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###### Volume II, Number 3 ***A Collector's Item!***#####
################### ISSN 1201-0111 #######################
####################### MAR 1995 ###########################
nullifidian, n. & a. (Person) having no religious faith or
belief. [f. med. L _nullifidius_ f. L _nullus_ none +
_fides_ faith; see -IAN] Concise Oxford Dictionary
The purpose of this magazine is to provide a source of
articles dealing with many aspects of humanism.
We are ATHEISTIC as we do not believe in the actual
existence of any supernatural beings or any transcendental
We are SECULAR because the evidence of history and the daily
horrors in the news show the pernicious and destructive
consequences of allowing religions to be involved with
politics and nationalism.
We are HUMANISTS and we focus on what is good for humanity,
in the real world. We will not be put off with offers of
pie in the sky, bye and bye.
|| Begging portion of the Zine ||
This is a "sharezine." There is no charge for receiving
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and you may not do so without attributing it to the proper
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If you would like to support our efforts, and help us
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see "Shameless advertising and crass commercialism" below.
|| End of Begging portion of the Zine ||
Articles will be welcomed and very likely used IF:
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Full and equal rights whatever your religion
2. Review of A BUDDHIST CRITIQUE OF THE CHRISTIAN
CONCEPT OF GOD by Gunapala Dharmasiri; Golden Leaves,
1988, by Taner Edis
3. Quotes excerpted from _Is the Bible Worth Reading?
And Other Essays_ by Lemuel K. Washburn
4. The Freethought Observer and The Freethought
5. Robert O'Brien's Story, from Freethought Today, by
Annie Laurie Gaylor
6. Gratuitous Insult from _This Magazine_, February 1995
|| BEGINNING OF ARTICLE ||
>From a Quebec government pamphlet entitled "Full and equal
rights whatever your religion":
Under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, every
person is entitled to be treated equally, without
discrimination or harassment.
The Charter was adopted in 1975. Created under this
fundamental law, the Commission des droits de la personne
o promote an understanding of the Charter;
o see that situations jeopardizing human rights and
freedoms are corrected.
The Charter forbids discrimination...
"Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and
exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without
distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour,
sex pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except
as provided by law, religion, political convictions,
language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a
handicap or the use af any means to palliate a handicap.
Discrimination exists where such a distinction, exclusion or
preference has the effect of nullifying or impairing such
right." [Section 10]
"No one may harass a person on the basis of any ground
mentioned in section 10." [Section 10.1]
DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RELIGION...
that you are prevented from exercising a freedom or a right
recognized in the Charter because of your religion or
BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO RELIGION [emphasis added] or because you
do not practice a religion.
Just note that this was adopted, non-controversially, in
1975, and has been Quebec law since. No fundies marching in
the street, no bishops denouncing it, no real controversy at
all. I don't think they even bother to picket the abortion
I particularly liked the phrasing of the explanatory
paragraph, which includes religion, absence of religion, or
having a religion and refusing to practice it. Feel free to
recommend it to your local legislature as a law which has
been in existence for 20 years, without bringing on the
collapse of civilization into moral chaos.
|| END OF ARTICLE ||
"If God exists, what objection can he have to saying so?"
Lemuel K. Washburn, _Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other
|| BEGINNING OF ARTICLE ||
First published in the Washington Area Secular Humanists
A BUDDHIST CRITIQUE OF THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF GOD
Gunapala Dharmasiri; Golden Leaves, 1988
Early Buddhism incorporated a rejection of Hindu concepts of
theism, with arguments similar in many cases to the Western
philosophical atheism responding to Christianity. This book
is a modern exposition of the Buddhist critique of classical
Theism, relying extensively on the Western philosophical
vocabulary, indeed almost the full range of atheistical
arguments, and correlating this with the Pali canon. As a
thorough attack on the God concept, it is comparable to
excellent reference works such as Michael Martin's "Atheism:
a Philosophical Justification," 1990, or J.L. Mackie's "The
Miracle of Theism," 1982.
