Article in Louisville, Kentucky’s LEO Newspaper on Answers in Atheism

Here is the article on Answers in Atheism that appeared this week in Louisville, Kentucky’s independent newspaper LEO.

It is supposed to be on line but I was only able to get this from cashed sources. Seems that the LEO’s server is down.

We are being noticed. This is a good way to start the new year. Please spread the word of www.answersinatheism.net .

Thank you for your help in bringing us this far. We are helping to make a difference.

Suggest you write the author (her email is at the end of the article) and let her know we do appreciate her reporting of Answers in Atheism.

Edwin.

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Article in LEO, independent newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky

December 26, 2007

When God’s got no answer: An upstart Internet broadcast from Union, Ky., tries to bring atheism to the masses

By LEO Weekly

BY KATHLEEN ADAMS


Many of the houses in the Northern Kentucky subdivision where Edwin Kagin lives are illuminated by brightly lit reindeer, icicles and other symbols of the Christmas season. But not the two-story home Kagin shares with his wife Helen.

That’s because Kagin isn’t a believer. He is an atheist who professes no belief in God or gods. Rather, the 67-year-old’s faith lies in the World Wide Web. Earlier this fall, he and a handful of volunteers launched a new Internet call-in show, AnswersinAtheism.net. With few exceptions, the show is broadcast live from Kagin’s home office in Union, Ky., a 10-minute drive from the flashy new Creation Museum, operated by “Answers in Genesis.”

On this particular Sunday afternoon, Kagin holds an informal reception in his dining room for the week’s special guest, Conrad Goeringer, director of public policy for the group American Atheists. Outfitted in black Wrangler jeans, a white pirate-style blouse (think of the Seinfeld “puffy shirt” episode) and a black leather vest, Kagin, who provides legal counsel to the New Jersey-based American Atheists, directs a visitor down the green carpeted stairs to his makeshift studio, also a repository for his collection of replica swords and walking sticks.

“I had nursed the idea of hosting a radio program on atheism for some time,” Kagin explains, sitting on a burgundy leather couch near a bookshelf holding multiple copies of the Bible, as well as “Who’s Who in Hell” and “The Koran for Dummies.”

“But (I) did not think it was feasible to do so. We would need a radio station and FCC licenses, and that was beyond the reach of people who are not rich from using religion to become so,” Kagin says.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Kagin embraced atheism at an early age. He recalled that for many years, his parents thought he was simply going through a phase and would eventually renounce his non-belief — humble beginnings for a provocative Internet show.

“It is enjoyable,” Kagin says of the fledgling Internet broadcast. “It should prove educational for many people who know little or nothing about atheism, and it may help strengthen atheists who feel all alone among people who are hostile to them without reason.”

While the popularity of books such as Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” and Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” helps redefine how the mainstream perceives atheism, a 2006 survey by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that atheists are the least accepted social group in the United States. More recently, a February 2007 USA Today/Gallup Poll survey showed that 53 percent of Americans would be reluctant to vote for an atheist candidate for president.
Nonetheless, James Beverley, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, Calif., and professor of Christian Thought and Ethics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, said there are strong indications that New Atheism is attracting a greater number of people. He pointed out the Atheist Alliance annual convention was sold out this year.

“Two things explain the increased interest in atheism,” Beverley says. “First, atheist leaders like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are doing an effective sales pitch. These evangelists for atheism have a take-no-prisoners approach, and this creates its own success, even if it only lasts until individual atheists tire of its dogmatism. Second, the God hypothesis has taken a beating lately because of all the evils done in the name of God.”

It takes five people — Kagin, Helen and three members of FIG, the Free Inquiry Group of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky — to produce the weekly broadcast.

Frank Bicknel, a broadcast engineer, is the self-described “geek” who first approached Kagin with the idea of transmitting the show over the Web.

“He explained that it could all be done on the Internet without licensing and without other problems that would prevent broadcasting over conventional radio,” Kagin says.

Bicknel is also responsible for securing the technology used during the show, which takes surprisingly few gadgets to produce: a computer, some inexpensive software, a server and microphone.
Husband and wife John and Fran Welte are the show’s producers. John, 54, a photographer, said no one involved with the production has a background in broadcasting. Instead, they make things up as they go.
“I was shy about asking people to appear (on the show) at first,” he says. “But I found if you ask someone to talk about themselves and what they are interested in, they are happy to do it.”

So far, the biggest challenge facing AnswersinAtheism.net is keeping Kagin on track as host.
“He is the personality that makes the show, but he tends to charge ahead with or without regard to our format,” John Welte says.

Kagin admits he’d be thrilled if the production was eventually picked up by so-called regular radio, maybe even National Public Radio. In the meantime, he’s content with the Internet designation.
“When one has only one life, they should try to avoid deliberately doing unpleasant things,” he says. “Atheists live for life before death, not life after death.”

