the Bill violates equality by
obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man
subjecting some to peculiar burdens; so it violates the same
principle, by granting to others peculiar exemptions. Are
can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be
the Quakers and Menonists the only sects who think a
considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe:
compulsisve support of their religions unnecessary
and
And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any
unwarantable?
Can their piety alone be intrusted with the
subordinate Association, must always do it with a saving of
case of public worship? Ought their Religions to be enhis allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain
therefore that in matter of Religiqn, no man's right is
dowed above all others, with extraordinary
privileges, by
which proselytes may be enticed from all others? We think
abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion
is wholly exempt from its cognizance. True it is, that no
too favorably of the justice and good sense of these deother rule exists, by which any question which may divide a
nominations, to believe that they either covet preeminenSociety, can be ultimately determined, but the will of the
cies over their fellow citizens, or that they will be seduced by
majority; but it is also true, that the majority may trespass
them, from the common opposition to the measure.
5. Because the bill implies either that the Civil Magistrate
on the rights of the minority.
is a competent Judge of Religious truth; or that he may
2. Because if religion be exempt from the authority of the
employ Religion as an engine of Civil policy. The first is an
Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the
arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions
Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures
and
vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivaof Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: The second
an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation.
tive and limited: it is limited with regard to the coordinate
6. Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not
departments,
more necessarily is it limited with regard to .
requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say
the constituents.
The preservation
of a free government
that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself; for
requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which
every page of it disavows a dependence
on the powers of
separate each department
of power may be invariably
this world: it is a contradiction to fact; for it is known that
maintained; but more especially, that neither of them be
this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without
suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the
the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition
rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an
from them; and not only during the period of miraculous aid,
encroachment,
exceed the commission from which they
but long after it had been left to its own evidence, and the
derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who
ordinary care of Providence: Nay, it is a contradiction
in
submit to it are governed
by laws made neither by
terms; for a Religion not invented by human policy, must
themselves, nor by an authority derived from them, and are
have pre-existed and been supported, before it was estabslaves.
lished by human policy. It is moreover to weaken in those
3. Because, it is proper to take alarm at the first
who profess this Religion a pious confidence in its innate
experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy
excellence, and the patronage of its Author; and to foster in
to be the first duty of citizens, and one of [the] noblest
those who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too
characteristics
of the late Revolution. The freemen of
conscious of its fallacies, to trust it to its own merits.
America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened
7. Because experience witnesseth that ecclesiatical esitself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents.
tablishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy
They sawall the consequences
in the principle, and they
of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost
avoided the consequences
by denying the principle. We
fifteen centuries, has the legal establishment of Christianity
revere this lesson too much, soon to forget it. Who does not
been on trial, What have been its fruits? More or less in all
see that the same authority which can establish Christianplaces, pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and
ity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the
servility in the laity; in both, superstition,
bigotry and
same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of
persecution. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the
all other Sects? That the same authority which can force a
ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of
citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the
every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with
support of anyone
establishment,
may force him to
Civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive state in
conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?
which its Teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of
4. Because, the bill violates that equality which ought to
their flocks; many of them predict its downfall. On which
be the basis of every law, and which is more indispensible, in
side ought their testimony to have greatest weight, when for
proportion as the validity or expediency of any law is more
or when against their interest?
liable to be impeached. If "all men are by nature equally free
8. Because the establishment
in question is not necesand independent,"2 all men are to be considered as entering
sary for the support of Civil Government.
If it be urged as
into Society on equal conditions; as relinquishing no more,
necessary for the support of Civil Government only as it is a
and therefore retaining no less, one than another, of their
means of supporting Religion, and it be not necessary for
natural rights. Above all they are to be considered
as
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February, 1982

