Letterbox (March 2021)

Jim Satterfield has this FFRF billboard he created on his tailgate.

Tailgate ‘billboard’ shows support for FFRF

I decided to dress up the tailgate on my old Ford Ranger truck a bit to show off my views and support for FFRF.

I created this from the “billboard” I made on FFRF’s website. At 87 years old, I’m not driving as much as I used to, but when I do, I hope it calls attention to FFRF and this old atheist, in particular.

I’ve had a lot of controversial bumper stickers on my truck over the years, and seldom are any comments made to me. We’ll see about this.

Jim Satterfield

Editor’s note: Make your own digital message at ffrf.org/out.

Vacation conversation revealed similarities

I was invited on a fly-fishing trip on the Cinder River, which is on the north side of the Alaskan peninsula. There were seven of us on the trip, but the only person I knew beforehand was the trip’s host, a longtime friend of mine who was an outdoor leadership professor in college.

During the trip, we had three straight days and nights of around 30 mph winds, so anytime we weren’t fishing we were cooped up in a large tent. We had plenty of hours to talk about all manner of subjects. It didn’t take long for us to realize we were all on the same page on many topics. It turns out that nobody in the group was a believer. One of us brought up FFRF and it turned out that three of the seven of us in the tent are members of FFRF, including one Lifetime member.

Media often show people in the “outdoors” industry (hunters, fishermen, etc.) as conservative Christians, but the reality is far from it. There are many freethinkers in the outdoors industry, but they don’t get a lot of attention. I’m hoping that there will be more outspoken atheist outdoors people featured in the media.

Aaron Glaser

Let’s take ‘In God We Trust’ off our currency

This morning I had the radio on and heard White House spokesperson Jen Psaki state that putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is under consideration again because it is very important that our money reflect our diversity. That’s a great idea! I say let’s go all in on this concept and look beyond racial diversity to religious diversity.

A very significant segment of our population, around 20 percent, does not worship any gods at all. These people go by various terms: freethinker, atheist, agnostic, humanist, none of the above, nontheist, etc. As one of these people, I feel that we are among the last remaining group for which it is both legally permissible and socially fashionable to discriminate against. While redesigning our money, let’s get the offensive statement, “In God We Trust,” off of it. The statement is factually incorrect, and it makes those of us without religious faith feel intentionally excluded from the “we.”

The statement is also completely unnecessary, as other countries are able to function perfectly well without having it on their currency. And let’s not forget that we operated without it well over a hundred years until that great pre-Trump political unifier Sen. Joseph McCarthy wrote the law to put it on our currency. President Biden said he wants to be president of all Americans. Well, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.

I ask that while redesigning our currency to reflect our racial and ethnic diversity, you show a little good faith and also remove “God” from our money. It’s the morally correct action.

Mark Klock

Thanks to complainant, FFRF for Kansas action

I want to thank you for the action you took to inform staff at Liberty Middle School in Pratt, Kan., of the unconstitutionality of their promotion of Christianity. Our child is not yet old enough to attend school, but this is a concern my wife and I have had living in this small, rural community.

I know that you cannot provide the name of the complainant and we are not requesting it, but we hope FFRF can reach out to that person and let them know that we support them. It is terrible that they had to make the complaint in the first place, and we hope they have not been alienated in any way. We very much appreciate their actions in hopes that our child will not have to endure such proselytization when attending public school in the future.

Thank you again and keep up the fantastic work. Also, I loved The Founding Myth by Andrew L. Seidel.

Jordan Hofmeier

Capitol insurrection was heavy on religion

History has shown us that there is nothing more dangerous than a religiously inspired mob. That mob will burn, loot, vandalize and kill with glee. On Jan. 6, we saw red-cap-wearing MAGA supporters carry Jesus flags and Trump/Jesus flags and place a cardboard “Jesus Saves” sign on our nation’s Capitol steps. The building was desecrated. Bible-thumpers were running loose. Yet, the evangelical preachers promoting President Trump have been silent. They lost their tongues. Quite doubtful they would have been so silent if the protesters were carrying signs about Allah. There would have been a call for war, in that case.

Let us hope the storming of our nation’s Capitol is something where Americans learn the need to keep church and state separate.

Jeff Baysinger

Glad to see number of religious voters drop

I was pleased to read in the December issue that the percentage of religious registered voters has dropped from 79 percent in 2008 to 64 percent in 2020. That’s 15 points in 12 years!

If that trend continues, it will be down below 50 percent, something I never expected to see in my lifetime . . . the majority of voters being sane. I give FFRF a great deal of credit for this increase in rational thinking and the acceptance of science over the supernatural, reality over myth. With a majority of registered voters being nonaffiliated with religion, just imagine what gains we could make!

