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THE

AMERICAN ATHEIST

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

),

(VoI.25, No.4) April, 1983

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IN HIS EASTER BONNET


WITH ALL THE THORNS UPON IT

19

1963

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.
Atheism-may be defined as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and
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 is capable of creating
social system based on reason and justice. Materialism's "faith" is in
man and man's ability to transform the world culture by his own efforts. This is a commitment which is in very
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 .

~*
AMERICAN ATHEISTS

P.O.BOX 2117

AUSTIN, TX 78768-2117

Send $40 for one year's membership. You will receive our "Insider's Newsletter" monthly.
your membership certificate and card. and a one year subscription to this magazine.

(Vol. 25, No.4) April, 1983


REGULAR FEATURES
Editorial: An Atheist's "Fairy Tale"
American Atheist Radio Series: What Makes Easter Move
American Atheist Radio Series: The Zodiac and Religion
Dial-an-Atheist

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FEATURED COLUMNISTS
The Origin of Easter - Merrill Holste
Fool's Gold - Gerald Tholen
Handmaidens of God - Margaret Bhatty
Letters to Ann Landers - Jeff Frankel

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ARTICLES
Focus on Atheists: Christian Bias in Textooks
-

by Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Passover: The Egyptian Holocaust


- by Madalyn Murray O'Hair
11
Man and His Imagination - Hansel Harper
15
Prison Atheist League of America Challenges Religious Influence in
America's Prisons - by Robert Zauner
18
Penance: The Prison Stultification of the Mind
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by Madalyn Murray O'Hair

21

Jesus Christ Never Existed - by James Erickson


Insects Zap Astrologists - by Charles Q. Bufe
The Real Threat of Nuclear War
-

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Rear Admiral Gene R. LaRocque

MEMORIAL
Robert Harold Scott - Pioneer Atheist

16

POEMS
There - Robin Eileen Murray O'Hair
Spring - Robin Eileen Murray O'Hair
All For The Want of Proof - Ralph Shirley
Editor-in-Chief
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Poetry
Robin Murray O'Hair
Angeline Bennett
Gerald Tholen
Production Staff
Art Brenner
BillKight
Richard Smith
Gerald Tholen
G loria Tholen
Lex Stevens
Non-Resident Staff
G. Stanley Brown
Jeff Frankel
Merrill Holste
Margaret Bhatty
Fred Woodworth
Clayton Powers

Austin, Texas

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The American Atheist magazine is published monthly at the Gustav Broukal American Atheist Press, 2210 Hancock Dr., Austin, TX 78756, and 1982 by Society of
Separationists, Inc., a non-profit, non-political, educational organization dedicated to
the complete and absolute separation of
state and church. Mailing address: P.O. Box
2117/ Austin, TX 78768-2117. A free subscription is provided as an incident of membership in the 'American Atheists organization. Subscriptions are available at $25. for
one year terms only. Manuscripts submitted
must be typed, double-spaced and accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. The editors assume no responsibility
for unsolicited manuscripts.
The American Atheist magazine
is indexed in
Monthly Periodical Index
ISSN: 0332-4310

April,1983

ON THE COVER
For nearly 2000 years now "eggheaded" cultists have been trying
to make their easter/jesus
fairytale float. That's what I call hardboiled persistence! And, although
the crux of their nonsense - something they call the resurrection seems to be faltering badly, they
have devised a juvenile level plan
centering on brightly colored hen
fruit, candy, and other assorted
goodies. With this more appetizing
approach it is easier to entice the
simple-minded.
I would suggest that to make the
story even more believable they
should have chosen a reptilian egg
instead. This would seem to more
suitably coincide with the mentality of the group with whom they
desire to relate. I can, however,
understand the hidden significance of their selection of the
more conventional chicken egg.
The entire farce began with the
religious chicken-thief acquisition
of an historical spring event. They
stole our vernal equinox!
I suppose we should have expected as much from fundamentalists who have always lacked
originality. Since their' inception
they have "permanently
borrowed" every aspect of their mythology. The whole sordid mess
holds a kind of tragic humor. Their
infamous journey from krishna to
chicken thief spans centuries of
insane cruelty to humankind. They
now want to attach to it cute little
bunnies and colorful gadgetry.
At any rate we would all do well
to prepare ourselves for this "second coming" of ignorancel You
know how wild-eyed these people
become during their pagan-like
festivals.
G. Tholen

Page 1

Jon Garth Murra~

.~~4
.

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A': \~11'~,~
AN ATHEIST "FAIRY TALE"
I would like to tell a little story this month to Atheist one
and all. Once upon a time in the Eastern woodlands of
America there was a very historic and very conservative
state. The name of the state was Tennessee. Now at one
time long long ago the elders of this very pretty state
decided that they would like to have a constitution. This was
a very long, big and important paper that set forth all of the
rights and privileges of all the citizens who dwelt in
Tennessee. A part of that constitution was not like all the
other parts, though. All the other parts of the great paper
gave many rights to the citizens, but this part took a right
away from some of them. It said, "No person who denies the
being of god, or a future state of rewards and punishments
shall hold any office in the civil department of this State."
(Article IX, Sec. 2)
'Now most of the kindly hard working citizens of the state
thought nothing of this part of the great new list of rights.
They had all believed in god all their lives and did not know
anyone who did not believe. "Someone
who does not
believe in god! Oh, how silly. No one like that lives in our
pretty little state," they thought. But ah!, over in the deep
dark woods in the southern part of the great state of
Tennessee there dwelt a big tall handsome man, sir Harold
of Church. Sir Harold lived in a big castle in the little village
of Columbia. Rumor had it around the village that a firebreathing dragon lived under sir Harold's house and that he
used the fire from its nostrils to roast little christian children
he caught on their way home from school when they
wandered near his castle. Everyone in the village knew that
he was an Atheist. No one knew exactly what an Atheist
was for sure, but they remembered their grandfathers' old
tales about how wicked and naughty they were. They had all
been told around their hearths at night to be good little boys
and girls and go to the church down the lane whenever the
kindly vicar rang the big bell lest they become like sir
Harold. They knew that the "Church" in his title was meant
to fool them and lure them to his web like a wily spider.
Well, one day sir Harold found out about the part of the
great state paper of rights that denied him one of his rights
when it gave the others of the village so many. So sir Harold
went far far away to the far off state of Texas where the
queen of the Atheists lived. Everyone in the village knew of
this and trembled in fear for they had heard of this land of
Texas down at the south edge of the land where the world
dropped off over the edge. That is where the evil Atheist
queen lived in a cave with her henchmen. So sir Harold
back from Texas with evil spells brewed up by the wicked
queen Madalyn of Hair and her black-eyed evil son, Jon,
duke of Murray, and tricked the goodly elders of the great
state of Tennessee into changing that part of the great
Page 2

April, 1983

/ \ :~~

paper of rights so that people like sir Harold could hold


office.
"A wicked, evil, nasty Atheist hold office in our nice little
state of Tennessee? Ohl Woe is me." said the members of
the village to each other. Sad as it was, it was true. Well, the
leaders of sir Harold's village were not going to give up
without a fight and neither were the leaders of other villages
and towns and cities all over the great state of Tennessee.
They all gathered together and put pressure on their elected
representatives
in the great wise legislature of the state
whose job it had been all these many years to sit in judgment
on the great long paper of rights and uphold and defend it
against all the enemies of the state. The people from far and
near cried out, "we must save our children from the wicked
Atheists. We must armor them against Atheism with a
shield that they can use against those like sir Harold who
may leap out of the woods at any time to gobble them up,"
they said.
It was then that one of the kind, old and wise senators
proposed a bill in the legislature that would require all the
teachers in the little red school houses in all of Tennessee to
make all the children have a minute of classroom silence to
be spent in "prayer or meditation" each day. In that way
each child could recharge his little shield of faith around him
each morning in school so that they could ward off any of
the nasty, dirty Atheists that might try to gobble them up or
fool them to leave the path on the way home. The Senate of
the great state of Tennessee voted and passed the bill, and
so did the younger and less wise house, and the good
governor signed it into law. "Hurrah!" the people shouted
with glee. "Our children are saved from the Atheists." But, it
was not to be so.
Along came the knights of the ACLU. They had been
known in the past to fight for the wicked. No one quite knew
why, that was just their job. They swooped down on a poor
old federal judge who had been placed in Tennessee by the
great president far far away who lives in a great white castle
and looks after all the people in many states and who is
all-wise. They badgered that poor old judge until he could
not take it anymore, as was their style as they had ganged
up on poor unexpecting judges before, and he gave in and
said that the new law was unconstitutional.
One of the
reasons the judge gave was that the legislature had spent so
much time arguing loud and long over the wording of the bill
that it was obvious that they intended to establish prayer in
the school houses. The great mysterious Constitution of
the United States that had been given, so the tales told, to
the wise President in the "before time" (the time before the
state of Tennessee was at all) had some words in it against
the establishment
of religion in all the land. The people
The American Atheist

thought that this part of that mysterious Constitution from


the "before time" had been forgotten. The saga had been
told from generation to generation that the fathers of all the
land to the edge of the world had put together this great
document with the aid of god almighty himself. The purpose
of this great document, the sagas said, was to preserve the
relationship between men and god and never let men go
astray. The part about establishment of religion was there
because the fathers of all the land did not want any of the
bad people like sir Harold or the wicked queen Madalyn to
come to the schools disguised in the mask of a "secular
humanist" and beguile the little children into the path of
Atheism. So they thought, in the before time, that they
would ban all religion from school so that the children could
learn the true faith from their kindly village vicars and not be
tricked in the school house by any Atheists in sheep's
clothing masquerading as secular humanists.
The wise men of this time in Tennessee thought that such
a thing must be changed now, however. In the before time
the fathers of all the land had not been tricked by the likes of
sir Harold and queen Madalyn to change their great paper
of rights. The wise men of Tennessee had been tricked and
now they had to make amends.

One Senator did not vote for the silence with all the rest.
He was the Senator from the village of Murfreesboro. He
said that he didn't think it was a proper function of the
Senate of the great state of Tennessee to meddle with the
law of the land given by the fathers in the before time. The
papers all over the state printed this Senator's name in big
fat letters on the front page so that all the citizens would
know that he did not stand with them in their hour of need.
They would make him sorry later on, they vowed.
After the Senate had passed the billfor the little children,
the House, which is younger and a little less wise, had to
vote on it, too. The House voted 89 to 6 to go along with the
older wiser Senate. The papers did the same thing with
those six bad Representatives that they had done with the

'///1

1-/

So, the good Senator from the village of Camden


changed the bill made 'to protect the children just a little so
that it now called for the teachers in each little school house
in the great state of Tennessee to make all the children in
each classroom have a "minute-of-silence" each day. All of
the good little children of Tennessee would know what to do
during that minute to recharge their little shields against the
Atheists. Their parents would whisper to them what to do
so that the old judge that had been fooled by the knights of
the ACLU could not hear. In a like manner the wise men of
the Senate passed the new bill with no discussion this time
so as not to draw the wrath of the knights of the ACLU
down on the poor old judge.
Austin, Texas

one wayward Senator. They put their names in big big


letters out for everyone to see. Out of the six Representatives who voted against the minute-of-silence for the
children, two of them were extra naughty. Representative
Cobb from the city of Nashville and Representative Bragg
from the village of Murfreesboro were the two extra
naughty ones. Remember that Murfreesboro is the same
village that the bad Senator was from. That village would
have to be shown a thing or two by the other villages and
towns because its Representatives were no good and did

April,1983

Page 3

not care about the little children. Cobb suggested to the


other members of the house that they make the new law
read so that teachers could be punished under the civil laws
if they attempted
to influence their students'
thoughts
instead of just keeping them silent for a moment. All the
other good House members saw that this was a trick right
away and voted against it. They knew that if the wording
was changed the way the wayward Cobb wanted, that no
one would vote for the minute of silence because they would
be afraid of hurting the kindly teachers who are good to all
the little boys and girls of the state. And besides, and golly
gee, everyone knows that teachers are never wrong. "How
could someone suggest that teachers would influence their
students' thoughts?" That was a mean thing to say about
the loving teachers of the great state of Tennessee. Bragg
suggested two changes in the wording of the good minuteof-silence bill. One was to allow the teachers to keep the
children in a period of silence for up to an hour each day.
Oh! How terrible. "Our kindly teachers would not do such a
thing," said the other House members and voted that
suggestion down. The other one of Bragg's suggestions was
for the bill to require a moment of silence in homes and
businesses as well as for the children in each little red school
house. The other House members knew that that was a
fiendish thing that would anger all the mommies and
daddies who would have to interrupt their busy work times
each day for something that they did in church on their day
of rest each Sunday. Perish the thought that the House
members would do anything that the mommies and daddies
who elected them may not like. So the other House
members voted that suggestion down, too.
Now all that remains is for the Governor to sign the new
law into force and all of the children of the great state of
Tennessee will be saved from the nasty Atheists like sir
Harold of Church for ever and ever and ever.
Meanwhile the woods and closets of Tennessee were full
of sinister, piercing little sets of eyeballs staring out of the
dark, menacingly taking in all the commotion surrounding
sir Harold and the children. To whom do these eyes belong?
Why, they are the other Atheists. They all agreed with sir
Harold and the wicked queen Madalyn from the South. but
they dare not show themselves or come out of the closet,
for should they be revealed, the same fate may befall them
as has befallen sir Harold. What was this horrible fate? They
would become part of the dreaded unloved of the state. No
one would invite them over for tea. Their children would
never laugh again or play in the sunshine. The daddies
would be kicked out of the Moose lodge and never again be
allowed to use the secret handshake.
Tliey would be
mocked in the village square and everyone would whisper,
"Look, there goes one of those people who think. They use
their heads instead of their hearts to guide them through
life. Oh! how hard their lives must be!"
All of the other Atheists did not understand
that sir
Harold did that, because he was very happy and free and full
of joy. He read and thought of many things and explored
many things of which the other people in the village were
afraid or which their vicar told them were bad. He never
thought of any of his actions as "sins" or repenting for them.
Sir Harold could do as he pleased without needing to figure
out if something was or was not a "sin." He was not really so
bad as any of the other villagers made out and the smoke
from underneath his house was not a dragon at all but just
Page 4

April, 1983

an old leaky furnace. He had never really eaten any


children. Those bones they saw him with one day were from
his interest in the early men that lived on the land way back
before the fathers of the land, before the before time. He
knew that people had been around back then too, and he
studied them - unlike the other villagers who thought that
the world was only a few thousand years old. Sir Harold
read and explored the lands past the end of the earth. The
other villagers would not even think of such a thing.
The moral of this story is that if all those piercing little sets
of eyeballs in the closet had come out to help sir Harold
anywhere along the line, he could have made all the people
of the village happy on the inside too like he was instead of
just being happy on the outside and full of fear and
trepidation about what they did not understand
on the
inside. The whole village could have been a happier place to
live, inside and out, and all the villagers could have lived
together in true happiness for ever after. Instead of that,
they stayed in the closet and allowed themselves
to
continue to be part of the "unloved" and to be counted
among the "unthinking." In that manner they created their
own unhappiness
and condemned
themselves and their
children and their children's children to life in the closet for
ever and ever.

There
Sometimes I daydream a little
And see a land of trees
Floating feather-like in a breeze,
Where daffodils and yellow roses
Bloom while the birds awake from their dozes
And sweeten the air with their melodies.
There everything is like the trees,
Floating, drifting easily.
The birds glide, the time slides,
And nothing, nothing collides.
Everything is matching
And happiness is catching.
There friends are friends regardless
Of time, or place, or this, or that,
Are always ready to stop and chat,
And never, never disturbing,
And would be there before the need's arriving But there the need never comes.
There lovers are not teasing and squeezing
One's feelings and freedom to death.
Instead the breeze carries love's sweeth breath
And a lover's hand enclosing one's own brings
Stars' twinkling brilliance, not night's darkenings.
And lovers' tears do not drown the land.
There the everyday chasms and cliffs
Do not exist, though there are rolling hills,
Nor do illnesses or the bitter pills
That come so often here.
Friends, lovers, and life are always dear.
And it's nothing like here.
Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair

The American Atheist

.10CU5 on atbti5t5

we won't take it anrmere!

CHRISTIAN BIAS IN TEXTBOOKS


Madalyn Murray O'Hair
The regressive thrusts of the theists in our nation
proceed in the dark corridors of the christian "hearts"
which would return, if they could, to medievalism. And,
those christians in positions of power utilize the inept and
the unknowing in their schemes for christian dominance.
Take Texas, which is the second largest purchaser of public
school textbooks in the nation - California being, of
course, the first. In 1982 new book titles cost Texas $60.5
million. With orders in this magnitude Texas can force
textbook publishers to do its bidding.
Unfortunately, the Texas State Board of Education is
headed up by a particularly virulent christian who does not
care to be exposed in his machinations. Therefore he has,
over the years, stage-managed two puppet, semi-literate,
rabid fundamentalists - a retired, other-side-of-the-track,
ma & pa team to dominate the textbook selection hearings
with their whinings for christ. This pair, with offensive
badgering and media attention, has been the screen behind
which gross attacks have been made against science,
education, and reason. And, as Texas goes, so goes the
nation, in textbook selections. What your child reads in a
textbook in Mansfield, Ohio is determined extensively by
Norma and Mel in Austin, Texas. In actuality, it is determined by the Chairman of the Texas State Board of
Education who has accepted jesus christ as his "personal
savior and mentor."

States in their effort to inhibit the teaching of science in


primary and secondary public schools. Because the Texas
market is so big, the publishers rewrite science and other
textbooks to come into compliance with the demands of the
Texas textbook selections requirements, thus forcing religious ideologies on all students throughout the nation.
And since many textbook selection committees operate
in many states on negative selection principles, Texas'
choice is reinforced downward. In Texas until this year, only
those who objected to textbooks, or materials in textbooks,
could give input to the selection process - and that in
protracted procedures culminating in a session of oral
argument before the Board of Education, in which the
puppets Mel and Norma star. From their fame acquired in
this charade Mel and Norma have been called into other
states to "review" textbooks and to lay down the frameworks of complaints and enhance the methodology of the
attacks with the flavor of christian fundamentalists.
And this they did in Colorado. In that state, in April 1976,
a member of the House of Representatives suddenly came
up with the idea of presenting a list of books to the Colorado
Congress which he wanted to ban from the states's public
schools. With "moral support" and assistance from Mel and
Norma, the Representative enabled religious groups to
display in the state Capitol building the books they thought
should be banned from public schools.

