This month, September 1996, will mark the first anniversary of the mysterious disappearance of the founders of American Atheists, Inc., the Murray-O'Hair family (Madalyn Murray O'Hair ; son and president, Jon Murray and adopted daughter and lawyer, Robin.) The response to our scathing article in our last Newsletter (Issue 7 - Summer '96) has been vigourous and shares our incredulity concerning the non-investigation of what we feel certain involves foul play.
We received an immediate response from Conrad Goeringer, a member of the Board of Directors of American Atheists, Inc. and non-resident staff of the American Atheist, a magazine that was finally resuscitated after the almost-completed issue sat around the floors of their headquarters for a year. In his e-mailed letter, Mr. Goeringer urged us "caution in trying to come to any conclusions at this time about the disappearance of the O'Hairs." He justifies this warning due to the "LACK of good evidence telling us what, if anything, may have happened." We always thought that evidence is something that is looked for and gathered during an investigation. However, Mr. Goeringer told us that we "members of the Board of Directors of American Atheists, Inc. continue to debate the wisdom of filing a missing person report." He says he was told that such a report "is mostly a piece of paper that ends up in a filing cabinet somewhere." Oh, well.
The new president of American Atheists, Ellen Johnson, did an editorial in their resurrected magazine that offered little attempt to inform or update the membership on the disappearance of the Murray-O'Hairs. Rather she waxed Pollyanna-ish saying, "For us, the Murray-O'Hairs are just not here", then she delivered a little pep talk along the lines of when-the-going-gets-tough, etc. and whisked off the page to the tune of "Oh, buffalo gals can you come out tonight, come out tonight . . ."
It has been said that there is no such thing as the perfect crime. But in a morally-bankrupt nation such as America, where wolves wear wolves' clothing and nobody seems to give a damn, anything is possible. And as for the suspicious vanishing of three of the finest and sharpest minds to ever fight the behemoth that is religion in America . . . well, as Conrad Goeringer quipped recently, "Of course, there ARE those alien abductors . . ." Sad. (UPDATE: In the July AA Newsletter, President Ellen Johnson, obviously buckling under media pressure, finally concedes the possibility of foul play in the disappearances and after a year now of no contact with the Murray-O'Hairs, is " beginning to fear the worst". )
The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie . . . Frederick Nietzsche
There are two Mother Teresas -- the illusory and the real. They are both revealed, and shockingly so, in Christopher Hitchens' book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice, reviewed by Michael Hakeem, Ph.D. in the August issue of Freethought Today.
The illusory was born out of BBC TV's own icon, the blithering Malcolm Muggeridge (who "found" Christ just around the same time he was losing his marbles). Muggeridge initiated the BBC filming of the obscure Mother 'T' and her work in Calcutta called "Something Beautiful for God" after having interviewed her for a BBC show. The besotted Muggeridge then followed up with a book of the same title that sold more than 300,000 copies, was reprinted 20 times and was translated into 13 languages. A star was born.
Based solely on "received opinion", Mother Teresa suddenly became "one of the few untouchables in the mental universe of the mediocre and the credulous." --- an impregnable icon. The mass adoration of this fanatical, "God-driven" woman came in the forms of honourary degrees from universities, invitations from heads of state including Presidents Reagan and Clinton, an opportunity to address the United Nations, pilgrimages and prizes including the l979 Nobel Peace Prize. Her advice was sought and her utterances recorded in books. Thus emerges the wisdom of the real Mother Teresa: a collection of "religious inanities, vacuous assertions and ignorant observations".
Aids: It is a just retribution for improper sexual misconduct
Poverty: It is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot. The world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.
Homelessness: The problems facing us are due to the fact that we are too distant from Jesus.
Unemployment: First we must learn to love one another.
Abortion: It is the greatest enemy of peace.
Over-Population: There is no problem of overpopulation, only God's will.
Great resources pour into Mother Teresa's Missionary of Charity but evidence has surfaced revealing a host of horrors concerning negligence and malpractice at the Calcutta facility: misdiagnoses, repeated use of the same unsterilized injection needles, inappropriate medications and a paucity of strong pain killers. After all, Hitchens explains, "The point is not honest relief of suffering but the promulgation of a cult based on death and suffering and subjection."
The "kindly" little nun's bedside manner was demonstrated during a filmed interview where she told of her attendance to a patient suffering unbearable pain from terminal cancer: Smiling at the camera she told of her counsel to the patient. "You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you." She then freely related the response of the sufferer, apparently unaware that it was a put-down. He said, "Then please tell him to stop kissing me."
