The Canadian Atheist Issue 3


The city crest of New Westminster, BC prominently contains a banner with the phrase "In God We Trust". In April/95 this editor wrote to city council suggesting that the phrase discriminates against citizens who hold no religious beliefs and it should be removed. The letter was mentioned at April 24 council meeting and council referred the matter to the city's solicitor for an opinion. The item was carried on the front page of both local twice-weekly papers and provoked a flurry of letters to the editor from both "sides" of the issue. The matter appeared in some form in the following 12 issues of the Royal City Record/NOW. City Council received two letters from religious residents opposed to the removal of the phrase and citing the "supremacy of god" phrase in the preamble to the Canadian Constitution. This action prompted the following letter which was delivered to City Hall on June 5/95:

Mayor and Council New Westminster

Regarding my concerns about mixing religion with the people's business. At City Council on May 29/95, a motion was passed unanimously to ignore these concerns and to maintain the god phrase on our City crest.

At the same time that the motion was being made and passed, the City Administrator advised council that an opinion had not yet been received but was forthcoming from staff on the matter. It seems to me that the motion was out of order.

The word "we" on the City crest certainly includes every citizen. Why is it so difficult for Council to understand that many of us are offended by the phrase? How can you so arrogantly dismiss this concern as trivial?

It is obvious that all members of City Council are religionists and that the thousands of New Westminster citizens who hold no religious beliefs are unrepresented in our City Government on this matter. Nineteenth century civics have no place in the twenty-first century. It is truly unfortunate that in a modern democratic society it is still a struggle to separate religion from the state.

It would be a simple matter to resolve this issue at the City Council level.

The "supremacy of god" reference in the preamble to the Constitution was arbitrarily inserted in 1982 along with the prayer phrase in the National Anthem. These phrases are also discriminatory and they too should be removed. No constitutional document should provide grounds for discrimination against atheists! - Ray Blessin

We hope to pursue this to a successful conclusion. If New Westminster City Council fails to make the required change, we will mount a court challenge. When we can figure out how to challenge the god references in the Constitution and the National Anthem without risking personal bankruptcy, we will do that too.


John Furniss, an English priest, doing his job which was terrifying youngsters, wrote of a young "sinner" in Hell in The Books for Children: "His eyes are burning like two coals. Two long flames come out of his ears. . . Sometimes he opens his mouth, and breath of blazing fire rolls out. But listen! There is the sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it really a kettle boiling? No. Then what is it? Hear what it is. The blood is boiling in the scalding veins of that boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is boiling in his bones." -- Its no wonder kids have to be forced to attend Sunday school.


A couple of years ago TV gas bag Peter Popoff was deported by the German government for practicing medicine without a licence. Any sane person watching these frauds "healing" members of their ignorant audiences would agree that they should be shut down by law. What they do is physically abuse sick and injured members of the audience and then tell a blatant lie claiming that they are "healed". In 1986 James Randi exposed Popoff, who claimed to be guided by God's voice. Popoff would race around an auditorium, striding up to dozens of people he had never met, greeting them by name, reciting their addresses, diagnosing their illnesses and then pretending to heal them with a laying on of hands. With the help of several volunteers, a video camera and a radio frequency scanner, Randi discovered that Popoff's wife Elizabeth toured the audience before the service began and engaged in seemingly casual chitchat. In her oversize purse was a radio transmitter that carried the conversations backstage, where Popoff transcribed them. When the evangelist later made his rounds of the audience, he had in his left ear a hidden miniature receiver that enabled Elizabeth, now backstage, to direct him to those members of the audience she had already pumped for information.

