Hand coded by Galen Thurber Jan 96
PUT THE 'X' BACK IN CHRISTMAS"Christ's birth still inspires charity" reads the headline on the front page of December's Christian Info News, a free paper containing 50% advertising and widely distributed in BC, ironically pointing to the brutal hypocrisy of the religious sector of our society. The routine orgiastic giving spree which occurs every December is obscene. Of course the psychology of this so-called charity is clear: the 'giving' is done not to help others, but to make the giver feel good. To provide those in need with an outburst of 'stuff' once a year is a cruel hoax. It is also clear that religionists cannot understand this. A truly caring atheistic society would provide for all of its people all of the time. We quote from Atheism: An Affirmative View, by Emmett F. Fields: Atheism is the world of reality, it is reason, it is freedom, atheism is human concern, and intellectual honesty to a degree that the religious mind cannot begin to understand. And yet it is more than this. Atheism is not an old religion, it is not a new and coming religion, in fact it is not, and has never been, a religion at all. The definition of atheism is magnificent in its simplicity: Atheism is merely the bed-rock of sanity in a world of madness. . . . Amen.
GABBIN' WITH GABEREAUOn November 03/95, CBC Radio's Vickie Gabereau Show aired a 20-minute conversation with Canadian Atheist editor Ray Blessin. Well, the phone started ringing in the atheist bunker at noon, three hours before the show aired in BC. The folksy, informal segment resulted in about 50 calls from right across the country. Every call was supportive and requested the newsletter and to be added to the mailing list. Issues 1-4 were sent to each and we happily added their names to our growing list of almost 300 actual out-of-the-closet atheists. One guy wrote from PEI to tell Ray that he is not a well-adjusted man and that he needs help. Speaking of help, we do thank those folks who have sent contributions, all of which go towards the costs of printing and postage. (No Cuban holidays.)
ATHEISM AND THE ENVIRONMENTThe planet's human infestation is devouring the surface of the Earth at an alarming rate. We are turning the planet's surface into a chemical soup. We are unable to stop countless species from becoming extinct. We have a serious problem with deserts increasing in size and in number. We are being faced with growing concerns of global warming and ozone depletion. Fish stocks are declining. Clean water supply is decreasing. Forests are being harvested and not being replaced. Top soil is limited and is eroding. The possibility of an unstoppable disease is present. How many times more can we expect to double our population? -- perhaps once or twice, but probably not three times. Population statistics are indicating that this will occur within one or two generations. Are you and I witnessing the onset of a hell on Earth? What state will the world be in for our children or our childrens' children? So what does all this have to do with atheism? There is evidence that the wide-spread belief in gods and its effects are detrimental to the planet's survival. Church dogma and the influence of priests that dictate procreation are more to be feared than just irrational beliefs in gods. Of course, make-believe gods are impotent but mother nature is not in control either and is therefore indifferent toward humanity. Humanity has no "divine" right to enjoy its presence on Earth. We are on our own to insure our prosperity. Webster's defines religion as "something which has a powerful hold on a person's way of thinking, interest, etc." Therefore, we cannot afford to rely on people who look to gods for our survival. While those who choose to do so bury their heads in a fool's paradise of cocked up messiahs, we must fight their destructive dogma at every turn. Yes, it is paradoxical that the planet's "saviour" will ultimately be atheism, but it has to be that way.
ANOTHER PARADOXICAL TWISTERDouglas Todd, The Vancouver Sun's resident religionist, hits us up both sides of the head again with one of his many book reviews. The book, God In All Worlds, he says, "indirectly appears to be constructing a new paradoxical declaration for the nation: Nothing is sacred / Everything is sacred". . . . We're just a spinnin' on the spot here in the bunker!
WHITHER SCIENCE?Many of the mundane mysteries of our universe are opening to free inquiry, at long last. A strange virus, the movement of the Earth's crust, holes in the ozone layer, the braided rings of Uranus, all are fit subjects for investigation. It is only when we arrive at the important mysteries, the statues which drink milk, or those which bleed real blood, that impartial scientific interest is discouraged or even prevented.
