Letterbox (Jan/Feb 2020)
The painted lady
I painted a version of FFRF’s Bill of Rights “nativity” for the door of my apartment. I am 78 and an artist. It has the potential of 150-plus viewers (residents, friends, delivery people, health aides, etc.) here in Westminster, Md. Yes, the ACLU won settlement of a legislator’s prayer case here, so county commissioners cannot conduct personal prayers before meetings.
When I moved to Sunnybrook in 2005, I was unaware it was a virtual nest of fundamentalists. Since I was the founder of the local Unitarian Universalist congregation in 1983, when proselytizing ensued, I asked, “What does God actually do?” Thereafter, I encountered threats. “You’re an atheist and are gonna burn in hell.” I had to use Maryland Legal Aid two times to educate residents and management.
I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Carroll County Times objecting to the portrayal of atheists in a previous letter and thanked the writer for mentioning FFRF and the Ron Reagan “Not afraid of burning in hell” ad.
When people say “Merry Christmas,” I kindly announce, “I am one of your neighborhood atheists. I just want to wish you a harmonious Winter Solstice because it is the genuine reason for the season. I hope you agree it’s human deeds, not creeds, that promote kindness.”
I’m happy to become a Lifetime Member
It is with great pleasure that I send $1,000 for a Lifetime Membership.
I am so proud of the work that you do. I was gratified to see the FFRF ad on “60 Minutes” on Nov. 10. Thank you so much for your work in defense of the Constitution and the separation of church and state.
Gift to myself is my membership renewal
I just wanted to say thank you I know you guys work hard every day and probably read a lot of insane email. My Christmas present to myself this year is renewal of my membership. What you do is so very important. Thank you.
How I stopped unwanted mail: I donated to FFRF
Some time ago, I found myself on the mailing list for Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan. Among the items sent were numerous fundraising appeals, often featuring Sean Hannity. I wrote them twice explaining that I would never be sending them money and that their mailings all went unread into the recycling. But that didn’t work. Then, my daughter gave me the answer. I sent a $50 check in the school’s name to FFRF, and also let them know that every time I got mail from them, I would send another $50 so they could continue to help the foundation with its important work. I have not heard from them since.
Thanks for helping. Keep up the great work.
Justices were derelict in Bladensburg case
Letter-writer Douglas Hawes (from November issue) is right to be disturbed by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bladensburg cross case.
A Latin cross is the primary symbol of Christianity, first, last and always. The court’s majority was just making excuses when it let this one stay on public land by finding that it’s a “war memorial” and “historical.”
Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution privilege sentiment or history of principles. By making such excuses, the majority is derelict in its duty to apply constitutional principles to legal issues. Those justices need to be impeached and removed.
Anne Gaylor’s visionary work lives on at FFRF
I am so proud of all of you at FFRF for your steadfast work and commitment.
We are gaining and we are growing in number. The dedicated legal team is doing an excellent job, and due to FFRF’s ongoing outreach to the youth, these students receive encouragement to follow their convictions, which takes courage. Their intelligence and energy give us much-needed hope for the future.
I often think about Anne Gaylor, who was a true hero and visionary with her timeless quest to free us humans (especially women) from the oppression of religious control. It was an honor for me to have met her. She was strong, wise and gracious. And now you continue the work, which some days must seem overwhelming. But because of FFRF’s staff and volunteers, we will overcome and win the battle of reason.
Thank you for all you do.
Joanie Barker Nichols
I boycott Amazon because it harms nonprofit groups
When I saw the letter from one of our members praising the partnership with Amazon Smile, I had to write. Of course, not every FFRF member will boycott, as do I, Amazon and Facebook and Apple and Nestlé and Nike and so many others, but I urge other readers to do the tiniest bit of research about Amazon. It actually harms nonprofits, while making “monkeys” of them. We are skeptics, aren’t we? It’s borderline immoral to abet Amazon’s evil crusade.
The gentleman who wrote that letter manifested exactly the mindset that Amazon is using for its own ends — that “feel good” thing that people have when they “donate,” even if what they donate is merely the nickel and penny found beneath the couch cushions, and even if that donation comes from an oh-so-cagey corporation that is destroying habitat, honest work, ethical businesses, prudent consumerism, corporate transparency, and the best efforts toward conservation. FFRF members should realize they are not really giving “anything” except more billions to Jeff Bezos, whose corporation pays not a dime in federal income taxes — and no, Bezos has not signed the billionaire pledge.
