Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Letterbox (October 2018)

Vol. 35 No. 8 October 2018
This former United Methodist Church in Great Barrington, Mass., is currently being restructured and may house a retail cannabis shop. (Photo by Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Eagle)

 

Send us photos of repurposed churches

Member Stephen Carlsen of New York sent us a letter after seeing the photo in the August issue of the repurposed church (now a post office) in Ireland. He wanted to point out another one in Massachusetts. (See photo.)

So, in that spirit, FFRF would like you to send us photos of any churches that you know of that have been repurposed for something useful. Include yourself in the photo, if possible! Please tell us where it is, what kind of church it was and what it is now and any other details that may be worth mentioning. We will

print them in Freethought Today as space allows. Send the information and photo to [email protected]


Donation to FFRF moved up after health issues

For more than a year now I have been dealing with some health issues. Although not terminal, I’ve decided to make some changes in my life.

I decided some time ago to include FFRF in my will. However, I’m going to issue that amount now, but I prefer the donation be private until after my death.

I wish FFRF continued success in your noble and courageous endeavors. (I look forward to each issue of Freethought Today!) 

Name withheld

Pennsylvania


True fact: Nothing fails like prayer

Nothing fails like prayer.

I prayed every day for a year that everyone in the world would become atheists.

Mary Jo Stirling

California


Christian donates to FFRF in place of tithe

Please accept my donation. I insist it be entirely applied to your legal fund.

I donate and write to you with a heavy heart. I consider myself a devout Christian. I attend church and tithe regularly. I have foregone my usual tithe in order to donate to your cause.

I have thought and struggled with this decision for months. Though I am no theologian, I do read my bible. I see my donation to FFRF as consistent with its teachings.

Christians are called to ally themselves and fellowship with people of goodwill to do good things, regardless of their current place on the path with God. That includes those of little or no faith who act with integrity. Christians are called to be mindful of weightier societal issues of justice, mercy and faithfulness in their tithing. Romans calls me to accept those whose faith is weak without passing judgment. We are all on our own individual journeys through life and faith.

I have periodically read your Crankmail. Frankly, I’m appalled at the level of foulness coming from purported believers. By chastising FFRF, often vehemently, Christians are violating a covenant.

Admittedly, I am only mildly concerned with my religion influencing government policies. However, I am concerned with false faiths influencing it. The opposite side of that same coin is government influencing religion. The bible is teeming with stories of other beliefs, governments and leaders persecuting Christians for their faith. As a patriotic American, I try to uphold and defend the freedom to worship as I choose. We must remain ever vigilant to retain that freedom.

I believe that the goodwill efforts of FFRF are consistent with my faith. I do not have to believe in everything you do in order to support some of the things you do.

Please continue your good works defending my right to worship my God, as my conscience and integrity requires, and protecting me from any and all religious practices being forced upon me.

Name withheld

Oregon


Essayists, be ready for others to deride you

Dear fellow students of life, I read your winning essays as high school students in the August issue. The theme, in a word, was the hereafter. As an old atheist, I want to warn you: Others may shun or deride you because you will not pretend to believe in an afterlife.

We know that the hereafter was born of and evolved through fear and ignorance. Life is a banquet, and yet many among us continue to be malnourished on narrow-minded dogma diets.

The strongest emphasis of religion is not on the existence of God, not on God’s will, and, from the looks of things, not on living a moral and ethical life.

Religions focus on only one question: Where and how will I spend eternity? It makes the only lives we can know trivial. After I die, the universe will go on for billions of years, but I will no longer exist to experience it.

There’s an old saying, “Marry in haste, repent in leisure.” Applied to Christians in the “hereafter,” it might be, “Sin spontaneously, say you’re sorry eventually, be forgiven completely, live eternally in leisure.”

Carl Scheiman

Maine


Student essay writers are impressive, eloquent 

I am a Lifetime Member of FFRF and a second-generation atheist. My father was raised as a Christian Scientist, and decided at age 18 that it was all a bunch of crap. I am my father’s son. I have a scientific education (CalTech), and have a continuing interest in cosmology and biological evolution. I am an orthopedic surgeon.

I am always fascinated to read the experiences of the many people who tell their stories in your newspaper. I am particularly struck with the epiphanies of the many young people who are brought up in a religious tradition, who have the “revelation” that their religious faith is only that, and they reject their religious teaching. This is a difficult thing, and often places them in conflict with their parents and their community. I am impressed — and inspired by their courage — and their persistence.

For me, I had it pretty easy. My father was an atheist, and my mother was technically a Christian, but she believed more in some sort of spiritualism, practiced her religion privately and did not inflict it on others.

