Letterbox (December 2019)

Closed minds won’t change over Founding Myth

Do you really think that giving a copy of Andrew L. Seidel’s book The Founding Myth to each member of Congress will change anything? I envy your optimism!

Can we expect that any of those legislators (several of whom are probably closet atheists) will risk losing their constituents’ trust and their votes by exposing them to the truth, and thereby crushing their cherished legends?

Sadly, those who believe that ours is a Christian nation will remain unshaken in that doctrine and will keep their closed minds tightly shut to knowledge. And politicians, like priests, will take advantage of their ignorance.

Trust me, the Red Sea will open sooner than their closed minds.

David Quintero
Monrovia, CA


Zuckerman a great guest on ‘Freethought Matters’

I loved the “Freethought Matters” show with Phil Zuckerman as guest. He was such a well-spoken guest and had great energy!

Daniel Graves
California


Finding out about FFRF was ‘pleasant surprise’   

I’ve enclosed a check to become a Lifetime Member of FFRF.

I’ve been a member since 2012, when I first heard about it on the “Norman Goldman Show.” It was such a pleasant surprise that there was an organization like FFRF.

Kudos to Andrew L. Seidel for The Founding Myth, which I have read twice (my memory is like a sieve) and I will keep it nearby as a defense weapon against the “Christian nation” folks.

Thank you for all the hard work you do to protect our Constitution and the First Amendment.

Noral Baughman
Washington


Student essays show there’s hope for future

I first learned of FFRF early last year while watching the TV ad featuring Ron Reagan. The legal battles FFRF wages in support of the principle of separation of church and state are greatly appreciated.

I also enjoy the informative, entertaining, thought-provoking and often amusing articles, essays, photos and poetry in Freethought Today. I always look forward to receiving it.

Among my favorite features are the student essays. It’s truly encouraging and uplifting to know there are so many bright, questioning, insightful young people among us.

And, of course, there are the invariably droll letters in Crankmail. The writers remind me of the wry and wise observation by Jonathan Swift: “It’s useless to attempt to reason a man out of thing he was never reasoned into.”

Amen! Oops, I mean, right on!

Marcia Goodman
California


Religious Right hurting itself all on its own

It occurred to me, after Attorney General William Barr spoke about how secularism was destroying religion and its values, that it is actually quite different. Trump and his supporters in the Religious Right are actually doing more to destroy their religion than we could. We should think of the election of Trump as, ironically, a gift from God for the freethought movement. People of a new generation are seeing a group of lying, cheating people speak of how obedience to their religion has made them who they are. Anyone with any thought at all would see this as a reason to reject religion. If religion is supposed to result in a moral and ethical life, and it quite clearly does not in its most ardent supporters, then why would anyone look to religion for such guidance? This makes people look elsewhere and, hopefully, to a place where logic and reason is the foundation for a moral and ethical life. We should hope that the Religious Right continues to dig its own grave.

Peter Hall
Oregon


Thanks to John Murphy, other sex abuse survivors

I recently learned that an attorney who represents victims of sex abuse by Catholic priests asked Colorado lawmakers to drop the statute of limitations on those crimes. Joe McGee, Carol Clear, Cate Stover and John Murphy were witnesses and are survivors. 

I have known John Murphy for many years. John is a Lifetime Member of FFRF and, 28 years ago, was one of the founders of the Colorado Springs Chapter. He has been very active fighting for separation of state and church.

Colorado’s Amendment 11, known as “Murphy’s Law,” was a referendum on taxing churches, which was on the ballot in the 1990s. He had his own radio show and has spoken nationally.   

I just want to thank these heroes for their service and all they do for those of us whose lives have been affected by this very abusive religion.

Gary King, director of FFRF’s Colorado Springs Chapter
Colorado


Ordinary people can break free from religion

The October/November issue of Free Inquiry has an article by Zara Kay titled, “Why apostasy laws won’t stop the rise of ex-Muslim women.” She explained that her website, “Faithless Hijabi,” was designed to give ex-Muslim women a forum where they can share the stories of their struggles anonymously.

She writes: “I began receiving stories from women who had left Islam no matter the cost and wanted to have their voices heard.”

I thought it would be appropriate for Freethought Today to publish stories that feature the experiences of people breaking free from other religions, and how enormously significant it would be to reveal that apostasy from Islam does take place among ordinary people. The experiences of these women need to be more widely known.

F. Bruce Robinson
Maryland


Convention again was successful, interesting

Thank you for a wonderful convention and for the “ungodly” amount of work FFRF does to make sure it’s successful, interesting and on schedule.

I enjoyed hearing from the African-American speakers. It’s one thing to hear about the black experience from white people, but it’s quite another to hear it from the black perspective. We need more of these speakers.

Also, someone suggested that FFRF organize outside trips and events for convention attendees. In my opinion, FFRF has enough to do at this time. Perhaps FFRF can make suggestions, but there is enough online information about any city for an attendee to look at and plan for.

We usually stay a day or two longer when we attend a convention that is held out of town. This gives us extra time to see the sights of the city.

