Letterbox (Jan/Feb 2022)

Entire staff of FFRF should be commended

I would like to thank and commend the entire staff at FFRF for planning, organizing and professionally executing, with precision, the schedule for the convention in Boston, and for all that FFRF does on behalf of freethinkers in the United States and throughout the world.

W.B.
Ontario, Canada 


Scout badge essay led to Lifetime Membership gift  

In the November issue, FFRF announced it had awarded the Freethought Badge to Zachary Van Stanley for his essay challenging the discriminatory policy of the Boy Scouts of America against the nonreligious.

I found his essay well-written and his enthusiasm and good cheer were infectious. In his letter to FFRF after receiving the badge, he mentioned that he was “saving up to pay for a Lifetime Membership.”

I have enclosed a check for $1,000 to honor Zachary and pay for that membership for him now so that he need wait no longer.

Long live Zachary and all the other young people like him who think for themselves and care about each other and our planet.

R.R.
California


FFRF convention was a ‘banquet for my brain’

Thank you for an amazing weekend in Boston. I’d been reading the short bios of the convention speakers for months and their stories had just been that — stories. After listening to each in person, they have become real people to me with significant information to share with us all. The weekend was a banquet for my brain!

A.H.
Montana


Dan Barker’s music a perk for FFRF members

I just want you to know that enjoying Dan Barker’s music (both solo and ensemble) is another great perk of belonging to FFRF!

I recall as a girl listening to an old instrumental recording of “Pack Up Your Sins” by Paul Whiteman. (A lot scratchier than Dan’s version!) But I’d never heard the words until listening to your podcast. Very apropos!

There’s a lot of old stuff like that from my past that is lodged deeply within and lies quiescent, since nobody today would relate to it, let alone appreciate it.

I met Paul Whiteman one time back in the 1950s. I don’t remember what was said, but I was sure thrilled to be introduced to him and couldn’t wait to tell my parents. 

M.A.
New Mexico

Editor’s note: You can purchase Dan Barker’s music on FFRF CDs at ffrf.org/shop.

Member’s poem modeled after the Nicene Creed

A Family Creed

I believe in my parents, the Trouts

Creators of my brother and me.

I believe in love, both platonic
and non.

It is conceived by the common estimation between two people

And born in works and words.

It is unconditional and true.

It cannot be killed or buried.

When it descends into darkness,
it is tested,

But it rises again in time

And is stronger for its wear.

It is at the heart of all relationships.

It does not judge nor wish ill will;

it transcends death.

I believe in the house that my
parents built,

the family with which they have surrounded me

the friends I have gathered,

the forgiveness of our common humanity

the mutual respect we hold

And the peaceful life they have afforded me.

Athem.

B.T.
Pennsylvania


Tamayo’s speech brought visions of Electric Monk 

Thank you for the convention!!

While listening to the David Tamayo’s talk about artificial intelligence, my mind kept bringing up author Douglas Adams’ Electric Monk, which appears in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. 

I finally looked up one of my favorite quotes from that book: “Unfortunately, this Electric Monk had developed a fault, and had started to believe all kinds of things, more or less at random. It was even beginning to believe things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City.

D.C.
Ohio


FFRF items are a big hit, especially the stamper

I congratulate FFRF for all its accomplishments and continuing efforts to maintain the separation of religion and state. I am confident that FFRF will continue being effective.

I am proud to have become a Lifetime Member in 2008 and After-Life Member in 2016.

I recently purchased an FFRF 2022 calendar, some Winter Solstice cards, some bible warning stickers and an “In Reason We Trust” stamp. I have enjoyed frequently using that last item.

G.S.
California 


Shouldn’t Christians have thanked the Jews?

I could never reconcile the explicit message of John 3:16 with the “deicide” slander used to persecute Jews for the next two millennia. Shouldn’t Christians have thanked the Jews for carrying out God’s intention? After all, as per Christian mythology, Jesus’ “sacrifice” is the sole reason we are “saved,” provided, of course, we accept him as our “lord and savior.” Had the Jews not killed Jesus, humanity would have continued to be damned, since God’s plan would not have been fulfilled, right?

Which brings me to another problem I have with John 3:16 — God promises eternal life to those who believe in Jesus. However, humanity had already been promised eternal life prior to Jesus appearing on the scene. Only it was eternal life in hell. That’s why Christians call Jesus “the savior.” He saved us from eternal torment through his suffering on the cross. It would have been nice if John 3:16 mentioned “eternal life in heaven,” but, hey, I guess nobody’s perfect.

D.M.
New York


FFRF’s Crankmail actually provides many benefits

Regarding the Crankmail “controversy,” this FFRF member votes yes.

I don’t know about other FFRF members, but I enjoy reading the Crankmail section in Freethought Today. I found November’s installment especially entertaining. Aside from their usual obscenity-laden drivel, these Crankmail contributors also waxed quite philosophical.

I can understand why people think Crankmail is gross and shouldn’t be dignified with publication. But consider the many benefits. For one thing, it’s an excellent market research tool — the Crankmailers are confirming the effectiveness of FFRF’s current advertising strategy. They’re seeing FFRF ads on TV and FFRF billboards on their local highways, and it’s obviously driving them crazy. (Admittedly, a short trip.)

Crankmail also puts our adversaries into their larger political context. Fifteen percent of Americans are QAnon adherents who think Satan-worshipping pedophiles run the government, while death threats against elections officials, public health workers and school board members have become commonplace. Can anyone doubt it’s these very same lunatics who are writing these Crankmail offerings?

For FFRF to succeed, we need to see our opponents clearly, in all their godly vileness. The monthly Crankmail installment in Freethought Today lets us do exactly that. And, occasionally, you might even get some crack-brained philosophy to muse upon for awhile.