''Popoff says that God speaks directly to him because he's an anointed minister,'' said Randi afterward. ''Three things amaze me about that. First of all, it turns out that God's frequency -- I didn't know that he used radio -- is 39.170 MHz, and that God is a woman, and sounds exactly like Popoff's wife Elizabeth.'' Last year, shortly after Randi published his book The Faith Healers, which included a chapter on the Popoff investigation, donations to Popoff's TV ministry dropped so sharply that he declared bankruptcy. Author Isaac Asimov called Randi a national treasure. Randi's targets are less enthusiastic. A Popoff staff member calls him ''the devil'' and an atheist. (yikes!)

ed. note: Recommended reading: Mask of Nostradamus - James Randi - Prometheus Books


The Black-clad orthodox Jews wailing at the stone wall in Israel, the millions gathered at Mecca, the thousands in St. Peter's Square to hear the pope, the gatherings of the hundreds of Muslim men who daily assemble in tight formation with their heads on the ground and their bums in the air, the pro-lifers who believe it is their god's will to kill abortion providers, the god-fearing good ol' boys who righteously blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City and the family down the street who attends church the odd Sunday -- they share one basic commonality and that is their belief and participation in the irrationality of religion. Their only differences are to what degree. For an atheist it is impossible to understand how so many can strongly hold beliefs which are so stupid that they are impossible to believe.


Due to the recent rumblings of the creationists, we have decided that it might be a good idea to examine creationist "science".

A common theme of creationism is to find nonexistent trends in data that "prove" that the universe is very young. Creationists will find some short term trend and extrapolate it back in time to show that conditions at more than 6,000 years ago could not possibly support life. For example, in his book In the Beginning, creationist Walter Brown makes the claim that "Direct measurements of the earth's magnetic field over the past 140 years show a steady and rapid decline in its strength." He then goes on to extrapolate 25,000 years back in time to show that the resulting magnetic energy would melt the planet!

In fact, Brown only refers to the dipole component of the earth's magnetic field. The non-dipole moment is increasing, so much so, that the overall magnetic field has not changed much at all in the 140 years of measurement (see G.B. Dalrymple, Can the Earth be Dated from Decay of Its Magnetic Field - Journal Geological Education, 1983, v. 31, pp. 124-133).

Furthermore, evidence recorded in lava flows indicates that the earth's magnetic field has reversed itself many times. Therefore, to conclude based on a mere moment's (geological time) measurement that the rate of change is constant, or even uniform, is clearly ludicrous.


It is kind of unsettling to watch the contortions of one huge religious group instantly blame another huge religious group for the horrible bombing in Oklahoma City. Then when the first huge religious group finds out that it was some of their own who did the deed and not members of the other huge religious group, to watch the sort of numb reaction and retrenchment into mumbled attempts at explanation for the racist attacks on US citizens who happened to be of Middle Eastern origin. Terrorism of every hue is always carried out in the name of one or another of the make-believe gods.


One of our readers apparently did some clandestine faxing of the last issue and that prompted the following faxed response from a representative of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries. We offer it without comment complete with original spelling and grammar:

To Whom it may concern:

Dear sirs, the God that you don't believe in told me to write this letter. Words can not describe how angry and disgusted I felt when I read your fax that you have been sending to businesses all over.

At this point I could say many angry and displeasing words, but I will not. The God that you don't believe in and whom I serve commands those who believe and serve Him to love and forgive others, even as He loves and forgives us. I can not blast you out of the water with harsh words to show you how I feel. The God that you don't believe in and whom I serve would not have done it that way. Therefore neither can I.

When we sin and rebell against God, He didn't destroy us. No, He didn't, what He did instead was to show His love for us by sending His Son Jesus the Anointed One and His Anointing to die for our sins. The Bible plainly tells us that even though we are enemies to God because of our sin and rebellion, He sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself.

I don't know if any of you ever read the Bible, but I personally don't know how someone can read the Bible then close it and put it aside and say "I don't believe a word I just read". Especially the New Testament. I can see them saying I don't understand the Bible because no one fully understands the Bible 100% but things in the Bible are being understood more than ever before.

If you want to go to Hell, please, please don't invite and encourage others to go with you because Hell is not a place you or any one would like to go. If you continue to travel down the road you are on right now, I can assure you that Hell is your destiny. The reason why I said that it is because any one who rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to the Bible will perish.