DON'T YOU BELIEVE IT! It may be a good idea to examine the use of the word "unbeliever" when referring to atheists. It seems to be a generally accepted term both within and without the atheist community but it is becoming increasingly evident that because of its broadness and incompleteness the use of the word "unbeliever" to describe an atheist is running into argument. Some of us feel that in calling ourselves "unbelievers", as in not believing in any gods or goddesses, it could be interpreted that we are conceding that there very well may be such entities, it's just that we don't happen to believe in them. Of course, we are saying no such thing. The term "unbeliever" further misrepresents atheists by giving rise to the accusation by religionists that since we are unbelievers we therefore believe in nothing. How wrong can they be! Our beliefs are the tenets by which we set our values. They have nothing to do, however, with mass mythology or mysticism. Maybe we should try to leave the "B" word to the believers. Since they tend to believe in just about everything, they'll get a lot more use out of it anyway.
SETTLE DOWN!In our first issue, Winter 1994/95, we used the quote "The world will not be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest". Some readers were upset by the implied violence contained in the phrase. Well, it was only an angry metaphor and originated from the French Enlightenment era philosopher Denis Diderot. But we must admit, we take great pleasure in having used it again in this paragraph.
WHY GOD NEVER RECEIVED TENURE1. He had only one major publication. 2. It was in obscure languages. 3. It had no references. 4. It wasn't published in a refereed journal. 5. Some doubt that he wrote it himself. 6. The scientific community can't replicate his results. 7. He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects. 8. When one experiment went awry, he tried to cover it up by drowning all the subjects. 9. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample. 10. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book. 11. Some say he had his son teach the class. 12. He expelled the first two students for learning too much.
BLARNEY TO THE MAX What kind of madness infects an entire country where it is perceived as acceptable for voters to decide whether or not a couple should stay together? Of course a couple should stay together because they want to stay together. It's nobody's business but theirs! Why does anyone care what a celibate old buffoon from Rome via Poland thinks? How the Catholic church can command any respect from anyone is an amazing mystery to us. In Ireland, as in Newfoundland, the church has almost total control over the so-called public schools. When they find out about priests molesting kids, they cover it up. Instead of immediately firing the priest and handing him in to the authorities, they move him to another parish where he is not known and can start molesting again, as was done in Canada. What the hell do these guys, from the papal gas bag and the "ghoul of Calcutta" on down to the buggering priests, know about family?
THE X-RATED BIBLEA Montreal man, Nhu Hung Bui, has petitioned the Quebec Superior Court to ban the Bible from public places. He says that both the old and the new testaments "promote violence, racism, discrimination and incite incest." A university lecturer in his native Viet Nam, Bui says that it constitutes a serious violation of the freedoms guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadian Press Nov. 24/95 While we don't support the banning of books, we certainly insist that religious books of all kinds be removed from court houses, court rooms and federal, provincial and municipal legislative chambers. We are attempting to get in touch with Mr. Bui in order to offer support and encouragement.
KENTUCKY FRIED SINSWe've all seen the hordes of orthodox Jews in Israel mumbling, tottering and wailing in their ridiculous black outfits, ringlets and beards. We just came across a photo of one of these goofs holding a squawking chicken over his head. Turns out he is transferring his "sins" to the poor chicken. He thinks that when he kills the chicken, his so-called sins will be gone. Now, this guy appears to be about 70 years old or so, and you would think he might have gained a little wisdom in his journey through life. The poor dope probably thinks he did.
A RELIGION IS A RELIGION IS A RELIGIONBuddhism Is often offered as an alternative to god belief, a sort of "non-religion". We reject this completely. Correspondent Tim Eyre from Nottingham, England offers this analysis from the atheist perspective. It has been savagely edited for reasons of space. Buddhism was invented in the 6th Century BC by Siddhartha Gautama in India. He was brought up in luxury which he abandoned to seek enlightenment. During his search he was confronted by the signs of old age, sickness and death. He was desperate to find a means of enlightenment that would let him escape from these three weaknesses. Buddha is supposed to have reached enlightenment while in deep meditation. He took the name Buddha which means "enlightened one". His 'realization' was that all life is suffering. No one can escape from sickness, death, old age or separation from those they love. He decided that all such suffering is caused by the physical desires of the body. To overcome this is to reach Nirvana, the complete freedom from the desires that cause suffering. Nirvana is supposed to be reached by following an 'eightfold path' which involves 'realizing' what the solution is, cultivating a mind free from negative emotions, being kind and engaging in meditation. The better one manages these steps, the higher up one is reincarnated and when done really well, one attains Nirvana. If one does it badly, one is reincarnated as a lower creature. What, then, is wrong with Buddhism? As far as I am aware, no holy wars have been fought for Buddha, nor have major Buddhist inquisition taken place. It seems that the most significant criticism of Buddhism is that it is false. Buddhism is definitely a proselytising religion. It is therefore guilty of filling people's heads with nonsense. After dissecting the doctrine of reincarnation, it makes Heaven and Hell seem quite plausible constructs. Buddhism may not be a violent religion. However, if spending the better part of one's waking hours in meditation, staring at the end of one's nose and chanting the same phrase over and over again is not a pointless waste of human life, I don't know what is. It may not cause as much trouble as the more dogmatic religions; it does, however, waste lives, preach false propositions and divert creative energies that could be better spent elsewhere. Finally, the typical atheist (is there such a thing? ed.) believes that some kind of Nirvana will be attained on dying anyway. Oblivion is certainly a complete freedom from suffering and bodily desires.