However, the interest of such a book for humanists is beyond
its uncompromising atheist nature. Saying: "The Buddha did
not accept the existence of God. He also rejected the idea
of a soul though he advocated the possibility of salvation,"
Dharmasiri defends an explicitly religious atheism. Indeed,
his few passing references to humanism are decidedly
negative. Among the factual claims made that most humanists
would be skeptical of are the reality of reincarnation--
which sets the stage for salvation as extinction; and
psychic powers---which provide a means to apprehend the
reality of continual rebirth. But these differences are not
all. Even with the remarkable similarity in the arguments
rejecting the God concept, early Buddhism ends up with a
significant difference in attitude compared to typical
humanist approaches, which has ethical implications as well.
Humanism claims to move beyond bare atheism in providing a
outlook of life; though its success in this is dubious at
best. A denial of theistic claims and attitudes constrains
a philosophy of life but a little, and continually
criticizing theism is but reactive. The early Buddhist
views' different form of atheism is valuable in reminding
humanists of this. It also helps us see, universalistic
ambitions aside, how historically contingent our
ethical-political philosophies are. Buddhism is revealed as
bearing the stamp of its birth in a Hindu religious context;
Western humanisms are similarly unintelligible without a
history of Christianity.
In short, I highly recommend this book for what it
indirectly prompts humanists to think of, besides its
determined and usually accurate criticism of the very
fundamentals of Christianity.
|| END OF ARTICLE ||
"Men will never be free until the last king is strangled
with the entrails of the last priest."
[Denis Diderot, "Dithyrambe sur la fˆte des rois"]
|| BEGINNING OF ARTICLE ||
A series of quotes from Lemuel K. Washburn's _Is the Bible
Worth Reading?_ originally published 1911, by Truth Seeker,
made available to all electrontically by the Bank of Wisdom
Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
The book is everywhere interspersed with these delightful
quotes. This article consists solely of those quotes. By
the way, the answer to the book's question is "no".
The cross everywhere is a dagger in the heart of
A miracle is not an explanation of what we cannot
The statue of liberty that will endure on this
continent is not the one made of granite or bronze, but the
one made of love of freedom.
Take away every achievement of the world and leave man
freedom, and the earth would again bloom with every glory of
attainment; but take away liberty and everything useful and
beautiful would vanish.
A dogma will thrive in soil where the truth could not
The measure of liberty which man enjoys determines the
civilization of the age in which he lives.
The person who can make a loaf of bread is more to the
world than the person who could perform a miracle.
The feet of progress have always been shod by doubt.
A true man will not join anything that in any way
abridges his freedom or robs him of his rights.
The man who accepts the faith of Calvin is miserable in
proportion to the extent he carries it out.
Whatever tends to prolong the existence of ignorance or
to prevent the recognition of knowledge is dangerous to the
well-being of the human race.
A higher respect for man has been one of the chief
promoters of civilization. Advancement has always been
toward right and truth when the ranks were imbued with a
proper regard for human hearts and human happiness.
Say nothing about others that you would not have others
say about you.
Be severe toward yourself; be kind to your fellow-man.
Do not give advice that you cannot follow.
Do not thank God for what man does.
Serve neither God nor Mammon, but humanity alone.
Do not try to be perfect as a "Father in heaven," but
try to be better than you yourself are.
Seek first to improve the earth, and heaven will be of
Let us not forget that men speak according to the
measure of their knowledge and light, and that a superior
enlightenment is a higher authority.
History shows that there is nothing so easy to enslave
and nothing so hard to emancipate as ignorance, hence it
becomes the double enemy of civilization. By its servility
it is the prey of tyranny, and by its credulity it is the
foe of enlightenment.
There is greater argument in one fact than in all the
It is easier to believe that a man is honest who says
the Bible is the word of God than to believe that he is
The Bible upon which Christianity is founded does not
say what Christianity is, what a Christian is, nor what we
must do in order to be a Christian.
There is no justifiable Christianity in this age.
A dogma is the hand of the dead on the throat of the
The progress of the world depends upon freedom of
thought and freedom of utterance.
If you can forgive the man who wronged you, the
neighbor who slandered you and help the poor about you, you
need not be particular about making any professions of
If man had no knowledge except what he has got out of
the Bible he would not know enough to make a shoe.