"Our point is that no book should be banned, and no book should be burned. Ifthere
is, however, going to be a 'moral standard' for banning, then the bible should be
banned as well."
And in 1974Texas adopted an "anti-evolution" rule which
the President of the Texas Council for Science saw would
set back the teaching of biology nationwide. The antievolution rule basically was that biology textbooks could
not teach evolution as a fact but must treat it as one theory
only, with biblical creation holding equal "scientific" dignity
as an alternate theory.
The President of the Texas Council for Science also saw
Norma and Mel as "the most effective textbook censors in
the country" However, they were, in fact, only what the
Texas Board of Education permitted them to be: scapegoats for the onus which should have properly been on the
Board. The Texas Board of Education actually has been the
greatest weapon of fundamentalist christians in the United
Austin, Texas

But little did they know that the Denver, Colorado


chapter of American Atheists was a militant one. And,
before the fundamentalist display was over, Bill Talley,
chapter director, had mounted his appeal to include the
bible in the list of banned books if any books were to be
banned. Mounting a marathon session of bible reading, at a
well-known lounge and beer parlor, Bill Talley and his
American Atheist Chapter cohorts read lewd, licentious
and vile verses from the bible far far into the night as
television cameras, radio mikes and popping flash cameras
of the media enjoyed the spectacle. As stories of rape,
incest, sodomy, sadism, brutality, homicide, genocide,
family murder, greed, lust, foul word utterances, excretaeatings, genital-whackings and other gross obscenities

April,1983

PageS

rolled out of the readings, BillTalley explained:


"Our point is that no book should be banned, and
no book should be burned. If there is, however, going
to be a 'moral standard' for banning, then the bible
should be banned as well."
Curiously, the efforts of the representative stopped there.
Then, some months later, in November, 1982, the
Jefferson County (Denver) School District suddenly found
itself confronted with an organization which called itself
CUPS (Committee to Uprgrade Public Schools). The
christian fundamentalist group challenged five school
books which they claimed were "Godless" and promoted
the tenets of secular humanism.
Again, Bill Talley was all over the fundamentalists, the
school district and the media. After extensive battle planning with the American Atheist Center, Bill counterattacked with one of the best ideas that has ever come out
the Atheist cause. He decided that Atheists should counter
the entire christian fundamentalist book censorship drive
with the more positive, more pro-education, pro-science
retaliation of cleaning out the christian bias in textbooks.
Gathering the stalwarts of the Denver Chapter of American Atheists, Bill Talley, its Director, began the task of
reading every textbook which had been chosen for inclusion in the Jefferson County (Denver) School District. In
Denver, as elsewhere, a special library of such books are
available for parental (and public) review. Bill notified the
Superintendent of his intentions to conduct a wide-ranging
review to see if the textbooks and teachers' guides used in
the school systems were violative of the imperative of the
First Amendment of the Constitution of the US to keep

Houghton-Mifflin Co.
Lippincott's book stated as history that "... christianity
was founded by jesus christ almost 2,000 years ago." and
that "... jesus rose from the dead ... " (The Human
Expression,

A History of Peoples and Cultures)

Scott Foresman's Living World History, (1980, 5th Ed.)


stated flatly that" ... jesus christ was crucified ... " and then
"... reappeared after the crucifixion."
Houghton Mifflin's Unfinished Journey, A World History
insisted on the (miraculous) birth and life of christ as an
historical fact.
McGraw-Hill's book Your Marriage and Family Living
boasted chapters on "Religion in the Control of Negative
Emotions" and "Religion in Action." In the text all quality of
life was associated with the morality of religious values.
Mel and Norma were both horrified and astonished at the
Atheist counteroffensive, and Mel whined to the press that
he, representing christian fundamentalists, believed that
public school textbooks should reflect judeo-christian
teachings.
Meanwhile, Bill Talley and his committee continued to
read and continued to point out violations by volume, page,
and paragraph in more and more texts. The first payoff for
the Atheists' efforts came on March 2nd, 1983. On that date
BillTalley was notified that Jefferson County public school
teachers will be notified that some books used by the
district do contain a religious bias. A ten-member committee of teachers, parents and administrators concurred with
Bill Talley and the Denver Chapter of American Atheists
that two (2) of fifteen (15) books cited as pro-religious were
indeed so. The teachers were to be informed of the bias and

"Scott Foresman's Living World History, ... stated flatly that' ... jesus christ was
crucified ... "and then "... reappeared after the crucifixion."
state and church separate. He pointed out the Colorado
constitutional provision which prohibits the promotion of
religion or the showing of favoritism toward one religion
over another.
Bill hardly expected the reception his ideas would have.
Tactically learned in the best methods to handle hostility, he
was prepared, but not for the results. School personnel, the
media, the community, were not alone receptive of the idea
but cordial to it. There was almost a mass sigh of relief that
finally an effective counter had been found to beat back the
inroads into education of the total insanity being pressured
into the public schools system by evangelical religious
fanatics. Media coverage was excellent.
And, as Bill and his fellow Atheists on the American
Atheist Textbook Inquiry Committe, Bob and Edith Fenn,
Charles Pique, David Hofer, and Gale Schreier, moved in to
review the books, they were properly shocked by the
blatant and outrageous intrusions of the christian belief
system in the history, political science and sociology books.
Violations of both Colorado and US constitutional provisions to safeguard state/church separation were flagrant.
Laudatory interpretations of religion in history, replacement of biblical myth for researched historical verities, and
emphasis on miracles abounded in three particular history
books, issued by the allegedly reputable textbook publishers, Scott Foresman & Co., J.B. Lippincott, and
Page 6

April,1983

it was agreed that new editions of the two texts would


undergo review before they would be purchased in the
future. The committee found that the Houghton-Mifflin
book, Unfinished Journey, A World History, which "presented material about jesus" as fact and without qualification" was a text which was "catechetical rather than
historical." Your Marriage and Family was found by the
committee to fail to support its claims about the role of
religion in successful marriage.
All is not, however, pie in the sky, for the several books
dealing with jesus "rising from the dead" remained. Also the
committee took no action on a biology book that deals with
creationism. Talley had charged that any scientific biology
book should properly refute the theory of creationism
rather than explore it with deference. The committee,
however, found a discussion of creationism in the science
book to be "objective" and helpful in placing "evolution in
historical perspective."
Meanwhile the complaints of the christian fundamentalists were completely rejected, which resulted in CUPS
charging the school district with "caving in" to a powerful
minority group - American Atheists.
It was an enormous symbolic victory for Atheists. Until
1983 and BillTalley, our complaints had been ignored. But,
now the nose of the camei is under the tent. And, what is in
cont'd

on page

14

The American Atheist

Merrill Holste

THE ORIGIN OF EASTER

Easter is the chief festival of the christian religion. It is


supposed to commemorate the greatest event in world
history - the resurrection of the son of god after being dead
for three days. There were many historians writing in those
days, and it is strange that such an important event went
unrecorded, an event accompanied by such spectacular
miracles that they must have been known to everyone living
at that time. The only exception is a brief notice in Josephus
and a couple of other writers. But, these are obvious clumsy
interpolations by unknown persons who were trying to
manufacture some evidence for the origin of their new
religion. The christian religion is a mixed up conglomeration
of elements, a fusion of elements gleaned from the pagan
religions in the surrounding lands.
In this connection, I found an interesting item in a book
written by Dr. E.A. Wallis Budge with the title of Osiris, The
Egyptian Religion of Resurrection. I quote: "In some
oriental christian systems the prophets, apostles, martyrs,
and many great saints occupy in the celestial hierarchy
positions identical with those of the gods in the Egyptian
religion." There you have a statement by a noted scholar,
the late keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in
the British Museum. This statement supports the position I
have always held, that the christian religion is merely a
made-up religion, made up from elements borrowed from
other pagan religions.
Easter, as an annual festival, is mentioned in only one
place in my king James bible at acts 12:4 where it speaks of
Herod imprisoning peter,intending to release him to the
people after easter. But this is an obvious error on the part
of the translator of the king James version because other
bibles such as Smith & Goodspeed, the revised versions,
the jehovah witness, and the roman catholic douay all use
the word, "passover," at this place for this annual spring
festival.
Originally, christians observed no holy days of any kind
- no birthdays, no anniversaries. The apostle paul wrote in
his letter to the Galatians at chapter 4: 10-11, "Ye observe
days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you,
lest I have bestowed my labors in vain." And to the
Colossians he wrote at chapter 2:16-17, "Let no man
therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect to any
holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days." He
wrote to the Romans at 14:5 ("One man esteemeth one day
above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let
every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.") in a similar
manner.
Austin, Texas

April, 1983

Page 7

So, why is the easter festival held at the time of the spring
equinox by christians now? Solstice festivals were celebrated throughout the pagan world for thousands of years
before the christian era ever began. Our word, easter,
comes from the Germanic languages, forerunners of our
English. It is eostre, eoster or ostara in the Anglo-Saxon; it is
ostern in the German where it was the celebration for the
coming of spring. Why did the christians adapt their
passover to the mode of celebration used by the pagans?
The missionaries and preachers who were trying to convert
the pagans found that these people insisted upon continuing in celebrating their joyous spring festival. And, if the
missionaries were to be successful in attracting the pagans
to their rather somber and joyless religion, they found that
they had to adopt these pagan festivals in order to gain
converts from among the pagans. The missionaries felt that
by adopting they could sanctify the pagan celebration of the
vernal equinox by adding to it their brand of christian
verbiage.

Sunday after the paschal full moon. That means it was one
week after the first full moon occurring on March 21, or the
first full moon after that date. This method of determining
the date of easter seems to me to be a queer way to
determine the day that is supposed to mark the world's
greatest historical event, an event which could have happened on anyone of the 365 - if it ever did occur. The
moveableness of this day is clear indication that the actual
date of the event is unknown, and that it is tied to ancient
moon-goddess worship combined with sun-god worship.
The adoption of the pagan celebration of spring in its
present modification as a christian festival came about at a
very late date. The earliest christians celebrated the spring
equinox much as the jews celebrated their passover. The
early christian crosses were represented with a lamb or a
young sheep as the sacrificial object. The cross arm of their
cross was at an acute angle so that it would represent the
crossing of the equatorial circle by the ecliptical circle as it
was represented then on armillary spheres and still is today.

"Ourword, easter, comes from the Germanic languages, forerunners of our English.
It is eostre, eoster or ostara in the Anglo Saxon; it is ostern in the German where it
was the celebration for the coming of the spring."
The early christians were a sect of the jewish religion and
celebrated the easter passover as the jews did. This
passover was an annual religious feast celebrated on the
evening of the 14th of nisan, the beginning of the jewish new
year, and continued to the 22nd of nisan. The passover was
an annual festival of the jewish religion instituted, according
to exodus 12, to commemorate the sparing of the Israelites
in Egypt at the time their god was so angry with the
Egyptians that he decided to kill all the firstborn of the
Egyptians. The Israelite god, via his earthly agent, the
priestly dictator moses, ordered the Israelites to make a
blood sacrifice. They were ordered to select a yearling lamb,
a male without blemish, from the sheep or goats on the
tenth day of the month, nisan. The order was to kill this
lamb as a sacrifice on the 14th day in the evening. They were
to make this day the beginning of their new year from that
time on. They were to eat this lamb roasted, not raw or
boiled. It was to be roasted with fire, head and legs with the
purtenances thereof, and "that which remaineth of it until
the morning ye shall burn with fire....
It is the lord's
passover." (exod. 12:1O-11). Passover for the jews begins
this year on March 29th, the required number of days after
the vernal equinox. The Israelites were ordered to mark
their doorposts and lintel with the blood of this sacrificial
lamb so that moses' god could discern the Israelite houses
from the Egyptian houses. The Israelite god's anger was so
great that he was going to pass throughout all Egypt and
slay all the firstborn of man and animals. I note that this
supposedly "omniscient" god was unable to discern the
Israelite houses from the Egyptian. Is that a sign of
omniscience?
Our easter is derived from the ancient Hebrew and pagan
solar-lunar spring festival that marked the vernal equinox.
This fact is amply indicated by the manner in which our
easter day has customarily been determined. The date of
easter has long been determined by the gregorian system of
calculation. Under this system, easter day was to be the first
Page 8

April,1983

The early christian cross is seen on Figure 1. This cross was


used by the christians tillthe year 680. In that year the sixth
ecumenical council was held at Constantinople where it was
decided that from that time on the figure of a man was to be
represented on the cross instead of the customary lamb as
the agency that removes "sin" from the world. In john 1:29,
john the baptist said upon seeing jesus, "Behold, the lamb of
god which taketh away the sin of the world."

figure

1.

There is an astronomical phenomenon going on constantly which the ancients observed but did not understand. It is
known as the precession of the equinoxes. Because the
earth wobbles on its axis like a top running down, the point
at which the sun crosses the equatorial circle at the vernal
equinox precesses; in other words it is slightly behind the
point it crossed in the previous year. In 70 years the
precession amounts to one whole degree. In about 2,000
years the sun crosses the equatorial circle in an entirely
different sign of the zodiac. Many myths grew up that were
the result of the ancients' attempt to explain this strange
occurrence.
Many myths and fables have grown up about the sun god,
by whatever name he was known, having gone down to a
the American Atheist

hades, to a prison, to a term of servitude, imprisonment;


and that object, or sign of the zodiac, whatever it might be
- bull-god, ram-god, fish-god, or whatever - was responsible for rescuing or saving the chief god from his period of
wintertime weakness or servitude. Thus, the fable of the
messiah arose.
Some years before the advent of the new religion called
christianity, the precession of the equinoxes had caused the
sun to begin rising in the zodiacal sign of pisces, the sign of
the two fishes. The people had expected the appearance of
a savior, or "messiah," and such a personage was long
overdue. The jewish people were under foreign domination
at this time and had fondly and expectantly hoped for such a
leader, or savior, to relieve them from Roman domination.
In the book of daniel at 9:25-26 ("Know therefore and
understand, that from the going forth of the commandment
to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the messiah the
prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous
times. And after threescore and two weeks shall messiah be
cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that
shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the
end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war
desolations are determined.") we read of a prophecy of the
coming of a messiah who would come forth to restore and
rebuild Jerusalem. In the new testament book of john at
1:25-27 ("And they asked him, and said unto him, 'Why
baptizest thou then, if thou be not that christ, nor elias,
neither that prophet?' John answered them, saying, 'I
baptize with water: but there standeth one among you,
whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is
preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy
to unloose.' ") and 4:25-26 ("The woman saith unto him, 'I
know that messias cometh, which is called christ: when he is
come, he willtell us all things.' Jesus saith unto her, 'I that
speak unto thee.am he.' "), we are told that the christians
had thought they had found such a messiah in the person of
one jesus. Of course, this jesus was a hypothetical or
mythological personage, one built up by practitioners of
priestcraft, a person who never existed. We have concluded jesus and all other messiahs are figments of the
imagination.

equinoxes had caused the vernal equinox to occur in the


zodiacal sign of aries, the ram. The religions then changed
to that of the ram-god, or the rescuer of the sun from his
winter weakness or servitude. It was at this time that the
Hebrews acquired their religious regard for the ram, or the
sheep. It is not because of the mythical incident related in
the old testament in which god was supposed to have
tempted abraham to sacrifice his son, isaac, as a burnt
offering. We are told how abraham prepared for this
sacrifice, but was stopped when god provided a ram as
substitute. The Hebrews had adopted the ram worship long
before. They made up the sacrifice myth at a later date
when the real reason for sheep worship was forgotten.
The christians, being originally a sect of the jewish
religion, had at first adopted the sheep, or lamb as their
savior image. The lamb was used because of the command
in the bible to use a lamb of the first year that had no blemish
for their sacrifice.
But the vernal equinox had begun occurring in the
zodiacal sign of pisces, the two fishes, some time before the
supposed time of christ. Christ has been associated with the
fish, which is a universal savior symbol. The hindus

c__
:><

figure

2.

represented the first avatar of vishnu as half fish, half man.


In the talmud, the expected messiah is called dag, the fish.
The Phoenician and Philistine dagon, the Chaldean oannes,
and the Greek phoibos were all fish-men. The fisherman's
ring is still worn by the pope in Rome. Jesus, like jonah, is a
fish-man as attested by the "miracles" he was supposed to
have performed. Jesus' "miracle" of feeding the multitude
was performed by using the two fishes of the zodiac plus five
loaves of bread. 5 plus 2 equals 7, the number of the gods
represented by the sun, moon and the five planets. The
twelve disciples are the twelve signs of the zodiac, the
companions of the sun-god during one year. The gods of the
zodiac were the yearly companions of the sun-god in other
cultures also. The stories of jesus' "miracles" of feeding the
multitude all mention that twelve baskets of remnants were

"The christians, being originally a sect of the jewish religion, had at first adopted
the sheep, or lamb as their savior image....
But the vernal equinox had begun
occurring in the zodiacal sign of pisces, the two fishes, some time before the
supposed time of christ. Christ has been associated with the fish, which is a universal
. sym bo.I"
savior
The ancients long ago built up a system of fables, stories
and myths to explain the phenomena of the stars. We call
this system of myths astrology. Religions have changed
through the millenia, but astrology has changed very little.
The representations of the Egyptian zodiac is almost
exactly the same as it is today. The permanence of the
system the ancients had built up serves to explain much
about the changes in religion during the past millenia. At the
time of pharaoh Menes in Egypt 4,000 and more years ago,
the worship of the bull sign of the zodiac was the dominant
religion just as the worship of christ is prevalent amongst
westerners today. At some 2,000 B.C. the precession of the
Austin, Texas

left over from the miraculous feast. See matt. 14:20 ("And
they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the
fragments that remained twelve baskets full."), mark 6:4243 ("And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up
twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes."),
luke 9:16-17 ("Then he took the five loaves and the two
fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and
brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude.
And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up
of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets."), john
6:13 ("Therefore they gathered them together, and filled
twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves,

April,1983

Page 9

which remained over and above unto them that had


eaten.")
The christian missionaries were trying at that time to
convert the heathen nations of northern Europe, the
Germans, the Gauls, the Angles, the Saxons, the Scandinavians, the Slavic peoples and others. They found that the
dark, Semitic-looking christ did not appeal to the northern
tribes, so they made their figure of christ into a blond north
European with fair hair and blue eyes. They made their

"Well ...

