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AMERICAN ATHEIST

December, 1983

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought

$2.50

1963

1983

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of

AMERICAN ATHEISTS
In 1959, the Murray family started a legal case which was destined to reach the United States Supreme Court
to be decided there on June 17, 1963just twenty years ago. The name of the case was Murray u. Curlett and the
decision of that august body was that bible reading and unison prayer recitation in the public schools of the land
were both unconstitutional exercises vis-a-vis the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The road from 1959 to 1963 was hard and long. Scores of attorneys were contacted to handle the case and
each and all were afraid of it. Indeed the attorney who drafted the original complaint which was filed with the
court quit the case a week thereafter. The Murray family insisted from the beginning that it should be known
that they were opposed to the exercise of bible reading and prayer recitation because they were Atheists, and
no attorney wanted to mention that in the case. But, Madalyn Murray insisted, and finallyone attorney asked
her to draw up a short statement (about 250 words) on what an Atheist was that would be put into their petition
for relief. That statement was written - and became famous as the media across the land reproduced it
everywhere. Now, these twenty years later, we reproduce it here for you:

"Your petitioners are Atheists and they define their lifestyle as follows. An Atheist loves
himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist accepts that heaven is somethingfor
which we should work now - here on earth - for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist
accepts that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner
conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it. An Atheist
accepts that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find
the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.
"Therefore, he seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to 'know' a god. An
Atheist accepts that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist accepts that a
deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in lifeand not
escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He
wants man to understand and love man. He wants an ethical way of life. He accepts that we
cannot rely on a god nor channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a
hereafter. He accepts that we are - in a sense - our brothers' keepers in that we are,first,
keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons, that the job is here and the time is
now . "

AMERICAN ATHEISTS

P.O.BOX 2117

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AUSTIN, TX 787682117

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.

(VoI.25, No. 12)

December, 1983

REGULAR FEATURES

ON THE COVER

Letters to the Editor


Editorial
News & Comments: "Jesuchrist and the 1-75Loop";

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"What is Religion?"

Potpourri
Dial-an-Atheist
Atheist Masters - D.M. Bennett.
Poems
Convention News
American Atheist Radio Series - Madalyn Murray O'Hair

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SPECIAL FEATURES
A Collector's Item
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Senate Joint Resolution 73
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In the Beginning - Euleta G. Usrey
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Renovations in Austin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Photo Section
Anthony Comstock, The Original Mr. Bluenose
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Ben Edward Akerley

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Solstice Special Subscription


Worries of a Decade Ago - Frank Zindler
Atheism Abroad: Atheist Lib
,

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FEATURED COLUMNISTS
A Christmas That Wasn't - Margaret Bhatty
Intimacy - Michael Battencourt
A Time for
Receiving - Gerald Tholen
Reflections on the Solstice Season - Jeff Frankel
A New Look at an Old Myth - Merrill Holste

Editor
Robin Murrav-O'Hair
Editor Emeritus
Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Managing Editor
Jon G. Murray
Assistant Editor
Gerald Tholen
Poetry
Angeline Bennett
Gerald Tholen
Production Staff
Art Brenner
BillKight
Richard M. Smith
Gloria Tholen
Dan Flores

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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 1984 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 787682117. A free subscription is provided as an incident of memo
bership in the American Atheists organizetion. Subscriptions are available at $25.00
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: 03324310

Non-Resident Staff
G. Stanley Brown
Jeff Frankel
Merrill Holste
Margaret Bhatty
Fred Woodworth
Clayton Powers
Michael Battencourt

Austin, Texas

[The "Innocents"] Can any conscientious person view a quiet, wooded scene
- whether adorned in glistening snow,
gentle tropical rain, or with trees athirst
for survival in some remote semi-arid
region - without experiencing a feeling
of deep appreciation for these gigantic
masterpieces of Nature?
We tend to think in terms of "human
necessities." In so doing can we imagine
a world without trees? These towering
monuments of vegetation preceded humankind by eons - actually contributing
to the evolutionary appearance of many
species in the animal kingdom. They
remain - abundantly providing their
fruits, the tranquility of their shade and
even the resources essential to the sheltering of virtually all living things. But,
there is even more! They are the recyclers of our atmosphere - absorbing
"wastes" and replacing them with lifesustaining oxygen. Thus, they are the
unwavering allies of all air-breathing
organisms.
_
In our growing vocabulary we now
have developed a new phrase: "nuclear
winter." Perhaps we do not yet realize
the meaning of this concept. Is it because
we are complacently blinded by a certain
beauty in the natural seasonal winter
visualized in human comprehension?
Are we really indifferent to the consequences of a "nuclear season" now
within the nomenclature of human technology? Are we so calloused with our
preoccupation for self-destructiveness
that we have reached a point bordering
on total omnicide. Along with our uncontrollable insanities willwe also kill ... the
trees?
Perhaps it is not a common practice
any more for some of us to leisurely stroll
amongst these tall' friends - collecting
our thoughts or momentarily retiring
from our problems. Maybe we have even
forgotten how to admire anything so
innocent. It may well be that we view
them because of their size, as symbols of
strength. Yet, environmentally they are
quite delicate. They continue with us in
much the same manner as a beautiful
shimmering bubble - so long as they
remain untouched by unnatural or hostile change they will continue to add
beauty to everything around them. But,
one touch of an intruding finger of catastrophic atmospheric change - and
they are gone.
Give yourself a solstice gift worth
remembering: Take a walk through whatever manner of woods that are available
to you. You'll enjoy it. I guarantee!
Happy Winter Solstice.

Gerald Tholen

December, 1983

Page I'

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Editor,
I admire your work and I would like to do
my share. Unfortunately for me, I do not
have the money right now to help out. I have
a service- connected condition which has
prevented my working for the last three
years.
I do have an idea to contribute which I
hope you will appreciate. Since your organization thrives on publicity, this idea
should help because it will really grab the
headlines.
.
Christians believe that Jesus ascended
into the heavens. I think that his followers
hid the body and made up the story of
resurrection.
If you place ads in newspapers in Jerusalem (both Arab and Israeli), offering a
substantial reward (perhaps one million) for
the recovery of the hidden remains, you will
soon have a multitude of people digging and
searching everywhere around that city.
Doubtless, after this long they won't find
anything, but in the meantime your name
and the movement will be in the news
around the world. Allit willcost is the charge
for the ads. And, just think what would
happen ifsomeone did find some identifiable
remains! I'm sure those people would have
been fanatical enough to bury him with
some object or inscription which would
have identified him.
That would be well worth a million dollars
to prove there was no resurrection. It would
set the religious quacks on their ears. Either
way, you get worldwide publicity. I hope you
will consider using this idea. If, in the past
five thousand years, the money, time and
effort wasted on religion had been used for
medical research, we alllAlP\.lldhave, if not
eternal life, at least ten timestwhat we have
now.
Sincerely,
Sidney E. Baker
Florida
Sidney,
Do you know anyone with one million
dollars to put in trust so that we could have
such a contest? After all, it is only "gentlemanly" to place the bets up front.
Editor

Page 2

MUSINGS OF AN ATHEIST
ON ASYLUM EARTH,
It is 10:30 a.m., and I am sitting at my desk
at work listening to a memorial service on
the radio from North Carolina, home of the
U.S. Marines, dedicated to those who were
killed in the recent futile skirmishes in
Lebanon and Grenada. I have just heard 3
invocations from assorted clergymen lauding the love, mercy and infinite power of an
alleged 3-headed thing that has not cared to
intervene to save the lives of over 250 young
Americans. The obscenity of this charade
-listening to a Marine choir sing the "Battle
Hymn of the Republic," extolling a nonentity
- leaves me in a mixed state of terror,
sadness and despair.
Earlier this morning, I was treated to
another suicide bombing. This time a person who wears either a towel or a tablecloth
died while killing people who wears beanies.
In the meantime, the folks who believe that
virgins have babies, that people can levitate
and walk on water (just to name a few
absurdities) are marching to the beat of a
drummer which commands them to advocate - nay, enforce - the salvation of the
souls (as yet to be located, described or
seen) of the combatants by abandoning
their beanies, towels, and tablecloths, along
with the assorted belief systems that accompany the symbolic apparel. If it were not so
tragic, it would indeed be comical.
We are not close to stopping the carnage
and mayhem happening in the Middle East,
Northern Ireland, and other medieval areas
of the globe, and it will not happen until the
disparate factions evolve into thinking,
logical, and rational human beings. Why is it
that something that is so obvious to me is so
elusive to others? Only the death of religion
shall insure the continuation of life on this
tiny planet. Alas - the inmates have taken
over the asylum.
Arlene J. Gamer
Massachusetts

Editor,
Here's a piece of information for readers
of American Atheist. I think all American
Atheists should be outraged by the following, and should express this both to
senator Paul Tsongas and their own senators:
On Sept. 25, 1983, Senator Paul Tsongas
met with residents of Norwood, MassaDecember, 1983

chusetts. He spoke briefly about the need


for continued efforts to halt the arms race,
reform education, and revitalize the economy. A question and answer period followed, with most people asking questions
about the Korean airliner incident. One
woman, an environmentalist, asked Tsongas why he voted FOR confirmation of
James Watt as secretary of the interior,
knowing full well his intentions to sell off
federal land to exploitive businesses and
knowing he was a major Reagan fundraiser
who brought in money from western capitalists, mining companies, "fore sting" companies and developers who hated environmentalists and wanted to rape the land for
all the resources to be had.
Tsongas replied that, "James Watt is a
deeply religious man. Before the confirmation he came into my office and spoke for
2 hours about god and christianity. While I
had serious reservations about Watt, and all
of my friends urged me to vote against him, I
thought that as a 'man of god' he would be
concerned for god's creation. Instead, his
religious belief is that christ is coming back
soon, so we should use up resources as fast
as possible." Tsongas admitted that his vote
for Watt's confirmation was "one of the
worst, most regrettable votes" of his career.
I have written Tsongas, chastizing him for
thinking that religion and belief in god were
anything but rubbish which greedy, corrupt
and avaricious people use to hide their
selfish motives or intents by making themselves appear concerned and benevolent. I
expressed disgust and contempt for his
naivete on matters of religion, and demanded to know his positions on school
prayer and Reagan's "Year of the Bible." I
got back a form letter that says he thinks
religion is important, but doesn't believe
schools are an appropriate
forum for
prayer.
Thought you might like to know,
Brian Lynch
Director Pro-Tem
Massachusetts Chapter
American Atheists
Brian,
We agree; Atheists need to let legislators
like Tsongas know that not all voters think
"faith" is the only prerequisite for holding
public office. The time is long past when
candidates for any position should be
judged on his degree or lack of "godliness. "
Editor

The American Atheist

EDITORIAL / Jon Garth Murray

'TIS THE SEASON TO BE RATIONAL


hat time of year is here again. The time of "season's
greetings," cold weather in the northern hemisphere, and a
renewal of the "commercial" spirit at least in the capitalist
countries. It is also a very special time for the religious zanies of the
world. The celebration of the birth of their mythical savior is the
central holiday (or "holy day" literally) of the christian religions. I like
to refer to it as the christian "heat" season. They get about as worked
up about the birth of their alleged christ as a bitch in heat.
It is especially important at this time of year for us, as Atheists, to
know what the importance of the season really is and why we should
celebrate ifindeed we even feel like celebrating at all. Personally I feel
that celebrations are personal things and should be conducted for
reasons of importance to an individual: a birthday; an anniversary of
some type; finding a better job; getting a raise. One can celebrate
many events large and small throughout the year and his/her life.
Historically, however, it is important to know that hJmankind, as an
animal species, has been celebrating some natural occurrences for as
long as humans have been distinguishable as a separate species. In
fact allanimal life,to some degree, has a conscious awareness of a set
of common events from which all lifeon earth cannot escape. This set
of common events are the seasons. In both hemispheres the patterns
of the movement of earth, sun and moon affect the lives of all animals
every day of the year. When it is rainy, and dark, and cold and windy
outside you tend to feel a little depressed or gloomy just like the
weather. If it is a nice bright sunny comfortable day, you feel more
invigorated. You cannot help it. It is hard to feel gloomy on a bright,
pleasant, sunny day.
The seasonal changes that affect all lifetranscend all boundaries of
culture, geographical location, language, skin color, physical stature,
etc. All animals have the effect of such change upon them both
physically and emotionally in common. You can deny this effect until
you are blue in the face, but it will not go aWay. Your sexuality,
especially, is cyclical. A woman can jump up and down and scream
and say "no" as many times as she likes, but she has heat periods just
like a dog, a cow, a bear, or any other mammal.
The chief goal of the christian religion, since its inception, has been
to deny any association between man and the other animals or
natural cycles. The church, each and every denomination, has always
said, "you are not an animal; you are a creation of god; you are
different; you are special; you are apart from nature." This is the
biggestlie ever to be swallowed by anyone. Yet it has been swallowed
by the majority of the populations of most of the world's nations for
thousands of years. This is the most stomach-turning part of religion
to me, and it should be so to every other Atheist. I will not have'
anyone tell me that I have to deny my own species in order to be a
"whole" or "saved" person. That is really sick.
So, as Atheists we need to know that what is important about this
time of year, and what has been important anthropologically is that
the days (in the northern hemisphere) begin to grow longer again
from Winter Solstice day forward. In primitive times the weather was
of much greater concern than today. When you are sitting bare-assed
in a cave and it starts to get cold, it is of some immediate concern. In
those times the weather turning cold was a major event in one's daily
existence. Light and humans' ability to handle fire were "big magic" in
an effort to beat back both cold and darkness. When the winter
season comes, cold and darkness go together. It is dark more of the
time when it is cold. It is light more of the time when it is warm.
Naturally our ancestors would celebrate the return of longer days and

Austin, Texas

warmer temperatures after they had been through the struggle of


trying to keep from freezing to death over a period of months. The
"evergreens," or conifers, and the mistletoe and other parasites
stayed green when everything else turned brown and died (as far as
the primitives could tell) during the winter months. These plants were
then something special. They looked like all of the other plants would
look in the spring (that is, green), only they kept looking that way all
year round. They were a source of much mystery. When you go out
and buy an evergreen tree and stick it in your living room when it is
cold outside and everything else turns brown, you are doing it
because your ancestors did it to remind them that ifthey stuck out the
cold, in a couple of months everything would look again like this funny
tree that did not die. The only thing is that now people put up a tree
and connect it with the birth of a mythical christ. It has nothing
whatsoever to do with that.
Actually, no one needs to celebrate the change of the seasons at all.
You can get along quite well without ever celebrating anything. That
would be a rather dismal existence, however. It is nice to be able to
celebrate something at regular periods of time. The change of the
seasons provides that catalyst for four big parties a year. All cultures
have taken advantage of this to celebrate; that is, until the christians
came along to muck it all up with their j.c.

"Itis nice to be able to celebrate something at


regular periods of time. The change of the
seasons provides that catalyst for four big
parties a year. All cultures have taken advantage of this to celebrate; that is, until the
christians came along to muck it all up with
their j.c."
The ancient druids held mistletoe to be sacred, but they did not kiss
under it. The Romans kissed under it and used it in their saturnalia
celebrations. After the Roman times the old mistletoe customs did
not re-emerge until the Tudor period in England. That is where we,
here in the modern U.S., get it.
Santa claus, who as we all know lives in shopping centers and not
the North Pole, came from tales of saint Nicholas. Nicholas was an
early christian bishop in Asia Minor known locally for his generosity to
children. The Dutch sailors of the period carried home tales of
Nicholas and December 6th was set aside in Holland as a day for
children to receive presents. The Dutch called Nicholas "Sinter
Klaas." It was not until 1809 in America that Washington Irving
portrayed "Sinter Klaas" as a fat and jolly man in a red suit as we know
the character "Santa Claus" (in our anglicized spelling) today.
Part of the celebration of the change of seasons from winter to
spring was the sharing of food. No more hoarding was necessary as
the crops would come back again (or the wild foods to pick) when the
days got longer and the nights shorter and it became warm again.
Sharing the light and warmth of the fire was also a big part of the
celebration. "Chestnuts roasting on the open fire ... " and "yule logs"
are not terms out of a song writer's imagination alone. The "yule log"
was a large block of wood that traditionally formed the back log of the
fireplace during the christmas holiday. It was also known as "yule
block" or the "yule clog." "Yule" is from the Icelandic "jol" and Middle
English "yole." The source of the word "yule" appears to have been in

December, 1983

Page 3

the proper meaning of noise, clamour, yuling or yelling. The season


being one of rejoicing at the turning of the solstice, especially in the
Scandinavian countries, blocked into ice and cold. For some time two
months of the year were known as the Yule months, those
immediately before and immediately after the solstice.
The idea of the birth of a "savior" on the Winter Solstice day is a
damn clever association. The sun took away darkness and cold, or
"evil" in the minds of the primitives. In order for the budding christian
establishment in the early days of the church to get the masses to buy
their christ story, they made the association of the son of god coming
to conquer the sin (darkness) of evil. If you cannot get people to give
up their winter celebrations you merely pervert it to your own ends
and change the terminology a little. Even prior to christianity many
cultures placed the birth of their "saviors" around the Winter
Solstice. This was the time of year when the tribe or camp was
"saved" from winter and so it was logical to have any "savior" figure
born on the same day. The Chinese had a "redeemer" born in the
winter of 3467 b.c. In Persia the god, mithras, was born in winter, and
he was the "god of light," appropriately enough. In Greece the god,
hercules, was born in winter and he was known for his strength and
for performing twelve labors (we have twelve months). The Romans
celebrated their "saturnalia" for their sun god "sol" beginning
December 17th and running one week to December 24th. (The first
month on the Roman calendar was March, so that December was the
10th month, "decem" meaning ten). The Mayans and the natives of
Nicaragua, Peru and Guatemala had their "sun god( quetzalcoatl,
born in winter. The druids of Britain and Ireland had their god born on
December 25th.
, In fact, all of the following persons or characters were said to have
been born of a virgin, had a baptism, had a communion supper, were
worshipped in caves, and had a son, or Were the son to take away the
sins of the world: zeus, buddha, chrisna, Plato, Ghenghis Khan,
Tamerlane, zoroaster, Julius Caesar, and aton (Egyptian sun god).
They were all also supposed to have been born on or around
December 25th. In fact, it was said that aton was born in a manger.
Most people don't know that it was Amen aphis IV, pharaoh of
Egypt from 1375 to 1357 b.c., who was the first to have the concept of
"one god" and that god was the sun god, rae. Prior to that time,
cultures all thought in terms of many gods, from the early polytheistic
beliefs to the elaborate pantheons of the Greeks and Romans. After
the "one god" idea was established and latched onto by the early
christians, a struggle immediately began to place the birth and
baptism of jesuchrist concurrent with the winter solstice celebration
days already being observed.
The early christian church in Alexandria, Egypt commemorated
the baptism of jesuchrist on January 6th as early as around 200 a.d.
That was the same date as the rites for the sun god, aton (as the sun
god was called by that time some 1500 years after Amen aphis IV), at
the time of the winter solstice on the Egyptian calendar. January 6th
on the calendar of the Eastern.Mediterranean church was known as
"epiphany." From the Greek "Epiphaneia" which meant "manifestation" or "appearance," the epiphany celebration commemorated the
birth of jesuchrist, the adoration of the magi, his baptism, and his
subsequent manifestation and ministry. The Roman emperor
Aurelian in 274 a.d. decreed that the birthday of the "unconquered
sun" be celebrated on December 25th by the Julian calendar. (That
calendar had been established by Julius Caesar in 46 b.c. with 12
months of 30 or 31 days, except February with 28 days, and 29 on
every fourth year.) Before 336 a.d. the church at Rome had
established the birth of jesuchrist on December 25th also. The
evidence used for establishing the birth of jes(.christ on December
25th rather than January 6th was from a "chronograph" or an
almanac used by early christians that had an entry in it reading" christ
born in Bethlehem of Judea" for December 25th. The entrees in these
chronographs date from as early as 336 a.d. They were discovered by
a German scholar and historian by the name of Mommsen around
1850. The birth of jesuchrist was not made to occur officially on
December 25th until pope Julius I established that date during his
reign of fifteen years (337-52 a.d.).
Page 4

December, 1983

It had been a general Roman custom to celebrate the birthdays of


outstanding persons, though not always in coincidence with their
actual date of birth. For example, the birth of Plato was celebrated on
the feast day of apollo (May 29th on the Julian calendar). Meanwhile,
in the East around 381 a.d. Gregory of Nazianus spoke in an epiphany
sermon of recently past "christmas." Then in 386 a.d. a December
20th sermon on the martyr Philogonius by John Chrysostom spoke of
upcoming christmas festivals with a reference to the visit of the magi
being celebrated concurrently. These sermons took place in Antioch
which was in what is now central Turkey. Some five days later in
another sermon Chrysostom said that December 25th had been a
festival known among the Antiochians for less than ten years, though
longer in the West. Then, on January 6th, 387 a.d., Chrysostom in
another sermon said that the name "epiphany" ought not to be
applied to the birth of christ because christ became "manifest" to
others and began his ministry after his baptism, which did not occur
until twelve days (there is that magic number 12, for 12 months of the
year, again) after his birth.
Thus, the separation of the epiphany celebration from the
christmas celebration began and by 432 a.d. had spread over much of
Egypt. Opposition to the separation of the two celebration dates
remained in Jerusalem until the 6th century. The present-day
Armenian apostolic churches still, as a last holdout, celebrate
jesuchrist's birth and baptism both on the same day, January 6th.
Most of the eastern orthodox churches of the slavic countries
observe christmas (the mass of christ's birth) on January 7th and the
epiphany twelve days later on January 19th or thereabouts. They use
the old Julian calendar which is thirteen days behind our Western
Gregorian calendar. (The Gregorian calendar is named after pope
Gregory XIII. When the Julian calendar was introduced, another
important natural celebration day, the Vernal Equinox, fell on25th of
March. By that time of the reformation of the calendar by Gregory in
1582 the equinox fell on March 11th due to inherent errors in the way
the Julian calendar had been calculated. In order to restore the
equinox to March 25th, which the christian fathers had designated as
its rightful date at the council of Nice in 325 a.d., Gregory ordered that
ten days be suppressed in the calendar. Thus, the Julian error was
reduced to three days in every 400 years. Gregory then ordered the
intercalations for correction to be omitted on all the centenary years
except those which are multiples of 400. Thus the "leap" year was
born. Thus, every year which is evenly divisable by four, except the
centenary years, are "leap" years. Centenary years are only leap
years when divisable by four after omitting the two zeros - i.e. 1600
was a leap year. The years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not, but the year
2000 will be.)

"The puritans issued a ban on christmas in the


English Parliament in 1647. In 1659 the puritans
of the new Massachusetts Bay Colony made
christmas. illegal as well."
'
The celebration of December 25th as the birthday of christ did not
really become popular, however, until around 1100 a.d. That was also
with a very interesting exception. The puritans issued a ban on
christmas in the English Parliament in 1647. In 1659 the puritans of the
new Massachusetts Bay Colony made christmas illegal as well. It
carried a fine of five shillings. One could not read common prayer,
dance, play cards, play musical instruments or eat mince pie or plum
pudding (English favorites of the period) on christmas day. In
addition, because they were associated with the early pagan feasts,
they denounced holly and ivy as well. The pilgrims in Plymouth colony
also denounced christmas.
We find ourselves now, in the 20th century, going through many
rituals that the true intent thereof have long since been forgotten or
perverted to other ends. The only thread of truth that remains is that
our primitive ancestors celebrated the changes of the season in
~eneral because their lives were so closely tied to those seasonal
weather changes. With our modern technology we have escaped
The American Atheist

some of those ties and we can now operate our homes and businesses
all year round without holing up in a cave for winter. We are still glad,
however, when spring comes again. Winter is the harshest of all the
seasons. The early colonists found that if they could get through the
winter they could make it through the rest of the year.
It was obvious, too, that the christian church itself has no idea when
its own "savior" was born, if indeed one was born at all. It is beyond
me why we have all allowed a simple seasonal festival to be so
perverted and twisted so as to become the cornerstone of a mythical
pyramid to be built over hundreds of years. I willhave a conifer in my
house this year, as last, but I willdo so for a far different reason than

most. I willcontinue to remind myself that I am an animal and part of


the animal kingdom and the rest of nature. I willnot take this seasonal
holiday to remind myself that I am some sort of "special creation" on
earth only to serve some demented mystical being drifting around the
universe someplace.
I have no intention, now or ever, of spending most of my life trying'
to deny what I am. Trying to deny that Iam part of the animal species
here on earth, the only home I know. It is really sick, Irepeat again, to
pervert even nature in an effort to establish and maintain a human
control system. This season will be a reminder to me of the need to
combat this sickness - not to join in it. ~

Past (1659 ) ...

"~ / __
Present ...
~.

We would like to inform you that an error in author credits has been noted in the November 1983 issue of
American Atheist magazine.
The article on page 26, "What Is To Be Done," was not written by Conrad Goeringer as credited. We have since
discovered that the article was misfiled with Conrad's manuscript submissions. Our apologies to Conrad and to the
author of the article (unknown due to the unfortunate mix-up).
As soon as we ascertain who did, in fact, author the article, proper credits will be noted.