Please publish data about exactly how much Amazon has given to FFRF, I want to see it.
Anyway, the other member wrote so I decided I could, too.
I am so proud of what FFRF does.
Editor’s note: Since AmazonSmile began this program, it has donated a total of $124,764.16 to FFRF.
FFRF’s ad in New York Times was perfect
I loved your New York Times full-page ad (see page 20). The stormy artwork was perfect and arresting. I hope you receive a fortune in donations as a result.
I think there’s a fast-moving freight train heading for the United States and the world. The load it is carrying patriarchal, evangelical Christian theocracy. Your ad dramatically warns of theocracy and I’m so glad you published it.
Using facts got me banned from some sites
After having faithfully contributed to a number of right-wing and religiously infested web sites for years, I am now banned from them all! Forever! All I did was introduce some facts, some logic, some common sense and reasonable understanding of current affairs. However, what had me ostracized, I believe, was my response to someone who thanked God for President Trump, to which I wrote that it was very appropriate to blame a made-up fantasy figure that only lurks around in superstitious people’s alleged minds. Some gratitude, I’d say! However, I have to admit I take it as a badge of honor to be banned from sites like those, amusing as it sounds.
Regard hotel room bible as an inoffensive brick
I remember someone telling me, during my childhood, that a closed book is as helpful (or harmful) to one’s mind as a brick. Thus, it baffles me that some of my fellow atheists voice antipathy towards the Gideon bibles they find in their hotel rooms.
As for myself, I’m glad to have read the bible several times because its stories of violence, injustices and disgusting “holy” men provide effective ammunition whenever I need to bolster my claim that the “good book” has nothing to do with goodness.
To those who object to finding a bible in their hotel room, why not just regard it as an inoffensive brick? I promise you, it won’t bite you in the middle of the night.
Freedom from religion part of freedom of religion
When reading Crankmail in the November issue, one entry caught my attention. It was the second time I had heard or read of someone splitting hairs on the First Amendment, saying that it means “freedom OF religion,” not “freedom FROM religion.”
The first time I heard it was during a policy meeting at our condo club, presided over by a retired law professor. A woman at the meeting made the same comment. I didn’t think fast enough to tell her about Thomas Jefferson’s quote: “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
In other words, like in a multiple-choice quiz, one can pick A, B, C or D — none of the above, which is the most likely choice of the readers of Freethought Today.
Student essayists give us hope for the future
When I look at the future of secular humanism or atheism, I have “faith” when I read the essays from the high school and college students. They have courage and guts! We will survive the showdowns of the future.
I now give to groups that oppose church dogma
Cartoonist Steve Benson once listed the benefits of leaving the Mormon church as “an extra holiday every week and a 10 percent pay raise.” I have been absent from church some 50 years now and have enjoyed alternate activities (bike rides, matinees at the opera, ballet and theater) on those guilt-free Sundays. However, no excess monetary benefits have accrued to me. Funds that I once gave to religion I now give to organizations which actively oppose regressive church dogma, conflict and violence, such as Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United, and, of course, FFRF.
FFRF made a nonbeliever out of her and her dad
This holiday season was my first as an atheist! Thank you so much for getting your message and truth out into the world. Dan Barker, you opened my eyes and made me rethink things I did not know I could question. I shared your books and the FFRF YouTube channel with my dad and he has also made his way out of Christianity, although he cannot currently be as open/public about it yet.
I absolutely love FFRF and the YouTube channel. Thanks to everyone at FFRF for your hard work and for fighting the good fight to keep church and state separate.
FFRF’s work is essential and pays huge dividends
I just want to let the entire FFRF team know just how much I appreciate everything you do for us freethinkers across the country and around the world. We’ve never had more difficult challenges in my lifetime and your continued work is absolutely essential. A million thanks, everyone. Your hard work pays huge dividends.
We need FFRF to fight against Gilead society
Keep up the great work! We need it. I do not want to live in a Gilead society, but seems we are heading down that path.
Members should leave behind copies of paper
Just a thought: In addition to referring new subscriber friends, you might want to recommend that after members have read Freethought Today, they leave their copy at their dentist’s or doctor’s office or car dealership, or anywhere that magazines are available for the public to read.