The great work of man has ever been to rescue the
present from the past; to turn the mind from what it has
left behind to the opportunities and duties which are around
it. For this has genius toiled down the ages, sung its song
of love, carved its dream of beauty and whispered to the
world's dull ear its bright message of hope.
A true man is not troubled by anything but his own
The true man walks the earth as the stars walk the
heavens, grandly obedient to those laws which are implanted
in his nature.
A great many people are afraid of knowledge, but we
have seen hundreds of people that we thought would be
improved if they knew more, but we have never seen one that
we thought would be better if he knew less.
You cannot stuff your minds with the lives of saints
and grow good on the stuffing.
Some persons are remembered solely for their virtues
and others solely for their faults. This is why we have a
Jesus and a Judas.
When men are hungry roast mutton is better than the
lamb that taketh away wrath.
If a man can look in the mirror of his own soul without
shame, he can look the whole world in the face without a
Civilization has come about by going to school more
than to church.
Nature is the volume from which all of our knowledge
has been translated.
Every fact is backed up by the whole universe.
Christianity is a black spot on the page of
The church is a bank that is continually receiving
deposits but never pays a dividend.
When a minister says that God will help you, ask him to
put up the collateral.
The church spends thousands of dollars to save a dogma,
where it spends a cent to find a truth.
Christianity is like a slow clock -- always being moved
The day of the Bible is passed. Books have taken its
Better be late to church Sunday morning than late at
home Saturday night.
Man to-day has more and better ways of getting, a
living than at any time in the history of the race.
No creed can be stretched to the size of truth; no
church can be made as large as man.
To correct in ourselves what we condemn in others would
remove most of the evils of life.
If God exists, what objection can he have to saying so?
When we have nothing to give a beggar, we can at least
tell him so kindly.
Never forget the good deeds that others do to you, nor
remember those that you do to others.
There is nothing to live for in the past.
We must condemn christianity, not christians; strike
the church, but spare the heart.
Piety could do nothing better than imitate morality.
God never helps those who need the help of men and
No man ever knew Providence to interpose when his
neighbor's hens are scratching up his garden.
Priests will pardon thieves but not philosophers.
Priest and God have formed some of the worst
combinations in history.
Too long has this world been at the feet of the priest.
Man is never in that position for his own benefit, but for
the benefit of the priest.
Coals out of the ashes of love will never light the
fires of friendship.
The names of most men live on account of the falsehoods
told about them.
We should scorn the person who would be mean enough to
allow his fellow-being to be punished for his deeds. Yet we
have a religion in our midst that is founded on this kind of
Where are the sons of gods that loved the daughters of
Where are the nymphs, the goddesses of the winds and
Where are the gnomes that lived inside the earth?
Where are the goblins that used to play tricks on
Where are the fairies that could blight or bless the
Where are the ghosts that haunted this globe?
Where are the witches that flew in and out of the homes
Where is the devil that once roamed over the earth?
Where are they? Gone with the ignorance that believed
No man was ever yet canonized for minding his own
No man was ever yet sorry to find that he had married a
SOME QUESTIONS FOR CHRISTIANS TO ANSWER
How do ministers know what pleases God?
What is "inspiration of God?"
When God "inspired men of old," what did he do to them?
What has God revealed to man that has ever helped him
get a living?
If we do not need to worship God six days in the week
why do we need to worship him on the seventh?
If there were no ministers and no priests, how long
would there be any churches?
If God will answer prayer, what is the necessity of
If God weeps when the poor suffer, what does he make it
so cold for?
If rich men cannot enter the kingdom of God, what
business have rich men to be in Christian churches?
If God is our "father," does he take very good care of
If God sends what blesses us, who sends what curses us?
If Christianity makes the world better, why is there so
much vice and crime?
If "salvation is free," why is anybody lost?
A man may be a fool and not know it, but he cannot be a
fool without others knowing it.
The only way to a better life is by living better.
The person who tells a lie does not know what he will
have to do next.
A great many persons have the idea that the universe
would run off the track but for them.
Have a good time, make life cheerful and bright, dance
if you want to, sing if you can, play as long as you live
and leave the world with a smile.
