To: All Dec-09-93 11:53PM
Subject: Re: American Atheists lawsuit
Organization: Kupajava, East of Krakatoa
From: "Robert Knowles"
>DATE: 9 Dec 1993 02:24:32 -0500
>FROM: Scott Horne
>In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Robert Knowles"
>Interesting. Can you give some examples? Just curious.
Well, I don't know how much background you have on American Atheists, so
I'll give some general examples and a few specific examples.
In many of American Atheists monthly mailings to members there were accounts
of ex-employees & members who allegedly did horrible things to sabotage the
organization (usually this was just a personality clash with Madalyn
or Jon Murray and not much else). But their standard claim was that some
damage had been done and usually they claimed that their "mailing list"
had been stolen. Many of these people then had lawsuits filed against
them for the alleged damages. This pattern was repeated over the years
with many ex-employees or ex-members who had some official rank in the
organization (usually chapter officers). During the late 1980's it became
a bit of a joke to see how long it would be before the latest new secretary
or clerical help would turn out to be a "closet Christian" (or something
worse) who had just been fired before they had a chance to ruin the
organization. For a long time the people I knew in Houston took a lot
of these claims at face value even though they often knew the people in
Austin who were involved and couldn't understand why they had suddenly
One fellow (John Woodward?) who is the editor of a publication called "The
Match" (which used to be advertised by American Atheists) had a falling out
with the Murray-O'Hair's and wrote a booklet "The Mouth That Roared" on
his experiences with the Tucson chapter of AA and all the accusations
hurled against him. His account fit the pattern of other people who had
been drummed out of the corps. And also fit what was soon to happen to
some of my friends in Houston.
Around 1991, the story hit a little closer to home when AA folded several
of its chapters and filed lawsuits against some of their ex-chapter officers.
In Houston (where I live) AA filed a lawsuit against 4 or 5 ex-officers
claiming that they had also "stolen" the AA mailing list (among other things)
and sued for $100000 in damages. Nothing EVER came of this lawsuit. It was
apparently filed (for about $50) in Houston to harass them and screw up their
credit ratings, etc. (I know the people named in the lawsuit and the details
of what happened and I know that the lawsuit is totally unfounded.)
Another thing AA tried to do was get a local Pacifica Radio station, KPFT,
to hand over control of an atheist radio program to American Atheists. AA
claimed that the program was "rightfully theirs" and should be turned over
to Don Sanders (head of American Gay Atheists and national AA officer) to
continue programming. KPFT replied that they had no such agreement with AA
and that the radio program was strictly between the station and the ONE
person who had agreed be the director of the show. There had NEVER been
an agreement giving AA control of the program. AA continued to harass KPFT
with letters, but eventually gave up because they had nothing to stand on.
This whole episode showed just how nutty AA had become and was typical of
the silly lawsuits they filed just to harass and bully people into doing
what they wanted. A lot of naive people just cave in to this kind of
pressure and do exactly what they ask. Unfortunately for them, we knew
their techniques pretty well and just waited it out.
A lot of the atheist organizations you see in the U.S. were formed from
folks who fell out of favor with AA and were kicked out of the organization.
Often this was done with a lawsuit hot on their tails which almost
never amounted to anything. The Freedom From Religion Foundation was
started in a similar move as a chapter which was kicked out of AA. The
same is true of Atheists United. Atheist Coalition was also formed by
a fellow I knew in Houston who was kicked out during one of the AA annual
conventions. Nearly all of these people were once near the "center of
power" in AA or were recognized for their outstanding work by AA at one
time in their past, so they are not lowlife or anything. One year you
can win an award at the AA annual convention and the next you can be named
in a lawsuit and be drummed out of the organization.
AA has the idea that they can sue nearly anyone for anything and get away
with it. They think that the average individual atheist cannot defend
themselves against their organization and they also know that the smaller
atheist organizations do not have much money. I think FFRF could probably
kick their asses, but I doubt that they get much grief from AA nowadays.
I also think that the groups under Atheist Alliance could now probably
fend off a direct attack from AA, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
One of AA's techniques for growth is to try to absorb the funds of other
organizations through lawsuits. It is a bit like winning the lottery if
they are successful, so it is worth the risks. I am pretty sure this is
what their fight with the Truth Seeker organization is all about. It's
probably appropriate that they are getting sued for racketeering. If the
people who are suing AA for racketeering were to get serious about it, I
am sure they could find many other people who could provide examples
of how AA runs their business. AA has made as many enemies among the
atheists as they have among the religious and as far as I'm concerned,
it's just a matter of time before they take a well-deserved hard fall.
I am going to check through the atheist grapevine in San Diego to see
if anyone else knows what is going on with this lawsuit. Who knows, we
might be able to find a few others willing to join in the fray.
As for my personal situation, I guess I could catch some shit from them
(or some rabid AA member) for telling some of this stuff, but I'm not as
poor as some of the other individual atheists they try to push around.
I also know plenty of folks who know where other skeletons are hidden who
just might come to my aid in a serious fight.