The following letter is a membership invitation from the AHA, written by AHA President Isa

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The following letter is a membership invitation from the AHA, written by AHA President Isaac Asimov. It contains a definition of Humanism, a rundown of some of the activities of the Association, and an invitation to join. I'm posting it for the information of those in this group who are interested in Humanism. --------------------- Dear Friend, When you pick up the newspaper and read of the radical right's latest attacks on arts and culture in our country . . . When you turn on your TV and see a videotape of Los Angeles police officers brutally beating a defenseless black man arrested for speeding . . . When you switch on the radio and hear the news that the Supreme Court -- now thoroughly "Reaganized" and "Busherated" -- may soon overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees a woman's right to reproductive freedom . . . Do you feel that you're all alone in thinking that something is not right with the state of our nation -- and indeed, our world? Do you sometimes wonder if there's anyone else out there who feels the same way you do? Well, you are not alone. I'm with you, and I estimate that there are 7.3 million other people like us here in America -- people who share a concern for the world, people who have a vision of a better tomorrow, people who live by a philosophy of liberty and humaneness. Just imagine the impact we could have if we all pulled together to work for a change. That's why I joined the American Humanist Association. Let me explain what Humanism means (the same thing I told Bill Moyers on national TV). Being a Humanist means you place your confidence in the power of reason and compassion, as opposed to the empty promises of unquestioned authority -- either the still-powerful superstitions of ancient religion or the self-serving propaganda of many modern governments. It means you believe that human beings have the intelligence and the creativity to conquer the dilemmas facing our world today. It means your efforts are invested in the here and now, not in the past or the hereafter. It means you want to leave the world a better place because you were here. If you share this view, then you understand that we must regain control of our lives and our precious planet. We must apply the best of our thinking ad ability to the challenge of making things better for all. By uniting with others to share in this tremendous enterprise, we can create an unparalleled opportunity to make a difference in our world and our future. The American Humanist Association is made up of people who think like you, and who act on what they think. Since 1985, I have been president of the AHA -- a post once held by Nobel laureate Hermann J. Muller. The AHA includes in its membership many noted thinkers and doers: cable TV mogul Ted Turner, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Worldwatch Institute founder Lester R. Brown, novelist Margaret Atwood, astronomer Carl Sagan, anthropologist Stephen Gould, Planned Parenthood president Faye Wattleton, and sociologist E. O. Wilson are just a few. Why do people support the American Humanist Association? Because the AHA does things! The AHA is known for its uncompromising stand in support of women's rights and reproductive freedom. This year it has taken action in the infamous abortion counseling case Rust v. Sullivan, in which the Reaganized and Busherated Supreme Court attempted to impose a "gag rule" on federally funded health-care workers to keep them from mentioning abortion. Maintaining the wall of separation between church and state is also high on the AHA's agenda. The AHA helped bring about a legal defeat for the claim that the "religion" of secular Humanism is being taught in America's public schools. Televangelist Pat Robertson had backed 624 fundamentalist parents who sought to ban 44 textbooks used in Alabama. But a handful of Humanist attorneys brought facts to bear in the Federal Court of Appeals that stopped Robertson's drive cold. The AHA was also one of the first organizations to warn the public about the dangers posed by the creationist movement. This warning proved prophetic when studies revealed that American secondary students score in biology below their counterparts in all other industrialized nations! In 1980, the AHA founded Creation/Evolution, a journal dedicated to meeting the creationists' challenge with the one response they most fear: clear, concise, scientific evidence refuting their claims. The AHA was also a plaintiff in the Louisiana creationism case that was heard by the Supreme Court. The 7-2 decision made it clear that state- mandated "equal-time" for creation "science" is a violation of the First Amendment. And now the AHA has a "friend-of-the-court" brief filed in Lee v. Weisman, a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court which addresses the question of prayers during high-school graduation ceremonies. Standing firm against the spread of violence in our society is another of the AHA's long-standing concerns. That's why, every year, the AHA cosponsors the National Conference to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools. From the AHA's initial involvement in 1988, when it published a special issue of The Humanist on the subject, to the present, the use of corporal punishment in U.S. public schools has rapidly declined. State after state has acted to outlaw this institutionalized form of child abuse, and the campaign is rapidly reaching its goal of complete abolition of the practice. In an era when it is justifiably illegal to beat soldiers, sailors, prisoners, the aged, mentally ill, and animals, Humanists ask why it is that children -- our best hope for the future -- have been the last to benefit from social progress. The AHA has also been active on the grass-roots level. Our extremely successful Rational Recovery program is the Humanist alternative for those seeking release from alcohol and drug addiction. Rational Recovery supplements our Division of Humanist Counseling, which continues to provide alternative weddings, funerals, and other rites of passage. Meanwhile, AHA chapters serve as the broadest network for grass-roots Humanism in the country. Over 70 chapters in 28 states are bringing the message of Humanism to thousands of people at the local level. No other Humanist membership organization has such a large and productive infrastructure. The AHA also publishes the Humanist, the oldest and most highly regarded magazine devoted to the philosophy of Humanism. Since 1941, The Humanist has challenged its readers with the thought and opinion of some of the best and brightest in America today. Such contributors have recently included "CBS News" anchorman Dan Rather, political philosopher Noam Chomsky, constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, documentary videomaker Barbara Trent, media critic Michael Parenti, foreign-policy analyst Diana Reynolds, Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, feminist activist Betty Friedan, and investigative researcher Chip Berlet. This level of journalism has made The Humanist one of the most powerful sources of independent thought for over half a century! The AHA is a membership organization -- the largest such Humanist institution in North America. Since its inception, the AHA has provided its members with the full spectrum of privileges and benefits that only and organization of the AHA's stature can offer. Members receive a one- year subscription to The Humanist; a one-year subscription to the AHA news publication Free Mind; discounts on AHA books and tapes; and voting privileges within the Association. Moreover, annual conferences bring Humanists from across the country together for an intensive array of workshops, meetings, and celebrations of the Humanist philosophy. The AHA's 1991 national conference featured Worldwatch Institute founder Lester R. Brown and the Population Institute founder Werner Fornos speaking on the environment and overpopulation and issuing a Humanist call to action on both of these global problems. Also featured was Gene Roddenberry, the creator of "Star Trek" and "The Next Generation," speaking on the Humanism behind those popular TV series. At the AHA's 1990 conference, cable TV magnate Ted Turner pledged to "take the heat" and initiate efforts to bring the French abortion pill, RU-486, into the United States. And in 1989, the AHA cosponsored a national conference devoted to homelessness in America. Papers from that conference offering solutions to this growing tragedy were published in the May/June 1989 issue of The Humanist. Since then, they have proved instrumental in shaping housing legislation in the state of Washington. This is just a small sampling of the AHA's activities. With a professional office staff in Amherst, New York, armed with the public- relations and communications savvy it takes to get the message of Humanism out before the public, the AHA has been working tirelessly to heighten the visibility of your values. Now its your turn. Only a lack of support from Humanists like you can bring our growing influence to a halt. But I'm confident you agree with me that it's high time Humanists were heard on today's critical issues. Wherever the cause of reason and compassion can make a difference, the American Humanist Association will be there. Yours for Humanism, Isaac Asimov President American Humanist Association ----------- The address: American Humanist Association 7 Harwood Drive P.O. Box 146 Amherst, NY 14226-0146 (716) 839-5080


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