On Woo

vic_head_small.jpgby Vic Tanner

According to Beliefnet, more than one fifth of Americans self-identify with the label "spiritual but not religious," which I've always interpreted as "religious but lazy." Stepping back and viewing the phrase in a slightly less judgmental tone, it is more than likely an attempt to distance oneself from the dreaded term "organized religion;" a personal declaration of "I'm not one of them." But, as we atheists have long ago realized, it's not the act of organizing that's bad, it's the unfounded beliefs. "Oh I'll keep the irrationality, thank you. I just don't want to be organized."

As I've become aware of this mass diaspora of coordination, I began to realize than I'm, in fact, surrounded by people with completely indefinable beliefs. Many of them find it difficult to even verbalize things that they feel strongly about. The most entertaining way I've had someone describe their belief system to me was with a wrist twisting motion; as in, "I believe in (holds hand next to head, flicks wrist a bit)". At first, I thought that he had become distracted by a fly, but once I realized that the little wrist twitch was intended as a description of his religious beliefs, my heart sank a bit. 

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God and Abortion

by August Berkshire

Beginning with some premises (#1-6) that few Religious Right anti-choice people would disagree with, we follow with a scientific fact (#7), leading to a couple surprising conclusions (#8-9).

  1. God is all-powerful.
  2. God is all-good.
  3. Everything God does is good.
  4. God wants humans to be good.
  5. If humans imitate God, who is all-good, then humans will be good.
  6. God created the human reproductive system.
  7. At least 25% of fertilized human eggs are spontaneously aborted.
  8. This makes God the world's biggest abortionist.
  9. Humans should have more abortions.

(January 22, 2009 marks the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion.)

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Minnesota Atheists Member PZ Myers on Creationism

Reprinted with permission.
U of M Morris prof: You got creationism in my zoology
By Emily Kaiser, City Pages, December 24, 2008

When University of Minnesota-Morris biology professor PZ Myers heard that the Cincinnati Zoo and the infamous Creation Museum were offering a joint ticket deal to lure in customers, he took his outrage to the blogosphere.

The pairing was a curious one to begin with. The Creation Museum, located in Kentucky and started by the apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis, claims the earth and all its life forms were created 6,000 years ago. (Our favorite exhibit is the stegosaurus and triceratops living large on Noah's Ark.)

"The Cincinnati Zoo is promoting an anti-science, anti-education con job run by ignorant creationists," Myers wrote on his blog, Pharyngula . "I believe the Cincinnati Zoo has betrayed its mission and its trust in a disgraceful way, by aligning themselves with a creationist institution that is a laughing stock to the rest of the world, and a mark of shame to the United States."

The news quickly spread and two days later, the deal was off. The flood of emails and phone calls were enough to scare the friendship to a halt.

Take that, Jesus!

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Minnesota Atheists Joins Lawsuit to Stop Religious Activities at Presidential Inauguration

Minnesota Atheists has joined as a plaintiff to a lawsuit by Michael Newdow to halt the prayers and religious invocations scheduled for Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration on January 20, 2009, as a violation of separation of state and church .  PDF versions of the lawsuit and its four appendices are linked below.

According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC), Dr. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is scheduled to give an invocation and the Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery is scheduled to give a benediction at the upcoming presidential inauguration. Read more here.
 
The lawsuit is expected to be filed on Monday, December 29, 2008 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by attorney Robert Ritter on behalf of attorney Michael Newdow.  Besides Minnesota Atheists, other plaintiff groups in the lawsuit include the American Humanist Association (AHA), the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), and Atheist Alliance International (AAI)
 
The lawsuit contains names of both groups and individuals as plaintiffs.  In addition to the group Minnesota Atheists, August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists and vice president of Atheist Alliance International, is listed as an individual plaintiff.  Berkshire is the owner of the ATHEIST car license plate for Minnesota.
 
Michael Newdow achieved prominence in 2004 when he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that public schools should not lead children in the “Pledge of Allegiance” because it contains the words “under God.”   Minnesota Atheists signed on to a friend of the court brief in that case.  (The U.S. Supreme Court threw the case out, declaring that Newdow lacked standing because he was not the primary caregiver for his daughter.)  Newdow had previously prevailed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002. See case details here .
 
Minnesota Atheists was the only group to testify at the Minnesota State Capitol against legislation mandating the recitation of the “Pledge of Allegiance” in Minnesota public schools. (Feb. 13, 2003.)  Minnesota Atheists did this because the Pledge contains the phrase “under God.”  While the legislation ended up passing, the final bill contained greater protections for the rights of dissenters than the original bill, probably due to Minnesota Atheists’ testimony. Read more here.
 
Michael Newdow is scheduled to be interviewed live on Minnesota Atheists’ “Atheists Talk” radio program on Sunday, January 4, 2009, 9:00-10:00 a.m. on KTNF AM 950 radio “The Voice of Minnesota.”  It can be streamed live at: http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen and will be available later at http://mnatheists.org .
 
“Minnesota Atheists was pleased to accept a personal invitation from Michael Newdow to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit,” stated August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists.  “The swearing in of a president is a secular event.  The oath of office is in the U.S. Constitution and it contains no religious references.  It is unfortunate that while Barack Obama campaigned on a theme of unity, the very act of becoming president will serve to divide Americans along religious lines.”
 
Founded in 1991 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization, Minnesota Atheists is the state’s oldest, largest, and most active atheist organization.  Our motto is “Positive Atheism in Action.”  We are organized for three purposes: to provide a community for atheists; to educate the public about atheism; and to promote separation of state and church.  We may be contacted at (612) 588-7031, info@mnatheists.org, and http://mnatheists.org.
 
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Merry Christmas from an Atheist

merry_christmas_pirate.jpgby Eric Jayne

I love Christmas! That shouldn't come as a big surprise since it's arguably the most popular holiday in America. However, I might raise a few eyebrows if I added I am an atheist who loves Christmas. Many people might find a tremendous contradiction in a self-proclaimed atheist wishing friends, family, and neighbors a merry Christmas.

Like many freethinking secularists, I see absolutely no contradiction and I will continue to unabashedly practice Christmas traditions with my family while staying consistent with my freethinking philosophy. The way I see it, all of the fun parts of Christmas are secular: decorating trees, exchanging gifts, candy canes, eggnog, cookies, parties, lights, culinary overindulgence, Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and so on. And, in my opinion, the numerous festive secular and novelty Christmas songs are far better than their dreary religious counterparts.

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Read more: Merry Christmas from an Atheist

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