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American Atheist

the latter purpose, it cannot be necessary for the former. If


Religion be not within [the] cognizance of Civil Government, how can its legal establishment be said to be
necessary to civilGovernment? What influence in fact have
ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some
instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny
on the ruins of Civil authority; in many instances they have
been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no
instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties
of the people. Rulers who have wished to subvert the public
liberty, may have found an established clergy convenient
auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and
perpetuate it, needs them not. Such a government will be
best supported by protecting every citien in the enjoyment
of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his
person and his property; by neither invading the equal
rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of
another.
9. Because the proposed establishment is a departure
from that generous policy, which, offering any asylum to the
persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion,
promised a lustre to our country, an accession to the
number of its citizens. What a melancholy mark is the Billof
sudden degeneracy? Instead of holding forth an asylum to
the persecuted, it is itself a signal of persecution. It degrades
from the equal rank of Citizens all those whose opinions in
Religion do not bend to those of the Legislative authority.
Distant as it may be, in its present form, from the Inquisition
it differes from it only in degree. The one is the first step, the
other the last in the career of intolerance. The magnanimous sufferer under this cruel scourge in foreign Regions,
must view the Billas a Beacon on our Coast, warning him to
seek some other haven, where liberty and philanthrophy in
their due extent may offer a more certain repose from his
troubles.
10. Because, it will have a like tendency to banish our
Citizens. The allurements presented by other situations are
every day thinning their number. To superadd a fresh
motive to emigration, by revoking the liberty which they
now enjoy, would be the same species of folly which has
dishonoured and depopulated flourishing kingdoms.
11. Because, it will destroy that moderation and harmony which the forbearance of our laws to intermeddle with
Religion, has produced amongst its several sects. Torrents
of blood have been spilt in the old world, by vain attempts of
the secular arm to extinguish Religious discord, by proscribing all difference in Religious opinions. Time has at
length revealed the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow
and rigorous policy, wherever it has been tried, has been
found to assuage the disease. The American Theatre has
exhibited proofs, that equal and compleat liberty, if it does
not wholly eradicate it, sufficiently destroys its malignant.
influence on the health and prosperity of the State. If with
the salutary effects of this system under our own eyes, we
begin to contract the bonds of Religious freedom, we know
no name that willtoo severely reproach our folly.At least let
warning be taken at the first fruits of the threatened
innovation. The very appearance of the Billhas transformed
that "Christian forbearance", love and charity," which of
late mutually prevailed, into animosities and jealousies,
which may not soon be appeased. What mischiefs may not
be dreaded should this enemy to the public quiet be armed
with the force of a law?

12. Because, the policy of the bill is adverse to the


diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those
who enjoy this precious gift, ought to be that it may be
imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the
number of those who have as yet received it with the
number still remaining under the dominion of false Religions; and how small is the former! Does the policy of the
Bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once
discourages those who are strangers to the light of [revelation] coming into the Region of it; and countenances, by
example the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting
out those who might convey it to them. Instead of levelling
as far as possible, every obstacle to the victorious progress
of truth, the Bill with an ignoble and unchristian timidity
would circumscribe it, with a wall of defence, against the
encroachments of error.
13. Because attempts to enforce by legal sanctions, acts
obnoxious to so great a proportion of Citizens, tend to
enervate the laws in general, and to slacken the bands of
Society. If it be difficult to execute any law which is not
generally deemed necessary or salutary, what must be the
case where it is deemed invalid and dangerous? and what
may be the effect of so striking an example of impotency in
the Government, on its general authority.
14. Because a measure of such singular magnitude and
delicacy ought not to be imposed, without the clearest
evidence that it is called for by a majority of citizens: and no
satisfactory method is yet proposed by which the voice of
the majority in this case may be determined, or its influence
secured. "The people of the respective counties are indeed
requested to signify their opinion respecting the adoption of
the Bill to the next Session of the Assembly." But the
representation must be made equal, before the voice either
of the Representatives or of the Counties, willbe that of the
people. Our hope is that neither of the former will,after due
consideration, espouse the dangerous principle of the Bill.
Should the event disappoint us, it will still leave us in full
confidence, that a fair appeal to the latter will reverse the
sentence against our liberties.
15. Because, finally, "the equal right of every citizen to
the free exercise of his Religion according to the dictates of
conscience" is held by the same tenure with all our other
rights. Ifwe recur to its origin, it is equally the giftof nature; if
we weight its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we
consult the Declaration of those rights which pertain to the
good people of Virginia, as the "basis and foundation of
Government,"> it is enumerated with equal solemnity, or
rather studied emphasis. Either then, we must say, that the
willof the Legislature is the only measure of their authority;
and that in the plenitude of this authority, they may sweep
away all our fundamental rights; or, that they are bound to
leave this particular right untouched and sacred: Either we
must say, that they may controul [sic] the freedom of the
press, may abolish the trial by jury, may swallow up the
Executive and Judiciary Powers of the State; nay that they
may despoil us of our very right of suffrage, and erect
themselves into an independent and hereditary assembly:
or we must say, that they have no authority to enact into law
the Bill under consideration. We the subscribers say, that
the General Assembly of this Commonwealth have no such
authority: And that no effort may be omitted on our part
against so dangerous an usurpation, we oppose to it, this
remonstrance; earnestly praying, as we are in duty bound,