Hitchens' revelations of this infamous fundamentalist's political wiliness, her stealthy baptism of dying non-Christians and her connections with the dregs of the world's dictators are not so much a surprise, in and of themselves, as is the phenomena of the willingness of people on such a grand scale to accept the validity of "received opinion" without challenge. Should be an enjoyable read for most iconoclasts and a wake-up call for just about everyone.
The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens may be purchased for $15.00 U.S. (postage incl.) from Freedom From Religion Foundation, P.O. Box 750, Madison, Wisconsin 5370l (98 Pages - hardcover)
All things dull and ugly ,
All creatures short and squat
All things rude and nasty
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small.
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.
Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid,
Who made the spikey urchin,
Who made the sharks? He did.
All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.
- Amen -
The difference between a religion and a delusion is the number of people who share it.
When Afghanistan's elected socialist government was in power in the 1980's , dress codes were more lenient and alcohol was allowed. Theatres and music stores did a thriving business. But Afghanistan's new prime minister has closed movie theatres and banned music on television and radio claiming both were repugnant to Islam.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar vowed to run a strict Islamic government and turn the capital of Kabul into a devout town when he was sworn in as Afghanistan's new prime minister in June.
Source: Vancouver Sun July 15/96 (Hold on to your fez! Next issue, we are going to ice Islam...which we hold to be one of the fastest growing, man-made cancers ever to attack the human spirit. ed.)
Who among us have not at one time or another gazed up in awe at the splendour of a starry night and not wondered how and why it all came to be? For teleologists, it is an endless effort to prove that there is intelligent design behind the creation and guidance of the universe, but, alas, empirical evidence relentlessly shows that nothing can be further from the truth.
In his extensive thesis, The Atheism of Astronomy: A Refutation of the Theory That the Universe Is Governed by Intelligence (copyright 1938), Woolsey Teller points out the amazing series of flaws that constitute the universe, from its appalling celestial waste to its meagre and slipshod powers of sustaining life. The uselessness of satellites, their sole function being to whirl incessantly around their parent bodies in aimless revolutions, does not speak of intelligent design. Neither does the incalculable stellar wastage caused by undirected forces -- damaged moons, smashed planets, burst stars due to overly-rapid rotation -- point to the possibility that there is a "Celestial Engineer" in charge.
Earth's cosmic clock is ticking as our sun radiates away its energy into desert space (thereby losing its weight also), squandering 360,000 million tons of energy every day of which only 160 tons reach our planet, or less than one two-thousand-millionth part of the total radiation. The energy not wasted is greatly misdirected, with not enough to sustain life in our polar regions, and too much in the burning deserts of Mongolia and Africa. As the sun loses its weight at the rate of 4 million tons a second, so it correspondingly loses its gravitational hold on the earth. Slowly but steadily, our planet is drifting away from the sun and there is no escaping the inevitability of earth's destiny -- to become just another of the billions of lifeless globes carrying nothing but the frozen remains of what were once living beings. (Are we having fun yet?)
Astronomers have never asked "who" made the stars but rather "what" made the stars. And they know the answer. Stars are born from nebulae (whirling masses of inter-stellar dust and gas) only to pass through successive degrees of temperature and end in death. Nowhere in the universe is there stability or permanence. The endless grind of motion going nowhere and arriving at nothing is the supreme accomplishment of the universe. To ascribe these aimless and senseless activities to intelligence, says Teller, is to insult intelligence.
We are not part of what appears to be a "perfect picture of harmonious relationships." It is not the "beautiful order of the heavens" nor the "stately procession of the planets" that we observe, for the universe is without purpose. It is its enormous power and "bigness" that cause us to pause ; its activities themselves rival stupidity. We are the product of celestial chaos. "We are but bits of stellar matter -- bits of star gone wrong." (Sir Arthur Eddington, N.Y. Times, Oct. 9, 1932)
There is no mysterious guiding hand that prevents the collision of stars. It is the great amount of distance between them -- likened to the scale of 20 tennis balls roaming the surface of the Earth -- that makes the occasion of two stars "sideswiping" each other a rare event. It is this rare "grazing" against another star (by passing within 3 diameters' distance) that a planet is born out of haphazard accident. Through a series of mal-arrangements, out of the 9 planets of our solar system only 1 is conditioned to sustain life, a phenomenon less than "pinpoint" in significance.