Contact the writer at
[email protected]

Eight Years after the Rapture, by Edwin Kagin

Eight Years after the Rapture, by Edwin Kagin

As you know, the Rapture occurred at midnight, just as the year 2000 C.E. began. Just as had been predicted by many religious prophets.

The coming New Year, at the stroke of midnight that welcomes the year 2008 C.E., will therefore begin the eighth year since the supernatural occurrence of this one time only eschatological (look it up) event.

If you are reading this, you of course were not raptured. Everyone now on Earth was not raptured and never will be raptured. The Rapture is a done deal, over and gone. Been there, done that, wrote the book. Sadly, there can be no sequel. Too bad if you are still here. And none still here need gloat for all are on the same Earth.

As might be expected, absent a seemingly-never-to-occur planetary rejection of religious nonsense, things have gotten ever worse, and will continue to deteriorate, until our entire planet looks much like the desert that now covers the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of civilization. Humans continue to overbreed and to cover and to consume the planet like maggots on a dead possum. And to make war over vain things.

And the waste from such overbreeding, and from the making of too many things for the killing of one another and for the amusement of the too many humans already made and not killed, combines with the flatulence of their animals, in geometrically growing global genocide, to overheat the planet until the oceans become vapor and the once blue and green of life dries, decays, and burns, leaving our world—by the standards of the now living—dead.

Then, those heretofore Raptured at the midnight beginning of 2000 C.E. may return to the planet to tidy things up for the return of the Messiah. But that won’t concern any of us, for we will be one with the 6.000 year old fossils left from before Noah’s Flood.

Some of the not Raptured living humans may now have children who will be old enough this coming new year to attend Camp Quest, from whose rolls not a soul was Raptured. And such are now old enough to know what has befallen us all, and just why they have no meaningful eternal future and will be forever denied the salvation vainly still preached by certain religiously deceived among the ranks of the living damned.

For such untutored youth, and to refresh the aging memories of others, who might rather forget, you are invited to review, and to pass on as a sacred, if solemn, history, the here reproduced document that first announced what has befallen us, and what is, unless certain seemingly impossible things are realized, our hopeless, and unchangeable, fate.

Happy New Year.

Edwin.

ON THE TRANSUBSTANTIATION OF THE WORLD:

THE REVELATION TO EDWIN

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

T.S. Eliot

Edwin, unto those who yet remain for the eternity to come, to all those left behind who, though damned, yet know it not, Greetings. Little of comfort can be said or given unto you, save the assurance that truth, however dire, should be valued of more worth than the vanity of false belief and the futile imagining of a vain thing.

I erred when last I wrote, in false strayed prophecy, that the world would not end and that the rapture would not come. On the midnight stroke that called in the 2000th year of our Lord, this, our world, ended. The saved saints, living and dead, were raptured into Heaven. We, and all of us who remain–who you must now know are the eternally damned–were left behind. Left behind, forever, without hope, in a world that has been utterly destroyed. Left in a world beyond repair. Left in a world that is, with no hope of redemption, ruined.

That which had been prophesied, this horror foretold, was not at once known to have been so fully and so finally fulfilled. There were only small things to be seen as signs. The weather was too warm, and cats seemed less opaque than usual. Cats, we note too late, are not mentioned in the Bible. Dogs are mentioned eight and thirty times. Now know we why. Cats know why too. Cats have always known.

The truth, the horror, of what had happened was made known to me, for reasons I neither know nor understand, in a mighty vision. Whether in the body or out of it, whether asleep or not, I can in no wise truly say. I only know it was revealed unto me that our world is now past and forever gone. And that I am charged to tell you.

Hope of supernatural salvation for any who remain is likewise gone, for the blessed of the almighty power, all of the chosen elect, have been raptured away. We who are left are left unto eternity, denied forever and forever the beatific vision, denied the fulfillment of the blessed hope. There will never be offered another chance to gain that heavenly world beyond the natural world. We are all alone, with our fallible human reasoning, in our world that lack of faith destroyed. The only world we have ever had. No supernatural power will ever visit us again. We
are alone for all time, with only ourselves to guide and save us.

How, might one ask, as I asked, can our world have ended, yet seem so solidly to continue and appear so plainly to remain? So asked I in my vision, and the answer as a mystery came. With the mystery of that answer came the charge to publish the truth abroad–to assure the anguish of all of us who are fellow travelers on this orb that was first created and lately then destroyed.

