Please spread the word, ELLEN JOHNSON on CBS Sunday Morning, August 19!

Please spread the word, ELLEN JOHNSON on CBS Sunday Morning, August 19!

American Atheists Media Alert
http://www.atheists.org

ELLEN JOHNSON ON CBS NEWS “SUNDAY MORNING”
TO DISCUSS ROLE OF ATHEISM & ATHEISTS
THIS SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2007 — 9:00 AM ET

ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists will be one of the guests on the CBS News program “CBS Sunday Morning” this coming Sunday, August 19, 2007. The show airs at 9:00 AM ET; check your local listings.

Ms. Johnson will be discussing the latest wave of popular books on Atheism, and role that religion and Atheism now plays in the country. Other guests include Julia Sweeney, Christopher Hitchens, and Boston University Professor Stephen Prothero.

WHO & WHAT: Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists on “CBS Sunday Morning” program on the role of Atheism and religion in civic life.

WHEN: This Sunday, August 19, 2007 — 9:00 AM ET, check local listings.

WHERE: CBS “Sunday Morning” program on the CBS Network.

MORE INFO: http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/sunday/main3445.shtml (see: “Atheists Make Their Case Against God.”)

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for
Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and
addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

Why Do They Hate Our Freedom

FOR WIDEST POSSIBLE DISEMMINATION. POST TO ALL LISTS, BLOGS, CHAT ROOMS, WHATEVER.

The report below is forwarded from the Military Director for American Atheists, Kathleen Johnson who is currently serving on active duty in Iraq.

This report is about an issue in Iraq. I don’t think there will be any surprises in this report for most of you because this is the reason American Atheists exists. Just the same, it still has quite a bit of impact. This is the battle we are fighting and sometimes it can be tough. Not all of our battles are this hard, but they vary by degree only.

I’m including the article in Stars and Stripes that Kathleen mentions in her report below at the bottom of this email. As per Kathleen’s request, please send any emails of encouragement to the brave young soldier who is mentioned below by using Kathleen’s email which follows.

Kudos to this brave young soldier for having the courage to stand up for his beliefs and right to express them freely in the face of such drastic opposition. Kudos to the other brave soldiers who had the courage to participate. And Kudos to Kathleen Johnson for leading our cause in such a hostile environment. They all deserve medals for bravery. Not just for standing up for their beliefs, but also for being in Iraq in the first place. Whether you agree with this war or not, our troops deserve at least that much.

It’s my personal opinion that if all Atheists stood up for their beliefs and were as vocal as these soldiers we would not be facing the discrimination we are facing today. We would be perceived as a much larger majority that should not be trifled with. I’m proud to be a part of the national organization that fights for the civil rights of Atheists in the face of this discrimination.

Kathleen’s report follows.

Bart Meltzer,
Director of State and Regional Operations,
American Atheists, Inc.
[email protected]

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)


Bart,

Thought you’d be interested in this report of the first-ever meeting of Atheist service-members in Iraq under the umbrella of the MAAF-Iraq chapter of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. This meeting was put together by the same young MAAF member who recently had his second letter published in the Stars and Stripes.

One of our members, a young Atheist enlisted soldier, thought he would like to see if he could generate some interest in MAAF meetings at his Forward Operating Base (FOB) here in Iraq (not the base I’m at, by the way). He got things coordinated and started hanging flyers, and after weeks of having to re-hang his flyers almost daily because some vandal kept tearing them down, he finally succeeded in having a small MAAF meeting. I wasn’t there because the meeting wasn’t on my FOB, but I knew he was holding it and was expecting to hear from him after the meeting. Keep in mind that this young soldier did everything right – he went through the Chaplain’s office and jumped through all the hoops it takes to legally hold meetings that are religiously or philosophically based. Four soldiers attended this meeting – all of them very junior enlisted soldiers with the exception of one Major (an O-4), who claimed to be a “freethinker”.

Well, to make a very long story a little shorter, the Major turned out to be a fundamentalist Christian who verbally berated the other attendees, accused them of plotting against Christians and disrespecting soldiers who have died protecting the Constitution, and threatened them with punishment under the UCMJ for their activities (said they were “going down”) and said he would do whatever it took to shut the meetings down. Keep in mind that by this point, he had two of the attendees (one soldier fled when the shouting started) standing at the position of attention so that he could yell at them, berate them, and humiliate them. This apparently went on for several minutes at which time the Major shut down the meeting by saying he wasn’t some “push-over Chaplain” and that he would not tolerate the meetings to continue.

The young MAAF member who hosted the meeting is absolutely freaked out about what happened, but he said he’s going to continue with the meetings and isn’t going to be bullied by the prayer warriors. I’ve advised him to immediately notify the Chaplain sponsor of what happened to get guidance while I try to figure out what to do next. I should hear something back from him tonight sometime and there’s even a small possibility I might be able to score a mission to his FOB and attend one of his meetings in the next few weeks (if I do, I’ll meet with the Chaplain in person).