Jupiter, the largest planet of our system with a diameter 11 times that of the earth, is devoid of life due to its lack of density (not far from that of water) and its coldness. The same applies to Saturn. Mercury is placed "smack-up" against the sun with such a poorly-timed rotation on its axis that there is an eternal "day" of intense heat on the one side and an eternal "night" of intense cold on the other. Pluto is too cold. Venus is too hot. And so it goes. Pluto, as with most planets of our system, travels in such an extended orbit that it take 250 years to make a complete trip around the sun! Even the earth itself travels in an orbit that is poorly laid-out. It does not stay at a uniform distance from the sun resulting in irregular distribution of heat. This great variation in the heat supply to the earth is responsible for many meteorological disasters.
What kind of celestial intelligence would care to claim authorship of a tiny world like ours, "with all its teeming forms of life pulsating and breeding only that they may continue their pitiless slaughter of one another. . . a butcher-bird impaling its victim on a thorn, or a lion killing a gazelle." so that they can survive?
If the universe and all that is in it is indeed the product of some Great Designer, as theists would have us believe, then she has a lot to answer for.
Sunday school: A prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.
"And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop't we live and die,
Lift not thy hands for IT for help -- for it
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I."
An important ruling by the British Columbia College of Teachers denying certification of Trinity Western University grads as public school teachers addresses a potential fundamental violation of human rights. The Christian Info News (a free religious paper containing 50% advertising) claims that Trinity's "requiring students to adhere to certain behavioral standards" is the reason for the ruling. That statement in the opening paragraph of the page-one article of CIN's August/96 edition attempts to camouflage an insidious bigotry.
Trinity Western University of Langley, B.C.(a Christian college granted university status by the government of former premier Bill Vander Zalm, a Christian fundamentalist) will not be allowed to produce teachers for the public school system in B.C. because the institution discriminates against (among others) lesbians and gays.
The British Columbia College of Teachers recently overwhelmingly rejected the university's appeal of an earlier decision denying Trinity Western the right to a recognized teacher training program.
Trinity Western requires prospective students to sign a document agreeing to refrain from premarital sex, adultery, abortion, homosexual behaviour, viewing of pornography and involvement in the "occult" (what the hell do they think religion is? ed.) among other no-no's. Employees and teachers are likewise governed by these rules.
The College of Teachers does not contest the right of the private college to impose its "values" on its own students and faculty but when it comes to public education, they say it's no longer a private test, it's a public test. Trinity Western's application for accreditation was denied because the college "follows discriminatory practices which are contrary to the public interest and public policy ...." Source: Xtra West (Aug./96)
Taoism: Shit happens.
Confucianism: Confucius say: "Shit happens".
Buddhism: If shit happens, it's not really shit. .
Islam: If shit happens, it's the will of Allah.
Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?
Hinduism: This shit happened in my last life too.
Protestantism: Shit happens cause you don't work hard enough.
Catholicism: Shit happens because you're bad.
Zen: What is the sound of one shit happening?
Moonies: Only happy shit happens. .
Christian Science: Shit is in your mind.
Agnosticism: Maybe shit happens, maybe it doesn't
Jehovah Witness: Let us in and we'll tell you why shit happens.
Rastafarianism: Let's smoke this shit.
Hare Krishna: Shit Happens Shit Happens
Shit Shit Happens Happens
Shit Happens Rama Rama.
Atheism: No shit
In Washington state, the Attorney General's office has informed legislators that any officially sponsored prayer at public high school graduation ceremonies is unconstitutional. In many locations in the US, challenges are being mounted and won removing crosses and other religious displays from public property and prayers from public functions.
In LEMON v. KURTZMAN, the US Supreme Court constructed the so-called three-pronged test as an interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Simply put, LEMON states:
Government may not engage in any action or activity the purpose of which is not secular.
Government may not act so as to advance religion, or favour one religion over another.
Government must avoid "excessive entanglement" with religion.
Governments at all levels must meet all three of these criteria. These are perfectly reasonable rules and it goes without saying that they should apply in Canada. But when was the last time you heard of any meaningful challenge to intrusion of religion into Canadian society? We aim to change that.