February, 1982

Austin, Texas

~/

Page 27

that the Supreme Lawgiver of the Universe, by illuminating


those to whom it is addressed, may on the one hand, turn
their councils from every act which would affront his holy
prerogative, or violate the trust committed to them: and on
the other, guide them into every measure which may be
worthy of his [blessing, may re]dound to their own praise,
and may establish more firmly the liberties, the prosperity,
and the Happiness of the Commonwealth.
II Madison, 183191

'Decl. Rights, Art. 16 [Note in the originaL]; 2Decl.Rights,


Art. 1[Note in the originaL]; 3Ar!. 16.[Note in the originaL];
4Art. 16. [Note in the originaL]; 5DecLRightsTitle. [Note in
the originaL]
The same bill, as indicated also fired up Thomas
Jefferson to write his "Bill for Establishinq Religious
Freedom" which was introduced in 1779, after the bill
to tax the people to support religion, and passed in 1786
by the Assembly of Virginia.
SECTION I Well aware
that the opinions and belief of men depend on their
own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed
to their minds;
that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and
manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by
making it altogether insusceptible of restraint;
that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only
to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a
departure from the plan of the holy author of our
religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet
choose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was
in His Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its
influence on reason alone;
that the impious presumption of legislature and ruler,
civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves
but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion
over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions
and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and
as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath
established and maintained false religions over the
greatest part of the world and through all time;
that to compel a man to furnish contributions of
money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical;
that even forcing him to support this or that teacher of
his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the
comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the
particular pastor whose morals he would make his
pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive tc:i
righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry
those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an
approbation of their personal conduct. are an additional
incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the
instruction of mankind;
that our civil rights have no dependence on our
religious opinions, any more than our opinions in
physics or geometry; and therefore the proscribing any
citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying
upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust
or emolument. unless he profess or renounce this' or
that religious opinion, is depriving him injudiciously of
Page 28

those privileges and advantages to which, in common


with his fellow-citizens, he has a natural right;
that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very
religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with
monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those
who will externally profess and conform to it;
that though indeed these are criminals who do not
withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way.;
that the opinions of men are not the object of civil
government. nor under its jurisdiction;
that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers
into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or
propagation of principles on supposition of their ill
tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys
all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of
that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment. and approve or condemn the sentiments of others
only as they shall square with or suffer from his own;
that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of Civil
government for its officers to ihterfere when principles
break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
and finally,
that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself;
that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to
error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by
human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons,
free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
SECTION II. We the General Assembly of Virginia do
enact
that no man shall be compelled tofrequent or support
any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever,
nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, or shall otherwise suffer, on
account of his religious opinions or belief; but
that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument
to maintain, their opinioins in matters of reliqion,
that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or
affect their civil capacities.
SECIONIII.And though we well know that this Assembly,
elected by the people for their ordinary purposes of
legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of
succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal
to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be
irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free
to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby
asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if
any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present
or to narrow its operations, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
The game of the "Intent of the Founding Fathers" has
been a perverted one, often with religious judges,
religious spokesmen, and religious historians doing the
interpreting. Now in this series of legal columns, we will
proceed to an Atheist interpretation based not on
speculation but on objective reality

February, 1982

1/

American Atheist

(Continued

from

page

10)

comply with the Act will be in jeopardy of termination.