Now, I love you and God loves you too much to just sit back and watch you or anyone go to Hell. That's why God gave us the Bible. It tells us all about God rather than satan and how to escape Hell and go to Heaven. That's why God gave us Preachers and Evangelists, to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to the Bible, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save and deliver from the darkness to light, from serving satan to serving God, from Hell to Heaven. All this and more is done by people hearing and accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, that's why we have books, tapes and videos so people can read, watch and listen to and hear the Good News of the Gospel and get saved and delivered. Because if no one preached, no one would get saved and if no one gets saved then every one would go to Hell and God doesn't want that to happen. If He did He would not have sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. It is not God's will or desire that any on goes to Hell, but unfortunately, people there anyway by their God-given free will.

Now, you see why I am so upset with this fax I received from you. When I read something like this, it hurts me to know that there are people who willfully reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ and rebell against God. Not only that, but they also have the boldness to invite others to do so.

I beg you again, if you want to go to Hell, don't invite others to go with you because Hell is not a place where anyone with common sense and right mind would want to go.

May the God who you don't believe in bless you! I know personally that He not only will bless you but He also loves you very much!

Sincerely yours,

Robert Harley

P.S. If you have never read the Bible, I recommend you to do so, but start with the New Testament. If you have, then read it again for the first time and ask God to help you understand it.

We can add nothing to this letter except to thank Mr. Harley for his unabashed display of ignorance on behalf of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries. We would add him to our mailing list but he gave us no hint as to his whereabouts and no phone or fax number.

Dear Canadian Atheist,

On April 29 I chaired a Pro-Life v. Pro-Choice debate between Gordon Watson and Korky Day, at Burnaby Public Library. In doing so, I quoted from both The Canadian Atheist(Issue #2) and King James Bible. Pretty Liberal, eh? However, what I was really doing is teaching "Third Position" thinking. The bible teaches very clearly that the Devil is not an atheist and as for these `Christians'. . . which of them will deny that all their righteousness is as filthy rags?...

I appreciate your statement that "morality is not rooted in religion". . . C.A. is very moralistic. In haranguing the religionists. . . you make strong moralistic statements against liars,. . .murderers. . ., thieves. . . and perverts. . . Now it seems to me that the Ten Commandments and their corollaries are summarized as moral injunctions against liars, murderers, thieves and perverts. All cultures have their mores (and folkways). Here in B.C., neither left nor right has the monopoly on virtue. . . or vice. I don't doubt that we are all in for some big surprises on Judgment Day.

Between now and then, may I suggest an intelligence contest?. . . The contest is to design [a] good culture. . . We want good [food, clothes, housing] etc. . . . But the intelligent will be separated from the stupid by the ability to choose well within the means of their communities . . .

I have given hundreds. . . of intelligence tests over the course of my career. I hope you will participate in something more intelligent than the intelligence test which is their intelligence contest.

Sincerely, Dr Franklin Wayne Poley, M.Sc., Ph. D.

P.S. Don't be too hard on the `religionists' because of those `great puzzlements' in the Bible. . . There are . . . references to unicorns as well, and I don't know what a unicorn is, but I'm glad the challenge to my imagination is presented.

Secular science is full of anomalies. . . For example, the magnetosheath will diminish to zero in 1,500-2,000 years we are told. Extrapolating into the past, all life on Earth should have been an impossibility at the time of the `Cambrian Explosion'... i.e. too much magnetism. I love those great puzzlements, as the King of Siam would say. A world without mystery is not to my liking.

We respond:

Thank you for quoting us in your debate.

We define religionists far more broadly than just Christians, Jews and Moslems. There is a huge spectrum for us to choose from. Sadly, we've focussed mainly on Christendom, we hope to rectify this in the future.

The ten commandments are far more effective as indictments against women and people who don't wish to believe in the god found in the bible.

Your intelligence test sounds intriguing, however, why not just buy a copy of a computer simulation program like Sim City . . . ?

Re: the magnetosheath (er, we assume you mean magnetoSPHERE. . .) We guess that you are getting this particular "anomaly" from Walter Brown; please see the article on page 2 of this issue dealing with this little nugget of creationist misinformation. We are quite amazed that you would be caught by this! Surely, Dr. Poley, someone with your credentials (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) should recognize the dangers of extrapolations based on insufficient data.