Austin, Texas

December, 1983

PageS

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983

JESUCHRIST AND THE ROUTE 75 LOOP


Atheists in the United States may be losing the war, but we are still winning a battle here and there. In the July, i983 issue of the
American Atheist there appeared a five-page report on the activities of the Atlanta, Georgia Chapter of American Atheists, under the
guidance of Bob Campbell. A law suit had been filed by the Chapter on May 13, 1983 against the Georgia Department of Transportation
(DOT), with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. At issue was the design of the DOT to erect a 7' tall statue of sweet Jesus
in a loop of 1-75highway in Atlanta.
The decision of the U.S. District Court [orthe Northern District of Georgia came down on September 13th. It has been the policy of this
journal to present entire legal decisions to its readers so that they may formulate their own judgments as to both the issues and the activity
involved in the cases. In conformity with this policy, the decision is given here is full:

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA, ATLANTA DIVISION
JOHN C. BURDINE, SABIR KASIB MUHAMMMAD, v.
HATTIEE. ROBINSON,KITTRICHR.
SCHILKE, BOB
LEE CAMPBELL, individually, and in his capacity as
representative of the SOCIETY OF SEPARATIONISTS,
INC. (d/b/a "American Atheists',), and the AMERICAN
CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF GEORGIA,
Plaintiffs
FACTS
In early 1981 defendant Georgia Department of Transportation ("DOT'') brought a
condemnation action in the Superior Court
of Fulton County, Georgia, Civil Action No.
C-74635, for the purpose of taking 4.414
acres of land necessary for the expansion of
a highway cloverleaf at the intersection of
1-75and Cleveland Avenue, S.E.,in Atlanta,
Fulton County, Georgia. On March 26,
1981, the superior court entered an order
condemning the property.
Subsequently, on January 20, 1982, DOT
filed an amendment to its condemnation
petition notifying the court that after taking
possession of the condemned parcel, it had
discovered four cemetery headstones in a
building located on the property. DOT
informed the court that it believed a cemetery might be located on a portion of the
condemned land and sought the court's
supervision and guidance in protecting the
rights of descendants of persons buried
there. The superior court then ordered that a
heating be held, directing that notice be
given directly to those persons already
tentatively identified as descendants, and
also that notice to as yet unidentified interested parties be effected by publication as
well as by posting notices on the subject
property. The superior court also appointed
a guardian ad litem to represent the interests
of all descendants of persons buried in the
cemetery.
Following the hearing, the superior court
entered an order on March 10, 1982,finding,
inter alia, (I) that at one time there had been
a cemetery known as the Gilbert Cemetery
on a portion of the condemned land; (2) that
the exact dimensions of the cemetery and the
total number of bodies buried there were
unknown; (3) that bodies had been buried in
the cemetery from as far back as the mid1800sup to the early 1950s,but the identities
Page 6

THOMAS D. MORELAND, in his official capacity as


Commissioner of the GEORGIA DEPARTMENT
OF
TRANSPORTATION, PETER MALPHURS, in his official
capacity as State Environmental Analysis Engineer for the
Georgia Department of Transportation and as Chairman of
the Gilbert Cemetery Memorial Committee, and the GEOR
GIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION,
Defendants

of only some of those persons buried there


were known; (4) that at the time DOT took
possession of the property, the cemetery had
been obliterated and desecrated so that there
were no headstones or tombstones, gates,
markers or walkways still visible, and a
liquor store parking lot, a laundry room,
and a small office building all encroached on
the property; and (5) that DOT did not seek
to excavate the area but only to utilize a
portion of the property as a loop road
leading onto the 1-75 expressway. Finally,
the court found that it would serve no good
purpose to scrape or excavate the surface to
determine the locations of specific grave
sites.
The superior court then concluded, as a
matter of law, that DOT had authority to
condemn the cemetery, but that the court
must balance the state's need for public
improvement with the need to preserve the
dignity of those buried in the cemetery and
the rights of the descendants of those
persons. To achieve the appropriate balance, the court ordered, inter alia, that the
grave sites on the property remained undisturbed, but that the location of the
cemetery be suitably memorialized by DOT
by means of appropriate landscaping, including the erection of a monument bearing
a history of the Gilbert Cemetery and a
suitable memorial. The court then established a committee comprised of a representative from DOT, the guardian ad litem,
a state historian, a local minister, and a
community resident with ancestors buried in
the cemetery to develop a plan conforming
to these requirements. The committee was
required to hold at least one public hearing
before submitting its proposal to the court,
giving notice of the hearing by mail to all
those identified as descendants of persons
buried in Gilbert Cemetery, as well as by
publication and posting to any other interDecember, 1983

ested parties.
The committee appointed by the superior
court subsequently met on four different
occasions and produced a proposal calling
for a central plaza area surrounding an
obelisk-type monument, which would be
inscribed with the names of persons known
to be buried there, as well as an appropriate
religious inscription and a brief history of
the cemetery. The proposal further provided
that a religious statue would be placed near
the plaza, and that the three remaining
original headstones, along with a number of
small white Latin-style crosses, would be
located in the lower cemetery in order to
delineate its general dimensions and to convey the "feeling" of a graveyard. Finally, the
proposal called for a memorial service to be
held to dedicate the site after construction
was completed.
A public hearing was held on April 6,
1982, following notification to interested
persons as prescribed by the superior court.
Approximately thirty-five people attended
the hearing, and eleven of these made some
comment following the committee's presentation of its proposal. Although one speaker
made some negative comments concerning
past neglect of the cemetery, no one expressed any substantive disagreement with
the committee's proposal. Each speaker expressed general approval of the plan; however, none specifically addressed the propriety of the religious statue or the crosses as
elements of the memorial.
Following submission of the committee's
report recommending adoption of its proposal, interested parties were once again
notified by mail, publication and posting,
and ordered to show cause why the report
should not be confirmed, modified, or
rejected. Subsequently, on June 24, 1982,
the superior court entered an order approving the committee's report and ordering
The American Atheist

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


DOT to implement its proposal.
In early 1983,following press reports that
DOT planned to display a statue of Jesus in
the highway cloverleaf, representatives of
plaintiff American Civil Liberties Union and
other organizations arranged a meeting with
DOT Commissioner Thomas D. Moreland.
On February 8, 1983, these representatives
explained to Commissioner Moreland their
concern that DOT's proposed actions conflicted with the First Amendment to the
United States Constitution. At that meeting
the DOT representative on the Gilbert
Cemetery committee agreed to arrange for
the committee to meet with these representatives in order to consider their concerns. However, following such a meeting on
March 3, 1983, the committee issued a
decision not to modify its plan in any
respect. The DOT itself subsequently indicated that it believed the proposed memorial was consistent with all relevant constitutional provisions and declined to notify
the superior court of the constitutional
issues that had been raised. Shortly thereafter, DOT proceeded to erect a number of
Latin crosses in the cloverleaf pursuant to
the memorial plan.
Plaintiffs responded by filing the instant
lawsuit on May 13, 1983, seeking declaratory and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. At the hearing on plaintiff's
motion for a preliminary injunction held
August 5, 1983,defendants indicated that no
further action would be taken toward
completion of the Gilbert Cemetery memorial until after this court had ruled on the
recently filed cross-motions for summary
judgment, so the request for preliminary
injunctive relief became moot.
DISCUSSION
Plaintiffs' complaint is brought in four
counts. Count I alleges that defendants
"have violated and are continuing to violate
the [Establishment Clause of the] First
Amendment to the United States Constitution by actively initiating, formulating,
encouraging, and proceeding with the plan
to acquire, erect, display, and maintain
religious symbols on public property with
public funds." (In original complaint) Count
II alleges that the same actions are also
violative of the Free Exercise Clause of the
First Amendment in that they inhibit and
interfere with the right of the individual nonchristian plaintiffs to freely exercise their
religious beliefs and to guide and control the
religious training oftheirchildren. Count III
alleges that defendants' actions are violative
of the Constitution of the state of Georgia,
Article I, 2, par. 7, which provides: "No
money shall ever be taken from the public
treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any
church, sect, ~ult, or religious denomination

or of any sectarian institution." Count IV


alleges that defendants have deprived plaintiff Hattie E. Robinson, a descendant of
persons buried in Gilbert Cemetery, of her
property without due process of law or just
compensation in violation of the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the United
States Constitution.
As to the first three counts of their complaint, plaintiffs seek (I) an order permanently enjoining defendants from making any
further expenditure of public funds or
taking any further action to acquire, erect,
display, or maintain the statue, crosses, or
any other religious symbol on public property at the site of the Gilbert Cemetery, and
(2) a declaratory judgment declaring that the
Fulton County Superior Court's order of
June 24, 1982 is unconstitutional and unenforceable insofar as it directs defendants
to perform any act enjoined by this court. As
to Count IV, plaintiffs seek idential injunctive relief, as well as an order (I) requiring defendants to make reasonable and
systematic efforts to identify all persons who
own interests in burial easements in Gilbert
Cemetery, to take all practicable steps
necessary to give such persons notice of the
condemnation proceedings, and to afford
persons so notified an opportunity for a
hearing before depriving them of their
property rights in the burial easements; and
(2) directing defendants to justly compensate all owners of burial easements in Gilbert
Cemetery in accordance with the laws of the
state of Georgia.
The parties have informed the court that
some factual disputes remain as to the issues
raised by Count IV, and that some further
discovery may be necessary to resolve these
factual questions. Accordingly, the pending
cross-motions for summary judgment will
be treated as motions for only partial summary judgment on Counts I-III of the
complaint, with ruling DEFERRED as to
Count IV until further order of the court.
I. Standing
It is undisputed that the individual plaintiffs live near the intersection where the
Gilbert Cemetery memorial is to be located
and pass it frequently in the ordinary course
of their routine activities. They object to
defendants' interference with their free use
of the intersection by displaying constitutionally and theologically objectionable
religious symbols in prominent view on
public property. In accord with Supreme
Court and Eleventh Circuit doctrine, plaintiffs clearly have suffered sufficient noneconomic injury to compel a finding that
they have standing in this case. American
Civil Liberties Union of Georgia v. Rabun
County Chamber of Commerce, Inc., 698
F.2d 1098, 1104-08 (11th Cir. 1983).
The individual plaintiffs also have stand-

ing by virtue of the fact that they are


taxpayers in the relevant jurisdiction. Flast
v. Cohen, 392 US 83 (1968). The individual
plaintiffs have met the Flast test for taxpayer
standing by identifying an allegedly unconstitutional
expenditure of funds by
defendants pursuant to a state spending
statute. In purporting to compensate owners
of burial easements in Gilbert Cemetery,
defendants have chosen a means - the
erection of crosses and a statue of Jesus which is allegedly violative of the First
Amendment to the United States Constitution. As in Flast, the nexus between the
individual plaintiffs' status as taxpayers and
defendants' allegedly unconstitutional expenditure of public funds is clear and direct. 1
II. Establishment Clause
The Establishment Clause of the First
Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law "respecting the establishment of
religion ... " U.S. Constitution, Amendment
I. This prohibition is applicable to the states
through the Fourteenth Amendment. See,
e.g., Everson v. Board of Education, 330
U.S. 1 (1947). In interpreting the Establishment Clause, the Supreme Court has identified three tests to be applied to the challenged actions of a state:
(I) Whether the action has a secular
purpose;
(2) Whether the "principal or primary effect" is one which neither
advances nor inhibits religion; and
(3) Whether the action fosters" 'an
excessive government entanglement
with religion.' Walz [v. Tax Commissioners, 397 U.S. 664, 674 (1970))."
Lemon v. Kurtzman,403 U.S. 602,612-13
(1971) (citations omitted). If anyone of these
three principles is violated, the challenged
governmental action will be found to violate
the Establishment Clause. See, e.g., Stone v.
Graham, 449 U.S. 39,40-41 (1980); Rabun
County, supra, 698 F.2d at 1109.
In the instant case, plaintiffs challenge
two proposed actions of defendants: the
erection and maintenance on public property of a statue of Jesus and of a number of
Latin crosses as part of the Gilbert Cemetery
memorial. Since these two actions are distinct, the Lemon analysis will be applied to
each separately.
A. Statue of Jesus
Based on the undisputed facts before the
court, there is no doubt that the proposed
erection and maintenance of a statue of
Jesus as a part of the Gilbert Cemetery
memorial fails to satisfy the Lemon test.
Defendants' contention that their only purpose in erecting the statue is a secular one,
i.e., to compensate burial easement owners
and to commemorate the dead, even if
accepted as true, is insufficient to avoid a
conflict with the Establishment Clause. "[A]

I Having determined that at least the individual plaintiffs satisfy Article III standing requirements, the court need not consider the standing of the two corporate
plaintiffs. Rabun County, supra, 698 F.2d at 1108-09.

Austin, Texas

December, 1983

Page 7

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


government may not 'employ religious
means to reach a secular goal unless secular
means are wholly unavailing.' " Rabun
County, supra, 698 F.2d at 1111 (quoting
Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203, 294 (1963)
(Brennan, J., concurring)). Even though
compensation and commemoration might
constitute permissible secular goals, here
defendants could have prevailed on the
committee to propose a memorial that faithfully recorded the historical significance of
the burial ground and reverently memorialized those persons buried there without the
use of a purely christian religious symbol
such as a statue of Jesus.'
The undisputed facts of this case thus lead
to the conclusion that the choice of the
statue of Jesus had an impermissible religious purpose and, therefore, violated the
Establishment Clause. Since the challenged
action fails to satisfy the first prong of the
Lemon test, the court need not consider the
other two prongs. Nor need the court
address plaintiffs' other challenges to the
statue under the Free Exercise Clause and
the Georgia Constitution.
Defendants have represented to the court
that they will abandon their efforts to erect
the statue of Jesus should the court conclude
that such action would be unconstitutional.
Accordingly, although a judgment shall be
entered declaring that erection of the statue
would violate the Establishment Clause,
there is no need for issuance of an injunction
as prayed for by plaintiffs.
B. Latin Crosses
The erection of a number of Latin crosses
on the site of the cemetery presents the court
with a more difficult question. While defendants could perhaps achieve the commemorative and compensatory purposes of
this aspect of the memorial by erecting
purely secular grave markers, the court is
also mindful of the legitimate interests of the
descendants of persons buried in the cemetery in having their ancestors' burial place
marked in accord with their particular religious preferences.
In weighing these interests, the court
believes that the appropriate balance is
struck by defendants' offer to provide those
descendants who have been identified with
their choice of an appropriate marker.
Under defendants' proposal, descendants
will be notified that they may select an
appropriate marker, including a plain tablet,
a Latin cross, a star of david, or any other
religious or non-religious symbol, to be
placed in the cemetery in memory of their
deceased ancestor. Defendants will bear the
expense of constructing each such marker,
up to a maximum cost of$62.50 per marker.

Defendants will also supply a metal plaque


to be placed on each marker bearing the
name of the deceased individual. These
markers will then be placed throughout the
general area of the cemetery, not so as to
identify particular grave sites but simply to
commemorate the burial ground as a whole
together with those individuals who are
known to be buried there.
Defendants' proposed action does not
conflict with the First Amendment. In contrast to the proposed erection of a statue of
Jesus, defendants plan to erect religiously
symbolic grave markers only when specifically requested by known descendants of
persons buried in the cemetery. Defendants
will thus employ religious means to reach
their secular goal only when secular means
are unavailing. Cf Murray v. Curlett, 374
U.S. 203,294 (1963) (Brennan, J., concurring). Moreover, the erection and maintenance of religiously symbolic grave markers will not have the primary effect of
advancing or inhibiting religion. Defendants" erection of markers in compliance
with the religious sentiments of known
descendants in no way implies state approbation or condemnation of any particular
religion or of religion in general. Finally,
defendants' role as a caretaker of a memorial
that may contain some religious symbols
cannot be fairly characterized as "fostering
an excessive entanglement with religion."
Nor is the Free Exercise Clause offended
by defendants' proposed action. By permitting descendants to select a nonreligious
marker or a religious marker of their own
choice, the state is acting with complete
neutrality as regards religious preferences.
Defendants thus "effect no favoritism
among sects," Murray, supra, 374 U.S. at
305 (Goldberg, J., concurring), and therefore do not run afoul of the Free Exercise
Clause.
For the same reasons, the court also
concludes that defendants' proposed placement of grave markers in accord with the
descendants' wishes does not violate Art. I,
2, par. 7 of the Georgia Constitution.
Although in the opinion of the Georgia
Attorney General, this provision is intended
to have a stronger application than the First
Amendment to the United States Constitution, 1960-61 Op. Atty. General p. 349,
nothing in the Georgia courts' application of
this provision would indicate that the type of
action proposed here is proscribed.
CONCLUSION
The United States Constitution thus
prohibits defendants from erecting and
maintaining a statue of Jesus as part of the

Gilbert Cemetery memorial. Plaintiffs are


therefore entitled to summary judgment on
Count I of their complaint insofar as it
challenges this proposed action. However,
because defendants have represented to the
court that they will abandon plans to erect
the statue should the court determine such
action to be unconstitutional, no injunction
will issue.
Plaintiffs' challenge to defendants' original proposal to erect a number of Latin
crosses has been rendered moot by defendants' new proposal to erect religious or
nonreligious markers according to the
wishes of known descendants, which action
the court has held to be permissible under
both the United States and Georgia Constitutions. Defendants shall submit for the
court's approval a draft of a letter to be sent
to all known descendants informing them of
their right to choose a suitable marker in
memory of their deceased ancestor. The
approved letter shall then be sent to each
known descendant with a copy of the instant
order attached.' Defendants have indicated
that they will continue to make every
reasonable effort to identify other descendants presently unknown, and that once the
memorial has been completed and dedicated, they will be responsible for its proper
maintenance in the future.
SUMMARY
In sum, (1) treating the parties' motions as
motions for partial summary judgment on
Counts I-III of the complaint, plaintiffs are
GRANTED summary judgment on Count I
insofar as it challenges the erection and
maintenance of the statue of Jesus, and the
erection and maintenance of the statue is
accordingly DECLARED to be unconstitutional. However, (2) defendants' new proposal to erect religious or nonreligious
markers according to the wishes of known
descendants is DECLARED to be constitutional. (3) In all other respects, therefore,
both parties' motions for partial summary
judgment are DENIED as moot. (4) Within
10 days of the date of this order, defendants
are ORDERED to submit to the court a
draft of a letter informing descendants of
their right to select a suitable grave marker.
(5) Ruling on the parties' motions for summary judgment on Count IV of the complaint is DEFERRED until further order.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 13th day of
September, 1983.
Marvin H. Shoob, Judge
United States District Court
Northern District of Georgia

2The court notes that defendants have been unable to ascertain actual church affiliations for more than half of the fifty-two individuals known to be buried in
Gilbert Cemetery, and it is estimated that up to fifteen hundred persons may be buried in the cemetery. Hence it is difficult to justify the use of specifically christian
symbols as a means to achieving the state's purportedly secular end.
JAcceptance of defendants' offer and selection of a marker shall not be deemed to compromise the claims raised by plaintiff Robinson in Count IV of the
complaint.

Page 8

December, 1983

The American Atheist

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-----

-----

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983

WHAT IS RELIGION?

\
\

\1
\

~B

Finally, after about 10,000 years of civilization, within this century the governments
of the world, which have used religion
constantly to bolster their hold on humankind , have been challenged with the
question, "What is religion?" Ifstates did not
give special position, privilege and favor to
religion, the question would never come up.
When each state had but one official
religion, it was obvious to whom government largess and favor would go. But, as
more study of religion revealed the contradictions inherent in the babblings of a single
dominant religion, other "branches" of that
religion arose. Interpreting basic tenets
differently, religious zealots would gather
around them those whom they could impress with their theistic logic and begin a
new cult, usually premised on a reevaluation
of the old cult. From judaism, for example,
has come both christianity and islam religions. In turn, in islam many sects have
arisen and some of them are now involved in
hostilities throughout the Middle East.
Christianity was riven with cuItic breakoffs
even before its official founding. Indeed, the
eastern orthodox and roman catholic
branches managed not alone geographic
but ideological breaks. Protestantism was
founded when Luther actually said, "I
protest" to certain tenets of roman catholAustin, Texas

icism in the 1500 years prior to Luther.


Judaism has always had conservative,
liberal and centralist rabbinical positions
and followers throughout the ages. In all
religions of the East and of antiquity the
same schisms are easily seen.
But all religions have existed only so long
as governments have tolerated them. When
a religion came into disfavor with a government, that religion was closed out in that
state. History is strewn with dead religions
and rejected gods. In modern Western
history the church of England was established by Henry VIII and lutheranism was
fastened upon Germany by the reigning
princes of the small cluster of individual
states which later became that central
European state. Spain and Portugal, establishing colonies throughout the world, took
roman catholicism with them into Central
and South America, Indochina (now Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), Canada and portions of Africa. The English, in a deliberate
protestant scheme, populated the seacoast
of what was to become the United States,
Australia and South Africa. In India the
populace was thought by the English to be
too inferior to bother with its christianization. The militant muslims swept the eastern
Mediterranean nations and the north coast
of Africa to establish islam there. Despite
December, 1983

the rationalizations given by christian historians, the basic thrust of the spread of any
religion was to"call to those conquered to
"convert or die." Mass slaughters took
place throughout every geographic portion
of the world. Most frequently the conver.sion of a ruling king signaled the conversion
of the country. As each generation was born
into the dominant" religious culture, it was'
programmed into. an acceptance of the
state's religion. As "new" religions arose,
they were based on reinterpretations of the
older religious ideas, primarily on apurification attempt. Two examples willsuffice.
The most basic early christian argument
concerned the essence of jesuchrist. Were
the father (god) and the son (Jesus) of the
same essence or substance (homoousios)?
Was the son a different person or one with
the father? Was he born of the father? Or
was the son, born in time, only of a similar
essence to the father, existing before time
(homoousios)? Did the son exist before god
as a separate entity, or did he always exist,
being with god as a part thereof? During the
years of the establishment of christianity
thousands of persons throughout the Roman empire died over the issue. More
recent protestant cults have literally come
apart over the quarrel concerned with salvation. Do good deeds count or is belief
Page 9

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


alone sufficient to get one into heaven?
Indeed the old and the new testaments of
the dominant religion of the "West" have
developed eight brands of judaism, that
many of the islamic faith, at least six brands
of catholicism and, now, approximately five
hundred brands of protestantism. The socalled eastern religions have hundreds of
sub-genus groups.
When such a great number of religious
ideas must be "protected" by the state,
usually under the euphemism of "freedom of
conscience," it becomes a legal necessity to
try to set out what a religion is. By and large,
in the United States the issue has been
adroitly evaded, when possible.
Recently, in Australia, the confrontation
was too direct and it was necessary for the
Australian courts to handle the issue. In
1969, the Church of Scientology, Inc. was
introduced into Victoria, Australia. The
corporation was assessed to payroll tax
under the Payroll Tax Act 1971 (Vic.) and
wages assessed as liable to taxation were
reported and the tax deemed as owing was
paid during the period July 1, 1975 to June
30, 1977. The tax law then stated,
"10. The wages liable to payroll tax
under this Act do not include wages
paid or payable ... (b) by a religious or
public benevolent institution, or a
public hospital,"
The corporation, contending that it was a
religious institution for the purposes of this
section of the law, objected to the assessment but the Commissioner of Payroll Tax
disallowed the objection. The corporation
requested the Commissioner to treat its
objection as an appeal and to cause the
objection to be set down for hearing in the
Supreme Court of Victoria. A single judge
dismissed the appeal, and the corporation
then appealed to the Full Court. The threejudge Full Court dismissed the appeal and
the case was taken to the High Court of
Australia in the case Church of the New
Faith v. Commissioner for Pay-Roll Tax
(1983) VR. 97. There, a judgment was given
by its five members on October 27th, 1983.
The findings and analysis were lengthy,
going to 59 pages, with three separate
opinions written.
The judgment is significant because it is a
case of first impression, and nations throughout the world will rely upon the findings of
the Australian court as they continue to deal
with religion. All five justices sitting on the
case, using different reasoning, found scientology to be a religion and, under the
provisions of the payroll tax law, to be
exempt from the payment of the tax.
The carefully worded decisions, however,
are of compelling interest. The entire battle
was fought around the single question, "Is
Scientology a Religion?" Counsel for both
sides argued by reference to affidavits read,
Page 10

oral testimony given before the High Court,


and tendered exhibits which included a
library of books written by Lafayette Ronald
Hubbard (L. Ron Hubbard). The Court
conceded that the writings of Hubbard
included many which were of "impenetrable
obscurity." However, the court itself, being
impenetrably obscure, stated:
"It does not follow that the common
religion of a group stamps a religious
character on an institution founded,
maintained or staffed by members of
that group or that the purpose or
activity of such an institution is religious. The basis adopted by the
parties in fighting this case has concealed the factors which are relevant
to the character of the corporation,
namely, the purpose for which the
corporation was formed and is maintained, and the activities of the corporation. The question whether those
factors are religious in nature has not
been judicially considered."

evidence as the set of beliefs, practices and observances accepted by


scientologists are property to be
described as a religion."
Since each of the justices' decisions were
of distinct opinion, often conflicting in conclusions, an analysis of the opinion, totally,
is difficult. Ultimately, the judges - after
demonstrating their unique individualities,
flair with words, and nuanced logic agreed that scientology was a religion,
basically for the same underlying principled
reasons, premised primarily upon U.S.
Supreme Court decisions.
Although not reported in our media as
extensively as it should have been, sci-.
entology, with its 18 million adherents
worldwide, has apparently been in extended
legal battles to be characterized as a religion
in a number of countries, most often to
obtain the beneficial tax-exempt status
given to religions by modern governments.
The chief justice of the High Court of
Australia saw in his opinion that freedom of

. .. where else but in Australia?


After setting that as a presumption, the
court concluded,
"No valid statement can be made as
to a tenet of a religion unless its
validity as a tenet is recognized by the
adherents of that religion."
Therefore, the question before the court
was not what Hubbard wrote, but what
those practicing his religion thought:
"The question which can be answered is whether the beliefs, practices and observances which were
established by the affidavits and oral
December, 1983

religion, the paradigm of freedom of conscience, is of the essence of a free society.