Sue Schuetz
Wisconsin


Convention in Madison was a wonderful time

This is just a note of thanks and appreciation for another great conference.

We agree that the highlights were Sarah Vowell, Anthony Pinn and Amber Scorah. And we continue to be inspired by Bonya Ahmed. Also, we love the wonderful piano playing. (Thanks, Dan!)

Donna Silver and George Savage
Wisconsin


All religions are evil and bloodthirsty

I am proud to say that I’ve been an atheist for over 10 years and am loving every minute of it. I definitely do not need God to be good. I was raised as a Roman Catholic and after a while, I started to ask questions of the priests and nuns. Of course, I never received an honest answer, only some mumbo-jumbo about the make-believe jackass in the sky who is loving and caring. After reading many things about religion, I’ve come to the conclusion that ALL religions are evil and bloodthirsty.

Eugene T. Bernascone
New Jersey


Coincidences happen, both good and bad

I recently watched a rerun of “Forensic Files.” This episode featured the story of the Sunset Limited derailing accident that occurred in Alabama on Sept. 22, 1993.

The accident was caused by the train tracks on the bridge being severely compromised when a heavy barge collided with the rail bridge shortly before the train was to cross. The resulting derailment and crash killed 47 people and injured another 103. It is one of the deadliest train crashes in American history.

Leading up to the crash, there were a few unfortunate coincidences:

1) The train had been delayed for repairs, putting it 30 minutes behind schedule.

2) Shortly before the accident, a barge being pushed by a towboat was being piloted by a man who wasn’t trained in how to read radar. Because of the dense fog and the lack of radar training, the pilot made a wrong turn and entered the Big Bayou Canot (which was considered unnavigable). The barge struck the bridge just 8 minutes before the train arrived.

3) When the barge struck the bridge, the pilot actually thought he ran aground. In fact, when he looked at the radar screen, he mistook the bridge for another barge. Had he known, he could have alerted the authorities that the rail bridge was compromised.

4) When the barge hit the bridge, instead of severing the tracks, it instead severely bent them. Had the tracks been severed or pulled apart, a warning light would have lit up along the tracks, alerting the train to stop.

Why am I retelling this story? Because any time there is even a small chain of coincidences that lead to a good outcome, Christians cheer and claim that God just performed a miracle. The fact is, coincidences happen. Sometimes the outcome is tragic, sometimes the outcome is great. But, Christians shouldn’t kid themselves that the good outcomes are the result of God. They are just coincidences. Period.

G. Howard Allen
California


Prison secular group thanks FFRF for its help

My thanks to you are long overdue. Since 2014, FFRF has, in one way or another, repeatedly come to our rescue. First Associate Counsel Sam Grover, then Legal Fellow Colin McNamara and Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, and now Attorney Chris Line.

We’re a bit like Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar named Desire” — we are always depending on the goodwill of others. Goodwill is a rare commodity.

I greatly appreciate the contribution of the freethought DVD collection and your written permission to view them. This resource is adding weeks to the lifespan of our Secular Humanist group!

Joseph Night

Mike Durfee State Prison
South Dakota


Air Force religious record doesn’t show the real me

I read with interest John Compere’s column, “The war on military religious freedom,” because it reminded me of my own battle with the USAF.

I enlisted in 1961 and was sent toLackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for basic training. Prior to our uniform issue, we had to complete a number of forms. One form asked us for our religious affiliation. I wrote, “No religious preference.”

The sergeant reviewed all of our forms and when he got to mine, read it, studied it and asked for me. He growled, “What’s this crap about no religious preference, huh?”

When I explained that I didn’t believe in any religion, the assistant training instructor stepped in and said, “O’Donahue, come with me.” We went into the latrine, where he ran water in the sink, grabbed a handful and threw it in my face. “There,” he said. “Now you’re a damn Catholic. Get back in the ranks!”

Sometime later, our military ID cards were issued, and, sure enough, I was branded a Catholic. Later, our dogtags were issued, but this time they were stamped “Lutheran.” My friend said I should get that straightened out. I said, “Screw ‘em! If I’m killed, I’m dead and that’s it. Why should I care what they do with my body. Let them figure it out!”

So my records will show that I was possibly the only Catholic Lutheran to serve in the United States Air Force.

Terry O’Donahue
Wisconsin


Donating to FFRF can help in many ways

My purpose in sending a donation was due not so much that I am an avowed atheist as it is to make people everywhere aware that there are a large number of people who are atheists and that it is entirely acceptable to be one, and I hope FFRF can be a major factor in accomplishing that.

An even more important issue to me is the separation of church and state. Seems like an almost impossible task, but I am happy to know that there are serious efforts to accomplish it.

Beware of dogma: This sticker you included with your thank-you card is very thought-provoking, as dogma is the source of much conflict in the world. It reminds me of a sentence I came across many years ago. It consists of only three words, but it is the most profound sentence I have ever encountered. I still think about it sometimes and am amazed at how powerful it is if given serious thought. Perhaps you are familiar with it: “Think beyond belief.”

Gerald Handy
Colorado