KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: February 08, 2008
Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091; Email: email@example.com
Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky/
Editor’s personal web site: www.edwinkagin.com
Editor’s personal blog: http://edwinkagin.blogspot.com
Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.
I WAS BORN AN ATHEIST JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE
To Unidentified Recipients:
AMERICAN ATHEISTS SPEAKERS BUREAU
KAGIN TO SPEAK ON “AMERICAN RELIGIOUS CIVIL WAR,” SECULAR HUMANISTS OF THE LOW COUNTRY MEETING ~ SUNDAY, FEB. 17, 2008
“The ARCW has already been started by the superstitious. They call it a ‘civil war of values.’ The shooting has already started. They call that ‘protecting innocent life.’ The purpose of the war is to overthrow science and constitutional democracy and replace them with the Bronze Age myths and laws of ancient Iraq that became preserved in a collection of writings known, in translation, as ‘The Holy Bible.’ They regard this undertaking as ‘bringing America back to God.’ Loyal Americans should regard it as treason…”
— Edwin Kagin at the
Godless Americans March on Washington
EDWIN KAGIN, National Legal Director for American Atheists will be the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Secular Humanists of the Low Country (Charleston, SC) on Sunday, February 17, 2008.
Mr. Kagin will speak on “The American Religious Civil War (ARCW),” the confrontation between secular, Enlightenment-era democracy and authoritarian theocratic “Bible-based” government. He has been writing and speaking on this important topic since 1995 when he first proposed the paradigm of a cultural “civil war” coming to America.
Along with wife Helen, Edwin Kagin was a founding director of Camp Quest, a summer retreat for non-believing youngsters. In addition to his post as Legal Director for American Atheists, he serves on the board of the Secular Student Alliance. He ran prominently, albeit unsuccessfully, for the Kentucky Supreme Court (1998) and the Kentucky State Senate (2000). Much of his current legal work focuses on civil liberties, Atheist civil rights and the separation of church and state. Mr. and Mrs. Kagin also host the popular new internet radio program “Answers in Atheism” (http://www.answersinatheism.net).
The meeting will take place on Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:00 PM at Gage Hall, 4 Archdale St. in Charleston, S.C. For further information, visit the SHLC web site at http://lowcountry.humanists.net/default.php or contact firstname.lastname@example.org (Sam Moskow, President) or email@example.com (Alex Kasman, Newsletter).
WHO & WHAT: Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists speaking on “The American Religious Civil War” at Secular Humanists of the Low Country monthly meeting.
WHEN: Sunday, February 17, 2008, 4:00 PM.
WHERE: Gage Hall, 4 Archdale St., Charleston, SC.
(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.)
“Answers in Atheism,” the soon to be award winning Internet radio call-in talk show that is family friendly and clothing optional, is pleased to announce that…..
Our guest for our “Darwin Day Show,” Thursday, February 14th, 2008 (drum roll please) will be Charles Darwin.
Richard Milner is an anthropologist / songwriter / performer. He performs his show “Charles Darwin Live in Concert” as Charles Darwin. Our producers, John and Fran Welte, have excitedly reported that Richard will be doing our show on Feb. 14. We will interview Richard as himself first. We can ask about his books and his performances. Then, when we ask a pointed question about evolution, he may well say, “Why don’t you ask Mr. Darwin? He just came in.” He just might then do the rest of the show as Darwin.
You can find out more about Richard Milner on his website. http://www.darwinlive.com/
And yes, we do know that Darwin’s birthday is February 12th, so save your corrective rant. We also know that February 12th is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, and of Bruno, our English Mastiff and retired Mascot of Camp Quest. And yes, we know that February 14th is Valentine’s Day (don’t tell my Helen—she doesn’t read these things—but I am getting her a burka).
You can access the show at www.answersinatheism.net
Oh, yes, earlier shows are (should be—this is not a precise science) archived for your listening pleasure at www.answersinatheism.net
See you on the radio.
Creationists Seek Foothold in Europe
By GREGORY KATZ, AP
LONDON (Feb. 9) – After the Sunday service in Westminster Chapel, where worshippers were exhorted to wage “the culture war” in the World War II spirit of Sir Winston Churchill, cabbie James McLean delivered his verdict on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
“Evolution is a lie, and it’s being taught in schools as fact, and it’s leading our kids in the wrong direction,” said McLean, chatting outside the chapel. “But now people like Ken Ham are tearing evolution to pieces.”
Ken Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based organization that is part of an ambitious effort to bring creationist theory to Britain and the rest of Europe. McLean is one of a growing number of evangelicals embracing that message – that the true history of the Earth is told in the Bible, not Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.”
