AMERICAN ATHEISTS An Introduction Friend, YOU HAVE ANOTHER FREEDOM: freedom from re

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*********************************************************** AMERICAN ATHEISTS An Introduction *********************************************************** Friend, YOU HAVE ANOTHER FREEDOM: freedom *from* religion and from paying heavy taxes so that the relatively few churchgoers in the United States can benefit from your tax payment. There is an organization dedicated to the maintenance of that freedom for you. That organization is American Atheists, founded in 1963 with three primary goals: 1. TO PROVIDE THE ALTERNATIVE OF FREEDOM *FROM* RELIGION. For generations Americans have been taught that in the United States we have freedom *of* religion only. That is, we are free to choose which religion we care to profess as long as we choose one. We are presented with a plethora of belief systems and told to ``pick a card, any card,'' but we may not decline to play the game. American Atheists holds that you have the right to say ``none of the above'' when faced with an ever-growing list of sects in our denomination-prone religious system. We also think that it is your right to be free from the burden of financial support of religion in general or any sect in particular. 2. TO LABOR FOR, IN ALL LAWFUL WAYS, THE COMPLETE AND ABSOLUTE SEPARATION OF STATE AND CHURCH. American Atheists takes the strictly constitutional stand interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States. We feel, as Thomas Jefferson put it in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptists, that the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ``a wall of separation between Church and State.'' In the case of _Allen v. Morton_ (495 F2d 65, D.C. Cir.) in 1973, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia summed up in a three-part test the basics of separation of state and church: ``To pass muster under the Establishment Clause, the law in question, first, must reflect a clearly secular legislative purpose, second, have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and third, must avoid excessive government entanglement with religion.'' Separation of state and church means much more than this expression in legal terms. It is the essential prerequisite to your survival as an Atheist. Without separation, the arm of the state can be used to force you as an Atheist to profess a religious belief or restrict your freedoms if you do not. Only when state and church are separated and the church is made to stand alone on its dogma, does the Atheist have a chance. When the church stands alone, it can be confronted on equal ground, intellectually, with the invalidity of its dogmas; with the power of the state at its back, it cannot. 3. TO DEFEND THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF ATHEISTS where they are violated on the basis of an individual's espousal of Atheism as a life-style. For example, currently, the constitutions of three states prohibit anyone who does not believe in ``a supreme being'' from holding public office or trust, i.e., being employed by the state. We feel that these struggles are essential to the maintenance of the ultimate freedom that any society should provide to each individual: FREEDOM OF THE MIND. THIS IS THE GOAL OF ATHEISM _ PROMOTION OF THAT ULTIMATE FREEDOM. As Atheists, we are NOT Humanists, Agnostics, Rationalists, Freethinkers, Ethical Culturalists, or Unitarians, nor do we hide behind any of a number of pseudo-Atheist labels used chiefly as socially acceptable camouflage. Neither are we ``negative'' in our position any more than those who labor for independence -- *freedom from dependency.* An Atheist labors for freedom from _theism,_ or freedom from dependency on god theories. We are also not a ``religion.'' The concept of an agency outside of nature with the ability to reach into natural law and to control events is _supernaturalism,_ the foundation of any religion. The existence of that agency is based on subjective faith and belief systems. An Atheist has no belief system. We accept only that which is scientifically verifiable. Since god concepts are unverifiable, we do not accept them. Humanists are persons who are committed to a grossly generalized idea of ``doing good'' for humankind. The Roman Catholic Erasmus was considered the first Humanist, and all religions lay claim to Humanism as part of their dogma. An Atheist knows that ``doing good'' for humankind has no restrictions as an activity. Anyone may participate; thus Humanism defines everyone, the religious and the nonreligious. _Rationalist_ was a term first used in the eighteenth century by Protestants in England and France to denote those who felt that the Bible could be accepted through rationalization; that is, it should not be taken literally. Atheists know that rationalization of basically false dogmas is futile. If a theological system is logically untenable, it must be abandoned. _Ethical Culturism was_ founded in the late 1800s in America by a Jew, Felix Adler. It was designed to replace religious systems with a system of secular ethics. Atheists know that ethics and morality have nothing to do with religious systems. All Atheists have ethics and morals which are gathered from life and human history. _Freethinker_ was the name adopted in early nineteenth-century Europe by those persons who questioned Trinitarian religion and supported the concept of one god. Atheists are not caught up in the game of freedom of interpretation within a theistic system. Atheists are simply *free from theism* altogether. ATHEISTS ARE: 1. POSITIVE! We are for solutions to human problems here and now, not in some never-never land after death. The concept of a place where all human needs are fulfilled and there is no hunger, poverty, or disease is an attainable goal here and now through human effort and interaction. 2. ECLECTIC! We draw information from a variety of sources around us, selecting the best to be applied to the solution of human problems. We do not limit ourselves, as does the theist, to a set spectrum of allowable information with dogmatic systems based on faith. 