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A MER ICA N ATHEISTS

AMERICAN ATHEIST
A JOURNAL OF ATHEIST NEWS AND THOUGHT

Display until April 30


$4.95 US $4.95 CDN Winter 2018

FOURTH QUARTER 2017


ATHEISTS.ORG
AMERICAN ATHEIST Wiki Commons

A Journal of Atheist News and Thought


4th Quarter 2017
Vol. 55, No. 4
ISSN 0516-9623 (Print)
ISSN 1935-8369 (Online)

Bill Nye with a model of LightSail, a solar-powered spacecraft project at The Planetary Society.
Bill’s work as CEO of The Planetary Society is part of his mission to stop the spread of anti-
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF science thinking around the world. In “The Man Behind the Bow Tie” (page 5), filmmakers Jason
Pamela Whissel Sussberg and David Alvarado tell us the story of their new documentary, Bill Nye: Science Guy.
PWhissel@Atheists.org
LAYOUT and GRAPHICS EDITOR
Rick Wingrove
RWingrove@Atheists.org
In This Issue
COPY EDITOR
Karen Rei lly
4 Letter From The Editor
RESEARCH ASSISTANT When Atheists Send Us Hate Mail | Pamela Whissel
Anthony J. Crincoli

PROOFREADERS 5 The Man Behind the Bowtie


Gil Gaudia
Shelley Gaudia
Making Bill Nye: Science Guy | David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg
Den Jackson
8 Book Review
AMERICAN ATHEIST PRESS Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist
MANAGING EDITOR
Frank R. Zindler
by Richard Dawkins | Mark Kolsen
Editor@Atheists.org
10 A Virtuous Cycle: How Truth Can Win In Our
Published by Public Discourse | Gleb Tsipursky and Agnes Vishnevkin
American Atheists, Inc.
Mailing Address:
225 Cristiani St.
14 Letter from Israel | Joe Postove
Cranford, NJ 07016
Phone: 908.276.7300 16 Jesus: Prophet of Peace and Love or Purveyor of
FAX: 908.276.7402 Fear and Hate? | Brian Bolton
www.Atheists.org

©2017 American Atheists Inc.


22 Cover Story
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part
#GodToo: Religion’s Toxic, Sexist Status Quo | Katilyn Pulcher
without written permission is prohibited. American
Atheist is indexed in the Alternative Press Index. 46 Why I Am an Atheist | Chris Malloy
American Atheist magazine is given free of cost to
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One-year print subscription to American Atheist
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Sign up for membership at www.Atheists.org/join.
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4TH QUARTER 2017
not tax-deductible. www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 3
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
When Atheists Send Us Hate Mail

W hile most Americans are in favor of a wall that


separates religion from government, they don’t always
support what it takes to make repairs and perform preventive
maintenance on it. At American Atheists, we are well aware
of these critics. They pillory us in the news, yell at us over the
phone, and send us angry letters, which sometimes come from
fellow atheists, like they did recently.
In November, we filed a lawsuit against the Bergen County
Animal Shelter in New Jersey after they organized and
promoted a religious ceremony on their premises. In addition to
the usual religious detractors, we heard from quite a few atheists
who said we were picking a fight and that we should have left
the animals alone, even though their facility is run by the
government. Some of those comments can be handily applied
to a number of our legal cases. After all, suing a public school
over a prayer at a football game forces the school to devote time
and resources toward defending the lawsuit rather than toward
the instruction of students, but we’re not about to stop holding
public schools accountable for constitutional violations.
I’ve decided to share some of these complaints and
communicate why the legal fights that some might consider
superfluous are, in fact, vital to our efforts to achieve equal
rights for atheists and maintain the separation between religion
and government.
First, some background: The Bergen County Animal Shelter
is a government entity in New Jersey with a government website,
a government email address, and, of course, government
funding. For two years in a row, the shelter has hosted a religious the shelter informing them that this activity is a violation of
event where a Catholic priest visits the shelter to ceremonially church/state separation. We asked them to cancel and warned
bless the animals. Members of the public and their pets are that we would sue if they did proceed. They ignored our letter
also invited. Several days before the event, the shelter posts an and did not call off their “Blessing of the Animals,” which was
announcement illustrated with religious iconography on its held on October 4 in the lobby during business hours.
official Facebook page and then posts pictures of the ninety- On November 14, we sued on behalf of our member (now a
minute event afterwards. client of our Legal Center) after she visited the shelter in person
This year, we were contacted by a member of American during the event. Our lawsuit was reported by several news
Atheists who learned of the event when she inquired about outlets, and the comments of gratitude and support poured in
adopting a dog. (This is how all of our lawsuits originate. We as usual, along with the expected vitriol. Here are some of the
don’t “go after” organizations; people come to us.) Several days atheists’ comments, all reproduced verbatim.
before the event, we both snail mailed and emailed a letter to Continued on page 32

We will always choose victory in a court of law


over victory in the court of public opinion.
4 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
The Man Behind the Bowtie
Making Bill Nye: Science Guy
by Directors David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg

Bill Nye: Science Guy


is in theaters now.
For a list of cities
and dates, go to
BillNyeFilm.com

A new documentary follows the former star of Bill Nye The Science Guy on his current mission as CEO of The
Planetary Society. Founded by Bill’s mentor, Carl Sagan, The Planetary Society advocates for the importance
of science, research, and discovery in public life. The behind-the-scenes portrait by filmmakers David Alvarado and Jason
Sussberg follows Bill as he takes off his Science Guy lab coat and takes on those who deny climate change, evolution, and a
science-based world view. Appearing in the film along with Bill are Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and American Atheists’
National Field Coordinator Jim Helton.

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 5


“What, if anything, would ever change your mind?”
Bill’s answer: “Evidence.” Ham’s answer: “Nothing.”
was he brought up? What experiences formed his worldview?
Why is he so mission-driven? How has his career affected his
personal life and vice versa? His generous leap of faith allowed
us to really understand the man behind the bowtie.
The Immortals is the only other feature-length film under
our belts, so Bill put a lot on the line for two young filmmakers.
But we were fortunate to have Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses,
Undefeated, Four Christmases, Identity Thief ) as our producer,
and after just one meeting with him, Bill was fully on board.
Our research and filming occurred simultaneously, so
finding the narrative was an ongoing process. After a visit
to The Planetary Society, we decided that the spine of the
film would be the story of launching LightSail, a solar sail
first popularized by Carl Sagan. In uncovering the details
of the intergenerational relationship between Bill and his
mentor, who was also his professor at Cornell University, we
The filmmakers with Bill Nye at The Planetary Society discovered that all roads lead back to Sagan.

W
Photo courtesy of Derek Knowles: Structure Films The thread of that story line is punctuated with Bill
engaging anti-science creationists and climate-change deniers,
e spent our middle-school years watching Bill Nye which include Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis
the Science Guy VHS tapes, which taught us about (which owns and operates the Creation Museum and the
everything from the ecosystem to the color spectrum. Bill’s Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky) and meteorologist/
passion and enthusiasm stayed with us, which is one of the bodybuilder Joe Bastardi. During production, people in both
reasons we became science and technology documentary the science and film communities questioned why we would
filmmakers. When we learned that Bill was now working give screen time to such seemingly marginal and insignificant
tirelessly to champion science education and lead the fight voices. Our answer is that these people are not on the fringe
against climate change, we knew we had to tell that story. anymore. Today, a significant amount of anti-science rhetoric
Our work centers around profiling compelling people in is coming from those in positions of great economic and
the worlds of science, health, information, and technology.
Our first feature-length film, The Immortals, is an account of
the personal lives of two scientists who are determined to find
a way to halt the aging process in humans. Instead of focusing
on the technological “how to” of living forever, we tell their
stories from the angles of humanity, love, and death.
We take a similar approach with Bill Nye: Science Guy.
Because we had intimate access to his personal life, the
film includes much more than Bill’s journey from children’s
television host to serious science statesman. We were also
able to reveal the human side of a much larger social friction
between science and anti-science.
Bill is a dream subject for a documentary. Millions know
of him but hardly anyone really knows him, and he was totally
open to answering every question we wanted to ask: Where

Scientific truth is overshadowed by outright lies dressed


up as nothing more than an alternative point of view.
6 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
Making his way through the parking lot after the tour, Bill
says, “Some of these kids I don’t think were in fifth grade [yet].
When we did The Science Guy show, we had very compelling
evidence that ten was the oldest you could be to get a lifelong
passion for science. We’re going to lose thousands and
thousands of kids from this area who grow up with this weird,
untenable worldview.”
This is why Bill knew he wouldn’t be wasting his time at
Ark Encounter. He planted a seed in that little girl’s mind,
as well as the minds of who knows how many more kids
that day. It’s unlikely that every one of them will eventually
reject creationism, but he believes that along with the young
adults who grew up watching Bill Nye The Science Guy,
people growing up now are the best hope this world has for
Bill Nye with a model of LightSail preserving an environment on this planet that can sustain
Photo courtesy of Lindsay Mann: Structure Films
human life.
We open the film with this quote from Carl Sagan:
political power, and this rhetoric has created huge megaphones “Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It’s
for these voices. just the best we have. In this respect, as in many others, it’s
No one will change the minds of Ken Ham or Joe like democracy.” Bill’s mission is to proselytize—not for
Bastardi—not even Bill Nye. This was made clear when Bill truth itself, but for science as the way to find the truth. Right
debated Ham in 2014 at the Creation Museum. In the film, we now, too much scientific truth is overshadowed by outright
include footage of an audience question from Tracey Moody, a lies dressed up as nothing more than an alternative point
writer and secular activist, who works for TheFriendlyAtheist. of view. This is gravely troublesome. Our hope is that this
org. She asked, “What if anything, would ever change your film communicates the urgent need to return science to its
mind?” Bill’s answer: evidence. Ham’s answer: nothing. rightful place in American society.
Two years later, Ham invited Bill back to Kentucky for a
personal tour during the grand opening of Ark Encounter, a
$100 million building that, according to its makers, replicates
Noah’s ark. Despite there being “nothing” he could say to
change Ham’s mind, Bill knew this wouldn’t be a waste of his
time, so he accepted and brought us along.
Scores of visitors, mostly children, followed us around
that day, eager to hear every word of their conversation. We
captured on camera the following exchange with a little girl
who approached them:

Girl: How did God create us?


Ham: The Bible says he spoke and it happened because he
is all powerful.
Director David Alvarado Director Jason Sussberg
Bill: There is a process that humans have developed—over
millennia—by which we know nature. And we call that Photos courtesy of Erika Kapin
science. The big thing in science is questioning.
Ham: Are you telling this little girl that she is just an animal? Jason Sussberg started his career working in sports television as a
Bill: The word “just” I disagree with. She’s a wonderful, producer/editor for the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State
beautiful animal! Warriors. After earning an MFA from Stanford University, he co-
Girl: I believe Mr. Ham. founded Structure Films with David Alvarado, who also holds an MFA
Bill: Okay, so when you get older, just look at the world. I from Stanford. Alvarado previously worked at PBS producing and
really encourage you to go to college. shooting documentaries.