There appeared before me a book, the edges of which were blackened and burned, as in a refiner’s fire, and the seals of which book, wherewithal it had been sealed, had been broken asunder. And the book was open unto a page. And the words upon that charred and tattered page could still be plainly seen and clearly read. And these were the words that were thereupon writ:

Know thou, doomed mortal, that thy world hath ended. It ended in the first moments of the first day of the first month of the year you call 2000. The Rapture hath come. It came as the world ended, and those who were chosen to be saved have been taken away unto a new Heaven and a new Earth. All who are ever to be raptured have been raptured, and all those not then raptured are never to be raptured. Those not raptured are left behind, by Divine Design, to live out their mortal lives in a world that hath now ended, a world in which they, the not saved and the not raptured, must henceforth forever remain.

Then asked I, through terror and tears, unto the unknown darkness about me, how our wrecked and ruined and wretched world could still so sentient seem.

And a voice, likened unto a voice of doom, sounding as the taste of wormwood and gall, answered from out a whirlwind unto me, with directions to tell the answer unto you, my fellow mortals, who along with me alike to death are damned:

Hear, Oh fool, thou who would not see the supernatural or on faith believe that which was unseen. Know thee, in this final answer–for no further answer shall ever come–that thy world has been transubstantiated, with all of its substance forever changed, with only the accidents of its appearance as land, sea and sky remaining, that cause it to seem, in each of its particulars, to those of undiscerning hearts, immutable and unchanged. As it was in the days of Noah, so has it now been finally fulfilled as it had been formerly forever of old foretold.

As it was in the time of Noah! The flood, the ark, the animals, the drowned children. Only eight adult humans spared. Only four breeding pairs of humans left alive when finally dried the heavenly waters that had choked the life from all other adults and from all children, both in and out of the womb, from those who, in person or by the hands of their doomed mothers, scratched and screamed, as their lives slowly ended, against the splintery sides of the ark of salvation, as it floated above their weakened forms that finally sunk beneath the righteous waves. Seven pairs of every clean animal were mercifully spared. Those not saved then died. Their fate was to be preferred to that of those not saved this time, to the fate of those condemned to live where faith has failed.

I then understood this vision granted me. Those awaiting the rapture of the blessed were as foolish virgins awaiting their bridegrooms while despising their coming. Few were chosen, and few were taken. It was not written how many would be saved, only that it would be as in the time of Noah, and surely it was so. The religiously pious, the self- righteous, those assured unto themselves of their goodness and of their salvation, all are as fully denied as are those who, through the use of reason, reject untestable faith as folly.

Heed not the much speaking yet to come from false preachers, for such fools are as sure to die as you. Laugh at pretenders who claim knowledge, at those who dare presume upon eternal truth, for they are here with all of us, un-raptured and alone in a transubstantiated world, in a world wherein their faith has failed.

My charge is now completed, and my revelation has been revealed. It remains but to remind you that only our human minds, with their naturally evolved abilities to create and learn and reason, yet abide. Nothing supernatural will ever exist for us, or be available unto us. What can be done by humankind in our new world, where mortals live for this life alone and can look neither to hopes of immortality nor to any power or powers beyond the bounty and boundaries of our natural world, cannot now be known, because such a thing has never yet been fully attempted or truly tried.

We have no choice, it seems, but to live in our world without faith in anything beyond ourselves. For that is all we have. Perhaps it is all that we have ever had. But it is enough.

May the years yet to come unto you bring you peace and joy. And do take heart, for you have this day seen the prophesy fulfilled that there will be Kagin’s Columns yet to come.

Edwin Kagin.

Atheist News from Edwin Kagin December 26,, 2007

AMERICAN ATHEISTS

ATHEIST, FIRST AMENDMENT ACTIVIST

JOE ZAMECKI GUEST THURSDAY ON

ANSWERS IN ATHEISM INTERNET RADIO

JOE ZAMECKI, Texas State Director for American Atheists will be the guest on Thursday night, December 27, 2007 on the “Answers in Atheism” internet radio program.

Find out what’s happening on the First Amendment front in Texas! Tune in beginning at 7:00 PM ET (check your local time zone) at http://www.answersinatheism.net . “Answers in Atheism” is hosted by the curmudgeon Edwin Kagin. Call in toll free with questions or comments to 877.814.9287 or local 859.384.7000 or send e-mail to [email protected]

WHO & WHAT: Joe Zamecki, Texas State Director for American Atheists on the “Answers in Atheism” internet radio program.

WHEN: Tomorrow, Thursday December 27, 2007 beginning at 7:00 PM — check local listings.

WHERE: http://www.answersinatheism.net

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

Atheists Radio X-MAS EVE Bash Update, by Edwin Kagin

AMERICAN ATHEISTS

http://www.atheists.org

Update: 12/24/07

ELLEN JOHNSON TO LEAD OFF

HERETICS & BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MAS

INTERNET PARTY “CHRISTMAS” EVE

ELLEN JOHNSON, President of American Atheists will lead off a roster of prominent Atheist, Freethought, Humanist and other non-believer representatives tonight on the first annual HERETICS & BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MAS PARTY streaming live on the internet.