Page 10

dying god figure like that of the heathen god, prometheus,


chained to his rock with the head and face of apollonius of
Tyana.
Aquarius is the next sign after pisces to be the home of
the vernal equinox. I wonder now that the vernal equinox
has moved into the border between the zodiacal signs of
pisces and aquarius, willthe "savior-god" take on the figure
of a man with a big water jug?

there goes our ten day pass in Damascus."

April,1983

The American Atheist

PASSOVER
- THE EGYPTIAN HOLOCAUST
by Madalyn Murray O'Hair

----

----

In another column in this issue of American Atheist


Merrill Holste analyzes the origin of easter. in his column he
speaks at length about the passover, which is, in their nutty
belief system, the jews' single most important celebration. It
is instructive and necessary to look at the story of the
passover. Passover is one of that group of tales of all theistic
mythology, and it can be classified as the most hideous of
them. Instead of taking great pride in it, the jews of the world
should repudiate it, disclaim it, disassociate themselves
from it. It is repugnant to the intellect, repelling to human
emotions. It does not glorify and exhalt the jews as they
claim, setting them apart as god's own, but rather simply
exposes their ugly, antihuman belief system.
One needs only to read the disgusting tale in exodus 7:27
through 12:51. The major story, in which a number of minor
ones are played out, is that moses - age 80 - and his
Austin, Texas

brother aaron - age 83 - were to lead the jews out of


Egypt (if they ever were there), after a term of alleged
captivity (on the length of which no bible scholars can
agree). According to the story, the alleged god (of uncertain
name - either jehovah, jahveh, elohim, adonai, or the "I am
that I am") of the jews commanded that moses and aaron,
both reluctant leaders, involve themselves in a series of
incidents which would be effectuated through the will and
power of their god, whereby he would "harden the heart of
the pharaoh" and cause the pharaoh to act in a manner in
which the pharaoh did not desire to act, only in order to
show the jews that their god had power. Then the god of the
jews would punish the people of Egypt (not the pharaoh) for
what the god of the jews had forced the pharaoh to do,
against his better judgment. The total scheme is to have the
pharaoh act under his own volition up to a point where he
would permit the jews to leave his kingdom. However, at
that point, the god of the jews would "harden his heart"
causing him to say the jews could not leave. At this point, his
people and his nation were susceptible of punishment (by
plagues, etc.) visited upon them by the god of the jews.
Thus, an artificially contrived "cause" is manufactured so
that the god of the jews could zap the undeserving people of
Egypt with one calamity after another.
First, in order to establish that they were "unusual" and
therefore persons of importance to whom the Egyptian
pharaoh need give notice, the jewish god instructed moses
and aaron to effectuate a miracle by turning a rod, or staff,
into a serpent. So aaron cast down his rod in the presence of

April, 1983

Page 11

pharaoh, and it turned into a serpent. But, the wise men,


sorcerers, and magicians of Egypt did the same. Allof their
rods, upon being cast down, turned into serpents. The god
of the jews then, somehow, enabled the serpent which was
formerly aaron's rod, to "swallow up" all of the serpents of
the pharaoh's wise men, sorcerers and magicians. This was
very great magic at the time and the pharaoh was immediately willingto recognize moses and aaron as representatives
of sufficient importance that he would talk to them, except
that the god of the jews interfered at this point and
"hardened pharaoh's heart" (ex. 7:13) so that he refused to
recognize moses and aaron.
Whereupon, the god of the jews instructed moses and
aaron to turn all the water of Egypt into blood, in wells, in
vessels, and in the rivers, so that in the latter the fish die and
the rivers stink. Immediately, "pharaoh's heart was hardened" by the god of the jews (ex. 7:22) so that he ignored
the situation for seven (naturally seven; that's a magic
number!) days. One can ignore what would happen to an
entire nation, including the jews therein, after going without
water for seven days, for the theme which we are following
here is that of the god of the jews "hardening the heart" of
the pharaoh so that the pharaoh could not do what his own
heart, mind and will would have him do. In this case, the
pharaoh "turned and went into his house," not listening to
moses and aaron, although he had not "set his heart" (ex.
7:23) to do so.

raoh's heart was hardened" (ex. 8:15) by the god of the jews,
and he would not let them go.
Now, the entire nation of Egypt stood, afflicted with no
water, piles of stinking, rotting frogs and with everyone and
every beast covered with fleas. Fleas in the hair, on their
heads, in the beards of their chins, in their armpits, in their
pubic hair - the jews included.
Again, moses and aaron went to the pharaoh and said,
"Have you had enough?" It was a rhetorical question. The
pharaoh could say that he would let the jews go, but the god
of the jews was standing by at the last moment to harden his
heart only so that the land could be zapped with a new
plague: an ancient Catch 22.
At this point, the god of the jews thought he should
exclude the jews from all of the troubles to follow, so he had
moses and aaron cause another plague, this time of a
grievous swarm of flies throughout the land, except where
the jews lived (in the land of Goshen). Well, any thinking
ruler would have had enough, and the pharaoh had had
enough. He called moses and aaron to him and told them to
take their people and go; only - please - to have their lord
stop the flies.
So, the god of the jews stopped the flies, but he also again - hardened the heart of the pharaoh (ex. 8:32) so that
the pharaoh did not let the jews go, except for a three day
journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to their god.
(Naturally, three days; three is a magic number also.)

"Instead of taking great pride in it (passover), the jews of the world should repudiate
it, disclaim it, disassociate themselves from it. It is repugnant to the intellect,
repelling to human emotions."
At this point began the theme so dramatically emphasized by the jews thence to current history. For, moses
and aaron (to whom the god of the jews spoke daily, giving
them blow by blow instructions) went to the pharaoh and
said, "Let my people go." (ex. 8:1) But before the pharaoh
could reply, at the direct order of the god of the jews, moses
and aaron caused a plague of frogs to come out of the
bloody rivers and invade every house.
What would any ruler do? Pharaoh did just that. He said,
"Entreat the lord, that he may take away the frogs from me
and my people; and I willlet the people (jews) go, that they
may do sacrifice unto the lord." (ex. 8:8) The next day the
god of the jews let all the frogs die, and the Egyptians
gathered them into piles and the entire land stunk from
them. But, immediately the god of the jews then hardened
the heart of the pharaoh (ex. 8:15) so that he would not keep
his word.
Again, one can scarcely imagine a nation without water,
since it is all blood, with piles of dead frogs rotting and
stinking throughout the land, while the ruler does nothing
- put into inaction by the jewish god's power over him.
This, however, is incidental. The main theme of the story is
the ability of the god of the jews to control the pharaoh who
worshipped another god. Therefore, moses and baron
caused another plague in that they made all of the dust of
the land into lice. (perhaps some of the readers of this
column have been to Egypt and can readily appreciate the
magnitude of this disaster. Egypt is a land of dust.) The lice
infected all beasts and all humankind. But, again, "phaPage 12

April,1983

" ...

the heart

was hardened

of the pharaoh
...

"

Then, the god of the jews caused moses and aaron to


inflict the disease of murrain upon the cattle in Egypt
throughout the entire nation, on the horses, the asses, the
camels, the oxen and the sheep. And all of the cattle died,
except that which belonged to the jews, presumably in
Goshen. But, the pharaoh could not let the jews go,
because again "the heart of pharaoh was hardened" (ex.
9:7) by the god of the jews.
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Now the god of the jews decided to inflictboils, with blains


(inflammatory swelling) upon all of the people of Egypt and
all of the cattle (which were all dead). And, at the same time
"the lord hardened the heart of pharaoh" (ex. 9:12) so that
the pharaoh again could not of his volition listen to either
moses or aaron.
Once again, the god of the jews instructed moses and
aaron to tell the pharaoh that ifhe did not "let my people go"
he would be inflicted with a "pestilence" (ex. 9:13,15). This
time, the god of the jews admits the utterly pointless,
routine- act nature of talking to the pharaoh because he says
"in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew
in thee my power; and that my name may be declared
throughout all the earth." (ex. 9:16). The god of the jews
subsequently did not send a pestilence; instead he sent
forth a hail and thunder storm, wherein fire ran along the
ground. This storm of combined hail and fire killed all of the
beasts in the land (which were already dead from the
murrain and inflicted with boils and blain on their dead
carcasses), ruined every herb of the field and broke every
tree of the field, except - of course - in the land of
Goshen.

have sinned against the lord your god. I pray thee ... entreat
the lord your god, that he may take away from me this death
only." (ex. 10:16,17) The god of the jews then sent in a
strong west wind and blew away the locusts. But immediately - (ex. 10:20) the god of the jews "hardened
pharaoh's heart so that he would not let the children of
Israel go."
It takes an insane person to believe that any ruler would
see the rivers of his entire nation turn to blood, ha\! all
cattle killed twice, have everything green in the land
destroyed by hail and fire, then eaten by locusts and still
want the cause of the disasters to remain in his land. But,
this was not enough for the god of the jews who decided
then to bring darkness on the land. And for three (remernber that that number is magic) days the god of the jews
brought such a thick darkness over the entire land that the
Egyptians" ... saw not one another, neither rose any from
his place for three days." To believe this one needs to
understand that no one ate for three days, nor drank, that
they all sat there and urinated and defecated on the spot. Of
course, there was nothing to drink but the stinking rivers of
blood, nothing to eat since all of the cattle were dead twice

"... the god of the jews bragged about what he was doing to moses and aaron. 'And the
lord said unto moses, "Go in unto pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, ... that I
might shew these my signs before him: And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy
son, and of thy son's son what things I have wrought in Egypt."'"
Naturally, the pharaoh sent for moses and aaron and
said, "the lord is righteous, and I and my people are
wicked." (ex. 9:27) despite the fact that it was the god of the
jews which had caused all the plant, fish, animal, and even
the human distress. "I will let you go, and ye shall stay no
longer," the pharaoh said (ex. 9:28). Then the god of the
jews stopped the mixed hail and fire and again "the heart of
pharaoh was hardened" by him so that he would not "let the
children of Israel go" (ex. 9:35).
At this point, the god of the jews bragged about what he
was doing to moses and aaron. "And the lord said unto
moses, 'Go in unto pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart,
and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my
signs before him: And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy
son, and of thy son's son what things I have wrought in
Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them, that ye
may know that I am the lord.''' (ex. 10:1-2)
Moses and aaron then came back to the pharaoh and
said, "Let my people go.' or the god of the jews would "bring
the locusts into thy coast" (ex. 10:3-4). At this point, the
servants of pharaoh said, "Let the men go, that they may
serve the lord their god: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is
destroyed?" And the pharaoh said, "Go serve the lord your
god .... Let the lord be so with you, as I willlet you go, and
your little ones: look to it;" (ex. 10:7,8,10). Whereupon,
instead of the jews getting the hell out of Egypt, the god of
the jews sent the locusts, anyway. He wasn't about to let a
little soft-heartedness on the part of the pharaoh stop his
rampage! The locusts "covered the face of the whole earth,"
(ex. 10:15) not alone just Egypt, and the land was darkened.
The locusts then ate up the fruit and every green thing in the
trees, the herbs and everything that the hail and fire had not
ruined. Pharaoh again called in moses and aaron and said, "I
Austin, Texas

already and since all of the fruit, grain, and herbs had been
destroyed.
What could pharaoh do but call moses and aaron and
say, "Go ye, serve the lord ... let your little ones also go with
you." (ex. 10:24) But, having said that, the god of the jews
again "hardened pharaoh's heart, and lie would not let them
go." (ex. 10:27). At this point, the god at the jews contrived
"the passover," that glorious holiday which the jews feel is
the most exalted of their religion. The god of the jews
decided to kill the firstborn of everyone in Egypt - the
pharaoh (who was only pharaoh because he was the
firstborn in his family), the maidservants, the laborers, the
slaves, even those in prison, and all the first born of all the
cattle, which were, of course, all dead.
Let's translate that into our times. Supposing that the god
of the jews decided to kill off the firstborn in the United
States. Well, this editor's brother would go, because he was
the firstborn; your editor would be safe. But, in your house
who would die? It didn't matter if the firstborn was saint or
sinner, illor healthy, aged or a child, male or female. All the
firstborns had to die even though none were really involved
in this display of power which the god of the jews was
putting on. And, just in case that the pharaoh might spoil it
all by letting the people go, again the god of the jews
"hardened pharaoh's heart" (ex. 11:10)
At this point in the story, everything is stopped while the
god of the jews gave moses and aaron a recipe for baked
lamb. He instructed them to take the blood of the lamb and
smear it on the doors of their homes. How many jews do
you know who smear lamb's blood on their front doors for
passover? He told them that they had to eat the lamb "with
their loins girded," their shoes on their feet, and their staff in
their hand, while they ate "in haste." The god of the jews

April,1983

Page 13

then went on to explain the need for seven days of fasting,


eating of unleavened bread, all to be an ordinance to the
jews and their sons forever, to commemorate his slaughtering of innocent men, women and children - one of the
most heinous acts which would have ever been committed
in history or in fable by man or god_ In fact, there was not
one house in the entire country of Egypt in which there was
not one dead. This is about like the baptist church ordering
a "holy day" to commemorate the slaughter of the people at
Jonestown, except that Jonestown was a small death party
compared to what the god of the jews was about to do.
It is imperative that everyone understand that the
pharaoh's heart was hardened by the god of the jews, who
plotted this series of disasters and plagues to crescendo into
an orgy of killing of innocent, unwary people for the single
purpose of impressing the jews that he was a powerful god.
And, in the stealth of the night, to the people of Egypt, the
god of the jews came to deliver death.

(which had all died twice) and followed the jews into a sea
where all the Egyptians were drowned, upon the shore.
This ugly, sadistic, gore-filled, brutal story of a pompous,
barbarous, cruel little god, hoping to show a small group of
semisavage jews his powers, is exalted today as the most
holy of holy commemorative events of jewish history, to be
celebrated with pride. The jews should be ashamed of this
"holy" day and try to hide its origin; squelch its celebration
and keep the odor of its foulness under cover. Instead this
black day of infamy and murder by the god of the jews is
honored and esteemed by our nation's president and the
congress of the United States as they urge you to pay
homage to "this holy season."
The jews today constantly bring up the "holocaust"
reportedly suffered under the nazi regime in Germany. This
passover story throws in their teeth the holocaust of death
purportedly visited upon innocent men, women and children of the Egyptian nation by their petty little god and his

"This holocaust the jews celebrate, because it fell on others. When a holocaust
reportedly fell on them they use it for military posturing in the world today."
Of course, the next morning, the pharaoh (who was
dead, because he had to be firstborn to be pharaoh) called
for moses and aaron and said, "Rise up, and get you forth
from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel;
and go, serve the lord, as ye have said, and be gone; ... "
And the people of Egypt, too, were urgent that the jews
would get the hell out of the country.
It is not necessary to continue to followthe story in depth.
The god of the jews had to stop everything and give orders
again about how to cook the lamb, how to fast, what bread
to eat, that only the circumcised could eat of the passover,
that no lamb could be carried out of the house, that no lamb
bones could be broken and to remember this day to keep it
"holy."
The last incident of it all again had to do with one last
hardening of the heart of pharaoh (ex. 14:4,8,17) by the god
of the jews so that the pharaoh subsequently took his
warriors (mostly dead, many of whom having been firstborn), who mounted horses and chariots driven by horses

irrational religion. This holocaust the jews celebrate, because it fell on others. When a holocaust reportedly fell on
them, they use it for military posturing in the world today
(while noticeably not trusting on an appearance of a blatant
display of power from their prehistoric god).
Atheists need to speak out. They need to know these
stories and they need to say to those who accept them,
"You do realize that all of this is insane?" Nowhere in
Egyptian history is there any record of the jews being
captive there, of the god of the jews sending plagues, of all of
the firstborn being killed by such a despicable despotic god,
or of any mass exodus. It is good for an Atheist to know that
it was only a phony tale of power and cruelty, a theistic myth
of barbarism. But, it is more important that the homage paid
to the lie be stopped. Everyone of these tales must be
exposed and exploded and the people of our nation brought
back to their senses. In this "Year of the Bible" the
American Atheist Center expects you to get into that fray.
The Editor

CHRISTIAN BIAS IN.TEXTBOOKS


cont'd

the tent - the textbooks of American public schools - is


appalling. Parents who are by and large either unaware or
indifferent have permitted religious nuts of all stripes to
infest our schools with teaching and learning texts which
misinform, bias, even indoctrinate our children with false
history, anti-science values, and basic irrational ideas. We
have hardly awakened soon enough. Every Atheist in the
land needs to pick up his or her child's history books tonight
and thumb through them. Every American Atheist chapter
needs to appoint a Textbook Inquiry Committee.
There are large areas of concern. Although our first six

Page 14

April, 1983

from page

presidents - George Washington, John Adams, Thomas


Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy
Adams - were deists (believing only in nature and nature's
god) who specifically repudiated christianity, the myth of
our founding as a christian nation is everywhere abroad in
the land. Our founding fathers were not hysterically concerned with their repudiation of christianity, nor should be
we. We need to educate, now, our children to the realities of
our nation's founding values - to challenge and defeat,
ultimately and now, degenerate judeo-christianity.