Other portions of the Act are arguably vague, such as the
"relatively recent" inception of the earth and life. The
evidence establishes, however, that relatively recent means
from 6,000 to 20,000 yuears, as commonly understood in
creation science literature. The meaning of this phrase, like
Section 4(a) generally, is, for purposes of the Establishment
Clause, all too clear.
V.(B)
. T.he plaintiff's other argument revolves around the alleged
infringement
by the defendants upon the academic freedom
of teachers and students. It is contended this unprecedented
intrusion in the curriculum by the State prohibits teachers
from teaching what they believe should be taught or requires
them to teach that which they do not believe is proper. The
evidence reflects that traditionally the State Department of
Education, local school boards and administration officials
exercise little, if any, influence upon the subject matter
taught by classroom teachers. Teachers have been given
freedom to teach and emphasize those portions of the
subjects the individ ual teacher considered important. The
limits to this discretion have generally been derived from the
approval of textbooks by the State Department and preparation of curriculum guides by the school districts.
Several witnesses testified that academic freedom for the
teacher means, in substance, that the individual teacher
should be permitted unlimited discretion subject only to the
bounds of professional ethics. The Court is not prepared to
adopt such a broad view of academic freedom in the public
schools.
In any event, if Act 590 is implemented, many teachers
will be required to teach material in support of creation
science which they do not consider academically sound.
Many teachers will simply forego teaching subjects which
might trigger the "balanced treatment" of aspects of Act 590
even though they think the subjects are important to a
proper presentation of a course.
Implementation
of Act 590 will have serious and untoward consequences for students, particularly those planning to attend college. Evolution is the cornerstone
of
modernbiology, and many courses in public schools contain
subject matter relating to such varied topics as the age of the
earth, geology and relationships among living things. Any
st~de~t. who is deprived of instruction as to the prevailing
scientific thought on these topics will be denied a significant
part of science education. Such deprivation through the
high school level would undoubtedly have an impact upon
the quality of education in the State's colleges and univers~ties, especially including the pre-professional and pr ofessional programs in the health sciences.
V. (C)
The defendants argue in their brief that evolution is, in
effect, a religion, and that by teaching a religion which is
contrary to some students' religious views, the State is
infringing-upon
the student's free exercise rights under the
Fir~t Amendment.
M r. Ellwanger's legislative findings,
which were adopted as a finding of fact .by the Arkansas
Legislature in Act 590, provides:

"Evolution-science
is contrary to the religious convictions or
moral values or philosophical beliefs of many students and
parents, including individuals of many different religious
faiths and with diverse moral and philosophical beliefs." Act
590, 7(d).

The defendants argue that the teaching of evolution alone


presents both a free exercise problem and an establishment
problem which can only be redressed by giving balanced
treatment to creation science, which is admittedly consistent
with some religious beliefs. This argument appears to have
its genesis in a student note written by Mr. Wendell Bird,
"Freedom of Religion and Science Instruction in Public
School," 87 Yale L.J. 515 (1978). The argument has no legal
merit.
If creation science is, in fact, science and not religion, as
the defendants claim, it is difficult to see how the teaching of
such a science could "neutralize" the religion nature of
evolution.
Assuming for the purposes of argument, however, that
evolution is a religion or religious tenet, the remedy is to stop
the teaching of evolution; not establish another religion in
opposition to it. Yet is is clearly established in the case law,
and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a
religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the
Establishment Clause, Epperson v. Arkansas, supra, Willoughby v. Stever, No. 15574-75 (D.D.C. May 18, 1973);
aff''d. 504 F.2d 271 (D.C. Circ. 1974), cert. denied, 420
924 (1975); Wright v. Houston Indep. School Dist., 366
F.Supp. 1208 (S.D. Tex. 1978), aff'd. 486 F.2d 137 (5th Cir.
1973), cert. denied 417 U.S. 969 (1974).

u.s.

V.

