Letterbox (August 2022)
The court’s attack on reproductive rights
By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has imposed on our secular nation the religious belief that women have no constitutional right to control their own reproduction. This outrageous decision, among others, calls for change. Supreme Court terms should be for a finite time, just as legislative and executive terms are. Lifetime appointments are for totalitarian states, not for democracies.
The opinion ignores the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and continues the trend of privileging religious persons and their beliefs over the rights of all others.
The court’s dissent stated, “One result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens. With sorrow — for this court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”
At present, with predictable inaction by Congress, it is up to the states to defend citizens’ rights to abortion. Oregon has been in the lead, but more can be done.
Gov. Brown’s office reports: ”Oregon led the nation by passing the most comprehensive reproductive health legislation at the time. Gov. Brown signed Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act into law in 2017 — a first-of-its-kind bill that expanded access to reproductive health services for all Oregonians and codified the right to an abortion into state law.”
Now Oregon, and all other states, need to require all hospitals, with no exceptions, to perform abortions, and other reproductive procedures, such as vasectomies.
I’m a Lifetime Member to help FFRF keep fighting
I have enclosed $1,000 to become a Lifetime Member of FFRF to help aid and assist you in your continuing struggle against religious persecution in this country.
I would like to thank you so very much for your continuing efforts to keep this country safe and out of the hands of those hyper-religious individuals and organizations that would bring about its downfall as a country built on freedom and democracy!
Ardell’s column on life really resonated with me
I took the April and May issues of Freethought Today with me camping. I settled in next to a nice stream and began reading. No distractions. I find most of your essays and articles interesting, but “Live your best life in a meaningless universe” by Donald B. Ardell really resonated with me.
I’m a geologist, so the artwork showing the meteors and dinosaurs grabbed my attention. His essay perfectly captured how I understand life. After reading the piece, I laid the paper down, looked at the stream, insects buzzing about, and felt calm. Beautiful writing will do that. Thank you for publishing such a wonderful essay.
Like Diane Uhl, help fund End of Life Options
John was 86 when he got his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. After going through two courses of chemotherapy, his cancer had spread. He was put on hospice and given a six-month terminal diagnosis. His PeaceHealth doctors had not spoken to him about medical aid in dying because they are a Catholic hospital. Not even a referral. The hospice was also owned by PeaceHealth and their nurses are prohibited from speaking about that option, but are allowed to talk about further medical treatment, palliative care, and Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking. A resident of Washington state, which has had a medical aid in dying law in place for 10 years, John luckily talked to a neighbor about that option. He contacted End of Life Washington and was assigned a volunteer who was able to walk him through a number of steps so that he had a choice to self-ingest medication to end his life with dignity. Since he was eligible for the law, his prescribing physician wrote him a prescription for the medication. Now John could choose to take that medication or not. He decided to do so a week after the prescription was filled at his pharmacy.
Eleven states have medical aid in dying laws in place. The late FFRF donor Diane Uhl was an ardent supporter of Arizona End of Life Options, pledging $10,000 in matching funds for this grassroots organization. Diane not only supported our organization financially, but was a proponent for herself for a death with dignity.
Many states have such bills in front of their legislators. Check compassionandchoices.org for the status in your state.
Arizona End of Life Options and
Volunteer for End of Life Washington
Questions as a youth awakened me to reality
I read with interest PJ Slinger’s column about Satan and the logical fallacies associated with his origins. As a 13-year-old, I realized many of the same logical reductions while I was attending a small Baptist church in rural South Carolina. I began asking questions that, in essence, wondered how God could have ever created Lucifer, as he, owing to his omnipotence, had to have recognized that Lucifer would ultimately become a fallen angel.
Unknowingly, I had stumbled upon Hume’s fundamental problem of evil — a world supposedly protected by a benevolent deity. My questions went unanswered by the Sunday school teacher, who was a septuagenarian farmer with barely more than a grade-school education. It was the beginning of the end of my belief in the illogical, indeed nonsensical, Christian doctrine. It also awakened me to the reality that not all adults are capable of logical thinking or critical thought. Today I’m an open atheist and proud to be so.
No more regrets: I’ll be attending convention
At two conventions, I missed out on saying hello to Julia Sweeney. The first time I bailed on the extremely long line of fellow conventioneers but later saw her walking through the hotel, alone. So, I angled toward her and then noticed she was talking on her phone.
The second time I was determined to wait out the line and as I got closer, I saw the very talented co-performer with Sweeney, Jill “I Kissed a Girl” Sobule, who walked up to me and said she liked the Shroud Of Turin T-shirt I wore (and had designed).
In 2009, I kicked myself in the ass for not attending FFRF’s 32nd annual convention in Seattle, where Ursula K. Le Guin, one of my many favorite atheists and science fiction writers, received the Emperor Has No Clothes Award.
While I saw Anne Nicol Gaylor at conventions, I never got a chance to say hello and thank her for co-founding FFRF, as there always seemed to be people gathered about her. After her husband died, I sent her a letter of condolence and she returned a letter to me.
All of the preceding is to say I am sick and tired of regrets and I hope to see YOU at the San Antonio FFRF convention this October.
We can make America smart again
This letter was first published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on June 8.
As evidenced by recent actions taken by some states to solidify the religious right-wing agenda, it is worth noting that almost 30 percent of our citizens have no religious affiliation, are atheists, agnostics or simply don’t care about any religion or mythology.
The Christian nationalist movement claims religious freedom abounds here but falls short of defining real religious freedom, inclusive of “other” religions, or the right to freedom from religion. Make no mistake, the right-wing Christian nationalist agenda has some of its roots in race superiority just as the “holy” bible has been used to justify slavery, hatred and exclusion, past and present. Christian nationalists are also masters at cherry-picking the alleged “good” book while ignoring or making excuses for sections that don’t suit their narrative.