As for immediate action, he’s going to get me the names of his Chaplain sponsor and the name of the officer who disrupted the meeting. My intent right now is to make a formal report to the most senior Chaplain I can find along with possibly an Equal Opportunity complaint against the officer if we can get him fully identified. I may not be eligible to make that complaint because I wasn’t there, but I can at least smooth the way for this young troop to make one if he elects to. At the very least, I can make the EO office formally aware of what happened there.

More info will follow when I get it, but right now, feel free to disseminate this information since I’ve intentionally sanitized it for names and locations. I will be happy to forward any words of support to him if they get mailed to my [email protected] address – he could really use some encouragement right now, I think.

Kathleen

Kathleen Johnson,
Military Director,
American Atheists, Inc.
[email protected]

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=125&article=47626

Read the Constitution

It seems to me the author of “Atheist revival bad …” (letter, July 13) needs to read the Constitution he swore to uphold and defend, and study some American history.

Our nation was not “founded under God, upon Christian principles.” The first settlers of the new world were seeking, among other things, escape from religious persecution, not to form a faith-based colony. As Americans, we are granted the freedom of religion, which includes not having one, not the freedom to choose which form of Christianity we follow.

The author seems to think Camp Quest is somehow dangerous to our country and our youth, when in fact it’s people exercising their right to free assembly. The number of religious-based summer camps far outweighs the atheist ones, and those based on a system of beliefs will prove to be more of a “training ground” than any that encourages free thought.

I highly doubt any of the children at Camp Quest would be chastised if they thought a higher power might exist. On the other hand, what would happen if a child at a Christian retreat voiced doubt that Jesus was the son of God?

Atheists come from every walk of life and many are educated about several faiths. As a child I was fortunate enough to be allowed to attend many churches. By the third grade I knew there was no God, and still educated myself by attending a variety of services. This is common with a lot of atheists. Many people force their children into the family religion and shun other beliefs, that’s the true “brainwashing.”

There is no atheist revival, we’ve always been here as a silent minority, most just choose to live their own lives and let you live yours.

Staff Sgt. Gene Horrigan
Al Udeid Air Base,
Qatar

———————————————————-

Camp Quest is legal

After reading “Atheist revival bad for U.S.,” I couldn’t help but laugh. Does no one research anything for themselves anymore? Or do they just repeat what they heard from someone else?

The writer complains how atheist children have their own summer camp (Camp Quest). And that someone else is actually happy about it. Well, it’s 100 percent legal, because of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s just as legal as any other private organization, such as Bible camps and churches. The next thing that bothered me was the claim that the U.S. was founded “under God.” And that it was based on Christian principles and values. Well, that just sucks for a lot of people, doesn’t it?

Since America is a Christian nation, I guess everyone else is just second-rate! Sorry (insert religious minority here), you’re not good enough. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a mention of a God. Religion is referenced as exclusionary. Such as stating that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust.” (Article VI) That sounds secular to me.

The U.S. is a free nation. The First Amendment applies to every private citizen. And that includes us atheists. It is the individual freedoms that make our nation great.

Spc. Jeremy Hall
Camp Speicher, Iraq

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….……..

Here is the letter referred to above. http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=125&article=55297&archive=true

As the author observes, “…a nation that forgets what made it great is destined to fail.”

Perhaps he, and the un-American Major discussed above, would be happier in the army of some other country.

Do you feel safer knowing that these persons are in the Army of the United States of America?

Why do they hate our freedom?

Edwin.

Atheist ‘revival’ bad for U.S.

I have to say that I was very disturbed to read the article “Atheists are happy campers at Ohio retreat” (July 8). From just looking at the picture next to the article with the children playing together, you would think that they were just at an outside function participating in a fun activity. But when I read the article, I found there is a lot more to it than that.

The author of the article seems to be overjoyed and ecstatic about young teenagers being at a summer camp where the existence of God is happily denied and refuted, speaking of a revival of atheism and Camp Quest (the name of the summer camp) being a training ground for the atheist movement. How sad to see yet another example of God being kicked out and pushed aside in our society, and young kids being taught — or, in my opinion, brainwashed — to do it.

I wonder how long it will be before America becomes a completely secular society when I see and read things like the Camp Quest article. We already have people fighting daily to remove God from our money, the Pledge of Allegiance and more. As one girl who was quoted in the article stated, “This year, I stopped getting up and saying the pledge,” because it includes the words “under God” in it.

Like it or not, our nation was founded under God, upon Christian principles and values, and yet it seems people, such as the ones who founded Camp Quest, continue to ignore and defy it and encourage others to do the same. It seems to me a nation that forgets what made it great is destined to fail.

Spc. Matthew B. Cravens
Hanau, Germany