The American Atheist

MAN AND HIS IMAGINATION

by Hansel Harper

If we were to apply the universal law of causation to the


social problems of man (Am. Atheist Ed. - meaning
humankind, women as much as men), there is little doubt
that the cause of most of his problems stemmed from lack of
understanding of his own imagination. Imagine a primitive
man trying to cope with a force as powerful and as
"mysterious" as the imagination. There was no contest; the
imagination was definitely in control. Consequently, when
he wasn't hunting for food and other necessities of survival,
he was wrestling with his imagination. He was very confused
as to the difference between what appeared to be real and
what was real. To the primitive man, a sunrise, the wind, the
rain, thunder and lightning, a volcano, an earthquake were
all so mysterious they triggered his mind into all kinds of
imaginary concepts. We therefore cannot blame him for all
the gods, ghosts, goblins, and wicked witches he handed
down to us. He was merely doing the best he could with
what he had. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the so-called
modern man would do the same.
Modern man has a collective fund of knowledge that
would stagger the mind of a genius, and we can thank the
stone age man for starting the whole process, even though
he didn't know about such things as reason, the law of
causation and the natural function of the imagination. One
of man's greatest weaknesses is still the inability to separate
reality from mythology.
Imagination is one of the great blessings of mankind as
long as it is directed by reason, and made to comply with the
universal laws of nature. Imagination can stimulate the mind
to invent a wheel, an automobile, an airplane and anything
else within the limits of reason and nature. There seems to
be no limits in the field of technology.
Austin, Texas

When it comes to social problems, if man could understand himself as well as he does his machine, he would be
well on his way to a peaceful co-existence. However, man is
more complicated than the machine he invented. He
permits his imagination to wander beyond reason and
nature; he assumes truths he cannot prove; and he
becomes the inventor of impossible fantasies. It is probably
natural that he would do so, as it makes it "possible" to fly
without wings, to dive to the bottom of the ocean without
scuba equipment and to bask in the sun on cloud nine.
There is no harm in imagining beyond nature and reason as
long as one understands that one is in a fantasy world and
doesn't try to forge a reality out of it. In fact, it is good mental
gymnastics.
Man's most profound problem today is to get his own
kind to respond to reason, as well as his machine responds
to nature. The first requisite in this direction is to face the
fact that man has to co-exist with himself and nature, ifhe is
to survive. He must face the fact that nature, not god, is the
final authority. Man can argue with his imaginary god, but
he cannot argue with fate, because fate is a function of
nature. If man excessively abuses himself or nature, he will
have to suffer the consequences. It has been truthfully said
that man is his own worst enemy. If man were truthful and
reasonable with himself and his natural environment, he
could eventually make man his own best friend. If he will
face reality and look closely, he willfind that he hasn't time
to waste on wild imaginary deities.

April,1983

Page 15

ROBERT HAROLD SCOTT .... PIONEER ATHEIST


1889 - 1982
Last month,
a short article
was sent to the American Atheist
Center
with a note from an anonymous
author
that notice
should
be taken
of the death
of
Robert
H. Scott.
The article,
in its entirety
follows:

ATHEIST PIONEER DIES


Robert H. Scott (b. Oct. 14, 1889) was the man who
made the first Atheist broadcast in the United States. In
Los Gatos, California, on July 15, 1982, he died at the
age of 92. Younger Atheists may not be familiar with the
efforts of this brave Atheist, but they ca n get a fresh look
below at an account of his first broadcast:
On Nov. 17, 1946, San Francisco listeners heard
the first Atheist broadcast in the United States.
The broadcaster was Robert Harold Scott, a 57year old veteran of the first world war with a
substantial disability pension. He spoke on KOW,
CBS's San Francisco station, in the time usually
allotted to the Salt Lake City Tabernacle Choir
(Sunday, 8:30-9 a.m., PST).
Listeners who hoped for sensationalism were
disappointed. Instead, in measured tones not unlike those of president Truman, Scott defined his
place as a defender of the rights of the disbeliever.
In scholarly terms he outlined the Atheists' arguments. Predicting that 17,000,000 Americans
now living will die of cancer, he reasoned: "Do not
speak to me of an almighty god who is merciful and
just."
The broadcast was the climax of a five-year fight
between Scott and three San Francisco stations.
Last July the FCC supported Scott's right to speak
but did not force the stations to answer his
demands for time (Newsweek, Aug. 12). Only
KOW came through with an unprecedented gift of
free air time. The station aimed "to determine
whether there is a sufficient interest in Atheism in
this area to justify time being devoted to future
broadcasts on this subject."
Interest was instantaneous. Solicited statements ranged from wholehearted disapproval to
amiable toleration of Scott's right to speak. Listener response was so great that KOW's switchboard bogged down in phone calls as soon as Scott
went off the air. On Monday the station received
463 letters and telegrams, of which 139 favored
the program. Opponents' objections ran from moderate disagreement to violent rejection of the mere
idea. By Wednesday, the letters and telegrams
total was up to 3,257, with slightly less than a
fourth arguing on Scott's side. At the week end,
with reactions still coming in, KOW was undecided
about future Atheist broadcasts. Replies favoring
them had been far heavier than anticipated.
And that's the way it was. Robert Scott's performance
Page 16

April, 1983

will not be forgotten by modern and future Atheists who


are, and will continue, continuing his endeavor.
There
is more
to the story.
It was beginning
in
1941, that
Rol;>ert Harold
Scott started
nagging
radio
stations
of San
Francisco
to give him air time
to
speak
on the subject
of Atheism.
At that
time,
the
Federal
Communications
Commission
had promulgated rules in respect
to religion
in the young
broadcasting
industry.
Each rad io and television
station
in
the country
was required
to give 5% of its time on the
air to religion
- free. Using the "Fairness
Doctrine"
as a basis for his fight,
Reibert Scott engaged
in a five
year legal battle,
which resulted,
on July 19,1946,
in
the famous
"Scott
Decision."
The thrust
of this was
that
an Atheist
should be permitted
time.
However,
the F.C.C.,
characteristically,
did not force any radio
stations
to give the time to Atheists.
The free time
was still only mandatory
for religion.
Using
the
"permissive"
decision,
Robert
Scott
went after the radio stations
in the area again. He was
then
57 years old, a veteran
of the First World War
with an income
only from his disability
pension.
H~
could
not pay for radio
time
which
the F.C.C.
had
suggested
that he buy. His only recourse
was to continue
to nag the stations,
which
he did from July to
November,
1946.
At that
time,
he convinced
the
m an aqern ent of station
K OW to perm it him to have
one-half
hour of time, ordinarily
the spot given to the
Salt Lake City (Mormon)
Tabernacle
Choir,
early on
a Sunday
morning,
November
17,1946.
The program
erupted
a furor
across
the nation.
It
was reported
in Newsweek,
and in Time magazines.
Editorials
reared their ugly heads. And, the U. S. Congress ordered
an investigation
of the F.C.C.
to see if
it had been
infiltrated
and taken
over by Communists. The extensive
official
congressional
hearing
lasted several days.
K OW was deluged
with
letters,
telegram
s, telephone
calls and visits from the righteous
and that was
the last of the Scott programs.
But, both
Time and Newsweek
took
enough
interest to check
the response
and discovered
that
24%
commended
the radio
station
for giving time to an
Atheist.
And, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
newspaper
editorialized
that America's
free speech
right heritage
needed
to be protected
in the case of Robert
Scott.
But with all the burst
of news,
it was felt that one
time was enough. Subsequently
the F.C.C.
reversed
its decision
and again Atheists
were shut
out of air
time.
What
is strikingly
important
is that no Atheist
or
pseudo-Atheist
organization
in the U. S. moved
forward t o either
help Scott
or continue
the fight at the
threshold
of broadcasting
which Scott had won.
In 1963 when the Murray-O'Hair
family
came upon the scene in the U. S., Robert
Scott was contacted
by them.
And,
it was the Scott
Decision
which
was

The American Atheist

relied upon by American


Atheists
to attempt
to gain
access to the airways
with the original
"American
Atheist
Radio Series."
At that point,
on June 3,1968,
in the first program
of that series, the history
of the
Scott case was given.
Meanwhile
Robert
Scott
worked
closely
with Madalyn Murray
O'Hair
to preserve
his records,
transferring large volumes
of legal documents
to the American Atheist
Library
and Archives.
Later,
he was to be

.J

given
a "Pioneer
Atheist
Award"
by the American
Atheist
organization.
We honor
Robert
Harold
Scott again today.
He was
one of the few "winners"
in the long and uneven
fight
with
religion
and government.
And, from
him
has come the lessons
of tenacity
and the need to exert continual
pressures
against
the barriers,
everywhere
erected,
which prohibit
a free and open e x p r esion of American
Atheism.

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Austin, Texas

April,1983

Page 17

PRISON ATHEIST LEAGUE OF AMERICA


CHALLENGES RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE
IN AMERICA'S PRISONS
By Robert Zauner, Director
Northern Virginia Chapter
American Atheists

Herman K. Burke

Arnold Via

The number of Atheists in prison in the United States is


small. According to one major survey of convicts, some 80%
identify themselves as christians of one kind or another,
while the number of unbelievers "amounted to but a small
fraction of 1%."1
However, despite the fact that the evidence demonstrates a positive correlation between religious belief and
the propensity to commit crime, religious organizations
have been welcomed with open arms by prison administrations.
In every state of the union, with the sole exception of
Virginia, religious chaplains who work in the prisons are full
time state employees: In the federal prisons, there are
another 75-80 full-time chaplains employed. In addition,
most, if not all, federal prisons have religious consultants,
while both federal and state prisons contain chapels for the
conduct of religious services.

Although, under law, parole boards are not permitted to


consider the religious beliefs of inmates in their deliberations, the prisoners' perception of the process is to the
contrary. This perception gives the chaplains and other
religious groups operating in the prison system enormous
leverage in dealing with individual prisoners.
Among the volunteer organizations active in religious
proselytizing in the prisons are national organizations such
as alcoholics anonymous, Chuck Colson's prison fellowship, and chaplain Ray's international prison ministry from
Dallas, Texas. These organizations are augmented by
numerous local groups which work at only a local work
camp or prison. The result is that the prisoners are
assaulted constantly by religious fanatics preaching their
path to salvation.
The influence of religion on the prisons of the United
States is illustrated by the fact that the very term penitentiary is derived from the religious term penitent and the idea
of holding prisoners in isolated cells is based on the cells of
monks. It was thought that locking men up in monk-like
cells would promote penitent thought, especially if the only
reading material provided was the bible and their only
visitors, preachers. Many modern prisons are still apparently operated on these precepts.
Indeed, until the fallof 1980, the priests, rabbis, ministers,
and self-proclaimed holy men of all persuasions were
unchallenged in their access to the men and women
unfortunate enough to be cast into their nets by the courts.
In the fall of 1980, Arnold Via, the Virginia State Director
of American Atheists, received an inquiry from Herman K.
Burke, an inmate of the Virginia State Penitentiary at
Richmond, Virginia. Burke had seen an American Atheist
advertisement in a newspaper and in response had sent in a

"In every state of the union, with the sole exception of Virginia, religious chaplains
who work in the prisons are full time state employees. In the federal prisons, there are
another 75-80 full time chaplains employed."
The power and influence of the chaplains is keenly felt
everywhere in the prison, especially by those inmates who
are looking forward to parole. As one prisoner in the
Virginia State Penitentiary wrote in that prison's inmate
magazine:
"Parole is almost impossible without a statement of
reliance upon god and a minister. The religious
community is permitted to move into the prison
system to intimidate, coerce, and drain off money
from both the prisoners and the prisoners' families.
The exploitation is often only glimpsed."2
Page 18

April,1983

request for a half-dozen American Atheist membership


application forms.
Via immediately made arrangements to meet with Burke
at the prison. When they met, Burke told Via that there
were a number of inmates at the prison who had become
disgusted with the religious pressure at the institution and
had become Atheists. Via and Burke discussed establishing
a chapter of American Atheists at the prison to meet the
need of those Atheist prisoners and help spread the news
among the other prisoners that values can be based on
reason rather than faith.
The American Atheist

t
.,

In order to start a new organization at the penitentiary it


was necessary to have thirteen sponsoring members. By
late 1980, Burke had the thirteen members and the
appropriate application to organize was filed with the
administration.
The reaction of the prison administration willcome as no
surprise to American Atheists. "Atheists at Prison Don't
Get Chapter" read the headline in the December 6, 1980
issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. According to the
accompanying story, the warden had not and did not have
plans to approve a chapter of American Atheists at the
prison and the treatment accorded by the authorities to
Colson's prison fellowship, could not have been greater.
While Via and Burke were being rebuffed, Colson was
having breakfast with Virginia's then-Governor John N.
Dalton. According to the January 30, 1981 edition of the
Richmond Times-Dispatch, during the annual "Governor's
Prayer Breakfast" Colson promoted "his concept of rehabilitation through christian conversion." The paper reported
that the governor agreed with Colson that the prison
population is becoming a problem and said Colson has "a
way to solve the problem."
Via too had a way of solving the problem. He threatened
to sue the prison system with the aid of the national
American Atheist organization ifAtheist prisoners were not
given the same right to organize as was routinely granted to
religious organizations. Via told the press that he was ready
to take the case to the Supreme Court of the United States
if need be and that he had already hired a lawyer for that
purpose.
As it turned out, when faced with Via's determination, the
prison administration gave in and, in April 1981, approved
the organization of an American Atheist chapter at the
prison, but the chapter was to have no regularly assigned
meeting room, nor was it to have any "functions."
On May 14,1981, the first officiallysanctioned meeting of
Atheists took place in a prison. Present were Via and four
other inmates who had the courage and conviction to risk
reprisals from prison officials and their fellow christian
prisoners.

correctional centers that comprise the Virginia penal system.

So fast has the growth of the prison Atheist movement


been among those behind bars that in August 1981, Via
formed a new organization, PALA, to work exclusively for
Atheists in the nation's prisons and jails. In addition to Via,
its directors are attorney Robert A. Zauner, astronomer G.
Stanley Brown, and Jon Murray of the American Atheist
Center in Austin, Texas.
The new organization has among its goals the stimulation
of thought and inquiry among prisoners concerning the

"As their acceptance has grown, so has their numbers. Today there are over 75
card-carrying American Atheists in the Virginia prison system."
But the reprisals never came. Cecil Phelps, director of the
Virginia State Penitentiary chapter of American Atheists in
1982, notes that while the prison administration occasionally hassled the new organization, the relationship of the
Prison Atheist League of America (PALA) has steadily
improved. Perhaps more importantly, Phelps and other
PALA members report that the non-Atheist prison population has respected the Atheist prisoners for joining an
organization which appeared to be opposed by the administration.
As their acceptance has grown, so has their numbers.
Today there are over 75 card-carrying American Atheists in
the Virginia prison system. The largest number, 35, are
located at the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond,
where it all started. A dozen more are in Virginia's
maximum security prison at Mecklenburg. The other
members are scattered throughout the prison farms and
Austin, Texas

harm done by religious beliefs, creeds, dogmas, tenets,


rituals and practices. It also seeks to aid prisoners in
evaluating their own purposes and goals in life and in
establishing a personal philosophy of ethics verifiable by
experience and independent of the arbitrary assumptions of
authority or creed.
The organization is nationwide in scope. Inquiries have
been received by PALA from prisoners in Texas, Pennsylvania, California, and even as far away as Hawaii. PALA is
working on starting chapters in these and in other states.
Why the explosive growth of Atheism among prisoners?
There are several reasons. For some prisoners it is a way of
asserting their independence from the prison administration. In this respect the prison administration's early
opposition may have been a blessing in disguise. While this
is probably a factor, there are other factors which may be of
more importance.

April,1983

Page 19

At the top of the list belongs Via's outgoing personality.


Via's whirlwind of activities bring press coverage and
focuses public attention on the prisoners. You may be in
prison, but you're not forgotten when your organization is
making headlines in the local press. One PALA member has
even participated in a local radio talk show by telephone.
PALA's success is also a function of the support provided
to the organization by the Atheist community. For example,
PALA's 1982 Winter Solstice party, which was attended by
all of PALA'a prison members, was also attended by five
members of local American Atheist chapters. Moreover,
PALA has been able to attract top quality speakers to its
meetings. Recent speakers have included G. Stanley Brown
and Jon Murray. The next scheduled speaker is to be a
profesor of Archaeology from the University of Virginia.
With PALA able to attract speakers of this caliber, the bible
thumpers simply cannot compete.
Another reason for PALA's success is Via's attitude that
a man should not be scarred for life because he or she
committed
a crime. Once a prisoner is released, Via
believes, his or her debt to society should be considered
paid. In this regard, it is a major goal of P ALA to help
Atheists upon their release from prison to make the
transition from inmate to productive member of society. To
accomplish this goal, Via intends to use his personal
residence as a halfway house, where ex-prisoners can stay
for up to 30 days while they organize their lives and look for
employment. The offer of a place to go and of help in finding
work is a spark of hope for many prisoners who otherwise
would have to find their way alone. Gary T ompa, a PALA
member at the Virginia State Penitentiary
who will be
discharged in 1983 credits PALA as the "only ones who will
give me a chance to live like a law-abiding person."