I am disappointed, though, each Sunday when I watch “Freethought Matters” and hear that FFRF has only about 33,000 members, considering the number of legal cases that are being won, FFRF’s activism, the great work of Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker and the staff, Ron Reagan’s TV ad, etc. My only hope is that those 33,000 members will continue to push FFRF’s message and we can convince more than 0.001 percent of the population of the fallacies and insanity of organized religion.

Don Stockard

Religion has long outlived its usefulness

There was a time in the history of humanity when religion served an important and generally useful function, but no longer.

Throughout the ages, up until about several hundred years ago, life for most people was brutal and short. The belief in an afterlife and in ultimate redemption was the only salvation. But con men knew a good thing when they saw it: Religious believers, trying to maintain their hopes, could be easily manipulated and exploited.

And religious believers were taught that humans are the “crown of creation,” made in God’s image and that humanity was given dominion over the Earth. For centuries, then, this kind of human arrogance ran rampant, backed up by the belief that the deity of choice would bail out humanity if the species ever started to screw up.

Well, has humanity ever started to screw up! This “dominion” has given rise to unending warfare, polluted air and oceans, melting polar ice, vanishing coral reefs, slaughter and extinction of large numbers of animal species, rising sea levels, toxic dumping, global warming and much more. The stewardship of humans has been a disaster, and there’s no cavalry riding to the rescue. Religion nowadays does more harm than good.

Tom Guccione
New York

‘Heathens Greetings’ pamphlets are great

I will be ordering more of FFRF’s “Heathen’s Greetings” pamphlets. It is so well written and so free of any ill will.

I live in a 203-home homeowner’s association community for individuals over the age of 55. We have rural mailboxes in front of our homes and many of the residents walk past them daily. For Christmas this past year, I put my last 22 “Heathen’s Greetings” pamphlets in a plastic baggie with a decorated sign that read, “Free. Take one” and hung it on my mailbox. Eleven of them were taken. I am pleased because my car is parked in my carport and my one-word “Atheist” bumper sticker is quite visible.

Of course, no one has ever asked any questions about this (they never do), but they have to appreciate my low-key approach.

Pat Hall

Tune in to these two YouTube programs

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis has been hosting a YouTube channel featuring humanist discussion and critique of religious myth.

Called “Din of Conversation,” the channel is archive to two programs. “Bibles and Beer: Humanist Bible Study” presents updated twists on bible studies that you may have grown up with. “Bibles and Beer” is presented live most Wednesday evenings.

On “Coffee and Wisdom,” First Unitarian Senior Minister David Breeden shares a few ideas about humanism — past, present and future. The “Coffee and Wisdom” live presentation occurs most weekday mornings, followed by a chat with others via Zoom.

Bruce Nelson

Why are Catholic clergy getting vaccine already?

I wanted you to be aware of something that has infuriated me ever since I heard it. In December, Cardinal Cupich of Chicago was given the Covid-19 vaccine along with other members of the clergy, indicating they are regarded as “essential.” How nice for them. This special privilege was granted to them, which, as a result, took vaccines away from senior citizens, front-line hospital workers, police and firefighters and others more deserving, given what risks they endure on a daily basis. How on Earth are the Catholic clergy considered “essential”? Isn’t the Catholic Church all about putting others ahead of themselves? Hypocrites all! I think this is of great value in noting just one more hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

Glenn Joselane

Hasidim extremists in   New York cause problems   

Back in November, Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, the Grand Rebbe of the large Satmer Hasidim community of Brooklyn, stated to his brethren that they should not consider themselves as Americans but rather as Jews in exile.

Despite not considering themselves Americans, they hold American passports and bloc vote. They were strong supporters of Donald Trump. They refuse to report for jury duty and get away with it, and never serve in the military. With their large families and expertise at gaming the system, they receive more taxpayer benefits than any other religious or ethnic group in the country. Yet the Satmars and other Hasidic groups are slumlords, nursing home operators and developers of luxury condominiums in New York City, controlling hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in real estate assets.

Also, back in November, Teitelbaum officiated at an indoor wedding ceremony attended by 7,000 celebrants who were singing, clapping and dancing, in open defiance of city Covid-19 restrictions. None of them was wearing a mask. The result? Since November, Teitelbaum and hundreds of the wedding guests have contracted Covid-19! Who knows how many other people they have infected?

Dennis Middlebrooks
New York

Reading the paper in jacuzzi a challenge

I’m always excited to receive the latest issue of the paper, which I always read in the jacuzzi, which creates a challenge to keep it dry enough to read Black Collar Crime by the time I get that far. (I don’t wanna miss seeing which man of prayer preyed the most.)