3. INNER-DIRECTED! This is in distinction to being outer-directed as the theist is. We rely on ourselves for the solutions to our problems. We realize that we have but three areas from which we can draw guidelines to aid us: natural history, human history, and communication with our fellow human beings. We cannot rely on supernatural intervention into our problem-solving processes. 4. INDEPENDENT! We have no system of dependence on rigid dogmas to govern the events of our daily lives. The theist relies on a set of specific rules of conduct on a daily basis. Such a person is dependent upon those rules to function normally. An Atheist can function normally in society without reference to any arbitrary set of rules for his conduct. 5. HAPPY! Atheists are content with their life-style. They are *not* unhappy that they have not chosen a closed theistic system inside of which they must operate. Atheists are comfortable and content with a life-style free from theism. 6. CONCERNED WITH PRESERVATION OF FREEDOM! We know that one is born within a circle of freedom. The size of that circle is directly proportional to the number of freedoms one enjoys. It is the duty of each of us to see to it that during our lifetime that circle of freedom is never decreased, that it either remains the same size or is enlarged. We know that if we allow it to decrease that the following generation will have a smaller circle with which to start. Each generation must preserve the freedoms gained by the previous generation and enlarge on them if possible. Each freedom that is preserved is a stepping stone toward the achievement and preservation of the ultimate freedom: *freedom of the mind.* In keeping with this concern, Atheists have a dual attitude toward religion. From a logical perspective, religion is untenable and even harmful to the human thought process; it is something to be held in contempt of logic and reason. From a legal perspective, however, profession of religion is the civil right of any individual. If a man wishes to believe he is a tree, for example, that is his prerogative as long as he does not interfere with anyone else. When there is interference on the part of the religious community, the Atheist can and does object. Religion does interfere in many areas of our lives on a daily basis. Let's take a look at some of the areas of interference. Only one person of every four in the United States attends church regularly; most who do are children. There are over 97 million persons in our population who have never entered a church. In the total population, of the persons who allegedly do go to church, attendance is about three to five times a year. Church attendance is most often motivated by family, social, business, or peer pressure --not by a belief in the church doctrines and dogma. Yet the average family in the United States pays a minimum of $925 a year in hidden taxes to keep churches from all tax -- on real estate, on non-related businesses, on income, and on their enormous wealth in stocks and bonds. Churches pay no sales tax, inheritance tax, income tax, personal tax, or ad valorem tax. They may own and operate businesses exempt from all corporation tax. The _Wall Street Journal,_ CBS television, and United Press have found that the holdings of the Roman Catholic church alone exceed the total assets of the five largest American corporations (General Motors, Exxon, Ford, Mobil, and Texaco). The Protestants own nearly as much. Internal Revenue Service reports that the cash donations to churches annually are at least $49 billion (1991). This does not include profits from businesses, property renewals, wills, stock holdings, bond holdings, retirement centers, or lease-back arrangements. The ``lease-back'' gimmick is a particularly pernicious method that churches use to take advantage of their tax-exempt status. A church purchases a business on paper for an agreed sum like $1.00. Ownership passes with the sale; the business is then exempt from property tax and corporate income tax. The church then leases the business back to the original owner for a set monthly fee. The lease payments to the new owner, the church, are tax-deductible by the business as a donation to the church. Thus government is swindled out of the tax it would have collected on the land on which the business is located, the business's income generally, and the amount deducted by the business as a contribution to a church. The church wins, the business wins -- but the government and ordinary taxpayers lose! Every tax dollar that the church or any business avoids paying, you as an individual taxpayer must make up. If taxes are necessary to run the United States, and the church takes a percentage out of those taxes, someone must take up the slack. The churches in the United States, on the average, own 20 percent of all the privately owned land in every state in the Union. When 20 percent of the land is removed from the tax base, the individual land- or home-owner must make up the difference. If the churches paid their fair share of property tax in your community, your tax bill would be much smaller and would not need to be raised each year to make up for the deficit. We hold that anyone has the legal right to be religious, but that the costs of religion should be borne by those who practice it. We have the right to be free of an enormous tax burden in order to support the few people who do go to church regularly. The federal government, under various programs of assistance, is spending $50 billion a year in both direct cash grants and tax relief for religious purposes. There are about 250 million persons in the U.S., including babies, which means that we all pay, each one, at least $211 in federal taxes to assist the churches each year. How many are in your family? This does not include the money the churches receive from direct donations by individuals and corporations, which averages an additional $196 per person. We think that the individual taxpayer