Europeans have long viewed the conflict between evolutionists and creationists as primarily an American phenomenon, but it has recently jumped the Atlantic Ocean with skirmishes in Italy, Germany, Poland and, notably, Britain, where Darwin was born and where he published his 1859 classic.
Darwin’s defenders are fighting back. In October, the 47-nation Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, condemned all attempts to bring creationism into Europe’s schools. Bible-based theories and “religious dogma” threaten to undercut sound educational practices, it charged.
Schools are increasingly a focal point in this battle for hearts and minds. A British branch of Answers in Genesis, which shares a Web site with its American counterpart, has managed to introduce its creationist point of view into science classes at a number of state-supported schools in Britain, said Monty White, the group’s chief executive.
“We do go into the schools about 10 to 20 times a year and we do get the students to question what they’re being taught about evolution,” said White, who founded the British branch seven years ago. “And we leave them a box of books for the library.”
Creationism is still a marginal issue here compared with its impact on cultural and political debate in the United States. But the budding fervor is part of a growing embrace of evangelical worship throughout much of Europe. Evangelicals say their ranks are swelling as attendance at traditional churches declines because of revulsion with the hedonism and materialism of modern society.
“People are looking for spirituality,” White said in an interview at his office in Leicester, 90 miles north of London. “I think they are fed up with not finding true happiness. They find having a bigger car doesn’t make them happy. They get drunk and the next morning they have a hangover. They take drugs but the drugs wear off. But what they find with Christianity is lasting.”
Other British organizations have joined the crusade. A group called Truth in Science has sent thousands of unsolicited DVDs to every high school in Britain arguing that mankind is the result of “intelligent design,” not Darwinian evolution.
In addition, the AH Trust, a charity, has announced plans to raise money for construction of a Christian theme park in northwest England with a 5,000-seat television studio that would be used for the production of Christian-oriented films. And several TV stations are devoted full-time to Christian themes.
All this activity has lifted spirits at the Westminster Chapel, a 165-year-old evangelical church that is not affiliated with nearby Westminster Abbey, where Darwin is buried.
In the chapel, Rev. Greg Haslam tells the 150 believers that they are in a conflict with secularism that can only be won if they heed Churchill’s exhortation and never, ever give up.
“The first thing you have to do is realize we are in a war, and identify the enemy, and learn how to defeat the enemy,” he said.
There is a sense inside the chapel that Christian evangelicals are successfully resisting a trend toward a completely secular Britain.
“People have walked away from God; it’s not fashionable,” said congregant Chris Mullins, a civil servant. “But the evangelical church does seem to be growing and I’m very encouraged by that. In what is a very secular society, there are people returning to God.”
School curricula generally hold that Darwin’s theory has been backed up by so many scientific discoveries that it can now be regarded as fact. But Mullins believes creationism also deserves a hearing in the classroom.
“Looking at the evidence, creationism at the least seems a theory worthy of examination,” he said. “Personally I think it is true and I think the truth will win out eventually. It’s a question of how long it takes.”
Terry Sanderson, president of Britain’s National Secular Society, a prominent group founded in 1866 to limit the influence of religious leaders, fears the groups advocating a literal interpretation of the Bible are making headway.
“Creationism is creeping into the schools,” he said. “There is a constant pressure to get these ideas into the schools.”
The trend goes beyond evangelical Christianity. Sanderson said the British government is taking over funding of about 100 Islamic schools even though they teach the Quranic version of creationism. He said the government fear imposing evolution theory on the curriculum lest it be branded as anti-Islamic.
The Council of Europe spoke up last fall after Harun Yahya, a prominent Muslim creationist in Turkey, tried to place his lavishly produced 600-page book, “The Atlas of Creation,” in public schools in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain.
“These trends are very dangerous,” said Anne Brasseur, author of the Council of Europe report, in an interview.
Brasseur said recent skirmishes in Italy and Germany illustrate the creationists’ tactics. She said Italian schools were ordered to stop teaching evolution when Silvio Berlusconi was prime minister, although the edict seems to have had little impact in practice. In Germany, she said, a state education minister briefly allowed creationism to be taught in biology class.
The rupture between theology and evolution in Europe is relatively recent. For many years people who held evangelical views also endorsed mainstream scientific theory, said Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia, a British-based, Christian-oriented research group. He said the split was imported from the United States in the last decade.
“There is a lot of American influence, and there are a lot of moral and political and financial resources flowing from the United States to here,” he said. “Now you have more extreme religious groups trying to get a foothold.”
In some cases, the schools have become the battlegrounds. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford university biologist and author of last year’s international best-seller “The God Delusion, “frequently lectures students about the marvels of evolution only to find that the students’ views have already been shaped by the creationist lobby.
“I think it’s so sad that children should be fobbed off with these second-rate myths,” he said.