Hosted by Edwin Kagin, the broadcast will run from 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM ET (check local time zone) on Answers in Atheism, at http://www.answersinatheism.net . Other guests will include:

ARLENE-MARIE, Michigan State Director, American Atheists

ED BUCKNER, Atlanta Freethought Society

FRED EDWORDS, American Humanist Association

TOM FLYNN, Council for Secular Humanism

CHRIS LINDSTROM, Camp Quest West

DAVE SILVERMAN, Communications Director, American Atheists

“WHAT’S AN ATHEIST — or some other heretic — to do on ‘Christmas Eve,’ anyway?” Good question!

So, if you don’t have a special get-together planned for this coming Monday night, pour a goblet of your favorite potion, saunter on up to the computer and spend a very special evening with Edwin Kagin and other non-believers across the country for the First Annual

HERETICS AND BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MAS PARTY

live from beautiful Kagin Manor. The fun begins at 8:00 PM ET with special guests and a toll-free number you can call to share thoughts, gripes, suggestions and anything else on your mind relevant to the X-MAS — and we do mean X-MAS! — season. It’s all airing on the hot new internet radio program “Answers in Atheism” at http://www.answersinatheism.net . Call Toll Free 877.814.9287 or local 859.384.7000 , or email to [email protected] . Fre
ethought music and stories of famous freethinkers will be on the program… A special two hour extravaganza!

Edwin Kagin is National Legal Director for American Atheists. He and wife Helen Kagin are co-founders of Camp Quest, a national summer camp program for the children of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other non-believers.

WHO & WHAT: HERETICS AND BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MASS PARTY hosted by Edwin & Helen Kagin and the staff of “Answers in Atheism”

WHEN: “Christmas” (X-mass) Eve, this Monday, December 24, 8:00 – 10:00 PM ET, check your time zone

WHERE: “Answers in Atheism” internet radio, http://www.answersinatheism.net

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

Update on Atheist Xmas Eve Bash, by Edwin Kagin

AMERICAN ATHEISTS

Update: 12/23
SILVERMAN, EDWORDS SLATED FOR
X-MAS EVE INTERNET BASH!
Update:
Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists and Fred Edwords, Contributing Editor at the American Humanist Association (AHA) will be guests at the HERETICS AND BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MAS PARTY slated for Monday night (12/24), “Christmas Eve.” Read more about this event below! Other guests will include:
ARLENE-MARIE, Michigan State Director, American Atheists
ED BUCKNER, Atlanta Freethought Society
TOM FLYNN, Council for Secular Humanism
“WHAT’S AN ATHEIST — or some other heretic — to do on ‘Christmas Eve,’ anyway?” Good question!

So, if you don’t have a special get-together planned for this coming Monday night, pour a goblet of your favorite potion, saunter on up to the computer and spend a very special evening with Edwin Kagin and other non-believers across the country for the First Annual

HERETICS AND BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MAS PARTY

live from beautiful Kagin Manor. The fun begins at 8:00 PM ET with special guests and a toll-free number you can call to share thoughts, gripes, suggestions and anything else on your mind relevant to the X-MAS — and we do mean X-MAS! — season. It’s all airing on the hot new internet radio program “Answers in Atheism” at http://www.answersinatheism.net . Call Toll Free 877.814.9287 or local 859.384.7000 , or email to [email protected] . Freethought music and stories of famous freethinkers will be on the program… A special two hour extravaganza!

Edwin Kagin is National Legal Director for American Atheists. He and wife Helen Kagin are co-founders of Camp Quest, a national summer camp program for the children of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists and other non-believers.

WHO & WHAT: HERETICS AND BLASPHEMERS GODLESS X-MASS PARTY hosted by Edwin & Helen Kagin and the staff of “Answers in Atheism”

WHEN: “Christmas” (X-mass) Eve, this Monday, December 24, 8:00 – 10:00 PM ET, check your time zone

WHERE: “Answers in Atheism” internet radio, http://www.answersinatheism.net

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

Atheist Version of those Dreadful Christmas Letters, by Edwin Kagin

Are you sick of those sweet, syrupy Christmas letters piously sent out by obviously miserable non-reality grounded people at this time of year?

Here is my version. Edwin.

Christmas Letter.