We reveal the human side of a much larger social


friction between science and anti-science.
4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 7
Book Review

Richard Dawkins’
Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist
by Mark Kolsen

S ince 2003, the Atheist Alliance of


America has bestowed the annual Richard
Dawkins Award on an outstanding
individual activist whose “public postures
mirror the uncompromising nontheist
life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins.”
The prestigious list of recipients includes
Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Penn & Teller,
Steven Pinker, Lawrence Krauss, Julia Sweeney, and
Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This year, American Atheists’ President
David Silverman was given the honor.
When Richard Dawkins presented Hitchens with
the 2011 award at the Texas Freethought Convention in
Houston, I was there. It was a bittersweet day I will never
forget. Hitchens was dying from cancer, and as he shuff led to
the stage and spoke, my stomach f lipped. Here, right in front of
me, was the man whose brilliant writing had, for decades, nurtured
my intellectual transition to atheism. The view from my front-
row seat told me that his remaining time was short. I wept for
hours when he died only two months later. Occasionally,
I still feel a twinge in my chest when I call out to Hitch,
my West Highland terrier named in his memory.
Dawkins himself presented the award to
Hitchens, and I was moved by his admission that it
was difficult for him to find the words to adequately
honor “the best orator [he] ever heard.” How could
he fully capture the complexity of a man “uniquely
placed in his own multi-dimensional space …
known throughout the world as one of the leading
public intellectuals anywhere?” Yet, in twelve
stirring minutes, Dawkins not only honored,
but also passionately expressed his own, and his
audience’s, love for Hitchens. I probably wasn’t
the only one in the crowd who felt choked up.
In Science in the Soul, a new anthology of
Dawkins’ older essays and speeches, “Honouring

The book reveals yet another talent of his:


the ability to write satirical short stories.
8 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
“The Great Bus Mystery” is followed by “Jarvis and the
Family Tree,” another delightful Wodehouse parody which
delineates the mechanism of natural selection. Both pieces
offer laughs as well as lessons.
Science in the Soul includes several pieces on controversial
public issues. In “The Dead Hand of Plato,” he blames the
winner-take-all process of the Electoral College in the U.S.
on Plato’s concept of essentialism, “one of the most pernicious
ideas in all history.” Just as Plato felt that circles and
squares each had distinct essences, state legislators sporting
“discontinuous minds” feel that candidates with fifty percent
or more of the vote are winners deserving all state electoral
votes, and that the rest deserve none. Thanks to this system,
George Bush won the 2000 election and Donald Trump the

Richard Dawkins
Photo by Lalla Ward

Hitch” is fully reprinted with a moving afterword. It is a


powerful antidote to those who view Dawkins, or scientists
in general, as cold, heartless rationalists. Like “Memories of
a Maestro,” Dawkins’ Oxford lecture commemorating Nobel-
prize winning biologist Niko Tinbergen, ”Honouring Hitch”
illustrates that “collegiality, cooperativeness of spirit, and
mutual respect. . .[are] … among the chief values of science”
and, as editor Gillian Sommerscales notes in her introduction,
of civilized society. No one is an island.
I have always appreciated Dawkins’ wry, and often biting,
sense of humor that he brings to his public appearances. But
Science in the Soul reveals yet another talent of his: the
ability to write satirical short stories. In “The Great Bus
Mystery,” a tribute to Ariane Sherine’s campaign for better
acceptance of atheism by advertising on British buses,
Dawkins parodies P.G. Wodehouse while “debunking the
theology of atonement.” In one of many hilarious exchanges,
Jarvis, a servant at the Dregs Club, informs Old Woofter that
Jesus allegedly died to atone for Adam’s sins.
Woofter replies, “Just as I thought. So God—the all-
powerful and all-knowing creator of everything that opens
and shuts, this paragon above the collarbone, this fount of
wisdom and power—couldn’t think of a better way to forgive
our sins than to turn himself over to the gendarmerie and
have himself served up on toast. Jarvis, answer me this. If God 2016 election, even though both lost the popular vote. Two
wanted to forgive us, then why didn’t he just forgive us? Why states, Maine and Nebraska, recognize the unfairness of
the torture? Whence the whips and scorpions, the nails and this winner-take-all system and instead allocate electors in
the agony? Why not just forgive us? Try that on your Victrola.” proportion to the popular vote.
Continued on page 35

It is a powerful antidote to those who view Dawkins,


or scientists in general, as cold, heartless rationalists.

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 9


A Virtuous Cycle
How Truth Can Win In Our Public Discourse
by Gleb Tsipursky and Agnes Vishnevkin

I s there anything we can do


to ward off the barrage of
misinformation that so easily
infiltrates the media? Seems
impossible, doesn’t it? Deception
us with. As a result, we are
experiencing a low point for
truth in public speech, when
“fake news” and “alternative
facts” appear to be winning against
proved such a successful strategy real news and actual facts. However,
for political causes and individual there are a number of effective
candidates in the UK and US elections strategies each of us can use to tilt the
in 2016 that the Oxford English Dictionary scale to truth. And while we atheists fancy
named “post-truth” as its word of the year, with ourselves as especially good at detecting baseless
the definition of “relating to or denoting circumstances claims, we are not immune to every untruth that comes
in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public our way.
opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Pro-Truth Pledge is an offshoot of Intentional Insights
Despite the dearth of truth in our public sphere, we think Inc. (intentionalinsights.org), a non-profit organization we
that fighting back is both possible and productive. Getting founded in 2014 to promote truth, rational thinking, and
politicians and other public figures to stop lying, while also wise decision-making by using strategies based on research
encouraging and enabling ordinary citizens to reject lies, is in behavioral science. With the intense escalation of lies
the goal we set with the Pro-Truth Pledge, which aims to fight and irrationality during the 2016 presidential campaign, we
lies in our public sphere by combining behavioral science decided to focus on the fight for truth and rationality. When
with crowdsourcing. Hundreds of public figures have taken the results of our presidential election made it evident that
the pledge, including dozens of politicians who are now being post-truth politics are here to stay, we decided that merely
monitored to ensure they stay honest. continuing with our typical publicity strategies of writing
We created the Pro-Truth Pledge because it’s a fact that articles, as well as a book, and giving interviews on radio, TV,
humans are easily deceived. At this stage of our evolution, and podcasts wouldn’t be enough.
the brain is not wired to effectively and rationally process all For many years now, traditional gatekeepers for ensuring
of the misinformation that social and digital media bombard the veracity of public information—news media, civic leaders,

For many years now, the traditional


gatekeepers for ensuring the veracity of public
information have been trusted less and less.
10 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
There are a number of effective strategies
each of us can use to tilt the scale to truth.
scientists—have been trusted less and less. Social and digital • Celebrate those who retract incorrect statements
media have only accelerated this trend, exemplifying the and update their beliefs based on the truth.
potential of technological disruption to undermine our
democracy. Our information ecosystem is a nightmare scenario. As a skeptic and atheist, you may already be doing
everything described here, and if so, the Pro-Truth Pledge
How Does the Pledge Work? allows you to make a clear public statement while also calling
Fortunately, if we can create a mechanism that on public figures to take the pledge. If you are not, now is
differentiates the liars from the truth-tellers, we have a hope of your chance to commit to the kind of behaviors you would
protecting our democracy. At the same time, tilting the scale want our public figures to follow and to challenge them to
toward truth requires addressing the psychological factors make this commitment along with you.
that cause people to tolerate untruths. Because one pledges to make an “earnest effort,” pledging
The Pro-Truth Pledge incorporates twelve counter- doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect in following these
measures to the psychological factors that foster misinfor- principles; just make a good-faith effort to adhere to the
mation. Signers pledge their earnest efforts to make it a behaviors. The pledge does not address private speech,
practice to: spiritual speech, or personal experience—only public
discourse. In some cases, misinformation is obvious, but for
• Verify: Fact-check information to confirm it is the times when it it is not, the pledge calls on signees to rely
true before accepting and sharing it. on credible fact-checking websites.
• Balance: Share the whole truth, even if some Rather than going through the process of vetting
aspects do not support your opinion. fact-checking organizations or running the risk of being
• Cite: Share your sources so that others can accused of bias for endorsing certain sources and not
verify the information others, we are relying on the same sources that Facebook
• Clarify: Distinguish between your opinion and is using in its endeavor to detect fake news posts: Snopes,
the facts. Politifact, FactCheck, and AP Factcheck. Facebook has
• Acknowledge when others share true significant financial interest in working with only credible
information, even when you disagree with their and nonpartisan organizations. And while Facebook does
point of view. deserve criticism for its reluctance to make a truly stringent
• Reevaluate if your information is challenged, effort, we appreciate its recent partnership with these
and retract it if you cannot verify it. organizations.
• Defend others when they come under attack Because science is the best method to determine the
for sharing true information, even when you workings of the physical world, a clear scientific consensus
disagree with their point of view. is another source that signees can use to determine the truth
• Align your opinions and your actions with true if fact-checking websites have not evaluated a certain claim.
information. This consensus may come in the form of position statements
• Fix: Ask people to retract information that by legitimate scientific organizations or the result of meta-
reliable sources have disproved, even if they are analysis studies (evaluations of a series of other prominent
your friends or allies. studies) that come to a clear determination.
• Educate: Compassionately inform those around As part of signing the pledge, you also have the
you to stop using unreliable sources, even if opportunity to receive our newsletter and action alerts,
these sources support your point of view. follow us on social media, ask your elected representatives to
• Defer: Recognize the opinions of experts as more take the pledge, be included on a public list of pledge-takers,
likely to be accurate when the facts are disputed. join an online and/or in-person community of other pledge-

We atheists fancy ourselves as especially good


at detecting baseless claims, but we are not
immune to every untruth that comes our way.
4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 11
You will be helping to promote the truth about
atheists, who are still assumed by most people
in this country to be without a moral compass.
takers, and volunteer to be a pledge advocate. The role of and searched Trump’s feed. He could not find the original
pledge advocate consists of any of the following: tweet, and while Trump may have deleted it, the candidate
edited his post to say, “Due to a Truth Pledge I have taken,
• Promoting the pledge to other private citizens I have to say I have not been able to verify this post.” He
• Advocating for public figures to take the pledge indicated that he would be more careful with future postings.
• Monitoring and evaluating whether a public figure A retired US intelligence officer (who prefers to remain
sticks to their commitment anonymous due to his profession) took the pledge. He
described how soon after taking it, he saw an article “that
Furthermore, whenever they share a news story on social played right to my particular political biases.” His first
media, signees are encouraged to add a sentence stating that inclination “was to share it as quickly and widely as possible.
they took the pledge and have fact-checked the article before But then I remembered the pledge I’d signed and put the
posting it. Pledge-takers are asked to share publicly that brakes on.” The story turned out to be false. He said, “That
they’ve taken the pledge and request others to hold them experience has led me to be much more vigilant in assessing,
accountable to the pledge. Signees can also add a badge to and sharing, stories that appeal to my political sensibilities.”
their online media presence and a logo on the back of their This is not an anti-Trump pledge. There are plenty of
business cards. honest Republicans and plenty of dishonest Democrats.
Public figures get a positive reputation for signing the Something bigger is at stake: preventing the inevitable
pledge because it conveys that they are more trustworthy consequence of growing corruption and authoritarianism
than those public figures who choose not to. The pledge that follows from post-truth politics. The greater the number
provides external credibility for public figures by asking of people who take the pledge, the better the impact. We
volunteers to evaluate the statements of public figures who talked to a number of politicians and other public figures
sign the pledge, ensuring they stick to the truth and asking who indicated the pledge is too burdensome for them to take
them to clarify their statements, if needed. Anyone who now, and to come back when we have more people. So when
takes the pledge can volunteer to help evaluate. you sign the pledge, you are giving other people a reason to
do so as well.
Is the Pledge Effective? Fake news, alternative facts, and post-truth politics are a
John Kirbow took the pledge. He is a US Army Special systemic problem, and without an intervention by everyone
Operations veteran who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, who cares about the truth, they will continue. Failing to
and Europe in the areas of communications and social terrain take action is like laughing at a racist joke: it condones the
mapping. In “How the Pro-Truth Pledge Has Impacted Me” behavior instead of standing against it.
(a June 6 blog post on Medium.com), he wrote, “I’ve verbally Publicly sharing your commitment to the pledge has an
or digitally passed on bad information numerous times, I am added benefit for atheism. You will be helping to promote
fairly sure, as a result of honest mistakes or lack of vigorous the truth about atheists, who are still assumed by most
fact checking.” people in this country to be without a moral compass.
After taking the pledge, he felt “an open commitment to a So be part of the solution, not part of the problem: go to
certain attitude” to “think hard when I want to play an article ProTruthPledge.org, sign the pledge, and join the fight.
or statistic which I’m not completely sold on.” He finds that Our democracy needs us.
the pledge “really does seem to change one’s habits,” which
helps push him both to correct his own mistakes with an
“attitude of humility and skepticism, and of honesty and Gleb Tsipursky, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at The Ohio State
moral sincerity,” and also to encourage “friends and peers to University, the president of Intentional Insights, Inc. (intentionalinsights.
do so as well.” org), and author of The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide
Michael Smith, an Idaho candidate for Congress, took (forthcoming). He co-authored Finding Your Purpose Using Science with
the pledge. Some time later, he posted on his Facebook wall a Agnes Vishnevkin , MBA, vice-president of Intentional Insights. She is a
screenshot of a tweet by Donald Trump criticizing minority former vice-president of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, an
and disabled children. After being called out on it, he went American Atheists affiliate.

12 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


Support American Atheists by purchasing an autographed copy for
$50 ($25 is tax-deductible where allowed by law), and receive a free
one-year membership. Order online at Atheists.org/FightingGod or
send payment to American Atheists, P.O. Box 158, Cranford, NJ 07016.