who does not care to participate in organized religion and who stays away from the churches should not be forced to endure an additional tax burden through any programming, planning, or legislation by members of any of the governing bodies, whether city, county, state, or national. We think that giving churches subsidy by permitting them to remain tax-exempt is an unconstitutional violation of the basic principle of separation of state and church. . . . . . . Any logical individual reaching the stage of physical adulthood should realize the consequences of the sex act. Yet, in this nation, we have been prohibited from gaining free access to information regarding human sexuality, especially with respect to birth control. Organized religion has been a major opponent of the distribution of birth control information, the lack of which has led to the increased incidence of child neglect, child abuse, and above all, the use of abortion *as a birth control measure.* We are animals. We are part of the primate group, and as such, our sexuality is an important part of our social structure. Denial or limitation of the availability of information regarding human sexuality and the birth process fosters degeneracy. Information regarding these physical processes has nothing to do with religion, morality, or ethics. They are simple facts that should be available to all. Laws governing human relationships are patterned after biblical admonitions. Marriage and divorce laws should be based on the individual desires of the participants in the relationship. Neither the state nor the church has any right to say with whom you can cohabit. That is your exclusive freedom as an individual. Religion is antifeminist. The principal opposition to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment was from religious groups. The cornerstone of Christianity is the domination of the female by the male. If you are a woman, you must abandon religion first before you can talk of equality. The position of women in any religious system is below that of men. Religion is antiscience. Religious dogmas can never be verified through the scientific method. Therefore, science is the enemy of religion. Through the scientific method it has been proven that Earth is not 6,000 years old as Christianity claims. Virgin birth is not possible. Transubstantiation is not possible. The church must retard science, for its spread means increased explanation of human questions and the lessening of the need for a faith solution. One can easily prove scientifically that prayer is not efficacious. Yet your children are often denied access to the scientific facts of evolution or science instruction by the religious community. The church continually seeks to politicize its theological morality. Sunday closing laws are a good example. Why should you be told that one day is any less or more ``holy'' than the rest and have your freedom restricted on account of that ``holiness''? Your freedom to purchase items on a particular day does not interfere with someone's right not to purchase things that day. Why should you be forced to carry a billboard for a god on your currency each time you use it as a medium of exchange? Why should you be forced to pledge your allegiance to a god each time you care to pledge allegiance to a governmental concept? Why should you be told that the only consciously acceptable reason for refusing to serve in the military is the insistence of a power greater than yourself, a deity of some kind? Most important of all, the worst intrusion of religion into your life is religion's antilife teachings. Life is not important, says the church. It is only valuable as a preparation for death and life after death -- the real importance is placed on the ``afterlife.'' The world and our lives on it are considered disposable; they mean little. Our efforts here only bear on the kind of existence we will have eternally. Life, the only thing we know, all that we have, is thrown aside by faith in something beyond our termination. If you are one of those who knows that life here and now is wonderful and should be lived to the fullest, you are one of us. If you have any feelings of something beyond, a judgment, something for which you need to prepare, you are still somewhere between theism and Atheism. According to sociological studies, there are about 22.5 million persons in the United States who are Atheists, persons who have rejected the concept of spending their lives preparing to die; persons who have found the ultimate freedom, FREEDOM OF THE MIND. This organization was founded for those of you who have found or want to find that freedom. We have fought consistently for the goals outlined herein. Dr. Madalyn O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists, was the litigant in the famous case which removed Bible reading and prayer recitation from the public schools. You have read about our organization in _Time,_ _Life,_ _Playboy,_ _Fact,_ _Saturday Evening Post,_ _Esquire,_ and your local newspaper. You have probably seen Dr. O'Hair or Jon Murray, the president of American Atheists, on many television shows, both local and national, or heard them on radio. Now judge for yourself by reading the enclosed ``Aims and Purposes'' and history of this organization to see if you want to join with the few, the proud, and the brave who are willing to stand up against ignorance and superstition. We need you, your support, and numbers. You need us to foster, deepen, and direct your courage to face religion head-on in the battle for the human mind. For information, write to: American Atheist General Headquarters P.O. Box 140195 Austin, Texas 78714-0195 Telephone: (512) 458-1244 FAX: (512) 467-9525 Copyright American Atheist Press. All rights reserved. Printed copies of this pamphlet can be obtained from: American Atheist Press P. O. Box 140195, Austin, Texas 78714-0195. Stock #8291. Please refer to current catalog and price list for pricing and availability. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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