Dearest Beloved of Our Family in Christ,

There have been many changes this year for our family. Our beloved 17 year old daughter suffered blindness and paralysis after being struck by a drunk driver on her way home from Wednesday night church services. Aunt Polly died of liver cancer, following a long and painful illness. The family cat was smashed by a UPS truck. Mabel’s M.S. is getting worse and she can hardly do anything much anymore. Father had to have a triple bypass operation, and now uses a breathing tube. The house was burned down by sparks from the burning of Harry Potter books in our yard. Little Marvin got a chicken bone stuck in his throat at a church picnic and was rushed to the hospital where doctors had to remove his voice box, so he can never talk again, but God miraculously saved him. Miranda is now being home schooled after she left eighth grade to become a single mother. An abortion was out of the question, and we know God has given us a hydrocephalic grandchild for his own good and perfect reasons. Our oldest son had his left foot blown off in an ambush in Iraq while helping to bring Christ and Democracy to those poor heathens. We rejoice in the wisdom of our God, in His gifts, and in His plan for our lives. We bear grateful witness to all that our great and merciful God has done for us in the past year, and we praise the works of His hand. Oh, almost forgot. The dog died.

In His Holy Name,

The Fundangelical Family

© Edwin Kagin. December, 2006. Permission to reproduce without profit is given. If you make money on it, I want some of it. Edwin)

Victory in Kentucky. Ministers Have to Pay Taxes, by Edwin Kagin.

Remember, the new Internet call-in radio sensation “Answers in Atheism,” will again air live tomorrow at 7:00 pm Eastern Time. Tomorrow’s guest will be Dan Xenatro, the vice-coordinator of Connecticut Valley Atheists. Seems a local mayor or somesuch in their area, has decreed that only Christian kitsch can be displayed on their public building. Tune in, and call in, at www.answersinatheism.net . If you are misfortunate enough to miss this historic event, it will (should be) archived for later enjoyment.

Edwin.

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From reader Sharon:

Edwin,

I am pleased to announce that my letter to the editor re: the film The Golden Compass and the christians’ over the top reaction to it has been published today in the Press of Atlantic City:

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/letters/story/7523259p-7423781c.html

It’s the second letter on the page.

Chalk up another victory for our side!

Regards,

Sharon Hutchinson

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Her letter:

Egg Harbor Township

Religious fear

rational thinking?

I am glad to see such a ruckus being created over the film, “The Golden Compass.” If nothing else, it shows both the fear and prejudice directed toward atheists and other free thinkers in this country.

What exactly is the religious community afraid of? That their children might be exposed to the fact that there is such a thing as the existence of reason and logic? For too long, our young have been literally brainwashed from an extremely early age to believe that there is no alternative to the faith-based beliefs that seem to have taken over this country.

To label this film fantasy is the height of irony. Children need to be armed with the knowledge that there is an alternative way of thinking, one that does not require belief in mythology or fairy tales. Our greatest inventors have been agnostic at the very least. In this time of planetary peril, we need to raise a generation taught to think rationally and use scientific principles rather than depend on Dark Ages belief systems.

SHARON HUTCHINSON

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PRESS RELEASE. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AMERICAN ATHEISTS, INC.

http://www.atheists.org

http://www.americanatheist.org

For more information, please contact:

Ellen Johnson, President (908)

Dave Silverman, Communications Director (732) 648-9333 Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director (859) 384-7000

ATHEIST GROUP CLAIMS VICTORY, COUNTY BOARD VOTES TO END SPECIAL SALARY TAX EXEMPTION FOR MINISTERS

Members of the clergy will now be paying salary taxes just like everyone following a vote last night by officials in Boone County, KY.

Two years ago, attorney Edwin Kagin — National Legal Director for American Atheists — filed suit to challenge a local practice which exempted ministers, priests, rabbis, mullah’s and other clerics from complying with state law, and being taxed the same 0.8 percent as everyone else who works for a living. Kagin cited the Kentucky State Constitution which forbids any direct or indirect public aid to religious sects, or the payment of salaries for the clergy.

“The tax exemption clearly favored religion over non-religion, and elevated members of the clergy to a special position where they didn’t have to shoulder their fair share of the tax burden,” said Kagin. “This levels the playing field and complies with both of our state and federal constitutions.”

One Boone County official court, Judge-executive Gary Moore, said he disagreed with the statute.

“I would not normally vote for this,” Moore told the Kentucky Enquirer, “as much as I disagree with it.” But he said he would comply with the state law. Moore added that he told a delegation of ministers about the change, and that “They seem to understand it, not happy about it.”

Mr. Kagin said that officials should have been abiding by the constitution two years ago, obviating any need for a lawsuit. “This is

what American Atheists does, though, as a First Amendment watchdog group. We find statutes like this being ignored in communities throughout the country. Officials comply only when you threaten to take them to court.”

“We’re pleased with the outcome, and that Boone County will be treating all citizens equally, and not waste taxpayer money defending an unconstitutional practice.”