David Silverman
President of American Atheists

“A sometimes funny, always informative look into the mind


behind America’s frontline of Atheism. Dave reminds us that
religion is everyone’s enemy.”
~ Taslima Nasrin, international human rights activist and author of Shame and Revenge

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 13


Letter from Israel
by Joe Postove

M y niece celebrated her twenty-ninth birthday the


other night in her new four-story house, and we all had a fine
time. Often, when you get a house full of Orthodox Jews, the
Shabbos table and other get-togethers. However, most ultra-
Orthodox, anti-Zionist Jews (you would be amazed at the
number of them) who, by definition, believe verbatim the
Mount Sinai cartoon, are far too smart and reserved to declare
feathers fly into Torah talk. I catch a break when two Jews
are parsing the Torah, since they know I don’t buy the whole such things in a voice any louder than a whisper. It is one of
national revelation story at Mount Sinai in the first place. the dirty little secrets of Judaism that many regular Orthodox
Frequently, there are intramural battles between Jews where I Jews also believe such hateful rubbish.
can stand back and just let them dig themselves into their own Before eating Shabbos with Moshe at my sister’s a few
supernatural holes. nights later, I spoke to five of the people who were there early,
As the evening was winding down, a friendly debate got and I asked each one if the Bible actually says that God would
going between a good friend of mine, Moshe, a sixty-five- wipe out the Jews, Hitler style. All of them agreed that it could
year-old man who believes that the literal word of God was be understood that way (!), but none of them would come
transmitted on Mount Sinai to Moses in front of the entire right out and honestly convey what I knew was in their hearts.
Jewish nation, and a smart seventeen-year-old who is up on That’s one of the reasons I like Moshe so much. Unlike the
her Jewish studies. It wasn’t long before the friendly debate others, he has no inner censor telling him to cool it, no matter
spiraled downward. I stayed out of this disputation over a how difficult it is for him to articulate an opinion. As this
fairy tale and stood by, watching two of my brethren bruise question was being hammered out, I interjected only once. I
each other good as the fierce fundamentalist man faced the asked Moshe if Hitler was indeed doing the work of the Lord,
somewhat less vigorous young woman. She has the quality of why did he ultimately fail? Moshe, who is a fan of Iran nuking
some uncertainty. He does not. Israel to bring on the messiah, said that he didn’t know. I could
As the conversation turned into a bareknuckle piece of see the frustration in his eyes.
performance art, I just stood there and enjoyed two people, He and I live in the same apartment complex and will sit
both of whom have a deep belief in and love of God, debate what outside on occasion, drinking beer and talking. I can talk to
was in his inaugural manuscript to the Jewish nation. Moshe anyone, even the most enthusiastically irrational men and
held the stage more often than the girl, as she was intimidated women, and never throw up my hands and walk away in
by the power of his voice and—his most charming feature, disgust. Too many people do that, and it makes you look weak
at least to me—his absolute refusal to mitigate, in any way, if you are a philosophically lucid person. But staying in the
what he said: Not only were the Jews responsible for their own conversation with this type—and their absurd crankiness—
destruction at the hands of Hitler, we were also commanded, will help you with the next nut job. Handling nut jobs is a
because of some trouble with a guy named Ham, to consider requirement of those who wish to engage, from time to time,
all black people savages and without morality. Finally, after an in intellectual sparring.
hour of being the target of Moshe’s bombardments, she threw My advice to the girl a few nights after the birthday party
up her hands and walked away. (she wanted to know my take on it) was to never walk away
Moshe believes that the Holocaust was God’s judgment when you find yourself engaged in the examination of a
over the Jewish people as punishment for abandoning his law. metaphysical question—even if you are dumbfounded by
I’ve heard this before from less aggressive people at many a your opponent. Besides, it’s not possible to walk away. You

We all lose when superior ideas are flattened by the


brutishness and the volume of someone’s voice.
14 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
I have seen the mysticism up close, and I despise
it and grieve for the wasted minds who study
nothing but religious theories and notions.
can only slink, and it damages your self-esteem and lowers to examine everything her intellect encounters. Despite all of
the regard others have for you. You’ll need both if, after her training and family pressure to conform, she has not let
slinging arrows and dodging bullets for far too long, you her instinct for truth to become infected...yet.
conclude that your opponent is hopeless. You can then stand My sister, on the other hand, was long ago captured by the
your ground, and you need not leave the room disgusted. irrationality of religion. But she still remains my best friend
Volley, and, when the match is over, express your disgust in and my only close family. Our shared childhood history is
front of everyone. Don’t be intimidated. We all lose when altogether divorced from religion. She thought, however, I
superior ideas are f lattened by the brutishness and the would buy into Orthodox Judaism after relocating to Israel.
volume of someone’s voice. She knows what I think and now understands, because I have
When Moshe and I talk, I say to him that the God of explained to her that my goodness does not come from God.
Mount Sinai does not exist. We do discuss things that matter, I would rather do a good thing without the expectation of her
but he knows where I stand, and I can give him a reason for eternal father looking over my shoulder with a reward, without
everything I say. He fears for my Jewish soul. I say that when cowering with the rest of the mob, and without praying for
I die I will cease to exist. We have carved out our territories. salvation.
I relocated to Israel from my native Virginia in 2011 to Israel continues to be for me a wonderful adventure. Rare
be closer to my sister, and the people in the U.S. who know are the places where one can encounter the evilest of ideas in
and love me thought I would be wearing a shtreimel (the big, otherwise good individuals. Christopher Hitchens was right:
cylindrical hat of the Hassidim), payot (earlocks), and a long religion poisons everything! It forces virtuous people, who are
black coat. Instead, I have become even stronger in my doubts. otherwise moral, to say and do things that, if not commanded
I have seen the mysticism up close, and I despise it and grieve by their invisible God, they themselves would condemn.
for the wasted minds who study nothing but religious theories After saying all of this, I must now admit to you that I
and notions. Men, who could otherwise be out in the world am not ready to take the whole plunge into atheism. But I’m
curing cancer or writing exciting philosophical tractates to getting wetter as each day passes here in Israel. There are way
make this a better planet, spend all their time “learning” and stations along any path, and I find myself skating on the edge
studying Torah. And when they are done, they turn around of freedom, away from God, with the atheists I have come to
and start over again. What a tragic ruin of fine minds. admire.
I explained to my young friend that Moshe did her a great But my sister f lew to New York recently, and I found myself
favor without intending to. I told her that, as an inquiring praying for her safe travels. Silly maybe...mystical for sure....
mind with a strong bent for truth, she will find herself in many but that’s where I am right now. But then it occurred to me
conversations with men and women of far stronger stuff than that I cannot pray to anything unless I hang onto its existence,
Moshe. If she’s lucky, she’ll encounter people who are more even if only by a single thread. I hate to be intellectually
intelligent, more rational, and more clever than the man reckless, even when I am sloppily subjective. I do know that
she debated at the party. And she must treat her exchange the thing I’m hanging on to is in no way associated with my
with Moshe as a free lesson in how to conduct herself in life, and it plays no part in the everyday working of the world.
argumentation. Planes crash every day, children die of AIDS, and innocent
She is as smart as Moshe is hopeless. His mind was lifted people are robbed of their freedom in the very nations that
long ago by the rabbis, those mystic thieves who wrangle most forcefully venerate the God concept.
fine, young intellects early on so that any true independence So why hang on? Why attach myself to this mysticism
is squashed before they can explore the world outside of when everything I know disabuses me of the idea? I don’t
religion. However, I hold out hope for this young girl. At know well enough to give a good answer. Call me a coward.
seventeen, she is not yet poisoned by the God concept entirely, But through the very act of writing this article, I have moved
even though she was born into an ultra-Orthodox family. Her further away from God.
window of opportunity is small, but her life, if she can escape
this perverted hellhole of thinking, will be large. She has more Joe Postove was a radio talk show host in Virginia and North Carolina
than an open mind. Hers is an active mind, ready and willing before moving to Israel. He is a work in progress.

Her window of opportunity is small, but her life, if she can


escape this perverted hellhole of thinking, will be large.
4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 15
Jesus:
Prophet of Peace
and Love or Purveyor
of Fear and Hate?
by Brian Bolton

M ultitudes of Christian commentators over


the past two millennia have proclaimed the
teachings of Jesus of Nazareth to be unsurpassed tenets of
spiritual wisdom and unexcelled guidelines for living a morally
responsible life. Hundreds of millions of devout believers are
absolutely convinced that they will conquer death and attain
documentation is abundant elsewhere in the New Testament
epistles and letters. The twenty precepts are listed along with
the supporting Bible verses from which they derive. The cited
verses and passages appear in the sidebar. This scriptural
evidence will enable readers to answer for themselves the
binary question that is the title of this article.
everlasting life because God sacrificed his son for their sins.
They are also convinced that Jesus didn’t really die. He was Prophet of Peace and Love
restored to life and subsequently ascended to heaven to spend It’s important to recognize that all of Jesus’ so-called
eternity with his father, and soon Jesus will return to Earth to unsurpassed teachings derive from the Hebrew scriptures
judge the wicked and rapture righteous believers up to heaven or commentaries on them, specifically the Mishna, a fact
with him. Countless books have been written extolling the documented by German biblical scholar Arthur Drews more
allegedly commendable features of the “Christian worldview” than a century ago. Because all of the biographical items in the
and the “Christ-centered life,” but, by contrast, few authors have Jesus composite story were taken from the mythical lives of
examined the unsavory side of Jesus’ personality and his less- two dozen earlier savior gods, it can be concluded that there is
than-meritorious behavior and opinions. nothing original in Jesus’ biography or his teachings.
For this presentation, I’ve formulated, in balanced fashion, A pervasive theme in the Gospel is the sharing of possessions
two sets of ten principles based on Jesus’ pronouncements. by Jesus’ disciples, which is consistent with his denunciation of
Although his directives come from the canonical gospels wealth and his advice to not worry about the necessities of daily
(the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), additional living because matters of this world are unimportant.

Few authors have examined the unsavory side


of Jesus’ personality.
16 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
There is nothing original in Jesus’
biography or his teachings.
1. The universal human duty is to help other people. (see “God Hates Children,” American Atheist, Second Quarter
Everyone has a moral responsibility for the well-being and 2017), Jesus commanded his followers to desert their families
happiness of others (Matt. 5:42, 25:31-46; Luke 6:30, 14:12- and abandon their children in order to join his missionary
14). effort. If these Jesus-sanctioned family values were practiced
2. The obligation to assist others extends to persons who today, a visit from child protective services would result and an
subscribe to different value systems. They deserve the same arrest would most likely follow.
treatment as friends and family members (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke The Old Testament’s patriarchal point of view dominates
6:27-28, 6:35). the sentiments and actions of Jesus that determine the role
3. The only acceptable form of human interaction is peaceful of women in his ministry. These episodes are too numerous
in nature. There is never any justification for interpersonal to record exhaustively here, so this list contains but a few of
aggression or violence (Matt. 5:9, 5:38-39, 26:51-52; Luke them. Slaves fared even worse than women, thanks to Jesus’
6:29). unquestioning acceptance of the institution of slavery. Eight of
4. Regardless of the misbehavior other people may commit, his forty parables include servants as prominent figures, and he
and no matter how serious the damage they may do, the only never condemned this immoral human relationship.
appropriate response is to forgive them (Matt. 6:14-15, 18:21- Moreover, he explicitly authorized the cruel master-slave
22, 18:34-35; Luke 23:34). relationship when he recommended beating disobedient slaves,
5. The goals in life that should be pursued are personal even if they are unknowingly disobedient. (Luke 12:47-48:
development and community service, rather than the The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get
acquisition of material possessions and wealth (Matt. 6:19-20, ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with
6:24; Mark 10:21; Luke 14:33, 18:22). many blows. But the one who does not know and does things
6. Criticism should be reserved for examination of one’s deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.)
own faults. No person is qualified to judge the motives of others
(Matt. 7:1-5; Luke 6:37, 6:41-42). 1. The vast majority of humankind face an irrevocable
7. Personal enjoyment is an important aspect of human eternity of horrific torture for failure to obey inviolable biblical
existence. Ceremonies and celebrations that commemorate commandments and teachings (Matt. 7:13-14, 7:26-27, 19:17;
major events and milestone occasions give life meaning (Matt. Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26, 13:22-30; John 8:51, 12:48, 15:6).
9:10-13, 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 5:29-32, 22:7-14; 2. Sacrificial offerings of innocent creatures are efficacious
John 2:1-10). for expiation of sin and for healing disease, especially the
8. Spiritual and religious exercises, including prayer, are shedding of human blood for remission of collective guilt
intensely personal activities that should be conducted in private (Matt. 5:23-24, 8:4, 26:28; Mark 10:45, 14:24; Luke 2:22-24,
to be truly meaningful (Matt. 6:5-6, Mark 11:24-26). 5:14, 22:20; John 1:29, 3:16, 6:53-54; 1 John 4:10).
9. The compassionate society will be realized when self- 3. In order to achieve the highest calling in life, acolytes
interest becomes the standard by which concern for other must permanently separate themselves from family members,
people is measured (Matt. 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27). including parents, siblings, spouses, and children (Matt. 10:34-
10. The infallible rule for monitoring individual behavior 37, 12:48-50, 19:29; Mark 3:34-35; Luke 8:19-21, 14:26,
is the principle of anticipated reciprocity. We should behave 18:29-30).
toward others as we prefer to be treated (Matt. 7:12, Luke 6:31). 4. Children are the possessions of their parents and should
be punished severely for their own misbehavior as well as the
Purveyor of Fear and Hate transgressions of their ancestors (Matt. 10:21, 15:4, 24:19;
Old Testament law constitutes the foundation for the Mark 7:10, 10:29-30, 13:12, 13:17; Luke 12:51-53, 19:43-44,
ethical and behavioral pronouncements of Jesus, as evidenced 23:28-29).
in his Sermon on the Mount where he said, “Do not think that I 5. Atonement for sinful thoughts and actions requires the
have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come physical mutilation of limbs and eyes, including emasculation
to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). With God’s to preserve godly purity (Matt. 5:29-30, 18:8-9, 19:11-12;
severe treatment of children in the Old Testament as the basis Mark 9:43-49).

