Tuesday, September 29, 2009

AANEWS for Monday, September 28, 2009

#1280 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 09/28/09
A Service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nationwide movement that defends
civil rights for non-believers; works for the total separation of
Church and State; and addresses issues of First Amendment public
"ATHEIST is really a thoroughly honest, unambiguous term, it admits
of no paltering and no evasion, and the need of the world, now as
ever, is for clear-cut issues and unambiguous speech."
-- Chapman Cohen
In This Issue...
* Religious test for insurance coverage?
* Blasphemy Day events
* Worth Noting: Latest on Darwin film
* Dave's blog
* Resources
* About this list...
A recent piece in Psychology Today reports on yet another study
that finds Atheists to be "the most mistrusted group" in the
United States.
When asked in a national survey to identify segments of the
population which did "not all agree with my vision of American
society," ten groups were listed. Some were religious -- Christians,
Muslims and Jews -- while others covered ethnic categories (Asians,
blacks). Still others were traditional targets of popular animus,
such as homosexuals and immigrants. The category which elicited the
most opprobrium, however, was Atheists. When it came to marriage
and other indicators of social acceptance, the godless were the
most despised, marginalized and excluded.
Psychology Today contributor Gad Saad observed, "This might be one
of the saddest scientific findings I have ever read." He cited a
roll-call of famous luminaries including Albert Einstein, Francis
Crick, Linus Pauling, Bertrand Russell and others who fall into
the Atheist or non-believer category. There have been Atheist men
and women who have made astounding contributions to the welfare of
humanity, who have fought for civil liberties and individual rights,
who have struggled against considerable odds to make the world a
more peaceful, tolerant and nourishing space -- and to no avail,
at least, it appears, to the average American.
Dr. Saad's trenchant commentary can be found at
We also call your attention to a little-publicized case from Ohio
involving clear discrimination directed at Atheists. A national
insurance firm, GuideOne Mutual, has been found guilty of violating
the Federal Fair Housing Act in its marketing campaign to provide
premium discounts to "church goers."
Led by the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Fair Housing
Advocates Association, plaintiffs challenged the practice in
federal court. A spokesperson for the FHA described the case,
filed in November, 2007, saying: "If I went to the grocery store to
buy some bread, they couldn't have a section for Christian bread.
It's about a level playing field and equal access to a product.
You can't put a corporate bias into the sale of a product."
The Ohio decision involves a narrow and clear-cut area of
anti-discrimination law. Christians were given preferential
treatment through a "FaithGuard" program operated by the company.
The US District Court ordered GuideOne Mutual to pay$74,000 to
settle the plaintiffs' claims; the case affects home owners and
renters in 19 states where the company does business. Visit
for more on this case.
Join us as we celebrate International Blasphemy Day! It's a 3 day
celebration of not being afraid to think as you please and speak
your mind without dogma
Sept. 28-Open House 2-5pm Taping of the Atheist Viewpoint 7:00pm
Sept. 29-Meet and Greet Your Fellow Atheists 2pm-?
Sept. 30-Blasphemy Day! De-Baptisms performed 10am-2pm Movie-7pm
What better movie to watch on this day? "Blasphemy"
All events are at the American Atheist Center 225 Christiani
St. Cranford
All events are FREE
10 Ways the U.S. Military Has Shoved Christianity Down Muslims'
Throats The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was founded in
2005 by Mikey Weinstein, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and
Reagan administration White House counsel, after the harassment his
own sons faced as Jewish cadets at the academy led him to discover
that the fundamentalist Christian takeover of the Air Force Academy
was far from an isolated problem.
Overshadowed by Tea Party Movement, the Christian Right Scrambles to
Claim It Isn't Racist At the religious right's Values Voter
Summit this weekend, some of the air seemed to have gone out of
the balloon. Gathering at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, 1,800
activists and their leaders seemed resigned to being subsumed by
the broader Tea Party movement, or rendered irrelevant by it. This
year's conference, sponsored by the political affiliate of the
Family Research Council, emphasized matters important to Tea Party
leaders: freedom was linked with free enterprise; ominous were
warnings offered about a march to socialism; global warming was
said to be a good thing; and taxes were deemed to be too high and
largely misappropriated.
Canadian Creationism: Just 22 Percent I've been doing some research
and just found this figure: only 22 percent of Canadians think
God created human beings within the last 10,000 years or so. In
the U.S. the number is roughly double that. Similarly, I recently
learned from appearing on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's
"Lateline" program that just 20 percent of Australians are global
warming deniers. They're very worried about this fact down there,
and they should be-but again, the percentage is much higher in the
U.S. Pew puts it at 49 percent.
Check out thi pre-election video where Mr. Obama emphasizes the
role of science in our nation's history, and cites Chgarles Darwin's
Creation is a fitting tribute to Darwin: A new film about the great
scientist is upsetting Darwinologists as much as creationists. Their
suspicion is misplaced It's the double celebration year, and for
this amateur Darwinologist, the best is yet to come. The release
this week of the film Creation is a unique occasion when my two
biggest obsessions, movies and evolution finally converge. Creation
is a fictionalised account of Charles Darwin's middle age, it spans
the time between the death of his daughter and the publication of
the Origin of Species. It's based on Annie's Box, a book by his
great-great-grandson Randal Keynes, and thus has the absolute seal
of approval of the guardians of Darwin's estate. That the chronology
is not entirely accurate, and that it features Annie's ghost as a
device appears to have troubled some hardy Darwinologists.
There are many historical myths with which we like to comfort
ourselves. One myth that appeals to Americans is that ever since the
founding of our country we have been strong supporters of individual
rights and fundamental freedoms. After all, shortly after we adopted
the Constitution we also adopted the Bill of Rights, which prohibits
government interference with speech and government establishment
of religion.
Jump In Magazine interview with Blair Scott, American Atheists
Affiliation Director.
50,000 Muslims to Pray on Capitol Hill: Guess Who's Not Happy? The
event sounds like yet another Tea Party protest, or perhaps an
encore of last weekend's Values Voter Summit: Devout believers
joining together this Friday to pray on Capitol Hill for the soul
of America. Who could argue with that? Well, when the believers
happen to be Muslims, and there could be as many as 50,000 of them
kneeling to pray in Arabic, yes, you could see how there might be
some blowback from the usual suspects.
Darwin Defenders Lash Out at Creationist Origin of Species Lots
of Darwin defenders responded to my post about the new Creationist
edition of Origin of Species. Needless to say, they're not pleased.
Kirk Cameron Defends Attack on 'Species' Former teen idol Kirk
Cameron has it out for Charles Darwin, and is making no apologies
for his controversial (and mocked, see below) plan to distribute
thousands of altered copies of 'The Origin of Species' to college
students. The 'Growing Pains' alum released a video last week
announcing that on Nov. 19, he and other Creationist activists
will distribute a special 'Species' with a 50-page intro that
slams evolution and paints Darwin as both racist and misogynistic
and explicitly highlights "Adolph Hitler's undeniable connection
to the theory." Nov. 21 is the 150th anniversary of the book's
original publication.
College makes or breaks faith for many students The four University
of Utah students were sharing one of those sublime moments. Piled in
the back of Alec Gehrke's Malibu -- a refurbished car bought from the
LDS Church -- they were parked above the Salt Lake City Cemetery in
the Avenues late on a warm Saturday night. Stars lit the sky and
the city lights twinkled from the valley floor below. Even their
breathing seemed connected, as if they were links on the same chain.
"It was existential," Gehrke says.
Atheist advocates evidence-based belief on Fargo's Freethought Day
PZ Myers, an outspoken atheist and evolutionary biologist, had some
nice things to say about Fargo on Thursday. Specifically, he liked
a proclamation signed by Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker establishing
Sept. 24 as Freethought Day. "I'm very pleased to see that Fargo
now has a Freethought Day, which is pretty impressive," said Myers.
Atheists Are the Most Mistrusted Group: They Are Evil and
Immoral! Some of you might remember Mr. Obama's inauguration speech
wherein he made an explicit reference to non-believers. Apparently,
this was the first instance where an incoming American president
has formally recognized the existence of this group of Americans
(which incidentally includes the great majority of intellectuals,
scientists, and philosophers). Does this imply that atheists are
now largely accepted within the greater American society? Are they
respected for their non-belief in imaginary narratives of invisible
deities? Regrettably, the answer is an emphatic no!
Atheists examine Christmas from angel-free angle It is a book
about Christmas but there's not a manger, virgin birth or angel in
sight. Buoyed by the success of their campaign which proclaimed
There's Probably No God, Now Stop Worrying on the side of London
buses, some of Britain's most prominent atheists have come together
to publish a book for the festive season.