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.

American Atheists, Inc.

P. O. Box 5733

Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733

Tel.: (908) 276-7300

Fax: (908) 276-7402

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Here are the newspaper articles:

http://news.nky.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20071217/NEWS0103/712170361

The Kentucky Enquirer

December 17, 2007

Clergy tax break to end

Lawsuit, state law spark change

BY BRENNA R. KELLY

*
BURLINGTON – Ministers in Boone County have been exempt from paying the county’s payroll tax for seven years, but the clergy may soon lose that perk.

The county plans to remove the exemption Tuesday in response to a new state law, the state constitution and a lawsuit filed by an atheist who says the exemption is not fair.

Once the exemption is removed, ministers’ salaries would be subject to the 0.8 percent tax that all workers in the county must pay. Because the county stops taxing wages after someone makes $51,257 year, the most a minister could pay next year in taxes would be $410.06.

Boone County Treasurer Lisa Buerkley doesn’t expect the tax on ministers to generate much money.

“It not about the money, it’s about complying with law,” Buerkley said.

Boone County gave ministers the tax exemption in 2000 after a ruling in Kenton County Circuit Court that said the tax violated ministers’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The ruling also said such an exemption did not violate the state constitution, said Jim Parsons, Boone County administrator at the time.

After the ruling, a Florence minister threatened to sue Boone County if it did not allow the exemption, Parsons said.

“It was a very minor impact on our revenues, so we decided to put it on,” Parsons said.

The county was sued anyway, not by the minister, but by Edwin Kagin, a Union resident and atheist.

Kagin, who is legal director of the American Atheists, said the exemption violates Section 5 of the Kentucky Constitution.

The section says religious groups cannot be given preference under the law. It goes on to say, “nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, to contribute to the erection or maintenance of any such place, or to the salary or support of any minister of religion.”

If everyone has to pay the tax except ministers, “you are contributing to their keep,” Kagin said.

In protest, Kagin said, he didn’t pay the tax for several years until the county threatened to have him prosecuted. Kagin’s lawsuit has been pending since 2005, but it will be dropped if the county removes the exemption, he said.

Kagin said he hasn’t been outspoken about the change because he didn’t want people to think that the proposed ordinance is pro-atheism.

“It’s really pro-constitution,” he said. “Everyone ought to be outraged that ministers are exempt from paying the taxes they have to.”

The question of the ministers’ exemption had been interpreted differently by attorneys.

But a law the legislature passed in 2006 appears to clear up any confusion, said Boone County Attorney Bob Neace.

That law, which took effect in July 2006, says that “Duly ordained, commissioned, or denominationally licensed ministers of religion shall be subject to the same license fees imposed on others in the county on salaries, wages, commissions, and other compensation earned for work done and services performed or rendered.”

The county must comply with the new state law, Neace said.

“If that statute doesn’t exist, do we then have an argument that we can have that exemption?” he said. “I think that’s open to interpretation.”

In Campbell County, ministers are still exempt from the county’s payroll tax of 1.05 percent, said Linda Eads, the county’s occupational tax manager.

Eads said the new law was discussed at the Kentucky Occupational License Association conference last year.

“I’m aware of it,” she said. “We discussed it at the KOLA conference and decided nobody is going to sue us to make us tax them.”

Kenton County did not return calls about its payroll tax.

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http://news.nky.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20071219/NEWS0103/712190409

The Kentucky Enquirer, December 19, 2007

Ministers lose exemption

State law forces collection of tax on their salaries

BY BRENNA R. KELLY

BOONE COUNTY – Ministers will have to pay the county’s payroll tax after Boone Fiscal Court voted to rescind an exemption the clergy enjoyed for the past seven years.

A change in state law forced the county to tax ministers’ salaries at the same 0.8 percent as everyone else who works there, said Judge-executive Gary Moore.

“I would not normally vote for this,” Moore said. But the county has to comply with state law, he said, “as much as I disagree with it.”

The county was embroiled for more than two years in a lawsuit by Union atheist Edwin Kagin over the exemption. Kagin claimed the break for ministers violated the Kentucky Constitution. The lawsuit will likely be dismissed.

Moore said he met with Boone County ministers to tell them about the change.

“They seem to understand it, not happy about it,” he said, “but understand it’s out of our control.”

Because the county stops taxing salaries at $51,257, the most a minister could pay is $410.06.

Also Tuesday, Fiscal Court delayed a vote on establishing a code enforcement board.

Commissioner Cathy Flaig said she wants to visit Florence’s and Covington’s boards first.

Flaig attended Kenton County’s board meeting and hopes to find another nearby county with a board.