“The theory of evolution is one of the most powerful pieces of scientific thinking ever produced and the evidence for it is overwhelming. I think creationism is pernicious because if you don’t know much it sounds kind of plausible and it’s easy to come into schools and subvert children.”
White, the director of the British Answers in Genesis, is well aware that the group’s school program is contentious. The group has removed information about it from its Web site to avoid antagonizing people.
The group operates a warehouse with $150,000 worth of DVDs, books and comics promoting creationism, but he says he only sends speakers and materials into schools that invite Answers in Genesis to make a presentation.
White, 63, said he was raised as an atheist, and after earning a doctorate in chemistry, embraced evangelical Christianity in 1964.
He says that when he is asked to speak to science classes, he challenges the accuracy of radioactive dating which shows the world to be thousands of millions of years old and says that the Bible is a more accurate description of how mankind began. He personally believes the Earth is between 6,000 and 12,000 years old.
“Usually I find the discussion goes on science, science, and science and then when the lesson is finished one or two students say, ‘Can we talk about other things?’ and I sit down with them and usually they want to talk about Christianity,” he said. “They want to know, why do you believe in God? Why do you believe in the Bible? How can you be sure it’s the word of God?”
Dawkins feels the effect. He said he is discouraged when he visits schools and gets questions from students who have obviously been influenced by material from Answers in Genesis. “I continually get the same rather stupid points straight from their pamphlets,” he said.
White is getting ready for a visit by Ken Ham, who will preach at Westminster Chapel this spring. Meanwhile he is pleased that small groups of creation science advocates now meet regularly in Oxford, Edinburgh, Northampton and other British cities.
“The creation movement is certainly growing,” he said. “There are more groups than there were five years ago. There are more people like me going out speaking about it, and there’s more interest. You have these little groups forming all over the place.”
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Creation Museum founder’s book says Darwinism fuels racism
By Dylan T. Lovan
The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 02/09/2008 07:25:05 AM MST
What Darwinian evolution did, I would say, is provide what people thought was a scientific justification for separation of races.
KEN HAM, founder of Creation Museum
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The founder of a popular Kentucky Christian museum that rejects evolution says in a new book that Darwin’s theory fuels racism and genocide.
Ken Ham, who opened the Creation Museum last year, and co-author Charles Ware, president of Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, have written Darwin’s Plantation: Evolution’s Racist Roots, arguing that the theory inspired the Nazi belief in racial superiority and the murderous policies of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
”What Darwinian evolution did, I would say, is provide what people thought was a scientific justification for separation of races,” Ham said in an interview.
Ham is not the first to try to tie Darwin with racism. The charge has been made for years.
It came up last month in arguments over science curriculum at a South Carolina state school board meeting. In 2001, Louisiana’s legislature considered a bill that said Darwin supported racist ideologies.
David L. Schultz, associate professor of biology at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, said Darwin was egalitarian and had a history of speaking out against slavery.
”Darwin was not a racist,” he said.
Ham runs the Christian group Answers in Genesis and has already made an impact with his $27 million high-tech museum in Petersburg, south of Cincinnati.
The complex has attracted more than 300,000 visitors with exhibits that treat the Bible’s creation story as natural history and contend that evolution theory is wrong because it contradicts the Old Testament. The Creation Museum asserts that the Earth is just a few thousand years old, dinosaurs coexisted with man and Adam and Eve were the first humans.
In the new book, Ham says that Darwin’s theory – that natural selection caused gradual biological changes over time – puts some races ”higher on the evolutionary scale” and others ”closer to the apes.”
”Although racism did not begin with Darwinism, Darwin did more than any person to popularize it,” Ham writes. He further contends that the theory fanned the flames of ”ethnic superiority.”
”Stalin, Hitler and Mao were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions – and it can be shown they did this because of the influence of Darwinian naturalism,” Ham writes.
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a California group that defends teaching evolution in public schools, said Hitler rarely mentioned evolution.
”Darwinian evolution is based on natural selection, which means that any population can adapt to its environment,” Scott said. ”The ironic thing for the creationists is that Hitler grounded Aryan superiority as a God-given quality.”
Ham said he came to the topic because he was upset by the unfair treatment of aboriginal tribes in his native Australia and the racism he saw in the United States when he arrived here in the 1970s. He said he experienced a backlash from some church groups after he wrote an article critical of biblical-based arguments against interracial marriage, which made him even more determined to tackle the issue.
”I got more what I would call hate mail from people, supposedly Christians in the church, than for any other article I’ve ever written,” Ham said. ”So to me I just had a real burden that I wanted to educate the church on this matter.”
But Schultz called the argument ”a ploy to get evolution out of the curriculum.”