I am especially glad to see so many young people involved and writing excellent essays.

I never did get a stimulus check, but I’m gonna pretend I did and send the whole mythical thing to you for real. Spend this $1,200 where you need it the most and keep the paper coming!

Larry Hallock

Jan/Feb issue was full of interesting reading

I was sorry to hear about the death of Ben Bova. One of the first full-length books I ever read was one of his.

The article about Julian Scheer (“The man who kept God off the moon”) was incredible. He’d be a great subject for a movie (or at least a TV documentary).

When I first began receiving Freethought Today in the early 1990s, one of my favorite features was the “In Others’ Words” cryptogram. I’ve never been much for crossword puzzles, but I was surprised and happy to see the crossword in the latest issue, and I hope there’ll be more.

Well, I suppose it had to happen. After a few months of (relatively) civilized Crankmails, the fangs and claws came back out in the Jan/Feb issue.

As usual, thanks for all you do, and here’s to (somewhat) better days ahead.

Andrew C. Jones

Inauguration events were too religious

My husband and I are proud FFRF members. On Jan. 20, we sat in rapt attention and anticipation for Joe Biden’s inauguration, only to feel excluded and disappointed by all of the Christian inclusions via a pastor, a bishop and a poet. Faith was the dish served up by each and every speaker and left us cold. We hoped for so much and got a lot — more by far than the previous administration — but at one point it appeared we were meant to jump out of our seats and shout “hallelujah!” I felt unseen, unheard and ignored all over again.

Thank you for your recent message and for being there for the millions of “Nones” who are still looked at as nothings.

KaZ Akers

Black Collar section helps expose wrongdoing

Although they make for unpleasant reading, the items in Black Collar Crime have too often been swept under the rug by churches and hidden from public scrutiny. Publicizing the names and allegations against the accused brings their crimes out into the open and might help their victims feel a little more acknowledged.

I also enjoy the Crankmail section. I feel both amused and depressed by the letters, but they give us members a little insight into the sort of vitriol that FFRF staff have to deal with every day. Thank you for everything you do!

Megan Amselle

Pilots put faith in aviation, not rosaries

I enjoyed reading Justin Pripusich’s letter in the last issue, relating his “come to atheism” experience as a passenger in a maximum turbulence flight out of Denver.

Justin’s plane landed safely because when the going gets rough, pilots are trained first to aviate, then to navigate and lastly to communicate. Justin and all the other people on board could have been toast if the crew had pulled out their rosaries and reversed that order.

But then, one has to wonder, what good praying would have done when the deity that created the storm knew full well that airplanes could be sure candidates for a spectacular disaster.

David Werdegar

Let’s add this phrase to nonbeliever vocabulary

I once heard a nonbeliever challenge another for referring to the death of their loved one as having “passed.” Their objection was that it inferred the existence of another place to which a person would go after death. Although it seemed neutral to me at the time, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our vocabulary is lacking in an expression or description of death among nonbelievers.

This may be a time to suggest another description that is not only neutral but elegant and more profound. When we die, we only live on in the memories of others as part of their continuing lives. So, essentially, we have been committed to memory from that day forward — in the memory of those who loved us — or in some cases by those who won’t forget us for other reasons.

If I could create a meme, I would say that those in our memories, those who influenced us one way or another are “committed to memory,” from the day they die until the day that we ourselves become “committed to memory.”

Betty Hammerle Inman
North Carolina

FFRF’s critical work needed more than ever!

It is obvious to me that, given the composition of the Supreme Court, we need to protect our freedom from religion and the critical work of the Freedom From Religion Foundation more than ever.

Robert M. Zellers
North Carolina

‘Freethought Matters’ an excellent TV program

I’ve been a member of FFRF for well over 10 years and I just want to thank you for the excellent TV program you have, “Freethought Matters,” airing every Sunday morning in New York City. I’m in southern Connecticut, so I’m able to see it every week.

I appreciate the wide variety of guests who are on the show — from writers to authors to artists, including John Davidson, of all people. It’s really entertaining and very well done.

Also, I almost dropped my cup of coffee in my lap earlier this week when I saw the Ron Reagan ad during the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert”! That is very much appreciated. I hope you’re getting a lot of people to join FFRF.

I appreciate everything you’re doing. Stay safe.

Jim Lonczak

Crossword puzzle is a welcome addition

When I received my January/February issue, I was so happy to see that you included a crossword puzzle. Thanks so much!

I’m a 71-year-old retiree and The New York Times crossword is too difficult and the AARP crossword is too easy. Like the proverbial three bears bowl of porridge, your crossword is just right!

Harold Nicol