Letterbox (May 2019)
This is why the religious have antipathy for gays
I just wanted to say that, as a life-long atheist, I’ve been thinking about many religions’ hostility toward gay people. It occurred to me that it all may have started from the fact that, in general, and certainly in biblical times, gay people didn’t reproduce, and the fact that gays weren’t adding possible new religious adherents to either the Jewish, Christian or Islamic faiths may have led those religions to declare that gays were an “abomination” and eligible to be stoned to death.
Barker’s book on free will quite an interesting read
I just finished Dan Barker’s book, Free Will Explained, and was impressed with his erudite description of free will and hard determinism. The book took a lot of time and difficult study on Dan’s part, I’m sure. Thanks for the interesting read.
Keep up your magnificent work at FFRF!
George J. Saunders
We should get more young people to read the bible
I am proud and pleased to support FFRF, now more than ever, and particularly your good work to encourage our youth in their move away from magic thought. We can all promote a wider study of the bible as part of this effort. While that mishmash of myth and authoritarianism may not be an easy read, it is its own best critic. We might suggest to the young people to read Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, and then jump to Revelation in sort of a “dirty parts first” approach. I believe they would immediately find the contents to range from the ridiculous to the criminal.
Our future depends on rational responses to real challenges with a focus on the here and now, and I know that FFRF is a part of that.
Predicting God’s role for people can backfire
As reported in the March “They Said What,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there.” I wonder if she thinks that 5- and 6-year-old kids should get cancer and that’s the role God has for them.
Swearing in on bible was just part of the game
The act of refusing to swear in on a bible in court never occurred to me during my working years. I had to play the game and impress a jury with my opinion. As a forensic psychologist, I had to be able to communicate successfully with the jury. Had I ever, even one time, refused to swear on a bible, it would have ended my career in court because it would have been brought up every time and no one would have ever engaged me again on any case.
Unfortunately, AARP is a mouthpiece for religion
More God. Sigh.
Once again, the AARP has shown itself to be a mouthpiece for religion. I stopped attending my local AARP meetings because they not only prayed before meetings, but after them. One member introduced her guest as “my soul sister in Christ,” to thunderous applause from the crowd. Now, in the recent AARP magazine, there are three references to religion. Kathy Lee Gifford loves Nashville because everyone there believes in God, Dr. Pol’s parents taught him the Golden Rule (so did my parents, who were atheists), and, of course, let’s not forget its article about religion in movies. I guess that the AARP thinks that once you get old, you get (or need) religion.
I still believe humanity will let go of religion
I have a confession to make: I am one of those foolish optimists who still harbor the belief that humanity will someday divorce itself from religion and its convenient “logic.” And what lately bolsters my confidence are the reports I’ve been reading that, as a result of the clerical crimes against children that are still festering within the Catholic Church, many thousands of Catholics (particularly the young) are leaving their church — and not joining others.
I also believe that even if none of those crimes had happened, it’s only a matter of time before an increasing number of Catholics begin to distance themselves from the Church and declare themselves to be nonreligious.
After all, instead of believing only what they are told, more and more young people now view the supernatural with skepticism, as do many old-timers like myself who were indoctrinated in religion at a tender age, but no longer allow magical thinking to be a part of our lives.
Women lumberjacks mock my Paul Bunyan religion
I just bought some Brawny paper towels with women as lumberjacks on the packaging. This is very threatening to us old white males. If you give women equal rights, pretty soon everyone will want them.
I am sure my lord and savior, Paul Bunyan, will overlook this sacrilege of the Woodman religion [women as lumberjacks?!] and will forgive, but it is scary when my religious beliefs are questioned. I do have my revered Paint Chip from Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, Minn., and I worship my Axe, so life will go on for us who wear lumberjack shirts.
On another topic, I remember asking my dad — a white, World War II fighter ace and the first commanding officer of a jet squadron — what he thought of not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. He told me he took an oath to serve, protect and defend the Constitution and did not fight for any banner, flag, or children’s prayer written by a Baptist minister.
When he was in his last days of cancer, I asked how he wanted his funeral. He said, “The same as your mom’s, and with a flag I earned on my casket. Ask the VFW not to send their honor guard and no marker on the tombstone saying ‘military.’” He believed all Americans were equal. I did as he wished, saluting him and not the flag.
Are there logical answers to these questions?
I’m a new member and a former Roman Catholic, and I’m so glad I found you. There are questions I’d like to ask you because no religious person has ever been able to give me a logical answer.
1. If Adam and Eve were our beginning parents, then “God” must believe in and support incest, right? Otherwise, who was around to make whoopie with other than their own family members?
2. If “God” is so all-knowing and all-powerful, as the Catholic Church pounded into my head as a child, why does he send tornadoes to the most religious states in the union? And why does he kill so many religious people? And why are so many churches destroyed?
3. If the Catholic Church is so obsessed with letting every fetus turn into a child (including Hitler, Mussolini, etc.), then why are so many of its members molesting children and depriving them of a normal childhood?
Any logical answers?
R. Dean Tomich
Catholic scandals impact more than those involved
I recently attended an organ recital given by members of the local chapter of the organ guild. For the first time, the organ-playing priest, who is a member of this guild, appeared in civvies. We organists struggled to recognize him.
At the reception after, I asked him, in all politeness, how he was doing with the current barrage of negative publicity. Of his no collar, he said, “Sometimes you just need a break,” emphasis on “break.” He added, “I just get through each day one day at a time,” in a colorless voice.
This was the first time I have seen him with no enthusiasm. Usually, he likes to brag about his music program, narrating special services like a sports commentator. I expected to hear about the length and slowness of the procession of the Great Litany, which opens the first Sunday in Lent. Instead I heard him reminisce about when he was a Cub Scout.