The chief function, in the law, of a definition
of religion is to mark out an area within
which a person subject to the law is free to
believe and to act in accordance with his
belief without legal restraint. When a religion is identified, it willthen be free from the
impact of laws which affect others, such as
the payroll law under .challenge in Australia.
The counsel for scientology contended
for a wide definition of religion in accordance with the indicia of a religion as set out
The American Atheist

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


in a U.S. case Malnak u, Yogi, 592 F.2d.197
(1979). In that case, parents of children in
the New Jersey public schools objected to
the teaching of the "Science of Creative
Intelligence - Transcendental Meditation"
(sci/tm) based on the writings and doctrines
of the maharishi Mahesh yogi, presented as
an elective subject in five high schools
during the 1975-76 academic years and
taught by disciples of the yogi. Essential to
the practice of sci/trn is the "mantra," a
sound aid used while meditating. To acquire
his mantra, a meditator must attend a oneor two-hour ceremony called a "puja."
Therefore, every public school student was
required to attend a puja as part of the
course. This was conducted off school
premises on a Sunday. The student was
required to bring fruit, flowers and a white
handkerchief which were given to a teacher
intercessor who then chanted and used
them as offerings to a deified "guru dev,"
which the student was addressing.
The U.S. court found that the teachings
were religious. In a broad and vague
statement, this lower court stated,
"Religion, as comprehended by the
first amendment, now includes mere
affirmation of belief in a supreme
being, Torcaso u. Watkins, 367 US.
4BB (1961); invocation of a supreme
being in a public school, Engel u.
Vitale, 370 US. 421 (1963); and
reading verses from the Bible without
comment, Murray u, Curlett, 374
US. 203."
It was in the concurring opinion of one of
the circuit judges that the traditional U.S.
definition of religion was given:
"The original definition of religion
prevalent in this country was closely
tied to a belief in god. James Madison
called religion 'the duty which we owe
to our creator, and the manner of
discharging it.' Basically, this was the
position of the Supreme Court at the
end of the nineteenth century. In
David u, Beason, 133 US. 333,
(1B90), the Court declared:
" The term "religion" has
reference to one's views of his
relations to his creator, and to
the obligations they impose of
reverence for his being and
character, and of obedience to
his will.'
"This attitude remained unchallenged
for many years. Chief Justice
Hughes, writing a dissent in 1931,
could conclude without concern that,
" 'the essence of religion is
belief in a relation to god involving duties superior to those
arising from any human relation.'
"Thus, the traditional definition
Austin, Texas

was grounded upon a theistic perception of religion. It is not clear,


however, given"the absence of any
concentration in sci/tm on a 'Supreme Being,' that it may be considered a religion under this traditional formulation."
This concurring judge noted, also, that a
broad reading of "religion" was drawn upon
in Founding Church of Scientology u, US.
133 US. App. D.e., 409 F.2d. 1146. There,
scientology, which is characterized in the
case as a belief system, providing a "general
account of man and his nature comparable
in scope, if not in content, to those of some
organized religions," was found to be a
religion for purposes of the free exercise
clause of the First Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States. However,
in that case, the government did not contest
scientology's religious nature or rebut the
prima facie case for religious classification
made by its supporters.
Ih 'the United States, the Universal Military Service and Training Act, 50 U.s.e.
App. #456(j)(1970), in section 6(j) had
provided conscientious objection status to
those persons who "by reason of religious
training and belief," were "opposed to participation in war in any form." Certain selective services cases, United States u, Seeger,
3BOUS.A. 163 (1965) and Walsh v. United
States, 39B US. 333 (1970), turned on
statutory interpretation of this act. In a
remarkable feat of linguistic transmutation
the U.S. Supreme Court in the Seeger case,
when young Seeger refused to affirm his
faith in a supreme being, stated that the
phrase "religious training and belief' encompassed non-theist faiths provided that
they are "sincere religious beliefs which
(are) based upon a power or being, or upon
a faith, to which all else is subordinate or
upon which all else is ultimately dependent."
A belief was imputed to Seeger which he did
not have. In the case of Walsh this was even
more confounded when Walsh was found to
have an ultimate concern which transcended human understanding which he,
however, had not professed.
Later in the case of Torcaso u. Watkins,
367 US. 4BB(1961), Torcaso, appointed by
the governor of Maryland to the office of
notary public, was denied a commission
because he would not declare his belief in
god, as required by the Maryland Constitution. In that instance, the court specifically
observed that neither the state nor the
federal government "can aid those religions
based on a belief in the existence of god as
against those religions founded on different
beliefs." The court, unfortunately, added a
footnote, which has since then been used
extensively by the radical right in the United
States:
"Among religions in this country
December, 1983

which do not teach what would


generally be considered a belief in the
existence of god are buddhism, taoism, ethical culture, secular humanism and others. See Washington Ethical Society u. District of Columbia,
101 US. App. D.e. 371; Fellowship of
Humanity u, County of Alameda, 153
Cal. App. 2d 673; II Encyclopedia of
the Social Sciences 293; 4 Encyclopedia Britannica (1957 ed.) 21 id., at
797; Archer, Faiths Men Liue By (2d
ed. revised by Purinton), 120-138,
254-313; 1961 World Almanac 695,
712; Yearbook of American Churches for 1961, at 29,47."
In the cases of the Washington Ethical
Society and the Fellowship of Humanity,
both small local groups had asked for specific tax exemption and presented evidence
that the members of the groups considered
themselves to be religious and their small
local group to be the equivalent of a church
for tax considerations. In each instance, the
tax court spoke only to the facts of each
group before it as applied to the specific tax
exemption request. Whether or not ethical
culture or humanism was, generally, a
religion was not an issue.
The Australian court added that many of
the great religions have no belief in god or a
supreme being in the sense of a personal
deity rather than an abstract principle and
pointed out the notable examples of theravadan buddhism, the samkhya school of
hinduism and taoism. These religions assert
an ultimate principle, reality or power informing the world of matter and energy.
This is an abstract conception described as
unknown or incomprehensible. Idols or
symbols representing this ultimate principle
are contemplated, but meditation used in
these religions (rather than prayer or worship) is said to stimulate an awareness of the
divine peculiar to the individual concerned.
The lower U.S. court in Malnak u, Yogi,
and in a concurring opinion, only opined
that 'that seemed unavoidable from the
Seeger, Walsh and Torcaso cases that the
theistic formulation presumed to be applicable in the later nineteenth century cases is
no longer sustainable in the U.S. Under the
modern view, "religion" is not confined to
the relationship of man with his creator,
either as a matter of law or as a matter of
theology. Even theologians of traditionally
recognized faiths have moved away from a
strictly theistic approach in explaining their
own religions: T. Altizer, The Gospel of
Christian Atheism (1966); H. Cox, The
Secular City (1966); R. Richard, Secularization Theology (1967); G. Gutierrez, A
Theology of Liberation (1973); P. Tillich,
The Shaking of the Foundations (1972). The
growth in the United States of many eastern
and non-traditional belief systems would
Page 11

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


suggest that the older, limited definition
would deny "religious identification" to
faiths to which millions of Americans adhere. However, even given the most recent
definitions of the U-S_courts the new definition remained, at the time of Malnak v. Yogi,
(i.e. in 1979), not fully formed. After the
Seeger case presumably beliefs holding the
same important position for members of
one of the new religions as the traditional
faith holds for more orthodox believers, i.e.
the Tillichian "ultimate concern," are entitled to the same treatment as the traditional beliefs. Still, with the modern approach it is necessary to look to the familiar
religions as models in order to ascertain, by
comparison, whether the new set of ideas or
beliefs is confronting the same concerns, or
serving the same purposes, as unquestioned and accepted religions.
However, it is one thing to conclude, by
analogy, that a particular cluster of ideas is
religious. It is quite another to explain
exactly what indicia are to be looked to in
making such an analogy and justifying it.
There appeared to be three indicia.
Since these three indicia became important to the Australian court, it is important
to point out some modus operandi of the
U.S. courts. When more than one judge is
involved in giving a decision, the majority
opinion is held to be the opinion of the court
and is usually designated as the decision per
curiam. Concurring or dissenting opinions
do not even have the full force or effect of
this court decision. The individual judge's
opinions are taken only as a judicial assertion, merely dictum, interesting but not
controlling even in the case at bar.
In addition, federal district cases and
federal appellate cases are not the law of the
land. By and large they are authority in a
particular geographical area. It is only when
the U.S.S.C. renders a decision that it
becomes a final matter for the country.
Thus, the case of Malnak v. Yogi does not
represent the opinion of the highest court in
the United States but actually only binds the
courts in the Third Circuit, Delaware, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Virgin Islands. Even the concurring judge, a man by
the name of Adams, spoke only for himself
in the analysis and his opinion is not even
binding in the Third Circuit area.
The High Court of Australia, thus, relied
not upon a national U.S. decision, but a
regional one.
But to return, the local concurring judge
in Malnak v. Yogi saw three indicia to
identify a religion.
The first and most important indicium is the nature of the ideas in question.
This means that a court must examine the
content of the supposed religion to determine whether the subject matter it comprehends is consistent with the assertion
Page 12

that it is, or is not, a religion. By and large the


U.S. Supreme Court has refused to do this.
However, in Founding Church of Scientology the court remarked:
"It might be possible to show that a
self-proclaimed religion was merely a
commercial enterprise, without the
underlying theories of man's nature
or his place in the universe which
characterize recognized religions."
From this the concurring judge concluded
that (1) theories of man's nature and
(2) theories of his place in the universe
characterize the content of recognized
religion. Thus, the "ultimate" nature of the
ideas presented is the most important and
convincing evidence that they should be
treated as religious.
The second indicium is the element of
comprehensiveness. Religion must be concerned with the broader scope, a belief
system that presents the accepted views as
"truth," or proffers a systematic series of
answers to ultimate concerns. The concurring judge was moved to quote a roman
catholic stalwart since the case arose in
New Jersey, a predominantly roman catholic state.
"St. Thomas Aquinas defined theology by asserting,
'. . . this science commands all
the other sciences as the ruling
science ... .'
Aquinas, Prologue to Commentary of
IV Books of Sentences, reprinted in
An Aquinas Reader (M. Clark, ed.
1972) at 411.
The third indicium to consider is ascertaining whether a set of ideas should be
classified as a religion is any formal, external, or surface signs that may be analogized to accepted religions. Such signs
might include formal services, ceremonial
functions, the existence of clergy, structure
and organization, efforts at propagation,
observation of holidays and other similar
manifestations associated with the traditional religions. These formal signs of
religion were found to be persuasive proofs
of religious character for tax exempt purposes in the cases of Washington Ethical
Society and Fellowship of Humanity (See
above.).
However, in the United States, the First
Amendment to the Constitution has two
clauses which appertain to religion. The
Amendment itself states, "Congress shall
make no law respecting the establishment of
a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof;" The two clauses are designated as
"the establishment clause" and "the free
exercise clause." The broader definition of
religion given in any cases in the United
States have always been exclusively applied
in response to free exercise clause values.
There has been considerable argument as
December, 1983

to whether the broader definition should be


applied under the establishment clause.
However, in Everson v. Board of Education,
330 U.S. 1 (1947) Justice Rutledge stated:
" 'Religion appears only once in the
Amendment. But the word governs
two prohibitions and governs them
both alike. It does not have two
meanings, one narrow to forbid 'an
establishment' and another, much
broader, for securing 'the free exercise thereof.' 'Thereof' brings down
'religion' with its entire and exact
content, no more and no less, from
the first into the second guaranty, so
that Congress and now the states are
as broadly restricted concerning the
one as they are regarding the other."
It was here that the concurring judge departed from the advocates of dual definitions for the two clauses. He noted,
"Thus Torcaso does not stand for
the proposition that 'humanism' is a
religion, although an organized group
of 'secular humanists' may be. An
undefined belief in humanitarianism,
or good intentions, is still far removed
from a comprehensive belief system
laying a claim to ultimate truth and
supported by a formal group with
religious trappings."
Using the criteria of these three indicia,
the concurring judge then concluded that
sci/tm, although not a theistic religion, was
nonetheless a constitutionally protected
religion since it concerned itself with the
same search for ultimate truth as other
religions and sought to offer a comprehensive and critically important answer to
the questions and doubts that haunt modern man. Once finding that sci/tm was a
religion, the establishment of that religion
resulting from direct government support
through the propagation of its ideas in the
public school system was forbidden.
In accepting the Malnak v. Yogi case of
the United States as a criterion for defining
religion with a wide definition, the Australian
High Court was unaware that it was not a
case nationally recognized or applied in the
U.S. Secondly, the Court did not understand the bitter factional disputes which had
erupted in New Jersey over the intrusion of
transcendental meditation into the public
schools system. The federal district courts
in that highly roman catholic state were
under a special obligation to the citizenry to
find tm to be unacceptable by any kind of
rationalizing. The obvious best' modus
operandi was to find that tm was a religion
and, as such, barred from the public
schools. In addition, the ruling was that of
the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, as
above indicated, and not one of the U.S.
Supreme Court. Also, the references to
both the Washington Ethical Society and
The American Atheist

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


the Fellowship of Humanity were of footnote reference only and of insignificant
import as tax cases.
The Australia Court felt, however, that
much as it could look to the laws or the
courts of other nations, it was necessary for
the court to give an authoritative Australian
exposition of the concept of religion. But, .
when it turned to its own cases on the
Ethical Society (in re South Place Ethical
Society; Barralet v. Attorney-General
[1980]I.W.L.R. 1565 [England]) and jehovah's witnesses (Adelaide Company of
Jehovah's Witnesses, Inc. v. the Commonwealth [1943]67 C.L.R. 116 [Australia]), it
felt that an Australian judge was correct
when he stated,
"It would be difficult, if not impossible, to devise a definition of
religion which would satisfy the adherents of all the many and various
religions which exist, or have existed,
in the world."
In Australia, the court felt, a definition could
not be adopted merely because it would
satisfy the majority of the community since
that would subvert the country's constitution especially because "minority religions
stand in need of especial protection."
However, protection is required for the
adherents of religions, not for the religions
themselves. Protection is not accorded to
safeguard the tenets of each religion; no
such protection can be given by the law, and
it would be contradictory of the law to
protect at once the tenets of different
religions which are incompatible with one
another. Protection is accorded to preserve
the dignity and freedom of each man so that
he may adhere to any religion of his
choosing or to none. It comes as a shock to
see any court advocate that the complete
perversion of reason, which is the basic
function of religion, goes toward the preservation of human dignity. However, the
Court went on to say that the freedom of
religion being equally conferred on all, the
variety of religious beliefs which are within
the area of legal immunity is not restricted.
Immediately, however, the Court found
itself in difficulty because the case before it
was not concerned with a personal freedom
of religion; it was concerned with an exemption of a religious institution from a fiscal
burden imposed upon other institutions.
Therefore the Court decided to find an
objective criterion of its own. That criterion,
it believed, must be found in the indicia
exhibited by acknowledged religions. Then,
if the indicia is exhibited by a new group
which has adherents, that group willbe held
to be a religion. To indicate the seriousness
of its chore, the Court turned to Arnold
Toynbee, An Historian's Approach to
Religion, 2nd ed., Oxford, 1979, p. 16:
"If we set out to make a survey of
Austin, Texas

the religions that have been practiced


at different times and places by the
numerous human societies and communities of whom we have some
knowledge, our first impression will
be one of a bewilderingly infinite
variety."
and to sir James Frazier, The Golden Bough
(Abridged edition, 1954, at p. 50)
"There is probably no subject in the
world about which opinions differ so
much as the nature of religion, and to
frame a definition of it which would
satisfy everyone must obviously be
impossible."
In the study of comparative religions, the
rich diversity of the available data is inexhaustible. Therefore, the Court concluded
that it was not equipped to make such a
study, and indeed, "the acculturation of a
judge in one religious environment would
impede his understanding of others." It was
a truth that an American court would not
understand much less recognize that it
would need to cope with it.
Here the Court was forced to the conclusion that,
"Faith in the supernatural, transcending reasoning about the natural
order, is the stuff of religious belief."
And, again, it returned to an American court
decision. In United States v. Kauten, 133
F.2d. 703 (1943) the Court stated:
"Religious belief arises from a sense
of the inadequacy of reason as a
means of relating the individual to his
fellowmen and to his universe . . . It
accepts the aid of logic but refuses to
be limited by it."
adding to that United States v. Ballard, 32
U.S. 78 (1944) on the freedom of religious
belief:
"Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the
proof of their religious doctrines or
beliefs."
From these statements the Court concluded that religious belief is a belief in a
supernatural being, thing or principle, and
religion is concerned with a relationship
between man and the supernatural order
and with supernatural influence upon his life
and conduct. It relates a view of the ultimate
nature of reality to a set of ideas of how man
is well advised, even obligated, to live. Thus,
religion encompasses conduct, no less than
belief.
Quoting Max Mueller's Natural Religion,
Collected Works I, 1899, at p. 169:
"When . . . men began to feel
constrained to do what they do not
like to do, or to abstain from what
they would like to do, for the sake of
some unknown powers which they
have discovered behind the storm or
the sky or the sun or the moon, then
December, 1983

we are at last on religious grounds."


The Court continued:
"What man feels constrained to do
or to abstain from doing because of
his faith in the supernatural is within
the area of legal immunity. The
canons of conduct which he accepts
as valid for himself in order to give
effect to his belief in the supernatural
are as much a part of his religion as
the belief itself. However, conduct in
which a person engages in giving
effect to his faith in the supernatural is
religious, but it is excluded from the
area of legal immunity if it offends
against the ordinary laws."
Therefore, the Court concluded that for
the purposes of Australian law, the criteria
of what constitutes a religion are twofold:
(1) belief in a supernatural being, thing'
or principle,
(2) the acceptance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that
belief, though canons of conduct
which offend against the ordinary
laws are outside the area of any
immunity, privilege or right conferred
on the grounds of religion.
The Court saw the test propounded in
Malnak v. Yogi as wider than that propounded in South Place Ethical Society and
as narrower than the text, given by it, as the
correct test. In the case of South Place
Ethical Society which was heard in England,
the Court there said,
"It seems to me that two of the
essential attributes of religion are faith
and worship; faith in a god and
worship of that god."
This, the Court reasoned, is supported by
the definitions of religion given in the Oxford
English Dictionary (1914):
(1) a particular system of faith and
worship;
(2) recognition on the part of man
of some higher unseen power as
having control of his destiny, and as
being entitled to obedience, reverence and worship
Another case in England, Reg. v. Registrar General, Ex parte Segerdal (1970) 2
Q.B. 697 also had dealt with the church of
scientology when it held that a chapel of the
church was not a place of meeting for
religious worship. In that case, the judge
found that members of the scientology
movement are expected to and, apostates
excepted, do accord blind reverence to the
written words of Mr. Hubbard. Although the
sincerity and integrity of the ordinary members were not in doubt, the Court held that
scientology was
"no less a sham because there are
others prepared to accept and act
upon such aims and beliefs as though
they were credible when they can not
Page 13

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


see them for what they are. Gullibility
cannot convert something from what
it is to something which it is not."
However, the Australian court noted that if
the English judge had approached the
matter from the standpoint of the general
group of adherents, he may well have found
scientology to be a religion, for he had said:
"Quite possibly if I were to accept as
genuine the principles, beliefs and
practices supposedly now subscribed
to by the scientology organisation,
then I, too, might agree readily
enough that its institution was religious in character."
In England the question to which the
evidence was directed was not whether the
beliefs, practices and observances of the
persons in ultimate command of the organization constituted a religion but whether
those of the general group of adherents
constituted a religion. The hypothesis was
that the question to be determined by the
Australian court was just that.
The church of scientology in Australia
bore the onus of establishing its entitlement
to the exemption it desired. In that nation it
was first known as the H.A.S.1. (Hubbard
Association of Scientologists International).
Before 1961 that association had published
a magazine which unequivocally asserted,
"H.A.S.1. is non-religious - it does
not demand any belief or faith nor is it
in conflict with faith. People of all
faiths use scientology."
The lower court in reviewing this history
found that a change in the cult was "no more
than colourable in order to serve an ulterior
purpose," namely that of acquiring the legal
status of a religion so that it might have fiscal
and other benefits from the state. His
Honour, the trial judge, expressed his clear
conviction that the purported transformation of scientology to a religion was no more
than a sham, the proclaimed belief in the
efficacy of prayer was bogus, and the adoption of the paraphernalia and ceremonies of
conventional religion was a mockery. He
said,
"The very adroitness - and alacrity - with which the tenets or
structure were from time (to time) so
cynically adapted to meet a deficiency
thought to operate in detraction of
the claim to classification as a religion
serve to rob the movement of that
sincerity and integrity that must be
cardinal features of any faith."
Ifthe High Court, then, desired to investigate scientology with its own criteria of what
constitutes a religion,
(1) belief in a supernatural being,
thing, or principle
(2) the acceptance of canons of
conduct in order to give effect to that
belief
Page 14

then it was faced with the difficulty of


understanding and explaining those parts of
the material which is said to be the beliefs,
practices and observances of the general
group of adherents to Mr. Hubbard's
writings. The works had been found by the
trial judge to be "obscure," "tautologous,"
"ambiguous," "often ungrammatical," and
"contradictory" He had stated:
"It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that one of the reasons for
writing in this way is that it permits an
explanation of the functions or purposes of the organization to be
trimmed to whatever advantage is
sought or can be obtained."
The kernel of those beliefs seemed to be
"according to the teachings of Mr. Hubbard:
"the existence of a Supreme Being is
to be affirmed and life is to be looked
at in the terms of eight dynamics. The
first is self and the eighth is the
Supreme Being. The person himself is
not his body but a thetan - equivalent one might say to a soul or spirit.
Man's immortality exists in the power
of the thetan to undergo infinite reincarnations. The doctrines of scientology are more concerned with
the transmigration and education of
thetans than they are with god in any
shape or form or any concept of a
divine superhuman, all-powerful, and
controlling entity."
When he first began to publish books on
scientology in the early 1950s in the United
States, Hubbard stated that he drew his
inspiration from the Indian Vedas, buddhism and the Tao-Te-Ching of Lao Tzu.
(The first scientology church was the
Church of Scientology of California founded
on the 18th of February, 1954.)
Mr. Hubbard had discovered the thetan
in 1951 by "the use of scientific methods."
Although belief in a supreme being is now a
part of scientology, there is no tenet which
expresses a particular concept of a supreme
being. The name of that supreme being is
left as a matter of individual choice. Each
adherent must make up his own mind what
his god is. The C04rt held that it doubted
that a declaration that a supreme being
exists is, without more, a mark of a theistic
religion. But there is no doubt that a belief in
the transmigration or infinite reincarnation
of thetans is a belief in a supernatural
principle. That belief does not require a
concomitant belief in a supreme being
before it qualifies as a religious belief. This
aspect of scientology therefore satisfied the
first criterion of the Australian test, i.e. belief
in a supernatural being, thing, or principle.
The second criterion is the code of conduct. The facts must show the acceptance
of canons of conduct in order to give effect
to the supernatural belief, being canons of
December, 1983

conduct which do not offend against ordinary laws.


To accommodate the Court, a book
entitled The Scientology Religion was tendered, and it contained chapters headed
"Practices" and "Codes of Conduct: Ethics
and Right Conduct." These ethics were said
to be "a rational system adopted by members of the church, containing rules of
conduct intended to promote the obtaining
of spiritual betterment." In this code "Ethics" is reason and the contemplation of
optimum survival. The "Eight Dynamics"
are urges or motivations. The eighth dynamic is set out in Scientology - The
Fundamentals of Thought, at p. 38:
". . . the urge toward existence as
infinity. This is also identified as the
Supreme Being. It is carefully observed here that the science of scientology does not intrude into the Dynamic of the Supreme Being. This is
called the Eighth Dynamic because
the symbol of infinity stood upright makes the numeral '8'."
This is probably one of the most nonsensical
statements ever made. Yet, the Australian
Court accepted the absurdity at face value.
The corporation's principal witness attempted to define the code of ethics concerned with this eighth dynamic in these
terms:
", . . as the Thetan becomes more
aware, particularly of the dynamics,
there is an urge to survive over all
those areas and the urge to survive on
that particular dynamic is to become
aware - to aid the survival of and to
be part of the survival of your supreme being, however you name that
supreme being."
Faced with this definition, the Court was
unable to find a connection between scientology ethics and scientology belief. However, since this principal witness was an
adherent of scientology and because she
was, however obscurely, able to point to
some exercise of the will connected with a
belief in the survival of a the tan in association with a supreme being, the Court
accepted this as one phase of a code of
conduct.
There are, in addition, numerous prescriptive moral codes intended for adherents, set
out in The Creation of Human Ability - A
Handbook for Scientologists, at pp. 1-8:
"The Code of a Scientologist provides a covenant of right conduct with
regard to matters involving the
Church itself. The Auditor's Code
imposes ethical standards for the
counselling situation. The Code of
Honour has been written for each and
every person to follow as he chooses."