Commissioner Charlie Kenner said he hoped to find one to visit in the counties surrounding Louisville. Those counties, such as Spencer and Oldham, have a mixture of rural and suburban areas like Boone, he said.

If the board is established, a five-person board instead of District Court would handle violations of the county’s property maintenance ordinance, such as high weeks or abandoned cars.

Violations of the ordinance are criminal misdemeanors. They would become civil cases.

The court could vote Jan. 8 or table the issue again.

“This is too important to try to push through or rush through,” Moore said.

Local governments legally have been allowed to have code enforcement boards since the mid-’90s. Florence has had a code enforcement board for three years. Kenton County established one this year.

===============================================================================================

Fan mail:

From: Maui Grammy [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 5:01 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject
: Ministers to pay tax

Dear Sir:

I sincerely hope you are satisfied that ministers do have to pay an occupational tax, You do have ALL MY PRAYERS to God the Father that you and your wife will truly be shown the Light of Salvation and be saved by the precious blood of the Lamb. I am also so thankful I have not needed an attorney. I do now realize should I need an attorney, I will check him out thoroughly.

A loyal Christian,

Joyce Steele

(It is unclear whether this dear heart favors the result of not. Edwin)

Conrad Goeringer on “Answers in Atheism” Tonight by Edwin Kagin

“Answers in Atheism,” the new Internet radio sensation, is honored to present, in a prerecorded program (Yes that means you cannot call in tonight. Sorry about that), Conrad Goeringer of American Atheists. He will be engaged in a lively conversation on the origins of Christmas in America, on Atheism, and other diverse matters. Joining us for this presentation are Ashley and Barbara from Columbus, Ohio.

CONRAD GOERINGER is Director of Public Policy for American Atheists and staff writer for the American Atheist Magazine. He is a former freelance reporter, and his writings have appeared in such diverse publications as The Humanist, Schism, New Times, and Sky & Telescope. His articles and talks to diverse Atheist, Freethought and other nonbeliever audiences frequently explore the intersection between popular culture, history, politics and religion. Mr. Goeringer has also been an antiquarian book dealer and collector, and he is presently working on a political biography of the late Hollywood actress and activist Frances Farmer.

WHERE: www.answersinatheim.net

WHEN: TONIGHT, Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 7:00 PM Eastern.

Should you be unfortunate enough to not hear this program tonight, it will be archived for you to listen to later.

Next week should be a call in program. Topic to be announced.

“Answers in Atheism” has a new server, and we should now be able to accommodate many more listeners.

See you on the radio!

Edwin.

ON CHRISTMAS, or “NO, VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS” by Edwin Kagin

ON CHRISTMAS, or

“NO, VIRGINIA, THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS”

If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on

his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried

with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!

Uncle Ebenezer Scrooge (not to be confused with Uncle Scrooge McDuck)

I can’t prove that no ungulate unit of reindeer persuasion can fly, any more than you can prove I don’t have two invisible unicorns that frolic in benign innocence at

Camp Quest. I can’t prove there are no living dinosaurs (as the arkonuts challenge the skeptical to do) anymore than the arkonuts can prove the English text of

Genesis they rely on is identical to the original version they hold was dictated, or inspired, by god. But if one says that all crows are black, there is no need to check

every crow to falsify that assertion. All that is needed is to find one white crow, or any crow of a different color. Similarly, Santa skepticism can be soundly silenced

by the production of one flying reindeer. Yet Christmasterians insist doubters disprove Santa, sleigh, and such, or keep silent, lest they destroy a child’s simple

(mindless) faith. This method of proof proves useful later, as children, programmed to believe fantasy is truth, grow to adultery and unquestioningly follow the

fantastic follies of faith of their fathers (and mothers–political correctness must not be permitted to fall down a personhole).

To be sure, Plato (not to be confused with Mickey Mouse’s dog) argued that, to conceive of something that is real, one must somehow get the perfect idea of that

something from the place it really exits, to wit, the world of forms–a place somewhere that no one has ever seen. Reality alone wouldn’t do. Thus, everyone but

philosophers know what a horse looks like, and kids know all about Santa without having to survive Philosophy 101.

Can we imagine, or even believe in, something that doesn’t exist? Sure we can. Just talk with those who have been abducted by aliens. If some unseen thing is

believed by many, e.g., angels, it is called faith. If a thing is believed by only one, and is wildly outside the gates of common sense and experience, then the belief,

e.g., suddenly realizing that one’s guardian angel is made of grape jelly and having him (there are no female angels–check your bible, you can win bets on this) on

toast, it is called psychosis. The problem is that the invisible and the non-existence look much the same. Christmas beliefs fall somewhere between the province of

priest and psychiatrist.