Actions we will take in coming weeks will include letters to Justice Minister Allan Rock, again asking for support in removing systemic discrimination against atheists in the preamble to the Constitution and the National Anthem and letters to Revenue Canada Deputy Minister Pierre Gravellle urging him to strip charitable status from Religious groups that violate guidelines with respect to political activity and anti-choice "charities" who do the same thing.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
George Bernard Shaw
After a rather exasperating appearance June 23rd on CBC TV Newsworld's On-The-Line with professional motormouth Michael Coren (he flew in from the planet Zonk just for the occasion), our editor, Ray Blessin, still wonders, "What the hell was THAT??" Here's how Judy Loewen of Debolt, Alberta saw it. (edited for space) FW *******************************
Kudos to you, Ray, I did manage to get a friend to tape your interview last week. Watching it today, my blood pressure went through the roof, as did yours, I imagine. Although I had no problem with the objectivity of the host, I found your opponent, the reptilian "King of Siam Wannabe" to be as slick as his bald head (skinhead by choice, not genetics - ed.) His smug arrogance in monopolizing the program, presuming to speak for "everyone who counts", digressing, blatantly lying and attacking you personally, is the standard fare served up by his ilk. . For all Coren's fast talk, his own paranoia is revealed by his bullying, defamatory remarks in suggesting that your ideas are stupid ; you are angry, neurotic, extremist ; atheists are profoundly religious (boy, is he misinformed) ; there is a conspiracy against the churches, etc. I see no point in trying to rationalize with such a mentality. However, we can (as you did) take advantage of these opportunities to offer support and hope to others struggling for a hold on reason and reality in our insanely superstitious world.
It was heartening to see that you had the support of the intelligent and informed callers, unlike the other sappy parrots bleating the usual drivel about their imaginary friend in the sky. To claim that the separation of church and state exists to protect the church from taxation was sheer bigoted ignorance. It was equally unbecoming of the hypocritical clergy member to complain that it would be an inconvenient pain in the ass to make religious sanctuaries available to the needy. Sigh, all that extra time and work and bureaucracy! And after all, they do concede their facilities to the odd 12-step group, such as A.A. (Aha! But A.A. promotes religion, doesn't it!)
To trivialize the wealth of the churches by insisting that only "tiny" amounts of money are involved is a preposterous lie serving to dupe a gullible, uninformed public. Why then, are the records of these paltry sums classified? What is there to hide? Shouldn't the over-burdened taxpayers have the right to know what amounts they are compensating for? Where does Coren find the gall to refer to $15 million as a "small amount" when taxpayers are scrounging to pay a measly 7% tax on goods and services? He claims the Vatican is not rolling in money, when estimates of the loot in the Catholic coffers is in the billions, and churches own 20% of all privately-owned land in the US. (Freethought Today, June/95) What the hell is (Coren's) idea of a mere pittance? Many religious "charities" receive major funding from governments for their work, when they are in fact, business institutions with colossal assets.
I also wonder how Coren reconciles his disregard for our small movement with the number of enthusiastic responses from supportive callers on the show, or with atheism's popularity on the Internet? He thinks he can afford to sneeringly discount us as a disorganized, raggedy-assed, tiny bunch of atheists because his mob is backed by a history of power and wealth. However, with nothing but truth and integrity behind them, atheists may give the likes of this contemptible man a run for his money.. literally!
Excellent points were made on the side of reason. Everyone should participate in taxation ; (to ease the tax burden of others would be charitable indeed!) ; the practices of worship and charity are not interchangeable issues ; mere lip service is paid to separation of church and state - it is not a reality ; religion could be taxed as a form of entertainment ; yes, we're all doing good work, but that doesn't entitle us to special recognition ; a tax exemption for one is a tax bill for another ; churches have a lot to be accountable for, including all their bogus scams ; advancement of religion is certainly not a charitable cause ; the clothing, money and food for charity does not come from churches, but from people on the street (churches merely take the credit for it) ; if churches bore their share of the tax burden there would be less poverty and need for charity. I maintain that if churches distributed the wealth they've been hoarding for centuries, poverty would probably be eliminated worldwide. As you say, churches are charity CASES.
I think the opportunity to make these points was very worthwhile indeed, and I for one, am grateful that you had the courage and made the effort to do it. As it has been a year since I made a contribution to your efforts, I have enclosed a small token of my appreciation and support.
Thanks, Judy! RB
On July 5th, Kevin Taylor of Surrey, BC, wrote to The Vancouver Public Library and the Surrey Public Library requesting that our little newsletter be removed from the libraries. Taylor charges that The Canadian Atheist is "racist in its remarks, suggestions and tone and is engaged in Hate Mongering." (sic) Taylor also complained to The BC Council of Human Rights that we have violated "...the Hate law". As we said in our Spring '95 issue, we don't hate the stupid, we hate the stupidity. We stand ready to defend.