The code of a scientologist is simply worldly


The American Atheist

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


advice such as to discourage the abuse of
scientology in the press. "Auditing," the
function of which is to "enable a preclear to
become aware of himself as an immortal
being" seems to be the aim of scientology. '
But the auditor's code is pragmatic advice,
such as to keep appointments on time. The
code of honour seem to be related to a belief
in the thetan, especially in two articles:
(1) "Your self-determinism and
your honour are more important than
your immediate life." and,
(2) "Your integrity to yourself is
more important than your body."
The auditing is rendered to the "preclear"
for a fee. It is sold in a block of 12Yz hours for
a fee of $650, and a real question is whether
the auditing is for religious or commercial
motives. A commercial institution which
derives its income from the sale of a religious
service cannot, the Court held, be described as a religious institution. The 5,000
and 6,000 persons who were adherents in
Victoria, Australia accord blind reverence
to Mr. Hubbard and do practice auditing,
which is apparently not unlawful according
to ordinary Australian law. Yet, viewing all
of this the Court could find no relevant
connection between the three codes of
conduct and scientologists' belief in the
supernatural. Therefore, the second indicium was not satisfied.
However, in the process of auditing there
is a revealing of transgressions to provide a
means for an individual to "regain spiritual
integrity and composure," but this is not for
any reason related to the set of supernatural
beliefs accepted by the scientologists.
The base upon which scientology is
founded is "dianetics." Central to "dianetics" is the"engram," described as a
"complete recording down to the last accurate detail of every perception present in a
moment of partial or full unconsciousness."
These "engrams" are produced from either
threats or aids to the survival of the organism, called "Dynamics." These eight
"Dynamics" are the urge to survival through
(1) self, (2) sex or children, (3) the group,
(4) all mankind, (5) other life forms, (6) the
physical universe and its components (matter, energy, space, time), (7) spirit including "the manifestations or the totality
of awareness of awareness units, thetans,
demons, ghosts, spirits, goblins and - so
forth," and (8) a supreme being, or "Infinity."
"Engrams," produced from interaction
with these "Dynamics" form a "reservoir of
date" stored in the "reactive" or "unconscious" mind. Mr. Hubbard states that these
"engrams" cause blockages in a personality
and it is only through the process of
"auditing" that the "engrams" are raised to a
conscious level and worked out, tilla person
changes from a "preclear" to a "clear." As a
Austin, Texas

"clear," a person identifies with his/her


spiritual aspect or "soul" - the "thetan" and breaks free of the constraints and
problems
of the physical
universe
("M.E.S.T."), i.e. matter, energy, space and
time, and this breaking free causes reincarnation. What breaks free is the "thetan," the
external force or spirit which controls the
human body. This "thetan" then may
"progress upward toward survival on higher
levels." All of this garbage was seriously
accepted by the Australian court as a manifestation of a code of conduct.
When the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International was first known in
Australia in the early 1960s, it called itself a
"precision science" or "a form of experimental psychology." Since then it has
"evolved." The evolution appears outwardly
in the traditional trappings of organized
European religion - Sunday meetings, ordination of ministers, clerical garb, symbols
res.embling the crucifix, ceremonies and
dogmas.
The Court therefore had to turn to the
rites and ceremonies: weddings, namings,
funerals. But there it could not find a
connection between supernatural belief (the
thetans or a supreme being) and either the
ethical rules or codes of conduct, the practice of confession, or the organization's
ceremonies. The explanation which the trial
Court found for these ceremonies and other
outward indicia of a religion was no more
than a cynical desire to present scientology
as what it was not for such mundane
purposes as acquiring the protection of
constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion or obtaining exemption from the burden of taxing laws. This explanation, accepted by the trial judge, caused him to use
the strong language, "sham," "bogus,"
"mockery," "masquerade," "pretensions,"
and "charade" in his findings. He wrote,
" ... those so-called ceremonies were
devised and published as a device to
enable, with such attendant advantages as would thereby accrue, scientology to be paraded as a church ... "
Many of the scientology books placed in
evidence contained the following statement:
"Scientology is a religious philosophy containing pastoral counselling
procedures intended to assist an individual to gain greater knowledge of
self ... The Hubbard Electrometer is
a religious artifact used in the church
confessional. It, in itself, does nothing,
and is used by ministers only, to assist
parishioners in locating areas of spiritual distress or travail."
In September, 1965, a Victorian government Board of Enquiry had reported that
"Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its
practice a serious threat to the community,
medically, morally and socially; and its adDecember, 1983

herents sadly deluded and often mentally


ill." This report led to the Psychological
Practices Act, 1965, (Vic.) which made the
teaching of scientology an offence (s.31(1.
The Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax and the
Supreme Court of Victoria, which was the
trial court, had both relied upon this finding
in repudiating the scientology objection to
the assessment of payroll tax. The High
Court in its review, however, saw this as a
moral indictment against Mr. Hubbard but
not against the adherents of his religion.
It followed for the court that whatever the
intentions of Mr. Hubbard, which were
obviously suspect, and whatever the motivation of the corporation, the state of the
evidence required a finding that the general
group of adherents had a religion. In doing
what Mr. Hubbard bids or advises them to
do, whatever his intent, they perceive themselves to be giving effect to their supernatural beliefs. Since this was the real
criterion with which the Court began, it
suddenly becomes ludicrous for it to have
tested each indicium of religion only to
accept not what the author of scientology
said about it himself but what its adherents
subjectively heard.
The other judges added little. One
pointed out that in Australia a great number
of tax exemptions and other privileges are
given to religious institutions. They are
exempt from taxes imposed on the public
generally, such as stamp duty, payroll tax,
sales tax, local government rates (taxes),
taxes on motor vehicle registration, hire
purchase, insurance premiums, purchase
and sale of marketable securities and financial transactions. Ministers are exempt from
military conscription. There are special
censorship and blasphemy laws against
those who deride or attack religious beliefs,
particularly those of christianity.
However, this judge expressed the view
that it is not within the judicial sphere to
determine matters of religious doctrine and
practice, quoting Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S.
13 Wall 679 (1871), and that scientology
should havebeen given the special status of
a religion. However, with the legal state of
affairs in modern history, a religious organization must prove, on a civil standard,
that it is a religious institution in order to
qualify for a religious tax exemption or
privilege, and this despite the state's (in this
case, Australia) boast that there is no acceptable single criterion or essence of
religion:
" ... it is not an exaggeration to say
that each person chooses the content
of his own religion. It is not for a court,
upon some a priori basis, to disqualify
certain beliefs as incapable of being
religious in character." Adelaid Company of Jehovah's Witnesses Inc. v.
The Commonwealth (1943) 67 C.L.R.
Page 15

NEWS AND COMMENTS / December, 1983


116.
Using this criterion the judge felt that it
would have been sufficient to take any
group upon face value if it claimed to be
religious, unless that body obviously was
perpetrating a hoax.
The judge emphasized that Mr. Hubbard's work is regarded by the trustees,
ministers and members of the church of
scientology as authoritative and the activities of the group adhere to them. Even if
the Court had presumed that the members
of the church of scientology in Victoria were
gullible, or misguided, or deliberately misled
or exploited, fraud or hypocrisy of the
founder or leader does not go to the genuine
belief of the follower. The central concern of
scientology is the delivery of the "thetan"
which is spiritual and immortal from the
bondage of the body, which is physical and
mortal.
Precipitously after the labored analysis,
the Court suddenly and unequivocally
stated,
"The seeming vagueness of the
supernatural beliefs and the obscurity
of their expression renders difficult
the perception of any connection
between these beliefs and the practices and observances followed by the
general group of adherents."
However, since 5,000 to 6,000 people in
Victoria alone accord blind reverence to
what Mr. Hubbard has written, "We think
an inference should be drawn though the material to support it is
not compelling - that the . . . adherents ... perceive themselves to be
giving effect to their supernatural
beliefs."
Therfore, on October 27, 1983, the High
Court of Australia declared the decision of
the Commission to be set aside. The trial
judge was overruled. The Full Court of the
Supreme Court of Victoria was overruled
and scientology was accorded full recognition as a religion entitled to all benefits and
tax exemptions given any other religions.
It was a precipitous and foolhardy ending

to seven years of litigation.


The incredible folly of the decision in this
case should be apparent to all. Despite the
"progressive" intellectual position of the
High Court of Australia and its considerable
survey of the one lower court decision in
which a concurring judge had made a
pseudo-examination of the essence of religion, the decision is a mockery. With all its
pretensions it reached back to a definition
from primitive times. Religion is:
(1) a belief in a supernatural being,
thing, or principle.
(2) a concern with the relationship
between man and the supernatural
order.
All we know is nature. That is all that man
has ever known - and we do not know
nature either well enough or in full. In reality
humankind is just now starting its enriched
study of nature, its analysis, its accumulation of knowledge. What is "super" natural
is what is "above" or "over" nature. Man isa
part of nature and he neither knows nor can
know of those things which are not a part of
what he is. The idea of "supernatural" is a
fool's tool to admit that he does not know.
Insofar as man will ever order his living, a
referent outside of nature is neither acceptable nor possible. He must put himself
in the frame in which he is: nature. He must
live there, work there, think there, be there.
For a court dealing with a legal system,
with statutory laws conceived and mandated by humankind and with constitutions
written by men, to suddenly abandon all of
human reason and to, while thus freaked
out, grasp upon concepts beyond the
understanding of law, government and man
is incredible. What is even more beyond
understanding or acceptance is that the
court should take a mundane fact situation,
in a nation governed by statutory and
constitutional law, and apply to it a criterion
of "super" natural standards. This is the
stuff of non-sense. It becomes so unrelated
to reality that it becomes at first bizarre and
then proceeds to full scale psychotic behavior.

This madness has continued for over


2,000 years. On our small planet, earth,
every animal, vegetable, mineral - every
species, every atom obeys the laws of
nature. None of them are deluded. They
play out their natural impulses only arising
out of their need for survival. But, man's
inner mental conflicts are transmissible diseases. His delusions proliferate like spores.
His psychoses are pathogenic to his fellows.
They can be injected into the body politic.
Transfixed in fear, bound to the tradition
of non-sense, of unreality, of fantasy, of
madness, each nation in the stream of
history continues to recognize what never
was, what never could be, what is not now,
as a supreme authority which transcends
every physical law of nature, every social
law of man, every intellectual law of logic
and reason. This is placed apart, as sacrosanct, as inviolate, as immutable. Neither
nature, man nor reason may confute it.
In this instance, the Court holds that the
phantasmagoria born of the sick mind of L.
Ron Hubbard has taken on substance and
worth in the deluded minds of persons who
have attached themselves to the stuff. This
is so sacrosanct that all of the taxpayers of
Australia must pay an increased burden so
that the persons who cavort with the delusions may do so with government blessing
and without government supervision. The
madness may spread to more persons
occasioning even greater financial distress
for those who are mentally healthy and who
eschew the madness, but this will result in
even more government protection and
financial assistance for it.
It appears as if a plague is upon the land
and the governments in whose nation it
appears moves to spread the contagion by
authorizing that its carriers be given special
privileges of contact with the populace.
It is time to abandon the idea of ..a
supernatural Being, Thing, or Principle."
Those ideas belonged to the childhood of
man. We have no "relationship" with such
ideas except as we pity our forebears in their
ignorance.

An Atheist Collector's Item


Rey Bourquin (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Chapter of American Atheists)
recently received, in change from his bank, a twenty dollar bill of the variety that
gladdens the hearts of Atheists and others who would seek unity in true
Americanism - it has no "In God We Trust" garbage printed thereupon IThe bill is
of 1950 vintage and is in "mint" condition (according to Rey).
Now, here's the deal Rey wants to make: The first person who calls the American
Atheist Center and pledges a $50 contribution, in exchange for the bill, will receive
the same from Rey as soon as arrangements are completed.
So, if you are interested in acquiring this memento of past truly legitimate legal
tender, hasten to the nearest telephone and call Gloria Tholen at the Center [(512)
458-1244] and tell her that you want the bill and that your $50 contribution is "in
the mail." Gloria will forward your name and address to Rey for delivery of your
collector's item. (Offer expires December 31, 1983.)
Remember - the first call gets the bill - so hurryl
And thanks, Rey; we appreciate the fine offer.1
Page 16

December, 1983

The American Atheist

"

SENA TE JOINT RESOLUTION

73

"Section 1. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or


group silent prayer or meditation in public schools. Neither the United States nor any
State shall require any person to participate in such prayer or meditation, nor shall they
encourage any particular form of prayer or meditation.
"Section 2. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit equal access to
the use of public school facilities by all voluntary student groups."
Senate Joint Resolution #73 is being argued in the U.S. Senate as this December issue of American Atheist magazine goes to
press. We have, in previous issues, reported to you the wording and implications of this new attempt to subvert the First
Amendment to the Constitution and the Supreme Court's prayer decision of 1963.lt is our wish to keep you updated as to the
progress of this right-wingfundamentalist attempt to stigmatize true Americanism and of the continuing effort of" conservative"
fanatics, both in and near the political scene, to cast this nation back into the Middle Ages.
This 3-page report includes:
(1) a letter of protest to various senators by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair;
(2) a reply from senator John Glenn, D-Ohio and presidential hopeful;
(3) reply and comments from sen. Charles Mathias, R-Maryland, with a copy of his senate statement made on May 6, 1982;
(4)two-page reply from senator Gary Hart, D-Colorado and presidential hopeful;
(5) letter from senator Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey to Ellen Johnson - American Atheist Chapter Director in New
Jersey - in response to her letter protesting S.J.R. 73;
(6) three-page reply from senator Donald Riegle, Jr., D-Michigan;
(7) reply to a similar letter of protest by Larry Carter - American Atheist Chapter Director in Des Moines, Iowa - from
senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa;
(8) reply from senator Lowell Weicker, Jr., R-Connecticut.

~CniW).$Lde

..s-c.

..~.,...LC .o
October 12, 1983

~~
JG/jl

L..-__

-POS1

OfflCl

.~)I

AUSTIN,

TX...s

,,11>8

C L

AOOf\l.55

Senator

IN MAIL
',r, 2 ,

EMOll/JGW.:eis

United Stat

...T""t's

2117

S~:;r.t- CT$[;':'~'~':"
. ~T~

. Austin, Texas

December, 1983

Page 17

(tongressional Record
PaOCEEDlNGS AND DUATU

WAS/fINGTON.

Of THE

THUasDAY.

97- CONGUS5,
MAY"

SKDND

USSION

111I2

Senate
A

CON81110110NAL
.uo:NDKENT ON PRAYER IN PUBLIC
-8CBOOLS

COMMITTI'IS

...-,

~MJt'llJCIS

1NV11IIQNMf:
1AlllO

I'C~

October 19, 1983

IN
Ms. Nedel1n M. O'HAir
American Atheists
2210 Hancock Dr.
Austin, Texa. 787S6

MAIL

:lCl 2.; :
SO~;O'l:' o~$EPA.-\,

I~,"~~.
;

Dear Jls. O'Hair:


J

Thanks for getting in touch about voluntary


appreciate h ring fre. you.

school prayer.

Mr. IlATBIAa Mr. PnsIdeDt, Ule IDcIependence 11011In the War of


..reporta tbat PnsIdeDt ReapD the Revolution, the, resolved that the
&oda7 pIaDDed to aDDOUDCeblI .up. hew Repub1lc Ibould be IOverned
JICII'ttor a comt1tuUonal UDeru!ment without Ocwemment rqulatlon of retbat would 1P"d'''l&n, auU10rIse II!IID8 u.tOD, 1I'1thout Ool'emment Interfer
_form of prarer III pub1lc 8Choo1a.The ence 1I'1th relIIIon. and without 00,,
WhIte ~
hIIIIaid be wIllleD4 ua a emment authorization of rell8Ion.
draft-.
80 In the tlrIt amendment to the
Not bavlDa .en the draft of the 8PII- ConatItuUon Ii II provided that "Con
cItlc laDIuaP that the PresIdent allvo- ~
Ihall make no 1&11' l'eIIJ)eCtInaaD
__ I am DOt In a poRtion to com- eatablJlhment of relIcIon or prohibit,.
~
OIl blI propoul.
IDa the tree aen:lle Ulereof,"
But I CloDclaim to mow lIOIDethlDlr James MadIaon II eapecJallr eloquent
about the 1lUbJec:t,I a Kember of In explalnlDa In the Journal of the
the other bocIr, IelYIDa on the JudIci ConIUtuUoDal ConvenUon what .
U7 Committee at the time the Becker III the mlnda of the framerI. and be \a
amendment debated Chere. That
a boundleaa 80unle of information to
aD amendment to the Comtttu.
IUlde UI we oonalder thIa proposal.
Uon proPO.ed on the 8IIbJeet of Pr&l'eJ'
I would urp everr Member of Con,
III 8Chool. -Maur houn
of beariDp.
~
to reriew the atenalve record
III&DJevenIDp .tu~
American hla- JDade In the Bouse JucI1c:1arrCommittorr aDd AmerIcan conatItutlODal 1&11', tee In conaldertnl the Becker amend
imd III&DJ1'0lumes of reporta were all ment. Tbe oonclUl1on II Inescapable
recaulred b, the JucI1c:1arrCommittee'.
tbat we Ihould not repudiate the b\acbe aDd carelul ICI'UUnr of thIa 1m. torte polley of freedom that hIIIIaened
pcIItaDt IlUbject.
ua 80 well for two centuries. It II a
Kr ooDClUlloD,after partIdp&tIDr In po1lcr of .epuatlon
of Church and
thoM 1'er1 arduoUi atudlea, 1I'U tbat ,It&te, and I believe that anr oonaUtu
jre abould DOt adopt an amendment
~onal amendment to authorize lChool
1I'1thrspect to pr&l'er In the lChooL
praJeJ' 1II1l IrrepuablJ
breach tbat
U 1I'IIh to _rYe
UIe &ndIUon tule.
al and blItorte 1'&1_ cf -.riean
10III the Interest of Ubert" III the 1zi.
cIet,. we mould DOt adopt .uch an terest of freedom of relIIIon. and In
&meDdment. The founderl of the Re- the Intereat of all Amertcana, our leDPu!lUc d1d DOt,of OOlllX, bee the pal'o 8J'I.tIon aDd the pneratlona to come, I
Ucular qu.Uon
becauae there
lIJ'Ie Benatora to 100k bard and deep at
then no public lChooi Qatem we thIa propoul. When Ule, have done ao
mow It. But the, knew what hap. I am confident the)' will oonc1ude that
peoed wbeD IOvemment medd1es with a conatItuUoDal amendment with rerelIIIon.
apec:t to praJ'eJ' In 8ChooJa II a radical
III the co1onr of J4ar)1land there bad
turn on the road of Amertcan blItorr
been off\clal praJera, In our cue An aDd a detour tbat moat of UI- will DOt
II1IcanPr&l'era. and, of oourae, our aD Judri it 11wile to take.
c.tora were not unique III llvlDa under
e.tabUIhed
relIIIlIDL
80
when
IDdependence

ded&red
and

As you know. the President's


proposed constitutional
endMnt, sponsored
Senator Thuraond s. J. Res. ,.3, would allow
voluntary prayer n our public schools.
Senator Hatch bas also
introduced a constitutional
aaendment that would allow ailent
prayer in public Ichools.
1 oppole these aaenc:!mentlbecause J
believe they would in fact undermine the religious
liberty of all
A8Iericanl.
.

br

For nearly two hundred ,.ar.,


our country's rich religious
heritage he. developed under a Constitutional
IYlteln which recognizes that religion is fundamentally a private utter
and that
the r-ights of all person. to freely eJ:erciae their religious
beliefs are best protected when the govern.ent i. prohibited tra.
engaging in, or interfering
with, religious .ctivities.
Almolt 20 J r. ago, the Supr Court atated -that.
union
of governHnt and reI igion teneSs to destrO]' governllent and to degrade religion. - Taking prayer. one of the .Olt personal of all
religious activities.
fre. the nctity of the hocneor the place
of vorship, and thrusting it into the public achooll demeans the
significance of prayer by saddling it with the untIe
of governMntal interference.
Allowing a public school t cher to select
the daily prayer, or duignate
a apecific period of the day for
prayer, vould place the governMnt in the polition of choosing
ong our countrJ'1 numerous reli9ions and dena.inations,
and
would destroy the govern.ental neutrality
that has allowed American'. diverse religionl
to flourish.

One of the cornerstones of religious liberty is the right of


every family to teach each new generation the distinctive
traditions and beliefs of its religious heritage,
free frorn governllent
ir.terference.
A country dedicated to relIgious freedom and diversity should not subject a ainority of its citizens
to any forI'
of eoer c i on as I result of their religion.

The American Atheist


December, 1983
Page 18

~Cnileb~

..........~

October 28, 1983


P.ge II
However. tbe 0.5. Supr Court baa never ruled on this
i.sue and lover court decisicn.
have been conflicting.
ManJ
of the lover courtl have relied
on tbe opinion
of JUltice
Brennan
who hili lugg ted that l

the oblervance
of
.oment of reverent ai1ence at the opening of cl y
lerve .. the lolel,. lecular purposes of devotional

&.c

day.

Oetober 28,
1983/

N 1.1AiL

activiti

without

jeoperdising

either

the

religious

liberti of an1 _abers of tbe Ca..unit1 or the proper


of leparation
betw.en the spher of religion and
government

degree

JUltice arennan'. c~nt.


do not reflect.
deel'ion of the
full court but ~r.l,.
constitute hi. r rts following. c

.!:n~U:~

!~r~:i~y

~::e~U~!~!~nd:!l:i~~:t::~I:~b:tc~r~I:~
lil'nce
to be unconltitution.l.
The prt ry ba.i. for these
decisionl has been that Ii lent lROIIlent
la"l were found lacking
in any secular purpose and it clear tMt the over.bel.iag
Intent 6f the legisl.turel
in pel.ing thele la"
to
restore daily pr.yer to the public schools.
In addition,
courts found that such la.s have. pri ry effeet of aiding
re'119ion by _king it cl r to atudent. that they ar. being
encouraged to .n9ge in religious activities.

Although the 0.5. SupreooeCourt h Mnd.d down a deeldon


king it clear tMt public inotitutiono
of higher lurnlng
which allow acc.a. to their faciliti to other .tudent
groups au.t allow ace to religious groups , it 1s not clnr
whether this decision e.tendl to Ichoo1s on the priaarr .nd
I.condary level.
Lower court. have juatified
the denial of
studentst ule of SChool facilities
for religioul
purposes or.
the ground that pci_r,
and .econdary .chool students ar.
i.pressionabl acre lubject t.o raer pre.IUre, and 80re
lIkdy to be infl nc.d by offic .II], .ppron",
n though
voluntary, religious activitie..
'J'he Supre Court, .hil.
not directly addrelsing the que.tion of acce.s in pri ry aad
aecondary .chool doe. apecificall,.
.ention that,
univer.ity
Itudentl are, of eeueee , young a4ult..
'!"be;
ue 1 0 i.pr oion.b1e tMn ]'ounger otudenu .nd should be
able to appreciate that tbe Univer.ity'.
policy 1. one of
neutral it, toward religion.
It ohould be noted tMt the Supreme Court MS .100 Mn.,.d
downa eleci.ion "hich requires accClaftodation of religion by
allowing public priaary and secondary Ichool children,
desiring, to leeve t.he Ichaol premiles at a d.signated tilH
during the Ichool day to receive religious instruction
Ira.'
private teacher. in nearby private facilities.
In addition,

.0

OetOber 20,

1983

Mov ber I,

1983

Madaly" M OtHair
2210 HIlncockDrive
Au.tin, Texas 78768

liS.

Dear Ms. O'Hair:


1 appreciate bearing frea fOU and welcc.t
re.pond. to your c~nts.