GET SAVED AT SAVE-ON Jimmy Pattison, one of B.C.'s richest men (his Group had sales of $3.3 billion last year) and financial angel for evangelical Christians was recently reported to be wishing to expand his largesse into the realm of tele-vangelism. Through one of his companies, Save-on Foods, Pattison offered financial support this year to the nation's first all-Christian TV Station, CJIL in Lethbridge, Alberta. He has also been having discussions with the fundagelicals who have applied to operate Greater Vancouver's first single-faith TV station called Christian National TV. According to noted Vancouver Christian mouthpiece Bernice Gerard who also happens to be an executive with the proposed station, PATTlSON APPEARS TO LIKE TO KEEP QUIET ABOUT HIS PHILANTHROPY TOWARD CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS SO WE WON'T TELL ANYONE. Well, it now looks like it has all been for nought for Saint Jimmy and Mother Bernice. Their application was turned down by federal broadcast regulators (The Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission) because they were not satisfied that their religious programming services would, as proposed, be balanced by the presentation of various points of view. Maybe Jimmy should give his gal-pal Bernice a gig at one of his Save-On grocery stores. Perhaps she could read from the Book of Crustaceans down in the Seafood Department.
SINCE YOU'VE ASKED We appreciate the response that we have received at the Canadian Atheist, but among the mix of mostly bouquets and the odd brickbat, one question in particular pops up regularly: Why do we seem to specialize in "picking on" or "having it in for" the Christian religion? Well, perhaps it is because Christianity is the most in-your-face religion in North America and its influence is systemic. Its proponents work tirelessly in an effort to control us and, whether it's lobbying for compulsory childbearing or for slow death without dignity, It is their wills that they insist will be done, from birth to burial. Tax credits for their mind-control centres (churches) undermine any "good" they may do for the community; for every tax break there is a tax bill and somebody has to pay it. And what religion can beat Christianity for staging the most Gargantuan orgy of PR known to modern man: Christmas. (Just try to make it through one December without being bombarded relentlessly by that infernal Pa-Rum-Pa-Friggin'' Pum!) So, although we may be somewhat guilty of "swattin' at the kid that's closest" (figuratively speaking!), we hope that our main message is not lost; that we consider all religions divisive, destructive and dehumanizing. They are all man-made tools of repression and power and we hold them all in equal disdain. Net surfers can find this newsletter at url: http://magi.com/~galent/hao-ca.html
WHAAAT ?According to Editor Susan Brooks Thistlewaite of the Chicago Theological Seminary, this is the actual argument that some Christians gave her for not wanting to fiddle around with any more new biblical translations: "If the King James version of the Bible was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me."
SPEAKING OF CUTBACKS. Any time now Justice Minister Allan Rock is expected to introduce an omnibus bill containing more than 80 Criminal Code changes along with several major measures including the criminalization of the horrific practice of female genital mutilation. This religio-cultural act of barbarism is believed to be growing in Canada along with the immigration of its proponents from Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. This will be a breakthrough. It will be telling the world that Canadians will not tolerate butchery in the name of religion or culture -- a chasm of difference between us and our neighbours to the South, where in some States, anyone who has a house that can be used as a church, a kitchen table that can serve as an alter and a stray dog or cat that can be sacrificed can get into the church business and then it's hands off! But there is another unkind cut that our society still condones and that is circumcision. (There's only one kind and that's male.) A ridiculous and sadistic Jewish religious ritual, it gained acceptance in secular Western society as a practical procedure for "hygienic" reasons and was carried out as a matter of course on all male babies born in Canadian hospitals beginning in the forties. It became a matter of choice for the befuddled new parents who were quick to acquiesce to the authoritarian medical advice that it would be the "right thing to do". But now in the 90's, when it's okay to say penis even in polite society, we are hearing a loud outcry of resentment among many of those men who had their natural physiognomies irrevocably altered in infancy when they were helpless to object. These men must live with a lifetime choice that was not theirs. If this injustice concerns you, write or fax Justice Minister Allan Rock before this omnibus bill is passed and demand that the practice of circumcision (unless for reasons of therapeutic medical necessity) be criminalized also. Copies of issues 1 through 4 of this newsletter are available. Just ask us, and we'll send 'em. DOXOLOGY II by Martin Grosswendt Praise god from whom all blessings flow Who made clams and Spaghetti-O Prunes, pickled onions and Cheez-whiz. Praise him who am the great "I is." Praise god who put our friends beside us Then gave us all conjunctivitis, Gout, rickets, cancer and the leech. Plus that fate which awaits us each. Praise god, who made both me and you And made the pill and condom too, With these and diaphragms and all We're lucky we got here at all. Praise him who lurks behind the cloud Who does us dirty, does us proud; A sense of humour from on high. God! What a concept, what a guy!