Over the last 6,000 years, there have been at least 1,800 religions created by man (in their image), with many of them spewing forth the same stories such as a virgin birth, etc. Most of these man-made religions preyed on the circumstances, curiosity and questions of their times for answers to where the sun would go at night, phenomena such as earthquakes, or medical and scientific issues, etc.
Most, if not all, atheists and “Nones” couldn’t care less about religions or the mythologies that rule some people’s lives. However, they also do not want it mandated through law, cultural dictates or the misuse of our taxes. Your religion is yours — please keep it that way.
The Founding Fathers were clear about religion’s place (or not) in our government, but religion is being used as a lightning rod for cultural issues in place of common sense and political ambitions. On hot-topic issues like abortion (barely mentioned in the “Good Book”), lifestyles, women’s rights, banning books or immigration, the views of the majority of American citizens are contrary to many of the views of elected officials making the laws.
However, they are quick to use religious justification in the process as they rail against theocracies elsewhere (Islam, of course), while intentionally laying the Christian groundwork for the same thing here. God, guns and flags could very well be the icons of the death of our republic. I highly recommend Katherine Stewart’s book, The Power Worshippers, which covers this phenomenon perfectly.
We are heading dangerously toward a fascist autocracy where the less-than-sane factions of the right wing have no interest in governing this country or its citizens but only seek total unchecked power.
For those of you who think you are on the “winning team” and have no worries, consider Martin Niemöller’s stark warning: “First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
These reasons and more are why I am a Lifetime Member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It’s an organization of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and even a smattering of the religious who believe religions have no place in our government. We are working tirelessly to keep the church and the state separated as the founders intended. I encourage everyone to explore this organization and the good work they are doing, on everyone’s behalf, before it is too late. Make America smart again!
‘Natural law’ could be influential to justices
The late Antonin Scalia, as well as Justice Clarence Thomas, stated that the Constitution is subject to “natural law” (as defined, of course, by the Catholic Church). Amy Coney Barrett clerked for Scalia and she said he was her “mentor,” so I am sure she concurs, along most likely with Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito, and possibly former Catholic Neil Gorsuch. I am not sure about John Roberts. As far as I am aware, none of these arch-Catholics was asked in their confirmation hearings if they agreed with Scalia and Thomas that the Constitution is subordinate to “natural law.” I wonder how they would have responded.
In any case, gay marriage and contraception, along with abortion, are against “natural law” as defined by the Vatican, so I have little doubt as to how at least four Catholic Justices cited here (i.e., Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh and Barrett) would rule on those two issues if and when they come up before the court.
The media, of course, are oblivious to the question as to how Catholic “natural law” might have influenced the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and how it may lead to gay marriage and legal access to contraception being ruled unconstitutional.
Ready to set clocks back to Alito time?
Are you ready to set your clocks back to “Alito time”? The new abortion ruling basically creates a new “Alito date” for “personhood,” so are you ready for all the changes that will follow?
Who knew that for thousands of years our birthdays were actually nine months before what is shown on our birth certificates? Thankfully, Justice Samuel Alito is about to rule that Jesus Christ himself became a “person,” not on Dec 25, as previously assumed by millions of Christians, but nine months earlier, on March 25.
If a census taker appears at your door during the first two months of pregnancy, you’ll no longer be able to say it’s just a 1½-inch embryo. If the woman is between her third and ninth month, she won’t be able to call it a “fetus” anymore, because Alito will soon be labeling every unborn a “person.” Parents should frankly start picking baby names during the act of sex.
For those who believe in infant baptism, once a pregnancy is determined, they’ll need to high-tail it to the church immediately, just in case of a “spontaneous abortion” or miscarriage.
Parents who must register their children for school by age 5 will have to do the math, and add ninth months to their child’s existing age, as all pre-Alito birth certificates will be outdated.
I suppose most teenagers will rejoice upon learning about Alito’s new “judge-made” birthdate, and they’ll start lining up to take their driver’s test a mere three months after their 15th birthday.
College students will certainly file lawsuits to gain access to bars nine months before the legal drinking age. After all, they’ll argue they were “persons” nine months before they were born.
What about the military draft lottery? Toward the end of the Vietnam war, each year all 365 birthdates were put into a tumbler and were then picked one-by-one. The first birthdate drawn reported for duty first, and so on, until the draft quota was met. If we had Alito’s system back then, my birthdate of Sept. 30th would have become Dec. 30 in the previous year, and I would have found myself in an earlier lottery that had a much larger draft call. No thank you.
Have you considered what your gravestone will say? Are you going to stick with your traditional birthdate, the one you received when you became a “person” at birth, or are you going to add nine months to comply with Alito’s new “sperm and egg date”?
‘Beware of God’ brings back memories
Thanks for your ongoing work.
I see in the FFRF catalog that you offer items declaring “Beware of the God.” This transformation has always amused me. About 30 years ago, I cut and pasted a “Beware of Dog” poster to read “Beware of God,” but was warned off of displaying it for fear of affronting the neighbors and even inviting property or personal retaliation from local Christers.
Now, living in Trump territory has further intensified my feelings of fear and loathing. Last year, I encountered a woman leaving her parked car, which had a bumper sticker “God = √-1” declaring that God equals the square root of minus one. I told her that I thought it was the best I’d seen and admitted that I was too intimidated by Christers to have my own car bear such witness. She said she felt the same, but figured anyone who understood that impossible formula would be too smart to be other than amused and unlikely to harm her car. You folks are gutsier than I, by far, but that one is one I’d post if I could find one.