lC1~
CharI...
Dnited S~
cac;/onz

~
Gr"ol.y
tea Senator

the opportuni t1 to

1 .trongly oppo,. Itripping the SupreM Court an~ oth.r federal


courts of juri.eUction oyer controver.ies
iDyolYlng acbool
prayer.
Pirlt,
J do not believe t.hat the Congre can
constitutionally
deny the Supraae. court or anJ federal court
jurisdiction
oyer luch fundamental tters.
Second.]
oppo.ed to any ur. t.hat would per.it 9O"er,...nta1 intrusion
into the rea Ie of religion.
The word. of the First ~ndaent
t.o
the Constitution te it clear that Congrels aball aake no 1."
respecting an t.bli . nt of religion. or prohibiting the frae
eee ee t ee thereof. J beli .,e that pra,er nctioned. ~ public
Ichools violate this con.titutional
ndate of .eparat1on of
church and Itate.

~~~~~,:.::~.
F:~,~
1'ou can count on .y continued effortl
Conltitution
fra. the political
.hi.s
infor tion, I bave t.aken tbe liberty

Unit.d

Austin, Texas

States

to protect. the
of tIN aa-ent.
Por Jour
of .nclaaing a copy of a

s.':;iorU

December, 1983
Page 19

Euleta G. Usrey

IN THE BEGINNING
FOREWORD
It has been a long year as Atheists across our nation have waited for the infamous Reagan "Year of the Bible" to meet its
demise. But December is here at last and we can finally say farewell to this affront to our intellectual sensibilities which
Ronald Reagan foisted upon our nation and our people.
No more can a wild-eyed minister look at us and say, "But president Reagan has proclaimed this, etc., etc., etc." The
nation is finally done with it.
Of course, the book is still here, still in circulation and ready for the next accolades to be laid upon it. We look forward to
that happy day when this mass of irrational hysterical nonsense is laid to rest for good and all times.
Until then, it was thought to be appropriate to present a small contribution on bible lore for the close-out issue of the
year.
And the WASP god made two offspring; the White offspring to
enjoy the suburbs, and the other offspring to survive the ghettoes:
thus he made the segregation a continuing process.
And the WASP god set White offspring in the suburbs to give pride
to their White parents.
And to compete for the indulgence and greed and vanity: and the
WASP god saw that it was perpetual.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
And the WASP god said, "Let the other offspring bring forth
.abundantly of violence and rage and passion."
And the WASP god created great institutions, that the other
offspring might experience prisons and asylums and clinics: and the
WASP god saw that it was profound.
And the WASP god blessed them all, saying, "Be fruitful, and
multiply within your race, and fillthe suburbs, and fillthe ghettoes."
In the beginning the WASP god had not yet created the Whites and
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
the others.
And the WASP god said, "Let the earth bring forth the living
And there existed no social classes; oppression was not yet made
creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and the beast of the
manifest. And the aggression of the WASP god moved upon the
earth after his kind"; and it was so.
situation.
And the WASP god made the beast of the earth and cattle and
And the WASP god said, "Let there be Powers": and there were
every thing that creepeth upon the earth to be consumed by the
Powers.
Whites and the others: and god saw that it was palatable.
And the WASP god saw the Power, that it was convenient: and the
And the WASP god said, "Let us make White values in our image,
WASP god divided the Powers from the subjects.
after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the fowl of the air, that they may have sport."
And the WASP god called the Powers male, and the subjects he
called female. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
So the WASP god created sport in his own image, in the image of
And the WASP god said, "Let there be a race difference on the
the WASP god created he it; hunters and hunted created he them.
earth, and let it divide the habitations of the people."
And the WASP god blessed them, and the WASP god said unto
And the WASP god made the race differences, and divided the
them, "Be aggressive, and oppressive, and deplete the earth's
habitations of the others: and it was so.
resources, and destroy it; and have dominion over the remaining fowl
And the WASP god called these habitations poverty neighborof the air, and over every remaining living thing that moveth upon the
earth."
hoods. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And the WASP god said, "Let the Whites under the heaven be
And the WASP god said, "Behold, I have also given you every herb
gathered together unto one place, and let the affluent neighborhoods . bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree, in
appear": and it was so.
the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; it is for your materialism.
And the WASP god called the affluent neighborhoods suburbs; and
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to
the gathering together of the poverty neighborhoods he called
every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is possible
ghettoes: and the WASP god saw that it was profitable.
use, I have given every green herb and tree"; and it was consumed.
And the WASP god said, "Let the suburbs bring forth indulgence,
And the WASP god saw every thing that he had made, and behold,
greed, and vanity, whose seeds are in themselves": and it was so.
it was very predictable. And the evening and the morning were the
And the suburbs brought forth indulgence and greed and vanity,
sixth day.
whose seeds are in themselves, after their kind: and the WASP god
Thus the Powers and the subjects were created, and the Whites
and the others.
saw that it was enjoyable.
And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And on the seventh day the WASP god ended his work which he
And the WASP god said, "Let there be Powers in places of
had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which
Authority to divide the suburbs from the ghettoes, and let them be for
he had made.
signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.
And the WASP god celebrated the seventh day; because the
"And let them be for generations to give counsel to the offspring":
creation would carryon his will.
and it was so.
And it is so.

3t

Page 20

December, 1983

The American Atheist

RENOVATIONS IN AUSTIN

A NEW LOOK FOR THE AMERICAN ATHEIST CENTER

Photo at the left is


the classical view of
the center prior to
remodeling

CENTER FLOOR PLA~

~ddJJ

1-

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PHout
CO.,IIP

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BATHROOMS
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CONF.
ROOM

f'~'XlJ~'='

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~19"13"'~;

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UITR,Y

This shaded area is the new book


and products stock room. It also
provides a more efficient outgoing
mail room where our in-house
postal operations can be conducted.

Remaining
entrance
area

This shaded area will now provide


much needed storage room for
paper products, supplies, etc.

PHOTO SECTION

1. View from Storage Area toward New Book Room


2. Shirley Nelson and Gerald Tholen Discussing
Progress
3. Shirley Applying Finish Coat Plaster
4. During Flooring Installation
5. Shirley and Ridgeway Preparing to Mix Exterior
Plaster

PHOTO SECTION

6. Shirley Hanging Metal Lath for Plaster Coats


7. New Book Stock Room Ready for Service
8. Shirley Cutting through Former Front Brick Wall for
Installation of Access Door to Stock Room
9. Art Brenner - in a Hurry to Put New
Accommodations to Serious Use
10. Ridgeway and Shirley Applying "Scratchcoat"
Plaster

PHOTO SECTION

;.

Various
Shots During
Construction

PHOTO SECTION

Ben Edward Akerley

AN"THONY COMSTOCK
THE ORIGINAL MR. BLUENOSE
This year marks the centennial of the Comstock Act. Here is the story of its author, Anthony
Comstock, the "Roundsman of the Lord."
[On March 3, 1873, during the closing hours of the FortySecond Congress, some two hundred sixty acts were hurried
through Congress without inquiry or consideration. The
signing of these acts into law by President Grant was
performed in the same hurried, reckless manner. Hundreds of
laws were thus signed by the President without the slightest
examination on his part as rapidly as they could be handed to
him, one by one, by an attendant.]
And so it was that without due consideration by either the
Congress of the United States or the President, the Comstock Act of
1873 became law. The provision of the Comstock Act which was to
have the most far-reaching effects and which was to initiate what
some critics have called the American Inquisition, is reprinted here in
full:
"See. 148. That no obscene, lewd, or lascivious book,
pamphlet, picture, paper, print, or other publication of an
indecent character, or any article or thing designed or intended
for the prevention of conception or procuring of abortion, nor
any article or thing intended or adapted for any indecent or
immoral use or nature, nor any written or printed card,
circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement or notice of any kind
giving information, directly or indirectly, where, or how, or of
whom, or by what means either of the things before mentioned
may be obtained or made, nor any letter upon the envelope of
which, or postal card upon which indecent or scurrilous
epithets may be written or printed, shall be carried in the mail,
and any person who shall knowingly deposit, or cause to be
deposited for mailing or delivery, any of the hereinbeforementioned articles articles or things, or any notice, or paper
containing any advertisement relating to the aforesaid articles
or things, and any person who, in pursuance of any plan or
scheme for disposing of any of the hereinbefore-mentioned
articles or things, shall take, or cause to be taken, from the mail
any such letter or package, shall be deemed guilty of a
misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall, for every
offense, be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more
than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned at hard labor not less
than one year nor more than ten years, or both, in the
discretion of the judge."
Twenty two states later enacted their own "little Comstock laws"
modeled after the federal statute. It must be borne in mind that the
Comstock Act is still on the books today, although indiscriminately
and arbitrarily enforced. On January 8, 1971, Congress amended the
birth control section to the effect that no criminal penalties could be
levied if the information or devices were actively solicited by the
recipient, but everything else was left completely intact.
Comstock could not have picked a more opportune time to lobby
in Washington for the passage of his act, for Congress had just been
scandalized by the notorious Credit Mobilier affair involving the
Union Pacific Railroad and numerous Congressmen. It was the
greatest Congressional scandal in the history of the United States and
extended all the way to the Vice-President.
Eager to exploit any situation which would redeem them in the eyes
of the voting constituency, the Congressmen sawin the displays
which Comstock personally brought to Washington for their viewing
a propitious occasion for making the public forgive them for their
Austin, Texas

indiscretions, and they whole-heartedly endorsed Comstock and his


campaign against obscenity.
Any politician with political acumen realizes that there is one
enormous advantage in crusading against smut - it can't fight back.
And for that reason, the crusade of Comstock became a cause
celebre among the Congressmen who had fallen from grace and
Anthony Comstock became their personal hero.
They never bothered to read the act and to see that it failed to
differentiate between obscenity and contraceptives or between
pornography and erotic literary masterpieces. The wording of the law
was such that even a physician could be convicted for providing
contraceptives or abortifacients to anyone. The passage of the
Comstock Act was surely an event that will live on forever in
notoriety.
The author of this act was a zealous, fanatical christian who felt it
his god-appointed duty to ferret out instances of corruption and vice
and to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of his law.
Anthony Comstock was convinced that passion, like rabies, was a
communicable disease and that one touch of lewdness could make
the whole world mad.
He was born on March 9, 1844, in New Canaan, Connecticut,
where he spent his entire childhood and youth. Religion was the most
important influence in young Anthony's life and the bible stories told
him by his mother and the later religious services which he attended
faithfully left an indelible imprint on his mind. Although his mother
died when Anthony was only ten years old, a verse learned at her
knee was a motto throughout his life:
Build it well, whate'er ye do.
Build it straight and strong and true.
Build it high and clean and broad.
Build it for the eye of god.
He often spoke of the comfort and consolation of religion and seemed
to derive an ecstasy from his religion that he jealously cherished. He
prayed every night of his life and subjected his soul to constant
scrutiny. He claimed that the whole purpose of his life was to honor
his mother and to serve the lord.
Comstock's semi-official biographer Trumbull speaks of some
vicious farmhands on the Comstock farm who introduced young
Anthony into certain practices which were harder for him to
overcome than anything that ever came into his life in later years, and
we can only conjecture how profoundly these boyhood experiences
influenced his lifelong crusade against "immorality and vice."

"His Civil War diary records numerous struggles with the devil and reveals that he had a
severe problem with masturbation. The guilt
experienced by him over this was very near to
being complete trauma."
At the age of nineteen, Comstock enlisted in the Union Army to"
take the place of his older brother who had been killed at Gettysburg.
His Civil War diary records numerous struggles with the devil and
reveals that he had a severe problem with masturbation. The guilt
experienced by him over this was very near to being complete

December, 1983

Page 21

trauma. A typical entry from the diary reads as follows:


"This morning was severely tempted by Satan and after
some time in my own weakness I failed."
Another entry states:
"Again tempted and found wanting. Sin, sin. Oh, how much
peace and happiness is sacrificed on thy altar. Seemed as
though devil had full sway over me today, went right into
temptation, and then, Oh such love, Jesus snatched it away out
of my reach. How good he is, how sinful I am. I am the chief of
sinners, but I should be so miserable and wretched were it not
that god is merciful and I may be forgiven."
Comstock always poured his whiskey rations on the ground, much
to the consternation of his fellow soldiers. The only battles he
engaged in during the Civil War were those he fought with the devil
and most of his time was actually spent warring against his own and
his comrades' sinful condition.
He was mustered out of the army in 1865 and returned to his native
Connecticut where he worked for a while as a drygoods' salesman in
New Haven. He later decided to go to New York City to seek his
fortune there.
In New York, he progressed from porter to shipping clerk to
salesman in a prominent firm and became affluent enough to put a
down payment on a house in Brooklyn where he and his new bride
were to settle. He had married Margaret Hamilton, the daughter of a
presbyterian elder. She was ten years his senior and no doubt
reminded Anthony of his mother.
Their daughter soon died and they adopted a little orphan girl
whom Anthony had found on one of his raids. She was feeble-minded,
but it was said that Anthony never noticed it. He was always loyal to
his wife Maggie, even when her bedridden sister later moved in with
them after they moved to Summit, New Jersey. He was both patient
and kind to the three somewhat dilapidated females who made up his
household and his wife often remarked about how cheerful Anthony
was to them all in view of the unpleasant nature of his work.
Anthony's work now was as a full-time vice crusader. A committee
had been formed within the Y.M.C.A. for the sole purpose of
suppressing vice, and Comstock was appointed as their agent and
given a salary. This group soon became The New York Society for the
Suppression of Vice and became independent of the Y.M.C.A.
Not being content, however, with having jurisdiction over morality
in New York State alone, Comstock did not rest until he succeeded in
getting the Comstock Act through Congress giving him unlimited
federal powers since he was appointed as the Special Agent of the
Post Office to see that his own law was enforced. His title was later
changed to Inspector for the Post Office Department.
Nothing seemed to appeal to Comstock more than sleuthing and
personally arresting the enemy. He never really understood anyone
opposing his personal war on "immorality." To him, the salvation of
souls was such an urgent mission that nothing could possibly take
precedence over it. In his book, Traps for the Young, he wrote:
"Satan adopts devices to capture our youth and secure the ruin of
immortal souls." Since his mission was to save these individuals from
eternal damnation and the unquenchable fires of hell, that anyone
could possibly question his motives or means was really quite beyond
his comprehension.
Comstock's private war against obscenity would be simply
ludicrous ifit did not have so many tragic consequences. In one case,
Madame Restell of New York City, an aging matron who often
assisted girls who were "in trouble," committed suicide by slashing
her own throat the night before she was to have stood trial.
Comstock, upon hearing the news, simply retorted: "A bloody end to
a bloody life." He bragged of having driven fifteen persons to suicide.
Even Comstock's admirers who thought his ends were justified
were not always in sympathy with his means. One of his favorite tricks
" was to arrest a victim on a Friday night so that even if bail were
procured, the victim would have to spend the weekend in prison. He
made his weeknight arrests very late at night so that the victim would
have to be overnight in prison before bail could be arranged.
And his most reprehensible technique was that of acting as decoy
for a crime to be committed. It was thus that he inveigled William
Page 22

December, 1983

Sanger, husband of birth control crusader Margaret Sanger, into


giving him a copy of the book Family Limitation. Comstock told
Sanger that he desperately needed the book to prevent his wife from
having any more pregnancies and the unsuspecting Sanger gave him
a copy whereupon he was immediately arrested.
Scores of persons were thus entrapped and besides the fifteen
suicides to which Comstock could lay claim, countless others had
their businesses ruined and were separated from family and friends
because of imprisonment.
George Bernard Shaw, of whom Comstock knew nothing, quipped
that: "Comstockery is the world's standing joke at the expense of the
United States." Comstock later retaliated by attempting to close
Shaw's play Mrs. Warren's Profession when it opened in New York
City. The attempt was unsuccessful.
Probably the most dramatic case of what Comstockery was
capable of was the tragic case of Dr. Elliott of Illinois. Comstock wrote
to the doctor personally requesting that a contraceptive be sent
through the mail. In his decoy letter, Comstock assumed the role of a
desperate wife worried about the possibility of being impregnated by a
syphilitic husband. "She" importuned the doctor to assist "her" in
"her" plight. The good doctor sent the contraceptive in response to
what he thought was a sincere and genuine request, and then
Comstock and his agents moved in and arrested him. The doctor was
sentenced to six years in prison, and - after serving the full term at
Leavenworth - came out a broken man.

"In his decoy letter Comstock assumed the


role of a desperate wife worried about the
possibility of being impregnated by a syphilitic
husband
The good doctor sent the contraceptive
, and then Comstock ... moved in
and arrested him. The doctor was sentenced to
six years in prison."
And thus it was that Comstock was able to exercise his formidable
powers against a dedicated physician trying to help someone in a
desperate plight. The virtually unlimited powers allowed this tyrant
left it to his discretion what was to be considered obscene or
righteous. In his raids on New York art galleries and even the Art
Students' League, he amply demonstrated that he really lacked the
ability to distinguish between artistic and pornographic works.
Among the most vociferous of Comstock's opponents were the
freethinkers, Robert Ingersoll, Ezra Heywood and D.M. Bennett.
Comstock was never able to touch Ingersoll because of his political
influence and his national popularity as an atheistic orator. In the case
of Heywood, however, he was able to secure a two-year conviction
for mailing a free-love tract entitled Cupid's Yokes. Much to the
chagrin of Comstock, President Hayes pardoned Heywood through
the intervention of Ingersoll.
This left only D.M. Bennett, and Comstock was determined to get
him since he had been the most outspoken critic of Comstock and
had urged for repeal of the Comstock Act in his freethought journal,
The Truth Seeker. Bennett had also enraged Comstock by
suggesting that the American Bible Society should be indicted for
obscenity for the distributing the bible, a work Bennett considered to
be full of obscenity.
By using an assumed name and a false address, Comstock
prevailed upon Bennett to mail him a copy of Cupid's Yokes. Bennett
was tried and convicted in an important decision holding that a book
could be judged obscene on the basis of a few isolated paragraphs.
With good reason, Comstock regarded the Bennett decision as one
of his greatest legal victories.
There can be no denying that Comstock did some good in his day.
There were instances of worthless patent medicines being huckstered to a gullible public and Comstock was active in putting these
charlatans out of business. There were cases of cruelty to animals in
horse-racing situations where Comstock intervened as his own
humane society. He also clamped down on many unscrupulous
The American Atheist

lottery merchants and other gambling sharks always willing to take


advantage of man's penchant for gambling.
In all of his business dealings, he was of absolutely unimpeachable
and scrupulous character. A man of lesser stature would certainly
have succumbed to the bribes which were proffered him and which
ran as high as sufficient money for Comstock and his family to spend
. fiveyears in Europe.
But any good Comstock did was far outweighed by the reprehensible and hideous acts which he perpetrated in the name of
morality. In an interview with Nixola Greeley-Smith of the New York
Evening World in 1913, Comstock said: "In the forty-one years I have
been here, I have convicted persons enough to filla passenger train of
sixty-one coaches, sixty coaches containing sixty passengers each
and the sixty-first almost full. I have destroyed 160 tons of obscene
literature." The actual number of persons convicted on Comstock's
word alone was 3,76O!
Ironically, fate dealt this fanatic a cruel blow, for at the trial of
William Sanger, he caught cold and died from the effects just two
weeks later on September 21,1915.
H.L. Mencken has stated in A Book of Prefaces that moral
endeavor has become a recognized profession in this country and he
mentions Anthony Comstock as the father of the craft.
It is especially instructive to consider the psychological motives of
Anthony Comstock since we still have with us today this troglodyte
mentality in the form of over 300 anti-smut organizations in the United
States alone. And, of course, both President Nixon and BillyGraham
repudiated the findings of the prestigious Commission on Obscenity

and Pornography.
Probably the most penetrating analysis ever penned of the
censorial mind is that of Harvey O'Higgins and Edward Reede in their
fascinating book, The American Mind in Acrfon. On page fifteen they
write of Anthony Comstock:
"The puritan lived in a state of war with his instinctive self,
which he regarded as his evil self tempting him to live according
to the law of the flesh when he wished to live according to the
pauline law of god. He hated the flesh in himself and he hated
even more fiercely that flesh appearing as the vices of others.
Hence he was a great persecutor, a strong vice-crusader, the
best of witch hunters. The more puritanical the modern
American is, the more he has of these vice-crusading qualities.
It is useless to tell such a man to love his neighbor as himself; he
hates so much of himself. His hate, reservoired within him, gets
its drainage in raids on vice, in the prosecutions and
suppressions carried on by anti-vice societies, and in the
campaigns of reform that call for the punishment of evil-doers.
Nowhere else in the world could modern life produce such
characters as America's Anthony Comstocks."
For proof that the Comstock Act can still be used with an
inquisitorial spirit, we have only to recall the case of Ralph Ginzburg
who was convicted under it. Ironically, Ginzburg had been working
on a biography of Comstock for ten years before he was convicted.
It is to America's great discredit that the ghost of Anthony
Comstock is still with us and his heinous law still on the books.

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Page 23

POTPOURRI
IN RELIGION'S PLACE. At every turn two questions meet the Atheist: What willyou put in its place? Why are you "purely destructive'?
What shall we Atheists put in the place of christianity? Nothing. Supernaturalism is a malignant growth. When a surgeon excises a tumor or a
gardener removes a weed, no one asks, "What willyou put in its place?"
The work of the Atheist is like that of the Abolitionist, who in his day heard the same silly cry, "What willyou put in its place?" The clergy
defended slavery as divine and necessary; but it was discovered to be a social evil, and was abolished. Belief in god, with its progeny, the church
and the clergy, means mental slavery, and must also be abolished. The way must be cleared for enlightenment and advancement. When we
cure a man of a disease we restore him to health; we do not give him another disease. Likewise, when we destroy religion, we restore people to
reason.
This is an age of specialization. The New York City classified telephone directory lists a score of wrecking companies, which are purely
destructive, their sole function being to tear down. The stockholder of a wrecking company may be interested in a building company, as the
activities of the two are closely related. So it is with the Atheist. In economics, politics, sociology, ethics, and education, he builds as he sees fit;
but in dealing with religion, he destroys: nothing more. The good is ready to flower, but is retarded by superstitious beliefs. The weeds of
religion prevent the spread of truth. Let the Atheist clear the field of its weeds. Freeman Hopwood
THE DRAGON-SLAYER. Once upon a time there was a dragon- slayer who was busy slaying dragons, when he noticed one day that he was
the only one slaying any dragons. He paused and looked at the townspeople standing around watching him slay dragons.
"Listen," he said, "These creatures are ruining the countryside; they breed like rats, terrorize the children, scare the cows so they can't give
milk, and travel between towns is getting more and more dangerous. It'd help a lot if! didn't have to run these dragons down and stomp them to
death. How about we get together, make some weapons and really give them 'what for?"
"I can't help you," said the woman. "I'm too busy."
"I can't help you," said the old man. "I'm too old."
"I won't help you," said the teacher, "because you're going about this all wrong. You shouldn't fight them at all, you should bore them to
death."
.
"I can't help you," said the farmer. "I have to protectmy farm."
So the dragon-slayer went back to running the dragons down and stomping them to death, and the status remained pretty much the quo for
awhile. After a certain time, tho', the dragons had eaten all the wild animals in the forest and all the weaker, smaller dragons. Then they started
to raid the farmer's farm, and grew so numerous the children couldn't go to school. Travel between towns stopped altogether. The woman
couldn't find any work, and times got hard.
"Listen],' said the dragon-slayer. "Things are getting serious! The dragons are getting bigger and stronger; they're eating your crops and
livestock," he said to the farmer. "Help me set some traps around your farm. You can't teach school ifthe children can't attend class, and are so
scared they can't study," he said to the teacher. "Let's build a high wall around the school building to keep the dragons out. You're not so busy
you couldn't sharpen a sword or make a spear for me once in a while," he said to the woman, "And you're not too old you couldn't hold my coat
for me, at the least," he said to the old man.
"Sorry," said the old man. "I'm much too old to help." And he went back to his rocking chair and made paper airplanes.
"Oh, no," said the woman. "I'm much too busy to help." So she cleaned her house twice a day, instead of only once to have something to do.
"You must have feces for brains," said the teacher. "All you're doing is making them mad. The way to handle this situation is to ignore them,
and they'll go away." So he stayed in his school and dusted his erasers.
"Don't look at me," said the farmer. "If I did that, pretty soon I wouldn't have any farm at all." So he harvested less and less food, and the
townspeople had to tighten their belts.
So the dragons started raiding the farmer's fields and poisoning his soil so no crops could grow. And they drove the teacher out of his school
and made a breeding place of it. And they broke the old man's rocking chair and drove him into his house. And they gave the woman a case of
nerves. And they ate the dragon-slayer.
Pretty soon there was no food at all for the townspeople, because the dragons had eaten the farmer's crops and all his livestock.
Then the dragons got hungry. Timothy Gilmore
REGARDING NOAH'S FAIRY TALE. Most folk don't have the least idea about the actual size of the ark that Noah built - or the
menagerie that he was commanded to take along on that famous rescue mission during the flood. Gen. vi. 15 states that the ark was 300 cubits
long (a cubit was a unit of measurement approximately 17 to 22 inches in length), 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. Transposing those figures
into our more familiar measurements, we find that the ark must have been about 500 ft. long and 83 ft. wide and 50 ft. high. Into this obviously
UNseaworthy craft Noah and his wife and 3 sons, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and their wives, were commanded to take with them every beast of
their kind, all cattle of their kind, every creeping thing of its kind, every fowl and bird of every sort and all flesh wherein there is the breath of life.
You can read these directions for yourself by referring to gen. vii. 13:15.
There are over 1,600 species of mammalia, 12,000 birds, 600 reptiles, more than a million insects and animalculea - far too numerous to
mention. Oat man put dem all in the ark, he did!
Then, Noah was directed to gatherfood to feed them all. Worse yet, the voyage lasted over a year according to gen. vii. 11 and gen. viii.14.To
top that fishy tale, the ark was 3 stories high, about 2 city blocks long, yet, had ONLY ONE WINDOW and ONE DOOR on each floor. Gen. vii.
19 tells us that the flood water covered ALL THE EARTH to a depth of five and one half miles. They even took a measurement in a mountain
town in the Appalachians, near New York.
To stretch the imagination even further, gen. xi. 6-9 states: "And the lord said, 'Behold, the people are one and they have only one language.'
" BUT, to confuse and contradict he said, "Let us confound their language that they may not understand each other." This is just a couple of
excerpts thrown in heah and theah to confound the masses. Take the birds for instance; Why didn't Noah let them fish for themselves? Those
eight people on the ark had enough to do feedin' the big vertebrates and the 1,000,000 or so insects. Think how the rabbits must have multiplied
during that year! Yet, remember, all the grass 'n grain 'n fruit and edibles were under water. The water was too deep for snorkles. Maybe they
had divin' gear stashed aboard?
Noah didn't need a captain's license in those days. It was just before the ordinance was passed. Their biggest problem was warmin' the soup.
They hadda go easy on the year's supply of wood for the three stoves, one on each floor to cook and heat for the gang. They took turns at
Page 24

December, 1983

The American Atheist

showering, although they did run outta soap. But the soap smelled the worst anyway. During Noah's time is when "bird's egg soup" originated.
Also, the "shell game" started soon after. A tremendous problem was created from excess DUNG until a plan was formulated among the flying
group (birds, bees and some insects) to assemble a bucket brigade and make scheduled trips each day to dump it in the sea, see? That's when
the old cliche, "Take it to the dump" originated. All the animals that weighed over a half ton had to shift for themselves. That idea almost sank
the project the very first month. A mastodon during the Mesozoic era did NOT relieve itself soon enough one Wednesday morning and caused
a great deal of trouble on the poop deck, but it soon blew over.
All in all, the trip was both productive and a flop. Starting with 1,254,606 individual specimens, after the year's journey, even with very
carefully regulated (so they thought) sexual planning, the increase in living,breathing organisms had only expanded the total population to a bit
over 17,890,423,680,711,110,546,222.
The ark's draft was only 8'5" below the waterline with the extra load "-- a bit top heavy, BUT Noah had
trained every living thing to hold its breath.
Noah was a "dilly" of a captain, I'll say. EB. "Woody" Cummings
THE CONCEPTION OF JESUS CHRIST. The teaching of the immaculate conception is all too often associated with the conception of
christ, but this is not what the church teaches. According to the church, this immaculate conception applies only to the conception of the virgin
Mary whom, the church claims, was conceived without sin. This does have importance in the unraveling of the virgin Mary myth, which is an
entirely different subject, unrelated to the story of the conception of Jesus christ.