Most men would kill the truth if truth would kill their
The truths which God revealed have been overthrown by
the truths which man has discovered.
People used to think that to mix religion with business
spoiled the religion, now they think it spoils the business.
Where the cross has been planted only superstitions
Religion is no more the parent of morality than an
incubator is the mother of a chicken.
Unless some people change their habits before they die,
there will be a lot of dirty angels in the next world, if
there is any next world.
Prayer is begging from a pauper.
The egg of prayer never yet became a chicken.
Prayer is like a pump in an empty well, it makes lots
of noise, but brings no water.
A great many people who worship Jesus would not let him
come in at the back door.
There may be lots of Providence in the world, but no
man seems to know just where it can be found.
Prayer is a hook that never caught any fish. It is a
gun that never brought down any game.
No man ever got an answer to prayer that he could show
to another person.
It is necessary to distinguish between the virtue and
the vice of obedience.
When you are falling, you cannot stop where you wish to
The power that conquers men to-day must be the power of
Two dollars given to the son do not atone for one
stolen from the father.
People who rely most on God rely least on themselves.
The original sin was not in eating of the forbidden
fruit, but in planting the tree that bore the fruit.
The people who boast the loudest of carrying their
cross are never around when man cries for help.
An audience composed of the best-dressed people in a
town stands for "pure religion and undefiled" to-day.
Lots of men who would not associate with infidels for
fear of contaminating their characters are not yet out of
The beating of humanity's heart cannot be felt by
placing the finger on the church's pulse.
What a queer thing is Christian salvation! Believing in
firemen will not save a burning house; believing in doctors
will not make one well, but believing in a savior saves men.
A receipt for bringing up a child will not apply to a
To build one house for man is better than to build a
dozen houses to God.
We often hear a man say that the world owes him a
living. So it does, if he earns it. But man owes the world
something. The debt is on both sides, and it is only by
giving what is due to others that we get what is due to
ourselves. We receive assistance when we render it, and it
is by a law of our nature that the world turns from a man
who turns from the world.
The most beautiful thing is the beauty we see in those
The money that men waste would make them rich, and the
time they waste would make them wise.
Many a man who was too good to play cards has broken a
A dog can get rid of another dog that cannot get rid of
the flea on his back.
Every man who claims the right to "life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness," is bound to show that he deserves
Hell is where cowards have sent heroes.
A man never fell down stairs that he did not blame the
The cross people carry to-day is made of gold or set
There is nothing in this world of ours that will work
harder, fight harder, wait more patiently and suffer longer
than love, unless it be hate.
No man can be himself with fear always at his heels.
Death can get into a house when everything else can be
It is plain enough that men and women care for God.
This is too apparent to be disputed, unless men and women
are hypocrites. What is not so plain is that God cares for
men and women.
A man's reputation oftentimes depends upon the success
he has had in hiding his character.
God's name is not considered good at the banks.
To depend upon God is like holding on to the
tail-end of nothing.
A man cannot be happy who believes in hell, any more
than he can sweeten his coffee with a pickle.
The church wants us to believe that God will go out of
his way to strike a blasphemer and work a week to save the
soul of a murderer.
When the church teaches that "confession is good for
the soul," it teaches false doctrine; it is only good for
To make crime easy is to make criminals. One cannot rob
the clothes-line if the clothes are in the house.
There is no vicarious suffering for the one who has
eaten too much.
The nation that proclaims the right of free, speech,
but will not protect that right, has abandoned its
Adam might have obeyed God, but he could not resist
It looks easy to break off a bad habit that somebody
else has got.
A theologian is a person who uses the word "God" to
hide his ignorance.
No man ever yet tore down his altar and found a God
Trying to find God is a good deal like looking for
money one has lost in a dream.
We could believe in God if he shortened the road for
the lame, led the blind or fed the starving.
We are told that "all things are possible with God,"
and yet God cannot boil an egg in cold water.
It has been discovered that the man who was lost in
thought was not a church member.
We do not say that another world is not worth a single
thought, but rather that this world is worth all our
thoughts, and needs them.
Laying up treasures in heaven never kept a man out of
The money man gives to get him into heaven is what he
ought to use to improve the earth.