PALA because they recognize that Atheism is a form of


reality therapy which does not allow inmates to make
excuses for their antisocial behavior. Without devils and
demons, Gregory argues, a man or woman must accept the
responsibility for his or her own actions.
While Via has made a good start, PALA needs all the help
it can get if it is to compete successfully with organizations
such as Chuck Colson's prison fellowship which operates
with a multimillion dollar budget and boasts of a full time
professional staff supported by 6,000 volunteers.
What can American Atheists do? The following are
important:
1. If you have the time, contact P ALA and offer your
services in organizing prisoners in your state. PALA is
receiving inquiries from prisoners all over the country.
If PALA does not at present have an inquiry from a
prisoner in your state, chances are it will before long.
2. If your Atheist literature is collecting dust, donate
it to PALA for distribution in the prisons. Chaplain
Ray in his radio broadcasts
promotes
"Bibles for
Prisoners." Perhaps Atheists can counter with "Ingersoll for Inmates."
3. If you can afford a financial contribution over and
above your support of the American Atheist Center, it
will be gratefully received. PALA has applied to the
IRS for tax exempt status and expects no complications in obtaining it.
To contact Arnold Via or PALA, write, PALA, Rt. 1, Box
580, Grottoes, Virginia 24441.
The mystics have had their opportunity
in the prison
system and they have failed. The bankruptcy of the present
system is apparent in the high recidivism rates despite the
avowed faith expressed by the majority of prisoners. Now

"Ifyou have the time, contact PALA and' offer your services in organizing prisoners
in your state. PALA is receiving inquiries from prisoners all over the country. If PALA
does not at present have an inquiry from a prisoner in your state, chances are that it
will before long."
There is also the factor of pride in PALA and what it has
accomplished. The American Atheist magazine is received
by every inmate PAL A member and is also prominently
displayed in the prison library. Members of PALA refer to
the magazine as one of the most productive tools the
organization has. A high point for PALA members came
when Via debated a christian before the prison's creative
writing class. Tommy Walker, a PALA member who was
present at the "confrontation,"
describes the results in'
these words, "Arnold scored very heavy." So heavy, in fact,
that, according to Walker, the prison's creative writing class
is now reading Atheist literature.
Via's reputation and that of PALA also took a giant step
forward when Via protested and walked out on a preacher's
sermon delivered at the prison school's graduation exercise. PAL A has petitioned prison authorities for permission
to present its own speaker at the next graduation exercise.
PALA is awaiting the administration's
response.
Norman Gregory, P ALA's present Virginia State Penitentiary chapter director, is an avid Atheist who believes that
PALA represents
the best chance prisoners have for
rehabilitation. He believes that prisoners are attracted to
Page 20

April, 1983

it's time for Atheists to show what they can do.

* * *
SOURCES
ISociology and Research Journal, May-June, 1949. While this
study may be dated, there is no reason to believe that the results
would be different today, The study in question consisted of a
survey of the religious beliefs of 85,000 convicts. The article
reports on a number of other studies that produced similar results.
2Facts You Should Know (FYSK), published at the Virginia State
Penitentiary, Sept. 1981.

ATTENTION!
The following related article is a brief history of the penal
systems in America and of the religious influence in their
development as researched by Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

The American Atheist

PENANCE: PRISON STULTIFICATION


OF THE MIND
By
Madalyn Murray O'Hair

The word "prison" is, of course, derived from the Latin


prehensio meaning seizure, and the word "penitentiary"
from the Latin poenitentia meaning penance. As George
Carlin points out, the words used for any game plan are
significant. Europe and Asia have prison systems. The
United States has penitentiaries. Why?
Apparently, prisons have always been used as places of
confinement (compulsory restraint) of persons after arrest
or sentence by arbitrary authority. The earliest object was
to secure the appearance of a person before his judges for a
trial and, if convicted, to produce him to take the punishment decreed. Often the process served the use of a despot
as revenge against those who set themselves in opposition
to his will. More recently in US history, the exercise of
incarceration of persons has come to be theorized to be for
the best interest of a society. According to the theory,
incarceration is organized allegedly for the general good by
removing malefactors from the open culture and restricting
them in their personal activities and impact on the culture
by separating them out into great holding centers known
variously as jails, prisons and penitentiaries.
Until the end of the seventeenth century, prisons were
simply overcrowded, filthy, straw-filled dens. The inmates
were frequently dependent on charity or their families for
food and clothing. Water for purposes of cleanliness was
unavailable, and sanitation - including human waste
disposal - was nonexistent. The result was often starvation and sickness - including insanity. Prisons were
primarily places of detention. Families and persons dependent on the prisoners often shared their imprisonment. The
salaries of the prison wardens often were paid by fees
extracted from the prisoners.
Austin, Texas

Then, after an expose of conditions by John Howard in


England, in 1774 the English Parliament passed several
reform bills which chiefly called for order, cleanliness,
clothing and food for the prisoners.
Following this, England's Jeremy Bentham, about 1810,
conceived of remunerative labor for prisoners when they
were not locked in individual cells for reform through
solitude and seclusion and religious instruction. Using this
guide, England's Millbank penitentiary was built just about
the time that the US was trying its fledgling wings as a
nation. Chaplains were insisted upon; sexes were separated. However, Newgate in London continued to be a
pestiferous hole.
The American prisons (visited, incidentally, by Alexis de
Tocqueville, the French historian who came to the US in the
early nineteenth century and wrote copiously on his
observations) had meantime undergone a dramatic change.
The pious quakers of Pennsylvania had decided that those
persons in conflict with the culture and undergoing compulsory exclusion from it by prison sentence should be
amended and reformed. They began in the Walnut Street
penitentiary in Philadelphia. The religious methods adopted
there eventually spread over the entire world. The quakers
felt that individual confinement in a separate cell for lengthy
periods of time would most quickly expedite penance. The
quakers felt each man should be in a cell of solid masonry
walls save for one small opening facing the inside corridor or
through which the prisoner crawled when he entered his
cell. He never came out till he either served his sentence or
died. He was never permitted to see either sky or earth.
Isolated in his cell the prisoner was felt to be more
susceptible to a "curative" process which included constant
religion-based exhortation and searching introspection.
The quakers were adamant about this "need" and first
introduced preaching in the Walnut Street penitentiary in
1790.

Cloistered seclusion is an artificial condition at complete


variance with human instinct and habits. This system of
isolation produced no remarkable results, even where
applied with extreme care as in Belgium and France. Indeed
the incidence of recidivism has increased rather than
diminished. Long continued, it has proven injurious to
health, inducing mental breakdown. US prisons, seeing the
efficacy of isolation as a psychological punitive tool, have
deliberately used solitary confinement in darkness without
clothing to reach the recalcitrant prisoner who refuses
subjection.
The great penitentiary built at Auburn, New York in 1816
adopted the quaker principles, and there every prisoner
was kept continuously in complete isolation. He saw no
one, spoke to no one, and did no work. Many in Auburn

April,1983

Page 21

became insane in a very short period and cases of scattered


suicide followed the isolation.
Out of this grew another system introduced later both in
Auburn and Sing Sing. It was called the "silent system."
Prisoners still separated at night in cellular confinement
were permitted to labor in association by day but under a
rule of silence ruthlessly and rigorously enforced. This
Auburn, or silent, system predominated in the US until
recent years, as applied to both prison architecture and
administration.

Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Walpole, Massachusetts had completed a 21 month period of instruction.
The spread of transcendental meditation was dramatic:
Deuel Vocational Institution, Tracy, California, an 18month course; Federal Correctional Institution, Milan,
Michigan; Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, Minnesota;
Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc, California.
The maharishi was personally thanked by US senators,
governors, state lawmakers, attorneys general, state departments of correction. In Arkansas, in 1977, a federal grant

"The great penitentiary built at Auburn, New York in 1816 adopted the quaker
principles and there every prisoner was kept continuously in complete isolation ....
Many in Auburn became insane in a very short period."
Very little advancement has been made. The administration of prisons is under county, city, state and federal
jurisdiction, with management being most often essentially
a local concern. Prison industries have now been introduced (mostly sedentary) to maintain the proceses of the
imprisonment (laundries; kitchen work) or to provide the
state with needed paraphernalia (license plates). In smaller
local jails, however, idleness continues. In the south for
many years prisoners were "leased out," principally for road
maintenance or field work, and convict camps were developed.
But underlying it all has been the religious (quaker)
principle of "doing penance" for crimes against the dominant culture. The prison administration's primary concern
has been to break down the obdurate spirit of the felon.

was received to teach the transcendental meditation technique to prisoners, and the office of the attorney general of
that state blessed the constitutional infraction; and in
Massachusetts the state department of corrections was hot
after any possible grant, state or federal, to introduce the
program. In Ashtabula, Ohio a municipal court judge
blessed the constitutional offense.
Transcendental meditation advocates quickly moved to
influence probation officers and departments of social
service at city, county, and state levels, and by the mid-70s
Iowa, Indiana, Arizona, and New York officials were tangled
in the web, as were Andrews Air Force Base (Washington,
DC), the US Army War College (Carlisle, Pennsylvania),
the US Military Academy (West Point, New York).
Perhaps the most horrifying aspect is to read a transcript

"Itwas at this point in the late 1960s and early 1970s that the penal institutions began
to experiment with mind stultification. This was introduced into the prison systems
of the US through the efforts of the followers of the maharishi mahesh yogi."
Perhaps the single greatest current problem of our
prisons as an institution is the lack of ability of the
administrators or managers to psychologically subdue the
prisoners while they attempt to keep them restrained (by
incarceration).
It was at this point in the late 1960s and early 1970s that
the penal institutions began to experiment with mind
stultification. This was introduced into the prison systems
of the US through the efforts of the followers of the
maharishi mahesh yogi. The religious reform of prisoners
through the method of transcendental meditation began, of
course, in India with the objects of it being fo (1) "to remove
the convicts' criminality" and (2) "to restore his humanity."
By 1976, 11% of the prisoners at California's maximum
security state prison at Folsom had been put through a six
month transcendental meditation program. The effects of
this programming were reported by the inmates to be (1) a
doubling of production at the prisoner's work bench, (2) an
inner feeling of peace which made the prisoner more
malleable, (3) a removal of resentment so that the authority
is better accepted, (4) a raising of the hostility threshold
which results in decreased rule infractions by prisoners, and
(5) a profound inner silence.
In 1977, the program was introduced at San Quentin
prison in Tamal, California. In 1978, 16% of the inmates at
Page 22

April,1983

of a criminal case wherein a US federal district judge in


Detroit, Michigan on May 15, 1975 placed a felon accused of
distribution of PCP (the dangerous "angel dust" horse
tranquilizer drug) on 4-year's probation provided he would
continue with a transcendental meditation group of the
maharishi. A year later, May 3, 1976, a judge of the Superior
Court of Arizona (pinal County) gave a lO-year suspended
sentence to a rapist on condition that he be "initiated into a
transcendental meditation program."
In 1978 it became more difficult to obtain information
concerned with transcendental meditation and our nation's
penitentiaries. But what is patently obvious still is what
Joseph McCabe chronicled in 1949. No religious person, no
minister of judaeo-christianity ever lifted a finger to ameliorate the condition of any human being in prison. Rather, in
the US, first the quakers and now the followers of the
maharishi as well as Charles Colson and Chaplain Ray,
moved into prisons only with the theoretics of assisting the
"souls" of the prisoners in order to increase those cults'
"number count" in the real world.
Religion in prisons and penitentiaries is more an additional burden than a release.

The American Atheist

Gerald Tholen

FOOL'S GOLD

What's in a word - or, better yet, what's in an entire


concept?
Humankind has long displayed an immature ability to
attach "values" and assumed importance to ideas which, in
reality, are quite insignificant. Let me begin with the word
"gold" itself. Fortunes are constantly being made or lost in
the continuing fluctuations of prices of items like gold,
silver. diamonds, etc. Has anyone ever wondered how gold
can be worth $850/oz. one day, $835/oz. the next day, and
$420/ oz. the next month? A few years ago it was only worth
$35.00/ounce! One might begin to wonder - is it actually
worth anything at all! Manufacturers of electronic components will tell us that gold has many unique features
which are of critical commercial importance. Yet, the

the amount of "gold" that was sent; it was the concern of the
senders that makes the lasting impression. As I see it then,
concern - not gold - represents true value! I now find
myself wondering why should it cost a person so much, in
terms of gold, to survive in a society where advanced
medical assistance should be within the reach of all who
need it. There are people, less fortunate than myself, who
willdie - simply because they cannot afford the "costs" of
survival! Those costs are based on the "value of gold" - not
human concern!
We are presently immersed in a worldwide/nationwide
economic situation of deterioration which reflects similar
"values." Surely all people must realize that military, rather
than civil, considerations have been held most significant in
recent history. Socio-economic survival has mandated that
we spend our energies in an effort to "eliminate competition" rather than try to understand the basic needs of the
continually growing masses of people in the world. Will we
ever understand that "national patriotism" must eventually
give way to "human patriotism?" Will our John Wayne
mentality continue to dominate the ongoing exploitations of
the world's "Indians?" I use those terms loosely, for people
in the United States are not alone in their narrowmindedness. Other states are equally guilty.
It is difficult for me to accept that our "leaders" pay
undivided attention to a mythological value called the stock
market index. The fact is that stock market reports reflect
about as much "reality" as do the events that occur on a
gambling table in Las Vegas. Professional investors play
dice with the corporations that supply American commodities in much the same way that dealers vie with those who

"Will we ever understand that 'national patriotism' must give way to 'human
patriotism'?"
extremely high "value" placed on gold originates more
directly from what might be referred to as "pack rat value"
placed on it by the collectors in society. People have been
known to collect many things; stamps, antiques, baseball
cards, string - you name it, and someone has at one time
or another, placed extreme "value" on practically every
commodity known to humanity! Such considerations by a
person like myself (of all people) may at first sound
hypocritical. I have recently been helped out of a rather
serious economic situation through the generosity of a large
group of people who were truly concerned about my
physical survival. A significant quantity of "gold" was
contributed in order to help defray medical expenses which
are constantly beyond the means of any ordinary person.
The key value that Irecognized during the incident was not
Austin, Texas

attempt to "beat the house." In reality the national gross


product is inevitably determined by the consumer's ability
to participate in the consumption of goods - not by who
owns the production line! When we purchase gasoline at
the corner service station, are we more concerned with who
owns the petroleum refinery stock certificates or with the
sticker on the pump? The old expression "the cart (or at
least the driver of the cart) leading the horse" is true in this
case. The consumer is the driver of the economy - not the
stock market! We should become aware then that when we
try to enhance and isolate the "American economy" we
automatically become the gaming table adversaries of all
other nations. This aspect of existence causes the phenomenon we call national pride or patriotism. I, better than
some, have come to realize that there are ultimately more

April,1983

Page 23

far-reaching priorities than "national pride," for it is that


very form of patriotism which produces the negative
cultural stereotypes throughout world societies. And, it is
those stereotypes that finally furnish us with prejudice
and hostility.
Another related area of valueless values may be found in
the school systems. (Notice that I did not say public school
system, but rather school systems in general - including
private and parochial.) They have all been used as devices
to promote indoctrination and separatism into the minds of
young people. Academic subjects are continually overshadowed by the mindless administrators who teach nationalism and mythological adherence first, and the arts and
sciences second. Many pages of the American Atheist
magazine have been devoted to such topics. We have been

Whatever the case, national "trends" are the direct


reflection of the mentalities of nations! You get what you
pay for. And, even the medium of exchange used in the
payment of the costs of goods is simply a symbolic trinket
which constantly fluctuates due to personal whims of a
nation of people. True intelligence will ultimately stand on
its own merits.
I am always reminded of a very significant scene in that
old popular movie, The Wizard of Oz. Do you recall when
Dorothy and her motley entourage were cringing with fear
and adoration before the powerful "Oz" while pleading for
their special needs? Toto, Dorothy's devoted little pup,
slipped over and ripped away the curtain that had been
concealing the carvival huckster (Frank Morgan) who had
devised the mechanical apparatus that produced the ap-

"When will all Atheists be able to successfully, even if laboriously, pull back the
curtain of ignorance that conceals the equally mythological 'wizardry' of a fictional
character called god?"
very adamant in our position that education must be
secular if it is to have lasting values for those young people
who willbe affected by the educational policies. By comparison, our current incompetent "executive" leader is determined that the schools will reflect the conservative attitudes
of fundamentalist insanities! Caught somewhere in the
middle are the inquisitive minds of students. To make
matters worse, historically most of our educational priorities have been established in a similar manner. The result
today is that 8.7% of a group of University of Miami students
who were questioned on geographical locations of cities
could not locate Miami on an unmarked map of Florida! I
wonder if any of that same group would have been equally
"ignorant" of the alleged existence of a mythological figure
called god?
The encroachment of stupidity into the educational
processes does not stop there unfortunately. A recent
disclosure that our present administration will be appointing directors to the National Science Foundation; who will
reflect the "national policies of the administration" has been
effectuated. Dare we still wonder how the abolition of Ionian
(Greek) science was initiated? Science and education are
not crucial to the recruitment and regimentation of "mob"
mentality. I have long wondered why the recognized
"personalities in science" have not been outraged by such
incredible intrusions into the educational fields. (I hope to
elaborate on this particular topic in a subsequent article
devoted entirely to science because it is quite impossible to
include it as a simple related paragraph herein.)
Meanwhile, wonderful opportunities provided by technological wizardry have been lost. Television has never
been utilized to its full potential as an educational device.
Compare the soap opera nonsense, religious comedy and
sporting events with the listings of educational programming! When utilizing the benefits of home computers, do
our collections of computer program tapes consist chiefly of
natural science information or of "pac-man" games? Is your
current automobile an energy efficient means of transportation and an economic convenience or is it an "A.J. Foyt
Phantom GTX" concoction which might be more appropriately referred to as a "super play toy?"
Page 24

April,1983

parent "mighty wizard." What a let-down for Dorothy and


her crew! The overall message of that scene was altogether
fitting and proper. After all, Toto was the only representative Atheist on the set! He was not impressed with the
charlatanry of the "magnificent wizard." When will all
Atheists be able to successfully, even if laboriously, pull
back the curtain of ignorance that conceals the equally
mythological "wizardry' of a fictional character called god?
At present we are being spoonfed a tragic billof goods by
a man who knows little about his pet program - nuclear
capability. I refer to the comments of people like George
Kistiakowsky (deceased) who developed the "chemical
trigger" for the atom bomb, Georg Rathjens a political
science professor at MIT who was an arms-control expert
for the State and Defense Departments, and Herbert
Scoville a former director of the CIA. These men were in
agreement that Ronald Reagan has less "scientific knowledge" than did any of his predecessors. Yet we seem to be
bound to follow nuclear programs and policies that will
finally bankrupt this nation in a two hundred plus billion
dollar futile effort to gain some kind of mythological
"nuclear advantage" over the rest of the nations of the
world. This is the greatest example to which I can refer in
stating my prior claim; we are more interested in the
ultimate control and/or annihilation of the world's "Indians"
than we are with the concern for their continued pleasurable existence. Can we really afford such an attitude today?
I suppose it depends on where one's "values" lie.