The most widely used account of the conception of christ is given in the first chapter of matthew, and this is the one I shall use. The first
seventeen verses of this chapter are devoted to the genealogy ofi,oseph, from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Mary. Upon the conclusion
of this genealogy, Matthew immediately shoots this genealogy fullof holes when he states in verse eighteen, "Now the birth of Jesus christ was
on this wise; when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the holy ghost." The
genealogy contained in the first seventeen verses is useless, for in verse eighteen, Matthew tells us that the holy ghost, and not Joseph, is the
father of this christ child. Nowhere in the bible is there given a genealogy of the virgin Mary, and we can know from the statements of Matthew
that this child could not have been a descendant of David. The good christian fathers have defeated their purpose and have become the victims
of their own false teachings, but this is not the fullness of their deceit.
The church insists that this conception produced a mortal human who lived to the age of 33 years, and who did many wonders for which he
was known and loved by thousands of people. Since he is said to have been mortal he becomes subject to mortal examination according to
mortal standards; let us therefore examine this birth and conception recorded in matthew 1 in the light of reality. Matthew has told us that the
virgin Mary was espoused to Joseph, but, before the marriage was consummated, the blessed mother, the virgin Mary, was found with child of
the holy ghost. Now, let us look at what this biblical account does to the mortal concept of social morality and the institution of marriage. It
makes the holy ghost an adulterer. It makes the virgin Mary an adultress. The christ child is a bastard child and Joseph is cuckolded before he
can know his wife. What an ancestry to boast of and what an assortment of immoral patron saints to give to humanity.
This story turns loose on society a ravishing ghost against whom no mortal can prevail. With such a rapist on the loose, who can know that he
has fathered the mouths he is feeding. The clerics may preach this, but you can bet they don't believe it, and I suggest a way to prove this. Ask
your minister what he would do ifhis wife told him she was with child of the holy ghost and was going to bear that child. Every last one of them
would either punch her out or have his wife committed to a funny farm. C. V. Barr

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Austin, Texas

December, 1983

Page 25

REPORT FROM INDIA / Margaret Bhatty

A CHRISTMAS THAT WASN'T


A Short Story

"Eat, eat," Himmat Singh urged, piling Miss Gow's plate once
more. "Green vegetables good. Make strong .... n
His English was limited, but he made himself understood to the
missionary. Meals were usually long silent affairs, except for his gentle
admonishing as ifshe were a fussy little girl. Standing behind her chair
he kept her plate well-filled,and though she made gestures of protest
she meekly ate it all.
Watching them from my place across the immense mahogany
table, I wondered about the curious pair. Felicity Gow was over 70,
short and dumpy with heavy hanging jowls. Her jutting lower lip and
her turned-down mouth reminded me of a cross between a mastiff
and a bulldog. Her face was broad, her eyes a wintry blue. She had
long hairs growing from a mole on the left side of her snub nose. They
bristled and quivered when she was annoyed. Her half-dozen chins
merged into her chest without any visible neck, and her bosom jutted
out so prominently that she could easily have breakfasted off her
front.
She had come out to India that February and rented this old vacant
bungalow in the Kumaon Himalayas. Allen Orchard was a small
property above the township of Bhowali, two miles up on a remote
ridge.
Himmat Singh was Miss Gow's "khidmatgar,' a kind of cook-cumbutler-cum-valet. He was fifty,tall and dignified with the lined leathery
features of a Kumaon hillman who has weathered the years. Always
very correct, he wore a resplendent personal livery of a kind which
went out with the raj. It consisted of a knee-length coat of crimson
with a monogram worked on the front in gold thread, white fitting
trousers and a snow turban with a red band around it.
When I went down to Bhowali, shopkeepers and dealers were
curious about the kind of lifeI lived with the crazy English Miss Sahib.
They hadn't expected me to last more than a few weeks. "The lady
who came before you stayed only two days," the postmaster
chuckled.
But my duties were light. In return for my board and lodging and a
small stipend, I kept Miss Gow company, read to her and wrote her
letters. But she reserved the right to dismiss me without notice. This
was because she expected, any moment, to be lifted into heaven.
"I haven't come out to the Himalayas to live a lifeof ease," she said
sternly. "I'm here to await the second coming of christ. The world is
going to end this year. But before the wicked world is judged for their
sins, we Chosen Ones will be taken up, unseen and unknown."
It was a very intriguing idea. I wondered what escape velocity'
Felicity Gow would need to pull free of the earth's gravity. How would
she control yaw and swing in a body as top-heavy as hers? And would
there be any sonic boom as she went?
"I belong to the Tongues People," she told me. "When the holy
spirit is on us we can prophesy in many languages. We know the end
of the world is this year."
This belief sometimes made her act strangely. One of the more
startling events during my stay was the time she woke me in the
middle of a violent summer storm at night, and I watched her from my
window as she put on an astonishing performance for more than an
hour out in the garden.
Thunderbolts crashed on the hilltops and the air crackled with
static. At each flash she lifted her thick arms to the sky and cried,
"Hallelujah! Praise god!"
Page 26

December, 1983

I fully expected to see her struck down as she stood there,


hollering. Her grey hair and clothes blowing in the wind, she clung
resolutely to the tall pole on which she always kept a union jack flying
during the day.
The clouds were low and threatening. But when they split open, to
her disappointment no chariot of fire stood revealed. Instead the rain
came down in torrents and quite doused her fervour. She scuttled
into the house, drenched and disappointed. I heard Himmat Singh
scold her as he helped her out of her dripping clothes.
The man slept in the small ante-room to her bedroom. He made her
bed, washed and ironed her clothes and tidied her things. He also
controlled her money and went into Bhowali to cash her cheques.
On such occasions he usually came back drunk. His hands
trembled when he held a dish out at the table and the spoon rattled
against its side. Once, while bringing in a tureen of soup, he fellagainst
the sideboard and sent crockery crashing to the floor.

"Thunderbolts crashed on the hilltops and


the air crackled with static. At each flash she
lifted her thick arms to the sky and cried
'Hallelujah! Praise god!' "
Looking quickly at me, he grinned foolishly and surveyed his ruined
livery. Miss Gow didn't move a muscle. But I notice that she flushed,
as ifshe was embarrassed that an outsider had been given glimpse of a
family skeleton. The man went out and returned in a clean coat. Not a
word was said throughout the meal.
Perhaps some part of her persuaded her that we really didn't count,
he a hindu and I a professed Atheist. We were there only to serve.
There wasn't any time left to worry about saving us, not at this
eleventh hour. Not when the whole world over the "Chosen Ones"
had quietly begun the countdown to blast-off. We were definitely
doomed.
But in some perverse way she seemed to need the reassurance of
the man's masculine presence. She probably admired his solidity and
confidence and even enjoyed being ordered about by him.
The bungalow was quite cheerless and sparsely furnished with old
fashioned Victorian pieces from the time of some British settler.
There was no plumbing or electricity. Some time during the day a
sweeper materialised from somewhere, swept the house, threw out
the garbage and cleaned the "thunder-boxes." Early every morning a
slant-eyed handsome hillwoman appeared with a can of fresh milk.
Nobody else ever called on us.
One of my duties was to read to Miss Gow after dinner. For light we
had an ancient Hinks paraffin lamp. She had brought out crates of
books and tracts - "for spiritual nourishment" - she said. It was dull
stuff indeed and dealt chiefly with biblical prophecies and the
appearance of the antichrist who, she said, was born on February 5th,
1962 at 7 a. m. Eastern Standard Time, somewhere in the Middle East,
according to Jeanne Dixon. This diabolical human was already trying
to gain control of our planet with the help of an equally diabolical
apparatus called an electronic computer.
I waded through it patiently while she sat and listened, occasionally
breaking wind with a sound that rattled the shutters. "Hallelujah!" she
would then intone, fervently and with evident relief.
At midnight she let me retire, but remained herself until Himmat
Singh ordered her to bed. But she was always up and dressed by four.
"Because our bible says, 'Therefore be ye prepared for in such an
The American" Atheist

hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.' "


To make sure she was in the right place at the right moment, she
hadn't left the estate since she came. By Indian standards she lived
very well, but she whined a great deal and saw herself surrounded by
agents of the devil bent on shaking her in her faith.
For instance, sometimes Himmat Singh was downright mean to her
and made her cry. Sometimes the sweeper absented himself for days,
forcing her to clean her own chamber pot or use the bore-hole privy
some distance from the bungalow. She hated that. She was mortally
afraid of spiders and the place was infested with them. Then draughts
came up through the pine planks and chilled her where she sat, all
exposed. Squatting was so undignified and also hard on her old
knees. But above all, suppose the trumpet should sound and catch
her thus, with her pants down? She might so easily be overlooked in
the Entebbe-like airlift of the chosen ones, simply because she was
too slow to get to her feet, settle her clothing and make herself decent.
In the third week of December the weather changed. Anticipating
snow, Himmat Singh had a man bring loads of oak logs up from
Bhowali. With the year drawing to an end, Miss Gow was sure she
wouldn't be around to need fires for warmth. But I noticed she didn't
object either.
A roaring fire in the large fireplace in the sitting room made it almost
cozy. But chilly draughts came through cracks in the windows so we
dressed warmly in coats and jerseys. Himmat Singh changed into a
coat of the finest navy serge, old but well-preserved.
It was Saturday, I recall - the last and final sabbath Miss Gow
expected to observe on earth. She always devoted a sabbath to
prayer and fasting. I was glad to have the day to myself and spent it by
the fire in my room, reading and writing letters.
She stayed by the sittingroom fire, dressed in her sabbath frock, a
grey silk, severe in cut, collared and cuffed. I know that she kept it
withinreach at night since it never would do to ascend into heaven in a
nightgown.
The weather worked up a tremendous appetite in me, and I
admired her will-power in being able to stay hungry all day. That
evening it seemed to me Himmat Singh was taking longer than usual
to announce dinner. But I knew he was working busily, for I could
hear him.
"Dinner is served, Miss Sahib!" I finally heard him say.
"Ah!" Miss Gow exclaimed with relief, as ifshe'd been waiting too. I
came out of my room and followed her to the dining room. But when
she saw the table she stopped.
"What's this?" she barked.
Himmat Singh beamed as he bowed low and drew back her chair.
"Happy kissmash, Miss Sahib," he cried.
A white cloth had been spread on the table. This he had decorated
with winter oranges stuck with sprigs of cedar and fern. Lighted
candles were fixed into pine cones, and a large bowl was filled with a
bunch of early rhododendron blooms glowing blood red.
The ancient crockery was chipped and the silver tarnished, but the
spread made up for that. On a platter in front of her chair was a large
chicken, stuffed and roasted, paper frills round its legs. There was a
cheese bake, mashed potatoes, peas and creamed carrots. Small
willow baskets were filled with walnuts and chestnuts. He had even
baked a cake inscribed with the words "MARY XMAS!"
He surveyed his handiwork with a pleased expression. But
standing behind Miss Gow I could see the hairs on the old woman's
nose begin to quiver against the candlelight.
"What does this mean, Himmat Singh?" she laughed.
"Kissmash Day!" he laughed. "Aha!" He clapped his hands,
delighted that he'd been smart enough to let the great day creep up on
her and surprise her.
She stiffened her back, turned down her mouth and settled her
many chins deep into her broad bosom.
"We Tongues People do not celebrate christmas," she said harshly.
"It is a pagan festival. There is no historical proof that christ was born
on the 25th of December. In fact, today is the winter equinox and it
was observed by sun-worshipping pagans as a day for drunken orgies
and wickedness to honour the god of wine. There's nothing christian
about the 25th of December."

Austin, Texas

He couldn't follow a word, but he could see she was deeply


offended and that puzzled him. Turning to me she snapped "Explain it
to him, please."
Leaving out the historical bit I simply said that she didn't observe
christmas. He was incredulous.
"But it's an English custom," he cried in Hindustani. "All white
people celebrate kissmash!"
"Not this one."
"What does the old hag know?" he exclaimed scornfully.
"I was here when the British were here, so I know. She only came
this year."
"What does he say?" Miss Gow asked impatiently.
"He's very surprised and he wants to know what he should do with
all this -" I waved my hand at the feast, anxious to get down to it at
once.
"He must take it away, of course," she shrilled. "Remove it,
Himmat Singh! Remove it!"
"I cook kissmash dinner for gavrmint house sahibs," he protested
in English, deeply hurt. "They say besht dinner they ever eat."
Sitting down she again gestured at the food. "Take it away," she
repeated.
He tried to catch my eye as I sat down, but I avoided his gaze. For a
long moment he said nothing. Then wordlessly, he picked up the
dishes and took them out to the pantry. When the last one had been
cleared, he removed the decorations, the flowers and the nuts. Then
he came and stood as usual behind her chair.
"Now!" she said, pleased to have scored off against him this once.
"Now we'll have plain omelettes and bread and butter."
Very harmless fare that, nothing which might possibly be mistaken
for any kind of celebration of a pagan event.
Himmat Singh didn't reply, but stared straight ahead. She had to
turn right around in her chair and look up at him.
Finally he said, "Only three eggs. Tomorrow I go Bhowali for
butter. No butter. If it snows, hens not give. So no breakfast."
"Then we'll have the vegetables," she announced, pointedly
avoiding the festive fowl, stuffed and frilled. "Bring those.'
"Eat some, eat all, or eat nothing," he said flatly in Hindustani, and
she made me translate it.
Neither spoke after that. The heavy silence went on and on. I stole a
glance at my watch - five minutes, ten minutes! I was ravenous, but I
knew I wouldn't go without. Neither would he. Indeed, it looked as if
the actual celebration was going to be left to the hindu and the Atheist
while the christian went supperless to bed.
But Felicity Gow loved food and he was a good cook, with
considerable experience in her kind of cuisine. She hadn't eaten
anything since dinner the night before. I thought she'd fly into a fury,
but to my surprise she began to cry instead, making small mewling
sounds as she wept. The front of her grey silk soon had a large damp
patch.
He had won! Whistling tunelessly, as if from cold, he set about
bringing back the food from the hot-case. Ignoring her completely, he
carved the chicken and chatted cheerfully with me in Hindustani.
"How can she say the English don't celebrate kissmash?" he
demanded, placing a drumstick on her plate. "All right, so she doesn't
believe. Everyone has his own belief. She can eat with belief or she can
eat without belief. It's up to her-"
To mollify her he leaned across with his carving knife and deftly
shaved off the "MARY XMAS" from the cake. "Not kissmash now,
Miss Sahib," he said in a bright voice as ifshe were a dumb child. "Eat
and enjoy. It not kissmash dinner, only good dinner."
She probably saw his reasoning as too facile and therefore of the
devil. It still didn't alter the fact that the food had been prepared for a
profane purpose. So she ate it withut enjoyment, doggedly chewing
her way through most of the chicken and more than a third of the rest.
Not at any moment, by expression of gesture, did she let herself show
she was eating in celebration.
He kept her plate filled throughout. Perhaps overeating can also be
one way of mortifying the flesh, a kind of expiation of guilt. When she
rose from the table she was glassy-eyed and had difficulty with her
breathing.

December, 1983

Page 27

Taking her place by the sittingroom fire, she selected a chapter


from the book of revelations for me to read - the scenario for
doomsday. I hadn't progressed much when I saw she'd fallen into a
torpid slumber, her head thrown back and her mouth open. She was a
dainty snorer, the snores only slightly quivering her pug nose and the
hairs on it.
I slipped off to bed, grateful to good old Himmat Singh for an
excellent dinner and for the hot water bottle he'd so thoughtfully
placed between the cold bedsheets.
The morning dawned, blustery and grey. Himmat Singh brought in
an armload of logs and built up the fire in the grate. "It willsnow," he
predicted cheerfully. "There's a north wind blowing down from the
snowpeaks. That always brings us snow this time of year."
Suddenly the prospect of being snowed in with Felicity Gow was
more than I could face. With just six days to the end of this crucial

year, who knew what lunatic impulse would seize her next. She might
launch herself off a peak in the expectation of being carried aloft on
the wind. And supposing she was spirited away unseen and
unknown, what earthly explanation would I give the police?
When I announced my decision to leave immediately, she seemed a
little surprised. "I'd like to go before it snows and buses stop running
down to the railhead;" I explained. "I'll send a coolie up from Bhowali
for my stuff."
She paid me a month's wage, confident I wouldn't survive to spend
it, and let me go. Two christmas seasons have passed since then.
Doomsday hasn't happened yet. I sometimes wonder if she's still up
there on that remote ridge, making a spectacle of herself in every
summer storm, keenly scanning the skies for the chariot of fire and
seeing that Himmat Singh runs up the union jack every day to make
sure she gets into heaven on the right immigration quota.

3rE

END OF THE TUNNEL / Michael Battencourt

INTIMACY
1~~'

~rr

\1' s:
.

-",f

,"

u. -or-.
i.

II

My wife has a rather odd magnetism to her, what I call her


"bartender face." In her presence people, for some reason, feel
perfectly authorized to tell her the most intimate details of their lives.
What starts out as a casual business connection over the phone, or a
chance acquaintance at the check-out counter, suddenly degenerates into a confession, usually against a great show of discouragement by my wife, as if their confession shut off all their social
etiquette radars. The most upsetting of these ad hoc shrivings was
done by a deliveryman who, in the course of delivering a package,
proceeded to involve my wife in a tale of his coronary heart surgery.
To make his point, he opened his shirt to show her the scars,
completely oblivious to the fact that my wife didn't relish a half-naked
elderly man in the office and resented with great distaste his
presumption that what he had to say was so interesting and so vital
that he could trample over the accepted boundary lines of politeness.
After one of these sessions, which she seems unable to stop
because she doesn't want to be rude and tell the person to shut up,
she feels violated, used, burdened by an intimacy that treats her as if
she were an emotional landfill. The person comes and dumps his or
her problems on my wife and then merrily goes along, oblivious to the
aftermath, small or large, that my wife has to clean up. She wants
people to be either secure enough in themselves to keep their mouths
shut, or considerate enough not to mistake their selfishness, their
monologue, for a shared secret. She may be asking too much.
People seem less restrained than they used to be about dragging
their skeletons out for show. One of the possible reasons why is that.
people have devalued intimacy by mistaking it for casualness, a "Hi"
being thought a sufficient prelude to "Bless me, Father." Where once
it was a matter of equals agreeing to share what is not normally shared
in day-to-day intercourse, intimacy has now been reduced to a
handshake, a way of introducing how cool one is because seemingly
free of the usual petty social hang-ups prompted by etiquette. It is as if
people want to establish credentials of sincerity about themselves
right away by exposing what appears to be their inmost laundry.
But there is a subtle, if unconscious, Machiavellianism here, a play
for sympathy and credibility without a commensurate risk of
reciprocal openness. The intimacy is a mask, a shadow dance. It's not
really an invitation to collaborate but an injunction against judging
deeply or truly. And that judgment won't take place because the
speaker controls the information and that information, while wearing
the guise of revelation, is stacked on a favorable slant: One's first
Page 28

December, 1983

impression will be a good impression because it will be the only


impression. Intimacy in this case is really a first line of defense.
But this isn't the whole story. It may explain what happens in singles
bars, but it doesn't explain why the hairdressers and deliverymen and
sales reps feel it necessary to speak explicitly to a total stranger
without any provocation at all. What is the pressure that causes the
spasm of disclosure? My wife has remarked that she feels a palpable
desperation in these people, that it's that which probably keeps her
attentive when she doesn't want to listen. They sound so pathetic, so
needing, and who is she to deny them a day in court? Desperation.
Thoreau said many years ago that the mass of people live lives of quiet
desperation because they are living the lives they do not really want,
lives of forced anonymity and valueless toil. Is it that these people are
so ground down by life that they feel they are standing outside the
Last-Chance gas station with their thumb out hoping that someone
will pick them up and save them from walking across the desert by
themselves?
We can get too deeply into the pathos of this, of toiling masses
yearning to be free, but it has an edge to it we can use. It seems to me
that what might cause people to open up so readily and yet be so
oblivious to the effect of their openness is some combination of the
two situations we've been talking about here. On the one hand,
people are desperate creatures. We are all filled with a sense of
mortality, of transcience. We know fullwell, in the deepest level of our
bones, that most of us willpass from the earth without a thought being
given to our having lived. This is an intolerable concept, one so
corrosive that we do not admit it to the fraternity of people. Yet it will
out. We all need some reassurance that we are alive, that we are not
totally unnamed. And so strong is this need that it willbreach strong
walls of social training. To speak out to any ear, no matter if the ear is
not affectionate, is to validate one's being alive.
On the other hand, humans are cagey creatures. The impulse to
expose oneself to being named carries with it the caveat not to be
named too closely because that would give the namer power to
destroy. So, one does not become overly concerned with the listener.
To admit the humanity of the listener would be to defuse the
confession. This would bring with it the responsibility to listen to the
listener's confession and the risk of real, rather than nominal,
intimacy. The confessee is not interested in this risk, and so therefore
is not interested in the effect his confession will make. He needs a
wastebasket, not a mirror.
Yet, on the other hand, the humanity can't be totally denied
without some residual guilt. So the confessee will allow the other
person some interaction, some level of judging, but on the confessee's
The American Atheist

terms. What ends up happening is that the confessee hacks a twisty


trail out from his sanctuary that allows his need for being known free
exit, but does not let the other person back along the trail into the
inner sanctum, and instead diverts him or her with a dumb show off to
the side. Thus he gets recognized without being named, and named
without being recognized. He's alive, not dead; with that reassurance
he can get through some more days.
Our polite conventions are just not strong enough to hold back

these elemental psychic forces, yet they are strong enough to keep
the repressive mechanisms working so that the forces are not
unleashed all at once. If we all were to give into that bone-deep fear,
and its corollary desire to be known, to be the only one at the center of
creation, our society would not hold. But in the interstices, in dull
eddying moments, the worm in the apple pops its head above the
surface, and in its grim presence we talk to anyone, whether they
listen or not. ~

Frank Zindler

THE WORRIES OF A DECADE AGO


What were we worrying about a decade ago? Vietnam and
Watergate, of course. Those events we are not able to forget, what
with all the continuous reminders in the media. But there was
another item that caused many of us a great deal of consternation at
about the same time. Most people have forgotten it. Embarrassed
religionists have quietly closed the book on the episode, hoping - as
is in fact the case - it would sink into oblivion and vanish from the
public memory. Even many of us who were so upset about the issue
ten years ago have forgotten it also, the evercontinuing encroachments of the religious zanies having long ago diverted our attention to
other holes in other dikes.
What was the issue?
It was the official religious distemper of the year 1973 - the
monomania known as "KEY 73." Millions of dollars were spent, and
millions of state- church violations were committed for the purpose of
"calling our continent to Christ in 1973."
Being at the time the author of a column called "Thinking Freely" in
a noui-deiunct weekly newspaper in a little town in upstate New
York, I dashed off a satire on the movement. If the fact that the piece
was read aloud in corner red-neck taverns can be considered an
indicator of success, the article was a success. I reprint it a decade
later, not only because I think my readers willstillfind it amusing, but
because it's nice to look back at a war where the enemy spent
millions, we spent nothing, and we won the war. Despite the inroads
of religion into positions of power, the hearts and minds of Americans
are no closer to mass conversion than they ever were. And American
Atheists intend to help keep it that way!
* * * * *
As the leaves turn and fall from the trees, the year of our lord one
thousand, nine hundred and seventy- three is rapidly racing to its end.
It is a year that willbe remembered as the year The Watergate flooded
the public consciousness.
Less important, but no less interesting, is the fact that 1973 has also
been the year of KEY73, a self-styled crusade designed to "Call the
continent to Christ." KEY-73 has been billed as an "ecumenical"
movement, one in which men of all faiths are to be brought together to
work for the same goal. Of course, this does not include jews,
Atheists, and latter-day druids. But they don't count much anywayunless, of course, they're converted to a religion that does count.
I must admit that Iwas at first a bit puzzled as to how the goal of the
crusade was to be pursued. Fast-moving images of people running up
and down the streets hollering "Heeeere Continent!! Conti-conticonti-continent!" flashed in my head. Those images proving too silly
to entertain for more than a few hours, I finallydecided that it was not
really the continent itself that was to be called, but, rather the people
living on it. Moreover, reading the papers proved that to be the case.
This realization did not end my puzzlement, however. Although it
was said that this christian Cultural Revolution would not rest until
the gospel had been brought to every last man, woman, child and
talking parrot from Panama to Prince Edward Island, it really didn't
seem like a big problem. After all, it seemed that every church
imaginable was cooperating. They all seemed to be there everything from THE Church down to such groups as the Church of
Austin, Texas

the East and of the Assyrians, the Pentecostal Fire-Baptized Holy


Church, and the Schwenkfelders. And, of course, we must not forget
the International Church of the Four-Square Gospel.
Anyhow, with members of all those groups together running doorto-door doing the "calling" and passing out paper gospels, I couldn't
figure out just who would be left to be called.
I had, of course, forgotten about the jews, Atheists, and latter-day
druids. But shortly thereafter a great rabbinical howl went up to the
effect that KEY73 was damaging perennially shaky iudeo-christian
relations. So the leaders of KEY73 promptly announced that it wasn't
the jews they were after, after all! As far as I could see, that left only
Atheists and latter-day druids - a piddling small target at which to
aim. At about that time someone writing in Time magazine said of
KEY73, "Never have so many labored so hard to bring so little to so
few."
It seemed true.
But that was before I heard about Frederick Sean Xavier Nebelsharuzzer, of South Pawhunket Junction, Costa Rica. Fred, it seems,
is in the habit of occasionally sacrificing a neighborhood urchin to
moloch (or molech, ifone goes by the Feinstein system oftranscribing
Phoenician proper nouns). Early in April of this year, Fred proclaimed
- through a Phoenician-speaking Spanish interpreter recruited from
god knows where - that he would not consider himself to have been
genuinely called unless the gospel given him be written in his
Phoenician mother tongue, and that the Red Guard calling upon him
employ the same.
.
While KEY73 authorities feel reasonably confident that they can
take care of the Atheists and latter-day druids by the end of 1973. they
really don't yet know what to do about Fred. For the American Bible
and Tract Society - for all its polyglot editions ranging from
Anietyumese to Zulu - through a forgiveable oversight had never
made a Phoenician translation of the gospels. Excusably enough, it
just hadn't occurred to them that the Phoenician problem still existed.
Worse yet, a quick perusal of the available Phoenician dictionaries
showed that there is no word for "continent" in the Phoenician
language! How can the arresting evangelists tell Fred what he's being
charged with, if they can't say "continent" in his language? Lacking
such a word, it is absolutely impossible to say "F red, because you live
on our continent, we have a warrant here to call you to christ."
As I pen this article, there has yet to appear any Final Solution to
the Phoenician problem. The guy who served as translator for Fred's
proclamation is no longer available for translating duty - having been
fatally bitten by a rattlesnake during a church service in Mississippi.
But even ifa Phoenician gospel can be gotten out before December 31
(Phoenician type-fonts are hard to find these days) it still seems that
KEY73 is bound to fail in its stated mission.
The family of latter-day druids who live down the street from me,
.and were just about to be called, have just locked themselves
(together with confetti and a case of champagne) in a three-room
safety- deposit box with bath in an unlisted suburban bank. They have
vowed that they will not come out until 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1,1974.
They willcertainly be a tough case for KEY73 to crack. It remains
to be seen if KEY73 can unlock the doors of the real world. ~

December, 1983

Page 29

A THEIST MASTERS / D.M. Bennett

DID JESUS REALLY EXIST?


Reprinted from Truth Seeker tract # 46

he extreme doubt whether such a person as Jesus christ had a


real existence is strengthened more and more the fuller the
matter is investigated. The fact that he never wrote a line that
has been handed down to posterity, that the world has no possible
means of knowing anything about such a personage having lived save
what is obtained from the unknown authors of what are called the

Vandale, bishop Warburton, and Tanaquil Faber, the most of whom


are noted christian authorities. In fact the first christian writers and
authors of the past, as well as of the present day, unite in agreeing that
the paragraph alluded to is a forgery. Eusebius, in the fourth century,
was the first to call attention to the spurious passage, and he is
generally accredited with having inserted the paragraph referring to
Jesus. On several occasions Eusebius proved himself amply able to
use interpolation, spurious additions and forgeries. Mosheim, in his
Ecclesiastical History, page 70, in alluding to this characteristic of the
early christian fathers, uses this language, that "it was not only lawful,
but commendable to deceive and lie for the sake of truth and piety." It
is lamentable that so little reliance can be placed upon the authenticity
of the christian writers in the early centuries of our era. The fact that
they were crafty and designing men, and that they used their best
abilities to build up the new system of religion which they had allied
themselves to, requires no additional proof.
It is a well-known fact that, in the first and second centuries, there
were three distinct classes of christians; one the gnostics, who firmly
held that such a person or individual as christ had not had an
existence as a man in the flesh, and that he was a spirit only. The
arians were another class, who admitted that there was a man Jesus,
but that he was merely a human being, and not a god. The third class
maintained that he not only existed in the flesh, but that he was also
the eternal god of heaven and earth. The disputes and quarrels