I am writing in particular in response to the essays written by people in high school for your competition. I am so very impressed by these essays! Such interesting stories. Such eloquence. Stories of discovery and rejection of conventional religious dogma. I love them! I am so very glad the FFRF gives cash awards for these essays and publishes them.

Thank you for your continuing efforts in support of secularism, and doing your best to prevent the insidious creep of religion into the public sphere.

I am also supportive of the “outing” of us closet atheists. I will have to say, it is difficult for many of us. In my job as a physician, I try to avoid any discussions of religion, as it may detract from my efficacy as a surgeon and my neutrality in such issues. I therefore remain mostly in the closet regarding religious issues. It is pretty bizarre really that we are now more in the closet than gay people or transgender people. So unacceptable, right?

Jim Loddengaard

California


Sessions’ citing of biblical verse appalling

How shameful that Attorney General Jeff Sessions counsels Americans that Romans 13 is part of our government’s laws!

Where in the Constitution is Romans 13 cited? And where in that instrument of law does St. Paul’s signature appear as one of our Founding Fathers?

Worse yet, which law school graduated Jeff Sessions anyway?

David Quintero

California


Sometimes, it pays to directly complain

In this age of daily outrage and sadness, I would like to share a small victory.

I recently moved to a conservative area and have chosen letter writing as one of my methods of protest.

The head of a nationwide respected nature center here uses the word “blessed” in his newsletter’s opening. I wrote about feeling excluded and about the fact that language matters.

He quickly responded with a letter in which he apologized for offending me and thanked me for reminding him that words do matter.

I could not have asked for a better outcome.

Raye Bransdorfer-Polasek

Michigan


FFRF’s existence is necessary in these times 

I am originally from New Lexington, Ohio. I can tell you I graduated high school in the ’90s and prayer was always around when I was there. When I played sports, I always stood at the back, hovering over, not kneeling or bowing. I never believed in prayer and thought it was a waste of time. Back then, I didn’t know there was an organization like this to look to for guidance or information. So, I just wanted to say thank you for existing.

Kevin Goodfellow

Ohio


‘Blessed’ note was not left as sign of approval

I hate to disappoint Howard Bostock (from his letter in the September issue), but the “Have a blessed day,” note left under his windshield wiper was not from an approving passerby. It was left there by a disapproving rah-rah Christian.

Kathleen Yaeglo

Michigan

P.S. Church and state mix very well in your cartoons!


Volunteer has to ride in ‘In God We Trust’ car

I live in the middle of the Bible Belt, where it’s not easy being an atheist.

I was a good friend of Dr. John Henderson, author of three books about atheism and a member of FFRF until his death a few years ago. I am proud of that fact that he acknowledged me in his last book, which I helped edit.

Currently, I am a volunteer with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol and drive a patrol car. Unfortunately, the vehicle has “In God We Trust” painted on it, which bothers me. But I haven’t said anything about it as my patrol partner is a minister We agreed to not discuss religion.

I enjoy Freethought Today very much. Keep up the good work!

Michael Goode

North Carolina


ABC News’ David Muir got the message, maybe?

I may be reporting this prematurely, but I got tired of hearing ABC News anchor David Muir, an otherwise intelligent and well-spoken human being, constantly using the word “prayers” and references to God in his evening news report. So I sent an email to the station, directed to his show, pointing out that these references in a news report are inappropriate and are not something that I would expect from a reputable reporter. I also pointed out the statistics on the dying state of religion in this country and the rate of atheism among Millennials.

Oddly enough, since I sent that email, there has not been one word about God or prayer from Muir. I held my breath the other night when he talked about Olivia Newton-John’s battle with cancer, but all he said afterwards was that “we are all pulling for you.”

Is it possible someone was listening? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Judy Ellis

Florida


Alliance between wealth and religion makes sense

This is in response to a piece in Freethought Today about how the United States is the most religious wealthy nation.

Many people wonder how the Religious Right can ally itself with plutocrats who seek to keep wealth in the hands of the few and away from the rest of us, as well as make our public education system dysfunctional. Isn’t Jesus supposed to be on the side of the poor and forgotten? Aren’t Christians supposed to fight for the oppressed against the strong?

The answer can be found in the statistics that show that the more uneducated and poor you are, the more likely you are to be religious. Giving people a good education and decent income results in their rejection of religion.

To the hard-core Christian this is horrible. Saving one’s soul is the most important thing, and if it means pushing people into poverty and ignorance to do so, so be it. To them, of course, being a Christian blesses you with spiritual wealth and a divine knowledge no school can give. 

This belief has lead to a society that places dogma over decency and an acceptance of one’s place in society without question. It even has created the most hideous of all dogmas, the prosperity gospel, where the rich are seen as God’s chosen ones. The more one looks at it, the more obvious the alliance between wealth and religion makes sense.

Peter Hall

Oregon