The defendants presented Dr. Larry Parker, a specialist in


devising curricula for public schools. He testified that the
public school's curriculum should reflect the subjects the
pu~lic wants taught in schools. The witness said that polls
indicated a significant majority of the American public
thought creation science should be taught if evolution was
taught. The point of this testimony was never placed in a
legal context. No doubt a sizeable majority of Americans
believe in the concept of a Creator or, at least, are not
opposed to the concept and see nothing wrong with teaching
school children about the idea.
. The application and content of First Amendment princlp~es .are not determined by public opinion polls or by a
majority vote. Whether the proponents of Act 590 constitute
the majority or the minority is quite irrelevant under a
constitutional system of government. No group, no matter
how large or small, may use the organs of government, of
.which the public schools are the most conspicuous
and
influential, to foist its religious beliefs on others.
The Court closes this opinion with a thought expressed
eloquently by the great Justice Frankfurter:
"We renew our conviction that 'we have staked the very
existence of our country on the faith that complete separation between the state and religion is best for the state and
best for religion." Everson v. Board of Education, 330 u.s.
at 59. Ifnowhere else, in the relation between Church and
State, 'goodfences
make good neighbors."'[sic] McCollum
v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 232 (1948).

An injunction will be entered permanently


enforcement of Act 590.
It is so ordered this January 5, 1982.

February, 1982

Austin, Texas

rv

(D)

prohibiting

Page 29

Several generals of the United States armed forces have often come
forward with statements concerned with militarism - knowing that
"business" with a perceptive depth few of us could ever hope to realize.
The statements, usually not circulated, are classics. We give you here
excerpts from a talk that General of the Army Omar N. Bradley gave at a
convocation at St. Alban's School, in Washington, on Nov. 5, 1957.

The central problem of our time - as I view it - is how to


employ human intelligence for the salvation of mankind. It is a
problem we have put upon ourselves. For we have defiled our
intellect by the creation of such scientific instruments of destruction that we are now in desperate danger of destroying
ourselves. Our plight is critical and with each effort we have made
to relieve it by further scientific advance, we have succeeded only
in aggravating our peril.
As a result, we are now speeding inexorably toward a day when
even the ingenuity of our scientists may be unable to save us from
the consequences of a single rash act or a lone reckless hand upon
the switch of an uninterceptible missile. For 12years, we've sought
to stave off this ultimate threat of disaster by devising arms which
would be both ultimate and disastrous.
This irony can probably be compounded a few more years, or
perhaps even a few decades. Missiles willbring anti-missiles, and
anti-missiles willbring anti-anti-missiles. But inevitably, this whole
electronic house of cards will reach a point where it can be
constructed no higher.
At that point we shall have to come to the peak of this whole
incredible dilemma into which the world is shoving itself. And
when that time comes, there willbe little we can do other than to
settle down uneasily, smother our fears, and attempt to live in a
thickening shadow of death.
Should this situation come to pass, we would have but one
single and thin thread to cling to. We call it rationale or reason. We
reason that no government, no single group of men -indeed, not
even one willfulindividual- would be so foolhardy, so reckless, as
to precipitate a war which would most surely end in mutual
destruction.
This reasoning may have the benefit of logic. But even logic
sometimes goes awry. How can we assume that reason willprevail
in a crisis when there is ordinarily so little reason among men? To
those who would take comfort in the likelihood of an atomic peace
to be secured solely by rationale and reason, I would recall the
lapse of reason in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
It failed before, it can fail again.
Have we already gone too far in this search for peace through
the accumulation of peril? Is there any way to halt this trend - or