M.R.
Colorado


‘Pass away’ is a terrible euphemism for death

Why do people use “pass away” as a euphemism for “die”? We already have so many other fine euphemisms: croak, kick the bucket, vapor lock, slip your cable. People of a spiritual bent already have the euphemism, “Go home to be with the Lord,” so why do they bother with “pass away”? 

If your feelings about the dear departed are negative, there is always “Old Nick got his own,” a far better more satisfying of phrase. 

C.B.
South Carolina

Editor’s note: Hear, hear! “Pass away” is never used in FFRF literature.


Christians have become bigoted hypocrites

Thank you for the Freethought Today newspaper!

I am a believer in Jesus, but I am disgusted with what has happened to Christians worldwide, but especially in the United States. They have become bigoted hypocrites. Jesus condemned this attitude. Nowhere in the bible does it say that abortion is a sin or that evolution isn’t true. Why not say evolution is how God created the world? I also dislike the way evangelicals have married politics to religion. This came along when Ronald Reagan became president in 1980.

I’m glad that FFRF fights for women’s rights, especially reproductive rights.

R.T.
South Carolina


Supreme Court puts faith ahead of reason

I want to thank FFRF for being a great organization and having a very informative newspaper. As an attorney for 40 years, I love your coverage of the religious legal issues and the work your attorneys do to restrain theocracy. 

Here’s why I am writing: In the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, we have a conflict between an organization that wants government money to do work with adoptions and be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people. On the other side, we have the real parties in interest — LGBTQ people who want to adopt children and do not want to discriminated against by a government-funded religious group.

The church’s basis for the discrimination is its belief in a 2,000-year-old philosophy that has no basis in fact or evidence, and is contrary to current science. This is an organization that, without evidence, demands to be able to discriminate against actual live humans who have done nothing wrong. And the Supreme Court sides with the myth-based organization? 

I can only conclude that our legal system and much of our population are still thinking with a Dark Age mentality. The sad part is that those justices on the Supreme Court are much better educated and generally more intelligent than the general population, but, unfortunately, are lacking in empathy and compassion. 

Instead of leading toward more rational solutions favoring humans, and less discrimination, the Supreme Court tails behind the unenlightened religiously indoctrinated masses. The Supreme Court puts faith —  beliefs without evidence — above reason, logic, science and commonsense human decency.

R.P.
California


Facebook could be a threat to democracy

An article in The Atlantic (November 2021 issue) titled “Facebookland” is worth a read by FFRF members. 

There are 2.9 billion monthly active users of Facebook, which is a commercial venture that cares far less about honest and fair social interaction than about how much those interactions can benefit a few people financially.

To quote the author Adrienne France, “Facebook sold itself to the masses by promising to be an outlet for free expression, for connection, for community. In fact, it is a weapon against the open web, against self-actualization and against democracy.”

Any organization that threatens our democracy is a threat to the principle of separation between state and church. Facebook has more users than the combined populations of India and China, yet it has no controlling agency other than a board of directors. It’s frightening to think of what one fundamentalist member of that board could instigate against religious freedom.

B.M.
Ohio


Death penalty makes sense is some situations

In Freethought Today’s November issue, FFRF called for getting rid of the death penalty.  As a long-time FFRF member, I, too, was always opposed to the idea of capital punishment. 

That all changed a few years ago, though, when I read about a man who admitted to raping a little girl multiple times, then murdering her by burying her alive! Not only did he admit his crime, but said in front of the little girl’s mother and father that, given the opportunity, he would do it again.

I don’t think being sentenced to an air-conditioned room with a TV, free medical and dental care, three meals a day, access to a law library and perhaps an early release for “good behavior” is reflective of the punishment fitting the crime.

One of the arguments that’s always been used against the death penalty is its lack of value as a deterrent. I maintain that the death penalty in this type of crime is, in fact, the ultimate deterrent — there are no repeat offenders. That is to say, it is the ultimate cure for recidivism.

I now believe that under certain limited circumstances, the death penalty is appropriate and justified. If anyone is deserving to be unceremoniously dispatched to the great unknown, it is the self-confessed, unremorseful child-rapist murderer.

B.A.
New Jersey


FFRF bumper sticker reveals good neighbor

Regarding the letter, “Neighbor has similar interest,” I must tell you who moved in next door to me. I was passing the house of my new neighbor and noticed the FFRF sticker on the back of his car. “I like your sticker. I’m a member of FFRF,” I told him. He introduced himself as R.P., co-president of the Northern Ohio Freethought Society,  FFRF’s chapter in Ohio!

E.F.
Ohio


Can bible publishers be sued for defamation?

Apparently, the voting machine company Dominion is pursuing a suit against Fox News requesting some $1.6B in restitution for unjustified defamation. 

Surely nothing can be more unjustified and more defamatory against atheists than all the bibles that continue to include Psalms 14 and 53.   

Given the analogy, perhaps the time has come for one or more atheist groups to sue any organizations that publish, market and sell bibles to the public?

J.P.
Arizona


I broke free from the stranglehold of religion

I am, as far as I know, the only person in my family to break free from the stranglehold Christianity has on people, and that saddens me. At the same time, it gladdens me to realize that I was able to break free.  

When I first screamed out loud to myself, “There is no f—ing God!”, I was angry and it felt like no one else on Earth had ever thought that. To my delight, I discovered a great number of people who had wrestled with those same thoughts over thousands of years. Their struggles and successes put mine to shame. Still, for a Southerner in the Bible Belt of South Carolina, it was an amazing accomplishment.

I want to thank FFRF for all it does to make the world a better place through the sanity and freedom of atheism.

Now, I’m just another happy heretic enclosing a check for a Lifetime Membership.

Judy Holder
Florida