The Unitarian walks with a cane, the Congregationalist,
Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist go with crutches, the
Episcopalian has to be pushed about in an invalid's chair,
while the Roman Catholic crawls on his hands and knees and
is led around with a ring in his nose by a priest.
There is more power to-day in a drop of ink than in a
ton of powder.
A man may have respect for old age and not like to find
gray hairs in his butter.
The man who wants to be an angel is never in a hurry to
The man who gets on his knees has not learned the right
use of his legs.
Ignorance is all that saves some people: if they knew
more they would do worse.
The man who does no thinking before he acts does twice
as much afterwards.
Adam may not have been so perfect after the 'fall," but
he was not so big a fool.
The reason that revelation is always made to the simple
is that the wise could not be imposed upon.
There is no sadder grief than that which lies at the
bottom of a life that has been wrecked through deception.
An organization that requires the suppression of facts
and the discouragement of knowledge in order to maintain its
supremacy, is the relic of a tyranny which our free age and
our free thought are in duty bound to remove from the earth.
No man gets estimated for exactly what he is, and it is
lucky he doesn't.
A great many men and women are remembered for what
somebody has said about them.
It is harder to live when those we love are dead.
The trouble with divine revelation is that we do not
know who did the business.
A person has not much excuse for living who can make no
better use of life than passing it in a nunnery.
Men talk of alleviating the aching hearts and souls of
the world, but if they would relieve the aching backs and
arms of men and women by being kinder to those who toil,
there would be fewer suffering hearts for their sympathy's
consolation. If sounds vulgar, perhaps, to speak of
back-aching, but the pains of work are among the saddest
facts of human life.
The doctrine of salvation by faith is a libel on
justice and has done more to undermine the virtue of the
world than vice itself.
There is no authority that can be quoted against a man
but the authority of some other man.
Nine times out of ten the man who declares that God is
tender to the sparrow that falls is not the man to buy a
winter's coal for a poor widow.
The heart that can deride misfortune confesses its own
When we are satisfied with the present we do not think
of the future.
The more mystery is encouraged, the more deceit can
impose upon the human mind.
If wisdom and diamonds grew on the same tree we could
soon tell how much men loved wisdom.
In the paths of our life may be seen the foot-prints of
If you are poor, be thankful that you have the power of
bettering your circumstances by bettering yourself; if you
are rich, do not forget that you have the means of doing
good, a luxury that is too seldom indulged.
Men need nothing so much to-day as self-reliance;
courage to stand up manfully for the right, all alone,
daring everything for an idea, without prop or pay, counting
not the cost, but seeing only the grand result which would
follow its triumph and working for that with single purpose
and courageous fidelity.
It takes the shingles from the widow's cottage to put
paint on the house of God.
Many persons who claim that they are "clothed with
righteousness" do not seem to have got very good fits.
"It rains on the just and the unjust," but rarely just
enough on either.
No one is to blame for what no one knows.
It is singular that people want to live another life
when it is so hard to live this.
A church that sets up a religious faith as more
essential than purity, than kindness, charity or goodness,
is a dangerous institution.
A great many men believe in providence until they get
caught in a railroad accident.
Treasures well used on earth will help the world more
than treasures laid up in heaven.
Don't put too much faith in the man who wants to know
the distance to the nearest church before he has written his
name in the hotel register.
The highest freedom is the freedom to say what we
believe to be right.
It was a childless woman who said: The happiest woman
is she whose bosom pillows the sweet head of a child.
Blessings on the man who first dared to doubt.
The improvement in ways of travel and methods of labor
has altered our reverence.
Every kiss of love imprinted by a mother's lips on the
face of her babe gives the lie to the Christian doctrine of
total depravity, and every gift which the heart of pity lays
in the hand of misfortune brands this doctrine as false and
a libel on our human nature.
The foolish and cruel notion that a wife is to obey her
husband has sent more women to the grave than to the courts
for a divorce.
Honesty is never seen sitting astride the fence.
A handsome bonnet covers a multitude of sins.
The strong should be gentle to the weak.
The rich should not oppress the poor.