So, when I say consequences, I don’t only mean when karma wreaks vengeance on a predator, a somewhat rare event. We can all relish the big drama. Instead, I think of each person who is impacted and whose life is diminished by the fallout. I think these little diminishments are important, too. The broad bringing down of others is a consequence we should take note of.
Mary Ann Fraser
I’m happy to tell people that I’m a devout STEMist
My Roman Catholic background as a member of the church choir, Catholic school and an altar boy did not blind me to the ridiculous notion of God. When I experienced the ineffectiveness of prayer and gave the notion a bit of critical thought, I realized that my parents used religion mostly to keep me in line.
The final nail in the coffin in my belief in God occurred the day that I visited an Army morgue in Saigon. During that visit, I saw the reality of religious beliefs. Before me lay about 900 American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. Many body parts were separated from their trunks. Some had severe burns, and other tragic, disgusting damage. I could not prevent myself from asking, “What kind of God would allow such an awful thing like this to happen”? There was then, and is now, only one response: There is no God; there never was.
I write this article 48 years after the event, in response to Bill Fritch, who wrote the article titled “Missed convention to become Life Member” in the March issue. Bill, you do not need to be labeled an atheist. You can, as I do, confirm yourself as a STEMist.
Yes, I firmly believe in science, technology, engineering and math. I have found that using the STEMist label negates the usual disgust communicated by religion believers when the label atheist is presented. I saw a woman wearing a shirt that read, “I Run on Faith,” to which I related, “I run on STEM. It is much more reliable.” She laughed. I doubt that she had any idea what I meant, but I felt happy that I had a rejoinder to her unwanted advertisement.
Non-representative court is controlled by Catholics
Given the current composition of the Supreme Court, I humorously imagine, but somewhat fear, that this is how separation of church and state cases are being decided:
The six Roman Catholic justices walk into a bar. Over a beer or two, they first decide how much of the Catholic Church’s dogma should be forced on Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and atheists.
After a few more beers, they decide that taxes paid by non-Christians should be made available to support Christian-related activities. They have a laugh awould be also viewed as secular symbols. They then toast to celebrate that, although Roman Catholics comprise only 20 percent of the U.S. population, they control the Supreme Court.
Photo of ‘recycled’ church brought back memories
I’m a new member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and just received the March issue of Freethought Today. It’s a very impressive publication.
I’m writing to share my enthusiast reaction after seeing the photos featuring “Former churches with better missions.” In the upper right corner is the church photo sent in by FFRF member David Nolley. I immediately recognized that church, as I was forced to attend Sunday school there as a little boy. It is in Lapeer, Mich., and the farm I grew up on is just a few miles away. I’m 75, and the memories I have of the church are fuzzy, at best. I have always loved the architecture of the little church and have wondered what became of it. It’s nice to hear that it has been “recycled” and is being loved in a useful way.
Keep up the good work. I’m glad I saw the Ron Reagan ad and became familiar with your foundation and the important work you are doing in reminding citizens that the U.S. Constitution makes it very clear that state and church must remain separate.
An egg-celent way to spend an afternoon
On March 20, some friends and I decided to reclaim the ancient art of making “Ukrainian” dyed eggs, but without any of the elaborate Christian symbology that was imposed on this pagan springtime art form. Fittingly, we chose the vernal equinox as the appropriate date for an afternoon of fun and creativity. (Note the two “deviled eggs” in the center.)
Gaylor’s ‘rapists’ column: informative, unapologetic
I have been an out-of-the closet atheist since birth, and a member of FFRF since forever.
I look forward to every issue of Freethought Today and read it almost “religiously,” with the Crankmail section among my favorites.
However, among all the excellent articles published through the years, Annie Laurie Gaylor’s “Priest rapists are tools of the Church, not of ‘Satan’” in the April issue, takes the prize! So well written, so informative, so right to the point — and so unapologetic for her opinion, shared fully by so many of us, but rarely expressed so clearly.
If I may add a thought of my own, it would be that in addition to the horrible physical rapes perpetrated by hundreds, if not thousands, of clergy through the ages, I believe that religion in itself is rape of the mind! It forces superstition on the young and innocent, contaminates their mind and prevents unimpaired development of their naturally given potential.
What a shame, and what a disaster that, in this country, despite our world leadership in so many fields, we are lagging badly behind the more progressive nations in the world, especially the Scandinavian countries, where religion has practically no impact anymore, except as a historic peculiarity. I have to emphasize one thing, though, from my upbringing in Norway: We had an hour of bible history every day in school, six days a week, from first year of elementary school through high school. The result was that those who weren’t already atheists were turned into atheists. We all learned far more about religion than many, if not most, church-goers in this country.
FFRF deserves upgrade to Lifetime membership
I believe that FFRF is the most important organization protecting our rights and freedoms.
So, please upgrade my membership to Lifetime status. (At the individual annual rate of $40 a year, I will break even in 25 years at the age of 99. Thanks for that incentive!)
Keep up the great work, especially the legal challenges.
James R. Baxter
Crankmail writers sure fit definition of ‘cranks’
I just finished digesting another of Freethought Today’s Crankmail section, and I had to ask myself: Who are all of these gaseous, angry crank writers anyway?
I went to my close friend — Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary — for a little help: “Crank: adjective: bent, distorted, out of kilter, loose.” That sure sounded applicable.
Question: Do these cranks actually subscribe to Freethought Today in order to get so cranked up?
Editor’s note: No, almost all of the Crankmail we receive is because people contact us after they read or hear about something that FFRF does in their community.