We will gladly admit that there are "anomalies" in science. You do not need to resort to invented ones. Scientists thrive on the endless supply of real ones. Religionists, however, tend to ignore the anomalies in their world views and end up choking on them.

Dear Editor

I received issue #1 of your quarterly newsletter. Three things leaped [sic] out at me.

On the back page you make a statement "There is not one word in the Bible in praise of intelligence." I don't know whether that is true or not, but there's certainly a great deal in the Bible about wisdom. If you can show me how someone can achieve wisdom without intelligence, I might be inclined to believe you.

At the top of page five, you note that you're afraid of aiming your satire at Jews and Muslims. Why then are Christians fair game?

Further down the same page you state. "Christianity has survived over most other religions of antiquity because its whole history has been one of violence and bloodshed." There has certainly been a lot of violence and bloodshed, but I am not sure that you can say its "whole history" had been that way. I presume you haven't read about St. Francis? Or about the priest who accompanied Columbus to the new world, and spent the rest of his life protesting against the treatment of natives? I assume you don't consider persons such as Jean Vanier or Mother Teresa or Oscar Romero to be Christians? You would be more convincing if you were able to cite some atheists who have been as active in working against violence in favour of peace and harmony as these people.

Finally at the bottom of page five you state "The hatred that boils beneath the surface of all religions bubbles to the top." I perceive a lot of hatred in your newsletter. I suppose that must make atheism a religion.

Yours Sincerely,

Jim Taylor.

Wood Lake Books

We Respond:

As we have previously stated, we agree that there is much said about wisdom in the bible, but it's all about the "wisdom" of following your particular god, which doesn't seem too intelligent.

As for our article "Boy, are We Chicken!", you ought to re-read it. Why it has caused so much confusion is completely beyond us (see the article about This Magazine on page 8). We clearly said that we will aim more of our barbs at the Jews and Moslems.

Ya' know, going back to that article, it occurs to us that to incur the wrath of Christians would be pretty dangerous as well. It is quite possible that Tom Metzger, the pastor Chuck Scott or the boss of the Michigan militia (a Baptist minister) might like to hunt us down and kill us also. . . Oh, Well.

Now let's get to the listing game. It's interesting that you forgot such "good" Christians as Hitler, Ferdinand Marcos, Gen. Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Pope Pious II, or Pope Innocent III in your list, though we agree that Mother "Ghoul of Calcutta" Teresa should be included. Even Pope Paul will one day be remembered as one of history's most effective mass murderers. From the time of Christianity's inception to the present day, its whole history has been one of violence, bondage and bloodshed.

You've asked us to cite some atheists committed to peace and harmony. Well, how about Andrei Sakharov, Ruth Hurmence Green, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Bob Geldof, Francis Crick, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Richard Feynman, John Lennon, Bertrand Russell, Susan B. Anthony, Mikhail Gorbachev, John Scopes, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Rosa Luxemberg and Percy Bysshe Shelley And that's only for starters. You should really read a few books, other than the ones you publish.

As for hatred, your perception is clearly false. A careful reading of our newsletter will reveal that all of the hatred comes from the religions we write about.

We welcome contributions to help with postage and production.


Top 10 Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Religion:

  1. No one will kill you for not drinking beer.
  2. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.
  3. Beer has never caused a major war.
  4. They don't force beer on minors who can'tthink for themselves.
  5. When you have beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.
  6. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured to death over his brand of beer.
  7. You don't have to wait 2,000 years for a second beer.
  8. There are laws saying that beer labels can't lie to you.
  9. You can prove you have a beer.
  10. If you have devoted your life to beer, there are groups to help you stop.


Religion should be treated exactly like second-hand smoke; where it effects those who don't want it, it should be banned.


I will tell you a pleasant tale which has in it a touch of pathos . . . A man got religion, and asked the priest what he must do to be worthy of his new estate. The priest said, "Imitate our Father in Heaven, learn to be like him." The man studied his bible diligently and thoroughly and understandingly, and then with prayers for heavenly guidance instituted his imitations. He tricked his wife into falling down stairs, and she broke her back and became a paralytic for life, he betrayed his brother into the hands of a sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed him into the almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms, another with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea; he furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her into her teens deaf, dumb and blind for life; and after helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him. Then he reported to the priest, who said that was no way to imitate his Father in Heaven. The convert asked wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his way.