Children should be punished severely for


the transgressions of their ancestors.
4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 17
Jesus Loves and Hates
6. Divorce and remarriage are prohibited in almost all
circumstances, with the single exception of documented
spousal infidelity. Marriage to a divorced person is proscribed
(Matt. 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).
7. Demonstrations of religious dedication include exorcising
demons, glossalalic possession, viper-tempting, consuming
The Bible tells us so
poison, and faith-healing (Matt. 8:16, 8:28-34; Mark 5:9-17,
16:17-18; Luke 10:8-9).
8. People can be forgiven for all of their sins, with the
Prophet 1 (also Matthew 5:42)
exception of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which can Matthew 25:31-40
never be forgiven, because it is the eternal sin (Matt. 12:31-32; When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with
Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10). him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be
gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from
9. Acceptable human relationships include communal
another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He
ownership of property, subordinate status of women, will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the
involuntary servitude, and collective punishment (Matt. 10:15, King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed
11:20-24, 27:55-56; Luke 8:1-3, 10:38-42, 11:27-28). by my Father. Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for
10. Those who renounce worldly success, desert family and you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave
home, eschew personal needs, and devote one’s mortal life to me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to
Jesus will be rewarded with everlasting existence (Matt. 6:19- drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes
21, 6:25, 10:39, 16:25-26, 19:21; Mark 8:35, 10:21; Luke 9:24, and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in
12:22, 14:33, 18:22). prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer
him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty
Analysis and Conclusion and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger
and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we
We use logical principles or rules of reasoned thought
see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply,
to reach valid conclusions. One class of strategies for logical “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
reasoning is that of syllogisms, which includes the framework brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
known as the alternative syllogism. In this syllogism, the major
premise specifies two alternatives connected by the words Luke 6:30
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to
“either…or,” where “either” may be inferred. you, do not demand it back.
If the minor premise affirms one alternative, this does not
compel the conclusion that the other alternative must be false. Luke 14:12-14
This is because the major premise only restricts the options to Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner,
do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives,
two possibilities. Contrary to popular misconception, it does
or your rich neighbors. If you do, they may invite you back and so
not limit the choice to one alternative or the other. In fact, both you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor,
alternatives may be true at the same time. the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although
Now we can answer the question posed in the article’s they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the
title. Jesus is both a prophet of peace and love and a purveyor righteous.”
of fear and hate. Of course, students of the gospel know that
both ten-point portraits are thoroughly accurate, scripture- Prophet 2 (also Luke 6:27-28 and Luke 6:35)
based summaries of Jesus’ mandates. This conclusion is fully
supported by the verses and passages cited. Matthew 5:43-48
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your
It should be pointed out that Jesus did not always obey
enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who
the instructions he promulgated for others. For example, he persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
exempted himself from the command to forgive others, because He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on
he was perfectly willing to send the majority of humankind to the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you,
hell forever. And while he condemned interpersonal violence, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
even in self-defense, he hypocritically incorporated extreme And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more
violence into his five Matthean slave parables (Matt. 18:23-35, than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as
21:33-46, 22:2-14, 24:45-51, 25:14-30). your heavenly Father is perfect.
While the two sets of Jesus’s ethical decrees are clearly not Luke 6:27-28
fully compatible moral visions, just a few precepts and directives But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to
are explicitly contradictory. As such, they accurately reflect the those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who
multiple personality disorder of the mythical central composite mistreat you.
character of the gospels. Of course, believers will still refuse Luke 6:35
to acknowledge this biblical truth even when confronted with But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without
the overwhelming evidence that Jesus is not an exemplary role expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great,
model for humanity. and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the
ungrateful and wicked.
Brian Bolton is a retired psychologist living in Georgetown, Texas.

18 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


Prophet 3 (also Matthew 5:38-39) Luke 5:29-32
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large
Matthew 5:9
crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect
Matthew 5:38-39 complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax
You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy
I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous,
cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. but sinners to repentance.”
Matthew 26:51-52 John 2:1-10
With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’
and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited
sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to
will die by the sword.” him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?”
Luke 6:29 Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water
someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding
from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the
jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them,
Prophet 4 (also Matthew 6:14-15 and 18:34-35) “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They
did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been
Matthew 18:21-22
turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall
the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the
I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven
bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine
times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-
first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much
seven times.”
to drink, but you have saved the best till now.”
Luke 23:34
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are
Prophet 8
doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Matthew 6:5-6
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to
Prophet 5 (also Matthew 6:19-20, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22)
pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be
Matthew 6:24 seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray
the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is
cannot serve both God and money. done in secret, will reward you.
Luke 14:33 Mark 11:24-26
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you
cannot be my disciples. have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if
you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father
Prophet 6 (also Luke 6:37 Luke 6:41-42) in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Matthew 7:1-5
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge Prophet 9
others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be Matthew 22:39
measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How
Mark 12:31
can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first
commandment greater than these.
take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to
remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Luke 10:27
He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and
Prophet 7 (also Matthew 9:10-13, Mark 14:12-16, Luke 22:7-14)
love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 26:17-19
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples
Prophet 10
came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make
preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the Matthew 7:12
city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and Luke 6:31
prepared the Passover. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 19


Jesus commanded his followers to desert
their families and abandon their children.
Purveyor 1 (also Matthew 7:13-14, Matthew 19:17, Luke 13:22- against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of
30, John 8:51, John 12:48) his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more
than me is not worthy of me. Anyone who loves their son or daughter
Matthew 7:26-27
more than me is not worthy of me.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them
into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The Mark 3:34-35
rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here
against that house, and it fell with a great crash. are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my
brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 8:38
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful Luke 14:26
generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife
in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a
person cannot be my disciple.
Luke 9:26
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be
ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Purveyor 4 (also Matthew 10:21, Matthew 24:19, Mark 7:10,
Father and of the holy angels. Mark 13:12, Mark 13:17, Luke 12:51-53, Luke 23:28-29)
John 15:6 Matthew 15:4
If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and For God said, “Honor your father and mother,” and “Anyone who
withers. Such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. curses their father or mother is to be put to death.”
Mark 10:29-30
Purveyor 2 (also Matthew 5:23-24, Matthew 8:4, Matthew “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or
26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 5:14, John 1:29, John 3:16) brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for
Mark 10:45 me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and
to give his life as a ransom for many. fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal
life.”
Luke 2:22-24
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law Luke 19:43-44
of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an
to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every
male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within
keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: a pair of doves or your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you
two young pigeons. did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.
Luke 22:20
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is Purveyor 5 (also Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:8-9)
the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Matthew 19:11-12
John 6:53-54 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born
Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by
my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for
at the last day.” the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this
should accept it.”
1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Mark 9:43-49
Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.* If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to
enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire
never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.
Purveyor 3 (also Matthew 12:48-50, Matthew 19:29, Luke 8:19-
It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and
21, Luke 18:29-30)
be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck
Matthew 10:34-37 it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the worms that
not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched. Everyone will be
against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law salted with fire.

20 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


Purveyor 6 (also Matthew 5:32) Luke 12:10
And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
Matthew 19:9
but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual
immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.
Purveyor 9 (also Matthew 10:15, Luke 10:38-42)
Mark 10:11-12
He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another Matthew 11:20-24
woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his
and marries another man, she commits adultery.” miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to
you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were
Luke 16:18
performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would
Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits
have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be
adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will
Purveyor 7 (also Matthew 8:16, Mark 5:9-17) go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had
Matthew 8:28-34 been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment
demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were than for you.”
so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with Matthew 27:55-56
us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had
before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were
of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the
send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came mother of Zebedee’s sons.
out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep
Luke 8:1-3
bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another,
off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were
happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went
with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits
out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to
and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons
leave their region.
had come out, Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s
Mark 16:17-18 household, Susanna, and many others. These women were helping to
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they support them out of their own means.
will drive out demons, they will speak in new tongues, they will pick
Luke 11:27-28
up snakes with their hands, and when they drink deadly poison, it will
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out,
not hurt them at all. They will place their hands on sick people, and
“Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied,
they will get well.
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 10:8-9
When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.
Purveyor 10 (also Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 10:39, Matthew
Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God has
16:25-26, Matthew 19:21, Mark 8:35, Luke 12:22, Luke 14:33,
come near to you.”
Luke 18:22)
Matthew 6:25
Purveyor 8
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
Matthew 12:31-32 drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than
And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but food, and the body more than clothes?
blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks
Mark 10:21
a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said.
speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age
“Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have
or in the age to come.
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mark 3:28-30
Luke 9:24
Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their
they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never
life for me will save it.
be forgiven. They are guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because
they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” *This example is the only verse not from the canonical gospels.

Jesus exempted himself from the command to


forgive others, because he was perfectly willing to
send the majority of humankind to hell forever.

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 21


#GodToo
He’s fired.

I n the middle of a Kansas City


blizzard in 1985, Katilyn Pulcher
was born into a fundamentalist
Christian family. Brainwashed at
a young age to believe a monster
in the sky would punish her soul
for eternity unless she complied
entirely with all the rules in the
Bible, she strove to be the perfect
daughter. However, when she was
in her mid-twenties, she began to
question the reality of God when a
relative struggling with alcoholism
wasn’t helped by her family’s prayers
and continued to deteriorate despite
them. Around that time, after
watching the Ricky Gervais movie
The Invention of Lying, the seeds
of real doubt were planted, and she
began her trip down the clickhole
toward atheism.
Eight years later, and over thirty
years since the blizzard, she fired
God and wrote a book to create her
own storm that Christian leaders
did not see in the forecast: Status
Quon’t: A Woman’s Perspective
on How Christianity Was Never
About God. The following is an
excerpt adapted for this magazine.

22 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


I n any system of life, the status quo seeks to maintain
itself until violently forced to change. We see this in
economies, social groups, and even earthquakes. The very
ground we stand on does not budge without a fuss. No matter
how great the need for a new status quo, nor how grotesque
used to blame Eve for something that Adam did of his own
free will. She can present Adam with an airtight case full of
reasons why he should eat the apple, but, at the end of the day,
it’s his choice. Nonetheless, the culture of blaming women for
controlling (or failing to control) grown men’s thoughts and
or oppressive the current one is, its upheaval requires choices began here. Eve is the first case of victim-blaming.
tremendous effort and mass buy-in. Even the change of a How many of you have thought about the fact that God was
status quo as horrific as slavery required a bloody civil war. actually the first one to say to a woman, “Yeah, but what were
Although challenging a status quo can be scary, with you wearing?”
potentially severe ramifications, it always starts with something I was raised in an extremely conservative church that
as simple as a probing question. For me, the question was, “Is enforced all sorts of rules governing women’s clothing. Our
everything I learned in church and in the Bible actually true, dress code was created to blame women for men’s sexual
and if not, then what is the truth?” My book does not give a thoughts and actions, but similar logic was not applied to their
definitive answer to establish a new status quo because I don’t alcohol consumption. However, we don’t shut down every bar
want people to blindly follow advice from me any more than in America so alcoholics aren’t tempted to drink. Instead, we
I want them to blindly follow advice from the Bible. What I set up twelve-step programs for them to find support and hold
hope for is a status quon’t, a dynamic state of critical thought, each other accountable for their consumption.
authenticity, and personalized belief systems—the antithesis Similarly, we don’t evacuate non-Caucasians so racists feel
of groupthink. more comfortable. Telling all women to cover themselves
Let’s start by understanding some things about Christianity. up so men aren’t tempted to grope, rape, or verbally abuse
Most believers take for granted that the apostles were God’s them is an equally ridiculous request, but it’s been granted for
ghostwriters, transcribing messages they were allegedly centuries. It is as impossible as it is unfair to try to change an
receiving in real time. In reality, the gospels were written environment to prevent all types of acting out. The urge to
one hundred years after the supposed death of Jesus. And act out is what needs to be addressed. But hey, why would a
churchgoers are typically given Cliffs Notes of those gospels, country hold men accountable for their urges when…
rather than the entire text. An isolated verse or two can be
interpreted any number of ways, but would lose all credibility Nobody’s Perfect, Not Even Their God
if the rest of the chapter were read, or if verses with conflicting Christians believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-
messages were read the following Sunday. loving God who never makes mistakes. But in order to
The scriptures were not inspired by a divine being. They explain the vastly different varieties of human existence,
were written exclusively by men to control the behavior of one has to admit that at least one of those adjectives does
other people, women especially, using the number-one source not accurately describe God. It is not possible for a perfect,
of human motivation: fear. To produce this fear, they created loving God to have created and still co-exist with so much
an eternal, omnipresent threat (God) and preached obedience pain and suffering.
to him as the only way to avoid eternal punishment. It worked After testing into the gifted program in elementary school,
beautifully and still controls the lives of many Americans today, I was told by my parents, “You are smarter than both of us put
plaguing their choices of politicians and creating behavior that together. There is nothing you cannot do.” However, fearing
leads to self-oppression. As I became an adult, I realized that my ego would inflate to unmanageable proportions, they
I couldn’t follow a leader who didn’t respect me and whom I refused to tell me my IQ score.
didn’t trust—let alone one I couldn’t see or hear—so I had to I remember being in church wondering why God put such
fire God. In my opinion, all women should do the same. Along a tremendously capable brain in my female body because
with him, the… during the service, the pastor read Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives,
submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband
Outdated Policy Manual Must Go is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church,
The first section that needs updating is the dress code. The his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits
original dress code began in the Garden of Eden with Adam to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their
and Eve sewing fig leaves together to cover their loins after husbands.”
eating the forbidden fruit. This story of the talking snake is I was also familiar with 1 Timothy 2:11-12: “A woman

