Letterbox (August 2018)

Thanks for scholarship, support and kindness

I would like to thank the anonymous couple from the Northwest who provided the money to make possible the scholarship I received. Thanks to everyone at FFRF for believing in me to award the $2,000 scholarship along with the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Student Activist Award. [See the June/July issue for his essay.]

I cannot express the amount of appreciation and gratefulness I have toward FFRF. The organization provides thousands of people a chance to safely resolve and/or pursue challenges of state-church separation, allowing ordinary citizens the opportunity to be powerful influencers in their local, state and federal governments.

Everyone deserves the right to be free from intrusions that poison our governments and communities with bias and hate. The power of the people rather than the forces of religion should inspire the government.

I hope you know that FFRF has made a profound impact on my life and will continue to do so. Thanks for all your help, support and kindness.

Daniel Roe (pseudonym)


After-Life membership can be made here and now

With apologies to Lewis Carroll, now is the time the Walrus said to speak of many things, of ships and shoes and After-Life.

I’m not seeking an afterlife, but I am seeking FFRF’s After-Life membership. As PZ Myers (not related) recently said, “I’ll look forward when religion is treated as a hobby.”

Troy Myers


Louisiana state senator is dangerous theocrat

In the May issue, there was an “In the News” segment about “In God We Trust” motto being placed in all Louisiana schools. It quoted Louisiana state Sen. Regina Barrow trying to justify this by saying, “We have an obligation to ensure students have that introduction because we cannot always assume that it’s necessarily happening in the home.” How incredibly arrogant! She’s assuming that the state has some kind of right or duty to overrule parents who choose a superstition-free upbringing for their children. That is the attitude of a dangerous theocrat.

Lee Helms


Sen. Rubio is violating state-church separation

I notice on Twitter that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio often tweets bible quotes and praises his Christian God. Isn’t this a violation of the Constitution since it suggests that an American senator favors one religion over others and is engaged in proselytizing that religion?

I also notice more and more often the network news programs do stories in which they suggest the power of prayer is more popular and effective than it is.

Allan Provost


Cemetery: All dressed up and no place to go

I just came across the “German Liberal Cemetery” located in Medina, Minn. It is listed on the website of the city of Medina under “Community” and is apparently one of two remaining freethinker cemeteries in the state. From the brochure: “The Free Thinkers Society was a movement that began in Germany during the 1840s as a protest against the unquestioning acceptance of authority of the church regarding religious truths.” Current cost of a plot is only $2,000.

Sybille Redmond


Hubble book, Shelley movie both worth a look

I just finished a biography by Gale E. Christianson of the renowned 20th-century astronomer Edwin Hubble, whose discoveries revolutionized our understanding of the universe (and for whom the Hubble Telescope is named). Although raised a Christian, by the time he attained fame at Mt. Wilson by discovering many other galaxies beyond the Milky Way and determining that these galaxies were receding from the Earth at velocities in direct proportion to their distance, Hubble, along with his wife, had become agnostic. When queried about his religious view, Hubble said, “We do not know why we are born into the world, but we can try to find out what sort of world it is — at least in its physical aspects.” On the topic of religion on another occasion, he discreetly noted, “The whole thing is so much bigger than I am, and I can’t understand it, so I just trust myself to it; and forget about it.”

Edwin Powell Hubble is perhaps the greatest figure in astronomy since Galileo, and a great freethinker, as well.

On another topic, I also saw the new film “Mary Shelley” and thought it was very well done. It centered on Mary Shelley’s relationship with the married poet Percy Byshe Shelley, who, upon meeting her, boasts that he was expelled from Oxford due to his manuscript “On The Necessity of Atheism.” Mary is a kindred freethinking spirit and they soon become a scandalous item. Lord Byron and Dr. Polidori (who thought corpses could be reanimated) also appear in the film, and both are shown to be contemptuous of religion as well. Elle Fanning was terrific as Mary Shelley, and the rest of the cast was fine. Can you guess what book Mary Shelley tries to get published at the end, with difficulty because of her gender?

I highly recommend this film for my fellow heretics.

Dennis Middlebrooks

New York

Why is cake’s use even a relevant factor?

I know it is a little late now, but I still have to ask: How can it be OK for a baker, artist or not, to refuse to bake a cake for a person who is gay, assuming one of the gay men offered to pay for it? Did the baker even know who would pay for it, since no one else involved in the purchase matters? Why is it relevant what the cake was for? Suppose they just liked his work and wanted to put it on a shelf somewhere? It was bought for a party; why is it any of the baker’s business that it was a wedding party, or a wedding party for gay men? Neither the cake nor the baker actually participated in the wedding service and vows. They would have been married with or without his cake. How is it possibly conceivable that any god would care what was done with a cake? Is it a sin for gay people to eat cake? The cake would have been served after they were married, so is this baker not going to serve anyone who is gay and married? How about gay, but not married? How about bisexual? How would he know? Would he require proof of not being gay for future customers? What if they agreed not to tell anyone who it was that baked the cake, so he wouldn’t be “shamed” by anyone?

Ron Herman

New Mexico

Can FFRF seek repeal of ‘In God We Trust’?

Has FFRF ever sought repeal of our current national motto: “In God We Trust” back to the original “E Pluribus Unum”? Who is “we” in the current motto? It certainly isn’t me or FFRF, I’m sure. It really rankles me when I see the motto on our currency. Is this not a clear violation of the very first line of the Bill of Rights? The motto was changed when Republicans held all the levers of power in the mid-1950s, and Eisenhower signed it into law. I was 4 years old when the motto was changed, so I don’t know whether anyone objected at the time.

Of course, with the current makeup of Congress and the presidency, the motto will stay as it is . . . a violation of the Constitution.

Jim Martin


Editor’s note: FFRF in 1994 sued to have “In God We Trust” removed from currency and as the national motto. The lawsuit was dismissed by a 10th Circuit federal judge that same year. Michael Newdow has more recently tried to challenge it in court.

Here’s how to really teach students the bible

This is in regard to James Haught’s column in the June/July issue: “The problem with teaching the bible in public schools.”

Why should teaching the bible in public schools be a problem?

If I taught a course on the bible, the first thing I’d remind my students is that God himself broke two of his own Ten Commandments; namely, numbers seven and 10.

He caused Mary to become an adulteress, without her consent. Furthermore, he not only coveted Joseph’s wife, but got her pregnant.

Throughout my bible course, I’d assign my students the task of finding passages in the “Good Book” in which biblical heroes would surely be tried for crimes against humanity and child abuse if they were living in today’s world.

I would also ask them to fill their task books with the bible’s inconsistencies and contradictions.

And for extra credit, I’d ask them to find pornography in the bible. Not romantic love, but pornography. Yes, it’s all right there in the “Good Book.”

David Quintero


Kudos to Devin facing up to school bullying

I just got my latest Freethought Today, and after reading the Strong Backbone Student Activist Award essay by Devin Estes, I’m so touched by him.

I can hardly believe that teachers bullied this brave young man! I feel very proud of him, and his parents, for standing his ground; it is very difficult to do when being bullied by adults as well as other kids. Shame on those folks! With such strength of character, and with the support of his parents, I’m sure he’ll go far. May you be well and happy, Devin!

April Hall