Insurance Company Settles Claim for Discriminating against Atheists
GuideOne Mutual Insurance didn't see any problem with offering
special benefits to god-fearing consumers, but atheists and
agnostics, not to mention the federal government, sure did. The
Department of Justice sued GuideOne in federal court in Kentucky
after receiving complaints about the insurer's "FaithGuard" policy
that offered homebuyers, owners and renters in 19 states special
benefits and discounts if they were churchgoers
US soldiers urged to pray for Muslims to become Christians On Friday,
several thousand Muslims gathered in DC for a very peaceful National
Day of Prayer. At the same time, several Evangelical Christian
groups gathered to protest the event. According to a Fox News
story, At a separate event, held simultaneously in a conference
room at the Rayburn House Office Building, a group calling itself
Stop Islamization of America warned about the supposedly hateful,
violent, and anti-Western teachings of the Koran.
It is one of the fastest growing blogs in the
Atheist/Freethought/Secular Humanist community, and you can get in
on the discussion!
Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists is in
the Blogosphere at http://nogodblog.com. It's filled with insight,
wit, hot news, controversial opinion -- and polite, thoughtful
commentary. So join the conversation! Sign up (it's free) by
visiting http://www.atheists.org and click on the blog navigation
button, or go directly to http://nogodblog.com .
* For membership information about American Atheists, send
mail to info@atheists.org. Kindly include your name and postal
mailing address. Ask for a free membership info packet. You may
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* Current members in good standing of American Atheists may sign up
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