The point is not to get them to think


like us, it’s to get them to think at all.
4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 23
God was actually the first one to say to a
woman, “Yeah, but what were you wearing?”
But, say I marry an intelligent man instead and develop a
health problem in my reproductive system. Am I to submit to
his decision about organs he doesn’t have, even though I’m
the one who knows exactly where and how badly it hurts? The
scripture says “submit to their husbands in everything,” so if I
follow that rule, then I have to do what my husband says, even if
it’s the wrong move. Even if I know it’s going to kill me, or ruin
my chances of happiness, and that I can make a better choice if
I think and decide for myself, I have to do what he says. Using
the Bible as a guide for living your life is a dangerous endeavor,
especially if you’re female.
If you believe that God is perfect, then wouldn’t it make
more sense for God to have put my brain in a man, where it could
have been used? Did he make a mistake? Devout Christians
will tell you that’s not possible because God is perfect. One
could argue God simply put this brain in my body because
he intended for me to never marry. I would counter and ask
why he would give me a brain powerful enough to question
his very existence and a will so strong it could disseminate my
thoughts to a widespread audience via my book.
I may never marry; time will tell. However, I can tell you
for sure that there are plenty of women who are married and
capable of making better decisions than their husbands. To
waste powerful brains merely because they are put in female
bodies is hogwash.
Katilyn Pulcher My powerful childhood brain could also never find a
comforting answer to the question…
must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over When is Dad Coming Home, and When is God Coming
a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first Home?
created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, Devout Christians prepare all their lives for “the second
but the woman being deceived, and fell into transgression. But coming,” the day when Jesus is supposed to return to Earth,
women will be preserved through the bearing of children if take all the good people to heaven, and cast all the bad people
they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” into hell. They will tell you that they very much look forward
This all made it very clear to me that God did not want to this day because they are certain they will be in the group
me using this intelligent brain that he put in my head. So, at going to heaven. They are literally sitting around with bated
the age of seven, I was already wondering why God would give breath, ready to jump at a moment’s notice to do whatever
me a tool I wasn’t supposed to use. According to scripture, if someone who abandoned them thousands of years ago wants
I marry a developmentally impaired male who is incapable of them to do.
making sound financial decisions and taking care of his health, In the real world, however, the triumphant return of an
I am, nonetheless, required to submit to him. earthly father after a prolonged absence is often not an event

These people convince themselves


that life is not meant to be enjoyed.
24 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
What if the mere presence of birth control is
a message from God that you should use it?
that is celebrated. It wasn’t until recently that I connected the a higher standard than that to which I was told to hold Jesus
dots between the story of the second coming and my strained himself. If Christians accept that Jesus isn’t here right now,
relationship with my own father. He worked long hours (by then they certainly could accept that my father wasn’t, and
choice), and as a result, one of the things he had in common so should I. As a result, my father became unaccountable to
with Jesus was that I never knew when either of them was me. I now fully understand that the message I absorbed in
coming home. childhood was that men need only be there when they want
In my early years, I would try to stay up as late as I could in to be, and you better drop everything and come running when
the hopes that I’d see him. Then I got used to him being gone they are.
As I became an adult, I continued to accept
Jesus and Mo ©jesusandmo.net
crumbs of attention from my father. I’d get brief
phone calls every month or so, and I’d see him a few
times a year, but usually only if I travelled home. For
nearly ten years, I’ve lived in a city that is a one-hour
plane ride from his home. It wasn’t until I bought my
own house and he refused to come see it without
my estranged mother that everything clicked. He
doesn’t feel the need to come see me for me to keep
loving him and to maintain a “relationship” with him.
Clearly, Jesus feels the same as my father does.
My first relationship with a man was with my
father and, as a child, I believed my second to be
with God. Therefore, what I had been conditioned
to accept from both became what I accepted from all
men. Looking at my relationship history, I see that
I dated the type of men who were familiar to me:
distant men. I dated workaholics, exercise addicts,
and alcoholics, all of whom picked different poisons
but shared the trait of absenteeism.
Just like I didn’t know how to hold my father to
a higher standard than my God, I didn’t know how
to hold my boyfriends to a higher standard than my
own father. I didn’t feel I could expect a boyfriend to
spend more time with me than my own father had.
I also couldn’t get mad at him without feeling my
suppressed rage at my father, and I didn’t want to go
there.
When my dad finally chose not to come visit
and started to resent him, so I’d pretend to be asleep when he just after my thirtieth birthday, I was forced to face my rage.
got home. I didn’t know how to express how abandoned and An important decision accompanied said rage. I decided that
insignificant I felt. I also thought that expressing these feelings if I am going to respect myself in one relationship, I have to
would be unfair because it would mean I was holding him to respect myself in all of them. I can’t make an exception for

Using the Bible as a guide for living your life


is dangerous, especially if you’re female.
4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 25
I wondered why God put such a tremendously
capable brain in my female body.
one person who treats me poorly but not the others. I could right now, sitting across from me on the couch as I write this.
no longer be okay with my father not showing up for me if I But he’s not —because he chooses not to be.
was going to dump my boyfriend for the same reason. Both My father is human, not an omnipotent, all-powerful, and
relationships had to end. all-knowing being. If he is able to be in my company right now
The issue is not the person, it’s the behavior of not showing with all the restraints of space and time, Jesus could absolutely
up. Parental status does not exempt someone from being an be here, too. If he really did revive himself from the grave, a
asshole. To truly comprehend this lesson, I had to take myself quick trip back to Earth should be a piece of cake.
outside the status quo of maintaining a relationship with my The lesson that my own father could be here for me but
parents no matter what. chooses not to is, admittedly, a very hard pill to swallow.
It hurts because the status quo teaches us that
parents always love and prioritize their children
more than anyone and anything else. But we learn
our definition of love from the way our parents
treat us. As a kid trying to make sense of why my
parents told me they loved me but still made me
feel lonely and forgotten, I just decided love wasn’t
supposed to make you feel good.
As I grew older, I met men who did show me
love by making me feel good and making an effort
to be around me consistently, but I pushed them
away. I still needed to believe that my dad loved me
more than these good men did. (If any of you are
reading this, you know who you are, and I’m sorry.
I literally had to be completely alone or surrounded
by people who made me feel unimportant for my
father’s love to be better in comparison to yours.)
Then came the phase of relationships with the
only men who seemed legitimately less available
than my dad: men in the military or men who
lived in another city.
The time during which I needed my father
around most has passed. My childhood is over,
so I’m left with the decision of what to do if he
finally chooses to come around and build a closer
relationship with me. My brain has been crammed
with religious agendas from childhood (honor
thy father and mother) and societal agendas
in adulthood (“they’re family” is supposed to
excuse all manner of offenses). I’m expected to
keep the proverbial door open to him for life and
allow him to walk right back in when he decides
to show up, no matter when or how infrequently.
Christians are expected to do the same for Jesus.
But regardless of what I’m expected to do, it will be
me who decides whether to keep the door open
My father was and is capable of spending more time with for my father’s “second coming.”
me than he did when I was a child. He’s self-employed and I don’t believe everyone deserves unconditional love and
sets his own hours. He has always had his own car and enough forgiveness from everyone else, and that’s not a bad thing.
money to pay for gas or plane tickets. Hell, he could be here There are over seven billion people in the world. If you’re

26 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


4TH QUARTER 2017 Self portrait
www.atheists.org by Katilyn
| AMERICAN Pulcher
ATHEIST | 27
People do not write laws and rules
to persecute themselves.
born into a group of people, or you marry someone that a limited time, that you may devote yourselves
humiliates and abuses you, I believe you need to leave and to prayer; but then come together again, so
find other people whose conditions through which you need that Satan may not tempt you because of your
to love them are not unforgivable. And if we find ourselves lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
attracted to the people we choose to surround ourselves
with, we will inevitably be thinking about… Slaves were bought and commanded to serve their owners’
desires, and brides were bought with a dowry to serve their
The “S” Word husbands desires back in Biblical times. Do you see the
When I started to lose my faith, I spent a lot of time similarity?
browsing the internet to find out what the Bible actually says Other verses, like Exodus 22:16, talk about paying for
about all of those values I was taught. In my quest to learn what sex: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies
the Bible has to say about premarital sex, I stumbled upon with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his
Deuteronomy 22:20-21: “But if the thing is true, that evidence wife.” Nothing is mentioned about the woman’s desire, or lack
of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall thereof, to marry the man in question.
bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, This is why so many devout Christians are fearful of sex. Some
and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, are afraid that they will be cast into hell, others that they will
because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring have to marry someone just because they slept with them. On
in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your top of that, women are implicitly told that their desires for love
midst.” and sexual satisfaction don’t matter at all. If someone marries a
The Bible was obviously written solely by men because person with whom they have no sexual chemistry, these rules will
no woman in her right mind would write or even believe make them miserable. They won’t look for satisfaction outside
something so damaging and potentially fatal. I’m sure it’s no their marriage, and they won’t end their marriage because their
coincidence that it says nothing about a man being stoned God hates divorce, according to Malachi 2:16: “For the man
to death if he is not a virgin when he marries. It’s also no who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the
coincidence that African-Americans had nothing to do with God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of
drafting segregation laws. People do not write laws and rules hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
to persecute themselves. This passage proves that “God’s love” So these people sentence themselves to a life of unhappiness in
is not unconditional. If he truly loved all of us unconditionally, an unfulfilling marriage and convince themselves that life is not
he would not condone stoning any one of us to death. meant to be enjoyed.
First Corinthians 7:8-9 also relates to premarital sex: “To Churches often use the aforementioned verses to try to
the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to control women, yet they rarely mention the verses in Ephesians
remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, 5:5: “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually
they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater),
passion.” has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” This
Just a few lines earlier is a passage condoning sex slavery verse preaches that the mere feeling of sexual desire (i.e. being
within marriage: covetous), even without action, dooms a man to hell. So, men
are screwed, too. Unsurprisingly, this verse never came up in
“Now concerning the matters about which you my church. This further proves that the stories and rules in the
wrote: It is good for a man not to have sexual Bible were simply made up by people attempting to judge and
relations with a woman. But because of the control others rather than by a loving, divine being.
temptation to sexual immorality, a man should With messages like these in their scriptures, it’s no wonder
have his own wife and each woman her own devout Christians often suffer crippling anxiety. You would,
husband. The husband should give to his wife too, if you thought someone could both love you and want
her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her you murdered. Christians claim their religion to be full of love,
husband. For the wife does not have authority acceptance, and hope, but if you dig into their creed, it’s full of
over her own body, but the husband does. judgment and death.
Likewise, the husband does not have authority Looking to the Bible for guidance on when, how, and with
over his body, but the wife does. Do not deprive whom to have sex, is a shaky endeavor. Despite what the status
one another, except perhaps by agreement for quo in your religious community may be, you are better off