The American Atheist

Dr. Madalyn Murray Q'Hair

WHAT MAKES EASTER MOVE?


Program No. 425, broadcast 1/7/77
"The celebration of anniversaries, whether personal,
national or of world import, religious or secular, has always
had a fascination for mankind. They derive from our past of
magic and religion; for to record the memory of an event in
this way is by some mystical proces almost to recreate it.
Interest in the calendar is widespread, as shown by popular
almanacks (sic) from the seventeenth century onwards,
and some differing calendars are examined in this article.
The author believes them to have always been religious in
origin, and that they have developed from the need to
perform sacred rites at the correct and propitious times.
"The complicated formula for calculating the date of
easter used to be (and probably still is) found in some
prayer-books. I well remember as a small boy being
fascinated by this, together with such oddities as the
'Golden Number,' 'Dominical Letters' and other such
esoteric information. Even then I found it perplexing that
the exact date of such a world-shattering event was not
merely not known, but apparently occurred up to a month
apart in successive years.
"The real reason, of course, why the date varies is
because it is not based on a solar calendar, but derives from
an earlier lunar festival. The fixing of religious observances
by the phases of the moon is very ancient indeed. It
precedes giving fixed dates of the solar year, by some
thousands of years. The peculiar method adopted as a
means of computing the day of the crucifixion is a relic of
christianity's judaic origins. It is significant that the early
christians also considered this period of the year as the
birthday of their saviour. This is in line with the very old
superstitions that every event in the lifeof a god, a prophet
or a king must occur on propitious or similar days. Gautama
the buddha is traditionally believed to have been born on,
achieved enlightenment on, and died on, the full moon of
May. This is still celebrated as the buddhist festival of
wesak.

Israel, were probably not enslaved by the Egyptians as such.


Their overlords, in fact, appear to have been fellow semites
who had conquered the eastern Nile delta area and ruled
circa 1700-1580 b.c. These were the 'shepherd kings,' or
Hyksos, of Egyptian history. The jewish religious calendar
was developed from the Babylonian which was a purely
lunar one, though the names of their months have an
Egyptian origin.
"The moon was the first great marker of time used by
man because its changes, unlike the sun, could be recognised (sic) from day to day. Also, it supposedly had an
intimate personal effect, being associated with the monthly
female ovulation. It was also believed to be connected with
the growth of vegetation. There is a superstition that lingers
to this day; that certain crops grow better if planted at the
new moon, and others when it is waning. Most lunar deities
are female and associated with rivers or water. Venus came
out of the sea; astarte was guardian of the Tigris; isis, the
prototype of the virgin rnary, was a Nile goddess and the
names of both mean 'pure waters,' Mary being derived from
the same root that gives us the word maritime. The islamic
year is still a completely lunar one. This results in the
observance of ramadan wandering through every month.
On the other hand, similar moon-based dates such as
easter, the jewish new year and passover now only vary by a
single month.
Religious Origins of the Calendar
"The variety of dating systems that have been in use at
different times in different civilisations (sic) is a fascinating
subject for speculation on mankind's many aberrations of
thinking. Some, the vestiges of which are still with us, like
Plough Monday, may day, walpurgis eve, August Bank
Holiday and many saints' days are very ancient in origin.
They all have their beginnings in magico-religious rites and

"Passover, which the first jewish . christians continued to observe, is also a


moveable feast, based on the new moon following the vernal equinox. This was
originally a spring celebration, and was only later attached to the folk myth of the
exodus."
"Passover, which the first jewish christians continued to
observe, is also a movable feast, based on the new moon
following the vernal equinox. This was originally a spring
celebration, and was only later attached to the folk-myth of
the exodus. It is interesting to note that if the escape from
Egypt took place at all, the semitic tribesmen who later
entered Palestine, forming the kingdoms of Judah and
Austin, Texas

beliefs. There is little doubt that all calendar systems have


first been constructed for religious reasons connected with
tribal myths. The need for some fairly accurate method of
calculating when rituals and sacrifices were to take place
put power into the hands of priests and rulers. That these
events coincided with the time of herd breeding, moving to
fresh pastures, hunting or the planting of crops, enhanced

April,1983

Page 25

that power.
"One such calendar may have survived for up to ten
thousand years. There still exist traceable dates (allowing
for calendar revisions and other changes) going back in time
to the childhood of civilisation (sic). It is popularly believed a
365-day system with the year divided at the vernal and
autumnal equinoxes, and winter and summer solstices with
festivals such as christmas, Lady Day, Midsummer and
michaelmas as the modern focal points was the earliest. But
this is not so, for underlying it can be found the remains of a
far older year. This itself may have given rise to the
confusion, argument and counterargument
that have
ranged around such Neolithic monuments as Stonehenge
and other similar megaliths scattered throughout Europe.
Although Stonehenge was used to pinpoint Midsummer
and to make other celestial observations, it appears to have
been altered and realigned several times. This has caused
much of the speculation and mystical nonsense written
about the meaning and purpose of many stone (and
wooden) circles. Incidentally, there is no original connection of the druids with Stonehenge; their annual Midsummer performances are a modern invention, dating from
the eighteenth century.
The Mystique of May Day
"From the evidence available, there is some reason for
thinking that in early times, the human race may have bred
seasonally, as do other animals. If this were so, it would
account for a calendar, the focal points of which are not
based on the astronomical seasons, but on a rhythmic cycle
of fertility. Walpurgis, the modern May Day, is a very
ancient celebration. Long before it was adopted as the
International Labour Day, it was associated with the annual
rebirth of nature. Dancing around the phallic totem, the
maypole, crowning the mother goddess as may queen, all
these form part of very ancient folk traditions. May day has
always been associated with joy and love-making and
suggests the existence of a ritual mating season. Indeed, it
has been suggested that the words of the old song should
read as: 'Here we come gathering nuts in May,' a reference
to the colloquial term for the testes. Everything long
associated with this day not only indicates extreme antiquity but also its importance as a day of sexual activity.

winter with the lighting of the beltane bonfires (transferred


in the seventeenth century to 5 November as a result of the
activities of Guy Fawkes). Again, this time is associateed
with festivities, pageantry and dancing. The halloween
masks and apple-bobbing would appear to be but remnants
of some religious festival.
"At the beginning of February occurs candlemas, another obscure dating that has been christianised for no
apparent logic. It is certainly another fire or purification
ceremony. Februs, which gave the month its name, was the
Roman festival of purification long before the christians
adopted it for that of mary. There is also a somewhat similar
jewish festival about this time. I suggest that this would be
time the children conceived during the May mating period
were born, with consequent religious ceremonies. The
ritual use of fire and the lighting of candles as cleansing
agents is worldwide and to be found in some form in almost
all faiths. It is a remarkable fact that traces of a calendar long
predating any based on the solar year can still be found in
popular holidays and church festivals. Thus folk memories
persist despite the overlaying by centuries of civilisation.
An American Oddity
"There is one dating system that bears no relationship to
any other (even the Chinese who like to be different in most
things have their New Year sometime in January). This was
the invention of the Toltecs and Mayas of Central America.
Their calendars appear to be no way connected with any
known natural phenomena. Neither solar nor lunar, not
seasonal or derived from any known astronomical or
sidereal events, these calendars seem to relate recurring
periods of many years and were not annual. They consist of
I8-month periods each composed of 20 days. The probable
reason is some factor unknown to us in the history of these
people. Unfortunately there is no Rosetta Stone to facilitate
deciphering their script.
"So: easter moves because it neither records an historical
event nor has anything to do with christianity in origin, but
results from attempts to reconcile opposing religious beliefs
and methods of constructing calendars. If the crucifixion
really happened, it is rather strange that the coptic church,
probably the oldest christian church of all, and which
certainly existed in Alexandria long before there was one in

"So: easter moves because it neither records an historical event nor has anything
to do with christianity in origin, but results from attempts to reconcile opposing
religious beliefs and methods of constructing calendars."
"Exactly three months further along the year is lammas,
still to be found in the church calendar, but again, so old the
origins are forgotten and various explanations gIven. In
Scotland it is still one of the legal quarter-days. It is also the
harvest time and would be a time of popular rejoicing.
Perhaps a folk memory persisted in the institution of the
first Monday in August as a public holiday (until transferred
to the end of the month.)
"The next three-month period brings us to halloween,
followed by all saints day. This obvious pagan festival was
given a christian veneer because of its antiquity and
importance. It was the time for signalling the approach of
Page 26

April,1983

Rome, views things very differently from all others. For they
look upon every Friday as a kind of good friday, and
celebrate every Sunday almost as a combined christmas
and easter day. Is this because, from the very beginning,
these festivals were looked upon as merely symbolical?"
This program is from an essay by James Alexander,
"What Makes Easter Move?" written for the April 1976
issue of the English Atheist magazine titled The Freethinker.

The American Atheist

THE ZODIAC AND RELIGION


Program No. 123, broadcast 11/16/70
Astrology is in vogue in America today. Everyone knows
the signs of the zodiac. The word zodiac is derived from
earlier Greek and Latin and means "figures;" and the zodiac
is picturized for everyone with a ram, or a bull, or the lion, or
the goat. It started out to be an imaginary belt in the
heavens, usually 18 degrees wide. It is a band which is
thought of as encircling the celestial sphere which we can
see. The band stretches 8 degrees on each side of the
so-called ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the sun. The
paths of all the planets are supposed to be in this band except Pluto. Actually, the sun, the moon, Venus, Jupiter,
Mars, Mercury and Saturn. All of the stars seem to be
stationary as we look out there - but the planets move, or
so it appears, in this band around the earth. Indeed the word
planet is derived from Latin and Greek meaning "wanderer," or something wandering around up there. The Milky
Way has always seemed to be just there. And the Big Dipper
is stationary, or one would think so. And, the Andromeda
Constellation doesn't appear to move - but the seven
heavenly bodies? Ah! it seemed otherwise with them.
Due to the annual revolution of the earth, the sun appears
to make one complete circuit through the zodiac in one
year, staying in one area about one month.
The signs of the zodiac and the constellations of the
zodiac were originally the same, but due to the precession
of the equinoxes, each sign moves westward into the next
constellation in about 2,155 years. A sign therefore makes a
complete circuit of the heavens in about 26,000 years. One
of the most noted astronomers and mathematicians has
calculated that the signs and constellations of the zodiac
coincided about 300 b.c. and before that about 26,000 b.c.
Since the signs of the zodiac were widely known thousands
of years before 300 b.c., they evidently originated not later
than about that 26,000 b.c.

toward the south, figuratively moving backward like a crab.


The lion is the star group through which the sun moved in
July when its heat was most powerful, being compared with
the most ferocious of the beasts. The virgin is an emblem of
the harvest season when the young girls were sent out to
glean in the fields. The balance is the constellation in which
the sun moved when day and night were equal in length just
as if they were weighed in a balance. The stars of the
scorpion were hidden by the sun during the season of
unhealthy weather and of plagues, which were imagined to
strike like a scorpion. Stars called the archer reigned over
the hunting season, when the hunter shot game with the
bow and arrows. In the goat the sun reached the lowest
point in its course after which it began to climb toward the
north again just as the wild goat climbs toward the summit
of the hill.The water carrier marked the position of the solar
orb during the rainy season. The stars of the fishes
constituted that group through which the sun passed when
the fishing season was at its height.
When we read the bible with some of the zodiac
information at our elbows, some startling things are apparent. In revelations 4:7 we read of the four beasts and the
four horsemen. The first beast was like a lion, the second
beast like a calf, the third beast had a face as a man, and the
fourth beast was like a flying eagle. These animals were the
constellations that were situated at the four cardinal points
of the zodiac 5,000 years ago. They were taurus the bull
(Vernal Equinox), leo the lion (Summer Solstice), scorpio
the scorpion (Autumnal Equinox), and aquarius the waterman (Winter Solstice). In the bible the eagle has been
substituted for the scorpion. But, why not? The signs of the
zodiac with the exception of the scorpion, which was
exchanged by Dan for the eagle, were carried by the
different tribes of the Israelites on their standards. Taurus,

"Taurus, leo, aquarius and scorpio (or the eagle), that is, the four signs of Ruben,
Judah, Ephraim, and Dan were placed at the four corners of their encampment,
evidently in allusion to the cardinal points of the sphere, the equinoxes and
solstices. "
The constellations of the zodiac have certain names.
They are Latin names, as known to us, with translations as I
.give you now: aries, the ram (or the lamb); taurus, the bull
(or ox); gemini, the twins; cancer, the crab; leo, the lion;
virgo, the virgin; libra, the balances; scorpio, the scorpion;
sagittarius, the archer; capricornus, the goat; aquarius, the
water-carrier; and pisces, the fish.
The origin of the names are just about agreed upon. The
constellations of the lamb, the bull and the twins were star
groups through which the sun passed in the spring, in which
time of the year occurred the seasons of sheep-raising,
ploughing, and goat breeding. The twins were originally the
two kids, since the young of goats are frequently born two at
a time. The crab was so called because the sun reached its
most northern point in that constellation, and then returned
Austin, Texas

leo, aquarius, and scorpio (or the eagle), that is, the four
signs of Ruben, Judah, Ephraim, and Dan were placed at
the four corners of their encampment, evidently in allusion
to the cardinal points of the sphere, the equinoxes and
solstices.
But what were the four horsemen? and their steeds?
The first horseman is a conqueror, armed with a bow and
wearing a crown, and riding a white horse. This is the planet
Venus. The second horse is red, and on it is a warrior with a
sword. The red planet is, of course, Mars - worshipped by
the ancients as the god of war. The third horse is black, the
planet of Saturn, and his rider holds a pair of balances aloft.
The balances may be emblematic of the zodiacal constellation libra, for the sun was in that constellation when day and
night were equal, just as though weighed on a pair of scale

April,1983

Page 27

pans. The fourth horse is of a pale complexion, pale-green


or blue-green, the color of the planet Mercury, and astride
him sits death. The colors of the four horses point to their
origin in the astrological lore of Babylonia.
Why was christ in the tomb for three days? Could it be
that there is a three day period between the old and the new
moons?
Is the five-pointed star we know so well the five planets
visible to the naked eye? The five points form ten angles of
108 degrees each. The Babylonians had one hundred eight
days in each set of four months (27 days each). In India the
number one hundred eight is the number of brahma, the
god of light. The rosary, or rudraksa beads, worn by
brahmans number 108. There are 108 vedas. There are 108
upanishads. Tibet and China use 108 as a sacred and mystic
number in connection with architecture,
ritual and literature. The number of beads in both Tibetan and Burmese
rosaries is 108; I hope to be able to do more research on the
108 number.
But, think of our week - for the planets influenced
everything. The divisions of the zodiac broguht parts of the
body under the influence of each sign. Venus ruled over the
genital organs. Mars presided over the bile, blood and
kidneys. Mercury's domain was the liver. The days of the
week were also governed by the planets: Sunday by the sun;
Monday by the moon; Tuesday by Mars; Wednesday by
Mercury; Thursday by Jupiter; Friday by Venus; Saturday
by Saturn. The day was divided into twelve double hours,
each hour representing the time which the sun spent daily in
each sign of the zodiac. The passage of the sun through the
signs suggested the division of time into years. The spring
and autumn equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices further divided the year into four seasons.

There were 40 days of mourning by the Babylonians before


the celebration of the festival of the descent of ishtar which
corresponds
to the christian lenten period of 40 days from
ash Wednesday to easter. The sons of Israel lived 400 (40 X
10) years in Egypt. King david ruled for forty years. Most of
the judges judged Israel for 40 years each. Forty is the
number for the punishment of sinners, says deuteronomy
25:3 ("Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if
he should exceed, and beat him above these with many
stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.").
Now, really, anyone who could possibly believe that all of
these important events for judeo-christianity
actually occurred in numbers of 40 has to be just a little bit fruity. It is
obvious that the magic number is worked into the stories as
often as it can be.
If we consider the number seven, things get worse. In the
first seven days of the new moon, it is increasing in vigor and
power. The next seven days brings the moon to the peak of
its power. When the moon passes the full, the dark forces
are attacking during the seven days of the moon's third
quarter, and in the fourth quarter the powers of darkness
are in control and the moon is deprived of its light. The
sacred number seven dominates the cycle of religious
observances.
Every seventh day was a sabbath and every
seventh month was a sacred month. Every seventh year
was a sabbatical year. Seven times seven was the year of
jubilee. The feast of the passover with the feast of unleavened bread began 14 days (which is two times seven)
after the beginning of the month and lasted seven days. The
feast of the pentecost was seven times seven days after the
feast of the passover. The feast of the tabernacles began 14
days (which is two times seven) after the beginning of the
month and lasted 7 days. The seventh month was marked

"The Babylonians, the Hebrews, and the Egyptians were extremely partial to the
number, and in the bible and in the koran the number seven, and seven times seven, is
employed repeatedly."
by:

One of the greatest influences on religion has been the


cycle of the moon, which is about twenty eight days. The
menstrual cycle of most women is also twenty eight days.
Coupled with this is the early notion of month counting. So,
the moon became known as the Great Regulator. The
gestation of women is about 280 days, or ten 28-day moon
months. This period also represents
about 40 weeks
according to moon calendars. So, we see a remarkable
number of fortys in all the works of ancienf people. The
number is habitually associated with periods of temptation;
trial, judgment, hardship and pain for forty periods of
something - 40 days, 40 weeks, 40 months, or 40 years.
For example: there are 40 days and nights of the deluge.
There are 40 years of wandering in the wilderness by the
Israelites. There were 40 days and nights of fasting by moses
on Mt. Sinai. Christ was in the wilderness for 40 days. There
are 40 days between the resurrection of christ and his final
disappearance
from the earth. There were 40 days of
mourning for the death of jacob. There was 40 days of
fasting by elijah on Mt. Horeb. Ezekiel bore the iniquity of
the house of Judah for 40 days. There were 40 days of
sacrifice in the old Persian salutation of mithra. There were
40 nights of mourning in the mysteries of persephone.

(1) the feast of trumpets on the 1st day.