”Of course everybody’s against teaching children racism, so if you call it racist, you can have it removed,” said Schultz. He testified before a Louisiana legislative panel that took up the bill that would have tied evolution with racism. The measure was eventually stripped of any reference to Darwin.
Ham said Answers in Genesis does not advocate teaching creationism in public schools.
In South Carolina, that state’s board of education approved a biology textbook that references evolution. One board member had argued that the scientific theory was used by Nazi Germany as an excuse to kill millions of people.
From reader Frank:
Subject: Re: Prayer [“moment of silence”] in schools bill
Can’t we find a state legislator with the cojones to introduce
a bill requiring in our public schools a vastly more needed
moment of science instead of a moment of silence???
From reader Fred:
As a gun-toting atheist, you will find this story of great interest–if you haven’t seen it already.
Subject: Minnesota Court Says Concealed-Carry Law Cannot Be Enforced Against Churches
Not covered by RLUIPA; churches can prevent cowboys from packing heat in churches / Bob
Minnesota Court Says Concealed-Carry Law Cannot Be Enforced Against Churches
Yesterday in Edina Community Lutheran Church v. State of Minnesota, (MN Ct. App., Feb. 5, 2008), a Minnesota state appellate court upheld the objections of two churches to enforcement against them of the Minnesota Citizens’ Personal Protection Act of 2005. The law requires that before a church can refuse entry to someone carrying a firearm, it must post a specific sign at each entrance or personally inform each person that guns are prohibited. The law also prevents churches from banning guns in their parking lots and from prohibiting tenants from carrying guns on church property. The churches argued that the law’s requirements interfere with the churches’ belief in welcoming visitors, and prevent churches from limiting tenants’ use to those consistent with the churches’ commitment to nonviolence.
Invoking the state constitution’s freedom of conscience clause, the court held broadly that these requirements burden a church’s exercise of religious belief. It concluded that the state failed to show a compelling interest in enforcing the provisions against churches. It also held that the trial court’s grant of an injunction against enforcement of the law did not violate the Establishment Clause of the state and federal constitutions. Finally the court concluded that the state’s carry-concealed law is not a “land use regulation” covered by RLUIPA. Yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the decision. (See prior related posting.)
Churches win another round on ’05 gun law exemptions
A court ruling says firearms can be banned from church-owned property, and signs don’t have to comply with language mandated by the state.
Forcing churches to allow guns in their parking lots and use state-mandated language for signs forbidding firearms is an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The decision, which upheld a Hennepin County District Court ruling, means the Edina Community Lutheran Church can continue to legally ban guns with signs saying: “Blessed are the peacemakers. Firearms are prohibited in this place of sanctuary.” Other churches may choose their own wording.
Parking lots, day-care centers and other charitable, educational and nonprofit facilities owned by churches also may continue to ban firearms under the ruling.
The Minnesota law permitting people to carry concealed firearms was passed in 2003 and amended in 2005. It required that any organization, business or institution wanting to ban guns use specific language stating that the building operator “bans guns in these premises.”
It also didn’t allow most property owners to ban guns from parking areas and space rented to other groups or businesses.
Tuesday’s ruling doesn’t change most of the law’s provisions, including the requirement that sheriffs issue permits to carry handguns to applicants 21 and older who receive prescribed training and pass a background check.
Ben Wogsland, a spokesman for Attorney General Lori Swanson, said lawyers are reviewing the case and can’t yet make a decision on an appeal.
Church leaders pleased
The Rev. Erik Strand of Edina Community Lutheran Church said he was pleased with the decision as did Marshall Tanick, the lawyer for Unity Church in St. Paul, which had also challenged the law.
“We’re especially thankful that the court recognized and protected our congregation’s witness to peacemaking and nonviolence in all relationships,” Strand said in a written statement.
Tanick said the Court of Appeals ruled “on the broadest possible grounds. … It underscores the importance of freedom of religion in Minnesota,” he said.
In their suit, the Edina church’s leaders argued that entrances to Lutheran churches are reserved for “important religious messages that can be traced to Martin Luther’s act of nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.”
That argument was cited in the unanimous 32-page decision written by Judge David Minge and signed by Judges Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks and Terri Stoneburner.
“The uncontroverted affidavits before us establish that the sign provision does compel churches that wish to exclude firearms to act in a manner that is inconsistent with their religious beliefs by requiring that they place specific, conspicuous signs at every entrance to the church,” Minge wrote.
Hamline University School of Law Prof. Joe Olson, a supporter of the law, said the decision is so insignificant that it’s hardly worth talking about. “If they’re going to be charging someone with trespass, they still have to give them notice that they’re violating the policy,” Olson said. “In order to effectively give notice, they’re going to wind up posting signs and they can’t hide them behind a potted palm.”
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747