If Mr. Taylor is interested in censoring, he should look to his own bible, or the Koran or the Talmud. These books specialize in hate, misogyny, torture and mass murder, most of it committed or ordered by the mythical gods. For example, in the book of Deuteronomy, it is explained that if a woman who attempts to calm an argument between her husband and another man by grasping her husband's testicles in order to lead him away from the fray, she will have her hand chopped off. The religious tomes are genocidal, obscene and pornographic. We don't condone censorship, but some things should certainly be kept out of the reach of children.
Deut. 25: 11, 12
If there was ever any doubt about where the Catholic church stands on socio-economic issues, it was made clear at a spring conference at the Vatican. A group of reps from an assortment of increasingly powerful right wing "think tanks" with stealth names like "The Heritage Foundation", the "Institute for Justice", and the "American Enterprise Institute" (Our own Fraser Institute is a member of the group), met with the papal buffoon at something called "The Pontifical Council for the Family".
Recommendations from these corporate sponsored, tax-exempt outfits included, "education vouchers", "social security privatization", "rent control reform", "pro-family tax reform", and "labour market deregulation". We put all these phrases in quotes because they are all euphemisms for transferring wealth from the poor to the wealthy. Of course the pope endorses all of the recommendations and the millions of impoverished Catholics won't ever even hear about it.
Source: Atlas Economic Research Foundation, "Highlights"
By Dorothy B. Thompson
Fixation with a crucifiction Is obviously a learned addiction. It's not just Christian jurisdiction, Although they try to claim ascription, Shed blood is common creed affliction. When concocting dogma it's prefixion, A finished touch to fine commixion. I'd never make bizarre prediction Of theology sans crucifixion. No one would swallow such constriction. Non-belief leads right to interdiction. Bloody crosses do seem contradiction, But, there's a trick to accepting fiction. You must consent to brain dereliction. If not, you'll surely face eviction From church before the benediction.
It's strange. The very structure of this Canadian society prides itself on being based on the Christian myth and yet it condemns Bishop Hubert O'Connor and sentences him to prison for 2 years for sexual acts that are no more vile than what he has learned form his own bible. After all, celibacy for clergymen is a relatively modern concept, the first pope having been a married man with plenty 'on the side'.
The famous Society of Gideons, responsible for placing copies of this "handbook" in virtually every hotel and motel room in over 75 countries, honours its namesake, Gideon, a biblical character who reportedly sired 71 sons (no record kept of how many daughters -- they don't count) with as many wives and concubines. A god-favourite, Gideon made O'Connor look like a saint.
«Catholics and fundamentalists of the Society preach that biblical morality is absolute, so what did O'Connor do that was so un-Christian? It is no wonder the man apparently feels no remorse.
Parents in Columbia's capital city Bogota rushed to baptize their children after it was rumoured that the Antichrist would be arriving soon. More than 7,000 children were reportedly baptized in less than six hours, at the urging of parents who believed their children would be marked with "666" if their souls were not saved before June 6, which was the sixth day of the sixth month of a year ending with a six. (Now there's an idea for a neat vanity plate. ed.) Source: Christian Info News - July/96
Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations are offering l0-day travel packages to the Holy Land. There will be 4 weekly non-stop flights between Toronto and Tel Aviv and prices will vary with the size of the group and time of year. The Air Canada Vacations Christian Tours Package can be booked through travel agents. An offer of a similar package for Atheists maybe wishing to visit the Austin, Texas headquarters for atheism in America (or even Graceland) is not expected to be forthcoming.
Alleged ex-brothel employee and priest of a breakaway sect of the Greek Orthodox church in east Toronto, Father Ieronymos Katseas, directed traffic to his crying Virgin this summer. Business was brisk as the curious and credulous formed lines throughout the day and night to view the weeping image of the madonna. One lady even admitted that she was "touched". Some were swearing it was a "real McCoy miracle" while others noted that if it were such a big deal miracle, they would not be out front flogging candles -- "they'd all be in there."
If you think we could use some help with printing and postage costs, You're right.
Apologies and thanks to Edward Osman
"Creation science" has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage -- good teaching -- than a bill forcing honourable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise? Stephen Jay Gould,