28 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


establishing a status quon’t that involves tuning in to your gut born. The argument is another loose interpretation of Psalm
feelings and practicing safe sex rather than trying to be perfect 127:3. This belief leads many fanatically religious families
and resisting all temptation. But in order to practice safe sex, to have a child every time conception occurs and to take no
we must keep at bay the… measures to prevent future pregnancies. They believe if it
happens, no matter when and how often, God intended to give
Control of Birth Control them that child.
Bible verses are the primary arguments for why women A freethinking, logical person can see that it makes
should not have access to birth control or abortion, despite absolutely no sense for countless children to be born. If
no verse in the Bible explicitly saying either. You will Christians truly believe that God is all-knowing, then they
not find any verse that says, “Women should never have must believe that he knows some babies will wind up in
abortions,” or a verse that says, “Women should never try incapable, sometimes downright abusive, hands. A truly
to prevent pregnancy.” What you will find is Psalm 127:3, loving and all-knowing God would, logically, want us to use
a common verse of choice for the birth control debate: mechanisms (like birth control) that ensure children are
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of only conceived when they will be born into loving arms.
the womb a reward.” Due to the extensive brainwashing they’ve endured, many
Many conservative Christians are actually conflicted about Christians may never agree with atheists on this. But the
killing. Some have gone as far as murdering abortion providers. point of my book is not to get them to think like us, it’s to get
“I can kill you, but you can’t kill anyone” is a message that’s them to think at all. They’re not currently thinking; they’re
both hypocritical and sickening. Even more absurd is that reciting the lines they memorized from the script(ure), just
these people claimed to be “pro-life.” Such a label would like actors. If they do begin to think for themselves, then
seem to imply supporting all lives, not just those of unborn there’s no way they won’t agree with some of our points of
children. Curiously, many pro-lifers also oppose birth control. view. And when everyone’s critically thinking for themselves,
They want to prevent the senseless murder of fetuses, but that’s status quon’t.
they oppose the very pills and devices that can prevent such
occurrences in the first place. Can’t Stop, Quon’t Stop
Pro-lifers seem to have been waiting a long time for an I believe the ability to search the Bible online is one of
undeniable sign from God that abortion and birth control the reasons churches are rapidly losing followers today.
are okay, but I’m not sure what people think a sign from When I was a kid, in the days before the internet, my family
God looks like these days. I feel so strongly that birth showed up at church every Sunday and simply trusted that
control should be available to all that I’ll even argue from the values preached to us came directly from the Bible. In
a faith-based standpoint to try to reach the religious folks. Bible study, we didn’t start at the beginning and make our
So here goes. way through the book in its entirety. Instead, we always
What if the mere presence of birth control is a message homed in on the same passages while others—entire
from God that you should use it? Imagine you are on a books, even—were completely ignored. And there was
deserted island and a boat appears. As a Christian, you would never any order to the passages that we read. It wasn’t until
almost certainly see the boat as God answering your prayers I searched the Bible topically online and read the verses in
to save your life. Consider that we are already on a proverbial context that I rejected the status quo. Given what I read and
island, and the proverbial boat is birth control. Birth control how it made me feel, I decided I had to fire God, just like
can save lives. Over the years, far too many women have died I would any other employee who doesn’t respect women,
in childbirth, and far too many unwanted children have been polices what they wear, doesn’t reply to emails (prayers, in
abandoned or killed, and birth control is the saving grace from his case), and doesn’t show up to work.
more of that occurring. I hope we can agree to disagree on There will always be certain aspects of a status quo that
whether that saving grace came from a God or from scientists, cannot sustain us. Since there will never be one idyllic status
but that we can all agree that regardless of where it came from, quo, our job as atheists is to get people comfortable with
it’s here and should be used. change. I can’t accept the current status quo until anyone—
Interestingly, Christians do not seem to be waiting for a including God—who impedes women’s progress is fired
sign from God that the use of Viagra is permissible. Plenty of from their position and removed from the payroll. I quon’t
people who identify as pro-life view every woman’s pregnancy stop until it’s done. Will you join me?
as God’s will but do not view a man being unable to get a woman
pregnant as God’s will. This is a blatant double standard. To be
clear, I am not arguing that Viagra be outlawed. I am arguing Katilyn Pulcher is an author, artist, actuary, and
that the debate should end, and both should be available to all. singer/songwriter living in Chicago who intends to
It is unfair to promote a man’s ability to get someone pregnant keep speaking out until the world is ready to hear
but not a woman’s ability to not get pregnant. her. You can get her book on Amazon or iTunes,
Another argument against birth control is that when God hear her songs on YouTube, and see her drawings
allows a woman to become pregnant, he wants that child to be at www.artbykatilyn.com.

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 29


WHAT WILL YOUR LEGACY BE?
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have a lasting impact in the fight to protect the absolute separation of religion from government
and to ensure that the voices of atheists are never silenced in our public discourse.

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30 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


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4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 31


When Atheists Send Us Hate Mail - continued from page 4

How many born-again Christians would stick


around if they encountered a Muslim or Jewish
ceremony right inside the front door?
religious exercise promoted by a government agency is the
antithesis of secular government. A violation is a violation,
even when it involves friendly animals in need and the loving,
generous people who care for them. Doing important work and
making the world a better place does not exempt this, or any,
government-funded entity from the rules.

I think resources would be of better use elsewhere. This is a


very small drop in a very big bucket.
Violations on a larger scale evolve from these little ones, and
nipping them in the bud is the most efficient and cost-effective
way to uphold the wall of separation. It’s no different than
taking a ten-dollar antibiotic to fight an infection that would
otherwise hospitalize you if it went untreated. Ten dollars now, or
a prolonged, expensive hospital stay later, when your long-term
health is at risk, you’re away from your family and livelihood,
and then saddled with a medical bill exponentially higher than
ten dollars? We risk facing a similar situation if we let “little”
violations fester and spread. There’s no justification for delaying
action.

I believe there is a possibility for all those with different


ideologies to work in unity as long as there is a peaceful

This is a giant waste of resources. Who cares if they bless


animals?
No one cares less than American Atheists if animals are
blessed, as long as it’s done on private property. The bottom line
here is that a religious ceremony is taking place in a government
building and benefiting from the government’s promotion and
involvement. This shelter is funded with tax dollars, and in
exchange, religious activity is restricted. Government money
always comes with this understanding.

This isn’t helping anyone and is a waste of time. It makes


atheists look petty. At some point, we have to just let others
live and choose their own beliefs.
A secular government must live and let live, and let people
choose their own beliefs. Placing its employees and volunteers
at the direction of clergy for the purpose of engaging in a

Church/state separation epitomizes religious tolerance.


32 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017
Doing important work and making the world
a better place does not give this, or any,
government-funded entity a pass on the rules.
They are in greater need of the donations that these events
generate. So isn’t holding an event at this shelter effectively
taking money away from a needier one?

What person would turn down a pet because they received a


“blessing” outside of their religious background? You could tell
me my cat was blessed by a tap-dancing Krishna and because I
don’t believe in it, it would have no effect or value at all. Anyone
who chooses not to adopt an animal because they don’t see
eye-to-eye with the facility caring for the animal is a piece of
shit human being. Period.
It’s not unreasonable for a non-religious person to change
their mind about entering this building if they see a full-on
Christian ceremony taking place right at the reception desk.
New Jersey is one of the most religiously diverse states in the
country. How many born-again Christians would stick around
if they encountered a Muslim or Jewish ceremony right inside
the front door? The shelter’s decision to host this event likely

common ground. I am disgusted as a non-religious person that


an individual/organization would take money away from an
animal shelter for such a frivolous point. Repulsive.
No money is being taken away from the animal shelter, and
of course it’s possible to work in unity on peaceful common
ground. It happens all the time in religion-free zones. That’s
why the framers of the Constitution made provisions to create
them. Church/state separation epitomizes religious tolerance.
The shelter could have shown such tolerance by not engaging in
a religious ritual. It chose not to.
American Atheists’ decision to hold them accountable for
that decision is not going to deprive the shelter of funding. The
county, not the shelter, is handling the legal defense, and both
the county and the shelter should carry liability insurance that
covers the costs of these disputes. Moreover, if withholding
money from a needy source is disgusting, then why have this
event at a shelter that has reliable funding from tax dollars?
There are a number of nearby shelters with no secure revenue.

Violations on a larger scale evolve from small ones.


4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 33
did its animals a disservice by
alienating potential pet owners. I can see why it might suck that one
“They can just come back another day a year in the shelter for non-
time” is not an acceptable solution. Christians like myself, so I would
People in this country have the hope that any dissenting employee
constitutional right to avail would be accommodated.
themselves of government services The Equal Protection Clause
equally and without encountering of the Fourteenth Amendment
anyone acting on behalf of a prohibits the government from
religious agenda. making it suck, even one day a year,
because of religious differences,
The plaintiff cited that she but let’s assume the employees
was forced to “encounter” the on duty were not obliged to
clergyman. But he’s not the one participate. The animals still need
managing her adoption, he was constant care and attention, and
literally just existing there. if most members of the staff are
He was more than just existing. not looking after them as usual
He stood at the reception desk (they were brought to the lobby
ready to greet anyone who walked for a blessing one by one, not all
in. He wore a floor-length, hooded at once), who is going to take up
cassock and a fringed stole. A large the slack? The employee being
crucifix hung from his neck, a large “accommodated.” This brings us
rosary draped from a cincture tied back full circle to accommodating
around his waist, and over the course of ninety minutes, he the religious ceremony. Dissenting employees can be truly
recited prayers and performed conspicuous hand gestures over accommodated only when the government-sponsored
animals brought to him, one by one, by shelter staff members. (I exercise of religion never occurs in the first place.
wonder why they didn’t bring them two by two.)
This obvious and unavoidable exercise of religion was At some point, we have to just let others live and choose their
possible because of the accommodation provided by the own beliefs. Our inability to collectively do so is why people
shelter. The violation occurred when the shelter devoted public hate atheists.
resources and employee time to the performance of religious Even if only one person has a problem with a violation,
rituals. This is made clear in not only the U.S. Constitution, but and even if you personally would never have a problem with
the New Jersey Constitution as well. it, stopping it is still crucial because history shows that it’s
not an exaggeration to call this is a very, very slippery slope to
But prosecuting hand gestures made to a cat? I don’t know something more menacing. Episodes like this are solid ground
whose time is wasted most in that situation—lawyer, clergy, for a violation to gain a foothold because of the conventional
or cat. wisdom against upsetting organizations that do good work.
Time was indeed wasted. This could have been resolved
in a few minutes if the shelter had heeded the letter we sent I think it’s a total waste of time, and only serves to diminish the
several days beforehand. It is standard procedure for us to first public image of atheists.
reach out and bring a violation to the entity’s attention. Quite We will always choose victory in a court of law over victory
often, they don’t realize there’s a violation, and they thank us in the court of public opinion. When an ordinary citizen—who
for pointing it out. Sometimes, they are aware of the violation, has rights equal to all other citizens—experiences a violation
and they reluctantly stop. You won’t hear about most of those and approaches American Atheists, we are ready to help with
cases because our policy is not to go public with a dispute until our resources and with our willingness to take it on the chin.
either the agency itself publicizes the complaint, or it is clear Civil rights work is always controversial, but you might someday
that litigation will be necessary in order to resolve the dispute. find yourself in a position where you’re experiencing a violation
We involve the courts only when they refuse to cooperate with that bothers no one else. And even if you’ve called me a “piece
us to resolve an issue, even after we make it clear that they could of shit human being, period” on a previous occasion, we’ll fight
face a lawsuit if they don’t. just as hard for you.

We have to accept that religious people exist and yes, we may


even see them sometimes. If we want to preach tolerance,
that’s part of it.
American Atheists is not, and never will be, intolerant
of the mere existence of religion, but we will be reliably and Pamela Whissel
unwaveringly intolerant of religion meddling in the work of the Editor-in-Chief
government. PWhissel@Atheists.org

34 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


Richard Dawkins - continued from page 9

In this sense, souls are real, seek the objective truth of the discoverable laws of nature.
These are distinct from human values, and the two must not

and we all have one. be confused. Take, for example, human eugenics. Most of us
may disagree with the aims of human eugenics, but our value
judgements cannot negate its existence.
Some might be taken aback by the word “soul” in the
Dawkins points out that this essentialism also bedevils title, but Dawkins explains that for him, the word refers not
teachers in the United Kingdom (who are allowed no grey to “some internal spook that survives bodily death” but to
areas in their requirement to categorize students as either the “constructed internal model of ‘the self ’ which the brain
first- or second-rate) while also exposing the absurd beliefs constructs in all humans.” The soul is “the useful illusion
of anti-abortionists and racists. In contrast, the enlightened of personal identity, an ‘I’ apparently residing just behind
“continuous mind” recognizes that reality is like evolution: the eyes, an ‘agent’ taking decisions by free will, a unitary
“there is a sliding scale of intermediates and probabilities, not personality seeking goals and feeling emotions.” In this sense,
hard and fast discontinuities” between x and y. souls are real, and we all have one.
The continuous mind also doesn’t stick to hard and fast For those who haven’t read Dawkins’ longer works, such as
rules, but exercises discretion. Every traveler will empathize The God Delusion or The Selfish Gene, Science in the Soul
with Dawkins’ rage against the Heathrow Airport officials offers a great introduction to this brilliant atheist biologist.
who forbade a young mother from boarding a plane because I have read much of Dawkins’ work. A signed first edition,
she had with her a small amount of ointment for her daughter’s first printing of The Selfish Gene is one of my most prized
eczema, as well as his rage against all other humans who possessions. Science in the Soul is a must for any Dawkins
have an “obsessive reverence for rules.” If he “ruled the enthusiast like me because not only does he include several
world,” Dawkins would “find ways to reintroduce intelligent previously unpublished pieces, he also shows his readers some
discretion and overthrow the unbending tyranny of going by of his own internal self, his soul.
the book without opening the door to abuse.”
“The Value of Science and the Science of Values,” a 1997
address dedicated to the late Carl Sagan, Dawkins succinctly Mark Kolsen recently retired from teaching high school in Wheaton,
explains why science is our best form of knowledge and how Illinois. He is an avid fan of the Four Horsemen, the late Victor Stenger,
its methods differ from hunches, gut feelings, revelations, and and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He strives to understand all facets of scientific
other, less-reliable ways of understanding the world. Scientists cosmology and evolutionary biology.