THE CANADIAN ATHEIST SOCIETYThe original organizers of the society are in the process of applying for a federal charter. All are very busy folks and the process may take some time. We also intend to petition Revenue Canada for status as a not-for-profit, educational organization. Although present activities are largely centred in British Columbia, we have a growing list of interested correspondents from across Canada as well as some from the US and the UK. The newsletter project is funded about 75% by the editor and 25% from unsolicited contributions. All production is volunteer and our limited financial resources are used only for materials, printing and postage. We send the newsletter to anyone who asks for it and to people who we think may be interested (or angered). We urge readers to take a few minutes to write a few lines to Justice Minister Allan Rock. Specifically, we urge the removal of the god references from the preamble of the Canadian Constitution and the National Anthem. This would return them to all Canadians, not just religious Canadians. If atheists are to have an effect, this is the only way to do it! It only takes a few minutes and no postage is required. We would be delighted to receive copies of your correspondence. Thanks. Allan Rock Minister of Justice Ottawa, Canada K1A 0H8 Fax: 613-990-7255
TAKING THE CURE?They have names, like "Love In Action", "Where Grace Abounds", "Worthy Creations", "Restoration Inc.", "Freedom At Last" and "Free!". As reported by Justin Chin in the December '95 Progressive, these gung-ho, New Age names are, in fact, part of a web of Christian ministries attempting to lead gays and lesbians out of "the life". They are among many other groups who are under the wing of Exodus International a 20 year old organization which calls itself "a worldwide coalition of Christians dedicated to helping men and women who struggle with homosexuality to find change from their broken sexual orientation and sinful sexual behaviours through the transforming power of Jesus Christ." Dropouts from the various groups pointed out that the people in the program were not unhappy because they were gay; they were unhappy because the church said they couldn't be gay. The "ex-gays" try to drown their homosexuality in Bible verses, marriage, family and their own new subcultural niche, but their homosexuality remains "uncured". These groups know that the best they can do is suppress a person's sexual orientation and yet they hold out an entire industry catered to "curing" homosexuality. The results they produce are people whose lives have been ruined by their perceptions of what "the gay life" is, perceptions that have been distorted by the homophobic rhetoric of the ex-gay ministries. What Justin Chin found most deplorable was how these Christian groups exploit a person's failed relationships and dysfunctional family history as fodder for their spiritual and psychological bigotry. But the amazing thing is how these Christian gay-busters continue to grow in leaps and bounds in view of the known fact that the actual founders of Exodus International, Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, have disassociated themselves from the group. The two men fell in love and left the organization, saying now that Exodus is just "homophobia with a happy face".
BOOK RECOMMENDATIONDeadly Doctrine by Wendell Watters, MD (Psychological damage caused by Christianity) From: H.H. Waldo Bookseller Box 350, Rockton, IL 61072 1-800-66WALDO Don't forget to try your library
THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN RIGHT-EOUSWouldn't you think that the hallelujah hotbed of America would be some place like No Wank, Arkansas? Nope. The 'winner' is Colorado Springs, Colorado. That City of Chumps is home and headquarters to almost every evangelical Christian cult that ever came down the pike, from the pathetic Promise Keepers (the fastest-growing men's movement in North America) to "Doc" Dobson's Focus on the Family. Colorado's other theocratic backwater, Denver, where government officials feel free to use their offices and tax money to promote religion, is presently being targeted by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. In protest of the presence of a stone tablet of the Ten Commandments on state property (the subject of a Foundation lawsuit), members sought to place their own free thought monument of like design adjacent to it. The Foundation's monument read: "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." Their application for a permit was (surprise!!) rejected.