(2) the feast of atonement on the 10th day.
(3) the feast of the tabernacles from the 15th to the
21st day.
The days of the holy convocation were seven in number: 2
at the passover; 1 at the day of atonement, 1 at the feast of
trumpets,
1 at the day of atonement,
1 at the feast of
tabernacles, and 1 on the day following the 8th day.
F rom the beginning of history, changes of the moon were
believed to have a decisive influence on all existence and the
number seven was deemed the most powerful of magic
numbers. The day of the full moon, called "shabbatu"
in
ancient Sumeria was described as "the day of the heart, the
day when the heart of the god is appeased." Work was laid
aside and old and young gathered in the street to celebrate.
Later, shabbatu came to mark the four quarters of the
moon, and the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th day of the month
were celebrated by religious services and the cessation of
work. Although the bible is not clear on this point, it does
appear as if the adoption of the seven day week marked the
change from lunar to solar time by the Hebrews (ex. 31:16
- "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath,

April, 1983

The American Atheist

Page 28

to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a


perpetual covenant"; ex. 12:6,18 - "And ye shall keep it up
until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole
assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the
evening .... In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the
month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one
and twentieth day of the month at even."}.
It would take books to catalog the multitude of instances
in which the number seven seems to have either mystical or
astral significance. The Babylonians, the Hebrews, and the
Egyptians were extremely partial to the number, and in the
bible and in the koran the number seven, and seven times
seven, is employed repeatedly. Of course, the number of
visible moving objects in the sky, as I have indicated, were

seven also: the sun, the moon and the five planets visible to
the naked eye. But, apparently seven was venerated long
before the development of astrology, and since the moon
has always been obvious, it is thought that it derives from
that.
Well, I will be back with you in just seven days - next
week, same day of the week, same time, same station. The
sponsor of this program is the Society of Separationists,
Inc. The word sponsor has seven letters in it and so does the
word society. All of which doesn't mean a thing. You can
send contributions in sevens, or multiples of sevens, if you
like, and that would mean something! For we need your
continuing support for these educational programs.

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April,1983

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Page 29

JESUS CHRIST NEVER EXISTED!


by James Erickson

"The article on stars referred to celestial events around


the time of jesus' birth. However, there is a great deal of
scholarship which indicates that jesus was not an historical
character. One might as well refer to stars at the birth of jack
frost or santa claus!"
published letter by James Erickson,
Time, 1/17/77

Hundreds of thousands of christian churches have been


erected throughout the centuries. They were all raised to
honor a being who never walked the earth. This brief article
will consider what I think to be an example of human
gullibilityand obedience to the herd instinct.
Many freethinkers and unitarians are willing to give up
jesus as a god but are unwilling to give him up as a man. Yet
there is no solid evidence that any religious leader called
jesus christ ever lived. Ifsuch a being existed, it would have
been noted by the Hebrew and Roman historians of the'
period. Even ifone discounts the miracles, jesus supposedly
founded a major religion and was considered enough of a
threat to Roman rule to have been executed. Yet, outside of
the legends and superstitions which make up the gospels,
history is strangely silent.
However, Josephus is often quoted as not being silent.
He was a jewish historian who was born about the year 37
a.d. This was shortly after the date given for the death of
jesus. This would make his father a contemporary of the
so-called wandering martyr of Galilee.
In his Jewish Antiquities, Josephus supposedly made two
references - one a paragraph of ten lines and the other
only a clause. In another of his books, History of the Jewish
Page 30

April, 1983

War, he deals with a time when the christians were making


converts. Here there is no mention of jesus.
The famous passage of Josephus starts out: "Now about
this time, jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man,
for he was a doer of wonderful works ... " The writer G.A.
Wells points out in his book, Did Jesus Exist?, that the
passage occurs in a context concerning the misfortunes of
the jews with which it has no connection unless from a
christian viewpoint. He further states that a christian,
however, might well regard jesus' condemnation by Pilate at
the demand of jewish leaders as "the very worst misfortune."
Josephus was proud of his jewish heritage and would
hardly have inserted such a pro-christian paragraph. According to Herbert Cutner, (Jesus: God, Man, or Myth), "The
early church fathers, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of
Alexandria, and Origen, knew nothing of the passage. The
first christian writer to call attention to it was Eusebius
(about 320 a.d.) ... " The historian, Gibbon, and most
christian theologians have denounced the paragraph as a
crude forgery.
The other passage dealt with the death of james who was
called here "the brother of jesus called christ." It is also
considered fraudulent by some scholars.
Justice of Tiberius was a jewish historian who wrote
history during the period of the alleged jesus. All of his
works have perished, but in the 9th century the christian,
Photius, complained about Justice not making "the least
mention of the appearance of christ."
Philo was born around 20 b.c. of a wealthy jewish family in
Alexandria. He visited Palestine during his travels. There is
no mention of jesus in his voluminous writings dealing with
history and allegory. So much for the jewish writers!
Sometimes the Roman writers, Pliny the Younger and
Tacitus, are referred to as evidence by the historicists. Pliny
refers to christians who sang hymns to "christ as to a god."
He could have written that sun- worshippers sang hymns to
"apollo as a god." In either case, it would not prove that
christ or apollo were men. Some consider this passage to be
suspect since jesus had probably not yet been invented.
Tacitus, 55 a.d. - 130 a.d., refers to a putting down of the
christians and the punishment of its founder, christus, by
the procurator, Pontius Pilate. It was not until the 15th
century that the account was "discovered" by Poggio
Bracciolini. There has been considerable debate by Latin
experts, such as W.J. Ross, whether Bracciolini wrote
Annals (where the reference was found) himself, then
inserted it into the writings of Tacitus. He and others have
claimed that it was written in a Latin style which Tacitus
would not have used. Besides it seems that no writer ever
referred to it before the 15th century! Even ifone concedes
that it was genuine, it would only be a report by Tacitus from
believers in "christus," and not proof that such a man
existed.
The evidence that jesus was anything but a literary
creation does not exist. The whole christ myth was a
rewritten version of the ancient and universal sun myth. An
The American Atheist

actual man was not necessary when the time came for the
priests to transform the sun god into a savior god.
This idea was advanced by such higher critics as Dupuis
(17421809), and Robert Taylor (1784 1844). Incidentally,
the rev. Robert Taylor spent three years in an English prison
for blasphemy for expounding this idea.
The advocates of the sun myth viewpoint consider jesus
to have been a personified sun. This borrowing of pagan
mythology made it easier to promote the new religion,
christianity.
The actual story of jesus is an allegory of the sun as it
appeared to wander through the sky for a full year. It
appeared to weaken until on December 21 there were twice
as many hours of darkness as daylight. The forces of
darkness had apparently won. However, the ancient zodiacal constellation, virgo, challenged the supremacy of
darkness at this time. She gave birth to a new sun to replace
the dead one. Like the virgin mary giving birth to jesus at
christmas, the sun was born among the beasts of the
zodiac.
The sun grew up in obscurity. It got stronger and
stronger, and on March 21 it was victorious. The hours of

light now exceeded the hours of darkness. The sun had


been resurrected. It was jesus' time of victory, too, as he
arose from obscurity to confound the priests in the temple.
On June 21 the youthful sun reached its greatest victory
in the longest day of the year. Between March 21 and June
21 the sun performed many miracles as seeds flowered into
plants. Jesus also went through such a period. One of his
"miracles" was the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus, like
the sun, was the wondrous food-giver!
After June 21 the days became shorter. The sun had been
betrayed, as jesus was betrayed by judas. Soon the "forces
of darkness and evil" conquered the sun once more.
About 2,000 years ago a continuing astronomical event
took place known as the "precession of the equinoxes."
The rising of the sun in the spring equinox shifted from the
constellation of aries, the ram, to the constellation of pisces,
the fish. The frequent references to sheep in the old
testament gave way to fish in the new testament. Jesus and
his twelve fishermen disciples were the personifications of
the sun and the twelve signs of the zodiac. So in conclusion,
christ is not a son of a god, but a god of the sun!

INSECTS STUN ASTROLOGISTS


by Chuck Bufe
(Reprinted from the Arbiter, now University News, published at Boise State University, Jan. 12, 1978.)
Much to my dismay, I was forced on several occasions
during christmas break (I attended quite a few parties) to
use my "insects on Uranus" argument. Normally that
necessity arises in the course of discussions of things like
astrology, the existence of god, the possibility of extraterrestrial origins of UFOs, etc.
While it's absurdly easy to poke logical holes the size of a
747 in things such as belief in the validity of astrology, such
an approach generally has little ifany effect on persons who
hold such beliefs. After banging my head against a wall for
years with rational arguments, I regretfully concluded that
some other line of attack would have to be found. The very
fact that a person believes in anything as patently ludicrous
as astrology is good evidence that that person has abandoned rationality, or, more likely, never developed her/his
capacity for rational thought in the first place. And rational
arguments have virtually no effect on people who are
incapable of thinking rationally.
So logic alone will not destroy irrational beliefs. Shock
tactics are needed. Enter the "insects on Uranus." Normally, in arguments about astrology, etc., I'll first run through
the usual logical objections to the belief in question.
Generally, at some time during the discussion, the person
with whom I'm talking willsay, in exasperation, something
to the effect of "Look, you've made a few points, but I still
believe in astrology (god, the Celestial Fat Kid, etc.). You
can't disprove it." At that point I'll surprise her/him by
saying: "You're absolutely right. I can't disprove it. But by
the same token, can you disprove that Uranus is inhabited
by twenty feet tall spiders who thrive on poisonous gases
and 300 degree below zero temperatures?" That retort
normally produces stunned silence. The points that I make
with it are, of course, that it's exceedingly difficult, if not
impossible, to conclusively disprove anything; that, as any
beginning debater willtell you, the burden of proof falls on
Austin, Texas

the affirmative; that there's no reason to believe in anything


lacking a solid logical basis; and that if you abandon the
logical process, you have no reliable defense against a host
of irrational and often sick and dangerous ideas, logically
indefensible concepts like inherent racial and sexual inferiority/superiority, for instance.
Unfortunately, irrational beliefs are very prevalent in our
society: The reasons for that aren't hard to find. The
American system of miseducat ion is largely to blame. The
primary function of the school system is to churn out
interchangeable parts (people) possessing the absolute
minimum of skills needed to fit smoothly into the available
slots in the economy, and to inculcate an unthinking
obedience to, and respect for, authority in its products. The
school system certainly isn't there to help individuals
develop their abstract reasoning abilities. If you doubt the
foregoing, consider for a minute the numerous discussions
- made in dead seriousness - one sees and hears in the
media on the "problem" of "overeducated" people.
Another problem is that irrationality is profitable. As long
as capitalism exists, with its concomitant host of irrational,
insecure, frightened people, there will always be astrologers, evangelists, and other types of charlatans ready and
willingto pat the suckers on the head, tell them a few nice
fairy tales, and take them for every dime they've got. Until
the main function of the school system is to help every
individual develop to her/his fullest potential, not to crank
out interchangeable parts, and until the possibility of
profiteering by catering to the hopes and fears of the gullible
is removed, there will indeed be one "born every minute."
In the meantime, the next time someone says to you
"Like wow, man, what's your sign?," haul out the insects
(Uranian variety). It probably won't jolt 'em into embracing
rationality, but it should at least shut 'em up for a while.

April,1983

Page 31

THE REAL THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR


by Rear Admiral Gene R. LaRocque
US Navy, (Ret.)
(Rear Admiral LaRocque served on the Strategic Plans Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff two and one-half years
commanded the 6th Fleet's Fast Carrier Task Group, taught at Naval War College, served as Director of th;
Inter-American Defense College, and has been Director of Center for Defense Information. Note this article was written
in 1978, but it is even more vitally important today.)
Nuclear war is a growing threat to all humanity. World
War IIIwith nuclear weapons can, and almost certainly will
happen unless all governments confront this reality.
As a career military officer, I served in our Navy for
thirty-one years. I have fought in combat and held command posts at sea and on land and participated in strategic
and nuclear planning. Since retiring from active duty, I have
been director of a non-governmental research organization,
the Center for Defense Information, a project of the Fund
for Peace. We are a source of independent, objective
analysis of military developments, particularly active in
providing factual information about the nuclear arms race
and the consequences of nuclear war.
The military profession has always sought superiority to
win wars. Military men in all countries constantly seek to
strengthen the defense of their countries and maintain
advantages. 'My experience in the US military has convinced me that nuclear weapons have changed the traditional rules of warfare. To use an American phrase, "it's a
whole new ball game."

both countries constantly seek to improve their nuclear and


conventional forces. Only 30% of our $128 billion (in 1983
this is now over $230 billion) military budget goes for the
direct defense of the United States. The other 70% goes to
provide the US military forces to defend foreign countries
and to project our military power abroad. Billions of
"Budget Fat" could be cut from the military budget with no
injury to actual defense.
Many of us are shocked and sobered by the mad nuclear
scramble of the superpowers. It seems too obvious that
they have diminished their own security in the nuclear
competition. We all know that a balance of terror provides a
precarious peace. The Soviet Union and the United States
are, in part, victims of modern military technology. Advances in weaponry, particularly better delivery systems,
have dramatically compressed time and space. Thus,
military leaders believe they must maintain large forces on a
close-to-war status. In a nuclear war, each nation could
destroy the other in 30 minutes. Nuclear missiles launched
from submarines could land within 15 minutes. There is no

"Only 30% of our ... military budget goes for the direct defense of the United States.
The other 70%goes to provide the US military forces to defend foreign countries and
to project our military power abroad."

I am, of course, referring primarily to the relationship


between the United States and the Soviet Union and their
respective military alliances. Despite the constant friction
and conflicts of interest that have occurred over many
decades, there has never been a war between our countries. But today, as irrational as it may seem, Soviet and
American leaders are planning and arming for nuclear war.
A recent top-level US government study concluded that,
at a minimum, 140 million people in the US and 113 million
people of the USSR would be killed in a major nuclear war.
Almost three-quarters of their economies would be destroyed. In such a conflict, the analysis concluded, "neither'
side could conceivably be described as a winner."

defense, regardless of who strikes first. The prospect of


immediate mass destruction seems to compel high states of
military readiness and this situation inspires mutual suspicion and rhetorical harshness.
Many people believe nuclear weapons will never be used.
But as someone who has been directly involved in US
nuclear planning, I can state that my country has plans and
forces for actually fighting nuclear war. Our military field
manuals detail the use of nuclear weapons. Our troops,
airmen, and navy men train and practice for nuclear war.
Nuclear war is an integral part of American military planning
and the US is prepared to use nuclear weapons anywhere in
the world, right now in many. contingencies.

"Many people believe nuclear weapons will never be used. But as someone who has
been directly involved in US nuclear planning, I can state that my country has plans
and forces for actually fighting nuclear war."
Nor would those in the rest of the world be safe. Radiation
would poison vast stretches of the planet not directly
involved in the war. And the threat of ozone damage and
ecological disruption leaves us no assurance that the earth
would remain habitable for life as we know it. Despite this,
Page 32

April,1983

The United States has generally taken the lead in the


nuclear arms race. We have been, on the average, five years
ahead of the Soviet Union in introducing new nuclear
weapons. We were the first to develop the atomic bomb, the
hydrogen bomb, the intercontinental bomber, effective
The American Atheist

intercontinental ballistic missiles, modern nuclear powered


strategic submarines, and multiple warheads (MIRVs) for
missiles. The United States continues to maintain, as
President Carter recently asserted, a significant edge over
the Soviet Union in the effectiveness of our strategic
weapons as measured by such factors as missile accuracy
and numbers of nuclear weapons.
In recent years the US has added more nuclear weapons
to its arsenal than the Soviet Union, going from 4,000
strategic nuclear weapons in 1970 to 9,000 in 1978. During
this same period, the Soviet Union increased from 1,800 to
4,500 strategic nuclear weapons. The US has maintained a
two-to-one edge in deliverable nuclear weapons throughout
the period 1970 to 1978.
The discrepancy in numbers, however, makes no difference as each country can obliterate the entire urban and
industrial complex of the other regardless of who strikes
first. The United States has 35 strategic nuclear weapons
for every Soviet city over 100,000. The Soviet Union has 28
strategic weapons for every US city over 100,000.
The public must force its political leaders to take control
of events and not permit the military and its technology to
control them. If we are to survive on this planet, the arms
race must be slowed, stopped and reversed, now.

THE BOOGIE MAN ISN'T QUITE AS BAD AS WE WERE LED TO BELIEVE


Now that the elections are over, the CIA has come out
and admitted (in a wire report on 3/4/83) that earlier
estimates of the Soviet Union's military budget were
overstated. It now places the amount that country spent on
the military in 1981 at about the same level as Ronald
Reagan's government, not more as previously asserted. It
was not stated if even this budget estimate of the Soviet's
military spending included items that are directly related to
military uses but are not normally included in Ronald
Reagan's military budget. Furthermore, if we are to believe
our government, whatever the USSR does with their money
has automatically, ipso facto, got to be at least 50% more
inefficient than whatever Ronald Reagan does with his

money. And to bring us up to date, since 1981 Ronald


Reagan has increased his military spending by over 13% a
year, while the CIA now estimates that the Soviet Union has
increased its military spending by only 2% a year. Clearly,
this puts Ronald Reagan, a crusading fanatical christian who
apparently would like nothing more than to blow up a
"bunch of Atheists," in control of the biggest military empire
in the world.
Of course, military spending anywhere is a threat to
world survival, but it is clear that that major threat comes
from the government of Ronald Reagan - not the Soviet
Union.

Spring

ALL FOR THE WANT OF PROOF

Like a clear mountain spring


The earth ripples in a feathery breeze.
Shoots part the moist earth
Amidst the melodies of welcomed birds,
Who start to build their nests
As the earth builds a fresh nest.
The ladybug graces the field
In her bright robes again.
All animals leave earth-warmed dens
To feel the warmth of the first fire.

For the want of proof, genesis was lost


For the want of genesis, god was lost
For the want of god, the bible was lost
For the want of the bible, christ was lost
For the want of christ, hell and damnation was lost
For the want of hell and damnation, the collection money
was lost
For the want of the collection money, the church was lost
All for the want of proof!