Advertise in American Atheist magazine


Every issue of American Atheist reaches thousands of readers in a variety of ways.

• American Atheist is sold in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide.


• All members of American Atheists receive this magazine.
• American Atheist is available as an iPad and iPhone app.

Contact PWhissel@Atheists.org

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 35


Sunday Morning
When,
McGood father gabs – abstruse, abstract;
Old maids love the Lord, their crumpets and cup.
A garden of thorns, in the house no man, but
A dead little boy in the mirror stands

And when Father jives, that God is just,


Miss Right feels wrong in a secret crack, and
Dreams with steadfast cataracts, of
Lacing his collar tighter than tight.

A numb little boy not saved by the cops,


A naked crowned man, nailed to the wall;
The holes in his hands and his feet leaking wine –
They say he was framed for sins of the blind.

Should father say: ‘bingo? This ticket has won!’


(So ashes and dust may inherit a song)
The meek shall rejoice, and pray in the muck
While the rich cannot enter God’s kingdom intact –

But may be redeemed by splitting some loot,


And sow their wild oats out of caskets of gold.
The plan is quite simple, some have the book;
Though the goat-footed hawker is hawking his hooks.

Holy-smoke wafting from mirror and tomb


Jewels and mask, wrinkled liver and gout. The
Faithful consume the lord’s body and blood, and
Choir boys sing and watch their behinds.

– Alexander Ashendorf

36 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


$6.00 on Amazon

Not a t-shirt person?


Show your support with an
American Atheists lapel pin.
1” diameter, black chrome,
$10 at atheists.org/shop
or call 908-276-7300 x105

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 37


WELCOME, LIFE MEMBERS!
S ince the last issue of this magazine, nine members of American Atheists increased their commitment by becoming
Life Members or by upgrading their Life Memberships to Silver or Gold. Thanks to the following for their continued
support to further promote our shared goals and values:

LIFE SILVER GOLD


Kenneth B. Adams Sue Reamer Timothy Gibbs
Dianne Centa Tim Young Scott Romanowski
Wynne LeGrow This level includes free This level includes two free
admission for life to our annual admissions for life to our annual
Jerald Pederson convention. convention.

Randy Winny

Stand with us by making an investment in the future of American Atheists by becoming a Life Member today.
Call 908-276-7300 x102, email Pamela Whissel at PWhissel@Atheists.org, or visit Atheists.org/Life-Membership.

STATE DIRECTORS
For detailed information, visit Atheists.org/State-Directors or contact Jim Helton at JHelton@Atheists.org.

MILITARY DIRECTOR CONNECTICUT MINNESOTA TENNESSEE


Kathleen Johnson Dennis Paul Himes Randall Tigue Sarah Green
KJohnson@Atheists.org P. O. Box 9203 RTigue@Atheists.org SGreen@Atheists.org
ALABAMA Bolton, CT 06043 NEW JERSEY TEXAS
Chuck Miller DPhimes@Atheists.org Bill Goers Vicki Gettman
CMiller@Atheists.org GEORGIA BGoers@Atheists.org VGettman@Atheists.org
ARIZONA Scott Savage NEW MEXICO UTAH
Don Lacey SSavage@Atheists.org Doris Rashad Dan Ellis
P. O. Box 1161 KENTUCKY DRashad@Atheists.org DEllis@Atheists.org
Tucson, AZ 85641 Jen Scott OKLAHOMA VIRGINIA/D.C.
DLacey@Atheists.org JScott@Atheists.org William Poire Larry Mendoza
ARKANSAS MARYLAND WPoire@Atheists.org LMendoza@Atheists.org
Steve Foster Mark Nebo PENNSYLVANIA WEST VIRGINIA
SFoster@Atheists.org MNebo@Atheists.org Brian Fields Jim Spence
CALIFORNIA MASSACHUSETTS BFields@Atheists.org JSpence@Atheists.org
Larry Hicok Zach Bos PUERTO RICO WASHINGTON
LHicok@Atheists.org P. O. Box 15274 Shirley Rivera Bart Meltzer
Boston, MA 02215 SRivera@Atheists.org BMeltzer@Atheists.org
ZBos@Atheists.org

38 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


The patriarch Bishop Irenaues
of Lugdunum lived in the
second century. He collected
and evaluated the scrolls that
eventually became the New
Testament. This fictionalized
account of his adventures include
fascinating details about the
nascent Catholic Church and life
in the Roman Empire.

www.MiltonTimmons.com
www.ScrollSeekers.com

This book exposes the pre-Judaism roots


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the oppression, forgeries, and horrors
committed in the name of Jesus.

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suffused with a lively dose of humor…”
– The American Rationalist

Available in paperback and e-book at


BeyondTheCrusades.com

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 39


AFFILIATES AND LOCAL PARTNERS
For the most up-to-date list, visit Atheists.org/Affiliates or contact Greg Lammers at GLammers@Atheists.org.

State Group Name City Site


LOCAL PARTNERS
FL FLASH - Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists Orlando http://www.godlessflorida.com
GA Atlanta Freethought Society Atlanta http://atlantafreethought.org
IA Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers Des Moines http://www.meetup.com/Iowa-Atheists-and-Freethinkers
MN Minnesota Atheists Minneapolis http://mnatheists.org
NE Lincoln Atheists Lincoln http://www.lincolnatheists.org
NY Long Island Atheists Lynbrook LIAtheists.org
OK Atheist Community of Tulsa Tulsa http://www.ACTOK.org
PA PA Non-Believers York http://www.panonbelievers.org
TX Metroplex Atheists Arlington http://www.metroplexatheists.org
UT Atheists of Utah Salt Lake City atheistsofutah.org
AFFILIATES
AK Alaskan Atheists Anchorage http://www.meetup.com/AlaskanAtheists/

AL Auburn Atheists & Agnostics Auburn http://www.facebook.com/groups/auburnatheistsandagnostics/

AL Birmingham Atheists Meetup Birmingham http://www.meetup.com/atheists-132

AL Marshall County Atheists & Agnostics Marshall http://www.themcaa.org

AL Montgomery Area Freethought Association Montgomery http://www.montgomeryfreethought.org

AL North Alabama Freethought Association Huntsville http://www.meetup.com/thenafa

AL UA Alabama Atheists and Agnostics Tuscaloosa http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2234029305

AL UAH Non-Theists Huntsville http://www.facebook.com/uahnontheists

AL West Alabama Freethought Association Tuscaloosa http://www.meetup.com/westalabamafreethought

AR Arkansas Society of Freethinkers Little Rock http://www.ARFreethinkers.org

AR ArkLaTex Freethinkers, Atheists, Agnostics & Humanists Texarkana http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=128265161357

AR Southwest Arkansas Atheist Community Nashville http://goo.gl/K2koj

AZ Reason Riders Glendale Reasonriders.com

AZ Tucson Atheists Tucson http://www.meetup.com/Tucson-Atheists/

CA-N Atheist Advocates of San Francisco San Francisco http://atheistadvocatesofsanfrancisco.com/

CA-N Atheist Community of San Jose San Jose Sanjoseatheists.org


CA-N Humanist Community in Silicon Valley San Jose www.humanists.org

CA-N Atheists and Other Freethinkers Sacramento http://aofonline.org

CA-N Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics Fresno http://www.cvaas.org

CA-N Contra Costa Atheists & Freethinkers Pleasant Hill http://www.meetup.com/Contra-Costa-Atheists-and-Freethinkers/

CA-N East Bay Atheists Oakland http://www.eastbayatheists.org

CA-N San Francisco Atheists San Francisco http://www.sfatheists.com

CA-N Santa Cruz Atheists Santa Cruz http://santacruzatheists.org

CA-N Rosmoor Atheists Walnut Creek http://goo.gl/K2koj

CA-S Atheist Coalition of San Diego San Diego http://www.atheistcoalition.org

CA-S Humanist Fellowship of San Diego San Diego http://goo.gl/K2koj

CA-S Atheist Society of Kern Bakersfield http://goo.gl/K2koj

CA-S Backyard Skeptics Villa Park http://www.backyardskeptics.com

CA-S Humanist Society of Santa Barbara Santa Barbara http://www.santabarbarahumanists.org

CA-S New Atheists of East County Jamul http://www.meetup.com/New-Atheists-of-East-County/

CA-S Orange County Atheists Orange http://www.ocatheists.com

CA-S Riverside Atheists and Free Thinkers (RAFT) Riverside http://RiversideAtheists.org

40 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


CO Atheists and Freethinkers of Denver Denver http://athofden.tripod.com

CO Boulder Atheists Boulder http://www.boulderatheists.org

CO Metro State Atheists Denver http://metrostateatheists.wordpress.com

CO Pikes Peak Atheists Colorado Springs http://goo.gl/K2koj

CO Western Colorado Atheists & Freethinkers Grand Junction http://westerncoloradoatheists.org

CT Atheist Humanist Society of CT and RI Norwich http://atheisthumanist.org

CT Connecticut Valley Atheists South Windsor http://www.cvatheists.org

DC American University Rationalists and Atheists Washington http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=34367344446

DC Washington Area Secular Humanists Washington http://www.wash.org

FL Atheists of Florida Tampa http://goo.gl/K2koj

FL Central Florida Secular Alliance Dunnellon http://cfsecularalliance.weebly.com

FL Florida Atheists, Critical Thinkers & Skeptics Longwood/Orlando http://www.meetup.com/Critical

FL Gator Freethought (UF) Gainesville http://www.gatorfreethought.com/

FL Ocala Atheists Ocala http://www.meetup.com/Ocala-Atheists/

FL Sarasota-Manatee Atheists & Secular Humanists (SMASH) Nokomis http://goo.gl/K2koj

FL Secular Student Association at Univ. of Central FL Orlando http://ssaucf.com

FL Humanist Community of the Space Coast Satellite Beach http://goo.gl/K2koj

FL St. Petersburg Atheists St. Petersburg http://www.meetup.com/atheists-209

FL Tallahassee Atheists Tallahassee http://www.tallahasseeatheists.com/

FL Treasure Coast Atheists Stuart http://www.meetup.com/atheists-600

FL Williston Atheists Morriston http://goo.gl/K2koj

GA Albany Georgia Atheists Albany http://www.albanygeorgiaatheists.com/

GA Gainesville Atheists Gainesville http://goo.gl/K2koj

GA Atlanta Freethought Society Atlanta http://www.atlantafreethought.org

GA Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta Atlanta http://www.blacknonbelievers.org

GA Fayette Freethought Society Peachtree City http://www.meetup.com/Fayette-Freethought-Society

GA Atheists United, Kennesaw State Univ Kennesaw http://goo.gl/K2koj

GA Kennesaw State U. Student Coalition for Inquiry Kennesaw http://www.facebook.com/ksusci

GA Macon Atheists & Secular Humanists Macon http://www.meetup.com/georgiamash/

IA Atheists United for a Rational America Iowa City http://rationalamerica.com

IA Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers Des Moines http://www.meetup.com/Iowa-Atheists-and-Freethinkers

IL Chicagoland Freethinkers Chicago http://www.meetup.com/chicago-freethought/

IL The Chicago Freethought Project Chicago http://www.facebook.com/thechicagofreethoughtproject

IL IL/WI Stateline Atheists Society Rockford http://www.meetup.com/statelineatheists

IL IWU Atheist, Agnostics, and Non-Religious Bloomington http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5558627959

IL The Secular Segment Mt. Vernon http://www.secularsegment.com

KS Secular Latino Alliance Kansas City Secularlatinos.weebly.com

KS U of K Society of Open-Minded Atheists & Agnostics Lawrence http://www.kusoma.org

KY Humanist Forum of Central Kentucky Lexington http://www.facebook.com/groups/kyhumanists/

KY Lexington Atheists Lexington http://www.meetup.com/The-Lexington-Atheists-Meetup-Group

KY Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers Louisville http://www.louisvilleatheists.com/

KY Secular Student Alliance, Morehad State University Morehead Facebook.com/msussa

KY Tri-State Freethinkers (KY, IN, OH) Union http://www.meetup.com/Tri-State-Freethinkers/

LA New Orleans Secular Humanist Association New Orleans http://nosha.org

MA Atheists of Greater Lowell Lowell http://www.meetup.com/lowellatheists

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 41


AFFILIATES AND LOCAL PARTNERS

MA Boston Atheists Boston http://bostonatheists.org

MD Freethinkers Union at McDaniel College Westminster <none>

MD Secular Student Alliance, Frostburg State University Frostburg Secularstudents.org/frostburg