Mark Twain: Letters From the Earth


As reported in the May/95 issue of The Progressive, the San Francisco chapter of the Lesbian Avengers summoned a "plague of locusts" to descend on Exodus International, a Christian, anti-gay organization that uses intensive counselling to attempt to "cure" people of their homosexuality. "If anyone deserves a plague of Biblical proportions right now, it's the radical right," says Avenger Liz Harris. A group of five Avengers stormed the Exodus headquarters in San Rafael, California, climbed onto the reception desk shouting, "We don't need to be cured," and released 1,000 crickets.


From Alabama's Birmingham News: "Union Hill Cumberland Presbyterian Church raised about $2,500 recently with its Bigfoot Hollow Coon Hunt, also known as the 'Coon Hunt for Christ', in which raccoons are shot after being chased into trees by dogs. 'It's reaching the young people with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus,' the Reverend Charles Hood said."


Regarding the possible threat from other religions, general counsel for Pat Robertson's slyly-named American Centre for Law and Justice, Jay Sekulow, threw out this challenge at a meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters in February. "If we think the gospel is as strong as it is, we don't have to be afraid of whether the Buddhist or Satanist is going to give their prayer. Let them call on their god, and we'll call on ours, and let's SEE who answers with fire!"


We much appreciated the kind mention of our efforts in the Jan/Feb issue of The Humanist Perspective. They said: "We are pleased to see another publication determined to publicize the often absurd, frequently harmful and occasionally criminal activities by religionists and some of their institutions. There is more than enough religion-related rascality to go around." AMEN.


No matter what kind of atheist you are - dyed in the wool or "born again" (a term that can only truly apply to atheists after having surfaced from the childhood onslaught of mindmuck), there's no need to feel odd person out. Not as long as there are such organizations as the American Atheists Inc. For those of you who are not familiar with the American Atheists, it is a voice of reason in the wilderness. They describe themselves as a non-profit, educational organization chartered in 1963 for diffusing knowledge and promoting freedom of the mind. Madalyn O'Hair, founder, and son, Jon G. Murray, president, co-edit the American Atheist monthly newsletter and along with daughter Robin they have devoted their lives to the fight for and defence of the rights of atheists and the celebration of free thought. They were responsible for the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision to ban prayer in U.S. public schools - a long and hard-fought-for victory that is up against constant challenge. They provide an interesting catalogue of solstice cards and various atheist greeting cards, bumper stickers such as "Teach Children That God is Make-believe" and "Apes Evolved From Creationists", and a fascinating selection of educational and thought-provoking books, pamphlets and video tapes that may be ordered. Recommended reading:

Atheists: Their Dilemma (Madalyn O'Hair)
 	Unzipped: The Popes Bare All (Arthur Ide)
 	The Bible Handbook (Foote & Ball)
 	The Case Against Religion (A. Ellis)
 	Sex Mythology (Sha Rocco)
 	The Peril of Faith (Martin Bard)
 	The X-rated Bible (Ben Akerley)

Contact:	American Atheists, Inc.
		PO Box 140195
		Austin, TX  78714-0195
		Fax: (512)467-9525     


Vancouver Sun religion writer Douglas Todd cites a Brigham Young University study in his June 10/95 column. BYU researchers found that: "...atheists and agnostics tend to have better mental health than those who are into religion only for what they can get out of it." (Why else is anyone into religion?) "Many atheists and agnostics have found meaning beyond self-interest. They believe in easing the suffering of all." Todd calls this a "paradoxical twist", we call it logical and essential humanitarianism.