between these contending factions became very heated and bitter,
until finally the third class, by strategy and superior numbers,
overpowered those who denied that such a person as christ had had a
real existence, and forced them to abandon the field, and it afterwards
became a recognized dogma of the church that Jesus had not only
been a man, but, also, was absolutely god. But that large numbers in
the first two centuries did persistently and stoutly contend that such a
person as christ had not had a real existence in the body cannot be
effectually gainsaid, and is well calculated to excite our liveliest
suspicions.

"But that large numbers in the first two centuries did persistently and stoutly contend that such a
person as christ had not had a real existence in the body, cannot be effectually gainsaid, and is
well calculated to excite our liveliest suspicions."
gospels of matthew, mark, luke and john; and when there is no
evidence that these books were written before the second century, it
can be readily understood that the lifeand character of the individual
under consideration is extremely mythical, as there is no contemporaneous history showing that such a person lived.
Our opponents frequently quote a paragraph found in Josephus,
corroborating the claim that such a person did live at one time in
Judea. But Dr. Lardner, one of the most eminent christian historians,
long ago pronounced this an interpolation, a forgery, and that it never
existed in the original manuscript of Josephus. This opinion of Dr.
Lardner was also entertained by Gibbon, Ittigius, Blondell, Le Clerc,
Page 30

December, 1983

In taking into consideration the characteristics of men who have


played an active part in different ages of the world in establishing the
various systems of religion and creeds the world has known, it is not
difficult to appreciate how such a system as christianity might have
gained a foothold among men without the events strictly having
transpired which are claimed. In our own day we have seen
mormonism arise from the merest pretenses and the barest assertions, and have seen it within a few decades grow into a system that
now has very considerable strength and has the implicit confidence of
thousands.
Mahometanism is another illustration of this religious growth. It
The American Atheist

originated in the claims, assertions, and assumptions of an individual


and gradually spread over several countries until hundreds of millions
accepted it as a god-given religion, and they have not a shade of doubt
but what it is the most divine bequest ever made to the world. Those
of us who are not under the influence of this religion can easily see
where its devotees are mistaken, and that they have been misled by
designing or deluded leaders. If it is impossible for us to feel the same
veneration for their creed and their superstitions that they do, we can
complacently and dispassionately view the position they occupy, with
the disinterestedness of an outside observer, and can easily perceive
the mistakes and fallacies they have made as well as comprehend the
untenability of the divine claims they set up.
So it is with christianity. Those not encircled within the influence
which it exerts, and who do not bow to the demands which it sets up,
are able to see not only its defects but the errors it makes in claiming a
direct divine origin.
When we find that the authorities upon which a system rests are
defective and that they do not corroborate the claims put forth by its
advocates, we have good grounds to doubt its truth. We remarked
that the four gospels were unknown till near the close of the second
century, or rather that there is no proof of their having an earlier
existence. Irenaeus was the first christian writer who referred to them
or recognized them as being extant, and he died in the forepart of the
third century. Other pretended and spurious gospels, almost without
number, had been known prior to this, but they were discarded as
fraudulent, and those upon which the grand fabric of christianity is
founded were unknown till near two hundred years after the time
Jesus was said to have lived. What an uncertain data to build upon.
What a fine opportunity was here afforded the early fathers to get up
the gospel story, or to have it written to order. The gospels have been
attributed to various christian fathers, as well as to bishops, priests
and monks, but with what amount of truth it is now impossible to
demonstrate. It is also claimed that the plot of the gospel story was
handed down from the essenes, the therapeuts and the monks of
Egypt, and was revised, rewritten and relocated by christians in the
early centuries, similar to what Shakespeare did by the most of his
plays, the plots of which were borrowed from the inventions and
traditions of earlier times.
The Nicene council, consisting of several hundred quarrelsome
and pugilistic bishops, called together by that wholesale christian
murderer, Constantine, which assembled in the year 325, in which
contentions and fights without number took place, took into consideration the authenticity of fifty or more "gospels," written by
different individuals, and after indulging in the most acrimonious
dissensions and fist-fights, finally decided by vote whether the
different gospels presented were the word of god. They rejected all
but the four now in the testament, and one of those was admitted by a
single vote; but it was not until the middle of the sixth century that the
books now composing the new testament were fully settled upon,
several of them having been persistently discarded by previous
authorities. Thus, we see by what a frail tenure our boasted "word of
god" hangs, and how easy it was for fraud and deception to have been
practiced in getting it up.
The facts we have here mentioned, together with others we have
before alluded to, the close resemblance between Jesus and the
numerous demi-gods and teachers who preceded him are quite
sufficient to shake the confidence of the most credulous devotee in
the actuality of his existence. Christna, buddha and others have been
considered, but if it is not too much like repetition, we will call
attention to others who preceded Jesus, and to whom his acts and
sayings bear a very strong resemblance.
ALCIDES,of Egypt, was said to have been born of a virgin; to have
performed miraculous cures; to have converted water into wine; to
have cast out devils; to have raised two persons from the dead; to
have restored sight to the blind; to have made the dumb to speak and
the lame to walk. For osiris, also, similar claims were made.

foretold; that his mother, a virgin, was conceived by a spectre; that in


his youth he astonished the doctors by his learning and knowledge;
that he could foretell events; that he could subdue wild beasts; that he
could be in two places at once; that he could walk on water; that he
could handle poisonous serpents without injury; that he cured all
manner of diseases; restored sight to the blind; cast out devils; allayed
tempests; raised people from the dead, and thousands, almost, of
other wonderful feats as narrated by Jambilicus. He was said to
possess a very humble disposition; to be very kind to the poor; to
have fasted and prayed, and that he advised his disciples to forsake
relatives and houses and lands for religion's sake. In precepts, moral
lessons and purity of life,there was a great similarity between him and
Jesus, but the latter is not claimed to have existed till the former had
been dead five hundred years.
PROMETHEUSwas a mythical character, but five centuries before
the time of Jesus it was held of him that he had a miraculous birth, that
he had a band of disciples, that he taught the best moral precepts, that
he was finally crucified as an expiation for mankind amid signs,
wonders, and miracles; that nature was convulsed, and that deceased
saints arose from their graves; that the sun was darkened and refused
to shine, that after crucifixion he descended into hell, and was
afterwards seen to ascend into heaven.
APOLLONIUSof Tyana, in Cappadocia, had faithful disciples and
biographers in Dumos and Philostratus, who made great claims for
this remarkable personage, and which were implicitly believed by
great numbers of people. That he had a miraculous conception; that
his mother was a virgin; that all nature was subject to his power; that
he performed great numbers of miraculous cures; that he restored
the blind to sight, made the lame to walk, cast out devils, raised the
dead, read the thoughts of those around him, caused a tree to bloom,
spoke in languages he never learned; that he was transfigured; that he
led a spotless life; that he did not marry, and opposed sexual
pleasures; that he spent his time in teaching those who gathered
around him; that he was a prophet, and could foretell events; that he
was imprisoned and loaded with chains; that he was crucified midst a
display of divine power; that he rose from the dead; that he appeared
to his disciples after his resurrection; that he finally ascended up to
heaven to sit at the right hand of the father, and much more of a
similar character, and fullyequal in every respect to what was claimed
for Jesus.
Of SIMON MAGUS,who also existed before christ, it was claimed
that he was "in the beginning with god"; that he existed from all
eternity; that he took upon himself the form of man; that he was the
"word," the "son of god"; that he was the second person in the trinity;
that he could control the elements; that he could walk in the air; that
he could move any bodies at will;that he raised the dead; that he came
to redeem the world from sin; that he was the world's "savior,"
"redeemer," and "the only begotten of the father," and that through
his name the world was saved.
Numerous other "saviors" and "redeemers" who lived before
christ might be named in this connection to show the striking
similarity which existed between him and them, but we have already
quoted enough to give the reader clearly to understand that there
were, hundreds of years before the time of christ, abundance of
material of which to spin and weave his story; and that taking all the
facts into consideration, the prior existence of similar claims, and the
extreme doubt of the authenticity of the gospel narratives of christ,
the strongest probability is that such a personage as Jesus never had
an existence; or, that if he did exist, he was only a common mortal to
whom, a century or two after his death, was falsely attributed, by
designing, dishonest persons, deific characteristics, impossible performances, and moral utterances, after the style of the fabulous
demi-gods and distinguished teachers of older times. ~

Of PYTHAGORAS,of Greece, his devout followers asserted that he


was originally a spirit from heaven; that his birth was miraculously
Austin, Texas

December, 1983

Page 31

NA TURE'S WA Y / Gerald Tholen


~~

!.-~- -,,- ,

! ---I.:..

A TIME FOR

ifts are wonderful expressions of admiration, loyalty,


dedication and love. The concept of giving (or being able to
give) something to someone usually lends a satisfying
emotion to most individuals. Yet, have we ever really explored the
word "gift"? Usually, we regard a gift as a present, something that we
feel the recipient will"cherish" or at least regard with appreciation.
However, gifts are sometimes "given" for other reasons.
The child's mind willprobably always view gift-giving(or receiving)
as a magnificent system of very personal reward. It is, to them, a
simplified action demonstrating and enhancing warmth and a friendly
relationship. In that sense, it is difficult to find fault with gift-givingon
any occasion - be it birthdays, solstices or whatever. There would
seem to be a certain honorable sincerity in the idea when viewed from
such a simplistic view. I suppose that many adult individuals are also
capable of experiencing these same childlike feelings at times.
However, life's problems and other sobering maturations tend to
separate the adult mind from the purer concept of gift-giving as
viewed in the eyes of children.
It has become almost a static reality that most adults view gift-giving
as some sort of required activity. In most cases we adults give
"presents" because we feel that "presents" are expected. For
instance, have you ever given someone something simply because it
was "Tuesday''? Probably not! If you're like most folks, your pattern
of giving is molded-to "occasions." In a sense, I feel that this is a
tragedy that disallows the truest idea of gift-giving and pushes
thoughtfulness ever closer to obligation.
If thoughtfulness should cease to be a main priority in human
intercourse, society is in for some rather hard times. This can already
be noted in the slums and ghettoes of larger cities and even in the
quaint countryside lifestyles where economic poverty has caused
human disillusionment. Here the "time for giving" has all but lost its
once elegant luster. When people are no longer able to experience
that warmth or friendly emotion, fostered by the givingof gifts, as they
had formerly experienced during childhood, a certain psychological
change blurs their existence for the rest of their lives. Worse yet is the
adult product of poverty-stricken childhoods in which the ability to
exchange presents never existed at all!
Perhaps I may be entirely wrong, but it seems that a "need to give"
is inherent throughout the animal world. Certainly, it would seem that
every living thing, at some point, experiences the equivalent of what
we humans call love. I am not referring to the allures of sexuality. I'm
referring to close personal relationships and compassion directed to
other individuals for reasons other than sex.
This brings me to the real point of my story - a time for receiving.
For untold generations the masses of people the world over have
been giving; "giving" to authority, to governments, to nations. What
for? Was it because of their "enormous love" for their authority?
Humankind has given its sons and daughters in war for so long that
we do not even remember the first war. Human toil has given so many
weary hours of labor for the substantive support of "nations" that
there could be no way of accounting the time! The common
man/woman has "managed" without the niceties of life in a way that
affluent people could never understand. The resources of all nations
have been forever at the disposal of the powerful. Whether or not any
individual cares to admit it, in every form of authoritarian administration - be it religion, communism, fascism, monarchy (of any
ilk), or so-called democracy - the ladder is hardest to climb when
one has to start at the bottom.

Page 32

December, 1983

_----=:-G

RECEIVING

Let me get back to the idea of obligational gift-givingfor a moment.


Taxation! Now there's a gift worthy of mention. How many common
people, and for how many years, have paid taxes to support "their
country" or at least "their government." I suppose you know that
such money has not always been called tax. Tax is simply a,
pseudonym for tithe or tribute. We are told that taxes are collected
for the support of government and that governments are devised
"among men" for the protection and edification of the "people." How
much of the world's taxes have been earmarked for the cure of cancer
or heart disease? Monies to support such research have always
come, once again, from the "people"; either as individuals or groups
of research supporters. Would cures for disease come under the
heading of governmental edification of the masses? If not, it would
seem that taxes are truly a gift in the childlike sense, given to show
"admiration" for authority and with no expectation of something in
return. Of course, governments - all governments - give us
regulations to follow, armies to support, wars to pay for, special
interest "needs" to pamper and lifetimes that range from poverty to
mediocracy, all for the enjoyment of living on a planetary estate that
somehow remains the private domain of authority.
I think at times of the "gift" that has been given down through the
ages by the slaves in history; the millions of people who lived in
bondage (other than the economic variety). Were those lives
appreciated? By anyone? Are their names somewhere recorded so
that we might recall how they sweated in order for "society" to realize
privileged comforts? The gift they "gave" was not even considered a
gift!They were simply paying a "debt" to the world's slave owners for
obligations known only to the monsters who enslaved them.

"In all of history no country has ever been


worth dying for - not a thousand years ago,
and not today! I say that in all sincerity as a
life-loving Atheist."
Religion has taught us that we owe "god" for our very existences!
To make matters worse it is a debt we can never "repay" and so we
shall forever remain in "his" debt. If this were true, the "gift of life"
given to us by such a creator was never a gift at all, but rather a
promissory note that defied liquidation and was recallable at the
lender's whim! How idiotic!
And so the idea of gift-giving becomes increasingly complex and
even more fictional.
I realize that there have been a few individuals who have truly
understood the concept of "giving." Unfortunately, not many such
individuals have been noted in history. The general rule is that when
someone "gives of himself/herself' something is expected in return!
Whether or not the return item is ever actually presented usually sets
the stage for discord! And so the word gift becomes more closely
identified with the word payment.
This was the reason I modified the title of this writing to - a time for
receiving. If the people of the world truly "gave" of their lives and
taxes to authority - and in the same sense that naive children "give"
- they have no quarrel with that authority for having received
nothing in return. But, if they gave in the manner that most "adults"
give - expecting some value in exchange, they have truly been had!
Among the great "givers" in history have been a few individuals in
the scientific community. Even here the numbers are noticeably
The American Atheist

small. Most "scientists" we read about have made their "findings" for
business reasons. That is why we have patents - so that individuals
or corporations can capitalize upon them and reap some degree of
compensation or advantage. This was not necessarily so with a very
vew people like Galileo, Newton and even the late Albert Einstein.
Their discoveries, once publicized, could not readily afford profit to
the authors. It is therefore understandable that such disclosures have
never been the subject of accelerated research. In the case of
Newton's laws of gravitation, no one placed great significance on
what gravity is, only what can be gained by the knowledge of what
gravity can do. Money can be made by knowing that water will run
downhill, a profitable energy source. Nobody cares why water runs
downhill! Also, extraplanetary and interplanetary laws of gravitation
can be utilized by the military and by the private-sector telecommunications companies. Again, no one gives a damn why the
phenomenon occurs! Yet, to know why would simply be a nonobligational gift to humanity that would answer one of the oldest
questions locked in humankind's endless curiosities. In the same
context the discovery of processes that enabled researches to
synthetically produce silicone chips for computers was destined to
generate fortunes for those in the industry. But, like Newton's
discovery, no one cares why crystals form - only how to form them!
The whole point is that free, non-profit information, like free non-

obligating gifts, seems to have little chance for survival. And, as


children grow to become adults, repayment becomes a priority!
I should think that now is the time, as we prepare to enter the 21st
century, for people to expect their labors, their resources and their
intellectual capabilities to be repaid in return for the centuries of gifts
that "common people" have rendered to authority. Now that sounds
very noble, doesn't it? How long have we imagined that somewhere
down the line equity would somehow become a reality; that people
who support authority would, in turn, be treated similarly and that the
"upper 3%" of all cultures in all eras would learn the values commonly
known to children. It is time for "authority" to finally present the
"masses" with at least the gift of compassion. Or is that some idle
dream to which people cling hopelessly while struggling through life?
In all of history no country has ever been worth dying for - not a
thousand years ago and not today! I say that in all sincerity as a
life-lovingAtheist. To give one's lifefor anything is to give the ultimate
present. I say present because the donor can hardly expect compensation for THAT gifi~fter death! And, no 'country in all of history has
ever given the common people the "gift" of not asking for such a
sacrifice. Nor has any nation ever guaranteed anyone that they are
entitled to LIVE!
I think it's about time that we, the people, received that gift!

A THEISM ABROAD

ATHEIST LIB
Foreword: Charles Bradlaugh led the way for modern Activist Atheism, fighting for the rights of Atheists to participate
in British politics in the 1880s and founding the National Secular Society in 1866. Now, in the one hundred and fiftieth year
of his birth, the organization he started is still going strong.
Barbara Smoker, its current president, made the following announcement on November 5th, 1983, which was also
issued as a press release. The date was particularly important to her since it was the 34th anniversary of her emancipation
from roman catholicism.
Ms. Smoker will be a featured speaker at the 14th Annual American Atheist Convention in April, 1984.
"I would like to take this opportunity to launch a new slogan," Barbara Smoker, president of the National Secular Society, told members at
their annual general meeting in London today. "It is 'Atheist liberation.' "
She continued: "Not until the birth of the Women's Liberation movement did most people - women as well as men - even realize that sex
discrimination remained very much a fact of life. The introduction of Gay Liberation likewise opened the eyes of the public to the weight of
social and legal discrimination that the 1967 Homosexual Act left untouched. It also gave many gays the courage to 'come out' - this, in turn,
giving strength to the movement ...
"Trying out Atheist Liberation on several people in the past few weeks, I find that it clicks. The response to it is never the sterile 'What does it
mean?' as with secularism, prompting a boring dictionary answer, but the very same question that Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation
have always provoked: 'Why do you need it?' And that question is a profitable one, inviting an answer that willconcern topical issues rather
than dictionary definitions.
"The questioner willprobably be astonished to learn that in many areas of lifein Britain today one cannot be a first-class citizen without belief
- or, at least, no obtrusive disbelief -'- in an ancient myth. It is generally believed that religious belief or lack of it is a private matter that, on this
side of the Iron Curtain, entails neither penalty nor privilege. But this is far from the truth.
"First, there are many monetary perks of religion. A religious organisation has automatic: charity status, with its tax exemption and rates
concession. A flagrant instance of the injustice this entails is the fact that when the National Secular Society campaigns in favour of Sunday
trading and Sunday entertainment it has to do so out of fullytaxed income, whereas the Lord's Day Observance Society, on the opposite side
of the same issue, enjoys tax exemption.
"Christian chaplains to hospitals, prisons and the armed forces are paid out of the public purse, while secular humanists who wish to provide
an analogous service are not only given no financial help for it but are often not even allowed to do it for nothing.
"The provision of church schools, for which the taxpayer and ratepayer meet 85% of the capital cost and 100% of the running costs, is a
wasteful duplication of educational resources. It denies children access to ideas other than those of the home background, exacerbating the
problems of Northern Ireland, and laying the seeds of racial violence in immigrant areas where non-christian religious leaders are now
demanding the same right to their own schools as christian denominations enjoy. As for our state schools, the law still requires them to provide
religious instruction and a corporate act of daily worship, as though Parliament can guarantee the existence of a god to be worshipped ...
"Every radio and television company in this country has its religious broadcasting department, with a special budget for every station or
channel. There is, of course, no comparable provision of time or money for broadcasting non-religious views. Even a minority sect like roman
catholicism has many weekly hours of broadcasting time, both for its religious services and in moral discussion programmes.
"In fact, the persistent idea that morality is associated with religious belief pervades the public consciousness and underlies not only the
unfairness in the media but school curricula and the survival of many of our archaic laws - such as the common-law offence of blasphemy,
successfully used against Gay News within the last decade.
"Law reform to allow freedom of choice in such personal matters as voluntary euthanasia is blocked on religious grounds, thus imposing a
god-fearing ordinance on people with no god to fear." $'
Austin, Texas

December, 1983

Page 33

POETRY

1#

LIMRICK
There was a young lady from Sutton
who claimed when she died she'd be fried like a mutton,
but like the rest of us will,
she lay rather still,
and methinks all her fears were for nothin.

HIS PURPOSE

Anonymous

(Based on matthew 10:3435)

And Jesus spoke. The crowd grew silent,


For to them he was the lord.
"Think not that I've come
"To bring peace," he said.
"For I've come to bring you the sword!

THE CHRISTIAN GOD IS


'COMING TO TOWN

"I could have brought joy and peace and love


"And health and happiness too.
"But I've brought you famine
"And floods and war ...
"Be you pagan, christian, or jew.

(sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town")


If you've been bad
He'll send you to hell,
So you'd better live
Your life in a shell The christian god is coming to town.

"Young men shall defy their fathers.


"At variance they shall be.
"And daughters shall curse
"Their mothers
"And from them they shall flee."

He's making a list


And checking it well.
He's gonna find out
Who's going to hell The christian god is coming to town.

The people heard his awesome word


Then all knelt down to pray.
"If that's the reason you came,"
Cried a youth,
"Why didn't you stay away!"

(Refrain):

Louis J. Beyreis

DISOBEDIENCE

'*

_He sees you when you're sinning;


He knows when you've been bad;
If you don't watch out, he'll send you to hell;
Now wouldn't that be sad?

The deer have come down from the cold hills


Where the snow lies white and deep.
They have come to the stacked hay in the fences
That we built last summer to shut them out.
I have seen them leaping to penetrate the barricade
That keeps them away.
I have watched their anguished pacing
In the moonlight.
They are gone with the breaking of day.
Tonight they will try once more
To break the cold wire strands.
When the twilight leans purple on the snow
I willtake father's wire cutters Tomorrow, my father willbe a very angry man.

Businessmen love
The churches you see;
They hide their deals
Behind its sanctity The christian god is coming to town.
If you think for yourself,
Not told what to do.
Then it's all set,
With the churches you're through The christian god's not coming to town!

>.i.l/./f.

'.~ 'Mr

.:

t-

Joe Baumhaft

Beth M. Applegate
Page 34

When you're shamed enough


They pass the plate,
The more you give,
The better you rate The christian god is coming to town.

December, 1983

The American Atheist

THE ANGRY YOUNG A THEIST / Jeff Frankel

REFLECTIONS ON
THE SOLSTICE SEASON

'T

is the season to be mythological. -Bah! Humbug! The


christian "heat season," as Jon Murray so aptly dubbed it, is
now in full swing with all of the mangers glorifying all of the
strangers that reality never knew. Jingle bells, "christmas" sells, lying
allthe way. Celebrating a birth which has no worth. It never happened
anyway. The hypocrisy drips as the populace flips over the infamous
stolen "holiday."
As an Atheist and an individual with a logical approach to life,I find
the season known to the masses as "christmas" to be an insult to my
intelligence. December should be called "temporary insanity month."
It is very sad that this alleged season of peace and good willis nothing
but a showcase for religious ignorance, commercial greed, and
individual hypocrisy. The idea of so many people spending so much
time and money on a season about which they know so little is enough
to make my normally placid stomach very queasy.:
There are three aspects of the "christmas" season which I find
particularly offensive.
OFFENSIVE ASPECT #1: CHRISTIANITY MONOPOLIZING
A CELEBRATION WHICH IT DID NOT ORIGINATE
AND TURNING IT INTO A TIME FOR
PROSELYTIZING AND PROPAGANDIZING.
'Tis the season to be misleading. Like so many other aspects of
christianity, "christmas" was stolen. Many primitive cultures celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the beginning of longer
days. These celebrations were centered around the birth of a "sun
god," which signified the imminent return of sunlight and warmth.
The stories of the births of these "sun gods" are strikingly similar to
the story of the birth of Jesus. The major symbols of" christmas" ranging from the nativity (which was Egyptian in origin) to the
"christmas" tree (which was used in Egyptian, Babylonian, and
Roman celebrations) - were all stolen from pre-christian cultures.
The end result of this grand theft is that we are deluged each year with
cards, carols, and con artists reinforcing the erroneous notion that
December 25 is the actual birthday of an actual god figure.
Unfortunately, the masses are so ignorant on the subject that they eat
it up like so much fruit cake.
In The Pearly Gates Syndicate, a clever satire of the history of
organized christianity, former methodist minister Charles Merrill
Smith offered this account of how December 25 was christianized.
"About the only solid administrative accomplishment inherited from (saint John) Chrysostom's reign as bishop was the
fixing of the date for christmas. The corporation had been
celebrating Jesus's birthday on January 6. But the pagans, who
were numerous back then, had a competing festival on
December 25. It was to mark the birthday of Mithras, the sun
god. The mithraic celebration was somewhat along the lines of
the Mardi Gras or the Oktoberfest, involving a lot of drinking
and helling around. Regrettably, many christians liked this
celebration better than January 6, which was a good deal tamer
in nature. Alarming numbers of christians were dropping out of
the christian corporation and taking up with Mithras just to get
in on the celebration.
"The christian solution, arrived at by the solemn council of
bishops and promoted by Chrysostom, was to have a similar
celebration on December 25, only call it christian. To do this
they needed an excuse similar to the birthday of Mithras, so
they just said that jesus was born on December 25. We now
Austin, Texas

know that the correct date isn't December 25, because the
birthday of Mithras is supposed to be on the shortest day of the
year when the sun starts on its upward course, which is
December 21. However, the mithraites were working from a
faulty calendar which claimed that December 25 is the shortest
day of the year. By the time everything was straightened out,
December 25 was universally acknowledged to be the correct
date of Jesus's birth. The christian corporation wisely decided
that it would be too confusing to change the date again. The
corporation also felt that it might be disturbing to the faithful to
tell them that they had been celebrating on the wrong day, so it
didn't tell them.
"We are glad to report that this administrative decision
reversed the tide of christians flowing into mithraism, and, for
all we know, helped proselytize many mithraites for christianity. It just shows the importance of nimble administrative
procedure and demonstrates that Chrysostom could have
been one of the administrative jewels in the crown of the
christian corporation if he had only put his mind to it instead of
concentrating on being a great preacher and social reformer."
Smith's comparison of the church to a corporation is a very valid
one. Seizing upon something popular and milking it for all it's worth is
standard procedure in the corporate world. That brings me to the
second offensive aspect of "christmas."
OFFENSIVE ASPECT #2:
CRASS CORPORATE COMMERCIALIZATION
'Tis the season to spend big money. Corporations spend millions of
dollars hawking their "christmas" wares through the media, a large
investment which brings an even larger profit. A great deal of this
advertising is aimed at unassuming children who are led to believe
that they simply must have a Smurf-this or a Pee-Man-that to make
the "holiday" complete. There are also the various appeals which
smack of propaganda, such as the appeal to guilt ("Don't disappoint
your loved one(s) this year; buy him/her/them this product."), the
appeal to romance ("He/she will love you if you buy him/her this
gift. "), and the appeal to snobbery ("Give the gift that the
knowledgeable gift giver is giving.").
At one point in time, "christmas" advertising did not commence
until just after "thanksgiving." That has changed drastically. One day
this past August, with the temperature in excess of 100, I received in
the mail a record club catalog offering" christmas" albums and a desk
calendar adorned with "christmas" symbols. Have you ever tried to
entertain thoughts of snow and mistletoe while wearing a pair of
cutoffs and listening to the hypnotic hum of your air conditioner?
Another sore spot with me is the gift that keeps on fibbing
throughout the year: the religious gift. You name it, you can get it.
Jesus saves key rings, meticulously sculptured mangers, last-supper
wall clocks. The mythical jesus, as the story goes, was quite upset
when he saw a temple being used as a marketplace. I'm sure he, if he
existed, would be quite pleased with seeing the marketplace turned
into a temple, at least during "temporary insanity month." One
particularly galling aspect of this type of gift is that it is often
manufactured and/or sold by nonbelievers who couldn't care less
about christianity, but want to get in on the big bucks it can bring. Last
December I went into a gift shop operated by a young lady who is a
professed Atheist. I was shocked when, upon entering, I saw a display