must we push on with new devices until we inevitably come to


judgment before the atom? I believe there is a way out. And I
believe it because I have acquired in my lifetime a decent respect
for human intelligence.
It may be that the problems of accommodation in a world split
by rival ideologies are more difficult that those with which we have
struggled in the construction of ballistics missiles. But I believe,
too, that if we apply to these human problems the energy,
creativity, and the perseverance we have devoted to science, even
problems of accommodation willyield to reason. Admittedly, the
problem of peaceful accommodation in the world is infinitely more
difficult than the conquest of space, infinitely more complex than a
trip to the moon. But if we willonly come to the realization that it
must be worked out - whatever it may mean even to such sacred
traditions as absolute national sovereignty - I believe that we can
somehow, somewhere, and perhaps through some as yet undiscovered world thinker and leader find a workable solution.
I confess that this is a much an article of faith as it is an
expression of reason. But this is what we need, faith in our ability
to do what must be done. Without that faith we shall never get
started. And until we get started, we shall never know what can be
done.
If I am sometimes discouraged, it is not by the magnitude of the
problem, but by our colossal indifference to it. I am unable to
understand why - ifwe are willingto trust in reason as a restraint
on the use of a ready-made ready-to-fire bomb - we do not make
greater, more diligent and more imaginative use of reason and
human intelligence in seeking an accord and compromise which
willmake it possible for mankind to control the atom and banish it
as an instrument of war.
This is the real and - indeed - the most strenuous challenge to
man's intellect today. By comparison with it, the conquest of space
is of small significance. For until we learn how to live together, until
we rid ourselves of the strife that mocks our pretensions of
civilization, our adventures in science - instead of producing
human progress - willcontinue to crowd it with greater peril.
We can compete with Sputnik [Sputniks I and II had been
launched on Oct. 4 and Nov. 2,1957] and probably create bigger
and better Sputniks of our own. But what are we doing to prevent
Sputnik from evolving into just one more weapons.system? And
when are we going to muster an intelligence equal to that applied
against the Sputnik and dedicate it to the preservation of this
Satellite on which we live?
When does humanity run out?

IIDITkIL~THE~k
1JTHIlEIT'1JAmerican Atheist Center, Austin, Texas
IIDITkILklr\!f k'1JIHllEIT'1J CHAPTERS OF AMERICAN ATHEISTS
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
LosAngeles, California
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Denver, Colorado
South Florida'
Tampa Bay, Florida
Atlanta. Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Evansville, Indiana
Lexington, Kentucky
Boston, Massachusetts
Detroit. Michigan
Page 30

(602)
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899-7411
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February, 1982

(512) 458-5731
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American Atheist

Wffiw~~~(~ lYOO~w~~rnJ~~ffiw
Wffiw~ffiw~ m rn~ OOEw[IDrnJ~
1Y WrnJw ~~~~
IN TI~J~~THESE TWO GREAT ATHEISTS SAID:
"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in
happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death,
because we cannotforget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings,
to human beings: Remember your humanity andforget the rest. If
you can do so, the way lies open to a new paradise; if you cannot,
there lies before you the risk of universal death.
"In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons
will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the
continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the
world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purposes
cannot befurthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently,
to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute
between them." (From the Einstein-Russell Manifesto, signed by Max Born,

Bertrand Russell

P.W.Bridgman, Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld, J.F. Joliot-Curie, H.J. Muller, Linus
Pauling, C.F. Powell, Joseph Rotblat, Bertrand Russell, Hideki Yukawa, and
others.)

Albert Einstein

Einstein's "Time Capsule" message to future generations


and civilizations interred at the 1939 New York World's
Fair:
"Our time is rich in inventive minds, the inventions of which could
facilitate our lives considerably. We are crossing the seas by power and
utilize power also in order to relieve humanity from all tiring muscular
work. We have learned to fly and we are able to send messages and
news without any difficulty over the entire world through electric
waves.
"However, the production
and distribution of commodities
is
entirely unorganized so that everybody must live in fear of being
eliminated from the economic cycle, in this way suffering for the want
of everything. Furthermore, people living in different countries kill
. each other at irregular time intervals, so that also for this reason
anyone who thinks about the future must live infear and terror. This is
due to the fact that the intelligence and character of the masses are
incomparably lower than the intelligence and character of the few who
produce something valuable for the community.
"1 trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of
proud and justified superiority."

redress of grievances . AMENDMENT

I Congress shall make


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It is from heaven that the chains have come to fetter


the minds of mortals. Why is the mohammedan
everywhere a slave? It is because his prophet subdued
him in the name of the deity. In all parts of the world
we see that priests were the first law-givers and the
first sovereigns of the savages whom they governed.
Religion seems to have been invented but to exalt
princes above their nations, and to deliver the people
to their discretion. As soon as the latter find
themselves unhappy here below, they are silenced by
menacing them with god's wrath: their eyes are fixed
on heaven, in order to prevent them from perceiving
the real causes of their sufferings and from applying
the remedies which nature offers them.

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-Jean Meslier
Superstition in All Ages

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