The following is a letter to the pope written by Vancouver Island atheist Anton Notdurft:

Dear Sir,

Frank Ogden in his book: The Last Book, page 11, tells us: "One quarter of the world's population, 1.2 billion, do not have access to safe drinking water. It is estimated that 250 million people in Africa, about 40% of that continent`s population, will suffer or die as result of water-related troubles in the next decade. In developing countries about 25 million are dying now from unsafe water; 60% are children. One thousand children die every hour from diarrhea."

In an orderly and compassionate world the sane population would produce as many children as they can feed, clothe and shelter, and no more.

It seems that we have become less than caring for our fellow human. We reproduce recklessly.

Of the eight million children who die yearly of malnutrition or lack of safe water, at least ten percent must be Catholics. That means 800,000 Catholic children live and die miserably every year.

This heinous barbarism does not speak well of the Pope, Vatican and the Catholic Church.

If there is a God he would not allow this savagery to be perpetuated by his so-called representatives.

What Hitler did was immeasurably cruel. The good thing was that most of humanity saw the venomous evil and did something to eliminate it. With you it is a different story. You are immodestly parading as an altruist. The retarded part of humanity who still believe in your benevolence, keep you mighty and also corrupt, so that you can go and unflinchingly murder 800,000 Catholic children every year. Congratulations, you are doing better than Hitler!

Your sinister behaviour surpassed the great fuhrer. You do not kill openly as he did, you kill clandestinely and in the process you make yourselves appear as saints. You are masters of deceit.

You are not fully to blame for this hooliganism. It is the dim part of humanity who should carry the biggest burden for the blame in this sorry affair. If they did not support you blindly you would have to seek a higher level of ethics and morality. You would have to make an effort to engage in more noble activities than you do now; you would have to stop murdering children. It is unfortunate that the dull masses support your rampant gangsterism gullibly. - Anton Notdurft


Ontario based This Magazine had this to say about our first efforts:

God Bless the Atheists

What does one do in an atheist publication besides make fun of the religious types? It turns out, however that some religions are getting off easier than others. Tired of throwing Christians to the lions, Canadian atheists promise to throw in Jews and Muslims as well. In a recent Canadian Atheist newsletter, the group says they would "like to aim more of our satire at the Jews and Muslims and we will." Thank God. But don't hold your breath for biting original comedy - just good old Jew and Arab baiting. The group says it has held off on attacking Jews and Muslims thus far because, though they would never fear the wrath of God, they do admit to fearing "the wrath of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which specializes in defamation, and the Muslims might hunt us down and kill us."

Uh, thanks, but don't bother praying for us or blessing us.

In the May letters section of This Magazine, Quebec letter writer Greg Erwin eloquently came to our defence:

". . .You have absolutely no basis for assuming that an atheist magazine would engage in "good old Jew and Arab baiting". . . Why would you insult the atheist community with such a cheap shot? The newsletter in question seems to have been addressing a concern on the part of its readers that all of its attacks on religion were being aimed at various versions of Christianity which some might consider to be unfair. So they decided to spread the satire around and, in a satirical way, stated that they had been worried about the Anti-Defamation League or being singled out by a Muslim Anti-Blasphemy squad. . ."

Thanks Greg.


We applaud the firm stance taken by BC's Education Minister Art Charbonneau against the fundagelicals controlling the Abbotsford school board. These throwbacks from the 18th century, some of who preach at Trinity Western "University", will have to be forced to obey the School Act and stop the practice of religious indoctrination in public schools. In a Vancouver Sun column supporting the school board policy of presenting "creation science" as a valid theory, Denny Boyd cites the King Rat of the US Institute for Creation Science, "Dr." Duane Gish: ". . . the scientific evidences which support creation should be taught along with the scientific evidences which support evolution in a philosophically-neutral manner devoid of references to any religious literature." That would be fine except that claims of evidence supporting the creation myth are completely fraudulent. Besides, theirs is not the only creation myth; what about the many others? We agree with the suggestion that if creationism is permitted to be taught as part of the science curriculum then science should be taught in religion classes. Fair's fair.

The Canadian Atheist
Published by
The Canadian Atheist Society

Editor: Ray Blessin
Fax: (604)525-4911

Contributing Editors:
Fern Wayman
Richard Nistuk
Laurence Wayman