The prosperous should be generous to the
The self-reliant should give a hand to the
The educated should pity the ignorant.
The virtuous should not be cruel to the vicious.
The beautiful should be kind to the plain.
The declaration that will kindle enthusiasm in the
human breast most quickly is that a new way has been
discovered to get rich.
When religion comes in at the door common sense goes
out at the window.
The churches erected in the name of God will ere long
be tombstones to his, memory.
Churches do not stand for moral influence. Not a
Christian minister preaches salvation by good behavior. What
a poor business Roman Catholicism would do among men if it
advertised to save only those who were temperate, upright,
intelligent and moral.
Man's history is below his life, his destiny above it.
All that secularists ask is that their thoughts be met
fairly and honestly, and that the world accept what will
lead it in the highest and surest way.
If a person can join the salvation army corps and still
be respected by his fellow-beings, he ought to be at liberty
to enlist in the ranks of reason and common sense and not
God has done nothing for men and women except to scare
them out of their wits.
Our duty to the god of christianity is to bury him.
Nothing from nothing and nothing remains,
Nothing from nothing and nothing is the same.
If the factory pays taxes and the church does not, it
follows that the church will some day own the factory.
When christian ministers stand up in their pulpits and
say "Let us pray," if they would sometimes vary the
invitation and say: Let us laugh, they would do their
congregations more good.
We cannot go ahead without leaving something behind.
The convent is opposed to all that is sacred in human
Man is what he is, because his origin was what it was.
God cannot be put into the national Constitution
without putting liberty out of it.
We do not want holy books, but true ones; not sacred
writings, but sensible writings.
|| END OF ARTICLE ||
I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the
darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows
it out. [Denis Diderot]
|| BEGINNING OF ARTICLE ||
I would like to mention a couple of publications (mainly
because *they* mentioned me).
THE FREETHOUGHT OBSERVER from P.O. Box 202447, Arlington,
Texas 76006 [email 72724.3223@Compuserve.com]is edited by
"Timotheus" aka Tim Gorski. It is an 18 page (at least this
issue) compilation of news from dozens of atheist,
rationalist, freethought and humanist groups. There is also
news of concern to members of such groups, like what the
Christian Reich is up to. Included are news of coming
events, publication and book reviews, letters to the editor,
and miscellaneous. It is published bi-monthly, goes for
$15/year. Chock full of information about groups all around
the country. You know, there are a lot of us out there, and
we should get together more.
THE FREETHOUGHT EXCHANGE "The Freethinkers' Bi-Monthly
Journal of Correspondence", is put out by the same bunch.
Basically you and every other subscriber write in, and they
publish the result. If you subscribe, you are entitled to
"1-2 free unedited pages per issue." You can buy more
pages, if you wish. If you have given up all hope of
getting published, here's your chance. Of course, much of
the publication consists of comments on previous articles,
so this is not for the thin-skinned. Annual subscriptions
are $20, and they don't believe in cancellations. Get a
sample for $2. Back issues $3 per (maybe you want to know
just what the heck that person said that caused so much
comment?) Note that contributors to the Jan/Feb 1995 issue
include such luminaries as Timotheus himself, Dexter Martin,
Farrell Till, Theodore M Utchen and Catherine Fahringer.
Other articles range the spectrum from intelligent, well-
informed debate and comment, to moronic drivel and single-
minded harping on issues of no interest to me. I did
mention unedited, didn't I? Surprisingly, I found that the
intelligent comment predominated. It's like a newsgroup
with a snail mail response time. Contact them at the same
address as above.
|| END OF ARTICLE ||
"...we ought even to hold as a fixed principle that what I
see white I believe to be black, if the superior authorities
define it to be so." -- Ignatius de Loyola (saint)
|| BEGINNING OF ARTICLE ||
Gratuitous Insult from _This Magazine_
The atheist, humanist and freethought community received a
gratuitous figurative slap in the face from an unexpected
source in the February 1995 issue of This Magazine. In the
kind of ignorant and insulting comments we have grown used
to receiving from Christian fundamentalists, the proudly
left-wing editors of This Magazine unfairly characterized
the atheist editors of a small newsletter as "Jew and Arab
baiters" for daring to declare that they intended to expand
their criticisms of religious superstition to include
Judaism and Islam, instead of unfairly focusing solely on
Christianity. What the point of This Magazine's unwarranted
and unprovoked attack may be, is completely unknown. Their
readership is certainly unlikely to include many
fundamentalists of any variety, and probably contains a
larger proportion of non-religious people than most. We
have emailed a response to them, but have not as yet
received any reply or acknowledgment.