MD Maryland Freethinkers Annapolis http://www.mdfreethinkers.com

ME Maine Atheists and Humanists Waterville http://goo.gl/K2koj

MI Atheists @ Oakland University Rochester http://www.facebook.com/AtheistsAtOU

MI Atheists, Skeptics, & Humanists Assn, N. Michigan U. Marquette http://goo.gl/K2koj

MI Michigan Atheists Detroit http://michiganatheists.org

MI Mid-Michigan Atheists & Humanists Lansing http://www.mmah.org

MN Atheists for Human Rights Minneapolis http://atheistsforhumanrights.org

MN Campus Atheists Skeptics & Humanists Minneapolis http://cashumn.org

MO Black Freethinkers of Kansas City Kansas City http://www.meetup.com/Black-FreeThinkers-of-KC/

MO Columbia Atheists Columbia http://www.meetup.com/The-Columbia-Atheists-Meetup-Group

MO Joplin Freethinkers Joplin http://www.joplinfreethinkers.org

MO Kansas City Atheist Coalition Kansas City http://www.kcatheists.org

MO MU Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists & Agnostics Columbia http://muSASHA.org

MO O’Fallon Freethinkers O’Fallon http://www.meetup.com/OFallon-Freethinkers

MO Rationalist Society of St. Louis St. Louis http://www.rssl.org

MO Secular Student Alliance @ UCMO Warrensburg http://www.centralskeptics.org

MO Springfield Freethinkers Springfield http://www.meetup.com/SpringfieldFreethinkers

MO Springfield Skeptics Springfield http://goo.gl/K2koj

MO St. Joseph Skeptics St. Joseph http://stjosephskeptics.org

MO We Are Atheism Grandview http://goo.gl/K2koj

MS Humanist Ethical Atheist Rational Thought Society Biloxi http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/HeartsOfTheSouth

MS Great Southern Humanist Society Biloxi http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/southernatheist

MS Mississippi Humanist Association Jackson Mshumanists.org

NC A-News Raleigh http://www.apartmentJ.com

NC Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics Charlotte http://www.charlotteatheists.com

NC Hickory Humanist Alliance Claremont http://goo.gl/K2koj

NC MASH Ft. Bragg Fayetteville http://www.mashfortbragg.org

NC Sandhills Secular Society Hope Mills http://goo.gl/K2koj

NC WNC Humanists Fairview http://www.wnchumanists.org

ND Red River Freethinkers Fargo http://redriverfreethinkers.org

NE Omaha Atheists Omaha http://omahaatheists.org/

NJ Camden County Humanists Blackwood http://goo.gl/K2koj

NJ New Jersey Humanist Network Somerville http://njhn.org/

NJ Secular Student Alliance @ Montclair State Univ. Montclair http://secularstudents.org/montclair

NJ South Jersey Humanists Oceanville http://goo.gl/K2koj

NJ William Paterson Univ. Secular Student Alliance Pompton Lakes https://www.facebook.com/SSA.WPUNJ

NM Roswatheists Roswell http://www.meetup.com/Roswatheists

NM Atheist Community of Santa Fe Santa Fe http://goo.gl/K2koj

NV Reno Freethinkers Reno http://www.RenoFreethinkers.org

NY Freethinkers of Upstate New York Syracuse http://www.funygroup.org

NY Gotham Atheists New York https://www.meetup.com/GothamAtheists/

NY Hudson Valley Humanists Saugerties http://hudsonvalley.humanists.net

NY Long Island Atheists East Setauket Meetup.com/li-atheists

42 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


NY New York City Atheists New York http://nyc-atheists.org

NY Ward Melville High School Secular Student Alliance East Setauket http://goo.gl/K2koj

NY Westchester Atheists Chappaqua http://www.meetup.com/atheists-504

OH Free Inquiry Group Cincinnati http://www.gofigger.org

OH Freethought Dayton Dayton http://www.meetup.com/freethoughtdayton

OH Humanist Community of Central Ohio Columbus http://www.hcco.org

OH Mid-Ohio Atheists Mansfield http://midohioatheists.org

OK Atheist Community of Tulsa Tulsa http://www.ACTOK.org

OK Oklahoma Atheists Oklahoma City http://www.oklahomaatheists.com

PA NEPA Freethought Society Wilkes-Barre http://www.nepafreethought.org

SC Piedmont Humanists Greenville http://www.PiedmontHumanists.org

SC Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry Charleston http://www.lowcountryhumanists.org

SC Upstate Atheists Boiling Springs http://goo.gl/K2koj

TN Memphis Atheists Memphis http://goo.gl/K2koj

TN Memphis Freethought Alliance Memphis http://memphisfreethought.com

TN Nashville Secular Life Nashville http://www.meetup.com/secularlife

TN Rationalists of East Tennessee Knoxville http://www.rationalists.org

TX Atheist Community of Austin Austin http://atheist-community.org

TX Corpus Christi Atheists Corpus Christi http://www.meetup.com/CCAtheists

TX Denton Atheists Denton http://www.meetup.com/The-Denton-Atheists-Meetup-Group

TX El Paso Atheists El Paso http://www.elpasoatheists.com

TX Freethinkers Association of Central Texas San Antonio http://FreethinkersACT.org

TX Golden Triangle Freethinkers Beaumont http://goldentrianglefreethinkers.org

TX Houston Atheists Houston Meetup.com/Houston-atheists

TX Kingwood Humble Atascocita Atheists Atascocita http://www.kha-atheists.org/

TX Lubbock Atheists Lubbock http://www.meetup.com/atheists-496

TX Secular Humanist Society of East Texas Nacagdoches http://goo.gl/K2koj

TX UNT Freethought Alliance Denton http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7647566521

TX Wise Free Thinkers and Skeptics Wise http://www.meetup.com/Wise-Free-Thinkers-and-Skeptics

UT Salt Lake Valley Atheists Salt Lake City http://nowscape.com/a

VA Beltway Atheists Leesburg http://www.meetup.com/Beltway-Atheists-Inc

VA NOVA Atheists Leesburg http://www.meetup.com/NOVA-Atheists

VT Atheists of Rutland Vermont Rutland http://www.atheistsofrutlandvt.com/

WA Seattle Atheists Seattle http://www.seattleatheists.org

WA Tri-City Freethinkers Pasco http://www.tricityfreethinkers.org

WI Southeast Wisconsin FreeThinkers Milwaukee http://swiftnow.org

WV Kanawha Valley Atheists and Agnostics Charleston http://goo.gl/K2koj

WV Mountain State Freethinkers Martinsville http://www.meetup.com/Mountain-State-Freethinkers

WV Morgantown Atheists Morgantown http://www.morgantownatheists.com

WY Wyoming Atheists Facebook.com/groups/wyomingatheists

US Atheist Nexus http://www.atheistnexus.org

US Black Atheists of America http://www.blackatheistsofamerica.org

US Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers http://www.militaryatheistsorg

Intl Southeast Asia Freethought Association

Intl Ateístas de Puerto Rico San Juan http://goo.gl/K2koj

Intl Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society http://www.patas.co

4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 43


AIMS AND PURPOSES
A merican Atheists, Inc. is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, educational organization dedicated to the complete and absolute
separation of state and church, accepting the explanation of Thomas Jefferson that the First Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States was meant to create a ‘wall of separation’ between state and church.

American Atheists is organized:


• To stimulate and promote freedom of thought and inquiry concerning religious beliefs, creeds, dogmas, tenets,
rituals, and practices;

• To collect and disseminate information, data, and literature on all religions and promote a more thorough
understanding of them, their origins, and their histories;

• To advocate, labor for, and promote in all lawful ways the complete and absolute separation of state and church;

• To act as a ‘watchdog’ to challenge any attempted breach of the wall of separation between state and church;

• To advocate, labor for, and promote in all lawful ways the establishment and maintenance of a thoroughly secular
system of education available to all;

• To encourage the development and public acceptance of a humane ethical system stressing the mutual sympathy,
understanding, and interdependence of all people and the corresponding responsibility of each individual in relation
to society;

• To develop and propagate a social philosophy in which humankind is central and must itself be the source of
strength, progress, and ideals for the well-being and happiness of humanity;

• To promote the study of the arts and sciences and of all problems affecting the maintenance, perpetuation, and
enrichment of human (and other) life; and

• To engage in such social, educational, legal, and cultural activity as will be useful and beneficial to the members of
American Atheists and to society as a whole.

Definitions:

A theism is the comprehensive world view of persons who are free from theism and have freed themselves of supernatural
beliefs altogether. It is predicated on ancient Greek Materialism.

A theism involves the mental attitude that unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a life-
style and ethical outlook verifiable by experience and the scientific method, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of
authority and creeds.

M aterialism declares that the cosmos is devoid of immanent conscious purpose; that it is governed by its own inherent,
immutable, and impersonal laws; that there is no supernatural interference in human life; that humankind, finding
the resources within themselves, can and must create their own destiny. It teaches that we must prize our life on earth
and strive always to improve it. It holds that human beings are capable of creating a social system based on reason and
justice. Materialism’s ‘faith’ is in humankind and their ability to transform the world culture by their own efforts. This is
a commitment that is, in its very essence, life-asserting. It considers the struggle for progress as a moral obligation that is
impossible without noble ideas that inspire us to bold, creative works.

M aterialism holds that our potential for good and more fulfilling cultural development is, for all practical purposes,
unlimited.

44 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


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4TH QUARTER 2017 www.atheists.org | AMERICAN ATHEIST | 45


Why I Am an Atheist
by Chris Malloy

I was one of those nerdy genius kids before Asperger’s was


cool. In kindergarten, I knew Dick and Jane were running,
but why? In second grade, I had my tonsils removed. While I was
recovering at home, my parents brought me every single dinosaur
book from the local library. As I healed, I traveled to Mongolia
with Roy Chapman Andrews and found dinosaur eggs. I spotted
to pretend. It was then just quietly allowed that no one in my
family had to go to church anymore.
In college, I was all sciences. After Roy Chapman Andrews,
I didn’t need Darwin. Anyone who knew a dimetrodon from a
stegosaurus already understood that evolution is a cruel dealer
in the bingo game of the ages. Genetics might be convoluted,
giant amphibians sloshing among the ferns. but it isn’t divine. In the military, I sat through prayer breakfasts
In this seven-year-old’s heaven, giant nine-foot scorpions wondering how everyone kept a straight face.
then began to swim through crystal seas. It just kept getting At last, I was established in a medical practice in a small
better and better! Ancient Earth had nothing but meteors town on the edge of the Rockies. I was single and, small towns
screaming across the skies to smash into exploding volcanoes being small, I dated the women who lived there. I doubt there is
lit by slashing bolts of lightning. Everything was “Wow!” all the a denomination or sect that I didn’t buy dinner for through the
time. years. In most cases, we discussed religion, usually somewhat
Then, in church, a visiting bishop asked us kids how we reclined on the sofa in her house. In all cases, I was quickly able
knew about Jesus. After a few kids guessed wrong about the to flummox them into sputtering, “Well, I just know I’m right.”
information being sent directly from God, I said the apostles When I mentioned this to one very sharp woman, she laughed
told people who told other people who told others until and said, “Of course they can’t all be right because I am.”
someone wrote it down. And the bishop said I was right. I For years, I believed that because the path to the grave was
think his intention was to show direct transmission of perfect short enough, anything that helped ease the travel was not for
knowledge from Jesus to Catholics, if no one else. But even in me to criticize. Non-dinosaurian foolishness seemed harmless.
my little nerdy-child brain, I thought it just meant everyone was But it is not. Living wrapped in the belief that your myths are
making it up as they went along. right is bad for people, nations, and every animal on the planet.
So, at whatever tender age I was trying to formulate an (I think, though, that the fungi will be all right.) Part of fighting
idea of God, I knew that if he wasn’t a dinosaur, then I was not religious extremism is fighting the normalism of religion.
interested. The Bible bits I had seen, despite being very old, had Making legal and environmental decisions based on myths of
no mention of dinosaurs—no eurypterids or spiders the size invisible people is harmful to everyone.
of my head. The whole dinosaurless structure was rotten and I’m grateful to be grounded in the reality of a world that
clearly wrong. must account for dinosaurs. Now I think I need to combat the
For me, there was no deep turmoil, no struggle to reconcile myths that threaten that world. I know it won’t be all dinosaurs.
religion with the world. Religion had bounced off my triceratops But we’ll always have Mongolia.
skull like a toothed chicken, but I still needed to pretend. My
mother played the organ at church and knew from her perch in
the choir loft who was in the pews. After she had an affair with Chris Malloy is a dentist who spent his early life in San Diego before
the priest, my disgusted siblings stopped attending church. living in various small towns in the western U.S. He’ll be traveling from
The church acknowledged nothing and did nothing, and I his current home in northern Alaska to attend the 2018 American
have not voluntarily set foot in a church since. There had never Atheists National Convention in Oklahoma City this March. Be sure to
been a God, and now there was no social or family obligation say hi if you’re there.

46 | AMERICAN ATHEIST | www.atheists.org 4TH QUARTER 2017


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