Christmas combines two contradictory images of godlike characters: Jesus, the Christ, who taught that to be saved one should sell all of their property and give it to

the poor (the church later declared belief in this teaching a heresy), and Claus, the Santa, to whom children are taught to write letters requesting property–believed

to be given by Santa, in one night, to those children of the world found worthy–in direct challenge to the counsel of the Christ. One should note, before teaching the

latter belief system, that an anagram of Santa is Satan.

The day itself, meaning Christ’s Mass, is the same day the Romans used to honor their sun god with gift giving and feasting. Christmas is quite pagan. Its secular

celebration involves rituals specifically forbidden by holy writ, like hewing down a tree, bringing it inside the house, decorating it, and praising it. This is as clear a

violation of divine decree as public prayer, or celebrating the Sabbath on the first day of the week instead of on the seventh day as ordered (Commandment IV). No

wonder we are in such trouble these days with crime, inflation, and teenage pregnancies.

Unfortunate cultural consequences flow from the forced frivolity and jejune joy Christmas creates and requires. People get depressed when they don’t feel happy as

they should, when they do not have their artificial expectations fulfilled, and when they cannot meet the unreasonable artificial sessional needs of others–like their

mercenary relatives, and their materialistic, greedy, spoiled children–and get even deeper in debt by trying to behave as expected. Thanks to Tom Flynn, and his

wonderful heresy The Trouble With Christmas, I chucked the whole thing a few years ago, and lived. Try it. You will feel better for it.

Should I be granted a Christmas wish, it would be that the holiday be canceled, and that the whole show appertaining to this business of Christmas not be done at all.

Please understand that I do not care if others celebrate Christmas if they wish, nor would I suggest that they be prevented from doing so. I just don’t want the

holiday to be compulsory for me or anyone else–any more than I want other people’s prayers, that they have an absolute right to pray, to be forced upon me by

public officials or upon children by public schools. One who would rather decline gets somewhat tired of listening to those who absolutely and uncritically assume all

good people celebrate Christmas, and that something is horribly wrong with anyone who ignores the invitation to attend their compulsory party. Failing the unlikely

event of Christmas being made optional, I would alternatively wish, in seasonal answer to Virginia’s famous question, that we might see something in the public press,

for innocent children, like:

Dear Virginia,

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. It is a myth that has been cruelly used to deceive children for the pleasure of adults who unwittingly destroy

children’s sense of basic trust by teaching them that the world is something other than it really is.

I know this news must be a shock to you, and I am truly sorry for your discomfort. But it is not my fault. The person who tells you the truth should never

be blamed for the hurt that comes from learning that others have lied.

You should not believe in Santa Claus any more than you should believe in fairies, or in demons waiting around to pull yo
u under the earth, or in angels

lurking about to transport you above it. People do not need to believe foolish things to have love and compassion and caring, any more than they need a

special season or holiday to be nice to one another.

If things believed prove false, does that mean peace, and sharing, and kindness must dissolve like mist along with the untrue things? Of course not! We

don’t need magic to have happiness, and wonder, and joy. Our beautiful world is full of these things, and they are very real, and our real world holds

more interesting and wonderful people and things than any fairyland anyone could ever even imagine.

Some adults are afraid of things they don’t understand, and they teach children to believe in magic. But the truth is really far more exciting. Wouldn’t you

rather learn what is on real planets, that are millions of miles away, than believe reindeer can fly? Have you ever seen the northern lights? I have, and I

can tell you they are more beautiful, more mysterious, and more wonderful than any pretend story anyone could ever invent about elves that have

workshops at the North Pole.

Is it okay to pretend and to believe things we know are not true? Of course it is! And it can be a lot of fun. Intelligent people love to play. Any time you

watch a movie or a play or go to a costume party you are playing and pretending something is so that is not.

We know those aren’t real people in the TV–only images of them–but we know we are pretending, and this is fun and much different from believing a

falsehood. Would it be wrong to tell a friend of yours, who firmly believed there were really small people inside the television set, that his or her belief was

not true? Would it be right for you to be condemned for destroying that friend’s childlike faith? What if several of your best friends thought they could fly,

and set off for a bridge over a 600 foot deep gorge to prove it? Would it be wrong for you to politely try to convince them that they just might be

mistaken, no matter how firmly they believe they are right? Would you be destroying their childhood or saving their future?

Follow the truth, no matter where it may take you. And don’t pay any attention to those who think comforting falsehoods are better than understanding

the world as it is. If you ever have children, teach them trust by telling them the truth. By the way, just in case you didn’t know, the stork didn’t bring you.

You are here because your parents had sex.

Keep questioning, Virginia, and don’t feel it is the least bit wrong to demand correct answers.

Asking questions is what makes us human.

Your friend,

Uncle Edwin

by Edwin Kagin