Robin Eileen Murray-O'Hair

Austin, Texas

Ralph Shirley

April,1983

Page 33

HANDMAIDENS OF. GOD


by Margaret Bhatty

A survey of the prostitutes in the red light areas of the


cities of Bombay and Poona reveal that 30% in Bombay and
more than 50%in Poona are there in fulfillment of a religious
vow. Drawn from the untouchable class, three-fourths of
them were initiated into the profession before they were 14.

Deva means god, and dasi, female slave or votary. They


are daughters of yellamma or yellardamma (mother of all),
probably an ancient fertility goddess. Temple prostitution
now survives only in pockets in some parts of India, but the
devadasi cult is still widespread along the western coastal
districts of Maharastra state, in Goa, and in the southern
state of Karnataka.
In October last year the Karnataka government passed a
law imposing a three-year sentence and a fine on anyone
initiating little girls as devadasis. But the Bombay Devadasi
Act has been on the statute books since 1934 without any
effect. It is unlikely that this newest law will intimidate
people in a society where religious tradition dictates that
giving daughters to yellamma will earn her blessings.
The yellamma legend is somewhat bizarre and differs
from district to district. Renuka was the pious wife of a sage
called jamdagni, so chaste that she could carry water for his
rituals in a pitcher of sand resting on a coiled serpent on her
head. But one day she saw a number of handsome celestial
spirits sporting in the river and lusted after them. Her
pitcher of sand dissolved and her enraged husband commanded her sons to slay her for her immorality. Parsuram,
the youngest, agreed to behead her after making his father
grant him three boons. One of these was that jamdagni
should restore renuka to life. The chauvinistic sage agreed
and had the boy fix the head of an untouchable caste
woman to renuka's shoulders. In addition, he cursed her by
declaring that only unmarried women would serve her by
begging in her name on Tuesdays and Fridays and yielding
to any man who desired them even if he was a leper, since
they would see in him the image of her son, parsuram.
Today, in a grafting of aryan and dravidian tradition,
renuka-yellamma is the patroness of girls chosen in accordance with the sage's curse. But in some places they are
dedicated to other gods like the elephant- headed ganesa,

"Temple prostitution now survives only in pockets in some parts of India, but the
devadasi cult is still widespread along the western coastal districts of Maharastra
state, in Goa, and in the southern state of Karnataka."
These women are called devadasis and are dedicated to the
goddess yellamma. Even though their degradation is no less
extreme than that of their sisters, they are scornful of the
common or garden variety of tart, and resent being called
prostitutes.
Page 34

April, 1983

the monkey-headed hanuman (a celibate god) and even to


jamdagni and parsuram themselves. Sometimes very young
boys are also initiated and thereafter forced to live dressed
in women's clothes, wearing their hair long and adorned
with ornaments and bangles.
The American Atheist

However, because of extreme poverty, voluntary initiation is also common in families, with relatives making a jat
appear on a child's head by rubbing a lock of her hair with
turmeric water and thickening it with oil. As a devadasi she
willnever marry but stand as a son to the family members,
maintaining them with her earnings, inheriting the family
property and giving her own name to any children she
produces from her many liaisons. In a sense she achieves
some of what women's liberation would applaud, but at the
cost of her total right to personhood, which women's
liberation would deplore. As compensation for her loss of
status, she is regarded by village folk as an auspicious
person to have around at religious functions even in highcaste homes.
Dedication of girls is on the increase and takes place at
village shrines, places of pilgrimage for prostitutes, or at
home. The ceremony might be held on one of the four full
moons in a year sacred to them. In one famous township in
Karnataka, initiates dressed scantily in leaves bathe with
men in a sacred pond and then go in procession to the
temple. Looking over the girls are older devadasis and
brothelkeepers from Bombay who are aided in their job by
the 40 high-caste priests who conduct the ceremony.

losing caste. In addition, they hold the superstitious and


poverty-stricken in thrall through an archaic myth which
helps them exploit devadasis for purposes of prostitution.
Legislation of the most enlightened kind seldom filters
down to those sections of Indian society for which they are
specifically meant because of illiteracy and the lack of willto
see them implemented. There are laws against child marriage, untouchability, dowry, and other social evils, but they
are rarely invoked. Unless the untouchables themselves
undertake an intensive campaign in these particular districts to make families aware of the exploitation of their girls,
it is unlikely that yellamma willgive up her hold on her many
victims.
How does a family know that the "divine mother" has
chosen their daughter to serve her? Through signs and
portents, the most common being the appearance of a
tangle of hair on a child's head, called ajat. This is obviously
the result of'dirty habits and irregular combing. But the
family does not comb it out. Instead they thicken the tangle
with grease and let it grow long. In some rural areas
devadasi women are recognizable by their jats, thick coils
descending to their knees in a few cases. These are so heavy
and matted that they must be carried in a cloth bag. The

"Inreturn for a fat fee, the priests in turn bring pressure on families to secure their
daughters. They tell of dreams in which some dead relative has expressed a wish that
a particular girl should be dedicated, or they lend money to needy families and
persuade the girls to go to the city with their friends."
.
In return for a fat fee, the priests in turn bring pressure on
families to secure their daughters. They tell of dreams in
which some dead relative has expressed a wish that a
particular girl should be dedicated, or they lend money to
needy families and persuade the girls to go to the city with
their friends. Once there, they are sold to brothels.
The dedication ceremony is much like a hindu wedding,
but with a sword representing the bridegroom. The girl
serves food to other devadas is in their begging bowls,
bathes and anoints herself, and dresses in new clothes
before proceeding to the temple. Here, for a fee, the priest
conducts the worship of the goddess and ties the marriage
necklace round her neck, consisting of five beads which
look like pearls. The others then throw rice at her. Rich men
pay well for the privilege of deflowering her.
Thereafter, she might find a rich patron to keep her. But
few are so fortunate and work as laborers in field and
factory while plying their trade at night for three or four
rupees per client. Those who migrate to larger towns and
cities like Bombay never return, but are sold and resold by
operators until they grow too old and diseased to be of any
worth.
The girls' own attitude towards yellamma is strangely
ambivalent. Some are proud that she has chosen them,
others are fearful that ifthey refuse she willbring misfortune
on their families. But all agree that their lot is a miserable
one, and they would not wish their children to go into it.
What few stop to ask is why yellamma chooses only poor
untouchable girls and not high-caste rich girls.
The religious front to this degrading cult has been devised
by higher caste hindus to give them free access to the girls
from the despised untouchables without running the risk of
Austin, Texas

women cannot sleep on their backs and complain of


constant headaches.
Another method is to be named by an older devadasi who
is promised salvation if she ties the marriage necklace onto
another initiate. These old whores travel out from the city
accompanied by brothel-keepers looking for attractive
young girls. Or they might come alone to recruit a number
to set up their own establishments and live on the girls'
earnings. They usually know which families in the village
have girls with jats and go into a trance before naming them
as chosen by yellamma to serve her. Upper-caste rich men
with their eyes on attractive victims bribe the old devadasi
to name particular ones. No family dares to disregard the
mother's wishes for fear she willdestroy them in her wrath.

April, 1983

Page 35

Jeff Frankel

LETTERS TO
, ANN LANDERS
The American Atheist Center, overcoming handicaps
like mass prejudice and a meager budget, has made great
strides toward making Atheism acceptable in our society
over the last several years. Slowly but surely, Atheism is
gaining the respect which it deserves in a pluralistic society.
Unfortunately, we have those individuals who, with a few
thoughtless words, destroy so much of the good so many
have worked so hard for so long to build. I'm referring
specifically to an Atheist from Ohio who recently had a
letter published in Ann Landers' newspaper column. Displaying an arrogance more befitting a religionist than an
Atheist, this woman declared "I have read your columns for
years and decided that most of your fans are idiots." The
writer said nothing about separation of church and state or
any of the issues which are at the heart of the American
Atheist cause. Instead she chose to come across as an
intellectual snob, ridiculing Ms. Landers and her readership.
With so much to criticize in the realm of religion, such as
inhumane doctrines and scriptures and attempts to intrude
into government and the private lives of individuals, I fail to
see what the writer expected to accomplish for Atheism by
criticizing, generally, all the readers of a newspaper column.
The criticizing of prominent religious fanatics is one thing.
T a attack the insignificant religionists is quite another. It is
fruitless. I admit it's agonizing to see Ms. Landers and her
sister Abigail Van Buren refer people with problems to
ministers and rabbis day after day. But how is an ad
hominem attack going to do anything to change this? Only
the type of education the American Atheist Center is trying
to give the public can do that. In order to administer this
education we have to get people to listen. Who wants to
listen to someone who has just insulted them?
The frustrating aspect of this occurrence is that the Ann
Landers column could have been used as a forum to bring
out important issues pertinent to Atheism. Not only was a
golden opportunity to advance our cause wasted, but the
public image of Atheists was damaged in the process. In an
attempt to rectify that, I have composed a letter to Ms.
Landers. It goes as follows:
Page 36

April,1983

Dear Ann Landers;


As an Atheist I felt compelled to write you upon
seeing the recently published letter from an Ohio
Atheist who ridiculed you and called your readers
idiots. As a writer for the American Atheist magazine,
I can assure you that most Atheists are more respectful of the feelings of others than the one who wrote to
you.
While I do not condone the letter, I can understand
the possible motivation behind it. Atheists are not well
accepted in our society. We are often insulted, or
worse, by religionists. The American Atheist Center
in Austin, Texas has been vandalized so much that a
tall chain- link fence capped by barbed wire had to be
erected around it. Atheists are prohibited by law from
holding public office in Texas and several other states.
In Arkansas we aren't even considered fit to testify in a
court of law. With the current political climate, and
president Reagan telling a knights of columbus qathering in Hartford, Connecticut
that our Constitution
says nothing about freedom/rom religion, we Atheists
are quite concerned about our rights. I can understand an Atheist feeling frustrated enough to strike
out at someone. Unfortunately,
the choice of target
and method of striking out used by that Atheist was
rather ill advised.
With the fight for separation of church and state
and the battle for Atheist rights, most of us have better
things to do than insult you and your readers. You
mentioned that this individual is a member of an
Atheist organization. I certainly hope it isn't ours.
Sincerely,
Jeff Frankel, Columnist
American Atheist magazine
If my letter sees print (it may already have by this time if all
has gone well), it will educate and inform while undoing at
least a portion of the harm done by the other letter. If it isn't
printed, we'll know which side of Atheism Ann Landers is
more interested in presenting to the public.
The American Atheist

97TH
2D CON3RESS
SESSION

SJ RES 165

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES


APRIL

5, 1982

Referred to the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service

JOINT RESOLUTION
Authorizing and requesting the President to proclaim 1983 as
the "Year of the Bible".
Whereas the bible, the word of god, has made a unique
contribution
in shaping the United States as a distinctive and
blessed nation and people;
Whereas deeply held religious convictions springing from the
holy scriptures led to the early settlement of our nation;
Whereas biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and
the Constitution of the United States;
Whereas many of our great national leaders - among them
Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson - paid
tribute to the surpassing influence of the bible in our country's
development, as in the words of President Jackson that the bible
is "the rock on which our Republic rests";
Whereas the history of our nation clearly illustrates the value
of voluntarily applying the teachings of the scriptures in the lives
of individuals, families, and societies;
Whereas this' nation now faces great challenges that will test
this nation as it has never been tested before; and
Whereas that renewing our knowledge of and faith in god
through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, that the
President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a
national "Year of the Bible" in recognition of both the formative
influence the bible has been for our nation, and our national need
to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.

AM EN DM ENT I

CONGRESS

SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING

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ancient Aryan sun festivals.
Under various names, they
have been incorporated by
astute priests in all the great
religions. These celebrations of the sun god in his
most vital aspects are the
chief events of the year in
the modern world as they
were in ancient Peru and
Sumeria."

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American Atheist Reader Survey


Dear Reader:
F rom time to time it is instructive to survey you, the reader, in order to understand you better. Please fill out
this questionnaire and return it at your convenience within the next 60 days. Do not sign your name or
otherwise identify yourself on the questionnaire. It is strictly confidential. The results will be published in a
forthcoming issue of the magazine. Thank you very much for responding.
.
1. Sex:

o Female

OMaie

o Single

2. Marital Status:

02

07

03

04

o Self-employed

05

Employed by another

o Married
o None

3. Number of Offspring:

0 Unemployed

9. Employment Status:

01

06

10. Occupational Status:

o White-Collar

Blue-Collar

0 Student

Retired

or more

4. Geographical-Racial Origin:

o African

o European

o Live with

o Latin-American
o Native American
o East Asian
o South Asian
o Mideastern
5. ReJigion(s), Denomination(s) of Childhood:

6. Amount of Childhood Religious Indoctrination:

o Daily

o Yearly

0 Weekly

0 Monthly

0 None

7. Education:

o High School

0 Some

0 Own

.11. Housing:

parents

o Atheist
o Ethical

o Realist
o Rationalist
o Freethinker
o Objectivist

o Lease

Culturist

o Humanist
o Agnostic
o Theist
o Other

o Secularist

High School or less


13. To How Many Publications Do You Subscribe?
01

8. Annual Income (in thousands of dollars):

14. Political Persuasion:

o7

o Master's Degree
o Doctorate

02

03

04

0 8

0 9

0 10 or more

o Under 5

0 25-30

05-10

030-35

010-15

035-40

o Republican
o Citizen
o Libertarian

0 Over 40

OSociaJist

020-25

Rent

0 Other

12. Lifestyle Designation:

o Some College
o Bachelor's Degree

o 15-20

o Communist

05

06

o Democrat
o Anarchist
o Fascist
o Independent
o Other

The Naked Emperor,. is a soft-cover, 171-page


book, 5% x 8%. inches, authored by one of our
own members, Hermon M. Levine. Because of
the usual hostility of American publishers, the
author had the book privately printed in Mexico.
The author writes in a casual, almost homey
style and the book is quickly read. At this point
one is startled to find that it was packed with
facts and that it gave an in-depth overview of the
fraud that passes for religion: with ease, one has
been educated.
The scheme of the book is simplicity itself.
The first section is a reminder to you of the
facts about the universe, the galaxies, our solar
system and our planet. It's been so long for most
of us since we've thought about it that the
review puts the picture together again and back
into our minds.
The second section takes us through our
"savage" heritage and one may argue with an
interpretation
here or there, as did this reviewer,
but one knows the author is on the right track.
The third section deals with the development
of religion. It is introduced with a novel idea
concerned with how religions began and truth is
inherent in the fiction of Cyril, the first priest.
In his survey of the beginning of Christianity, he
packs much history and incisive interpretations
of Paulene and Nicean triumphs and delineates
them for the frauds which they are.
Reading of the holy relics is an exercise in
. hilarity which turns into alarm as it becomes
clear that this was the money-grubbing
end of
religion which has led straight to our day, to our
tax dollars. When the relic that is religion should
be put to a burial in our age, we see instead a
new investment of our nation's children into
parochial schools: i.e. the Packwood-Moynihan
bill for tuition grants.
It is all here, the fraud of the soul, the churches'
capture of all art expression, religion's insistence
that it is the sole arbiter of morality - in none
YES! . ..
I would like to order
copies of Hermon M.
of which the contrary Atheist can be induced to
Levine's THE NAKED EMPEROR "at $4.95 per copy plus 40 cents
believe.
postage and handling. Enclosed please find $5.35 for each copy.
The last section of the book deals with
Sincostan - the mathematical, atheistic land of
the future - in which the author permits his
Make checks/money orders. payable to: AMERICAN ATHEISTS, PO Box
2117, Austin, Texas 78768'
own fantasy solutions to become reality in a
new world. Here, a young reporter,
Alice,
Or charge to my [ ] VISA or [ ] MA~TERCHARGE:
encounters the ideas of a future Wonderland. As
we all have thought of possible solutions to
Name
.
human problems, so has Hermon Levine. In this
Address
.
short science fiction application of those ideas
to a future reality, he comes to gut grips with
City, State, & Zip
,
,
,
.
current ideas.

Card Number
Expiration date

.
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Signature

.
.

Texas State Residents please add 5% sales tax

It's a good book, seemingly light summer


reading, but well founded in fact and in theory
to educate you with the small effort on your
part of investing in some delightful reading.
* * $4.95 plus 40 cents postage & handling *

an ATHEIST
PRIMER
by Madalyn Murray Q'Hair

an ATHEIST
PRIMER

One of the problems that has always been present for


Atheist parents is how and when to introduce their children to
religious concepts, if at all. If a child is kept free of religious
indoctrination
during his/her formative
years that does not
mean that religion will not be waiting around the corner like a
mugger ready to pounce on the child when that child takes his
or her "rightful place in society".
That is why Dr. O'Hair finally came to the conclusion that
when adults struggle to free themselves
from religion they
should pass on that freedom
of mind to their children by
revealing what religion real!y is as early in the child's development as possible.
It is toward that end that she authored
this booklet which attempts to explain the basic tenets that all
religions have in common in a manner easily understood,
with
parental assistance,
by an elementary
grade level youngster.
Once she had the basic tenets of all religions down on paper
and the illustrations
had been completed
it became immediately obvious that the text was of as much use to adults as to
their children.
Many adults, especially Atheists, spend much
of their time tied up in complex circular philosophical
arguments about "causation"
or the "nature of god"
when,
in
actuality
if viewed simply,
religion is ridiculous and down
right laughable on its face. It has been said by many a great
mind throughout
history that if you cannot explain something simply then you really don't understand
it yourself. That
is more true today than ever. This booklet takes a good simplistic look at god concepts.
A look that reveals their true
stupidity
much more quickly than the traditional
philosophical verbosity of the adult world.

$3.00

.........................................................................
Yes, please send (

) copies of

an ATHEIST

PRIMER

TOTAL $

Texas State Residents please add 5% sales tax


Make checks/money

@ $3.00

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

Name

Or charge to my:

Address
City

[ ] VISA or [ ] MASTERCHARGE
Number

State
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Zip

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_
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