What they actually said is in "Marginal Notes" on page 7.
'Tired of throwing Christians to the lions, Canadian
atheists promise to throw in Jews and Muslims as well. In a
recent Canadian Atheist newsletter, the group says they
would "like to aim more of our satire at the Jews and
Muslims and we will." Thank God. But don't hold your
breath for biting, original comedy--just good old Jew and
_This Magazine_ has no reason for assuming bigotry on the
part of atheists, and specifically, the editors of the
"Canadian Atheist newsletter," which is otherwise
unidentified. To impute such base motives to them is
unwarranted, insulting, almost slanderous, and definitely
unworthy of _This Magazine_.
You may add your complaints to mine by writing to them at
|| BEGINNING OF ARTICLE ||
Robert O'Brien's Story.
Excerpt from "Editor's Notes" from Freethought Today,
Newspaper of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The unforgettable story of Robert O'Brien and the hunt for
his past fits no category, but begs to be shared, however
belatedly. The Omaha World Herald of July 1, 1992, reported
that this man, told he was a Sioux Indian by the Benedictine
nuns who raised him, finally found out who his mother was.
An anonymous nun. He also found a tribe of relatives after
learning that his father was a married tribal officer on the
Elbowoods Reservation in North Dakota, where his mother the
nun had worked.
He was born Robert Gdanietz on Feb. 28, 1931. His name was
deliberately changed to camouflage his identity before
placement in a Catholic orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota, at
the age of 2. He was never adopted but went to live, at age
11, with a couple who treated him like farm help. He had a
family and successful career. In 1991 he impulsively asked
for his records from Catholic Social Services during a visit
to St. Paul. His continuing search revealed that his father
Arthur Mandan was a college graduate, writer, interpreter
and politician who had narrowly lost a bid for the U.S.
Senate. He even found a picture of his look-alike dad
meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt. He met his 3
half-sisters and a brother, and tragically learned that an
older married sister had been refused the right when she
tried to adopt him. The Catholic diocese was pleased to let
the embarrassing reminder of a nun's "fall" drift in limbo,
familyless. In order to learn his mother's whereabouts, he
was told by Catholic Charities of St. Paul to cough up $800.
In December, 1992, the World Herald ran a follow-up story.
Robert O'Brien hired an adoption activist for $180 to find
out what had happened to the unnamed Benedictine nun. Marie
Gdanietz was found quickly, at age 85, living in St. Paul.
They had several reunions, and gradually she revealed her
painful story. She was 24 when she gave birth. She was told
her son had been placed in a loving home. Ironically, he
grew up in the same orphanage where she had been raised
following the death of her own mother 20 years earlier. The
religious order wanted Ms. Gdanietz declared "mentally
feeble." She passed the competency test but somehow lost her
freedom anyway. She was committed to a state institution,
was sterilized against her will and several years later won
her release. She was never given the letters Arthur Mandan
wrote her in care of the church. She married in 1937, never
revealing her story to anyone but her husband out of fear of
"She believes the people who did this to her have unlimited
power," her son told the newspaper. "She actually looks over
her shoulder when she tells you these things as if they are
Who could blame her? Most of these stories are, after all,
The Catholic Church certainly has a lot to answer for!
The writer is editor of Freethought Today and a staff member
of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Just "caring, loving" Christians doin' what comes naturally
|| END OF ISSUE ||
Once again: ISSN: 1201-0111 The Nullifidian Volume Two,
Number 1: MAR 1995.
Autumn wind: Where there are humans Greg Erwin, pres., Humanist
gods, Buddha-- you'll find flies, Association of Ottawa
lies, lies, lies and Buddhas. firstname.lastname@example.org
--Shiki --Issa email@example.com