of religiously oriented items. When I asked her why she was carrying

December, 1983

Page 35

such garbage in her shop, she meekly replied "Because it sells." How
can we ever remove the myth from December 25 when those within
our own ranks are helping to keep the myth alive?

"Last December I went into a gift shop operated by a young lady who is a professed
Atheist. I was shocked when, upon entering, I
saw a display of religiously oriented items."
OFFENSIVE ASPECT #3: MASS HYPOCRISY AND IGNORANCE
"Christmas" is the definitive "holiday" in our culture, and the
behavior which occurs during this season reflects just how far our
culture has to go in regard to thinking and reasoning. "Holidays" in
general, and" christmas" in particular, have a "Pavlov's dog" effect on
many people. "Christmas" comes; they give gifts and send out cards.
New Year's Eve comes; they get drunk. "Thanksgiving" comes; they
go to a gathering of relatives they don't care enough about to keep in
touch with the rest of the year. The behavior of this type of individual
is almost totally influenced by calendar and culture. This is the same
kind of person who believes because "it's the right thing to do," and
blindly accepts the story that December 25 is the birthday of
jesuchrist.
'Tis the season for weak-minded individuals to deck the halls with
gross hypocrisy. Few things upset me as much as someone who is a
perpetual pain-in-the-ass the rest of the year, but becomes sickeningly sweet and kind come "christrnastime." These people generally
treat their fellow humans as if they were nonentities, but hand out all
kinds of expensive gifts to help ease their guilty consciences and

"prove" that they aren't such bad people after all. Another pathetic
example of underdeveloped humanity is the wishy-washy individual
who resentfully goes through inane gift exchanges and gives gifts to
people he/she doesn't even like because of not having enough guts to
do what he/she wants to do instead of what he/she has been
conditioned to do.
It stands to reason that so many of the individuals who need the
promise of "heaven" and the threat of "hell" to behave in a halfway
decent manner also need a calendar to prompt them to show love,
consideration, and generosity toward others. I agree with psychologist/philosopher Leo Buscaglia, who said that every day should be
mother's day and father's day and uncle Ernie's day. Love and
kindness should be given without pomp or reservation 365 days a
year.
I have heard many people say that they love the "christmas" season
because there is so much cheerfulness and good will around. The
same things which make them happy make me rather sad and
reflective. I don't like to be teased with shows of kindness and
decency which willdisappear after a certain date has passed. If all of
this "holiday" goodness is genuine, why isn't it continued consistently
throughout the year? I have asked myself this question many times
and have yet to come up with a logical answer for it. Christians have
allegedly been trying to bring "peace on earth, good will toward all
men" for 2000 years. They have failed dismally. It is up to us Atheists,
armed with science and knowledge instead of faith and fable, to lead
humanity on the road toward realizing that difficult but attainable
goal. That goal can never be attained, however, as long as religion
holds its current position of dominance in the world. We can do it ifwe
try, but that means ALL of us. The beast can be beaten.
Happy winter solstice. ~

14TH ANNUAL
AMERICAN ATHEIST
CONVENTION
April 20th, 21st and 22nd, 1984
(Friday, Saturday &. Sunday - Easter weekend)

Radisson Plaza Hotel


Lexington, Kentucky
Featured Speakers:
Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Founder, American Atheists
Ms. Barbara Smoker
President
National Secular Society
London, England
Mr. Larry Flynt
Publisher
Hustler Magazine
WRITE: Gloria Tholen Convention Coordinator Box 2117' Austin, TX 78768-2117
REGISTRATION
$20.00 . $3S.00/couple
$lO,OO/stu~ent or 6S and over - with 1.0.
Page 36

December, 1983

The American Atheist

THE ANGRY OLD A THEIST / Merrill Holste


f#(I1%''"'\,

a'c~!i

A NEW LOOK AT AN OLD MYTH

--- \,\~~~',~:--------~-------------------------------------

he followers of a certain primitive religion, which somehow has


managed to survive to this supposedly enlightened day,
believe that about 1,983 years ago the "spirit of god" came
down and visited a jewish virgin named Mary, who consequently
conceived a "son of the most high" (luke 1:32). The mythical story
runs like this: "The angel gabriel was sent from god into a city of
Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name
was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary."
The angel spoke to her as follows:" 'Fear not, Mary, for thou hast
found grace with god. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and
shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be
great, and shall be called the son of the most high; and the lord god
shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in
the house of Jacob forever.' And Mary said to the angel: 'How shall
this be done, because I know not man?' And the angel answering, said
to her: 'The holy ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the
most high shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the holy which
shall be born of thee shall be called the son of god.' ... And Mary said:
'Behold the handmaid of the lord; be it done to me according to thy
word.' And the angel departed from her." (luke 1:26-27,30-35,38).
Thus, according to the myth, "When as his mother Mary was
espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with
child of the holy ghost." (matt. 1:18).
Fully 4,000 years before the beginning of the christian era, the
ancient Egyptians worshiped a god by the name of osiris. When osiris
was born, a supernatural voice, according to the legend, was heard
which proclaimed aloud that the lord of all things had come into the
light. It was further related that a certain Pamyles heard a voice from
the temple of ammon which commanded him to announce the birth of
the great king of the world, the beneficent osiris. For this reason the
annual feast celebrating the birth of osiris was known as the Pamyliae.
(Plutarch, de [side et Osiride, 12)
One does not have to look very hard to see the strong similarity
between the stories about osiris and jesuchrist. Pamyles is John the
baptist. The supernatural voices announcing the birth of osiris
reappear as the "voice of one crying in the desert." Matthew 3:1-3
says, "And in those days cometh John the baptist preaching in the
desert of Judea. (2) And saying: 'Do penance, for the kingdom of
heaven is at hand. (3) For this is he that was spoken of by Isais the
prophet, saying: "A voice of once crying in the desert, Prepare ye the
way of the lord, make straight his paths." ,,, A further similarity lies in
the belief that both osiris and christ were to be rulers, osiris to be lord
of all things and christ to ascend the throne of David and to rule the
house of Jacob forever.
A third similarity between the osirian and christian myths is the
resemblance between the birthday celebrations for the two gods. The
Egyptian feast of the Pamyliae was celebrated in much the same way
as the christian christmas. The reason, the supposed birth of their
god, was certainly the same. Furthermore, the time of the year in
which the celebration took place was the same, the end of the old year
and the beginning of the new. The birthday of osiris was celebrated on
the first of the five intercalary days which the Egyptians sandwiched in
between the last day of the old year and the first day of the new. Thus
christians, as did the Egyptians before them, celebrate the birthday of
their god nearly the same number of days before the beginning of their
new year.

Austin, Texas

The soul of osiris was supposed to be reincarnated in earthly form


approximately once every 25 years. The reincarnated god was called
apis. The birth of divine apis was as "supernatural" as was the birth of
jesuchrist. Herodotus, in his famous history, Book III, chapter 28,
describes it in the following words: "Now this apis, or epaphus, is the
calf of a cow which is never afterward able to bear young. The
Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which
thereupon conceives apis. The calf which is so called has the following
marks: - He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead,
and on his back the figure of an eagle; the hairs in his tail are double,
and there is a beetle upon his tongue." And thus the secret is out: The
original virgin birth was that of a cow giving birth to a divine calf who
was supposed to have been the reincarnation of the lord of the world,
osiris.

"The birthday of osiris was celebrated on the


first of the five intercalary days which the
Egyptians sandwiched in between the last day
of the old year and the first day of the new.
Thus christians, as did the Egyptians before
them, celebrate the birthday of their god nearly
the same number of days before the beginning
of the new year."
The apis bull-god, incarnate spirit of osiris, was provided. with
gorgeous chambers fit for any king or queen. His two apartments
were furnished with costly carpets, cushions, covers, ornaments of
alabaster and gold and perfumed with the smell of costly incense
suffused through the air. The divine apis fed on costly and dainty
foods out of golden vessels. His sacred cow-mother lived in an
adjoining apartment. In a fourth apartment was quartered a whole
harem of cows for the service and pleasure of apis. Thus apis lived in
regal splendor, leaving his palace only on special festivals or on
extraordinary ceremonial occasions. (Dr. Max Uhlemann, Three
Days in Memphis, page 116-17.)
Let us now note some further similarities between the Egyptian and
the christian religions. The conceptions of the two mothers, the virgin
Mary and the cow-mother of apis, are virtually identical. First, fire,
which is the spirit of god to many people and to others is itself a god,
came down and impregnated a cow, the chosen mother of the god
apis. Secondly, a manifestation of the Hebrew god, called "the holy
ghost" and the "power of the most high," came and impregnated
Mary. Fire was considered to be the visible manifestation of the
Hebrew god now so abjectly worshiped by christians. This is clearly
evident from many passages in the bible, some of which we will now
proceed to examine.
Moses told the people that once, when he was out herding sheep in
the desert, the lord of Mount Horeb (then a small-time local nature
deity) appeared to him as a flame of fire playing about a bush. He
claimed that this lord of Horeb, speaking from out his visible
manifestation of fire, ordered him to impose a new religion upon his
compatriots, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, the
first visible manifestation of the Hebrew god, the local nature-god of
Mt. Horeb, was that of fire. You may read the story regarding this in
the third and fourth chapters of exodus, and more in ex. 19:16-25:
"And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were
thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the
voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in

December, 1983

Page 37

the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the
camp to meet with god; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.
And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the lord
descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the
smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when
the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder,
Moses spake, and god answered him by a voice. And the lord came
down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the lord called
Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the lord
said unto Moses, 'Go down, charge the people, lest they break through
unto the lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also,
which come near to the lord, sanctify themselves, lest the lord break
forth upon them.' And Moses said unto the lord, 'The people cannot
come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, "Set bounds
about the mount, and sanctify it." And the lord said unto him, 'Away,
get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but
let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the
lord, lest he break forth upon them.' So Moses went down unto the
people and spake unto them."

and 24:15-18.
"And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
And the glory of the lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud
covered it six days: and theseventh day he called unto Moses out of the
midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the lord was like
devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of
Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into
the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Moses' next step, according to the bible story, was to induce some
alleged Hebrew slaves in Egypt to revolt and run away. When Moses
and his followers arrived at Horeb and were relatively safe from the
power of Egypt, he was confronted with the problem of establishing
his priestly authority over his refugees. A convincing way of
introducing them to the god of Moses and Horeb was needed. A
convenient volcanic eruption of Mt. Horeb seems to have filled the
bill.The fire and smoke of the eruption created a powerful impression
upon the ignorant ex-slaves from Egypt, and they tamely permitted
Moses to destroy the golden calf they had made to symbolize the rival
religion they wanted to adopt. Moses considered the golden calf
nothing more than a symbol of heresy and, in righteous rage,
destroyed it.
The fourth and fifth chapters of deuteronomy are understandable
only if we keep in mind the fiery nature of the Hebrew god. The ten
commandments strictly forbid the making of any graven images.
"Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any
things, that are in the heaven above, or that are in the earth beneath,
or that abide in the waters under the earth." (deut. 4:8). The reason
for this strict law lies in the fiery nature of the Hebrew god.
Deuteronomy 4:15 says, "Keep therefore your souls carefully. You
saw not any similitude in the day that the lord god spoke to you in
Horeb from the midst of the fire." The verses immediately following
expand the list of things of which no images were to be made - beasts
of the earth, birds of the air, creeping things, fish, sun, moon, or stars.
This little story ends with a dire threat in deuteronomy 4:23-24:
"Beware lest thou ever forget the covenant of the lord thy god, which
he hath made with thee; and make to thyself a graven likeness of these
things which the lord hath forbid to be made: Because the lord thy
god is a consuming fire, a jealous god." It is hard to imagine how the
English language could state more explicitly or precisely the idea that'
the god of the Hebrews was a fire god. The making, adoration, and
worship of an image or likeness of some man, animal, or natural
object would have amounted to schism or heresy, as Moses so
interpreted it in the case of the golden calf.
The identity of the holy ghost with fire is clearly shown once more in
chapter 2 of acts. The chapter heading, as given in the Douay version,
piously states: "The disciples receive the holy ghost." The story as
related in acts is this: (1) "And when the days of the pentecost were
accomplished, they were all together in one place: (2) And suddenly
there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it
filledthe whole house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared
to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon everyone of
them. (4) And they were all filled with the holy ghost." We see here
with no uncertainty that the christians appropriated from their jewish
Page 38

progenitors the idea of a fiery essence or manifestation of their god


which they fondly called the "holy ghost." Obviously this was the
same fiery ghost which was in the habit of impregnating Egyptian
cows so that they could conceive and bear bull-calf reincarnations of
the great Egyptian god osiris, the king of the world, the lord of all
things.
In the later stages of Egyptian history, before the advent of
christianity, Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of Greek pharaohs under
the name of Ptolemy. The Ptolemies wished to devise a religion which
would appeal to their mixture of Greek and Egyptian subjects. They
reassembled the elements of Egyptian and Greek mythology and
created the religion of serapis, which is to say the worship of a
combined osiris-apis. The two names in time became fused into the
one word, serapis. The worship of serapis was concentrated at the
two cities having the largest Greek populations, Alexandria and
Memphis. Alexandria was the city of the serapion, the principal
temple of serapis worship. Memphis was the place where the
mummified apis bulls were interred.
Alexandria, in the early days of christianity, became the center of
christian "learning," as it was in former times the center of Ptolemaic
learning. The christians of Alexandria built upon the foundation of
Ptolemaic learning and absorbed much of the Greek-Egyptian
mythology, transmuting it into christian tradition and dogma. The
Encyclopedia Britannica, ninth edition, article "Serapis" says: "The
cult of serapis also spread largely in the Graeco-Roman world.
Egyptian monasticism seems to have borrowed something from the
monds of serapis, and the Egyptian christians were accused of
worshiping serapis as well as christ (Vita Saturnini, 8)."
This statement from the Encyclopedia Britannica forms a final link
in a rather conclusive proof that the Alexandrine christians had
borrowed extensively from the Egyptian mythologies. Since osiris
and apis were worshiped long before any of the other sixteen to
twenty virgin-born saviors were ever thought of, we Atheists and
freethinkers feel we are on the right track in looking to osiris and apis
as the original pattern for the virgin-birth myth.

December, 1983

Note to readers: All bible quotations in this essay are taken from
the catholic Douay version.)
~

.(Il

LET ME DIE
BEFORE I WAKE .

By Derek Humphry(authorofJean's

Way)

Unique guide to .elf-deliverance


for dying persons
$11 pip_ Membership
(inels. newsletter) $15_ Non~
profit.
Hemlock Society. P.O. Box 66218
Los Angeles. CA 90066. Phone (213)391-1871

ATTENTION: ATHEISTS IN
THE BEAUMONT, TEXAS AREA!
Those interested in meeting other Atheists in the area and/ or becoming active in
American Atheism, please write:

BEAUMONT CHAPTER
AMERICAN ATHEISTS
P.O. Box 5123
Beaumont, TX 77706
The American Atheist

AMERICAN ATHEIST RADIO SERIES / Madalyn Murray O'Hair

THE SOLSTICE SEASON


Program No. 30 -

In 1968, the first year of broadcasting for the American Atheist


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

* * * * *
This is Madalyn Murray O'Hair, American Atheist, back to talk to
you again.
Someone stole something from me. I don't like it. What was stolen
from me - and from you - was one of the most beautiful holidays in
the world. Robert G. Ingersoll (an American Atheist hero of earlier
days) was also angry about this theft. Let me read to you what he had
to say about it.
He wrote a very famous "Christmas Sermon." It was printed in the
Evening Telegram newspaper, New York City, New York, on 19
December, 1891. The ministers of the day attacked the newspaper
and demanded a boycott of it. The Telegram accepted the challenge
and set off an issue across the country. The paper printed the rev. Dr.
J.M. Buckley's attack, and Robert Ingersoll's answer. It developed
into a real donnybrook.
Let's hear what Ingersoll had to say:
"The good part of christmas is not always christian, it is .
generally pagan; that is to say, human and natural.
"Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, but with a
message of eternal grief. It came with the threat of everlasting
torture on its lips. It meant war on earth and perdition
thereafter.
"It taught some good things, the beauty of love and kindness
in man. But as a torch-bearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a
failure. It has given infinite consequeces to the acts of finite
beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for
mortals to bear. It has billed the future with fear and flame, and
made god the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be
the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it
has deprived god of the pardoning power.
"And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the
pagan world the old festival we know as christmas.
Austin, Texas

December 23, 1968

"Long before christ was born, the sun god triumphed over
the 'powers of darkness.' About the time that we call christmas
the days began perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian
ancestors were worshipers of the sun, and they celebrated his
victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and
beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the
sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the
pagans the best it has.
.
"I believe in christmas and in every day that has been set
apart for joy. We in America have too much work and not
enough play. We are too much like the English.
"I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a
blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasing object to god
than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in
favor of all the good free days, the more the better.
"Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget, a good day to
throwaway prejudices and hatreds, a good day to fillyour heart
and your house, and the hearts and houses of others with
sunshine."
Would you believe that such a warm christmas sermon could cause
religious people to launch a vicious attack on a newspaper for
publishing it? Ingersoll used the word "borrow." He said that
christians borrowed the pagan holiday. I use a stronger word. They
stole it. They stole the most beautiful holiday of man - and for what?
They claim that this is the birthday of Jesus christ. Let's look at
their scholars and their history and see if this is a fact. You most
probably all know of A.T. Robertson, the late professor of new
testament Greek at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, Kentucky. He had written a standard textbook on the
so-called Broadus Harmony of the Gospels and it is used in every
school of religion across the land. In this book is summarized all the
findings of religious scholarship in relationship to Jesus christ and,
among other things, the date of his birth.

"Ingersoll ... said that christians borrowed the


pagan holiday. I use a stronger word. They
stole it. They stole the most beautiful holiday of
man - and for what?"
After a lengthy explanation of when Jesus christ may have been
born, Dr. Robertson sets the date at - hold on now - the summer or
early fall of the year b.c. 6 or b.c. 5. Did you hear that? He set the date
in the summer or the fall. Recently the idea of the first week in January
has gained some following. But no one who is a religious scholar any
more accepts or believes December 25th.
One must calculate from the possible death of Herod, or the
appearance of the so-called star in the East, which could have been a
comet recorded by the Chinese or a conjunction of the planets
Jupiter and Saturn. But the Greenwich Observatory says that the
conjunction appearing as a single star was very unlikely. Or one can
judge the "time of the universal peace," that is the "time of no war"
about which the heavenly host sang. But there was never any
stoppage of war in that time.
One can guess from the so-called ministry of John the baptist, or
the age of Jesus upon his entry into the ministry, or the building of the
temple of Herod, or the closing of the temple of Janus, or the so-called
census of Augustus Caesar. All of these lead the poor theologians in
ever-increasing directions away from the idea of christmas and the

December, 1983-

Page 39

year "zero" or "one" of our present calendar.


Actually the idea of December 25th is untenable. Allthe ancients in
christian history had various days for christ's birth. Clement of
Alexander, who was closer to that alleged event in time, said it was
May 20th. April 20th and January 6th have always appeared as
possible dates. Why did the christians want the twenty-fifth of
December? Why that particular date? Why did they deliberately steal
this very important date from the pagans?
There are four points in our calendar which we use and which we
call "Solstice" or "Equinox" points, two of each. The latter is easy: we
say that the equinox is when the sun crosses the equator of the earth
and day and night are everywhere of equal length. The sun does not
actually cross the equator, we all know that. But with the earth's
natural tilt on its natural axis as it whirls around the sun, this seems to
be so. Then, either one or other part of our old ball of earth gets the
most sun. But on these two occasions, the days are equal in length
everywhere and this occurs about March 21st and September 23rd by
our current calendar.
The Solstice is something different. We don't go around the sun in a
circle; we tour around it - on our earth - in an ellipse, which is a
flattened circle, or oval. When we are in the points furthest away from
the sun, we have another phenomenon. That, along with the 230
inclination of the earth, causes the solstices. Twice a year, when the
sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator, about June
21st when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the celestial
sphere, or about December 22 when it reaches its southernmost
point, we call these moments the solstice. The solstice in December is
the time when the days of the year, in our hemisphere, are the
shortest.
Primitive man and pagan man were not idiots, you know. They saw
this. Apparently at the first, they feared the days would get shorter
and shorter and shorter and finally - what if there were only night!
What a frightening thing, when the sun was so necessary for life,from
common observation. So when the day came for the sun to overcome
the darkness, and for the sun to cause the days to be longer - even if
just a minute longer - it meant that there was not going to be eternal
night. The sun had won a fight again. Darkness had had to recede and
slowly the days would get longer and longer until spring and summer,
with food growing again and the lifecycle being renewed again, would
be everywhere on the earth.
And so every primitive culture had a festival or a feast on this day. It
was celebrated in China, in India, in South America, in Mexico, in
Africa, in every single place where man could watch days and nights
and seasons. There were presents given on this great day, exchanged
as a symbol, for the sun had brought the most precious gift of all to
man: the warmth needed for life and a recycle of the seasons again.
The ancient men noticed other things too. Certain trees stayed green
all year round, a promise of the abundance of spring and summer to
come again after winter, a reassurance that all the greens would
return in their seasons. The light of the sun and the twinkling light of
stars became important in symbolism as well as in fact. The
mysterious parasite, mistletoe, ever green, intrigued primitive man. It
allneeded to be celebrated, to be noted with awe. Ifone could not give
life as the sun did - one could give else, such as a sharing of food or
the precious few personal items they had. But, above all it was a time
of revelry. Life had been renewed. It was the most joyous of all human
occasions. There was universal singing and dancing and laughing and
well being. It was wild and wonderful and human and warm. It was the
best of all festivals. It was the gayest of all feasts. It was the warmest
and best of all collective human activities.
The christians were no fools. Ifthey permitted the pagan holiday to
continue to exist, it could challenge the basis of the mournful christian
religion, with its great emphasis on death. First came edicts outlawing
the pagan holiday. But nothing so wildlywonderful and natural as this
could ever be outlawed. And then the solution came: incorporate it
into the christian religion. Oh, it took some time. It took many years to
effect the change. It took much propaganda. It took many reprisals
and sanctions against those who continued with the old festival. But,
eventually the christian religion won the day. There were changes in
calendars too. When the gregorian calendar was changed to the
Page 40

present day calendar, Solstice - or christmas - shifted a few days


also, so that December 25th, by our calendar, came officially to be
designated as a christian day.
It took a thousand years, and more, to rob the poeple of the earth of
this grand holiday and to replace it with a personalized myth story of a
"new god born," a god of a horrible, punitive, new religion called
christianity.
But, it is even easier now, with mass media. There are many of you
in the listening audience old enough to remember Armistice Day.
That was the day that World War I ended, and it was celebrated for
thirty years or more until a second world war broke out. After we
veterans came home from that second war we found that there was
no more Armistice Day. Instead, there was a Veterans' Day. All the
people in the listening audience tonight who are twenty-five years old
or younger never even heard of Armistice Day. They only know
Veterans' Day, for that is all that they were ever taught.
That's how it is with christmas. That is how it was with the Solstice.
Finally, no one ever heard of the Solstice and its festivities - and
everyone came to believe that the christians were celebrating the
birthday of christ and that was all that this holiday had ever been.
But bible scholars know better and Atheists know better and we
celebrate that old and wonderful and joyous season. We even sell
Solstice cards for this season of Solstice and the New Year (which,
really, are both one day). Let me read to you what we print
traditionally on our Solstice cards.
Joyful and cheerful, with mistletoe and signs of the season the
greetings are to wish one and all the glad tidings of a wonderful Winter
Soltice season. The legend inside the card says:
"December 25th, by the Julian calendar, was the winter
solstice. This day, originally regarded by the pagans as the day
of the nativity of the sun, the shortest day of the year - when
the light began its conquering battle against darkness - was
celebrated universally in all ages of man. Taken over by the
christians as the birthday of their mythological christ, this
ancient holiday, set by motions of the celestial bodies, survives
as a day of rejoicing that good willand love willhave a perpetual
rebirth in the minds of men - even as the sun has a symbolic
rebirth yearly."
This informational broadcast is brought to you as a public service
by the Society of Separationists, Inc., a non-profit, non-political,
educational organization dedicated to the complete and absolute
separation of state and church. This series of American Atheist Radio
Programs is continued through listener generosity.
I willbe with you"next week, same day of the week, same time, same
. station. Until then, I do thank you for listening and "goodbye" for
now.

December, 1983

The American Atheist

SUGGESTED AMERICAN ATHEIST


INTRODUCTORY READING LIST
Knowing that Atheist material is very hard to find in most public library sources in the United States, American Atheists suggest
the following publications which are available from us as an introduction into the multifaceted areas of Atheism and state/church
separation. These by no means represent our entire collection of Atheist and separationist materials. A more complete
catalogue is available upon request for $1.00.

All the Questions You Ever Wanted to Ask American Atheists with All of the Answers
by Jon Murray and Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [paper, 359 p.]
Freedom under Siege, The Impact of Organized Religion on Your Liberty And Your Pocketbook
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [cloth, 282 p.]
Separation of Religion and Government
by Frank Swancara [cloth, 246 p.]
Why I Am An Atheist, including a history of materialism
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [booklet, 40 p.]
What on Earth Is An Atheist! (A collection of programs from the American Atheist Radio Series)
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [paper, 287 p.]
The Bible Handbook (All the contradictions, absurdities, and atrocities from the bible)
by G.W. Foote, W.P. Ball, John Bowden, and Richard M. Smith [paper, 364 p.]
The Case against Religion: A Psychotherapist's View
by Dr. Albert Ellis [booklet, 17 p.]
Pagan Origins of The Christ Myth
by John G. Jackson [booklet, 30 p.]
Sex Mythology
,.
by Sha Rocco [booklet, 55 p.]
Ingersoll The Magnificent
by Joseph Lewis [paper, 342 p.]
A Few Reasons for Doubting the Inspiration of The Bible
by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll [booklet, 30 p.]
Atheist Truth us. Religion's Ghosts
by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll [booklet, 45 p.]
The Logic and Virtue of Atheism
by Joseph McCabe [booklet, 58 p.]
An Atheist's Bertrand Russell
ed. by Jon G. Murray [booklet, 50 p.]
Essays in Freethinking, Vol. I
Essays in Freethinking, Vol. II
Essays in Freethinking, Vol. III
Essays in Freethinking, Vol. IV
by Chapman Cohen [booklets, 112 p./bklt]
$4 each, or set of four vols:
The Best of Dial-An-Atheist
Edited by Newton Berry [paper, 148 p.]
Nobody Has a Prayer
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [booklet, 100 p.]
Women and Atheism, The Ultimate Liberation
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [booklet, 22 p.]
Fruits of Philosophy
.
by Charles Knowlton, MD [booklet, 58 p.]
History's Greatest Liars
.
by Joseph McCabe [paper, 179 p.]
The Peril of Faith
by Martin Bard [paper, 151 p.]
War in Vietnam - The Religious Connection
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [booklet, 83 p.]
An Atheist Epic: Bill Murray, The Bible and The Board of Education
by Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair [paper, 316 p.]
Essays of An Atheist Activist
by Jon G. Murray [booklet, 67 p.]
o

Order from:

American Atheist Press


P.O. Box 2117
Austin, TX 78768-2117

$6.95
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AMENDMENT I

CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING

,.

ATHEIST GOLDEN RULE


"Do to every man as thou wouldst
have him do to thee; and do not unto
another what thou wouldst not have him
do to thee."
Confucius
(500 b.c.)

THEIST COpy
"All things whatsoever ye would that
men should do to you, do ye even so to
them."
matthew 7:12
(circa 100 a.d.)

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