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Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Letterbox (May 2022)

‘Freethought Matters’ a Sunday morning treat

What better way to spend a half-hour on Sunday mornings than watching an edition of “Freethought Matters” (situated between religious programming) with Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker hosting an array of interesting guests.

I tune to KCOP Channel 13 in Los Angeles, and particularly enjoyed the show featuring a very impressive and articulate high school student, Max Nibert and FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott. The federal lawsuit in which Max is one of 11 plaintiffs is a primary reason I strongly support FFRF and its vital work in safeguarding the separation of state and church. The insidious efforts to religiously indoctrinate students in public school settings must be legally challenged whenever and wherever they occur.

M.G.
California

Thomas Paine statue will need to be protected

Many Americans regard Thomas Paine with virulent antipathy because he never concealed his contempt of Christianity, which he ridiculed with brilliance and wit in his book, The Age of Reason.

President Theodore Roosevelt even mistakenly labeled him “a filthy little atheist,” which he certainly was not.  Rather, he was among the Deists who believed in a supreme “creator,” but not in Jesus as a god.

With that in mind, I hope that those who select a place for his statue will take precautions to ensure its safety.  In any event, although the gift of prophecy is not in my resume, I predict that no matter how well protected it is, some pious Christians will find ways to take vengeance on the image of that “filthy little atheist.”

Let’s not forget how proficient Christians are at destroying vestiges of anyone or anything they hate.  Remember their wanton destruction of the Library of Alexandria and other irreplaceable treasures of art and literature from antiquity?

D.Q.
California

A poem for everyone: ‘Where Were Y’all?’

For myriad generations,

More than 150,000 years,

We humans lived, loved and died

Shared smiles and endless tears.

We created gods and goddesses,

Worshiped animals and the sun,

Got tired of a religion?

We’d create another one.

All this time that we existed,

Our deities were true,

So Jesus, Jehovah, Muhammad,

Where the hell were you?

For 150,000 years, 

We were here, the human race,

It’s such a puzzling mystery,

You never showed your face.

M.L.
Florida

March issue worth passing on to friends

I thoroughly enjoyed the March issue of Freethought Today. The articles on Christian nationalism, anti-vaxxing, and debating heaven were well-written and informative. But my favorite was Ryan Jayne’s essay about his kindergarten daughter’s questions regarding the pledge and Christmas. Every child should be so lucky to have such enlightened parents. I also enjoy reading the member profiles. This is an issue I will definitely pass on to friends.

K.R.
Wisconsin

FFRF’s efforts are worthy of donation 

We have been atheists since the 1940s. I joined FFRF as soon as I learned of your organization. I read every issue of Freethought Today and applaud. I hope you continue to run the Ron Reagan ad on TV. The issue connecting religion to the Jan. 6 insurrection is seldom mentioned in the media, but your articles clarify it. 

Please accept a donation for your efforts in memory of my wife, Jo.

B.C.
Arizona

Ad on TV alerted me to existence of FFRF

Thank you so much for your ad on TV! I didn’t know of your existence before that.

I spent 17 years in the disillusioning process of seeking Episcopal priesthood. I was married to an Episcopal priest for 23 years. My father was a mostly secular Jew and my mother was an Episcopalian.

I’m 62 and working on a book titled, The Healing Power of Atheism.

S.C.
New York

A good Samaritan free from religion

John Kelly (1928–2019) was such a good Samaritan. He was born into Catholicism, then led into Catholic schools before being lured to Catholic priesthood. After hearing and preaching made-up biblical stories for his first 51 years, he eventually saw the light and was able to shed the religious shackles, amply described in Thomas Huening’s biography, The Quintessential Good Samaritan. It’s a captivating, informative and thought-provoking piece of outstanding literature. 

As a purebred atheist from a secular country who was allowed to grow up as a freethinker, it is very difficult for me to understand the iron grip scripture-based religion has on such a vast part of the U.S. population, even on many otherwise quite intelligent and well-educated people. 

I understand how difficult it may be to untangle yourself from what you’re brought up with as the unquestionable truth, but John Kelly and many others have shown it is possible. The rest of us have always understood that scripture-based religion is all made up. Not even Albert Schweitzer could find a shred of evidence for a historical Jesus, although he set out fairly convinced that he would.

John Kelly shows the rest of us that even someone born into religiosity can be “saved” for a happier and more productive life, for themselves, and others. There’s hope for this world!

J.A.
California

Mantis artwork should be made into postcards

Just like the Ig Nobel Prizes, “The three stages of mantis belief” in the March issue made me laugh and then made me think. Carla’s artwork is beautiful, and I am writing to suggest printing her mantis triptych as postcards on good paper, either all three panels together on one card, or as a three-card set. I would love to send them to everyone.

If you agree, may I suggest the Latin names be formatted — dare I write it? — canonically, with two names, first starting upper case, and the second lower case (like Homo sapiens) — Mantis religiosa, Mantis ambigua, Mantis atheosa.

M.D.
California

Did ‘spiritual gifts’ help grandma avoid purgatory?

While rummaging through family relics recently, I came across an “Everlasting Gift” folder dated Sept. 28, 1982, which noted that my grandmother had been enrolled by an aunt and uncle on my mother’s Catholic side of the family in the “Salesian Purgatorial Society” and would “share in various ‘spiritual benefits’ provided by the Salesian Fathers and Brothers.”

My grandmother, who had died about a week earlier, was a hardcore Presbyterian. I guess my aunt and uncle must have assumed she wound up in purgatory, since she was not a Catholic. Poor grandma! I guess if those “spiritual gifts” got her out of purgatory, she must have been very grateful. But we’ll never know, will we?

D.M.
New York

Darwin Day talk well worth viewing online

The Dubuque Area Humanists hosted Anthony Barnhart, chair of psychological science at Carthage College, who, for our Darwin Day Lecture, spoke on “Science, Deception and Magic.” He explained how superstition comes from the need to control and how we are deceived by others and how we deceive ourselves. He also discussed alternative health remedies. I urge you to watch this excellent video on YouTube at 

bit.ly/3O0qzlP.

F.P.
Iowa

FFRF’s outstanding work deserves contributions 

I’m happy to make a donation of $2,000 to FFRF! I’m pleased to be doing this because of the outstanding work FFRF is spearheading in so many areas — and especially because of the terrific leadership. Please look at this contribution as a thank you for your dedication, as well as that of the entire FFRF staff.

You make me proud to be a Lifetime Member of FFRF. I read all of your emailed news releases, and I read Freethought Today from cover to cover. So, for all those reasons and many more, thanks for making FFRF such a smart, active, passionate leader of American atheism.

P.M.
Georgia

Thanks for taking on Elizabethton crosses

I would like to express gratitude for your foundation raising the issue of the large Christian crosses on city property in Elizabethton, Tenn. It has clearly been an overt symbol endorsing and promoting one religious belief system with no other reasonable purpose, paid for by taxpayers. I grew up in that town and, as a nontheistic person, was always disturbed by that display. 

Your organization may also be aware of an organization operating within the middle and high schools called the FCA or “Fellowship of Christian Athletes.” When I attended Elizabethton High School, I witnessed meetings of this group held in the school after classes had been let out at the end of the day. These meetings started with a Baptist Christian prayer and basically consisted of Christian religious discussion. 

The group is ostensibly for students participating in school athletics, but anyone was encouraged and allowed to attend. Essentially, it appeared to be a church meeting. 

A.H.  
Tennessee